It has been estimated that there are over 80,000 lawyers working in the Washington, D.C. area – almost twice as many as in all of France.
UB School of Law alumni are among the best of them, and a core of committed and energetic alums are working to build the School of Law’s presence in the nation’s capital and create opportunities for our students to find their niche there.
The D.C. Chapter of the UB Law Alumni Association is one of our strongest, says Ilene Fleischmann, vice dean for alumni. “There’s a lot of opportunity in Washington,” Fleischmann says. “We have alumni in very strategic, important positions who are very loyal to the law school and to the law students, and they’re very helpful and supportive. They’ve been welcoming our students to Washington for many years.”
Meredith Jolie ’03 has chaired the chapter’s steering committee for three years, and now is joined by Dana Louttit ’86 as co-chair.
UB lawyers in D.C. work in a variety of practice areas, including government service and private practice in firms from boutique to international. “We have a wonderful group of alumni here,” says Jolie, who practices business immigration law with Maggio Kattar Nahajzer + Alexander P.C. “They are very committed to practicing law, and they also hold a special place for the law school in their hearts.”
That loyalty powers the work of the alumni chapter, which develops opportunities for alums to network with each other and supports the work of the law school’s career services office by opening doors for students seeking summer externships or permanent work in the district area.
“The school of law is committed to helping students land opportunities in major markets like D.C., and it is truly a UB community-wide effort,” says Marc Davies ’03, associate director for career services. “The involvement of our alums in supporting D.C. bound students and grads is the difference maker.”
The chapter’s signature event, now a summer tradition, is its annual cocktail gathering at the federal district courthouse hosted by U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman ’68. “It’s one of our favorite summer events, always a wonderful treat for the students and the alumni,” Jolie says. “The courthouse is rich with legal history. Judge Friedman talks about the Watergate cases, and the Guantanamo cases.”
That’s the kind of experience that can happen only in Washington, and for students who want to get a taste of the D.C. legal scene, Jolie says the alumni chapter stands ready to help.
“They can do things here that they can’t do in other parts of the country,” she says. “Lawyers here are doing government work; they work on policy. And many of the best organizations in the world are headquartered in D.C. UB School of Law students work on rights for homeless individuals, animal rights, federal commerce and trade. It will definitely take some legwork and some hustle to make an externship in D.C. work, but it’s completely doable. Students can meet people doing work that they love and that is having an incredible impact. Most of the students I know who get an externship have an amazing time, and they end up coming down here for full-time work.
There’s a lot of opportunity in Washington. We have alumni in very strategic, important positions who are very loyal to the law school and to the law students, and they’re very helpful and supportive. They’ve been welcoming our students to Washington for many years. - Ilene Fleischmann, vice dean for alumni
“There are a lot of law schools in the D.C. area, so we recognize that when a student from UB is coming to D.C. it’s going to be important that they optimize our alumni networks.”
Davies agrees. “Alumni put UB on the recruiting radar of their organization,” he says. “For students on location, they provide guidance that is critical at the early stages of a legal career. The D.C. Chapter has taken the lead on this front. It is not only generating good will--the support is helping to manifest outcomes. And this year, under Dean Abramovsky's new initiative many interns are supported financially by alumni-funded fellowships.”
Louttit, who is litigation services supervising attorney for the global firm Latham & Watkins LLP, recently has stepped up her involvement in the D.C. alumni chapter. One reason, she says, is that she’s following the lead of Judge Friedman. She’s also committed to supporting Dean Aviva Abramovsky, who has visited D.C. numerous times to build connections with the school’s alumni base. “She’s very impressive and has a lot of great ideas, and she is taking the school in new directions,” Louttit says.
In addition to mentoring and advocating for UB School of Law students, Louttit would like to see the alumni chapter continue to foster affinity among the school’s alumni in D.C. “I love the meetings because they’re an opportunity to talk to my peers,” she says. “We need to build our network of colleagues, making possible lateral opportunities for people. That’s how you get jobs in this town.”