Hustle hard. Find unique ways to connect. Value and maintain relationships. Samantha Moodie discovered these keys to success during law school and the career search thereafter that led to her job as in-house counsel for global data management company Hitachi Vantara. Working hard and cultivating lasting relationships paved her a path to a variety of opportunities.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a “typical” work day look like?
A “typical” day doesn’t really exist in-house, but that’s part of the appeal. My day is often driven by the various types of agreements my sales team needs reviewed, edited, or negotiated, but can also include review of internal matters supporting our data privacy team, providing legal training materials for our sales team, working on refining contract templates, process and legal operations, and helping draft company policies.
How did you find your job?
I found my first post-grad job after a lot of hustle. I was not employed full-time after taking the bar and took several short-term opportunities that I thought were interesting. I met a great general counsel at one of those opportunities who became a lasting mentor and advocate, and who also connected me with her in-house colleagues. I had a coffee meeting with who would become my future boss at Ibotta who told me that he unfortunately did not have headcount for a junior role. A week later, he emailed me saying his situation had changed and he would in fact need someone. Within a week I was hired.
For my most recent position, a mentor whom I matched with through the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP) reached out to schedule one of our quarterly lunches. At the end of her email, she conspicuously left a link to an open position with Hitachi Vantara’s legal team. This was at a time that I was just starting to think about making some career moves, and it ended up being the right move at just the right time.
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
The Colorado Law team was a great help in my job search. Some of the contacts I met through CU professors led me to meet my CAMP mentor—and current colleague—prior to us being matched through the CAMP program, and having that that pre-existing relationship was helpful in establishing our mentor-mentee relationship. The Career Development Office helped my job search in many ways: its staff calmed my anxiety when I became frustrated with the ups and downs of the post-grad job search, assisted me in finding networking activities that were in my intended line of work, and helped me identify some great job opportunities to shoot for as well as opportunities to provide an interesting non-direct route for what I wanted to do. Overall, I’m very grateful for not only the practical advice the Colorado Law team provided, but for it also saving my sanity in what can be an incredibly stressful process.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis, and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
From a technical standpoint, I use what I learned in Transactional Drafting every day in my support of the transactional needs of my company. Similarly, courses like Computer Crime, the Technology Law and Policy Clinic, IP Counseling and Licensing, and Computers and the Law allowed me to develop an understanding of some of the issues tech companies grapple with every day. The nuanced understanding of these issues allows me to better support the companies I work for. In general, I think law school gives you the opportunity to further develop skill sets like tenacity, stress management, and intellectual curiosity.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and relationship building. How have your professional acquaintances (and friends) made a difference in your career?
I don’t consider myself a natural at networking; however, through law school I have learned about what kind of networking works for me. I hated walking into big rooms of lawyers and having to think of something interesting to talk about, so instead, with help from Colorado Law, I learned how to identify specific people or types of people with whom I would like to establish relationships. I could then network on a one-on-one basis. I still worked at developing my skills with more traditional networking events, but didn’t beat myself up when it wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped. As someone who was looking for a more one-on-one environment, I was never afraid to reach out to professors or internship managers to find new and interesting people to talk to. Finally, I found it helpful to remember that my fellow students were already in my network and within the small Colorado legal market, those could be the people two, five, or 20 years down the line who think of you when they become aware of a great opportunity and vice versa.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
- Good Things Come to Those Who Hustle: Try to shoot for and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Hustle shows potential employers that x-factor of enthusiasm, tenacity, and work ethic. Also, you never know what an “imperfect” opportunity will transform into or will lead you to—it might lead to a fantastic opportunity. I found both of my jobs through hustle and taking every opportunity to get work experience and/or meet and establish relationships with other in-house counsel.
- Personalize your Networking: Traditional networking seems awful and uncomfortable for a lot of people. If this is you, find unique ways to connect with attorneys early and often and in a way that fits your style and personality. This doesn’t mean you should stop working on networking skills in more challenging environments, but know that there are other great ways to establish professional relationships.
- Value and Maintain the Relationship: Don’t get disappointed and throw away relationships if there isn’t a job, especially in the in-house market. Establishing and maintaining relationships based on legitimate interest and curiosity is important. There are a lot of factors affecting the ability of in-house legal departments to hire and things can change quickly. Similarly, the in-house community in Colorado is small, and opportunities can come up and be filled very quickly so having pre-existing relationships within that small community can help you know the right person in the right place at the right time.
If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say?
Law school is not cheap. If finances are a factor for you, do the math and consider your options. I turned down some other great law schools in part because the costs were not realistic for me, and Colorado Law has an equally great reputation and provides an excellent education for a much more manageable cost. Colorado Law also provides excellent opportunities to get involved and meet practicing lawyers. Also helpful was the fact that the student, faculty/staff, and alumni community at Colorado Law is full of extremely bright, collaborative people who are genuinely interested in helping you achieve your goals.
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
First, Colorado Law is a great value. After taking three years off and having existing student loan debt, taking on too much additional debt was a non-option and Colorado Law provided great value for a great legal education including excellent scholarship options. Second, as a slightly older student, I liked the reputation of Colorado Law being a collaborative and supportive student environment, which is contrary to the general reputation around law school. Third, I knew I wanted to practice in Colorado, and picking a law school in the region in which you want to practice is incredibly important because that’s where you will be establishing your initial relationships in the legal market. It also doesn’t hurt to walk out of the Wolf Law Building after a stressful day and see the amazing scenery.