Growing up in a small town outside Chicago, Brittney R. Dobbins, a May 2014 graduate, always wanted to be a lawyer.
“My mom sparked my interest from birth,” Dobbins says.
Her mother founded Peer Jury, a program in Dobbins’ native Illinois that allowed first-time youth offenders to avoid a conviction on their record if they performed community service. Serving as a jury foreman in that program helped motivate Dobbins to pursue a legal career.
After college, Dobbins worked for a California Western graduate as a paralegal, managing the service of process for a civil litigation firm. She was accepted at California Western and immediately began looking for ways to get hands-on experience, especially in the area of intellectual property law.
California Western played a role in Dobbins’ journey to Foley & Lardner LLP, where she recently completed an internship. She was invited to attend an Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association Scholarship dinner, where she sat next to California Western alumna Nancy L. Stagg ‘91, a partner at Foley. Their conversation led directly to her internship, which Dobbins began in January.
“Many people are afraid to network, or don’t know how to put themselves out there,” Dobbins says. “But it’s about finding things you have in common with other people.” That’s how she found out that she and Stagg had a common interest in IP law. “Ask them about themselves and you might find something you both can relate to. It makes the conversation easier.”
At the storied law firm where U.S. Supreme Court Justice Atonin Scalia served as summer associate, Dobbins had the opportunity to work on cases in several different areas of the law, including class-action lawsuits. She believes the practical education she received at California Western allowed her to “hit the ground running.”
“The STEPPS program at California Western prepared me for my internship because it taught me the fundamental mechanics of a law firm,” Dobbins says. She found that one has to be proactive to find projects.
“You have to get your own work,” she says. “Be creative and put yourself out there. It’s been a great learning experience for life in a large firm. I love it.
“When experience does not come knocking, build a door,” Dobbins says. “Networking helped me build a door to Foley.”
After taking the bar, Dobbins will undoubtedly open the door to many more new and exciting opportunities for herself.