Roozbeh Gorgin – Associate, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Meg Hennessey – Associate, Orrick

Ravi Mohan – Associate, Morrison & Foerster

Roxana Niktab – Associate, Simpson & Thacher

Jonathan O’Connell – Associate, Wilmerhale


Roozbeh GorginRoozbeh Gorgin – Associate, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

What’s your advice for engineers entering law school?
Engineers have an incredible advantage just by having an Engineering degree and background because many employers only come to recruite from scu law for IP Law candidates. You should leverage your degree and take the Patent Bar exam as early as possible because it makes you an even more attractive candidate to law firm employers.

Did you attend networking events, and if so, did you find them helpful?
I went to a few and found that it was a good way to, at the very least, become a familiar face among the attorneys in the field you want to enter. You see generally the same people at the events that you will practice with in the industry, so being able to mingle with them and network with them is essential. It is your chance to sell yourself as a brand. My tip for socializing at networking events is to go in and be genuinely interested in what they do. People can smell desperation from a mile away and can tell people that are there looking for a job from those that are genuinely interested in a career in the field. You should be up to date and know about the most recent cases the networking/conference even you are attending is addressing. Coming off as an intelligent and knowledgeable human being is the key to selling yourself and giving off a good impression. Stay updated with current news so you can have talking points with people.

Another way to network is through the people you know. As a 3rd year, I knew a friend clerking for a Federal Judge in Washington, DC who referred me for a judicial externship, and the Judge then referred me as a law clerk at the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). You will quickly find that nobody cares about what you know BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING AT THIS POINT!!! It’s typically about who you know and it’s those people that will open opportunities for you.

What was the OCI process like for you? What’s your advice on how to interview?
Students should build on their experiences and backgrounds and leverage that in their interviews. For example, anyone having a strong technical background should play that up because that gives you a point of differentiation from others. Employers want you for specific roles and for your specific experiences. Employers WILL focus on grades and there is no way around that but grades can be marginalized if you have some type of expertise the employers need. For example, I wasn’t in the top of my class but because I had experience working at the ITC and at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, in addition to working experience as an engineer employers wanted to hire me regardless because I could come in and hit the ground running on ITC cases dealing with electrical engineering issues.

You should go into OCIs knowing what you want to do and have a general idea as to why the firm has picked you to interview. They often see something in your resume that attracts them to you. Play up those experiences. Giving off the impression that you are focused, determined and confident is the key to being successful at OCIs.

Stay pleasant and smiling, and maintain good body language. It’s okay to talk about yourself, but do NOT talk yourself out of a job. Ask good, intelligent questions that relate to the type of practices you are interested in joining.

What are some things a 1L can do this summer to look marketable to a large firm?
Work on perfecting your research skills because you will be cite checking and researching for a majority of your term as a new associate. I was a Westlaw representative and that helped me develop those skills. Being familiar with how to do quick and efficient legal research is a very key skill you will need when you’re starting out. Take it seriously!

You should also look to work at a community clinic, externship, pro bono or similar job build your skills. Moot court would also be a helpful skill to have on your resume and everyone should have written at least a few briefs before finishing law school. Your being able to write persuasively is going to be your bread and butter as a lawyer so doing as many briefs, memos, motions, etc. early and often is key. 1Ls may also want to take advantage of all the fellowships offered. Apply for EVERYTHING from the DOJ Honors programs to the Google Fellowships to in house legal department jobs.

Check the LCS career website daily as positions are posted there often. Also, take the time to write essays for the competitions you receive in your email – that’s how I got the Panetta Institute fellowship. Another great avenue is to take advantage of the SCU study abroad internship program. They will often place you in very good jobs where you can get experience and be marketable to firms during 2L OCIs.

During my 1L summer, I worked at JDS in-house and helped write an article about Patent Trolls in 2008. When I came back to Santa Clara looking for work, I saw that Professor Chien was interested in that area and approached her about whether she would want to hire me as a research assistant. After I sent her my article, she hired me – with pay! Not only did the position offer great experience, Professor Chien was also a great mentor and continues to be a lifelong friend and resource for me into my career.

In terms of grades, take them with a grain of salt. SCU has an incredibly difficult grading policy compared to other schools. Local employers typically understand this and will look at you as a whole, so having good legal writing experience or specialized skills will make a difference. Educate national employers on the grading policy.

