Careers in the Commercial Division

By: Jennifer Branca | Editor-in-Chief

 On March 29, 2016, the Commercial Division Online Law Report successfully brought students together with distinguished attorneys to discuss the career paths that have led them to their prominent positions today. In addition to the dialogue about the specific careers of each speaker, topics ranging from work ethic, clerkships, and networking were addressed to extend advice to students who are preparing to graduate or enter into internship experiences. The panel included:

  • Neysa Alsina, Esq. – Counsel to the New York City Bar Association
  • Clara Flebus, Esq. – Senior Court Attorney for the Appellate Term, First Department
  • Jonathan Lupkin, Esq. – Founding Partner, Lupkin & Associates LLP
  • Clara Ohr, Esq. – Legal Counsel & Compliance Officer at Lukoil Pan Americas, LLC

The purpose of the panel was to show students what to expect after law school. The panelists informed participants how a strong work ethic is vital to achieving their goals. Johnathan Lupkin stated that a strong worth ethic – one that encompasses a positive and productive approach to work – is favored. “My associate was in need of a job. One day she came to my firm and said she would work for nothing – she just needed the experience. But, we could not let her work for nothing. So, we hired her, paying her a nominal sum and evaluated her performance. She came to work 8:30 am until 9:00 pm every day. Then, she would go to her second job where she would close a wine bar until 3:00 am and she still showed up at 8:30 am the next day. She had fire. She had the burning desire to succeed. This is the work ethic I am talking about. You have to sit down, understand that there are sacrifices, and make them. After this, we hired her, and I believe she is going to be one of the best litigators around,” said Mr. Lupkin.

The panelists also mentioned the importance of clerkships and advised students to seek clerkship positions after graduation. Clerkships offer students a unique experience. Mr. Lupkin stressed that in any clerkship students will read numerous briefs and do a lot of writing, much of it under time pressure, which is good practice for the rest of their career. Clara Flebus also acknowledged that the relationship between the judge and the law clerk has several facets: employer-employee, teacher-student, and lawyer-lawyer. The panelists confirmed that students will learn more about critical thinking, writing, and the practice of law then they will learn in twice the time spent at a large firm.

One of the most talked-about topics of the event was networking. Clara Ohr and Neysa Alsina explained that networking is not a transactional process. Instead determination and sincere interest will help students get to where they want to go. The panelists emphasized the importance of joining local bar associations. They stated that the bar association is a great resource for finding potential job leads, meeting other lawyers, and learning more about the legal industry. In today’s competitive market it is never too early to get ahead. Bar Association attendance offers students and practitioners endless opportunities to enhance their skills and explore all of the possibilities the profession has to offer.

The panelists were such distinguished lawyers with interesting stories and great advice. Finding a profession about which you can be passionate, the importance of taking risks, and the impact their legal education has had upon their professional success were all themes that emerged out of the discussion. Special thanks to all of our panelists for taking the time to share their career advice.

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