Miami summer associate Mira looks back on the 2021 program
Growing up, Mira Haqqani says becoming a lawyer was simply not on her radar. "No one in my family works in the law. And, with my dual Middle Eastern and South Asian heritage, I didn't see my own background reflected in the 'typical' portrayal of a lawyer either," she explains.
"It wasn't until I was in college that I started to consider law as a career path. When I got to law school, I was so inspired by my classmates and professors who encouraged me to really explore the work that lawyers do. I started to believe that this was an area where I could make my mark."
The importance of inspirational leadership
Joining as a summer associate in the White & Case office in Miami, Mira says that what immediately impressed her was the makeup of the team. "I worked on a cross-border bankruptcy case. Not only was the work both challenging and extremely interesting, the team was led by diverse women. Their talent and their skills were so inspiring to me. And it also brought home to me that this is a Firm which is serious about increasing the diversity of the people that work here—and also somewhere where it's already happening."
Diversity & inclusion: Look for actions and data
Taking part in events held by, respectively, White & Case's Middle Eastern and Asian Affinity networks was an important part of her Summer Program experience. "I really felt seen. This is a Firm that appreciates and celebrates who I am."
What advice does Mira have for future lawyers who want to dig deeper into a potential employers' commitment to broadening representation? "I would say, look for evidence, look at the numbers, look at the makeup of the teams and the leadership. And ask questions! Pretty much every firm will pay lip service to the importance of diversity, but look for data to support this."
"In a firm, you're all on the same side"
As Mira returns to the University of Miami for her final year, what strikes her as the key differences between the practice of law and the way that it's taught in law school? "As a law student, you're often competing against each other, whether that's taking opposing sides in a debate or battling to become top of your class. But in a firm, you're all on the same side. That includes not only your immediate team, but also other teams that you collaborate with, and the close relationships that you have with clients too."
Another example comes to mind: "In the classroom, you're often required to figure something out for yourself. In the workplace, that's not always the most efficient way to get things done. Often it's better to ask for clarification or advice on where to start your research."
She points out some practical skills that are best learned outside the law classroom. "One of the most valuable things that anyone completing a summer program or workplace experience can gain is to build up your essential workplace skills. For example, knowing how to compose a professional email or communicate with clients."
"Remember that you're there to learn on the job"
With US law students now researching and applying for future summer associate programs, Mira reflects on how to make the most of the opportunities available: "First of all, don't think that you're expected to know everything. You'll find that everyone is willing to answer your questions. Remember that you're there to learn on the job." Her final words of advice: "Stay enthusiastic, be proactive—and enjoy yourself!"
Mira will join the Firm as an associate in Fall 2022.
Former summer associate Nick Roberti has advice for the class of 2022
Dear future summer associates,
Welcome to White & Case! This is going to be an experience that will stay with you forever. Wherever your career takes you, you'll build skills that will be valued by any employer, make some great new friends and get to work with truly impressive lawyers. Here are a few things that I wish I'd known before my own Summer Program with the Firm.
Working in "Big Law" is exciting
I thought my days of studying new areas of law would be left behind in my academic days at the University of Virginia School of Law. The reality is that my work at White & Case is the most exciting legal experience of my life. I was fortunate to work on a variety of teams entrenched in issues on the cutting edge of law.
You'll get to do real work from the get-go
I was surprised and excited to be tossed into the thick of several high-profile cases. I had fantastic mentors who trusted me to engage in serious legal work with some of their important matters. They took enough time to get me up-to-speed, but after that, they let me loose and allowed me to dig into legal questions that were both complex and challenging. It was stimulating and rewarding.
What to do...
Be eager for work; attitude is everything. Most importantly, begin to cultivate a healthy work-life balance. Sleep, eat, exercise and have a fun hobby—all of these are attainable during your summer. Cultivate them when the pressure is low, so you are ready and built for when the pressure is high. Many of my mentors have taught me that this is necessary for a sustainable career.
And what not to do…
To start, don't miss out on the social and non-work opportunities. There are plenty of them, and White & Case organizes the best activities! Second, don't be shy to reach out to lawyers, so you can evaluate if their area of work is up your alley. Lastly, don't forget how many wonderful resources White & Case provides summer associates, such as access to a number of different legal news websites. Try to interact with them in the beginning and continue to use them as your summer develops.
