INTERVIEW: JEREMY GARSON, ESQ. ’10, LEGAL COUNSEL AND ASSOCIATE PROJECT DIRECTOR, THE BRIDGE ALLIANCE

Jeremy Garson is originally from Philadelphia. He graduated from Abington Friends School in 2006. Jeremy enrolled at Johns Hopkins without an intended major, but became a political science major after taking Intro to American Politics. He also minored in psychology and was heavily involved in the Johns Hopkins University Theater with John Astin.

In December 2009, Jeremy graduated early in order to pursue a career in constituent services with former Congressman Joseph Sestak (PA-07), where he served as the Congressman’s caseworker for veterans’ affairs, taxes, and census services. In June 2010, Jeremy left that position to pursue a law degree – eventually enrolling at the University of Michigan Law School in 2011.

During his law school career, Jeremy earned the position of Article Editor with the Journal of Law Reform. He also served as treasurer, vice president, and social representative for the Frank Murphy Society of Law and Politics. During his last year, Jeremy clerked for the United Auto Workers (UAW) and – upon graduation – earned a fellowship with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). When that fellowship ended, Jeremy was hired by the labor law firm Woodley & McGillivary in Washington, D.C., where he worked as a litigation associate for a short time before transferring to serve as in-house counsel for the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF).

After a year and a half at the IAFF, Jeremy decided to leave the labor field and secured a job with the Bridge Alliance in November 2017 — an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging collaboration among organizations working to fix our nation’s democratic institutions. Jeremy serves as legal counsel and associate project director at the Bridge Alliance.

Questions

Describe a typical day as Legal Counsel and Associate Project Director, for The Bridge Alliance.

It is difficult to describe a typical day in my job, because I have basically built my position according to my interests. My work can include writing updates for supporters and members; performing legal services in my capacity as in-house counsel; and editing the website in order to make it more helpful for members. A typical Tuesday includes publishing our “Weekly Update,” which goes out to all of our supporters and members and discusses important news in the reform movement. It also includes a virtual team meeting (we all work remotely) where we discuss what the next Update will include, as well as make decisions as a team and any other administrative work that needs to get done. Finally, I’m constantly responding to emails and generally just responding to the organization’s needs on a daily basis.

What initially attracted you to this field? Do you have any advice for an undergraduate interested in pursuing this body of law?

I have always been interested in reform. During law school, I only applied to the Journal of Law Reform, because it was the only Journal that piqued my interest. Based on my interest in changing the world for the better and my interest in politics, this field was a natural fit. If you are interested in pursuing this area of law, start familiarizing yourself with organizations in this field and apply for internships and fellowships. You definitely don’t have to be a lawyer to get started. If you’re interested, check out the Bridge Alliance’s website and look at our member organizations. A lot of them welcome volunteers, interns, and fellowships. You can also contact me, as I started an internship program at the Bridge Alliance.

What are some of the rewards and downsides of this area of law and the legal profession so far?

The rewards of this area of law is that I feel like I could potentially make a real difference and change our nation for the better. The biggest downsides are the pay (a fraction of what I would earn in Big Law) and the fact that my job is not well defined (but I like that).

“The legal profession” is hard to define. There are so many different ways you can go with a legal degree. I will say that a big downside is that the options outside of law firm work are not intuitive. I got lucky to find my path. The biggest reward is that the skills I learned and refined in law school (writing, research, reading comprehension) are VERY valued and translatable to all areas of the professional world.

What advice do you have for an undergraduate interested in pursuing law school and a career in law given your experience in today’s legal market and now as an attorney?

Going to law school is a big commitment. It is very costly and there is no guarantee you will get a job out of law school. The odds are better if you go to a T-14 school, but it’s a very competitive field. Additionally, the “best jobs” (i.e. Big Law) will pay you a lot, but they will expect you to work hard to earn that pay. I don’t know many people who are happy in Big Law. If you don’t want to do Big Law, you have to get creative with your job search. That’s not fun unless and until it works.

Also, talk to some attorneys and try to get an internship. Find out what being a (typical) lawyer is about. It’s much more boring than a lot of people assume.

Finally, if you are thinking about going to law school because (1) you like what you see on TV, (2) you enjoy arguing, or (3) you want to get paid big….stop and reevaluate. Especially on the first point. The lawyers I know don’t watch legal dramas because they are so painfully inaccurate.

All that said, if you want to go to law school because you truly enjoy learning about the law and how to apply it, then go for it. I’m very happy that I went to law school, but I’m also a huge nerd.

Contact Information:

Jeremy is happy to answer questions and is reachable by email at: Jeremy@bridgealliance.us. He recommends the following links: Check out https://www.bridgealliance.us/. That’s my organization. Also, check out https://abovethelaw.com/. It’s just funny.

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