Becoming a lawyer wasn’t a simple decision for me. In college, I started as an arts and sciences major but found it was too broad and didn’t give me a clear sense of direction. I switched into an industrial and labor relations program, which was described to me as a people-focused major that taught students about workplace issues, including the dispute resolution process – a natural precursor to entering the law. I interviewed for a paralegal opportunity before law school, thinking it would be useful to get law firm experience and perspective. This is advice I would give to any undergraduate considering a career in law.
As a freshman, I was fortunate to meet an alumnus who has been an influential mentor ever since. He was my sounding board as I considered internship options after my sophomore year – helping to sharpen my focus and playing an instrumental role in landing my first legal position. This relationship changed my life, and I aspire to being able to give back to another in the same capacity someday.
Almost every big law firm does transactional work, but they do it with different models and approaches. I’ve played on sports teams my whole life, so when I was looking at firms, I wanted that same kind of collegial atmosphere. I got the sense here that I would be joining a team – a firm with a familiar culture that I could learn and grow in.
Since joining, that culture has been demonstrated in more ways than one. From a professional standpoint, senior associates and partners take a creative approach to coaching junior lawyers. They give detailed and transparent deal-specific feedback on our work product, as well as providing a deeper understanding of larger issues and market practices. Our practice groups offer monthly lunch meetings where junior associates can ask questions and engage in lively discussion. More importantly, we learn about the business side of transactions, which provides deeper insights into our clients’ perspectives and decisions. My view is “the earlier the better” in helping junior associates reach the point where we are contributing greater value; it increases satisfaction and is good for our business.
On a personal note, the firm encourages community service as a high priority. I served on the board of a charity that supports first responders and was grateful for the firm’s understanding about the time commitment. Over the years, I’ve also supported a non-profit called Ice Hockey in Harlem. It holds an annual tournament for large firms across North America to face off on the ice rink and raise funds for a charity that supports hundreds of inner-city students with free hockey programs. It was amazing to see my colleagues at all levels join me in forming our inaugural ice hockey team, which is very cool – no pun intended!