PUBLISHED:August 30, 2022

Through new coaching program, alumna Mila Trezza helps LLM students navigate career questions


LLMs seeking additional advice and input on their career development can receive one-on-one coaching from Trezza LLM '03, a London-based executive coach and former general counsel who specializes in working with lawyers and law firms.

Mila Trezza LLM '03 Mila Trezza LLM '03

LLM students seeking additional advice and input on their career development can receive one-on-one coaching from a Duke Law School alumna who was once in their shoes.

The Office of International Studies piloted the program in the spring with Mila Trezza LLM ’03, a London-based executive coach who specializes in working with lawyers and law firms. Due to the “overwhelmingly positive” response, coaching opportunities with Trezza will be expanded to the entire class this fall, said Assistant Dean Jabrina Robinson.

“We really thought it was an exciting opportunity to have more of this bird's eye view conversation with someone who works with lawyers as they're navigating their career,” Robinson said.

“You normally have to pay for these services. So for her to offer it to our students for free was really exciting, particularly as it complements the services we provide.”

A dual-qualified attorney in Italy and the United Kingdom, Trezza spent 17 years with Italian energy company Eni, the last 10 as general counsel for Europe and Oceania. During her career, she has served on the boards of 30 international companies and advised on major disputes, M&A transactions, and joint ventures as well as on strategy, risk management, and compliance in oil and gas joint ventures and on climate change.

Trezza had been informally mentoring colleagues and clients for years, so after leaving Eni it was a natural next step to launch a coaching practice focused on career transitions and leadership development for lawyers, and business development for firms. “I was spending a lot of time, both within my company and externally, having these conversations,” she said. “I find it very gratifying and fulfilling, and it is something I got passionate about. I try to encapsulate my experience and offer it in a manner that is hopefully meaningful for people.”

For LLM students, who receive individualized counseling from the Law School’s Career and Professional Development Center and have opportunities throughout the year to meet with faculty, alumni, and employers, the coaching sessions offer a way to get feedback from someone who is not involved in their job search. The confidential sessions are tailored to the specific needs of the student, and Trezza asks that they reflect in advance on the issue that they are struggling with the most so that they can work through it together.

“It can feel like so much is on the line for LLM students,” Robinson said. “They're often trying to pivot, either into a career path in the U.S or a new region or practice area, and there's a lot of pressure to just do what is going to get you to employment the quickest versus taking a step back to really ask what are your skills and where do you want to be.

“We often encourage them to step back and look at the bigger picture, but I think sometimes it's helpful to have a different party do that.”

Laura Quick Lourenco de Lima LLM ’22 said her session with Trezza “greatly complemented” the career counseling she received at Duke.

“She gave me relevant and helpful advice on identifying and connecting my strengths to a practice area that will value and expand them,” Quick Lourenco de Lima said. “Her questions and empathetic insights helped me feel confident in myself and my training while job searching. I hope to apply what I have learned from her by finding a workplace that needs and benefits from the unique strengths, talents, and experiences that I will bring to the table because as she pointed out, a good job fit is key to achieving long-term career satisfaction.”

Malte Luebbers LLM ’22 said Trezza helped to reframe his thinking about his career path.

“Talking to Mila enabled me to assume a new perspective on future challenges and chances,” Luebbers said. “The session was a great help in escaping a mental loop that I was stuck in before and embracing new opportunities. The coaching session allows you to be seen and value yourself. This gave me new energy [in my?] approach to my short- and long-term career goals.”

Trezza, who praised the students for being “emotionally intelligent,” noted that they are also more focused than previous generations on having a positive impact on society through their work and maintaining their mental health to avoid burnout. But as she experienced, they may not fully process the career advice they receive for some time after finishing their LLMs.

“I received a lot, and it took me a long time to process it, because you are really so focused on your next step,” she said. “I hope the insight and the experience I offered during the sessions stays or will reveal itself over time to the students. That's the very reason why I'm doing it, is to be part of this legacy and be part of ‘Forever Duke.’”