March 2, 2020 - University of Houston Law Center students and recent graduates met with potential employers at the Small & Midsize Firm Open House on Feb. 21, in the Law Center Commons.
The Open House was the culmination of the Career Development’s Office Spring Small and Midsize Firm Career Week. The event hosted several panels featuring professionals and students with experience in firms with fewer than 50 attorneys.
“Due to the incredible success of the annual Fall Open House, the CDO hosted an additional Spring Open House for the first time since the event’s inception,” said Assistant Dean for Career Development Tiffany J. Tucker.
“Small and midsize law firm employers expressed their gratitude for the CDO’s coordination of the Spring Open House to help them access stellar student and recent graduate candidates to assist with substantive legal work for their thriving practices.”
Chandria T. Jackson, CDO Associate Director of Counseling, serves as the employer contact for small and midsize firms and manages extensive and ongoing employer outreach to gain a better understanding of the needs of the small and midsize firms located in the greater Houston area.
“These events serve many functions. The overall objective is for students and recent graduates to gain employment,” Jackson said. “But events like these are also opportunities for students and recent graduates to learn about different types of practice areas and what it is like to practice law in different settings.”
“Employers have reported that they enjoy learning more about the candidates and laying the foundation for potential employment.” Attending the Open House can be part of a multipronged recruiting strategy for firms, helping them achieve good recruiting responses through one-on-one interaction with the candidates.
The first Small and Midsize Firm Career Week panel, titled “The Student Perspective,” featured Law Center students who spoke about their experiences working at small and midsize firms, as well as their personal career paths, work environments and networking abilities. Panelists included 3L Alejandra Galvan who was a law clerk for Marrs Ellis & Hodge, LLP, 3L Kristen Nelson, who worked at the Tracey & Fox Law Firm, and 2L Jay Patel who was a law clerk for Walker Wilcox Matousek LLP.
“Persistence is everything,” said Patel as he encouraged students seek jobs beyond the firms that visit campus for the On Campus Interviews (OCI) and to follow up on their job applications. “Typically these small law firms don’t have a recruiting chair, so senior associates or partners usually manage recruiting processes. Due to their busy schedules, client services must be prioritized over hiring at times. They will appreciate your persistence.”
When touching on the culture of a small firm, panelists drew examples from their personal experiences.
“Being at a small firm is so personal,” Nelson said. “I can go to the partner about anything. People take time out of their day to answer my questions, even if it’s not something that they have been assigned to.”
The second panel featured early-career attorneys who spoke about securing employment outside of the OCI process. Panelists included Tina Gutierrez ‘19 of Hodges & Foty, LLP, Michele Jensen ‘19 of Conley Rose, P.C., Tom Machisak ‘18 of Taylor, Book, Allen & Morris, L.L.P., and Katelyn Van Sickel ’18 of Crady Jewett McCulley & Houren LLP.
The final panel of the week, told from the employer perspective, included hiring attorneys and recruiters who discussed their hiring cycles and recruiting strategies. Panelists featured Rachel Machisak ‘18 of Daniels & Tredennick Attorneys at Law, Zeinab Zahid ‘17 of Matías J. Adrogué, PLLC, and Mark Deaton ‘09 of Munsch, Hardt, Kopf & Harr, PC.