Landing a job by externing: An interview with Jonathan Schall, NDLS 2019

As I have previously noted, NDLS offers many great externship opportunities which enable students to get out of the classroom and experience different practice areas and work environments. This blog post covers another student experience in the Corporate Counsel Externship, which allows students to perform 8-12 hours of legal work per week in an in-house corporate counsel office for a private company or non-profit organization. This time around, I spoke with a recent graduate, Jonathan Schall, who externed at Saint Joseph Health System and ended up doing such a great job that he was offered a position with them after graduation.

KMB: Tell me about your experience in the Corporate Counsel Externship.

JS: I worked with Saint Joseph Health System through the Corporate Counsel Externship. I have a background in life sciences and healthcare so this organization was a perfect fit. I completed a variety of assignments including everything from writing more formal memos and reviewing company policies to writing a newsletter article for employees about a legal issue. I regularly sat in on meetings with the hospital’s executive team which let me see not just a legal perspective, but a business perspective as well. I was able to offer my opinions to the CEO and other hospital executives on different concerns. One of the most valuable parts of this externship was seeing how legal conclusions and analysis operate in a business context. Overall, I was able to see and do a lot.

KMB: How was the seminar class?

JS: The seminar was a good complement to the work we were doing in the field. I got to hear from my classmates who were doing their externships at different companies and organizations. I was working in a legal department with only one attorney, but I had classmates who were working at companies with large teams of attorneys for specific practice areas, like IP. The seminar let us see how different in-house departments operate, whether it is a small team full of generalists or a legal department which operates like a large law firm with tons of attorneys and specific specialties. Being able to compare those experiences gave me a fuller picture of what working in-house is like.

KMB: And you got a job out of this externship, right?

JS: Yes. They were looking to bring on another attorney and I suppose I made a good impression so I was offered a job. I’ll be coming back to South Bend in the Fall and I am really excited. It’s one of those instances of being in the right place at the right time and it shows the importance of always bringing your A-game: producing quality work, asking thoughtful questions, and being a reliable team-player and an active participant.

KMB: Would you recommend externships to other students?

JS: Absolutely. Being confronted with an active legal issue is very different and a lot more exciting than the theoretical stuff in the classroom. It definitely imparts that these are real issues and real people and real things at stake and that when we write a memo or a brief or a motion, it matters. Being able to learn the practical side and the effects of our analyses is invaluable.

If you’re interested in pursuing a Corporate Counsel Externship, contact 
NDLS Externship Coordinator Cathy Kustner at ckustner@nd.edu.

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