Washington and Lee University School of Law

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Lindsey Brown, a rising 3L from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, is working for a private law firm's White Collar group in Washington, DC.

Every Tuesday all of the summer associates, along with the recruiting team, gather for a weekly breakfast.   These breakfasts have proven to be one of my favorite summer events. Apart from the free food and coffee, these events provide the summer associates with an opportunity to learn about what others are working on and with the chance to catch up. 
Last Tuesday, for example, one summer associate shared his experience with an international arbitration assignment. This summer associate has spent the bulk of his time working on matters pending before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Specifically, he was tasked with writing memos on a variety of issues in cases involving clients in South America, Eastern Europe and Asia. Hearing about what others are working on makes these Tuesday breakfasts one of the highlights of the week.
Breakfast, of course, is not the only meal of the day. There are plenty of opportunities for interesting conversation at lunch and dinner. Today, lunch with two associates in the trade group was no exception. Pleasantries quickly turned into a stimulating conversation regarding the Obama Administration's position on trade.  One of the associates recently published an op-ed arguing that the Administration's failure to take a stance on trade has resulted in a policy of de facto protectionism—something that, this associate argues, subverts the President’s economic and foreign policy objectives. Although differing perspectives were articulated, we all agreed that it will be interesting to see how the Administration’s trade policies are eventually shaped and implemented.
This summer, however, has not just been about good food and good conversation. As the summer progresses, I continue to receive stimulating and substantive assignments.   For example, I recently considered a plea agreement that, in exchange for the defendant’s cooperation, would require the government agree not to charge the defendant’s family members. With regard to this plea agreement, I explored the following: (1) whether plea agreements involving third-party interests are permissible, and (2) whether the defendant’s decision to cooperate was the result of coercion.  The memorandum I drafted to memorialize my findings was particularly interesting because it allowed me to consider the implications associated with plea bargaining and the rights that one waives when he or she enters into such an agreement.
Finally, I thought it might be interesting to share the experiences of a friend, who is working for a different law firm here in Washington.   He has spent much of his summer working on energy, climate, and environmental matters, including the deconstruction of the House climate bill. As part of his work, he has attended numerous hearings on Capitol Hill and has drafted innovative legal analyses regarding the bill’s implications for a range of clients. He was even sent on a thirty-six hour trip to Los Angeles to cover an EPA hearing concerning a proposed rulemaking. Although very different from my experience, I know that he has found his summer work to be equally challenging and rewarding.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

No Typical Day in the Life

Lindsey Brown, a rising 3L from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, is working for a private law firm's White Collar group in Washington, DC.

There is no typical day in the life of a summer associate.  From researching class-action arbitration issues associated with an upcoming brief in the Supreme Court, to assisting on a case allegedly involving political corruption, my work has been both challenging and fulfilling.  

My first assignment was to research and write a memorandum addressing various issues that may arise in an upcoming sentencing hearing.  Specifically, I was asked to consider whether the language of the plea agreement, as currently written, obligates the government to file a substantial assistance motion.  Additionally, the memorandum put forth the limitations associated with calling as a witness a prosecutor who is no longer assigned to the case.   Because I was able to apply the abstract knowledge that I learned in Professor Luna's Criminal Procedure class to a real-life fact pattern, this assignment proved particularly interesting.

Although researching and writing are typical summer associate assignments, I have been exposed to a broad spectrum of work.   For example, what started as a fairly routine assignment of note taking on a conference call, turned into an opportunity to draft a series of letters sent to a corporation's General Counsel, to opposing counsel, and to the Department of Justice.  Although in a support role, I have continued to correspond directly with outside counsel involved in this matter.

In addition to regularly-assigned projects, social events traditionally fill a large part of the summer associate's calendar.  This summer has been no exception.  Undoubtedly, the most interesting social event that I attended thus far was the Burton Awards.   A partner in the white-collar group was being honored for excellence in legal writing.  Held at the Library of Congress, this black-tie event was attended by many of the country's legal giants.   In fact, at this event, I had the privilege of meeting Justice Scalia. 

Living in Washington, DC completes my summer experience.   Washington has something for everyone, but is particularly well suited for those in the legal profession.  Just yesterday, for example, the firm encouraged all of the summer associates to attend the event “Sizing up the 2008-09 Supreme Court Term.”  At this event, practitioners who argued at least one case in the 2008-09 term, spoke on topics varying from the nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the Court's recent decision in the New Haven firefighters case.   The ease with which one can attend such an event is possible only in a city like Washington.

Thus far, my summer experience has been overwhelmingly positive and I look forward to further posting about life as a summer associate.  Lastly, as an aside, may Michael Joseph Jackson rest in peace.