The Health Law Association’s Annual Firm Visit: Holland & Knight

Last Thursday evening marked the culmination of my largest responsibility as the Networking Director for BU’s Health Law Association (HLA) – our annual firm visit. This year I arranged for us to visit Holland & Knight, which is known in part for its large and diverse health law practice. I felt a lot of pressure all year to find a firm that was willing to host us and get everything set up, so I’m really glad it finally happened. Marissa Urban, a BUSL alum at Holland and Knight, was really generous with her time and helpful in getting this event put together – many thanks to Marissa!

Our visit to Holland and Knight included a panel of 3 associates and 3 partners, moderated by Marissa. About 18 students attended. We got to submit our questions for the panel a few days ahead of time. While we heard a lot of great information about attorneys’ favorite cases and how they started their careers (as you normally would in a panel,) this format had a special focus. We heard about an example of a health law pro bono case, and about what issues are commonly litigated in health law right now. This was a great introduction to both the firm and the field.

I also liked this format because it was a great way to ask some questions students might like to ask but would feel hesitant to ask in one-on-one interview. My favorite question to hear answered was: ‘what should an associate do to recover if they make a mistake’? This is a question that would be too risky to ask in an interview, because it might make the wrong impression. The answer is critical, though, as we student lawyers are bound to make errors as we learn new materials.  Happily, two senior associates who often manage young attorneys had great answers. They told us that if a mistake is small and you can quickly fix it yourself, like a spelling error or a mistake in a citation, you should fix it right away and then hand in the corrected version to your project supervisor. If you make a mistake that you can’t fix alone and quickly, you should bring it to your supervisor’s attention as soon as you notice it. “Be honest and apologize,” the associates told us, “we’ve all been there and even though we may get frustrated, we remember what it is like.” I found this answer constructive and reassuring.

Our evening wrapped up with the opportunity to network with the attorneys in the health law practice group at Holland and Knight, as well as Bronagh Fay, who is in charge of Attorney Recruitment at the firm. One thing that was really nice about visiting the firm was that it was easy for attorneys who would have been too busy to come to an event at BU to attend, even if for a short time. We all got to meet a lot of friendly, helpful attorneys. If you’re reading this and you attended I can’t recommend enough that you follow up with your new contacts!

My final note about this experience is that it is illustrative of how extra-curricular participation can be a great opportunity in more ways than one. As Networking Director for HLA, I’ve had one-on-one emails, phone conversations, and/or face to face meetings with roughly 30 BUSL alumni working both in health law, and in related fields, simply due to the responsibilities of my position. I get to put this position on my resume and it was also a wonderful opportunity for me personally. Working with HLA this semester has been really, really worth my while.

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