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Dayton Docket

How To Land An Out-Of-State Job After Law School

Maggie Miles fell in love with the University of Dayton School of Law not long after she stepped foot on campus during a visit.

“Everyone was so genuine and it felt warm and supportive,” Miles says.

There was only one problem.

“I didn’t want to come to Dayton,” Miles says. “I was set on staying in Chicago. I had been a social worker there for a few years and had family in that area and had set up a nice life for myself.”

Miles’ dilemma is one many prospective law students confront. At UDSL, more than half of students are from somewhere other than Ohio, and while some end up staying in Dayton, many want to find jobs where they’re from or in other places across the country.

“It was a big worry to me,” Miles says. “I didn’t know if I had to go to a school in Illinois to end up with a job in Chicago.”

But near the end of her first year of law school at UDSL, Miles would discover how the school can set you up to succeed anywhere.

She had already experienced the difference the classes can make.

“One of my favorite things was the relationships I had with professors and the staff,” Miles says. “I didn’t realize how much that would have a positive effect my learning. The mindset of the professors was we want you to learn the material and be good lawyers and enjoy your law school experience.”

Now she was searching for a summer internship back in Chicago.

“I was so overwhelmed and didn’t know how to start,” Miles says. “As a social worker I didn’t know any lawyers.”

That’s when Assistant Dean and Director of the Career Services Office, Tim Swensen, put her in touch with John Muehlstein, a 1980 UDSL graduate and chairman and partner of the Chicago law firm, Pedersen & Houpt.

Muehlstein had an idea of where Miles was coming from in wanting to get to Chicago.

His dad was an orthopedic surgeon in Dayton who took care of some of the Flyers basketball players and Muehlstein can remember going to games as a kid, but he liked the idea of starting his law career in Chicago.

“I never planned to stay in Dayton, even though I grew up there,” Muehlstein says. “I knew I was going to go to Chicago one way or another.”

But he still valued the education he gained at Dayton Law.

“The school put me in position to be a success in Chicago and everything expanded from there,” Muehlstein says.

Now Muehlstein had a chance to help another student fulfill their dream of getting to Chicago.

“I had to convince my firm to give this a shot because as a smaller firm we didn’t typically hire first year law students as summer clerks,” Muehlstein says. “But she was so impressive that we brought her in. It became obvious after a few weeks the ability she has.”

Miles says the firm was a great fit.

“It felt so welcoming and supportive,” Miles says. “Even though I was a law student, I was treated as an equal. The people were as down to earth as the people at UDSL.”

Miles’ first summer at the firm ended up leading to a second summer the next year and then some part-time work during law school before she was hired after graduation as an associate doing commercial litigation.

“I love that it is something new every day,” Miles says of the job. “There isn’t one case that is exactly like the next. That’s the benefit of a smaller firm. You’re not expected to specialize in a single area. It’s challenging intellectually and I get to use a lot of the same skills as when I was a social worker.”

Miles hopes her experience can be a guide for those who want to attend UDSL but find a job outside Ohio.

“You’re not on your own,” Miles says. “There’s a robust alumni network and a Career Services Office that maintains relationships with those alumni. It may seem daunting, but give it a chance and lean on the resources UDSL has to offer.”

And Miles says UDSL’s alumni are what set it apart when it comes to helping find opportunities for students no matter where they want to practice.

“Our alumni are amazing because of their willingness to not just forward a resume, but to talk to students and to want to help them,” Miles says. “Like John, they are genuine and welcoming and want to get to know you.”

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