Most people go into law to help others. Many also say they want to use their degree to contribute to the public good. Going into interviews after my 1L summer, I remained firmly committed to both goals, though interviewees with public interest backgrounds are often warned against discussing these interests. To some degree, it can feel as if you’re best served in the interview process by not having any interest in serving the public. Public service, however, is embraced by attorneys at WilmerHale.
The New York office is full of recognized lawyers with distinguished careers in public service. The list includes several former United States Attorneys, federal agency officials, and attorneys with years of experience at civil rights organizations. Several New York office alumni have also gone on to careers in different public sector roles, including as members of the judiciary.
One such alum is Judge Sanket Bulsara, a former partner and current general counsel to the Securities and Exchange Commission, who visited the office two weeks ago for a Diversity Professional Development Speaker Series. In his conversations with us, Judge Bulsara emphasized not only WilmerHale’s unique culture (read about that in my previous blog post), but also the ways in which the firm embraced his commitment to public service. Judge Bulsara’s work on several pro bono cases while at WilmerHale, including notable prisoner’s rights and family law cases, resulted in substantial relief for his clients.
From my short time here, I have already seen the extent to which WilmerHale embraces public service efforts by its attorneys. Last week, the firm celebrated the pro bono work of attorneys across all US offices, with the work spanning a wide variety of issues. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many partners and senior attorneys in the New York office had each spent over 100 hours on pro bono matters throughout the year. Being staffed on a criminal justice reform matter myself, I have seen that the amount of time and effort attorneys put into their cases will have significant impact on the public good.
WilmerHale has proven to be a place where attorneys need not hide their commitment to and prioritization of public interest work. The firm recognizes both the value that the firm can contribute to individual cases and the significance that public service has for its attorneys. As one New York partner noted while recognizing the work of colleagues from the different offices, “lawyers are enriched when they give back to the community.”