“The Most Valuable Resource” Richard Salgado (’06) on how Alumni Can Help BYU Law
By Erin Fale November 23, 2022
Written by Richard Salgado ('06), BYU Law Alumni Chapter President
Alumni are often the most valuable resource for law students looking for jobs.
I’ll never forget my own first time interviewing with law firms as a 2L. I was a mess. Having paid my own way to fly to Washington D.C. for BYU’s early interviewing program, I stayed in the cheapest motel I could find on the edge of downtown D.C., then realized (too late) that it was in the most crime-ridden part of town. Because taxi cabs wouldn’t drive there, I was on foot—rushing around in the muggy D.C. heat, sweating through my first post-missionary suit that I’d bought on sale the week before at University Mall.
There were two things in common at each firm that interviewed me. First, the receptionists were alarmed by my disheveled appearance and offered me water when I stumbled into their shiny, marble lobbies. And second, there was a BYU Law alum already working at each firm that interviewed me. That was why they were even talking to me. Looking back, I realize that I got my first job in DC, my judicial clerkship, and my first job in Texas all by walking through doors that alumni opened for me.
Almost two decades later, the strength of BYU Law School’s students has only increased, yet the importance of alumni for law students hasn’t changed. Whether in big firms, small firms, government, or public interest, alumni are in the best position to encourage their organizations to hire from BYU or—sometimes even more importantly—to provide valuable advice and mentorship. Regardless of a student’s class rank, alumni are often the key ingredient to secure their first (or even first three) jobs. As discussed below, there are many ways to help:
First, alumni can be ambassadors. The strength of the most recent classes is incredible, including LSAT and GPA scores that place our students among the nation’s best. This snapshot comparison from the Career Development Office shows just how current students rank compared to their peers nationally and helps explain why the Law School is now ranked 23rd by US News. As alumni, we can share this information in our respective firms and companies and encourage them to hire BYU if they don’t already, or—if they already do so—encourage them to hire deeper into the class. Many law firms and companies—and most importantly, their hiring lawyers or committees—may not always realize how much BYU Law has climbed in recent years. As alumni, we can help change that.
Second, we can help by posting about internship and externship opportunities for students, giving them a chance to experience legal practice in your company—especially during the summer after their 1L year. You can share such opportunities by emailing Danielle Kettles the Career Development Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling at (801) 422-3685.
Third, alumni can be valuable mentors to help students navigate the legal market. This can include making introductions or even hiring a student directly. But more often it simply means being a resource to look over resumes, share wisdom, and make suggestions. You can sign up to be matched as a mentor on this form and BYU Law will contact you as mentoring opportunities become available. You can also fill out this form to update your contact information and let us know that you’re willing to be connected with law students interested in your practice area or geographic region.
The reality is that many of us benefitted—sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, and sometimes in ways we may not even realize—by other alumni who came before us. Likewise, it’s a great privilege and opportunity for us to now not only maintain, but even enlarge and strengthen the bridges that we ourselves crossed years ago.