Journey of a MLS graduate from NYC to Melbourne and back

By Liz Banks-Anderson

Kristen Sisko is the first lawyer in her family.

The New Yorker was inspired to study law while working as a litigation paralegal for the US law firm Outten & Golden.

“My experience working alongside some of the nation’s top legal advocates for workplace fairness motivated me to move forward with a legal career. It inspired me to positively impact the lives of others,” she says.

Ms Sisko left Outten & Golden to backpack around Australia before starting law school. This proved to be a life-changing experience for her.

While traveling in Australia, a friend suggested she consider MLS. She “applied and was offered a spot in the JD program commencing February 2012.”

Ms Sisko says “Programs such as the Institutions in International Law elective and the Public Interest Law Clinic, paired with the unique opportunity to study at a top law school in a foreign country, with lower tuition fees than most US law schools, made my decision seemingly easy.”

Having returned to New York at the completion of her JD in 2014, Ms Sisko says the international legal focus she gained at MLS allows her to address legal problems more effectively.

She explains that “learning how different countries have addressed similar legal issues has helped me to understand legal problems from varied viewpoints.”

After graduating from MLS, Ms Sisko successfully sat the NY Bar exam, a two-day, 12-hour closed book exam that covers 17 areas of the law.

To prepare for this exam, Ms Sisko enrolled in the BARBRI International Bar Prep Course. She says the skills she learned at MLS had a huge impact in helping her prepare for the exam.

She notes that the most impactful skills were the skills she developed through her interactions with Kate Van Hooft, the Teaching and Learning Adviser (Wellbeing) at MLS.

I learned healthy coping strategies for managing an intense workload and how to deal with all the uncertainties in life,” she says.

Ms Sisko now works as an Associate and Legal Analyst for Legal Fee Advisors. She advises law firms in fee shifting disputes and corporate clients on legal fee standards. She enjoys working in this niche area of law and looks forward to growing with the company.

Ms Sisko believes it is important for lawyers to give back to their community and continues to volunteer with the New York Legal Assistance Group.

“I intend to continue pairing my passion for public interest law throughout my career, even if I am not necessarily employed in such a capacity.”

Ms Sisko says her career path has “not at all” gone as she expected.

It is more important to be flexible with your career path than to keep yourself narrowly confined to a certain expectation. It is important to make the most of each career step and avoid focusing solely on what you think your career path should be.
This article originally appeared in MLS News, Issue 15, June 2016.