Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 16

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From My Perspective

Flexibility and Networking
Critical to Job Hunt
By Melissa Zillhardt

A

s I'm writing this column, the finish line
that is law school graduation is clearly in
sight, and the huge task of transitioning
from law student to full-time attorney is about to
begin.

A recent article by the online law school
watchdog group Law School Transparency noted
that the job market for last year's law school
graduates was pretty much flat while law school
enrollment increased slightly. That means more
competition for jobs. And everyone is aware of the
huge debt weighing on most young attorneys' minds.

Still, I am extremely excited to be graduating from Villanova's
Charles Widger School of Law.
Villanova is where I gained experience in public interest,
environmental, corporate, and healthcare law.

While I believe I have a comprehensive background and solid
foundational base in those areas of law, I'm open to expanding into
new areas as I prepare to enter the legal profession.
My goal is to return to Berks County following graduation. I
feel compelled to use my education and skills to help a community
that has invested so much in me over my life.
I grew up in this area, graduating from Eastern Lebanon
County High School.

Arcadia University and a semester abroad in London piqued
my interest in environmental policy after taking an environmental
class on a whim.

16 | Berks Barrister

Albright College has an outstanding
Environmental Studies program and so I transferred
to finish my undergraduate work in Reading.
By the end of my sophomore year I still wasn't
certain where I wanted to take my career.

After finishing an internship as a park ranger
on the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational
River, I decided to go to law school in order to gain
a deeper understanding of environmental law and
policy.

During the summer of my first year of law
school, I interned at the Clean Air Council, an environmental
non-profit in Philadelphia. While at the Council I worked
with other interns, outreach coordinators, lawyers, and an
environmental engineer to draft public comments on agency
regulations pertaining to the implementation of Clean Air Act
standards, drafted a proposed recommendation for the distribution
of the Volkswagen settlement funds in Pennsylvania, and worked
on depositions and discovery for a case involving water permitting.
I absolutely loved my first internship, especially working in
the public interest, however, I understood that environmental
issues were closely intertwined with other areas of law. Therefore,
I decided to broaden my foundational base during my second year
by incorporating healthcare law, corporate compliance and risk
management, land use and planning, and business law into my
education. I found these other subjects to be extremely helpful
and sparked my interest in business law and compliance. I am
currently working as a Research Assistant for one of my professors
in the areas of business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and
shareholder/stakeholder theory.


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Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019

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