Katie Lazares ’10

JOB TITLE: Assistant counsel
LOCATION: Boston, Massachusetts
GRADUATE DEGREE: Juris doctor, Northeastern University School of Law

What was your first position after college? I went to law school immediately after college. When I graduated from Trinity, the job market was limited because of the recession, so I began to consider higher education. I chose law school because I have always been passionate about social justice issues and was attracted to the idea of advocating for people’s rights. I figured a law degree could offer me the leverage I desired to effect change at an impactful level. I decided to attend Northeastern University School of Law because it is one of the leading public interest law schools in the country and incorporates an impressive social justice component into its curriculum.          

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? Yes. A liberal arts education allowed me to explore many disciplines by taking a wide range of classes, from social sciences to mathematics to the arts. This flexibility equipped me with diverse skills, and most importantly, with the ability to think both critically and creatively, which is fundamental to the work of a lawyer.           

A major in anthropology instilled in me the will and ability to avoid judging people and situations based purely on external appearances and fast assumptions. Rather, it taught me to attempt to understand the cultural, political, economic, educational, legal, and environmental framework that shapes human behavior and social systems. Such a framework is critical to understanding the root cause of legal disputes and to adequately representing clients of diverse backgrounds.    

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? Take classes that will develop both analytical and creative thinking and writing skills, and align yourself with a faculty member who can mentor you and potentially write an influential letter of recommendation later. In addition, find students who are like-minded in their educational and professional pursuits. Of course, good grades are important. However, in the realm of law school applications, most schools focus on LSAT scores. Although it isn’t fun studying for and taking the LSAT during your senior year, it is worthwhile and a crucial part of the application process.

What is the biggest misconception about your field? The biggest misconception about my field is that all lawyers are ruthless, ultracompetitive, money-hungry liars. While these individuals do exist (as they do in every profession), I have been overwhelmingly impressed by the vast number of earnest, hardworking, and compassionate attorneys who are driven by a will to advocate for the rights of their clients, to “give a voice to the voiceless,” and to push for litigation and legislation that will drive social change.

Another misconception is that there is only one career path for lawyers: to work in a law firm. This is not so. I developed a focus on employment law and workers’ rights advocacy and worked at a law firm that represents employees in discrimination and wage-and-hour matters. There, I saw many cases that I thought could have and should have been detected and resolved internally within company walls before reaching litigation, and I was inspired to find a position that allowed me to play a proactive rather than reactive role in addressing these types of issues. I switched from a traditional law firm setting to a less traditional position as an in-house attorney for a bank. Among other duties and responsibilities, I help oversee the bank’s employment policies and practices. In that capacity, I am able to better prevent potential harms by ensuring company compliance with best practices and adequate response to complaints of misconduct. Prior to law school, I was unaware of the wide variety of alternate career paths for lawyers, which also includes legal services, government, politics, journalism, business, and nonprofit management.