Current Job: Counsel at Sesame Workshop
Two words that describe Andrew: tenacious and optimistic. He has held more than half a dozen diverse legal jobs in the three years since he earned his degree, culminating in his brand-new position as counsel at Sesame Workshop. The trajectory may not be traditional or linear, but Andrew has managed to convert what could be considered a liability into an asset.
“When I graduated, the legal industry was in a tough place,” he says. “In order to progress as a young attorney, I had to accept opportunities, whether they were temporary, low-pay, or no-pay, which I knew would allow me to amass practical, transferable skills. During interviews, I emphasized this transferability of skills while explaining my legal career journey, which included several temporary contract and volunteer jobs. In the end, experience is experience.”
Andrew was careful to stress to potential employers that as varied as his positions and clients were, his work throughout was largely transactional and allowed him to multitask. “I genuinely think wearing several hats is very helpful for developing attorneys,” he says.
Relationship-building was critical as Andrew progressed through a succession of experiences that included an interim associate position at a small firm to a pro bono program of the New York State Court system, then Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, a small branding and technology company, a stint hanging out his own shingle, and his most recent job as associate counsel at Mattel Inc. “Networking is more than just meeting someone at a cocktail party,” he says. “It’s important to fortify relationships because it is almost impossible to gain support from strangers. This is why our greatest advocates are those who know our work – our clients, colleagues, and bosses. Also, new attorneys need to meet as many people in the practice areas they are interested in and keep in touch with these people in a meaningful way.”
Andrew would be the first to admit his road wasn’t smooth, but he is equally quick to point out that he has become more capable as a result. “I think that the majority of 1Ls start their career journey expecting to secure the big law summer associate position, work before their 2L year, get an invite to return to that firm before their 3L year, and get an offer some time in between these steps. However, only a minority of law students are actually afforded this option. The rest of us have to be creative. While a non-traditional route provides less certainty, it engenders what I call a ‘hustler’s spirit.’ They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. Well, if you can make it in New York as an attorney, without a Big Law offer, you will make it anywhere.”