Evelyn Clark, a rising 3L at Washington and Lee University School of Law, took an opportunity in the ninth grade which fast tracked her to a legal career. “I’m from a small town in southern Virginia and was very fortunate to be selected as our State Senator’s Senate Page,” she recalls. At the age of 14, she moved to Richmond for the duration of the session, attended the General Assembly, and witnessed the delicate engineering process which turns an idea into law. “I fell in love with the government and the way laws were made,” she says. “I’m grateful that I knew from an early age that I wanted to attend law school, and experienced high school and undergrad with purpose, and a long-term goal.”
Evelyn committed herself to a profession in law early, and is well on her way to a successful career. After her early experience in legislation, Evelyn pursued her passion with steadfast resolve by majoring in Political Science and Women & Gender Studies at Roanoke College, and starting at Washington and Lee University School of Law in 2017. In addition to her academics, she dedicated herself to activities like leading her law school’s OutLaw organization and writing for Washington and Lee’s Journal of Civil Rights & Social Justice.
Such activities helped shape Evelyn into a qualified student and prospective lawyer. However, it was the LGBT Bar’s Lavender Law® Conference and Career Fair helped her channel those achievements into a summer position at a prestigious law firm.
In August of 2018, Evelyn decided to attend Lavender Law® as an opportunity to meet face-to-face with potential employers. “I heard about Lavender Law® from our Associate Director of Career Planning at Washington and Lee,” says Evelyn. “She said that the school hadn’t had people attend in a few years, but when people went they found it very beneficial.”
Evelyn attended the Conference and Career Fair with one of her fellow students and found that her career planner’s claim rang true. “The Career Fair was a fantastic opportunity to meet face-to-face with potential employers,” she recalls. “I applied to a variety of organizations beforehand, and the Career Fair gave me an opportunity to follow up in person. It helps to not only put a face to a resume, but for students to see if they would fit with employers.” For Evelyn, a conversational spark is what helped set her apart. “I had a great conversation with the attorneys at the Thompson Coburn table, and not long after, received a callback interview,” she says. “I was ultimately offered a summer associate position, and I believe in large part it’s due to the face time I got at Lavender Law.”® Presently, Evelyn has received and accepted an offer of full-time employment as an associate at Thompson Coburn following the conclusion of her legal education.
Speaking with representatives and touring different firms’ tables helped Evelyn cement the perfect position for her 2L summer. But Evelyn says that there are countless ways for prospective lawyers to create opportunities for themselves through conference events. Her advice for future attendees is to “go to the panels, listen to them, and interact.” Additionally, “you can never go wrong with a thoughtful, well-asked question. I asked a question in a panel and was approached by a recruiter at one of the receptions, thanking me for bringing up the topic. You never know, a genuine question for a panelist may inadvertently get you a job!”
For the Career Fair, Evelyn stresses the importance of having a game plan. “Know the employers that you’re the most interested in, and spend time with them first,” she says. “Remember that it’s not just about them meeting you, but for you to learn about them. Research organizations ahead of time so you know why you’re interested in them and what you’d like to know more about. Make it beneficial for you and know what you want to ask.”
Evelyn recently finished her term as a summer associate with Thomson Coburn, and she says that the experience has been invaluable to her legal education. “I’ve really enjoyed being a summer associate at the firm this summer,” she says. “Before law school, I didn’t have a particular interest in doing litigation work, but I found myself drawn to it when working with our attorneys in the litigation group. I’ve always loved academia and research, and I found the work to be similar. I’m constantly researching new things, analyzing problems, and finding solutions. It’s very satisfying work.”
Last year, Evelyn was only one of two Washington and Lee law students to attend the Lavender Law® Conference and Career Fair. This year, however, the LGBT Bar hosted four rising 2Ls from her law school for the Conference in Philadelphia. “We valued the experience so much that we worked hard to send more students up this year!” she says, “After speaking with the students who went, I believe they had just as much of a meaningful experience.”
Evelyn represents one of the many students who were able to advance their careers last year through the Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair. This year, nearly 400 students registered for the Career Fair and opened new doors for their professional development. Evelyn is one of many Lavender Law® alumni who have developed their professional lives through the conference – we are excited to see where Evelyn and her peers all go next!