To most high schoolers, the term “legal career” probably sounds difficult, expensive and foreboding.
In an effort to dispel that notion, the Minnesota chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators has for the last four years sponsored an annual event to show inner-city students that a career in the legal field might be more attainable than they think.
The ALAMN Diversity & Inclusion Committee’s Law Firm Career Fair has become a regular April event that informs the students about legal careers that don’t require a law degree.
Committee member Curtis Okerson, human resources generalist at Fredrikson & Byron, recalls the genesis of the fair: “Somebody on the committee said, ‘You know what? We really need to give more opportunities to diverse students and get them early so they start thinking about careers in law firms.’”
The first fair, hosted by the Fredrikson firm, was in 2015, with students from Patrick Henry High School invited to attend. Since then, the invitations are extended to mostly seniors in two high schools per year. About 30 students typically attend.
Committee members and legal organizations volunteer to set up tables — each devoted to a specific type of career (legal secretaries, paralegals, IT professionals, etc.) — where students can gather information. They also have a chance to take part in mock job interviews.
While the range of potential careers is surprising to many students, Okerson says they have also proven to be sophisticated information gatherers.
“They ask the best questions,” he says. “These kids really want to know what it’s like in that career.”