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Why KU Law? Career development

Whitney Novak, L’14

Whitney Novak, L'14
"I’ve used the Career Services Office liberally. I wouldn’t be able to make it without them."

Whitney Novak started law school not knowing if she even wanted to be a lawyer. She certainly didn’t want to work at a big law firm – “one of those cold, unfriendly, detached places with demanding, workaholic attorneys.”

During her first year of law school, though, a friend talked her into attending a Q&A session about summer clerkships that had been advertised by the school’s Career Services Office.

“I was surprised to see four friendly faces at the front of the room, eager to answer all of our questions,” she recalled. “I left that evening thinking, “If this is what working in a law firm is like, count me in!”

While searching for summer employment, Novak maintained close contact with Career Services staff – asking questions, discussing options and developing strategies.
Four months later, she found herself living in Wichita, beginning a summer clerkship at Martin Pringle. Although she was a rookie at lawyering, she decided to tackle the summer head on and do everything possible to learn all she could. The summer proved to be one new experience after another.

“Although I felt that I had learned so much in my first year of law school, I was quickly reminded I was but a legal novice,” she said. “However, each assignment was an amazing opportunity to research something new, a chance to immerse myself in an area of law I had never imagined I would encounter.”

As she begins her second year of law school, Novak has already met with Career Services Dean Arturo Thompson a number of times to evaluate her career search and develop a to-do list for the fall. She has also been in touch with KU Law alumni in a variety of practice areas to discuss career ideas. The Career Services Office spearheads an alumni networking program and a 1L mentoring program to foster these types of connections.

 “I am so glad I kept an open mind and gave this whole ‘law firm thing’ a chance,” Novak said. “Thanks to my amazing opportunity at Martin Pringle, I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge, insight and skills that carry me confidently into my 2L year. And I’ve used the Career Services Office liberally. I wouldn’t be able to make it without them.”

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