Christopher Lyon's part-time fellowship from BU Law offers bridge to full-time employment
Christopher Lyon ('13) transferred to BU Law from a school in New York because of the range and the accessibility of experiential opportunities. "I wanted to litigate, and the clinical programs at the law school I attended my 1L year were few and very limited for such a large class," he says.
Lyon, a business major and legal studies minor from the University of Texas at San Antonio, always knew he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, an attorney. He spent the summer after 1L year interning for Judge Xavier Rodriguez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Western Texas, where he confirmed that gaining quality, hands-on experience was very important to him.
Within a year of enrolling at BU Law, Lyon was serving real clients as a student attorney in the Civil Litigation Program. He worked on a variety of cases involving issues related to housing, employment, disability, and family law.
Lyon quickly seized many other opportunities to develop his lawyering skills: he served as senior article editor of the International Law Journal. He competed in the Sutherland Cup and Stone Moot Court Competitions, Client Counseling Competition, and Negotiation Competition. He also helped coach the school's ABA Arbitration Competition team and was the founding vice president of the BU Litigation Society.
And during his 3L year, Lyon participated in the Judicial Externship Program, through which students work with judges in the state or federal court system. He placed with the Massachusetts Appeals Court, where he drafted bench memoranda for panel hearings and observed oral arguments ranging from land use to defamation to criminal appeals.
With a wealth of legal experience under his belt, Lyon began seeking full-time opportunities for after graduation. Finding the right fit as far as practice area and firm size was important to him. So in the interim, he applied for and was awarded a part-time fellowship from BU Law, which funds graduates’ work up to 15 hours a week for up to six months. The part-time fellowships are meant to serve as a bridge to full-time legal employment, helping the newest class of alumni gain additional experience and continue to grow their professional networks.
Lyon received an offer to intern with Judge Bruce Scheckowitz of the Housing Court of the New York City Civil Court for his fellowship. He acted as a second court attorney for the judge, conferencing cases set for argument, communicating stipulations to pro se parties, and drafting decisions. "On any given day, the calendar had 50-90 cases," says Lyon, so the work was exciting and varied.
Lyon is grateful not only for the experience, but also the unexpected gift it gave him—the gift of options. He received five permanent job offers during his fellowship, all from various connections formed during this internship. Instead of taking the first one that crossed his path, he says, "I knew I had some form of income coming in [with the fellowship], so I was able to wait it out until the right offer came along."
The right offer, it turns out, was with the Manhattan office of Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach, a mid-sized firm focused on medical malpractice defense that represents major hospitals and pharmaceutical companies in New York City. Lyon's position is litigation-oriented, exactly what he had been waiting for, in the right location with competitive compensation and benefits. “Most importantly to me, it is an area of law that I am very excited to practice,” he says.
Thanks to his persistence and the fellowship program, Lyon is very happy where he has landed. "It is a fantastic job, and it was absolutely worth the wait," he says. “The Part-Time Fellows program not only supported me while searching for a permanent position, but it provided me with options, something I would have been completely without but for the program.”
Reported April 30, 2014