This summer, in a new diversity initiative, the Washington DC and New York offices will partner with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) and host three students as they kick-start their legal education at the firm prior to beginning law school.
Serving the New York, DC and Houston areas since 1963, SEO organizes internships for highly qualified, diverse pre-law students during the summer prior to their first year of law school. Students must be admitted and enrolled in classes to apply for this program, which accepts approximately 50 students out of almost 800 applicants each year. Each participating firm employs one or two students for eight weeks during the summer. The students then spend the final two weeks of their summer attending the “Corporate Law Institute” (CLI) at New York University School of Law, which is designed to give them a head start on their first year in law school. The two weeks at CLI are focused on providing students with the tools they will need to be successful in law school and beyond. Classes not only center around legal topics such as contracts, torts and constitutional law, but also prepare students for exams and highlight the benefits of clerking. In addition, students learn how to apply what they learn in the classroom to their legal practice.
When Management was presented with the opportunity to become a sponsor of the SEO program earlier this year, they agreed that the firm could benefit greatly from participating. “When we learned of the SEO program, we were eager to get the firm involved right away,” says DC-based Hiring Partner Erika Robinson. “It was encouraging that Management agreed that the opportunity to take an active role in a well-established and successful mentoring and internship program for diverse pre-law students and to meet accomplished students prior to law school is a valuable investment.”
The WilmerHale SEO interns will have the chance to experience law firm life by shadowing partners and associates, attending various training and development seminars such as legal writing skills and presentation skills, and working on assignments such as fact-checking, due diligence and case-briefing alongside attorneys. Like summer associates, they will be invited to social events and attorney presentations, and will be encouraged to participate in off-site volunteer events. Interns will have a partner and associate mentor who will help them navigate law firm life and provide feedback on their work product throughout the summer.
The firm hosted a breakfast presentation on June 15 in New York and June 22 in DC for all SEO interns in their respective cities. These breakfasts allowed the firm to meet other SEO interns and to make early connections which can be translated into future recruiting opportunities. In DC, Robinson joined fellow Hiring Partner Chris Davies in presenting their perspectives on recruiting, hiring and the current economy. New York Hiring Partner Jay Holtmeier participated on a panel at the CLI, speaking on What a Litigator Really Does (White Collar & Criminal Law), with two partners from other New York firms.