Summer work reflections: Law firm living

Each summer, Tulane Law students take off on opportunities near and far, working legal jobs, volunteering for pro bono service and studying abroad. Meet two third-year students who traveled beyond their home states to gain valuable experience and land permanent positions with major international firms after graduation.

Hayley Fritchie (L ’16): Louisiana native ventures to NYC

Tulane Law | Hayley Fritchie (L '16)

Louisiana student Hayley Fritchie (L ’16) enjoyed New York with her mother and brother — on his first trip to the city. Photos courtesy of Hayley Fritchie.

This summer, I worked with Proskauer Rose in New York. Being from Louisiana, I wanted to remain close to my family for law school with the hope of one day going to New York, which made Tulane Law the perfect fit. New York is a fantastic place to start your legal career, expose yourself to the sharpest minds in the legal profession and work on the most exciting cases.

As summer associates, we participated in a variety of tasks, including formal assignments, shadowing opportunities and summer program workshops, and we took assignments from all practice groups. That allowed us to try everything while still having the option to focus on a particular area.

I went in unsure what practice group interested me most and left with an incredible interest in labor and employment law. I was initially attracted to the field after taking Labor Law with Professor Friedman. Labor and employment attorneys counsel clients on an array of matters in an ever-changing area of law, and Proskauer has an incredible labor practice. The mentors in the group were instrumental in my success at the firm, and I loved the variety of assignments I was exposed to. For example, I researched the Fair Labor Standards Act, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. religious discrimination decision and legal issues in denying same-sex married couples employment benefits, to name a few. I drafted formal and email memos and gave in-person briefings to attorneys on my research.

Tulane Law | Hayley Fritchie (L '16)

Hayley Fritchie (L ’16) and fellow Proskauer Rose summer associates attended the 2015 NBA Draft.

In addition to formal assignments, partners and associates provided shadowing opportunities. I sat in on court hearings and client calls, getting an inside look into Proskauer attorneys’ work. Finally, the summer program put on four different workshops focused on negotiation, mergers and acquisitions, oral argument and mock trial. These programs were supervised by attorneys who gave us direct feedback.

As summer associates, we kept busy with projects during the day but also participated in activities outside the office. We took a cooking class, attended the Tony Awards, ventured on a scavenger hunt across the city, went to the NBA Draft and participated in a service day — to name a few! The events were a fun way to form relationships with my summer associate class and explore the city. The best part about most activities: We were visiting Proskauer clients!

My journey to Proskauer began when I participated in the New York interview program during my 1L summer. Assistant Dean for Career Development Sarka Cerna-Fagan encouraged me to participate, and she, along with CDO Director Katie O’Leary, put me in touch with alumni who’d worked with the firm. The interview and Tulane connections led to my summer associate offer.

At the firm, I felt ready to tackle assignments, thanks to my coursework. But beyond academics, I think Tulane’s culture helped shape me into a summer associate people enjoyed working with. In law school, it can be difficult to put aside competitive feelings and work with others to create the best work product possible. But Tulane’s collegial culture helped me make friends easily and taught me to work with my colleagues. I’m grateful to Tulane for making me a real person!

Tulane Law | Hayley Fritchie (L '16)

On a break from legal assignments, Hayley Fritchie (L ’16, left) learned culinary basics at a cooking class with summer associates and attorneys.

My summer experience shaped the rest of my life. As I suspected, New York is the perfect place to begin my legal career. On the other hand, I was unsure if working in a firm would be a good fit. I spent my 1L summer as a judicial intern, so this was my first time in a firm. I am now surer than ever that starting practice with a large firm is perfect for me — the people are brilliant, the resources are incredible and the learning experiences are never-ending. I found my passion in the labor and employment group and am so excited to practice. After graduation, I will be clerking for a federal judge in the Southern District of Mississippi, then joining Proskauer’s New York office as a labor and employment associate.

Emily von Qualen (L ’16): Midwesterner explores the Gulf Coast (and beyond)

I split my summer between Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Houston and Liskow & Lewis in New Orleans, getting an insider’s look into life at different law firms.

Tulane Law | Emily von Qualen (L '16)

Emily von Qualen (L ’16), an Iowa native, worked in Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s Houston and New York offices. Photos courtesy of Emily von Qualen.

I started at Skadden, working with the Houston office’s general litigation group. One of my big projects there involved helping draft arguments for a motion to dismiss in a class action derivative suit for a technology company. This gave me an in-depth look into argument framing and editing, and I felt like an integral part of the team doing substantive work. I also worked on a pro bono report on prison reform recommendations for the New York Bar Association, and my part focused on prisoners’ mental health needs. Beyond research and writing, I observed client phone calls, depositions of potential class action plaintiffs and strategy meetings about jury selection.

Skadden also sent me to its New York office for a few weeks, where I did shorter-term projects, researching discrete questions of law and giving email answers to supervising attorneys. I also observed a motion argument in a state supreme court. The New York office had a different feel from the Houston office, because it had more than 600 attorneys and 100 summer associates. Being able to get a broader perspective of the firm was great, and, as an Iowa native, living in New York was an adventure!

In both Skadden offices, I socialized with attorneys and other summer associates at lunches and other events. Almost every day, I went to lunch with different attorneys, which allowed me to get to know them much better. One highlight from New York was doing a citywide scavenger hunt that took us all over Manhattan looking for clues. I wasn’t familiar with New York beforehand and loved learning more about the city. In Houston, my favorite event was an amazing dinner prepared by a local chef at a partner’s home.

For the last part of the summer, I clerked at Liskow’s New Orleans office. I chose Liskow because of its strong environmental regulatory and litigation practice, and while there, I worked on several environmental law projects. For example, I researched and wrote a memo about how a company could be responsible for improper disposal of barge waste by another company. After drafting a memo, I got feedback from attorneys and went through a few rounds of edits before my memo was sent to the client. Having lawyers much more familiar with the field critique my language and organizational structure was especially helpful, because it helped build my substantive knowledge and strengthen my writing skills. And having the memo sent to the client was very rewarding.

Tulane Law | Emily von Qualen (L '16)

At Liskow & Lewis in New Orleans, Emily von Qualen (L ’16) honed commercial and environmental litigation skills.

I also worked on general litigation projects, including some on federal and Louisiana Rules of Civil Procedure issues. For example, I researched possible mechanisms for a Louisiana party to compel a non-resident to appear in state court. One highlight of my summer was observing a two-day trial in Thibodaux, Louisiana, in which Liskow represented an oil company seeking easement rights to run a pipeline across the other party’s property. I had seen a trial in federal court the previous summer, but I had never seen one in state court. I really enjoyed observing a different courtroom style and seeing experienced litigators argue.

Outside researching, writing and observing legal practice, I was able to socialize with the attorneys in more relaxed settings. Liskow has coffee time every morning for attorneys to have casual conversations, and it highlighted the firm’s congenial atmosphere. Most days, I went to lunch with a group of attorneys, which was also a great way to get to know them and sample wonderful New Orleans food. In addition to daily social gatherings, Liskow had two main summer events: a cocktail reception at Commander’s Palace and a poker night. Both were great events that most attorneys attended, and the atmosphere was very relaxed.

My summer jobs showed me invaluable perspective on associate life at different firms, gave me hands-on legal experience and confirmed my interest in litigation. After graduation, I will continue to build on my experience as I clerk for Judge Minaldi, a federal district judge in Lake Charles, Louisiana for a year. I will then join Skadden in its Houston office.

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