Hands-On Experiences and a Sense of Belonging

Hands-On Experiences and a Sense of Belonging

Blog Urvashi Malhotra

Redemption was certainly in my cards last week as another summer associate and I mastered a sweet & tangy lemon curd recipe, something I had previously butchered (to say the least) when trying to make it myself at home. Perhaps it was the location, the beautiful Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park. Or maybe, it was the supportiveness of the partners and associates on our team, who cheered us on as they made the main part of our team’s recipe, lavender lemon cupcakes. Either way, all of us were literally hands deep in our work, meticulously measuring and mixing ingredients under the tutelage of trained chefs. Our dessert proved to be a hit, though I will admit, I quite enjoyed the fruits of the other teams’ labor, as well. Collectively, the WilmerHale sous-chefs made vegetable pakoras and spicy mint chutney, pork dumplings, fish tacos in a jicama shell, and many other delicious treats. As I ate to my heart’s content and bonded with my co-workers outside of the office, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for being where I was: at a firm that not only gives me fun hands-on experiences at social events, but one that also continues to give me substantive hands-on experiences every single day at the office.

Just last week, the Palo Alto office held the West Coast Summit, inviting summer associates from the Los Angeles and Denver offices to join us through a series of modules and workshops (they even joined us for the cooking class!). One of the most memorable modules for me was the Negotiations Workshop. We’ve all watched Suits; negotiating is clearly a skill essential to being a good attorney. In this workshop, the summers were given instruction from Dwight Golann, a renowned expert in mediation and conflict resolution. Mr. Golann taught us some basic negotiating strategies, but ultimately paired us up and gave us hands-on practical experience negotiating different fact patterns with one another. In another module, professional writing instructor Ben Opipari led a workshop for us. He taught us simple writing techniques I already find myself using in my summer projects. I’ll have to pay a visit to my elementary school grammar teacher and tell her times are changing; apparently, it is no longer a hard and fast rule (if it ever was) that you can’t start sentences with conjunctions. In any case, I know these modules were just a small taste of the amazing trainings WilmerHale provides its associates, and I was very impressed by the efforts the firm took to even teach the summer associates these useful skills.

The West Coast Summit also taught me something else. As we heard from current attorneys about what a typical day looks like for litigation and transactional associates at the firm, listened to alumni emphasize how working at WilmerHale was an invaluable stepping stone in their career trajectories, and learned more about the firm’s robust diversity & inclusion initiatives from WilmerHale’s Co-Managing Partners Robert Novick and Susan Murley. I knew more and more that I had made the right decision in joining this dynamic firm. Before I began my recruiting process, what was most important to me was finding a place where I could delve into substantive work as an associate. A place where my identity as a twenty-something Indian woman—a minority in the legal profession—would not prevent me from reaching my full potential. I already discussed in my last post how the culture at WilmerHale is one of respect, where associates are treated as equals and given substantive work from the very beginning. However, in this post, I wanted to emphasize the firm’s culture of inclusion. Just after the summit, WilmerHale’s Professional Development & Diversity Manager Adam Harmon reached out to me and asked if I wanted to talk through how to prepare for my mid-summer review. When we spoke, he told me that I could always come to him with questions related to my experience at the firm as a person of color. I felt so incredibly grateful to be at WilmerHale, a firm that prioritizes making everyone feel welcome and supported personally and professionally. Here, the diversity each attorney brings to the workplace is not only acknowledged, it is actively celebrated. As I reach the halfway point of my summer associate experience, I feel incredibly blessed knowing this and excited for more hands-on opportunities to learn as much as I can and to contribute to the amazing community here.


  • Urvashi Malhotra

    Summer Associate

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