The importance of writing and research skills
Molly K.Vigour '96, Corporate Counsel
Advanced degrees: JD Law, Tulane University
Employer: Canal HR, Inc.,
Molly Vigour currently works within Canal HR, inc, a company that provides human resource services to busiiness clients including worker’s compensation, claims, and payroll. Vigour herself advises on general HR questions and corporate matters, and works within a team that manages claims.
From MHC graduation to working as corporate counsel
Upon graduating, Vigour worked as a receptionist for Governor William Weld in Boston, and loved it. After her position in Governor Weld’s office, she began working for lawyers in a secretarial position. She also got married a year after graduation and began applying to law school in every city to which her Coast-Guard-officer husband wished to transfer. She was accepted to a law school in every city she applied to, she and her husband decided to move to New Orleans where she began at Tulane Law School.
After law school, she clerked with federal judge Donald E. Walter in Shreveport, Louisiana. She then moved back to New Orleans and worked for a boutique real estate law firm dealing with commercial real estate for two and a half years. She left her job after having her first baby, and afterwards began work in the career office of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. A year later, Hurricane Katrina hit, and the law school was temporarily relocated to Houston. The year after Hurricane Katrina, she had another baby and stayed home with her two young children for a year. A former law school classmate then contacted her about an opening as in-house counsel for Al Copeland Investments. Copeland was the founder and owner of the Popeye’s Chicken food chain. Vigour later moved to her current position at Canal HR and had her third child.
Advice for a Mount Holyoke history major who wants to be where she is now
She advises students who want to pursue an interest in law to conduct a lot of research on what is out there, and what would be exciting for the student to do. Most importantly, she cautions students to be careful with loans. Students should carefully consider their financial aid packages, and they should “not fall into the trap” that legal hiring after school will pay for student loans, especially since it is now harder to find legal jobs with high salaries. She cautions that “maybe if one attends an Ivy League law school and works for a large firm, that opportunity would be possible, but most likely, the positions that will be open are at smaller firms."
Networking is also important: “even though it’s ‘cliché,’ just being friendly and reaching out to people with simple “thank yous” can go a long way. It is always good to go to events and meet professional colleagues.” She also notes that it is also helpful to also go to law school where you want to work and live, as a stronger network can be built around the community. “And make sure you find a good partner, especially if you want to raise a family!”
The role her history major played in her life since graduation
Definitely the writing: though she currently does not write many loan briefs, she writes quick and to-the-point summaries and reports that are succinct and important for those who need them. In her office, she is “always asked to write letters.” A well-written letter is vitally important in business.
In addition, the research skills she developed as a History major helped her throughout law school and with her current work. The ability to search for information, weed through various sources, and become comfortable with new topics, is an important piece to her work in law.
Things the History Department can do to prepare majors to transition from curriculum to career
Vigour recommends having History major alums come and talk to current students, maybe as part of a panel. Having a major-specific event would be engaging and also give students diverse examples of what graduates with a History degree have done or are currently doing in the workplace.