How to prepare for your summer associate experience
Familiarize yourself with your school's Legal Research and Writing department. First, enroll in an advanced legal research course or reserve time with your law school librarian so that they can introduce you to different legal research websites. A well-organized search can go a long way toward a successful assignment. Second, legal writing is unique, so devote some time in law school to learn how to be concise and methodical in your writing. Aim to communicate your message using as few words as possible.
Cultivate other skills, and not just the professional ones
Emphasizing kindness to colleagues and fellow summer associates is of the highest importance. The moment you enter the world of White & Case, you realize how kind everyone is to each other. I was struck by the level of cordiality at the Firm, it truly captures the essence of White & Case.
The best piece of advice that I want to pass on...
Practice like you play. Over the course of the summer, you will send hundreds of emails, conduct tons of research and engage in lots of meetings. Every assignment and interaction is an opportunity to grow. Each should build upon the last. Your emails should be as concise and professional as your memos so that your memo drafting comes more naturally. And your meetings should all be treated with importance, so that when you engage with a client you have already built the skills necessary for a successful interaction.
In conclusion, White & Case will give you amazing opportunities and summer associates should be sure to make the most of them. I wish you the best of luck!
Nick Roberti, 3L University of Virginia
New York associate Gabriella Klein on writing a successful brief for the Second Circuit as a law student
As a second year law student, Gabriella Klein already decided on pursuing a career in litigation. Numerous successes in national mock trial competitions and a summer working in the Queens County District Attorney's Office in New York had given Gabriella a taste of the courtroom.
Then came an invitation from Professor Stefan Krieger, who ran the law school's Law Reform Advocacy Clinic. "After taking one of his courses, Professor Krieger asked me to research and write portions of an appellate brief before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and I immediately said yes!"
A timely assignment became a real passion
Gabriella explains why she could not turn down the chance to work on the appellate brief. "As a student, it is rare to have the opportunity to write a federal appellate brief before one of the most estimable courts in the United States."
Yet the prestige of the assignment was not the driving force for her: "As more stories about instances of police brutality and social inequities began to make the news, I was working on the assault and battery and harmless error portions of this civil rights-grounded brief. Knowing how important this case was for our client—a disabled immigrant from Peru who protested during the Occupy Wall Street movement—it was easy for me to passionately work on the brief."
The reality of preparing to go before the Second Circuit
Before joining White & Case as a summer associate and during her final year of law school, Gabriella maintained focus on the brief. "In addition to my regular course load, Law Review assignments, and preparation for mock trial competitions, I worked on this brief at every available opportunity over the course of a year, including evenings, weekends and holidays.
When you are preparing a brief for the Second Circuit, you anticipate a forensic level of scrutiny: the arguments must be well developed and articulated, the law must be precise, and the format must be correct. The workload that comes with that is intense."
"Our client will get another trial, another day, another chance"
In March 2021, Gabriella was delighted to hear that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed judgement on the issues that she researched and wrote, affording the client a new trial.
"It's very inspiring to think that I've made such an impact so early in my career as an advocate," she says. "For me, it's also been a real revelation into how the law can change someone's life. I'm so pleased to have been able to help our client in such a meaningful way—our client will get another trial, another day, another chance."
The benefits of taking part in a clinic
Even though most students signing up for law clinics will not experience a successful circuit court petition as a result of their work, Gabriella emphasizes that simply doing the work is beneficial. "Taking part in a clinic makes you a better critical thinker, researcher, and writer. You'll gain so much from stepping outside the classroom and applying your knowledge to real cases that impact real people. And you will become accustomed to learning the intricacies of local rules and court procedure. This will all help you get ahead of the curve when transitioning into the work force."
Clarify expectations, keep an open mind: Advice for current and future associates
How has this experience shaped Gabriella's first few months as an associate at White & Case? "Like all new associates, I am eager to make my mark and challenge myself every minute of the day." She gives an example of how she achieves this: by clarifying expectations before starting a new assignment. "I ask the assigning associate or partner what format they prefer, how and when I can reach out with questions, and when the assignment is due. I usually repeat the assignment back to the assigning attorney in my own words to make sure I captured exactly what is needed."
"Keep an open mind and work with different practice groups"
Finally, what advice does she have for any current or future summer associates who want to make the most of their time at the Firm? "Keep an open mind and work with different practice groups on a variety of assignments. I've always been interested in litigation, but I felt that it was important to gain exposure to corporate matters during the summer program."
She explains: "It's really important to understand the moving parts of a deal or a case and working on the corporate side gives you a deeper understanding and a different perspective when litigating an issue. I was also able to develop my network across various practice groups."