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Work to Learn Not to Earn and be Intentional in Law School!

Christopher A. Lewis on Jul 28, 2016 11:00:00 AM


JohnMasni.pngThis week in the Law School Insider we are bringing you John Mashni an Associate with Foster Swift and graduate of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. John Mashni was very intentional about the decisions he made in law school, the activities he took part in and more and upon graduation he had numerous job offers on the table even before he had passed the bar exam (a nice place to be)!

Prior to law school, John Mashni had worked for a number of years so when he finally got into law school he was a bit older than some other students. Because he was older, married and between careers (though he was still working for his old employer for about 30 hours a week too), as he put it "there was very little time to waste"  and because of this he worked to be very targeted on what he chose to spend his time on. about the end of one's time in law school.


Intentional came down to answering a few questions:

  1. What do I want to do?
  2. What do I want to be?
  3. What do I want to have?

Once you are in your first term and you answered these questions for yourself, you can deconstruct the years that you are in law school to see and figure out what you need to do in what year. For John Mashni finding activities that were based on honing his practical skills. Thus, he would spend quite a bit of time volunteering and seeing what lawyers were doing.

He also had a goal to stay married to his wife during law school as he had seen and hear of others that were not able to stay together during this period of time. He did stay married and they now have a few kids together too. Beyond this he had to question "What do I want my lifestyle to look life once I am out out of Law School ?" "Who do I want to work for? What clients do I want to have?" Once you answer these questions for yourself, you will come up with more. As you get the answer to some of these you need to start to spend time with lawyers in many different types of work-environments doing many different things to get a good feel for the profession and where you want to be too.

Many of the lawyers that he watched over his time in law school he noticed were very stressed out and not happy. John Mashni made a goal for himself to try and build his legal career around helping people with creative energy to not only sustain him and his own creativity but would also allow him to make a difference in so many too.

In preparing for a career helping so many, he created an amazing website as a part of a class that really sold himself to potential employers. He created this outside of the original parameters of the class project but he did it because of his background in marketing and knowing that he wanted to sell himself in a different way. 

Some of the reason that he also chose to do this was in preparation for the the job search. You see as he was getting ready to head through the job search he came to some realizations:

  1. You cannot be discouraged if you do not get a job as sometimes an employer knows from the first few minutes if you are going to be a good fit or not, and if not, you would not want to be there anyway.
  2. You want to truly make a positive impression with the employer even before they ever meet you and for him having the website mentioned before did this.

Upon graduation he had two job offers right away and one was after seeing his website. The person at that firm said "Any person that knows how to market himself that well before graduating law school is going to do great with me."

To set himself apart in the job interview he tried to do some different things in law school to set himself apart:

  • Focus on skills - showing that you can solve a problem for the employer. To do this he chose to do numerous clinics while in la school.
  • Focus on having different experiences. John Mashni made sure to come up with unique, diverse activities that he could focus on each term that were different than the normal ones that you would consider.

John Mashni also thought about what brought value to him and to the people that he would be working for. Some of the things that he realized was that some of the value that you bring is tied to:

  • The network that you bring with you. Ever since he started working, he tracked the people that he came in contact with and as he moved on in his career and in law school he chose to stay in touch with these people in different ways to simply keep connected. John became known as someone that seemed to know someone wherever he was and this is because of the intentionality and things that he did to genuinely be interested in people and offer value to them first.


In the end John Mashni lives by the statement "Work to learn not to earn." This mantra has followed him in his career and it will help you in yours too!

Did you like this interview? Do you have a question for John Mashni? Leave a comment below to let me know!

Are you a practicing lawyer? A law student? Would you like to be a guest on an upcoming episode of the Law School Insider? Send me an email at


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