168th Commencement: Watch Live
Alison Shimel '19 has a pretty significant head start on life after law school. She graduated with her Juris Doctor on May 24 and already has a job at a law firm. In fact, she was hired before the Fall 2018 semester and worked for them part-time while she finished her classes online.
She also bought a house with her longtime boyfriend and just before graduation they welcomed a new golden retriever puppy, Maya. "She'll be my study companion while I prep for the bar exam," Shimel laughed.
3+3 program with the University at Albany saved her an entire year of college—both the time
and the tuition—plus she received a
SUNY Legal Fellowship, which comes with a substantial scholarship, for going from a SUNY school to Albany Law School.
"I'm so glad I found this program," Shimel said. "For someone like me who knew the path I wanted to take and that I wanted to be an attorney, the 3+3 program helped me get to that point in my life in a more efficient manner."
Efficient indeed. At age 24, she has two degrees, an excellent job in her chosen field, a house, and a dog—and significantly less educational debt thanks to the 3+3 program and the SUNY Legal Fellowship.
Shimel spent her first three years in the 3+3 program at UAlbany, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in Psychology. "I really like to write, and I love reading and thinking critically, which is what drew me to the law." She got to start studying the law in her fourth year, when she enrolled at Albany Law School. She especially enjoyed Trusts and Estates and Business Organizations, which opened her eyes to corporate and business law, areas in which she would find her first professional job.
Originally from Massachusetts, she set her sights on the Springfield area for a summer job. She landed a position as a law clerk for the Springfield City Law Department, returning the next summer. Her most memorable cases included working on a federal civil rights trial stemming from an excessive force incident and a mediation in federal court concerning police brutality.
She stayed with the department for an internship in her third year of law school in conjunction with the
Semester in Practice program. "It was really interesting to apply the rules of professional responsibility and see how they play out in actual practice."
The position also provided a great opportunity to network with other attorneys in the area where she wanted to live. In fact, a conversation with a local lawyer about her newfound interest in business law led to a job offer—starting upon completion of her Semester in Practice—with Springfield law firm Cooley, Shrair P.C.
So she moved back to the Springfield area with her boyfriend, who had completed an accelerated master's at RPI, and began working part-time in the corporate and business division of her new firm, handling commercial real estate matters and doing research in other areas of law including personal injury, estate planning, and bankruptcy.
The firm has given her time off to prepare for the bar exam. She will be devoting many hours a day to the BARBRI review course through the bar exam at the end of July. But first, Shimel and her family are having a graduation celebration—which is doubling as a birthday party for her grandmother, 89, who was able to travel to
her granddaughter's commencement. When Shimel asked her grandmother what she wanted for her birthday, she said, "Your graduating from law school IS my birthday present."