Janelle Matthews '04
What is your current job?
Associate Trial Attorney at John C. Buratti and Associates
Why did you choose this profession?
After law school, I wanted to spend time helping the community and became a prosecutor at the Bronx District Attorney's Office. As a prosecutor, I obtained valuable experience in litigation. As I started volunteering more out of the office, I decided I wanted to get out of Criminal Law, but I wanted to continue to litigate cases and have a sense that I was still helping people. The field I am currently in allows me to litigate cases, which I believe to be the most fun part of my career, but still allows me personal contact with my clients and allows me to help individuals after they have been involved in an accident that may change the course of their futures.
What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?
I am still a relatively young attorney and, as such, I would like to continue to develop my researching and writing abilities. I do not believe that just because you grasp the practice you are in that you stop learning. I enjoy being in a courtroom and being on trial. I would like to eventually open my own small practice so I can have some say in who my client's are and also to allow me the opportunity to take more pro bono cases.
Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.
Early in my career, I decided I would not allow a paycheck to decide where I would work. As such, I have always decided I would take jobs that were I would be challenged mentally and where I would feel that I am helping someone. As attorneys, I think many of us worry more about how much we make rather than are we happy with what we are doing. I worry more about my personal happiness and if I am able to help someone. As such, when a job is no longer enjoyable to me, I look at the positives that I have learned from that job and think about what my next step with be professionally that will allow me to go back to the aspects of practice that I enjoy and to find new areas to learn so that I can continue my personal growth.
How has Haverford influenced your professional career?
At Haverford, I developed my sense of community and the idea that I wanted a life in service. I used the professors and the resources on campus to help me decide what law school I would attend that would allow me to graduate and enter into public interest law, but also allow me to leave doors open if I should decide to go into the private sector. During law school, I continued to use the career counselors to help me think about where I wanted to practice after graduation and used them to help me put together my cover letters and resumes. Haverford has always been only a phone call away and the advice I have gotten from the career counselors after graduation has helped me focus my job searches on jobs that would make me happy and how to open doors to get me into jobs I wanted.