Meron Werkneh On Choosing a Summer Program (JD Candidate, Columbia Law School)
Corporate transaction experts. Robust litigation practice. Formidable global presence. Innovative. Cutting-edge.
While researching firms throughout my interview and callback processes, phrases like these devolved from eye-catching epithets to generic and uninformative descriptors. Though these titles certainly shared important values of the firms, the frequency with which they appeared eventually diluted their effect on me--making choosing a firm that much harder. Interestingly, and fortunately, the time I spent interviewing and speaking with attorneys at different firms ended up teaching me about myself as well. I learned more about what I valued, and how critical it is to be with a firm that values me. With this in mind, my search brought me straight to White & Case.
It is understood that working at a large law firm is a considerable commitment, requiring much of an attorney's time, resources, and energy. However, it was also important to be with a firm that reciprocated this commitment, investing just as much into me as I would into the firm. White & Case's regular training programs, collaborative learning opportunities, and formal and informal mentorship systems demonstrates its commitment to truly investing in its attorneys. Additionally, the firm recognizes and emphasizes the importance of a distinct type of intelligence--one fostered and fortified by travel experience, creative expression and sociocultural diversity.
The assignments I worked on gave me sufficient exposure to my practice areas of interest while affording enough space for instruction and feedback, allowing me to truly understand the substance and meaning of the work. Even outside of the assignment process, the lawyers at the firm were always more than willing to meet and speak, whether about client work or just to get to know me.
I wanted a firm that wanted more, expected more, and gave more. My summer associate experience reinforced that White & Case was the firm that would do just that. My decision to join the firm led to a wonderful summer experience, and l am confident that it will continue to assert itself as having been the right choice for me.
From summer associate to first-year associate (JD, New York University Law School)
Roxane Picard reflects on the last 12 months in New York
Following her successful summer associate program experience, she joined the Firm as an associate in our New York office. We caught up with her to find out about what’s she’s been working on over the past 12 months.
Tell us about the highlights of your first year as an associate?
One highlight was working on the hedging aspects of a large project financing that was the quintessential White & Case experience. It involved White & Case offices in São Paulo, New York and Miami, as well as parties from the US, Brazil, Canada and France. The Firm hosted in-person negotiations for a week earlier this year, which was an amazing learning experience.
In addition, working with the same client on two transactions across two different groups was a real highlight. We represented them as a corporate borrower in one transaction, under the Bank Finance group, and as a foreign issuer in a private placement bond offering in the second transaction, under the Capital Markets group. You get to know the client really well, and it's a good opportunity to understand your worth as a junior associate. You are very close to the details—if you pay attention, you are very valuable to your team. Don't underestimate that!
Most recently, I was able to deliver a training on prime brokerage agreements and how to negotiate them alongside a partner to a team of negotiators at a major commercial bank. Other than practicing aloud to myself leading up to the day, the process involved overseeing a wonderful summer associate who diligently put together from scratch a 100-slide presentation on the topic. It's never too early to learn how to delegate work and manage people and projects.
We’re an international law firm – how have you experienced this in your work?
All the time! In my matters at the moment, clients are based in Argentina, Australia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (to name a few). Cross-border work is exciting and you’re constantly learning new things, but it also means working in multiple time zones! Just a few weeks ago, I was on a 5:00 a.m. Saturday call with a client based in London.
What’s been most surprising about your experience over the past year?
You are not limited to your “class year” – if you can show that you can handle the work, you will be given a lot of responsibility
What are your top-five tips for anyone applying for a summer associate position in the US?
- Know your résumé – Build a solid narrative on why working at a law firm (White & Case specifically) makes sense given your educational and employment trajectory up until this point
- Learn about White & Case practice areas – Be able to speak about why you are interested in White & Case over other firms (see no. 3, which is a very important step to achieve this—websites and Vault rankings make most top firms look the same)
- Reach out to summer associates and associates at White & Case and chat with them about their experiences – People who have gone to your undergraduate institution or law school are a good first place to start
- Keep track of interactions (see no. 3), including valuable insight you may have learned – If you end up interviewing with White & Case, you can bring up some of those conversations and weave them into why you believe White & Case is a good fit for you
- Value your life experiences that do not translate to paper – This process is as much about connecting with someone else (whether that person is reading your résumé or interviewing you) as it is about trying to get a job.
Alberto De Diego Carreras (JD Candidate, UCLA)
Alberto De Diego Carreras joined the Firm as a 1L summer associate in our LA office. He tells us about learning opportunities and the enjoyable social activities he experienced.
So what's your verdict on life as a summer associate at White & Case?
The Summer Program was a truly exceptional experience. Not only did I get to take part in fascinating work, the summer was also genuinely fun, filled with lots of wonderful social activities and events. In fact, I had such a terrific experience that I have decided to return for the entire summer again next year.
Tell us about the range of work that you got involved in and the different teams you worked with?
During the course of the summer, I worked on a wide array of matters. I began my summer with a three-week rotation in corporate work, during which I revised credit agreements, summarized lease agreements, observed closings and much more. I then went on my three-week client secondment, during which I worked mostly on litigation matters.
There, I had the opportunity to attend depositions, oral argument in the Ninth Circuit and state court hearings. Upon returning to the Firm, I began my four-week litigation rotation, which closed out the summer for me. During this final rotation, I worked on infinitely interesting matters, ranging from general US commercial litigation to cutting-edge cross-border international litigation matters. I researched and wrote memoranda on a variety of interesting issues, and I had the opportunity to draft deposition outlines and to edit and revise summary judgment motions.
I also had the opportunity to be part of a number of incredibly exciting and rewarding pro bono projects of which I will always be proud to have been a part.
What were your highlights from the program’s social activities and networking opportunities?
One of the highlights for me was a dinner and wine-tasting hosted at the home of one of our partners in the Los Angeles office. This was a wonderful opportunity for the summer associates to get to know everyone at the Firm in a social setting and to continue developing and deepening relationships with the associates and partners.
Similarly, the weekend retreat at the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point was an obvious highlight. Nearing the end of the summer, it was a wonderful experience to join everyone from the office at a beautiful resort in a stunning part of California, for a weekend of well-earned rest and relaxation. Getting to paddle-board alongside many of my new peers was quite memorable.
Lastly, I also very much appreciated that the Firm hosted various social activities for summer associates only. For example, we were gifted tickets to incredible seats at Dodger Stadium for a summer-associates-only outing. This was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better and to truly bond as a team.
What’s your advice for anyone considering applying for the Summer Program?
My advice for anyone considering applying for the Summer Program at White & Case is simple: Do not hesitate. Apply. It is truly a terrific learning experience, and any summer associate is bound to walk away from it all the better for having done it.
How has the program shaped your career plans?
It has shaped my plans in various important ways. First, by affording me the opportunity to explore both corporate and litigation work, it helped solidify my interests and confirm my intuitions.
While I very much enjoyed my corporate rotation, the summer reaffirmed my intuitions regarding litigation, which I felt was incredibly valuable. It also helped reiterate that I want to be part of a firm that is engaged in the kind of cutting-edge cross-border work that White & Case is so renowned for.
What’s the biggest learning you will take from your White & Case experience?
The biggest learning I will take away from my time at White & Case this summer has to do with the importance of preparation and responsiveness. It was invaluable to get to work so closely with such talented associates and partners and to observe the degree of preparation and hyper-responsiveness that all of these individuals exhibited. It was inspiring and galvanizing, and I aspire to emulate it.