On the Transactional Path
John W. Caruolo, RWU Law Class of 2018Juris Doctor
A dyed-in-the-wool Rhode Islander, John W. Caruolo earned his undergraduate degree at Brown University, and then decided to take advantage of RWU Law’s status as Rhode Island’s only law school to get the academic and experiential chops he needed to succeed in the legal profession.
“I did my due diligence, comparing what schools in the Boston area were offering,” Caruolo recalls. “Part of the appeal of RWU Law was that I could potentially be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, where I might be able to stand out and distinguish myself a bit more. We’re the only show in town. For example, so many of our students have worked at every level of the federal court except for the Supreme Court. When all was said and done, it just made sense to me.”
Early returns suggest that Caruolo’s strategy worked – he was a member of both the Law Review and the Honors Program, graduated among the top 10 in his class, and is working in the Boston law firm of Morrison Foerster, where he is an associate in the Finance & Projects Practice Group.
“I always wanted to do transactional work; that’s my thing,” he says. “So I kind of knew my path. Or maybe I had my blinders on. I knew that RWU Law was big on experiential learning, but I never really understood how important it is.”
That changed when Caruolo served as a summer judicial intern with the Honorable John J. McConnell, Jr., of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island.
“It was truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had – though it confirmed, I guess, that I definitely don’t want to do litigation,” he says. “Judge McConnell’s door was always open, he talked to us all the time. There were five of us ‘lowly interns,’ but he really cared about each of us; he really took the time to get to know us. We’d observe proceedings in court, and afterward he’d talk to us about it, and ask our input. He’s a wonderful judge and one of the nicest individuals I’ve ever met.”
The summer after his 2L year, he summered with Riemer & Braunstein – where he primarily worked with the Real Estate Finance Practice Group – and Caruolo fit in so well that he left with an offer of a permanent position.
Returning for his third year of law school, Caruolo participated in the Corporate Counsel Externship Program.
“I got to work in-house at Thomson Reuters, as part of the Corporate & Securities Group,” he says. “It got me into the Boston market. It was the perfect situation for me. I got to read through stock-purchase agreements, shareholders’ agreements – I think a lot of people would rather do anything else but that, but I discovered it was really my thing – I’m like, 'Wow, this is so cool! I’ve never seen one of these before!'" When he took a course in Mergers & Acquisitions, he noted that "to have had that actual experience just illuminates the material fantastically.”
In his final semester, he decided to try the Business Start-Up Clinic at RWU Law’s Providence Experiential Campus. Again, the experience was transformational.
“I basically had my own clients,” Caruolo says. “I was working under the direction and supervision of Professor Ahern, but the client management all belonged to me: interviewing, maintaining communication, counseling – my responsibility was to the client. It was like a jump start on actual legal practice. Now when I have to do client management as a working attorney, I’ve already gotten some of those growing pains out of the way – but with a professor to oversee and advise me and help me along.”
So despite being a self-described “transactional guy,” can Caruolo admit that all that hands-on training paid off?
“I have to say, my clinical and externship experiences not only lived up to my expectations, they completely exceeded them,” he says. “And I know they’ll make me a better lawyer.”