For nearly 30 years, over 2800 students have been matched with practicing attorneys—Iowa Law alumni and friends—across the globe for the Partner for a Day program. The program serves as an opportunity for students to personally learn from an attorney and gain a feel of what it is like to be in practice.
Based on a survey of each student’s interests, the Career Services Office matches students with a practicing attorney who fits in with those preferences and has agreed to participate in the program. From there, students are given the chance to explore and ask questions about various aspects of the practice of law in diverse settings, as well as enabled to gather information not always readily available in law school.
Iowa Law alum, Thomas Cunningham (84JD), stated that, “Generally, during the semester break, a first year is paired with a law firm partner/Iowa law school alum for a day and they shadow that lawyer to get the experience of seeing what practicing lawyers do, what the practice of law looks like from the inside, and how law firms function.”
Cunningham was one of the alums that decided to participate in the program and was paired with Eric Fischer (16JD) over the semester break in January 2014. He arranged for Fischer to not only shadow him, but to also meet with several of his partners who work in all kinds of areas in law.
Once Eric had received his first semester grades, he applied to become a summer associate and was hired for both summers of 2014 and 2015. As soon as he graduated in 2016, he was hired as an associate in their corporate law department and is now scheduled to assume shareholder status at Nyemaster effective January 1, 2022.
“I was very fortunate to be matched with Nyemaster Goode for the Partner for a Day program during the winter of my first year. I was impressed with the talent of the attorneys and the culture of the firm after getting this first-hand introduction early in my law school career. My experience with Nyemaster made them my top choice for summer associate positions. I was hired as a summer associate following my 1L year, returned for my 2L summer and as an associate in the firm’s Corporate Department following graduation. Nyemaster has been an ideal platform to grow my practice as a young corporate attorney in Central Iowa. I am very proud to be joining that same group of talented attorneys as a shareholder in January,” Eric stated.
Melissa Norman, a career advisor at Iowa Law, shared that 74 of their current 1Ls have signed up for Partner a Day. She also added that even more recently, Mackensie Graham (21JD) has started as an associate this fall after being connected with Bradley & Riley through Partner for a Day.
Graham knew she wanted to stay in area, but hadn’t really had a chance to figure out which firms offered jobs around where she wanted to live. She thought Partner for a Day would be a good way to learn about opportunities and build connections with other lawyers.
After getting partnered with Bradley and Riley, she had a chance to go to the courthouse with them, get lunch and ask questions. A few months later she received a call asking if she would be interested in working with them over the summer. Graham accepted the offer and was hired at the firm the next fall.
“Partner for a day opened the door to where I am now,” shared Graham, “It’s also a good way for firms to get to know what’s going on in law schools and with law students, so it can be mutually beneficial.”
The program was not developed to secure jobs, but it has proven to be a successful stepping stone for law students to connect with professionals in the field and get practical knowledge of what it's like to be a lawyer.