Courtesy of Alexia Godron

On Tuesday night, the Women’s Network Yale Chapter, a women-led student group dedicated to redefining ambition, hosted a 90 minute Law Career Symposium open to all undergraduate students across the Women’s Network’s 42 chapters.

The Zoom event featured Jesse Liu LAW ’98, former United States attorney for the District of Columbia, as the keynote speaker. Two panel discussions with other law professionals followed Liu’s introductory talk. The event centered around future law careers for women and was moderated by co-president of the Women’s Network Yale Chapter Alexia Godron ’21, who also compiled a law career handbook that attendants received. A total of 165 students were in attendance.

“Careers are a team sport,” Liu said in her keynote address, “No matter how junior you are, you can play that sport. You’re never too young to be a member.”

After Liu’s keynote address, audience members had the opportunity to either post questions in the Zoom chat or to directly ask the speakers within a panel of established professionals. The panel consisted of Rachel Skaistis ’92, a current partner at Cravath, Swaine and Moore; Sailaja Paidipaty ’06, assistant United States attorney for San Francisco; Ellen Cosgrove, associate dean at Yale Law School; and Kelly Voight, assistant dean at Yale Law School. Each speaker talked about how they entered the field of law and what their career paths have looked like since. 

This panel featured a short question-and-answer session from students, who asked about networking, balancing personal and career aspirations and what law recruiters looked for in candidates. 

After the panel of established professionals, a panel of young professionals was introduced. This panel consisted of Katherine Xiu ’18 LAW ’23, Chaaru Deb LAW ’21 and Vivian Fernandez, a senior paralegal at Cravath, Swaine and Moore.  The panel fielded questions from students and focused more on short-term, actionable advice, such as cold-emailing potential employers, handling rejection and exploring the law pathway, among other topics.

“It’s important to keep people outside of the law school close to you,” Deb said while answering a question about burn-out and work-life balance. “You have very specific goals in mind for what you want to do with a legal career that don’t overlap 100 percent with every single person that you meet in law school. That, for me, has been the most useful thing going through law school.”

The event ended with a reminder of the law career handbook, which Godron was inspired to create based on her experiences reaching out for help while applying for legal opportunities. The handbook incorporates feedback from the Women’s Network Yale Chapter board, which features six individuals interested in law. VP of Events for the Chapter Jacquelyn Daigneau ’23 and VP of Finance Lauren Potter ’22 also contributed to Godron’s efforts to organize the symposium.

Caroline Thomason ’22 was interested in law before attending the event and is still exploring the field. During the event, she asked the panel of professionals about the prospects of law school admission for someone who had been in another field prior to applying.

“I was very satisfied with the answer that they gave about how work experience is important and how they look for work experience nowadays,” Thomason said. “That was just refreshing to hear because I feel like a lot of my classmates are interested in going right after college and that’s not something that I’d want to do.”

Thomason said that she enjoyed the event, especially given the fact that all of the panelists were women and that she was able to learn more about the legal community. 

“Something that TWN Yale has been struggling with a little bit over the past semester, two semesters is really keeping up engagement and keeping people excited,” another attendee and member of the Women’s Network Ivana Ramirez ’25 told the News. “It was so, so impressive and incredible that the TWN Yale people were able to pull off such an inspiring and well-attended event so late into the semester.”

The Women’s Network Yale Chapter was established in 2020 by current co-President Canning Malkin ’21.

Hamera Shabbir | hamera.shabbir@yale.edu

HAMERA SHABBIR
Hamera Shabbir covers women's soccer as a staff reporter. Originally from California's Central Valley, she is a sophomore in Branford College double-majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies.