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Leslie Becker Wilson has been Director of Legal Career Services and Alumni Services at UMASS Law for over ten years. As the Director of Legal Career Services, she offers comprehensive legal career development counseling to UMASS Law students and alumni. Ms. Wilson is a member of the Massachusetts and New York State Bars. In addition to providing leadership for the career services office, Leslie manages the law school's pro bono program and is a member of the public interest law fellowship and public interest summer stipend committees.
Ms. Wilson has previously held many legal positions including serving as a paralegal, judicial intern, and law firm associate. After practicing law for seven years, Ms. Wilson decided to pursue a more fulfilling career as a law school administrator. She began to build a professional network by talking to higher education administration professionals. She logged each contact in a small spiral notebook that was easy to keep with her. Each page listed one person's name, contact information, and their professional resources and advice. After gathering this information, she researched suggested job postings, noted the skills being sought, and compared them to her strengths and weaknesses. Ms. Wilson used all of this information to draft appropriate cover letters that were tailored to each position. Lastly, she joined related professional associations to become educated in the industry and make local contacts.
Ms. Wilson was born and raised in Long Island, New York. She received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University, and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.
When she is not working, she enjoys watching the New England Patriots, eating her favorite meal at Baba Louie's in the Berkshires, and reading various works of literature including A Hope in The Unseen by Ron Suskind.
Successful Director of Career Services
Why did she decide to become a law school career counselor? "I wanted to pursue a career that I found meaningful and impact ful. I have held several different legal positions so I am personally knowledgeable about a variety of positions and the related job searches required to obtain them. Ultimately, I want to help others find careers in the law that they love as much as I love mine."
What is the best part of Ms. Wilson's job? "I most enjoy the initial resume review appointments that I conduct with each first-year law student. It is a unique opportunity to get to know each individual's strengths and struggles on a deeper level."
What does she have a knack for? "Getting people to talk to me regarding the things about which they are most passionate and identifying their related strengths."
How has the market affected students from obtaining positions they want? "The economic downturn has made it necessary for all students to focus on their career goals early in their law school careers in order to have the requisite skills, experience, and professional contacts to obtain the positions they seek upon graduation."
What does Ms. Wilson do to prepare students who are entering the workforce in a downward economy? "In my individual counseling appointments we focus on the skills which distinguish each person as a candidate for the type of position being sought, including language skills as well as transferable skills from other positions held, in order to develop a story that clearly and concisely explains why they are the ideal candidate for the position."
What advice would she give to students who are about to graduate and enter the workforce? "Be open enough to different opportunities so that you can get your legal career started while building your experience. This will enable you to move to another position that meets more of your professional goals."
What advice would Ms. Wilson give to a student who is struggling with their coursework? "Meet with the Associate Dean and the Dean of Students to discuss your struggles and possible options to help alleviate or resolve the issues."
What advice does she give to a student who doesn't know what career path to take after he/she graduates? "Schedule an appointment with the Career Services Office to conduct a self-assessment, through which we can identify what drives you, what you are interested in, what your strengths are, and what types of positions would be a good fit for you. This in turn will become the foundation for an individualized career plan."
Where does Ms. Wilson see herself in five years time? "Still as the UMASS Law Director of Legal Career Services."
If she were not a law school career counselor, what would she most probably be doing? "I would likely be an analyst since I am a data junkie and enjoy identifying and breaking down trends to determine the reasons behind the patterns."
Nonprofit Organizations, The Downside of Her Position and Ms. Wilson's Goals
Is Ms. Wilson involved with any nonprofit organizations? "I'm the immediate past president of the Massachusetts Law School consortium, an active member of the Northeast Law Career Consortium, and a member of The National Association of Legal Career Professionals (NALP) and it's local chapter, the Massachusetts Association of Law Placement Professionals."
Is there a downside to her position? "Yes. I can help students determine what would be their dream job, but it is ultimately up to each person to do the difficult work of figuring out what career paths will bring the most professional satisfaction."
What are Ms. Wilson's professional and personal goals? "To continue to expand my knowledge in order to better help our graduates find satisfying legal careers."
What is her advice to potential law school applicants? "Know why you are interested in attending law school. Thoughtfully consider what you intend to do after you graduate, so you can determine whether law school is a good investment for your professional goals. Investigate which law schools have specializations in the career areas you are interested in pursuing, and then visit the law school you are considering attending in order to get a feel for the law school's community and culture. Understand that, although a law degree can open a variety of doors for you, what you do with your legal education depends to a large extent on what you make of the experience and opportunities presented to you as a law student."