Resident Associate Program Preps Alum for Dream Job

Matt Moen '15 knew exactly what he wanted to do after graduation: practice employment law on California’s Central Coast. The Loyola Law School Career Development Center’s Resident Associate Program helped make it happen.

When he graduated in May 2015, Moen’s fiancée was already working as a school psychologist in San Luis Obispo County. But Moen, originally from Palos Verdes, California, had a concern: California’s Central Coast did not have the same wealth of employment-law opportunities as Los Angeles, and he might be forced to pursue an alternative practice area. “There are a handful of law firms up here, and they’re all very small,” Moen said.

Enter Marla Najbergier, Associate Director at Loyola’s Career Development Center. She had been in communication with Erica Flores Baltodano, partner, Baltodano & Baltodano LLP – a prestigious plaintiffs’ side employment-law firm based in San Luis Obispo with offices in Pasadena.

With her firm’s Central Coast location, Baltodano was having the opposite problem as Moen: about three hours from the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco, she found the supply of qualified candidates to be a challenge. She was drawn to Moen because of his experience and his strong desire to move to the area. During the vetting process, Moen became the firm’s top choice, and they hired him.

“We had posted job openings on the Loyola Law School website, but I didn’t really have a connection to Loyola,” she said. “We were thinking of someone with a higher level of experience. But we felt like if the right candidate came along, it may be fine. So we decided to give the Resident Associate Program a try.”

At the outset of his residency, Moen completed the required two-week legal skills bootcamp – a feature he calls vital to his ability to quickly hit the ground running. “For instance, I had never heard the term ‘local-local rule,'” he said. “It would have been something a practicing attorney knows. But it’s not a topic that comes up in law school unless you’re taking a really specialized practical skills course.”

The bootcamp dove deep on skills related to client interviews and discovery. And continuing education classes available to RAP participants covered more ground, such as depositions. Moen credits the RAP practice-skills training with preparing him for the range and scope of his firm duties. And his supervisors have picked up on it.

“Matt doesn’t shy away from things that are obviously new to him. When given the opportunity to speak up at a strategy meeting with attorneys from other firms, he’s confident to do so,” said Baltodano, who called his writing superior to that of more seasoned attorneys with whom she has worked. “He’s getting a really great experience, and he’s making the most of it. He’s focused. He reminds us a lot of how we were when we were young associates.”

Returning the sentiment, Moen admits that he feels lucky for the scope of his assignments. “I’ve been able to experience everything: client intake interviews and meetings, mediation brief and mediations, motions for preliminary and final approval of class action settlements and ex-parte motions,” he said. “I’m not in a big cookie cutter firm where it’s assembly line legal work.”

Moen sees a long future at Baltodano & Baltodano. While RAP contracts generally last a year with an option to hire full-time, Baltodano always saw Moen as a long-term hire. He celebrates his one-year anniversary in October and plans to stick around. “We’re happy where we are!” he said.

Moen appreciates the value of RAP to his securing a position at a top firm in his dream specialty. “If it weren’t for RAP, I wouldn’t have secured a position in an employment firm on the plaintiff’s side,” he said. “It would have been near-impossible, especially without experience. With how small firms are up here, there is no entry phase. You’re relied on as an integral part of the team from the get-go.”