Gibson Dunn associate Casey Lee caught up with several New York partners in Gibson Dunn’s litigation and appellate practice groups to discuss various topics related to New York litigation.
Top row: Randy Mastro, Caitlin Halligan, Lawrence Zweifach
Bottom row: Mylan Denerstein, Orin Snyder, Casey Lee
What law firm qualities should law students focus on during the hiring process?
Randy Mastro (Co-Chair, Litigation Practice Group): Excellence, teamwork, and collegiality. To me, the law is a calling. We are drawn to this profession because of our desire to do good—for our clients, and for society at large. Law firms succeed when their lawyers share a common commitment to those core values, a mutual respect for one another, and total dedication to zealous representation and ethical service. Most of all, we love striving together to find ways to address our clients’ most vexing problems.
Mylan Denerstein (Partner, Litigation Practice Group): Culture. You spend many hours working, so make sure you work with smart, professional, and diverse colleagues with interesting matters—that epitomizes Gibson Dunn.
Orin Snyder (Co-Chair, Media, Entertainment and Technology Practice Group):The best law firms are inflexibly committed to excellence at all levels—they hire and promote the best and brightest lawyers, produce the best work product, and work on the most interesting and challenging matters while maintaining a culture of mutual respect and collaboration. Law students should focus on these attributes of excellence. I always counsel law students to ask a simple question during the interview process: “Are you happy working here?” If the answer is yes, it is an important sign. Happy lawyers reflect the health and success of a law firm.
Caitlin Halligan (Co-Chair, Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group):A commitment to teamwork and collegiality, a genuine passion for practicing law, and a broad range of practice areas. Gibson Dunn places a high value on teamwork. Associates have meaningful responsibility early on and plenty of more-senior colleagues willing to invest in their professional development. It’s also tremendously important to work alongside people who have a strong sense of mutual respect and really enjoy what they’re doing. That ethos is often a hallmark of public service jobs, and I’ve found it in strong supply at Gibson Dunn as well. And the wide scope of our practice gives associates real choice as they move through the early years of their legal careers.
Lawrence Zweifach (Partner, Litigation Practice Group): Law students should focus on the importance of collegiality and teamwork in each firm’s value system. When I was preparing to leave the U.S. Attorney’s Office and enter private practice, my main objective was to find a law firm that has the same esprit de corps I cherished when working at DOJ. Happily, I found that firm in Gibson Dunn. A Gibson Dunn client once told me: “We have worked with many law firms over the years, but we have never worked with a firm like yours where it is apparent to us that all of you really enjoy working with each other. That is important to us, because great teamwork leads to great client service.” Our firm’s core values are extremely important to our clients, lawyers, and staff, and they should be of no less importance to law students who are trying to navigate the hiring process.
Tell us about Gibson Dunn’s New York appellate practice.
Caitlin:A key reason I joined Gibson Dunn after several stints in public service is that our firm’s appellate practice is deeply integrated into our broader litigation practice. We get involved in cases at their inception and play an important role as they are litigated in the trial court. Rather than just preserving issues for appeal, our appellate lawyers shape dispositive motions, evidentiary arguments, and post-trial practice. That approach leaves us well-positioned to win, and also gives our appellate team the opportunity to work with a wide range of colleagues in a fast-paced trial setting. Our New York practice involves significant matters in New York’s federal and state appellate courts, as well as the opportunity to work with colleagues in other offices on cutting-edge appeals across the country and in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Larry:Gibson Dunn’s blue chip appellate practice is a cornerstone of the firm’s litigation department. The New York appellate team handles major appeals in the New York courts and works on appeals all over the country, including in the U.S. Supreme Court. It also regularly works with the firm’s trial lawyers to help shape litigation strategy in the full spectrum of cases, investigations, and other proceedings that the firm handles around the globe.
Mylan:Caitlin Halligan heads the New York practice group and she’s awesome. She has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, the New York Court of Appeals, and many federal circuit-level courts. And at Gibson Dunn, we take an integrated approach to solving our clients’ complex problems – that means understanding the appellate issues and options every step of the way.
Orin: The appellate practice is a vital part of our litigation prowess. Our first-class appellate lawyers (many of them young associates fresh off of clerkships) work closely with our trial lawyers from the outset of our cases. This sets us apart from most of our competitors and often gives us an x-factor and winning edge.
Randy: We have a holistic approach to litigation. That is why we consider it so important to have exceptional appellate counsel working with trial lawyers at every phase of litigation. We are focused throughout on how the record we are creating will play not just at trial but also on appeal. Because at the end of the day, the goal is to win.
Why is law firm diversity important?
Randy: To be effective counsel, a law firm has to reflect the community it serves and include the diversity of views, backgrounds, and perspectives that, working in collaboration, enable us to provide the best advice and produce the best results for our clients.
Larry: The people with whom we deal every day are diverse. We work in a diverse environment, and it is therefore critical that we too are diverse.
Caitlin:Our team of lawyers will achieve the best results for clients when they reflect the world in which we practice—one that is diverse in numerous respects.
Orin: We produce the best counsel and the best outcomes for our clients when our lawyers, their views, and their backgrounds reflect our broader community. Diversity is not a choice—it is an imperative.
Mylan:It’s the right thing to do, and Gibson Dunn is about doing the right thing.
Favorite non-legal movie that illuminates something important about the law.
Randy: Seven Days in May.
Orin: The Godfather.
Mylan: Seven Samurai.
Caitlin: The Godfather – tells us something about what business dealings look like in a world without law.
Larry: The Martian – if you’re not resourceful, you won’t succeed.
Best career advice you’ve ever received.
Randy: Have a passion for what you do, and then you and everyone else around you will feel it too.
Caitlin: Take a few risks along the way and follow your passions, rather than simply climbing rungs on the professional ladder.
Orin: Never compromise on your integrity. It is easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than 99% of the time.
Mylan:Never accept for an answer that it has always been done that way. There’s always room for improvement.
Larry: The best advice I ever received was to join Gibson Dunn.
This is a sponsored blog post from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. You can view GDC's Vault profile here.
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