One year ago, the world seemed very different. A class of newly minted attorneys had just taken the bar exam and were on their way to budding new careers in the legal profession. Things changed drastically after a few short months, as the world adjusted to a global pandemic, shifting the legal practice and many other industries to remote operations.
Like everyone else adjusting to the new normal, the Ziffren Institute hosted its first virtual event for the 2020-21 academic year—the student-favorite "One Year Out" panel for the fourth consecutive year. The panel included young alumni from the class of 2019, representing diverse and disparate pathways to their current jobs. The institute welcomed back Bess Benhamou of Skadden, Blake Leeper from Mark Music & Media, Elias Patlakas (LLM) from the Jim Henson Company, Max Patton of 20th Television, Blaine Roth from Allen & Overy, and Lawrence Traylor, Jr. from Davis Polk.
The panelists spent the 90-minute session speaking candidly about their time in law school. They lauded the robust course offerings at UCLA Law, giving their personal recommendations of which courses best prepared them for practice. While most recommended a handful of the entertainment related courses, Patlakas—the sole LLM representative—acknowledged the usefulness of Bar courses for the LLM students who were interested in sitting for the Bar Exam post-graduation. Patton, also, explicitly recommended paying attention in Professional Responsibility, warning against having to take the MPRE more than once.
Further, the panelists emphasized the importance of networking with fellow students while in law school, explaining the practical translations it can have in legal practice. Traylor mentioned that in his short career he had already been across the negotiating table with former classmates. Benhamou also gave a sobering reminder for senior students to continue to network and take advantage of the opportunities afforded them by the various programs and events at the law school. The evening concluded with a brief Q&A session, as the panelists offered practical tips on how to network, especially amidst a pandemic. The panelists also made themselves available for outreach to any students for further follow up questions.