How did you go about applying for jobs?
I researched online for Silicon Valley companies listing legal department contacts and emailed my cover letter and resume to all of them manually. There is no way around this and you have to basically take a brute force method unless you have some type of connection that will get you a job. I would recommend applying to as many as you can and don’t be picky at this point. You need any and all experience you can get.

EXPECT to have to do unpaid work for your first few positions. Even if companies reject you – keep applying! A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want you or that you don’t qualify, because companies usually hire only what they need at the moment. I know that I applied for hundreds of jobs and only got a handful of them. The key is making the jobs you get count and leveraging them to get better positions later on.

What are some tips you can give 2L’s regarding their upcoming summer associate positions?
HAVE A CHIP ON YOUR SHOULDER GOING IN!!! The reality is that you have to go the extra mile to get the respect you deserve.  You must do every assignment like your life depends on it and make sure you blow your competition out of the water.  Always underpromise and over deliver on everything you do!

Do you have any advice for students who just completed their 1L year?
If you’re serious about being a lawyer, my advice is to get out of the classroom and make sure you get experience practicing the skills you will need in the near future. The key is to differentiate yourself from your competition. Any niche you can build for yourself is going to go a long way.

Even if you don’t receive offers from big firms, you should pursue any and every opportunity to build your experience – this includes pro bono work and volunteering.

How do you balance work and personal life as a 1st year associate?
There is no issue for me. My job is a typical 9-6 job, aside from the times I’m in trial. I have plenty of time to enjoy life and the money I make.

Do you have any last tips for students who are preparing to enter the legal field?
DON’T GET DISCOURAGED! I did not get accepted to every job I applied to. I applied everywhere, sometimes even twice, and sent multiple follow-up emails. If I had kept all my rejection letters, I would have enough to use them as wallpaper. Don’t stop applying!

Top


Meg HennesseyMeg Hennessey – Associate, Orrick

B.A. in Political Science from Santa Clara University

What was the OCI process like for you?
As a 1L, I knew I wanted to work in the nonprofit sector after graduation, so I didn’t participate in OCIs. Instead, I chose to work with nonprofits and applied to fellowships.

How did you research employers?
During my 1L year, I participated in PI/PS day. I researched employers both online and through my network of colleagues at nonprofits that I worked with before law school. I quickly realized the value of reaching out to anyone I worked with in the legal world, and that I needed to put my pride aside and work any connections I had.

What’s the number one thing you’d recommend a student do before or during an interview?
Talk to people you know at the firm and ask what they know about the interviewers – from their work to their personality. Also try to prepare on your own and familiarize yourself with their interests. I would recommend students to act like a person the interviewer can imagine working with – don’t be nervous and overly formal, try to be conversational and confident.

What are some things a 1L can do this summer to look marketable to a large firm?
During the summers, get direct client experience – get comfortable working with people in a legal, professional capacity. I would also recommend getting concrete legal writing experience, both formal (motion to dismiss) and informal (communicating with clients or co-counsel via email, interoffice memoranda). You can get great hands-on experience like this by working for smaller firms or nonprofits.

What advice do you have for 2Ls regarding their upcoming summer associate positions?
I did not take a summer associate position. So, for those students who do not choose to get a summer associate position, I would recommend reaching out and taking advantage of different grant opportunities. Working with a nonprofit during my first summer gave me direct experience with clients, so I had a more unique background than some of my colleagues at Orrick.

Why did you decide to take a big firm job?
Though I was interested in nonprofit work after graduation, I did not limit my options when it came to my job search. Most job postings in the nonprofit sector wanted lawyers with more experience since they do not have the resources to train new lawyers. I cast a net wide and a friend who worked at Orrick alerted me to a large case that the firm needed new associates to work on. I was one of only two new associates who had not previously worked with the firm in a summer position. I got lucky. But again, it reminded me of how important it is to not shy away from making and using any and all connections in the legal world. Tell everyone you know you are looking for a job.

How do you balance work and personal life as a first year associate?
Balancing work and personal life can be difficult. I felt like a fish out of water. Most of my colleagues went to higher ranked schools or had been summer associates. To compensate, I agree to anything I am asked to do and will work long and hard hours to prove my worth. But an overworked attorney doesn’t produce as good quality work product and thus, a balance must be maintained. I’ve found that managing associates generally understand the need for rest and are helpful as I navigate this balance.

Top


Ravi MohanRavi Mohan – Associate, Morrison & Foerster

B.S. Electrical Engineering from University of the Pacific

What are some things a 1L can do this summer to look marketable to a large firm?
Don’t take the summer off. Even if you don’t get a firm gig the first year (most people don’t), try not to be discouraged. Try to work in the general area of law. For instance, if you dream of being a patent litigator, try to find any work you can do in civil litigation. Projects you do during your first year summer (such as document review, research) all translate well for a future career in litigation.

