Ms. Blackman, soon after your graduation you found work in the U.S. Did you face any problems that have arisen in the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic in the world of work and job applications?
Sommer Blackman: With the unexpected arrival of COVID, I delayed reaching out to many lawyers because I knew firms were in a state of unknown and many had to let employees go. I was extremely doubtful that I would find employment because of this uncertain time. Applying to jobs online just did not seem like the right approach for me. I thought the best way to really connect would be through Zoom and phone calls.
I decided to reach out to lawyers in New York to start building a network. I entered the conversations enthusiastically and gratefully. To my surprise, my second phone call on my third day in New York resulted in an offer. I attribute this to sheer resilience in the face of immense adversity. I truly think employers notice these characteristics in candidates right away.
You are currently working at a New York law firm practicing entertainment, trademark, and copyright law. Did you have any practical experience in IP Law before coming to UNH Franklin Pierce, and what do you particularly like about working in the field of Intellectual Property?
Summer Blackman: A small percentage of my work prior to coming to UNH Law was in trademark, copyright and entertainment, specifically music law. As a law student, I also had a breadth of experience in various parts of the entertainment industry: I was a summer student at a top Entertainment law firm in Toronto; I worked at a music management company; and I worked in the royalties department at a labor union representing professional musicians. My entertainment law focus is music, so I enjoy working with artists to get them interested in understanding how they can monetize their music in various forms, and how carefully reviewing recording agreement provisions can really save them from headache in their career.
The UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law alumni community includes alumni in all 50 states and in over 80 countries. How important do you think networking is and how did you build your network at UNH?
Summer Blackman: Networking is Queen! I'm a sociable person, so cold calling, or striking up a conversation with a stranger comes naturally to me. You never know where the next opportunity will come from. I recently learned to go where you are not expected. Attending an event full of a room of IP lawyers would not have the same effect as an event whose primary attendees are inventors, or small businesses, or musicians!
I built my network at UNH by being specific: I advised my professors what kind of job I was interested in, and they thought of people they could connect me with. After speaking with that connection, my conversations always ended with asking if they minded introducing me to one or two people. I continued that strategy and gained many connections in New York using this method.