Spotlight on the Career Services Office

When he was an undergraduate government major at The University of Texas at Austin, Rylan Maksoud ’24 was fascinated with all things law and policy. He enjoyed reading court decisions and statutes and participated in campus activities such as serving as a student representative on the Parking and Traffic Appeals Panel. He was a founding member of student-run political publication The Texas Orator, penning articles on law-adjacent topics like “Defending Title IX’s Burden of Proof.” He applied to Texas Law early decision. 

Denyse Demel ’06
Denyse Demel ’06, senior associate director

That’s where the school’s Career Services Office—better known as CSO—came in. Maksoud says his counselor, Denyse Demel ’06, “provided a window” into the hiring process for small and midsize law firms, which were his main interest at the beginning of law school. He landed a summer associate position after his 1L year through the CSO job bank, an online listing of open legal positions.  

But while Maksoud brought a boundless enthusiasm to law school, without lawyers in his family, he lacked knowledge in one area: how to land a legal job. “It seemed when I showed up to law school, everyone already knew the plan,” he says. “They knew where to apply, what the timeline was like, what the legal field looks like. And I had no idea on that front.” 

Rylan Maksoud ’24
Rylan Maksoud ’24

During that summer, Maksoud particularly enjoyed the firm’s criminal defense practice. Later, he interned with nonprofit legal services provider Texas Fair Defense Project and shifted his long-term focus to public interest. Mary Murphy ’11, a CSO counselor specializing in public interest, became a valued resource. Maksoud recalls his first meeting with Murphy, a two-hour conversation in which they discussed public interest work, including how to apply for fellowships. After graduation, he will be back at the Texas Fair Defense Project in Austin, thanks to earning a highly competitive fellowship from Equal Justice Works, a national organization that places top law graduates in nonprofit public interest legal positions. 

Maksoud’s experience illustrates how CSO counselors use backgrounds across the spectrum of legal careers to help students find their own paths. 

“Whether you want to go to public interest or a law firm or not practice law, we want to help you get there,” says Director of Professional Development Mindy Finnigan. “The Career Services Office is not just for students with one particular path. It’s for everybody.”  

The Career Services Office is not just for students with one particular path. It’s for everybody.”

Mindy Finnigan, director of professional development

Well-rounded Career Planning 

All Texas Law students are required to meet with a CSO counselor at least once a year. According to Maksoud’s counselor Demel, who is now the office’s senior associate director, this leads to improved communication and more holistic support for students. “Getting to know them a lot better—and them getting to know us—builds a lot of trust,” she says.   

Angélica Salinas Evans ’95
Angélica Salinas Evans ’95, assistant dean of career services

Assistant Dean of Career Services Angélica Salinas Evans ’95 remembers when student interactions with the CSO were more limited. “What I recall is having a couple of meetings, having them help with my résumé, and not a ton else,” she says of her own time as a law student. She also remembers “résumé drops,” when students prepared for interview programs by slipping hard copies of their résumés into envelopes taped to the CSO’s walls. 

After she graduated from law school, Salinas Evans started out as a solo practitioner, eventually working in-house for a mental health and substance abuse treatment center and as fraudcounsel for the Texas Department of Insurance. She joined the CSO staff in 2008. When her class of 1995 classmate and longtime CSO head David Montoya retired in 2023, she took the helm.  

Alumni who might still bear the paper cut scars from all those résumés on bond paper may be surprised by the depth of experience and range of services in today’s CSO. 

“Our Career Services Office is big,” says Finnigan. “We have dedicated people in all kinds of specialties and different types of programs.” Finnigan believes that the wide range of specializations maximizes the office’s ability to help students. 

Salinas Evans’ own legal experience is indicative of the office she leads. The nine attorneys who work in the CSO have backgrounds as varied as their students’ job prospects, with experience in clerkships, private practice on both litigation and corporate matters, government agencies, in house, and public interest. 

With the CSO’s vast experience, Salinas Evans says the office can provide students with connections in many areas of practice as well as in nontraditional and legal-adjacent jobs.   

Landing—and Acing—Interviews   

In addition to counseling students, the CSO provides a full complement of other services. Chief among them are running job fairs and interviewing programs, though the days of hard copy résumés are long gone. 

The CSO hosts four on-campus interview programs throughout the year. It also coordinates virtual job fairs with employers from major legal markets including New York City, Boston, California, and Washington, D.C. The CSO is frequently in touch with small and midsize firms and corporate legal departments that might not recruit on the same timeline or as often as large firms.  

Julian Humphrey-Davis '24
Julian Humphrey-Davis ’24

Of course, it’s one thing to land an interview. Acing that interview requires other skills altogether. Julian Humphrey-Davis ’24 came to law school after working in student affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also has a master’s in education and knew law school would propel him to the next step in his career—but wasn’t sure what kind of work he’d like to do.  

Humphrey-Davis used mock interviews to help distill his varied experience into a compelling message for prospective employers. Based in part on that experience, he landed a summer associate position with Reed Smith, where he will be an associate In Washington, D.C., after graduation.  

Finnigan, who also serves as the office’s director of professional development, was his CSO counselor. She says her favorite part of her job is conducting mock interviews. According to Finnigan, “we’re lucky here at Texas Law that we have employers that are very interested in talking to our students very early in their law school career. And we want to make sure that students are positioned to have productive conversations early on.”  

Judicial Clerkships and Beyond 

Kathleen Overly
Kathleen Overly, director of judicial programs

For students interested in judicial clerkships, the CSO also has dedicated Director of Judicial Programs Kathleen Overly.  

“I believe there is a clerkship out there for everybody,” says Overly, a former associate dean of student affairs at Yale Law School. Overly’s job is to help students land clerkships and figure out how clerking fits into their long-term career strategy.  

Perhaps more than other types of applications, clerkship applications need to reflect the applicant as a whole person. “At the end of the day, the judge is hiring someone to spend a year working in really close quarters and wants to know the person,” Overly says. “I will help them think strategically about where they’re going to be competitive and what judges they might be interested in. Students have access to me throughout the process, because with clerkships things move really fast.”  

For the class of 2023, Overly and the CSO helped place graduates at 36 federal and 10 state, local, or territorial clerkships. 

Workshops, Job Boards, and Intangibles 

Mindy Finnigan
Mindy Finnigan, director of professional development

The CSO also provides a packed schedule throughout the school year of workshops on nearly any career-related topic a student might be interested in. According to Salinas Evans, the CSO puts on more than 100 programs a year, often co-sponsored with student groups and bar associations, as well as networking programs with alumni and others in the legal community.  

Salinas Evans says an average of 550 openings are posted to the CSO’s job board on any given day. This includes jobs for students—like the posting that helped 3L Maksoud land his summer position—as well as for recent and experienced graduates. Alumni have access to the job board for life. 

Beyond the programs and services, the CSO provides intangible help for students, like building confidence and supporting networking opportunities for first-generation students who don’t already have lawyers in their circle of connections. Students are occasionally surprised with the level of services the CSO provides, including something as seemingly simple as reviewing draft emails for students accustomed to texting.  

While he will be specializing in trademark law when he starts his associate position in the fall, Humphrey-Davis already has worked with a number of departments within the firm and in multiple offices. He relied on Finnigan’s advice to help communicate effectively with firm leadership about his career aspirations and ensure that his job is a good fit. “‘Tell me what it is you’re trying to communicate,’” he recalls her saying. “‘And then we can find the way to say it so it lands in the way that you want it to land.’”  

“We’re here to support you no matter if you just have one question or you need to sit down for an hour and talk about what am I doing here and where am I going,” says Finnigan. 

Prepared for Working Life 

Gabe Oxford '19
Gabe Oxford ’19

Gabe Oxford ’19 grew up in a family of lawyers. Her father, uncle, and sister are Texas Law alumni. Even so, Oxford wasn’t sure what she wanted her own legal career to be. “When I started law school, I was so naive,” she says. “I really thought all lawyers were trial attorneys.”   

Oxford took advantage of the CSO’s programming on a variety of career paths. She also valued the career counseling she received from Demel. “She was very helpful in terms of identifying what my drivers were and tailoring my job application experience to that,” Oxford says.  

After starting out at a midsize firm and then working at a larger firm, today Oxford is a litigation associate at the Houston office of Gray Reed, which she says is the best of both worlds. The advice she received from CSO as a law student helped prepare her to move between jobs when the time was right.  

Oxford has been involved in recruiting for her employers. “We love recruiting at UT,” she says. “The Texas Law students are really well prepared for the transition to working life.”

The Texas Law students are really well prepared for the transition to working life.”

Gabe Oxford ’19

Oxford praises the strong alumni community and remains close with many of her classmates. She also says the CSO helped her connect with alumni who shared their experiences with her. “The most precious thing you can get is a connection with another human who is doing exactly what you want to do,” she says. “It’s a great education but also just a great community. You’re never going to do better than UT.”  

Category: Law School News, Student Life