Jennifer Pierre, Law Clerk at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP.
We are so excited to hear that Jennifer will be starting as a law clerk at the prestigious New York law firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP. I’ll never forget how impressed I was the first time we met. She was a senior at Buckingham Browne and Nichols, interested in leadership, public speaking and government. Jennifer participated as a senior prefect as well as on the student activities council at BB&N. It was so impressive that she traveled a long distance each day to school by public transportation and held down a part-time job in addition to her heavy course load. Jennifer handled everything with charm and an upbeat attitude. For her high school government internship, we thought that she would enjoy interning at the Massachusetts State House for State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, from her hometown district.
Jennifer’s mentor was Noel, a wonderful young woman of Hispanic origin who held the position of legislative aid. Noel arranged for Jennifer to attend hearings and listen to speakers from the Black Legal Caucus and the Women’s Caucus. She learned about issues pertaining to HIV, government funded programs to support under-served communities and the environmental impact of various state-wide legislation.
Following her internship, Jennifer was accepted to Bryn Mawr (her first choice). She told us that influenced by her high school internship, she became an active member in student government in college and was elected class president.
Jennifer, tell us about your college major and how you decided to go to law school.
I graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2011 with a B.A. in Political Science, concentrating in comparative politics. Throughout college, I debated between pursuing a law degree and a degree in public policy. Since I was still unsure about which one to pursue follow graduation, I decided to gain work experience to help me decide.
Following Bryn Mawr, I started work as a paralegal for a corporate law firm in NYC. The work was challenging, but provided a realistic experience at what would be expected of me when I was a lawyer. After two years at the law firm, I wanted to switch fields to understand what it meant to be a lawyer in a non-profit setting. I began work at an international non-profit focused on human rights advocacy. Having gained exposure to law in both the private and public sectors, I moved to Haiti to learn more about the skills a lawyer needed to contribute to a community based organization in Haiti. It was through this experience that I realized that I wanted to pursue a law degree to work with high-level stakeholders to solve issues related to international development and human rights.
As I start my career as a lawyer in a corporate law firm, I hope to gain the skills and proper foundation that will enable me to transition to work at the nexus of international development and human rights.
Did you have additional internships after high school?
After my first taste of interning at the Massachusetts State House, I made it a priority to find an internship following each summer during college. Although it proved challenging, I landed a position with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development as the coordinator for its Ladders for Leaders program. Ladders for Leaders paired NYC high school students with prestigious internships across various sectors. As the coordinator, I was the liaison between program participants and program management. I also wanted to act as a resource for these high school seniors since I had been in their position only one year before. To that end, I organized a presentation and information session on how to best prepare for college. It was also through the Ladders for Leaders internship that I was put in contact with someone who enabled me to acquire my next internship at the US Mission to the United Nations after my sophomore year. While there, I provided support to diplomats working on issues related to nuclear non-proliferation and war crimes.
Finally, following my junior year, I participated in a fellowship at Princeton University that focused on international relations and diplomacy.
Now that you’ve had a great deal of career experience, what would you tell your 16-year-old self?
I’ve been a planner for as long as I can remember. I always imagined that I had to follow a specific path to lead to success. What I’ve learned thus far is that my professional career has not always been linear or what I imagined, but it has always worked out in the end. That being said, I would advise 16-year-old Jennifer to trust the process. If you remain motivated and open to opportunities, continually network and put in maximal effort in every place you work, everything will work out in the end.
Any final advice for our students?
It is never too early to start networking and a LinkedIn account.
So if you’ve ever thought of a high school government internship, just think where it could lead!