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Monday, September 24, 2018

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UH Law Center ranks in top 10 schools for networking


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“Getting people on your side is what keeps you in the door,” said Katie Dugat, a recent UHLC graduate. | Sara Samora/The Cougar

Although Katie Dugat graduated from the University of Houston Law Center in the Spring, she returned to the O’Quinn library to study.

This time, she’s studying for the bar exam. If she passes the exam, she will work for the Houston office of global law firm, Baker and McKenzie, where she will practice corporate law.

As a UHLC graduate, Dugat spent a lot of time networking — a trait UHLC is known for stressing according to Business Insider which ranked UHCL as the nation’s seventh best law school for job opportunities and networking.

UHLC students are introduced to networking at their first-year orientation when they get paired up with faculty and upper class mentors.

“While this does not seem like networking at first blush, students are employing the same skills necessary to meet and develop professional relationships,” UHLC Dean Leonard M. Baynes said.

Third-year students can take part in an upper-level mentoring program – now in its third year – which pairs them with alumni and friends of UHLC.

Dugat said that, as well as good grades, networking was a big part of her schooling.

“It’s a matter of getting out there and getting involved through different things, or also knowing people,” she said.

This Spring, the center’s Career Development Office conducted a networking presentation for incoming law students. Afterward, the center invited the students to one of its largest alumni events, the Annual Gala.

“The idea was to introduce students to the power of the University of Houston Law Center’s alumni network at the beginning of their law school journey,” Baynes said. “Students are encouraged to network throughout their law school careers and are given several opportunities to do so.”

After participating in programs hosted by the college, students are encouraged to attend networking activities offered through the law center, local bar associations and throughout Houston.

“It is important for students to know that networking can change the trajectory of their careers,” Baynes said.

But Dugat said networking could be tiring. She said half the time, much of the networking would not come to fruition as firms rejected students without desired grades or because they were not hiring.

“You’re constantly beating the pavement, making connections, meeting new people, trying to impress people (and) it means nothing (some times),” Dugat said. “(But) it is always about putting your best foot forward. Don’t give up. That is the main thing.”

Since Baynes took over, almost a year ago, he said he has made networking an important priority of the Law Center by holding alumni events in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Rio Grande Valley, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Denver.

“All of these events were designed with the eye to connect our alumni and our students together,” Baynes said. “The standing of the Law Center is directly connected to the power of the alumni network. It is important for our students to network because that is how opportunities come their way.”

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