Other options include researching or writing a paper in an area of law, or starting a blog. It’s never too early to become an expert in your selected area of law!

What was the OCI process like for you? Do you have advice for how to research employers?
I participated in the the OCI process in 2009, which was a tough year for the economy. I had a strong work background, technical degree, and good grades, but the job interviews never materialized into concrete offers.
I recommend being cognizant of your time and starting the recruiting process early. Try to be strategic with your time when applying to jobs and scheduling classes. During my 2nd year, I didn’t have many connections with attorneys in the Bay Area, so I took the time to aggressively promote myself. I attended conventions, fairs, presentations, and even visited secondary recruiting markets.

After applying for a summer internship in the Atlanta office of Alston Bird, firm management found my resume and offered me a position in their Menlo Park office.

I scheduled lighter classes for the semester to leave myself time to research, recruit, and interview. Attack every angle you can. I knew I wanted to work in the IP sector, so I paid attention to the tech blogs in order to pinpoint industry-leading cases and applied to the firms representing the clients involved. The same rule applies for corporate folks. Don’t just simply ask things that are easy to find out on the firm’s website. Ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate your interest. Find out who the firm represents ahead of time and find out to what extent you would be able to help on those matters.

Did you do mock interviews? If so, did you find them helpful?
I consider myself a strong interviewer but I wanted to gauge what questions to anticipate in a legal capacity. The mock interviews were a great networking opportunity and gave me practical feedback about how to field questions for a legal position compared to say, a job in engineering.

What’s the number one thing you’d recommend doing before or during an interview?
Research the firm and the interviewers. Establish connections and build rapport during the interview. Know who the firm represents. I wouldn’t recommend asking questions that are “easily Googled” – prepare meaningful questions that demonstrate that you want to work for the firm.

What advice would you give 2Ls regarding their upcoming summer associate positions?
Even if you don’t get a job in the field you are looking to work in, keep in mind that skills from any legal position may apply in other legal fields. During my first summer, I did not work at an IP firm even though I knew that was my passion. Working at a small firm with non-IP work enabled me to develop skills in other areas. I turned a potential negative into a positive by demonstrating to IP employers how the skills I acquired were transferable to the IP sector.

The position was also an accurate gauge for how real work will be like – you have to work hard and make a good impression. Attend all firm-scheduled events and be professional!

Why did you decide to take a big firm job?
I wanted to take a big firm job to move further in my career and for the learning experience. Before law school, I worked for two years as an engineer. Now, I’m blessed to be surrounded by very smart and more importantly nice people all the time. The work is rewarding but also intellectually challenging. It all works to make me a better person.

How do you balance work and personal life as a first year associate?
Balancing work and your personal life is difficult at first, but it is crucial to your success as an associate. My personality compels me to want to bill until I can’t stay awake any longer, but I’ve learned to live a more balanced life. I was able to adjust my schedule to fit in time to go to the gym – it takes planning, but you have to remember that there’s life outside of work.

Top


Roxana NiktabRoxana Niktab – Associate, Simpson & Thacher

earned her Masters degree before attending SCU as a part-time student

Do you have any advice you think would be helpful for engineers entering law school?

Law school curriculum seemed very logical, like an algorithm, so I feel like it would be fairly easy for engineers to transfer the formulaic skills from an engineering background and apply them while working on their writing skills.

What was the OCI process like for you? What’s your advice for how to best approach OCIs?

I wasn’t the most prepared for OCIs. I met with the Law Career Services advisors who helped revise my technical and business-oriented resume to reflect transferrable skills for a legal career. I found this to be very helpful. I also recommend asking around about firms to familiarize yourself with the kind of work they do. You can also try to find a mentor, i.e., an associate, or a partner, who can not only give you a better idea about their firm, in a more informal setting, but can also provide you with more insight into other firms on your OCI interview list. In making my decision, I spoke with my mentors about my interviews and offers because it was very difficult to know one firm from the other without asking around or knowing someone who worked there. I also talked to the legal counsel at the company I was working for about their experiences with various firms.

The interviews were an exhaustive process, and I took off 7 days to work them into my schedule. But don’t be afraid to ask to switch things around because recruiters at firms are generally flexible and understand scheduling conflicts if they know you have another job.

