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Career Paths: Colleen Karlovich ’24L After graduation, Colleen Karlovich will work at the firm Jones Day in Washington, D.C.

Colleen-Karlovich-800x533 Career Paths: Colleen Karlovich '24LColleen Karlovich ’24L

Colleen Karlovich ’24L is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended Davidson College (‘18) where she graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science and Hispanic Studies. After college, she did a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Los Angeles, California. Afterwards, she returned to the East Coast and primarily worked as a paralegal at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Lowery and staffer for the Safe Helpline at the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN). Colleen lives in downtown Lexington with her dog, Hector. During her final year of law school, she’s kept busy by interning at the Buena Vista Commonwealth’s Attorney Office and serving as Co-President of the Women Law Students’ Organization (WLSO), Vice Chair of Externals for the Moot Court Board, and Lead Articles Editor for the Journal of Civil Rights and Justice (JCRSJ).

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?

I will be at Jones Day in the Washington, D.C. office. I am in the New Lawyer’s Group, so I haven’t yet committed to a practice area, but I’m interested in the business restructuring & reorganization, investigations & white collar defense, and labor & employment groups.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work in this field?

I had a general idea that I might like litigation, but I’ve discovered that I enjoy practice areas that have a mix of transactional, client counseling, and litigation work.

Over the summer at Jones Day, I was able to explore different practice areas, which was very helpful since I hadn’t yet taken classes in certain areas (such as labor and employment or white collar defense). It was also helpful to understand what the areas that I did study look like in practice rather than in academia.

What role did the size and location of the firm play in the search and decision process?

I was open to the size of the firm, but I knew that I wanted to stay in the Mid-Atlantic. After interviewing at Jones Day and a mid-size regional firm, I preferred the larger firm because of their depth of resources, multiple office locations allowing for easier mobility, and more substantial opportunities to try different practice areas before committing to one or moving between them.

Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this career choice?

During part of my 1L summer, I interned at Blue Ridge Legal Services and learned that while I loved the work that they were doing, I was not ready to start at a public interest job where there may be limits to the type of work that you can do because of the lack of resources or training opportunities. I realized that I wanted to work somewhere that had extensive options and opportunities for me to try different things before I committed to a certain practice area. Ultimately, I wanted flexibility and room to explore, and, for me, a large law firm allowed me to do this.

During my second year, I participated in the Moot Court’s negotiation competition. I learned that I liked working with opposing counsel directly and having a problem-solving discussion that was not limited by rules of evidence or court procedures. Each of the moot court competitions allowed me to explore a different type of advocacy, and I found myself drawn to negotiations, client counseling, and mock trial. The competitions are one of the few ways that students can explore and try out alternative dispute resolutions where there are minimal consequences since there are no actual clients or grades.

Over the course of my 2L summer at Jones Day, I had the opportunity to try several different practice areas and explore how it feels to be in a group that is industry focused (such as healthcare & life sciences), skills based (such as litigation), or code/statute based (such as Family Medical Leave Act disputes in the labor and employment group). Through this process, I learned that I liked practice areas that have an established code or statute and the lawyer’s role is to problem solve a specific scenario for the client that may encompass numerous types of resolution methods (such as client counseling, litigation, or negotiation). In these areas, the lawyer’s best assets are to know the law and the facts extremely well so that they can find creative solutions. For business restructuring and reorganization, I like that the process is fast-paced and each client is unique (i.e. a manufacturer of computer parts versus a wholesale retailer of clothes).

What classes do you think are helpful to prepare for this job?

Legal research and legal writing are incredibly important skills, so I would recommend classes where those skills are emphasized and there is an opportunity to continue improving upon them. In the spring of my third year, I took the Advanced Federal Procedure in Environmental Law practicum with Professor Teaney, and it had three different writing assignments throughout the semester. Professor Teaney provided excellent feedback immediately following each assignment, so I was able to implement his suggestions for the next assignment and build upon my progress. While not substantively related to the type of law I am interested in, this course gave me the opportunity to build on my research and writing skills consistently.

In terms of substance, I benefited from the White Collar Crime and Bankruptcy law classes. White Collar Crime taught me several important statues that are consistently used by federal prosecutions for these types of cases. I also had the opportunity to explore how I would prosecute or defend certain cases and debate with my classmates about why certain charges should or should not be brought. For the Bankruptcy Law course, I really got to familiarize myself with the code and do a practice argument in front of a Bankruptcy judge. It was during that oral argument that I realized how refreshing it is to be in a “code-based” law practice where there are specific provisions for the issue that you’re facing rather than turning only to case law that may be factually similar to the situation. In addition, the course is taught by a Bankruptcy judge and her career clerk, and they provided invaluable and practical perspectives on bankruptcy.

Can you describe the job search process?

Over my 1L summer, I met with Ms. Andrea Hilton from the Office of Career Strategy (OCS) and explained that I was interested in prosecution work, but was not entirely ready to commit to that path. After our discussion, she suggested that I take a look at a variety of firms on the East Coast and if I felt that I would not enjoy working at any of them, I could apply for a summer job in a prosecutor’s office during the fall and spring of my second year.

Throughout the interview process, I remained open-minded but knew that I would choose to work at a firm only if I felt that it was the right fit for me. After receiving the offer for the call-back from Jones Day, I called Ms. Hilton to tell her that I no longer felt that I was looking around at my options but rather I was really excited about the possibility of working at Jones Day. Ms. Hilton connected me to current 3L, Molly O’Connell (‘23L) who had just finished her summer at Jones Day in Washington D.C. Molly quickly responded to my email to her about my call-back the following day. We chatted on the phone about her experience, and she gave me several tips for the interview and the interviewers. Molly’s willingness to lend a hand solidified that W&L Law was the right school for me and Jones Day must be a special firm.

After my call-back, I called my family to tell them how excited I was about the firm and how they mirrored my values – they emphasized doing pro bono work early and often, they were kind, and they were truly invested in their people.  A few days later, they called me with an offer, and I was thrilled!

Even though I was pretty sure that I would accept the offer, I continued with my callback at a regional firm. While I enjoyed the work and getting to know the people at the regional firm, I felt that I wouldn’t be able to pursue certain areas of advocacy that Jones Day offered (such as visiting the Texas-Mexico border once a year to assist with immigrants or engaging collaboratively across practice groups from different cities).

What are you most looking forward to about this job?

I’m looking forward to engaging more deeply in long-term projects and working alongside the talented individuals that I met over the summer. I’m also a big animal lover so I’m very excited to visit the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Outside Law School


I enjoy working out and reading. I’m currently trying to read a biography on every U.S. President and First Lady.

Favorite Location in Lexington/W&L Campus

My favorite spot in Lexington is the lawn between the Colonnade and University Chapel. It’s an excellent place to have a picnic or study outside.

Advice for Prospective Law Student

Take advantage of the different volunteer and practical experience opportunities. This is the time to try things out!

Something/Someone you will miss at W&L Law

I will definitely miss Professor DiBiagio who taught my White-Collar Crime and Federal Criminal Law classes as he consistently pushed me to think beyond the case law and consider what kind of lawyer I want to be.