What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Allen Howell has been Director of Career Services and Public Interest at Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, Faulkner University for three years. He was born on an Air Force base in Montgomery, AL. Allen claimed, "Being in a military family caused me to move a lot when I was younger so I lived several places growing up. The law school eventually brought me back full circle to Montgomery." He is an alumnus of Faulkner University's Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While in law school, Allen won the Greg Allen Mock Trial Tournament and was a research assistant in the field of bioethics and health law.
Allen teaches an evening Administrative Law class to university students. He is currently rereading Sinclair's The Jungle to give the students a unique perspective into one social issue that resulted in the creation of an agency. Allen is a frequent visitor of Jim N' Nicks BBQ.
When asked about his hobbies and favorite sports teams, he replied:
"My full time hobby is spending time with my almost two year old daughter, Harper. I also play in a recreational indoor and outdoor soccer league. Regarding favorite sports teams, my mother's family lives in Massachusetts so growing up, I received second hand Boston sports team's shirts and items. The long-term effect is that most of my favorite teams are now Boston based including the Patriots, Celtics and Red Sox. Of course for college football, I am bound by unwritten law to cheer for a local team in the Southeastern Conference. I follow the Auburn Tigers, which are only 40 minutes east from the law school."
Successful Director of Career Services and Public Interest
When and why did Allen decide to become a legal career counselor? He explained:
"For me, the answer was all about timing. Three years ago the economy was struggling from the effects of the 2007/08 financial crisis. Banks were in turmoil, houses were being foreclosed and unemployment was growing. Unemployment was particularly bad and getting worse for the legal job market. Taking this position allowed me to be part of a solution on the front lines. I enjoy working on behalf of and alongside our students/graduates to help them find a rewarding career."
What is the best part of Allen's job? "Helping facilitate win/win situations when students connect with an employer that inspires and challenges them and employers find a student that makes their organization better."
What does the director of career services have a knack for? "I feel very comfortable doing employer outreach. I enjoy developing relationships with firms, organizations and other groups."
Allen was asked how the market has affected students' ability to obtain positions they want. "The market has made the process of obtaining a position, whether as a clerk/intern or full-time position, much more challenging. Law students have always had to work hard to find the right career path, but today's students have almost no margin for error in any stage of the job search/application process."
What does he do to prepare students who are entering the workforce in a downward economy? Allen acknowledged:
"The short answer is anything possible. As I mentioned, the margin for error is slight for those applying for legal jobs. One way I have made additional preparations recently was to create a 'Professionalism Orientation' day for first year students this fall. The day covered everything from an overview of the career services office, resume writing, lunch etiquette and networking to interviewing techniques, job search strategies and self assessment basics. Speakers from recruiters in private practice firms to members of government organizations like the Attorney General's office and Federal Defender's office participated. The goal of the program was to bring our first year law students up to a minimum professionalism threshold as quickly as possible before they interacted with employers. "
What advice would Allen give to students who are about to graduate and enter the workforce? He asserted:
"Stay positive, work hard and focus on long-term success. Remember that your first job out of law school will probably not be the job that you retire from. It is also important to grow professionally so that you are positioning yourself for future opportunities. That means developing relationships in the community and the local bar. Volunteering when possible, working longer hours than your peers if necessary and sometimes being willing to take the kind of legal work no one wants to do in the office."
When asked what advice he would give to a student who is struggling with their coursework, Allen said, "If you feel that you are struggling with coursework then act immediately. Start by talking with your professors, expand your discussion to those in academic success and finally, look for guidance with students that have already taken the course."
What advice does he give to a student who doesn't know what career path to take after he/she graduates? Allen noted:
"Nearly every student I counsel hears me say 'begin with the end in mind.' In my opinion, students that recognize their goals and 'end game' early have a competitive advantage over their peers. Obviously that is not possible for everyone. Some students take longer to find their passion and strengths. There is a line in a song that I usually think about when students tell me that they still don't know what they want to be 'when they grow up.'
The line is 'don't feel guilty if you don't know what to do with your life, (some) of the most interesting people I know, didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't.'
It's okay to feel like you don't have all of the answers or even the next plot point on your life's map at this exact moment. But, you have to move forward somehow. I recommend that students try assessments, take a variety of internships/externships, take classes that interest them and to talk to attorneys in different fields. Each experience hopefully begins to move students toward a career they find fulfilling."
As a law school director of career services, what area of counseling is Allen most passionate about? He candidly stated:
"That answer can change daily based on what I am working on with students. However, I am very passionate about our public interest program within the Career Services Office. By volunteering in the program, our students get substantive legal experience, work side by side with practicing attorneys and provide pro bono legal services to those in need. It is incredible to watch students experience the impact of how their legal training can change the world around them."
What motivated him to become a law school director of career services? "Helping others. Although a Christmas break might be a distant second."
If Allen wasn't a law school director of career services, what would he most probably be doing? "Probably working with a non-profit or practicing law."
Non Profit Organizations, The Downside of His Position and Allen's Goals
Is Allen involved with any non-profit organizations? He disclosed:
"I am an active member of the legal community serving on the Alabama State Bar's Pro Bono Week Task Force as the Law School Subcommittee Chair and the State Bar's Pro Bono and Public Interest Committee as the Subcommittee Chair for Membership. I was also recently appointed to the American Bar Association's Young Lawyer Membership Team.
Additionally, I am active in the community, serving as the Vice President of Montgomery's Mental Health America Board and a member of the American Cancer Society's Junior Executive Board for Montgomery. I am also an Ambassador for the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, on the leadership team for the UAB Montgomery Alumni Chapter and on the board for his Homeowner's Association."
Is there a downside to his position? "The downside is the other half of the coin when students apply for a position and are declined. My office internalizes the negative responses just as much as the job offers especially when a student really wanted the position. You have to develop a resiliency when you are searching for a job even during the best of times."
Does the director of career services have goals? "My second daughter is set to arrive in only three months so my immediate personal goal is to get some sort of sleep during the next year. Professionally, I hope to keep meeting challenges and finding new ways to help our students and alumni."