Diversity Externship Program Testimonials
I am the first woman in my family to graduate from college and to go to law school. As an Iranian-American woman, it has been a challenging process breaking the social norms and barriers. As many students before me, I came to law school a little unsure of how I would emerge myself into the fabric of the legal profession. It was not until my first year of law school that I came to appreciate and embrace my diversity.
Diversity is one of the fabrics of our globalized world. To be able to integrate minority groups means to understand their customs and ways of doing things. I believe a way to achieve improving diversity in the legal profession in general is through exposure and inclusion. Exposing minority groups to the customs and traditions of the legal profession, and vice versa, means to understand where both sides are coming from to find common ground. Through this common ground you can decipher what interests both sides have in different scenarios and situations, which can lead to a greater sense of understanding. This collaborative process can be achieved through either mentorships, brown bag lunches and discussions, or team-building exercises to see how many different perspectives there are when approaching the same situation.
Thompson Hine embodied all of these things for me. I went to the Externship Fair at my law school, American University Washington College of Law, where I met Carrie Milliken and Karyna Valdes. At the time, I was interning at the State Department, and on one of my commutes to my internship I looked over the brochure Carrie and Karyna had given me, which led to me to look up the Thompson Hine pro bono website. I realized that Thompson Hine exemplified all of the things that I was looking for in a workplace. I reached out to Carrie, applied to the pro bono program, and haven’t looked back since.
I believe that pro bono work is an integral part of what it means to be a lawyer. It is a lawyer’s professional obligation to give back to the communities in which they practice, regardless of a client’s socio-economic status.
The externship program allowed me to not only aid in pro bono work that contributed to the public welfare, but also to develop skills needed to be an effective leader in law and in public service. The pro bono program allowed me to see that, just like so many other areas of our globalized society, private and public sectors can and should converge.
The pro bono program allowed me to develop and experience incredible things. One of my favorite summer projects was working on getting legal status for a 6-year-old girl to be able to stay with her mother in the United States. I am a child of immigrants. A product of their hard work and sacrifices. This summer allowed me to get a glimpse of what my parents had to go through and the system through which they had to maneuver so that I would have the opportunity one day to pursue my own goals. The pro bono program allowed me to get to know so many incredible legal professionals. I remember a piece of advice Samir Varma gave me when I first started my externship experience – get out there and get to know people. It was through one of those “get out there” lunches that Sandy Brown told me the Government Contracts group was looking to bring someone on. After that lunch, I went to speak with Tom Mason, which led me to come back as a law clerk.
I am eternally grateful for all the people who have made and continue to make my experience at Thompson Hine an unforgettable one. Each individual has impacted my outlook on the legal profession and solidified my decision to go to law school. My time at Thompson Hine has taught me that when a workplace values and proactively cultivates diversity, each individual can achieve their full potential and bring their whole self to better serve their clients, the firm and the legal profession.