Okechi Ogbuokiri ’10
“I wish my law school had a program like that!” is the reaction Okechi Ogbuokiri receives when she tells other lawyers about her co-op experiences. “Northeastern’s national leadership in experiential learning made it one of my top choices when applying to law school. The law school sets itself apart by providing students with real world experience before entering practice.,” she says.
Thanks to her first co-op and her faculty mentor, Okechi quickly discovered that employment law offered her the right balance of dealing with business enterprises and interacting with clients. She then chose her remaining co-ops accordingly. “When interviewing for post-graduate jobs, hiring attorneys were impressed by my co-op experiences,” she notes. “I’d worked for a federal district judge, a prominent New Jersey law firm, and a major labor union and an important civil rights organization. These opportunities allowed me to easily acclimate to working full time for a firm.”
Okechi’s first post-law school position was with one of her co-op employers: Porzio, Bromberg & Newman in Morristown, New Jersey. “Part of my practice included representing school districts throughout Northern New Jersey. Having worked at the Massachusetts Teachers Association, I was able to bring a deeper understanding and a varied perspective to the table when counseling our clients through the issues.” From there, she went on to practice employment law, litigation and arbitration with Garfunkel Wild, and now serves as associate general counsel of JCCA (formerly known as Jewish Child Care Association).
US District Court for the District of New Jersey, Camden, New Jersey
Under the supervision of the Honorable Jerome Simandle, Okechi conducted legal research and drafted opinions regarding civil and criminal matters. Okechi also observed court proceedings and gained incite on different lawyering styles.
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Boston, Massachusetts
This co-op gave Okechi the opportunity to interact directly with clients and to participate in strategy meetings regarding issues related to employment discrimination. She was able to gain experience critically analyzing employment issues from the employee’s point of view.
- Black Law Students Association (president and treasurer)
Legal Skills in Social Context
Okechi was selected as a student instructor for the required first-year Legal Skills in Social Context course. She led a group of first-year law students in a social justice project for the Massachusetts Black Legislative Caucus, exploring the inefficiencies in access to mental health care services in Massachusetts prisons.
Okechi worked with Professor Margaret Burnham and the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project on Moore v. Franklin County, which led officials in Franklin County, Mississippi, to settle a civil suit charging county law enforcement officials with aiding and abetting the Ku Klux Klan in the 1964 murders of Charles Moore and Henry Dee.
- Civil Trial Practice
- Employment Law
- Labor Arbitration
Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, Morristown, New Jersey
Okechi worked on employment and education law issues throughout this co-op. She represented employers and gained an understanding of their perspectives in employment and labor law matters.
Poverty Law and Practice Clinic
Okechi counseled and represented three indigent clients in unemployment hearings, and was able to obtain favorable results for all of her clients.
Massachusetts Teachers Association, Boston, Massachusetts
On this co-op, Okechi was able to assist attorneys in counseling employees on labor issues, with the added dynamic of dealing with a union. It was a terrific follow-up to her private firm experience.
Associate, Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, Morristown, New Jersey
A member of the firm’s Commercial Practice Group, Okechi concentrated in the areas of employment and labor law, general commercial litigation, and education law.