Making the Pledge

More students and employers participating in this year’s Pledge to Diversity

James Taravilla speaks with a potential employer at the 1L Pledge to Diversity gathering on Jan. 26. / TONY FLESOR, LAW WEEK

For participants in the 1L Pledge to Diversity, a networking event on Jan. 26 was perhaps as worthwhile as the interviews the students participated in earlier that day.

The Colorado 1L Pledge to Diversity gave its law students and employers an opportunity to network and unwind following the first round of interviews. The event at Davis Graham & Stubbs put students face to face with employers, program alumni and sponsors after having panel interviews. Students said it was an opportunity to catch their breath after the “intimidating” process of being questioned by a group of employers. And according to the employers, the informal interactions at the networking event give them a better idea of who they might be interested in hiring.

The 1L Pledge to Diversity started to give more employment opportunities to law students from underrepresented backgrounds in the legal profession. Now the program is continuing to grow with more student participants, employers and summer clerkship positions.

At the start of the second semester, law students and employers participate in panel interviews. The networking event at the close of the interviews gives students an extra opportunity to get their foot in the door with employers as they make decisions on who to invite to the second round of interviews. Employers had their student “draft” Thursday, and students were notified of the results over the weekend.

Once hired, students will work as summer clerks at the various employers, and might segue into full-time jobs at the end of law school.

Ana Gutierrez, co-chair of the 1L Pledge to Diversity, addresses the group of student participants and employers. The number of both have grown in the past year, and the pledge has added the University of Wyoming College of Law.

Carlos Schidlow Fainsod, a participant from the University of Denver, said he was looking forward to finding out if he made it to the second round. For him, the program as gave him a major advantage in finding employment after graduation. 

Other students said the program was an enticement to Colorado’s law schools. Having the opportunity to get face time and interviews for jobs while still early in law school is seen as a significant advantage.

The Pledge to Diversity program has seen continued growth through its existence. The program saw the addition of the University of Wyoming College of Law for the 2017-2018 program. Also this year, the number of both student and employer participants went up, with 76 applicants competing for 46 positions. In 2017, the program placed students in 36 jobs.

Co-chair Ben Ross, an associate at Jackson Kelly addressed the attendees and said the program has grown a lot and the program is working on becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Although the program is now officially reaching outside of Colorado with the University of Wyoming joining, program co-chair Ana Gutierrez, a senior associate at Hogan Lovells, said there are no major plans for expansion beyond the natural growth the program has seen.

— Tony Flesor

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