Associate Life

Sonia Fleury

Client(s) Matter

June 22, 2012 9:40 AM | Permalink | Print

One of the best things about working at a world-class law firm is the kind of work you get to do. Each afternoon, the firm’s New Business Reports herald the arrival of fascinating new projects, and with them, the opportunity to explore challenging problems and their solutions. For one of my first major assignments, I was asked to complete a research memo on questions related to a discovery dispute in preparation for a meet-and-confer between one of our partners and the Assistant United States Attorney litigating opposite us. No sooner had I turned in the assignment, I was asked to sit in on a conference call with the team handling the matter. About five minutes into it, I realized that the partner was going through the list of questions that I was asked to research, and at one point asked me to explain one of my answers. It was nerve-wracking, but very interesting, and it taught me that one of the most important litigation skills is the ability to recognize, and if possible, exploit the ambiguity of language.

The best thing about this project was witnessing and participating in its evolution. I had the opportunity to listen to the meet-and-confer with the United States Attorneys Office, as both sides debated and negotiated the scope of the government’s discovery requests. Next I was asked to research a judge’s recent approach toward similar discovery disputes, to the extent that the parties were unable to agree on particular points, and might instead have to appear in court to resolve the issues. Law school courses teach you the basics of legal research and writing, but they can’t teach you the best part about that process: how much those skills matter in real-world situations where a client’s interests are at stake.