CAL ISCOR Alum Connects with Students
Julie Selesnick, part of the recent DACA litigation team, offers inspiration to Pre-Law Society students
By Leslie L.J. Reilly
The Pre-Law Society invited international security and conflict resolution (ISCOR) alumna Julie Selesnick, Of Counsel at Cohen Milstein in Washington, D.C., to speak at a recent virtual meeting. It was the first time she had met with a group of SDSU students since her days as an undergrad transfer student in the 90s. After earning her ISCOR B.A., cum laude in 1998 at SDSU, she attended George Washington University Law School to earn her J.D.
Selesnick has spent time in boutique insurance firms, large defense firms, and even branched out on her own for a period of time as an entrepreneur. Her goal has always been to do work that helps people.
The highlight of her career was representing (with other law firms) the DACA recipients and other interested parties by obtaining rescission of the Department of Homeland Security’s Memorandum purporting to end the DACA program this past summer – the decision was upheld before the Supreme Court in a June decision this year. She heard compelling stories from recipients who were in college, working, and had families to care for in the U.S. This Supreme Court case was one of the last few cases that Ruth Bader Ginsburg heard.
Selesnick shared anecdotal stories about her experiences over the years, including representing high-profile plaintiffs, defending business clients on environmental issues, working on ERISA group cases, and even writing a chapter in an ERISA textbook.
She pointed to two current issues affecting politics today, and reminded students about historical issues such as the hanging chads during the 2000 election.
When student Marc Gonzales asked, “What is the best advice for undergrads to build connections and get your foot in the door?”
Selesnick said, “You have to decide where you want to work and in what area. Criminal law is quite interesting, and the cases are fascinating, but you should search for an area you are passionate about.”
She recommended work study and internships to gain a foothold in the industry. “It’s about being creative and always asking for help, from anyone you know,” Selesnick said.
She mentioned three hot areas in law right now: criminal justice/criminal justice reform, immigration, and political law.
Selesnick said that joining a political campaign as a volunteer will lead to meeting a wide array of people. She continues to follow this advice, and volunteered to answer a hotline for a political campaign this year – it helps give her a good idea about what is really going on in the country.
Student Anthony Oriol asked Selesnick, “I’m an ISCOR major considering law school with an interest in international or public law, how do I gain exposure?”
“Find something you love, then try it. If not, try EVERYTHING,” Selesnick said. She recommended working for a national law center, or an NGO, and finding plenty of networking opportunities.
In closing, she said, “If you don’t like the first area of law you try, shift to another area. Keep doing that until one day, you find yourself on a case that you feel completely passionate about — and, that is your area.”
She has great confidence in SDSU Pre-Law students.