I recently sat down with Jade Gasek (’20), who shared a bit of his story and some helpful insights for our current law students. Following his undergraduate education at Dartmouth College, Jade spent a few years out of academia to decide whether law school was the right choice for him. Having spent that time reflecting on his goal of helping those who can’t help themselves, Jade came to McGeorge with a renewed focus and readiness to face the rigors of law school. With a JD in hand, Jade is now preparing to join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in January 2022 as a litigation associate.
After the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Orrick’s start date for first-year associates, the firm offered them the opportunity to participate in a fellowship where they could work for a year with a community nonprofit organization of their choice before officially joining the firm. Jade is currently in the middle of his fellowship with the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University School of Law, where he provides pro bono services relating to police violence, mass incarceration, and reparations. This includes litigation under Section 1983 for claims of excessive police force by police and prison officials. Jade has also worked with local leaders in Washington D.C. (where the Center is located) to figure out how to effectively reduce harm during police interactions, such as during traffic stops and other daily occurrences. This involves re-evaluating current traffic laws and enforcement therein to mitigate the potential for violence.
That was, again, I think reflective of how great of an organization Orrick is that they’re providing first-year associates the opportunity to do [this].
– Jade Gasek
Once the fellowship concludes and Jade joins Orrick as an associate, he will be able to incorporate the experience he’s gained over the past year into his work at the firm despite the vast difference in cases – much like how he was able to apply the experience from his judicial externship and the clinic he participated in at McGeorge to his current fellowship. Learning the practical application of law and getting hands-on experience working with real clients and cases provided Jade with knowledge and understanding that simply can’t be gained through classroom work alone.
[E]xternships and clinics [are] the most invaluable experience because you get that hands-on experience prior to going into practice, and it sort of allows you to figure out what it is that you want to do.
– Jade Gasek
The experience gained now can surely be parlayed into another chance to help communities in need, and Orrick has many opportunities for their associates to participate in pro bono work across the country. As Jade noted near the end of our discussion, it’s easy to get stuck in the realm of what we’re doing once we begin a career because the job begins to take over our lives, but there will always be opportunities to branch out. Even though he hadn’t planned on interning at the Civil Rights Center upon being offered a job at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, when the opportunity presented itself, he accepted it wholeheartedly. Helping people is the reason that most people choose to pursue a legal career in the first place; and whether it’s employer-provided like Orrick, joining one of McGeorge’s many alumni programs to stay updated on what’s going on here, or seeking out an opportunity on your own, you can always find ways to expand your legal expertise and give back to those that need it most.
If you have questions about what your next steps should be regarding your career path or what kind of options you may have, be sure to contact the Career Development Office to make an individualized plan to help you achieve your goals.