Associate Life

Stephanie Singer

Why WilmerHale

September 21, 2012 3:45 PM | Permalink | Print

As I mentioned in my previous post, I chose WilmerHale because of its extraordinary reputation in the practice area in which I wanted to focus. I found it hard, when going through the interview process, to get a feel for the various firms at which I interviewed and to really determine what set them apart. I also didn’t give enough thought to—or didn’t have enough information to determine—what I really wanted out of a firm. That’s why, every day I’m here, I find myself feeling very fortunate for having lucked into my ideal firm.

In my view, the main thing that sets WilmerHale apart is its respect for its attorneys and staff. There’s respect for time spent in the office (appreciation for hard work from the managing partners on down). There’s respect for each other—this is not the kind of firm where it’s normal or anywhere close to acceptable for partners to yell at or demean associates. And, very importantly for me, there’s respect for the fact that people have lives outside of the office. One day, soon after I’d started at the firm, I’d left the office around 5:30 p.m. My husband was out of town and I was home alone with my six-month-old son. At 5:45 p.m., a senior partner I was working with asked if I could get on a call at 6 p.m. I was nervous to say no, but I didn’t have much of a choice—conference calls are not easy with a screaming baby in the background! So I asked if we could reschedule. Not only was he very gracious about moving the call, he told me never to hesitate in asking for a schedule accommodation. If something has to be done at 6 p.m., he’ll tell me, but if it wasn’t time sensitive, he was happy to push it back so that I could spend time with my family. In fact, he told me he often leaves early to spend the evening with his kids, and then logs back on to do work after they go to bed.

This story has been typical of my experience here, and it’s not just me. My fellow associates play in orchestras, sit on boards of non-profits, have kids, or have other non-work obligations, and the firm is not just tolerant but actively supportive of such endeavors. Last month, the co-managing partners sent out a firm-wide email encouraging everyone to take vacation days and spend time with friends and family. I feel like my time here is valued and respected, far more than I ever thought possible at a big law firm, and I feel very lucky to have landed at such a firm.