OCI is, to put it mildly, a daunting introduction to the world of Biglaw. It seems unavoidably human to retrospectively understand our choices, and to let the present make patterns of the past. I remember striving to be diligent, engaged, and thoughtful when choosing a firm during OCI—but perhaps that’s because my choice to work at WilmerHale now seems the best possible outcome of those chaotic, whirlwind weeks last fall. At the risk of letting my current perspective on the firm influence my memory of why I chose WilmerHale, I will discuss in this post a few factors that informed—and continue to justify—my decision.
First, I wanted to work in a firm where I could be surrounded and mentored by attorneys with thoughtful, serious approaches to solving problems but who were still generous with their time and advice. Everyone with whom I have worked is careful and thorough in the way that they frame their questions, think about issues, and strategize next steps. I remember reading in my research on WilmerHale last fall that attorneys here are “intellectual,” which I’ve found to be true—though not at the expense of practicality or collegiality. And each attorney has invited me to listen to and ask questions about their process; this opportunity for engaged observation is exactly what I hoped a summer associate position would entail.
Second, it also mattered a great deal to me that there was a true commitment to diversity at all levels of the firm. As a young woman entering the legal field, I hoped for female mentors and colleagues who I could pepper with questions about life in Biglaw. I also wanted to work in a firm that prioritized not only recruitment of people of color but retention as well. We are all made better when more voices are heard, and—from my admittedly short time here—WilmerHale seems to embrace this on a reassuringly fundamental level. From my very first encounter with the firm to each project on which I’ve worked and each mentor-mentee relationship of which I’ve been the beneficiary, an array of incredible people has affirmed that my hopes for this experience were well-founded indeed.
Third, I also wanted to work with and among colleagues who, in addition to being incredible attorneys, are also kind and fun people. Everyone enjoys being around each other. There are always opportunities for formal and more impromptu gatherings, and as I mentioned in my first post, the doors are truly always open here.
I’ll share a couple of highlights so far that illustrate how wonderful working in the Denver office has been. Every afternoon, signaled by an office-wide email, almost everyone in the office emerges into the hallways to participate in planking (of the isometric exercise variety). Partners, counsel, associates, administrative staff—everyone gathers together to plank for two minutes: one minute of a traditional plank and thirty seconds for each side plank. Then everyone together completes (or sometimes pretends to complete) 22 push-ups. Given summer programs’ reputations for gastronomic opportunities, I think we may be the only summer associates who can claim that working at a law firm has actually improved our cores!
And, finally (because you might have been wondering about the photos) the summer associate event at the beginning of this week marked the only time I’ve ever been asked on a waiver: “Are you okay with goats climbing, jumping, etc. on you?” In what I assume was intended to be as Colorado as possible, we participated in goat yoga as an office. Surrounded by goats with names like “Prince Nugget,” “Simone,” and “Rude Boy,” we made an effort at yoga while the goats clambered on top of us, showing off as they jumped from one person to the next. It was hilarious, messy, and perhaps more fun than I ever thought a law firm event could be. And it was an excellent reminder that even the most talented and intellectual lawyers can laugh when “Rude Boy” interrupts their downward dog.