Take action: Abigail Cessna

Abigail Cessna relocated from New York to Washington, DC when she decided to focus her practice on complex antitrust work. She shares the importance of finding what you love – and having the courage to go for it.

Photo credit: Thomas Topinka, Washington DC

Antitrust combines much of what interests me about law. This area of law presents the opportunity to immerse myself in a client’s business and advocate for its interests. The practice has a strong regulatory component, so there is much substantive knowledge to learn. The many recent developments in antitrust afford me the chance to work on cutting-edge issues. Of particular interest to me is the intersection between antitrust and technology.

My class was the first to participate in the firm’s Transactional Pool in New York, and I was soon drawn to M&A. I volunteered to assist the antitrust team, which sits in our corporate group, and I ended up spending half a summer in DC working on a major antitrust investigation. The DC office and the practice area seemed like a great fit for me, and the firm was very supportive of my move to DC.

The legal field today is rapidly evolving. There are more options for my generation of lawyers, whether that means working for start-ups or multinationals, trying out different or emerging substantive areas, or having the mobility to switch offices as your practice develops. There is a definite sense that people want those choices, and they want to be able to take ownership in developing their careers.

“There is a definite sense that people want choices, and they want to be able to take ownership in developing their careers.”

In my own career, I have identified priorities in my environment. I value being a member of a team where my input counts: when I propose ideas, they are listened to and taken seriously. Whether it’s about pitching for work or making a suggestion about tweaking the way we do something, I have focused on finding that dynamic in my practice. My partners and senior associates provide strong mentorship and support. That kind of investment is very important to me.

Be an advocate for yourself and take chances. Setbacks are a natural part of anything worth doing. Early in your career, it may feel at times that you’re not being given as many opportunities as you’d like. But you need to take the initiative to create those opportunities. Finding a way to advocate for yourself is not something that may come easily. However, I have learned that failure to act will hold you back, especially in our field.