168th Commencement: Watch Live
When Fabienne Lamarre '19—originally from Queens, New York—learned that she could earn a semester's worth of academic credit while getting a taste of professional life back home, she jumped at the chance. Even now, a year later, she remains grateful for the opportunity. Through Albany Law School's Semester in Practice program, not only did Fabienne acquire real-world experience, she also gained valuable insight into herself.
"I think Semester in Practice helped me figure out what kind of lawyer I want to be, and in what kind of setting," Fabienne said of her full-time internship at the New York City Administration for Children's Services. "Because I did work in a large unit but I worked with only two attorneys. It seemed like they were a family. I liked that independence and that kind of setting: we're not competing against each other but more working together to reach a common goal."
Fabienne spent 14 weeks last spring fully immersed in the day-to-day activities of the Administration for Children's Services. As a member of its Special Project Unit, she reviewed policies affecting the agency after New York's move to raise the age of criminal responsibility. She also worked in the Fair Hearing and Compliance Unit, where she assisted staff attorneys with case preparation and discovery.
"I attended a number of administrative hearings with my supervising attorney and I was actually able to conduct a hearing," she said. "My supervising attorney was next to me. I presented all the evidence and stated why I had a strong case, and the judge rendered a decision that was favorable to the agency."
"[W]hen I'm sending an
email, when I'm meeting with someone, everything is much more strategic,
thoughtful, systematic. Law school has given me that structure."
Though she was away from campus, Fabienne managed to stay involved as a student leader, serving as secretary of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and a subeditor for the Albany Government Law Review. In 2018-19, Fabienne took on a larger role in both organizations: she was president of BLSA for the fall semester and is currently managing editor of research and writing for the Government Law Review.
Fabienne managed various BLSA initiatives during her tenure, including the organization's student-to-student mentorship program.
"That has been interesting because I've actually never had a mentee before," said Fabienne, quick to point out the influence of her alumnae mentors Jellisa Joseph '14 and Jennifer Richardson '04. "I'm trying to figure out, how can I help them navigate the law school waters? I know that the mentorship program has been helpful to the 1Ls—having someone who will check up on you."
With the Government Law Review, Fabienne stays busy managing note and comment submissions from the journal's subeditors. Additionally, she plays a key part in the annual writing competition, reviewing those submissions, and selecting new members.
"Stepping into this new role with GLR, trying to manage the job and also being a student, it has prepared me for the expectations of the real world," she said.
Fabienne advises new law students to "appreciate the journey"—its ups, its downs, and everything in between. After all, at the finish line, after crossing the stage at Commencement, "You'll have a story to tell. And it will be worth it."
Fabienne's own story—her own journey—began in Queens, continued at the University at Albany and then Albany Law School, and will soon turn to a new chapter. Asked to reflect on her three years at Albany Law School, Fabienne, after a contemplative pause, said, "I think with everything, I'm just more thoughtful. Before, I just reacted without thinking. Now, when I'm in conversation, when I'm sending an email, when I'm meeting with someone, everything is much more strategic, thoughtful, systematic. Law school has given me that structure."
As for her career, Fabienne plans to start out at a firm; her ultimate goal is to serve as a general counsel specializing in labor and employment law.
"Looking at the bigger picture, I know it's going to take a while to get there," she said, "but I'm up for the challenge."
Learn more about Albany Law School's Semester in Practice program