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How to get hired as a summer associate at Paul Weiss

Hiring partners share how young lawyers can land a job Paul Weiss, one of the country's top law firms

9/20/2021 3:24:00 PM

Hiring partners share how young lawyers can land a job Paul Weiss , one of the country's top law firms

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Two of the firm's hiring partners shared how to land a summer associate job.Candidates should show they're a team player and be focused on clients.Paul Weiss is one of the most well-known Big Law firms in the United States, with litigation and corporate teams that have represented clients like Apple and

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The firm has also donated pro bono hours to some of the most high-profile Supreme Court cases, including Brown v. Board of Education and United States v. Windsor.The firm has also come under fire in recent years for its representation ofExxonin climate-crisis lawsuits. 

It is ranked 20th in The American Lawyer's list of top law firms by revenue, pulling in $1.54 billion last year. It was founded in 1875 and is headquartered in New York. Each year, students from law schools around the country compete for one of just over a hundred summer-associate spots.

Paul Weiss had a class of about 130 summer associates last summer.Insider spoke with two of the people leading Paul Weiss' hiring efforts to learn what they look for in interviews and how prospective law students can increase their chances of getting in the door.

There is no one type of candidate the firm looks forPaul Weiss is not looking for any specific type of law student, according to Neil Goldman, a corporate partner and hiring partner in the New York office. Jeannie Rhee, a partner in the litigation department and the hiring partner in the Washington, DC, office, said the firm recruits from a diverse set of law schools, which has expanded in recent years and is now up to 47. She said Paul Weiss is committed to diversity in every sense of the word, a way in which she argued the firm stood out. 

"Because we don't have a one-size-fits-all approach, we're not going to just recruit from let's call it, the top 10 schools," she said. "We're not going to look for a certain set of criteria and call it a day."

Show that you're a team playerDuring interviews, Goldman said he is looking for"a spirit of collaboration" in law students. He said practicing law is a team sport, making working together a critical skill. Before the pandemic, candidates would be invited to one of the firm's offices, and students would have the option to go out to lunch with a couple of firm lawyers.

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In interviews, candidates should be able to articulate why Paul Weiss is the right fit for them, Rhee said. She said a lot of people come into the interview and say they want to work for the firm but sometimes don't have much more substance to their answer. Goldman said he wants to hear that the candidate has spent time thinking about why it would be a good fit. 

But candidates can't learn everything about the firm before the interview, and Goldman said he expects students to come in with questions as well.Know that the work is about the clientRhee said interviewers also want candidates to understand that the heart of the firm's legal work is about helping clients. She said that can be a fundamental shift for students who are thinking about what's best for them — in terms of classes or professors — to a very client-focused approach when you join a firm. 

"Those who seem to understand that kind of the basic proposition — it goes a long, long way," she said.Goldman said he is looking for maturity and confidence, but not cockiness, in interviews. He said one way that shows up is often as having some prior work experience on a candidate's résumé. He said he often finds that those who have been in the workforce in the past come in with a level of maturity and can hit the ground running. 

"Having some work experience — in any field, by the way — I think really, really helps people in my experience when they arrive," he said.Be ready to take full advantage of the programGoldman said he thinks Paul Weiss' summer program is unique because the firm has no formal system to tie summer associates to a particular practice group. Instead, Rhee said the firm allows students to come in and try a sampling of legal areas, even trying a mix of corporate and litigation work.

While it is helpful for candidates to know whether they are interested in litigation or transactional work, Goldman said the firm doesn't expect students to come in and know whether they want to focus on mergers and acquisitions over capital market or intellectual property. 

Goldman said the summer-associate program is a rare opportunity in their career to try several practice areas, in an industry that is becoming increasingly specialized. At the end of the summer, students typically confirm what their practice areas will be. 

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Meet as many people as you canGoldman said law students should be looking to meet as many people as possible, which will give them the best chance at finding a place where they are comfortable. Legal work can be challenging, he said, but if a student is going to be working hard, it's best to be doing that in a good environment where there is mutual respect. 

"So you better figure that out and make sure that's where you're going," he said.Rhee said law firms are really in the people business."There isn't much more to law firms than our talent pool," she said."And so it really matters who the people are."

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