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Law student on fast track to help underdogs

Becoming a lawyer might not have been Paige Walker’s lifelong dream, but one thing was forever certain when it came to her professional ambitions.

“I always knew I wanted to represent the underdog,” she explained.

Walker, a third-year student in Northeastern’s School of Law, has already had the opportunity to do just that through the university’s signature co-op program.

She has completed experiential-learning opportunities with both the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and Segal Roitman LLP, a Boston-based law firm that specializes in union and employment law.

Prior to graduating in May, Walker will also complete a co-op with Greater Boston Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal advice to some of the most needy residents of Boston and 31 surrounding communities.

Walker is on track to continue that work after graduation. In an age in which it has become increasingly difficult for many law school graduates to find work, Walker is the exception, having already secured a full-time job. In the spring she will join the staff at Segal Roitman, where she will work with unions on issues such as collective bargaining and arbitration.

The offer caught Walker by surprise. She had stayed on part time at Segal Roitman after her co-op ended; after a few weeks, the partners asked her to lunch and offered her a job. She eagerly accepted the position, which will give her the opportunity to delve into the kind of employment and labor work she relishes the most.

“I like the idea of working with unions because you’re part of a team,” Walker said. “You’re more of an advisor or strategist, not someone who goes into the courtroom to win a single case then isn’t a part of that team ever again.”

Walker took a serendipitous path to becoming a lawyer. After graduating from the University of Vermont in 2006, where she studied Spanish and community development, she took a job at a law firm that specialized in immigration cases.

“I really just wanted an opportunity to improve my Spanish and I wound up as a paralegal,” Walker said. “I didn’t expect it, but I found myself really drawn to the tasks given to me by the other lawyers.”

Walker quickly realized that she wanted to pursue a law education and set her sights on Northeastern, which she called her “dream school.”

She praised the law school for its focus on using the legal system to serve the public interest and for its experiential-learning program. “I was always on the public-interest track,” Walker said, “and Northeastern helped give me the tools to make a real difference.”