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    04.08.11 Two Career Center Events: Paths to Practice and Roads Less Traveled

    The Brooklyn Law School Career Center sponsored two dynamic programs in March. The first, a presentation by the New York State Bar Association President, focused on strategies for launching a career in the law. The second, a student/alumni networking event, focused on nontraditional careers outside the practice of law.

    Camille Chin-Kee-Fatt, Director of the Center, said, “These events help to inform the decisions students must make as they plan their future. They show that there are many routes and entry points to a fulfilling career."

    New York State Bar President Stephen P. Younger, speaking to a midday audience on March 21, urged students to practice the art of networking, especially in difficult economic times. He recommended that students join as many bar associations as possible – including national, state, city and practice-area groups. “As students, you may not have the time to be active members,” he said. “But membership will keep you in-the-know about the issues and people in your field, and help expand your interests.” Justin Fox ’11, a member of the State Bar, described some of the resources and programs of benefit to students.

    Younger, a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, is a leading commercial litigator and expert in alternative dispute resolution. He serves as chair of the Executive Committee of the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution and as counsel to the New York State Commission on Judicial Nominations, among other leadership positions.

    Career Conversations II, held on March 24, was the first networking event to feature alumni in nontraditional careers. During the two-hour networking session students chatted with CEOs, elected officials, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit leaders.

    Jill Backer, Associate Director of Employer Relations, who coordinated the event said, “The impetus came from students who have decided not to practice law. They wanted to know what else is out there for people with JDs.”

    Rescuing “Little New Yorkers” – Homeless Animals
    One participant at the event was Jane Hoffman ’84, who had built an impressive legal career advising high-wealth individuals on their compensation and estates. She left it all behind to champion the cause of homeless cats and dogs.

    Hoffman is president of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a not-for-profit corporation she helped create in 2002. It is a coalition of 150 animal rescue groups and shelters working with the city’s department of Animal Care and Control. “The goal is to transform New York City into a no-kill community by 2015,” said Hoffman.

    It wasn’t her day job that led Hoffman to a career change, but her membership in the New York City Bar, as the founder and leader of the Bar’s Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals. The committee sent a proposal to the Mayor for an innovative public/private alliance to address the problem of homeless animals. It would be funded privately, and rely on the City only for other resources, such as the use of public parks. The City signed a memorandum of understanding with the new Alliance in 2001.

    Since then, the euthanasia rate for shelter animals in the City has dropped dramatically, from 74% in 2002 to 33% in 2009. The Alliance has been recognized as a national model for community animal rescue efforts, and Hoffman has won national honors for her visionary leadership.

    Driving Innovation in Business Information
    Also at the event was Josh Peirez ’96, President of Innovation & Chief Marketing Officer of Dun &Bradstreet (D&B) and is also a member of D&B’s Global Leadership Team. Peirez is responsible for driving future innovation for D&B by raising awareness of newly- created product platforms and the recently formed Innovation Labs. He also oversees D&B's marketing function, global data strategy, the overall customer experience, and the sales and marketing product portfolio.

    Prior to joining D&B, he spent 10 years with MasterCard, most recently in the role of Chief Innovation Officer for MasterCard Worldwide, leading the development and commercialization of several payment platforms. Before that, he was MasterCard’s Chief Payment System Integrity Officer, overseeing compliance, fraud prevention and the security of payment systems. Earlier in his career, Peirez was an associate at Clifford Chance Rogers and Wells, focusing on antitrust litigation.

    “One of the truly empowering aspects of being a litigation attorney was the opportunity to ‘deep dive’ into an industry,” he said. “I had an ‘outside-in’ view of the strategy and execution path a company had chosen, and a similar view of the company's competitors and customers. I believe this perspective provided me the opportunity to see things differently and think creatively about how to approach problems from different angles.”

    “Looking back, “ he continued, “I believe my career path, while nontraditional or seemingly ‘a road less travelled,’ was actually a direct result of the way I learned to think creatively, logically and persuasively while at Brooklyn Law School. It was just a matter of taking chances, being open to the opportunities that presented themselves, not being afraid, and being true to myself.”

    Peirez has served on the Federal Reserve Board's Consumer Advisory Council and the Board of Directors for the Westchester County Association. In 2009, he was among the Top 10 Innovators of 2009 ranked by Bank Technology News.

    Read full biographies of the alumni who partipated in Career Conversations II.

    Read more about the Career Center.