Mindy McNair never gave up as she pursued a career. She interned during her 3L year, worked while she studied for the bar, applied for multiple jobs, and took advantage of the resources offered by Colorado Law’s Career Development Office. Now an in-house attorney for RTD, McNair’s persistence paid off as she pursues new opportunities each day.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a “typical” work day look like?
I am an in-house attorney for RTD. I primarily handle a variety of transactional and compliance matters for the agency, including drafting and negotiating agreements for transit-oriented development deals and real estate transactions, practicing before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission regarding railroad crossing applications, and working on technology and privacy issues (data breach response, PCI-DSS compliance, software procurements). While at RTD, I have also had the opportunity to work on a few cases in federal and state courts, and I currently have a case before the Colorado Supreme Court. There is no “typical” day at RTD. One moment I am on the phone with opposing counsel negotiating redlines, and the next I am working with staff to develop a new policy and procedure. Work can be chaotic sometimes, but I am certainly never bored.
How did you find your job?
I actually started at RTD as an intern. I found the internship through Colorado Law’s career website at the beginning of my 3L year. I worked all of my 3L year for RTD and even part-time while studying for the bar. After the bar exam, there was an opening in the legal department, and RTD decided to hire me. I have been at RTD ever since then.
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
The Career Development Office was instrumental in helping me find a full-time job in the legal profession. Staff worked with me on my résumé and cover letters, they conducted mock interviews, frequently checked in on how my job search was going, and sent me jobs I would be interested in pursuing. Colorado Law also regularly hosted lunches, conferences, and networking events for students to attend. At those events I was able to connect with attorneys working in a variety of industries and expand my network.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis, and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
Hands down the most important course I took at Colorado Law was transactional drafting. Drafting and negotiating agreements is a big part of my job, and I use the practical skills I learned in that class every day. I actually still reference the textbook for that class when I need help figuring out how to draft a certain provision.
The editing and research skills I learned as resource editor for the Colorado Law Review have been tremendously helpful in litigation matters. Not only am I a Bluebook expert, but I know how to research efficiently and write effectively. Being on Colorado Law Review was a lot of extra work, but it helped prepare me for my job today and gave me essential writing and research skills.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and relationship building. How have your professional acquaintances (and friends) made a difference in your career?
Networking is more than attending events sponsored by bar associations and law firms. Every day is a new opportunity to expand your network and make new connections. You can network anywhere, even standing in line for coffee or the bus stop. Reach out to other attorneys you have worked with in the past, join a section of the bar association that interests you, attend Continuing Legal Education (CLE) events in person, and go to conferences. My professional network has grown substantially since graduating law school and has become a great resource to field legal questions and get advice on my career.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
Hustle. If you want something you have to make it happen for yourself. Internships are a great way to gain real experience. Don’t be afraid to get an internship during the school year or hold out for a paid internship. Also, try not to get discouraged when your classmates start landing jobs during 3L year. I didn’t get an offer from RTD until after graduation and the bar exam. During that time I continued to apply for jobs and seek out leads. Never give up, your hard work will eventually pay off.
If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say?
Colorado Law is a great law school. The faculty is top notch, the student body is diverse, the community connections are strong, and the campus is beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Colorado Law and am honored to be an alumna.
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
I transferred to Colorado Law after my 1L year. I knew I wanted to work in Denver after law school, and I needed close ties to the community if I had any hope of landing a job. Colorado Law was the answer.
To see more Promising Starts: www.colorado.edu/law/careers/career-paths/promising-starts