Buffalo born and raised, Shelby Mueller ’23 was ready to broaden her horizons after she graduated from UB law school.
Competing with her UB Law team in the National Trial Competition in Manhattan—a place she had never been, not even as a tourist—got her thinking. Maybe, she thought, she could work in New York City. But how to make the move from upstate New York to the Big Apple?
That’s where a strong and growing set of connections between the law school and alumni working in New York City paid off. With the help of Marc Davies ’03, senior associate director for career services, she reached out to alums who are current and former prosecutors in the city. She wanted to be a prosecutor; they helped her decide where in the city’s justice system she’d best fit and coached her on the rigorous interviews she’d have to master.
The result: Mueller is now living in Manhattan and working in the Queens district attorney’s office. She has passed the bar exam, and once she’s admitted to practice, she’ll be an assistant district attorney—a dream she has had since childhood.
“Networking was the biggest thing for me,” she says, “being able to talk to people who are in the field I want to be in. You can gain trial experience quickly in New York City, so that appealed to me. And I absolutely love my job—I love going in to work every day.”
Her experience is one happy result of the law school’s increasing presence in the nation’s largest legal market. UB Law’s most visible presence is the New York City Program in Finance and Law, now in its 18th year exposing students to practitioners at the highest levels of law and corporate finance in the city. And students are increasingly benefiting from formal and informal connections with alumni practicing in New York, often brokered by those active in UB Law’s New York City Alumni Chapter.
That involvement takes a couple of forms, says Daisy Tomaselli ’13, who chairs the alumni chapter with Patrick Reinikainen ’12, an attorney with the New York Branch of Commerzbank, a global commercial banking company. Tomaselli works at New York University, where she is assistant director of global investigations and senior EEO investigator.
She says some alumni serve as mentors to current students, particularly those who have expressed interest in working in New York City. But more immediately, students who have interviewed on campus with a New York City firm, and then are called to the city for a second interview, benefit from coaching by members of the alumni chapter. Often, Tomaselli says, that happens at the alum’s office or over lunch—the kind of by-the-way contacts and introductions that can be crucial to a new graduate trying to break in.
Among the close to 2,000 UB Law alumni working in the five boroughs, she says, “we have tons who are in management, finance, some are entrepreneurs, in-house counsel, in human relations, in government. We have the full gamut of professionals, including people who have been in the field for many years and are working at high levels, like CEOs and company presidents.
“And we get a lot of outreach from current students, those who are near graduation and recent graduates, asking us to help them network in New York City,” she says.
Tomaselli, herself a product of the New York City Program in Finance and Law, says for those who do end up practicing there, it can be a very different world. “It takes a lot of drive, ambition, work ethic and dedication to be a lawyer here in New York City,” she says. “The city is very fast-paced. But where there’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of reward. The opportunities are essentially limitless. We just want to make sure everybody has an opportunity to pursue whatever path they want to pursue.”
Often students make connections when alumni lecture in the New York City Program in Finance and Law. Marc Alpert ’86, a senior vice president and general counsel at Loews Corp. and a guest speaker in the Program, has often played matchmaker, recommending students to his contacts at Big Law firms in the city as well as reviewing their resumes and helping them with interview prep.
“They’re all kind of my mentees,” he says of the students he has worked with—five successful placements so far. But he knows that working at these firms means clearing a high bar, so he concentrates on helping highly motivated students with a strong record of academic achievement.
“I get a lot of satisfaction out of working with students to get these jobs,” he says. “But these interviews are so hard to get. These firms typically hire from the top 10 or 15 law schools in the country. But many of them have UB Law graduates working there, and that has helped.”
A full-court press
In addition to the dedicated work of our alumni, the law school’s focused efforts in the New York City market include: