All through law school, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Alumnus Ben Lewis ‘12 consistently involved himself in the public interest sector and today has found personal success working for the Maricopa County Office of the Public Advocate, formerly The Office of the Juvenile Public Defender. “During law school, I had internships in public interest, so I knew that I wanted to use my legal education to work with individuals who are somehow disadvantaged, whether financially or otherwise. This new position with Maricopa County is a perfect fit,” Lewis said.
“Overall, the journey from law school has been exciting and challenging, with several amazing people assisting me along the way. I feel blessed to be where I am now,” Lewis said of the overall experience.
Lewis’s involvement in dependency law arose through his exposure to the TJSL Alumni community in Arizona. “I met with several of them to discuss their legal careers, which led to observing dependency court proceedings. These experiences sparked my interest in dependency law, which led to the current position with Maricopa County,” Lewis explained.
After graduating from TJSL, Lewis made himself available to many attorneys further gaining experience and sharpening his skills, always looking for the type of opportunity he found in Maricopa County. “I assisted Professor Luz Herrera with starting the TJSL Employment Law Self-Help Clinic. In addition, I assisted attorneys with small legal research projects while waiting for bar exam results. I took the Arizona Bar Exam in July 2013 and moved out to Phoenix with my wife in October,” Lewis said.
Interning with the Small Business Law Center (SBLC) during his time at TJSL largely shaped Lewis’s law school experience. However, like many alumni, Lewis states, “The best memories from TJSL are the relationships developed with fellow students and faculty. The cornerstone of any educational institution is the faculty. Succeeding in law school was due in large measure to the outstanding faculty at TJSL.” Perhaps more significantly, Lewis found success thanks to the valuable support from Alumni and Career Services beyond graduation, “After moving to Arizona, I would periodically check in with the career services staff, who were always great at suggesting different ideas for my job search.”
When asked what advice he would give recent graduates Lewis recommended being pro-active, “The alumni services office is a great way to meet TJSL graduates in your field of interest. That is one of the keys to success in the job search: taking the initiative and reaching out to people. As long as you are genuine and respectful of their time, most attorneys are happy to answer questions about their careers.”
Additionally Lewis shared, “When reaching out to meet attorneys, I have found it useful to let them know that you are happy to assist with research projects or other odds and ends that they may need help with. This ensures that the networking relationship is reciprocal; they are helping you as a new graduate and you are also willing to assist. Sometimes you will meet attorneys who do not need much help around the office, which is fine. At least express your appreciation of their time and let them know that if future projects arise, you are happy to be of service.”
Lewis has found his role at the Office of the Public Advocate fulfilling on multiple levels, “The most rewarding part of my job is to assist parents who would otherwise not be able to afford legal representation. The second most rewarding aspect of my job is the ability to work with enthusiastic and talented people at the Office of the Public Advocate,” said Lewis. “For me, my choice to attend law school and become a lawyer was an amazing journey that I do not regret,” he concluded.