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The life and legal career of Helen Long, Director, Career Development Office, Boston University School of Law

( 28 votes, average: 4.3 out of 5)
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A confirmed Bostonian now, Helen was born in Munich, Germany, to a German mother and American father. Her family eventually settled in western Massachusetts. Like most of her neighbors, Helen likes the New England Patriots football team and struggles with her feelings about Red Sox baseball. "With them, it's kind of like a bad divorce; it's hard to watch because I can't stand to get my heart broken again."

Her illustrious association with higher education began when she enrolled at Mount Holyoke University. She later entered law school at the University of Pennsylvania and upon graduation became a trial lawyer, practicing law during the eighties. It was during one of her stints at a large Boston firm that she met her husband.

"My first day on the job at the firm, he was assigned to take me to lunch."

Bound to each other legally at work and soon at home, Helen and her husband also have three children.

One day, Helen felt the need for some time off. "I decided to try and figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had become a bit dissatisfied with work as a trail lawyer. I loved the analytic side of law but found it static."

Like a true future career services professional, Helen began to reflect on what courses she had liked most as an undergraduate. She developed a renewed interest in organizational psychology and entered the Ph.D. program at Boston University in Organizational Behavior. Here, she refined her juggling act of being a wife and mother, taking Ph.D. courses, and teaching.

"I relished interacting one on one with students but found that teaching in particular was not the area of academia I was meant for. With the Ph.D. program, I really wasn't enamored with the strong emphasis on writing and publishing."

Deciding not to complete her doctoral work, Helen pondered how next to proceed. Her ever-helpful husband mentioned reviewing a legal journal's classified section.

"Harvard was within a few blocks from home and was advertising a part-time career counselor position. I got the job and eventually went full time."

After three years at Harvard as Assistant Director for J.D. and Alumni Advising, she left this position last summer for the opportunity to become Director of the Career Development Office at the Boston University School of Law.

Established in 1872, BUSL attracts a diverse study body and offers a wide range of J.D. and LL.M. degrees. The 2005 edition of The Princeton Review ranked BUSL fourth in Best Career Prospects.

Helen's duties consist of a mix of administrative activities, program planning, and one-on-one counseling. One major initiative she is implementing as Director concerns the management of the office's services.

"I'm working to make all of our resources available 24 hours a day via the computer, as well as trying to increase efficiency by eliminating paperwork."

"The variety is a very attractive aspect of the position-every day is something different."

"I have found much joy in working with students. Hearing their stories, helping them sort through important decisions, as well as helping them market themselves."

"One of my strengths as a career counselor is that when I was pursuing my doctorate, I looked at law as a profession. I can offer my students a candid view of the choices they have to make while they complete their law degree."

"It's a challenge for me if students are having a tough time and are discouraged." You want to be a motivational force for them, but at the same time, you don't want to be a total Pollyanna either."

Helen continues to stay interested in professional careers and management of knowledge-based professional workers in law and educational settings. She helped found and administer an educational-reform effort aimed at improving leadership in public schools.

"One tip that I would pass on to law students is to think of themselves as professionals from the first day they start their law school education."

Clearly, Helen is one specialist who is demonstrating that it is possible to achieve a successful balance between professional and personal endeavors.

Boston University School of Law


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