Posted Nov 01, 2007 07:59 pm CDT
In April, 25-year-old Casey A. Fry became associate director of the Institute for Trade in the Americas at Michigan State University College of Law in East Lansing. A graduate of the school, she’s played an instrumental role in the institute since its founding three years ago. Among her responsibilities are planning and executing the annual trilateral academic conference, and writing the ever-imperative grant proposals. But her biggest challenge just may be getting the word out.
ABA Journal: The institute certainly sounds impressive—what does it do?
FRY: We reach practitioners, students, the general public and businesspeople to promote trade in the Americas. For example, we have a series of workshops aimed at small and medium-size businesses to help them gain an understanding of how they can benefit from trade with Canada.
ABA Journal: Do you find that you have to go through that explanation a lot when you mention the institute?
FRY: Our institute is quite young. We’re working to get our name out there and to prove to everyone that we are a pre-eminent institution that they can come to for anything they need regarding trade.
ABA Journal: How did this position come about?
FRY: [During law school] I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for the institute director, professor Kevin Kennedy. [That] eventually led to my promotion.
ABA Journal: Are you ever worried what scholars and business leaders will think when they meet you and see how young you are?
FRY: It’s not really a concern. I have experienced some difficulty—upon first impression, people think I am a student or just an assistant. But I find that speaking with them and letting them know what we’re doing, they realize that I am more than that. … I try to project a professional persona at all times—it helps me to be taken more seriously upon first impression.
ABA Journal: Like wearing suits and having a serious-looking haircut?
FRY: If I go to my stylist and she wants to try something new and creative, I have to explain to her that my position doesn’t allow me to do that. I won’t be taken seriously, and that’s more important to me than having a fun haircut.