Jeff Lowenfels, L’75
If co-op makes students explorers of all the possibilities in their lives, then Jeff Lowenfels is second to none in wringing every bit of value out of his Northeastern experience. A 1975 Law School graduate, he estimates that he traveled 36,000 miles across the country in pursuit of a wide variety of co-op experiences.
These included a position with a smaller law office in Palo Alto, California, where Lowenfels worked on an environmental law case for the Natural Resources Defense Council; a co-op slot with a “very big law firm” in Salt Lake City that gave him a good read on “the office side” of legal practice; and, in 1972, a position in Anchorage, Alaska, where he did legal research on oil pipeline cases and experienced what Lowenfels described as “love at first sight.” The object of his affection was Alaska itself. Its natural beauty was only a part of the attraction. “It was an open frontier,” he says, which would offer him an opportunity to mold the law and not just practice it.
Upon graduation, he instantly accepted a job offer from an Anchorage law firm. The partners broke up the day he was sworn into the bar. Undaunted, Lowenfels landed a position as an assistant attorney general. Thus began a path that would take him through a variety of successful career pursuits in the Land of the Midnight Sun: lawyer, corporate executive, entrepreneur, author—plus a cherished avocation for the past 33 years as gardening columnist for the Anchorage Daily News.
If he had taken a more conventional road, says Lowenfels, he’d be practicing law in a big city, “working 200 hours a day,” and not enjoying life half as much. He credits Northeastern and its legal co-op program for opening him up to the opportunity. “When you go to Northeastern, you learn you can do anything,” he says. “You not only get to go places nobody else goes, but you get to do things in those places that nobody else does.” In return, Lowenfels has made an impact on his alma mater in direct and indirect ways. In keeping with his adopted state’s reputation for individualism (and frontier wit), he has co-endowed a scholarship at the law school for students who share his first name. And he was the trailblazer for what has grown into a substantial community of Northeastern law alumni in Alaska. That community numbers 81 and counting, including the first woman to hold a seat on the Alaska Supreme Court.
Asked for what he would advise Northeastern law students to focus on, the answer is pure Lowenfels: “Go to as many different places as you can; do things that you otherwise might not do. This is your opportunity.”