What are some things a 1L can do this summer to look marketable to a large firm?

Grades are the first things that employers look at, so maintaining good grades will definitely help. I also suggest talking to alumni or upperclassmen who have summered the year before at firms that you are interested in working for. I also did Moot Court and Trial Team.

How would you recommend preparing for interviews?

I practiced with a mock interview, which was really helpful. Try to think of what employers may ask. One interviewer caught me off guard by asking “is there anything not on your resume that you want me to know?” Other questions you should probably be prepared for are:

  • What classes did you like?
  • Which classes did you take or are planning to take? Why?
  • Why did you get this grade in this class? What happened?

Also try to learn about the firm and about the person who will be interviewing you. However, be aware that, due to last minute scheduling conflicts, recruiters may need to change people last minute, so be prepared to meet an interviewer that you may not expect.

What are some questions a student could ask in an interview?

You can ask a firm about their clients, the types of cases they handle and the types they do not, how they staff their cases, what assignments were given to previous summer associates, and what assignments they are likely to give to you.

What are some tips for students pursuing summer associate positions in IP law?

I would highly recommend the IP Survey course but suggest taking it for a full semester rather than taking it over the summer because it is a very heavy course. I would also recommend the Patent Litigation class.

You had a rare early start as a summer associate – how did you manage to do this?

In Summer 2010 (the summer before my 4L year), I took a leave of absence from my job to work as an associate at the firm where I am currently at. I was aware that firms do not usually start their associates early, but my advice is to ask about your options. I was honest about my predicament of having a different graduation date from other associates and my firm graciously agreed to start me in April 2011 right after I took the bar in February.?If you’re ever curious about your options – just ask. I have been interested in both litigation and transactional IP, but most associates do one or the other. When I asked if I could do both – the firm agreed.

How do you balance work and personal life as a 1st year associate?

I have been working for 13 months now, and I can say it’s a little easier from working full-time, taking classes at night and studying on the weekends. I enjoy that I am acquiring different skill sets by splitting my time between IP litigation and IP transactional.

Top


Jonathan O'ConnellJonathan O’Connell – Associate, Wilmerhale

B.A. in History and Law and Society

How did you prepare for the OCI process?
I went through the OCI process in the fall of 2009. It was a difficult time to go through it because of the uncertainty with regard to the economy. I did lots of research on the firms that conducted interviews to identify the differences between each firm. The factors I considered included firm culture, strength of practice areas and history of the firm. To prepare for the interviews, I did a mock interview with the Law Career Services office.

What advice would you give to those going through the OCI process?
Be open to a wide range of practice areas. I thought I wanted to be a litigator but now I am transactional attorney in the Corporate Practice Group at WilmerHale. I didn’t plan on becoming a corporate attorney going into OCI’s, but after spending the summer at WilmerHale and working with the attorneys in the Corporate Practice Group, I realized it was the right fit for me. If you do have a preference for a particular practice area, don’t be afraid to tell the interviewer what that preference is; however, be sure you can articulate why you are interested in that particular practice area. I also recommend participating in the mock interview program and meeting with Law Career Services to have your resume reviewed.

What was your summer associate program like?
It was great! I had a chance to work in multiple practice areas and on different types of assignments. WilmerHale had a mentoring program that paired summer associates with associate attorneys which proved to be a great resource. The mentors were junior associates and they gave practical and honest advice, like how to work with different personalities in the firm. WilmerHale also had writing mentors that provided summer associates with specific feedback on written work.

As a summer associate at WilmerHale, I also had the opportunity to do pro bono work in the area of immigration law. The assignment involved assisting a pro bono client in obtaining a U-Visa, which are granted to victims of crimes that cooperate with the police. Overall, it was a great experience. I got the chance to help a low-income client and use some of the immigration law knowledge I gained from my experience at the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center.

What tips do you have for summer associates?
Stay open minded and work in different practice areas if you can. Work with lots of different people in the office. Even when you’re working hard, make time to be social by attending firm-sponsored events. You want to make a positive impression on as many different attorneys and staff as you can. Be memorable for the right reasons!

How do you balance work and life?
Know that providing excellent client service can be demanding at times. You will have the occasional late nights and work on the weekends. One of the great things about WilmerHale is the fact that the attorneys here genuinely enjoy working with each other. I wanted to work in the corporate group in part because it is such a close knit, collegial group. When you enjoy the company of those you work with, the occasional long days don’t seem so bad. When I have free time, I try to spend it outdoors hiking or playing golf.

Top