In this job description, a lawyer without a law practice describes what it’s like to be the Director of Law at Boston University’s Law School Program. Ian Pilarczyk works with law students and administers programs in International Business Law.
He founded the Executive LL.M. in International Business Law at Boston University, and encourages prospective students to consider a law degree.
“Even in this job market, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) is a great all-purpose degree to have,” he says. “You don’t have to be a lawyer to love the law. It surprises me that many law schools aren’t better at articulating alternative career options besides working in a law firm, as a prosecutor or defense attorney, or as an academic.”
Pilarczyk’s education includes McGill University (B.A.); Boston University (J.D.); McGill University (LL.M.); and McGill University (D.C.L.). Here’s his current job description, plus tips for aspiring law students…
A Lawyer Without a Law Practice – Director of Law at Boston U
Pilarczyk is a non-practicing lawyer who runs the Master of Laws program at Boston U. He researches, plans, develops and implements various educational services, and helps students through the process of law school application to graduation.
The salary for Directors of Law programs ranges from $70,000 to $150,000, depending on experience, location, institution, whether they are tenured faculty or full time staff. The education required is typically a J.D., and sometimes an LL.M (Master of Laws) especially in specialized legal fields such as banking or tax.
A Masters in University Administration/Higher Education is sometimes required or recommended to be a Program Director in a University setting.
The Best Parts of Working as a University Administrator
Pilarczyk enjoys the challenges and opportunities involved in starting up new program: implementing ideas into action by working with a wide range of stakeholders towards a common goal.
“It’s very rewarding to see things slowly develop from an amorphous idea to an actual ‘live’ program,” he says. “It’s rarely dull, every day presents new challenges and opportunities and inches you a little closer to the finished product—and once it’s up and running you can start tweaking, expanding, and improving it, as well as add new courses and programs. I get very invested in the success of my projects.”
He also finds working with students very gratifying. “I get to see them from different vantage points and at all stages of the process: as inquirers, applicants, accepted and enrolled students, and ultimately as graduates and, I hope, proud ‘ambassadors’ of the School.”
The Downside of Working as a Law Program Director
Working in a large institution brings the inevitable red tape – and Pilarczyk says it can get tiresome navigating bureaucracy that sometimes appears Byzantine in its complexity (what he sometimes refer to as ‘bureaucrazy’). Boston University has been making a real effort to streamline the law school admission and other procedures.
“A perennial frustration, hardly unique to being a university administrator, is financing,” says Pilarczyk. “Your ideas are bound by financial constraints, and the past several years have not been kind to institutions of higher learning. There is more and more focus on making programs revenue-generating, which is understandable, necessary and also somewhat unfortunate.”
He adds that that there is never enough financial assistance available to meet the needs of all qualified law students. “Being aware of that reality, and having to communicate it, can be quite painful,” he says.”
The Biggest Surprise About This Law Job
“It seems to surprise people that I enjoy it as much as I do – my job involves juggling a lot of deadlines and details, navigating procedures and personalities,” says Pilarczyk. “Often everything seems to be happening at once! I’m at my happiest when I have a lot of different balls in the air. I imagine that would be anathema to some people.”
Career Tips for Law Students
Pilarczyk says the degrees you receive – law degrees or not – aren’t always as important as your core competencies. “Sometimes you have to persuade potential employers that despite the lack of the required degrees or experience, you actually are the most qualified for the job,” he says. “Being able to articulate the ways in which you have added value to your employers, shown leadership, have a demonstrable record of achievement and transferable experiential skills – coupled with having people you’ve reported to being willing to provide strong recommendations – always goes a long way.”
Breaking into higher education (working as a university administrator, program director, or even a college professor) can be challenging – especially since many universities and colleges tend to hire from within, or recruit from other institutions.
“If you’re trying to get a foot in the door, it sometimes makes sense to aim for a foundational position that is lower down on the food chain that you might normally consider,” says Pilarczyk. “Always leverage the connections you have—is there someone you know who will pass your resume along to a hiring manager or recommend you for an interview? Can a friend let you know about upcoming openings that haven’t yet been posted?”
Pilarczyk’s most fundamental piece of advice is to love what you do – because then you’ll never have to “work” for a living. He looks forward to going to work in the morning, and he looks forward to going home in the evening, and that strikes him as being pretty much the best of both worlds.
To learn more about this program director, visit Ian C. Pilarczyk. Boston University Law is now accepting applications from qualified U.S. and international applicants for their blended learning Executive LL.M. in International Business Law.
For a different perspective on “the law”, read a Private Investigator Job Description.
Do you have any questions or thoughts on Boston University’s law school program, working as a University or College Program Director, or being a law student? Please comment below…
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