Editors’ Note: As part of our ongoing Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight series, Mariela Cisneros, a 2L at New York University School of Law, and Melissa Perez, a 3L at Berkeley School of Law, interviewed San Francisco partner Joshua Hill. In the excerpt below, Joshua, who leads our white-collar defense practice in San Francisco, talks about the importance of his clerkship and why he chose MoFo.
Mariela: What brought you to MoFo?
Josh: As you already know, MoFo is a terrific firm with long, deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I began talking with MoFo, the conversation was about coming to the firm to lead the white-collar practice in San Francisco. This is a firm with a long history of excellent white-collar defense work, and I wanted to join that tradition.
Mariela: What advice do you have for summer associates who are just beginning their careers?
Josh: From my very first job in law, I tactically sought out mentors and sponsors. When I was a first year, I had never been in a law firm environment. I had only worked for the government. So, for assignments or just for social networking purposes, I always sought out advice. I still speak with the folks who were my mentors and sponsors 16 or 17 years ago.
My philosophy is always to ask questions. You shouldn’t assume, and you shouldn’t guess. I think being an active listener and an active questioner are two traits that make for a successful associate.
Mariela: Could you tell us how you landed your clerkship? How do you think it has benefited you in the work you’ve done throughout your career?
Josh: Clerking was transformative for me. It put me firmly on the litigation path. It is also what attracted me to being U.S. assistant attorney.
You are in the district court every day, watching cases come in and out, and you are seeing federal prosecutors and federal public defenders doing their jobs every day. I decided that I wanted to be an AUSA so I could be in court every day and do what they were doing.
You gain credibility with the court, which is really invaluable to what we do as litigators.
Mariela: Let’s transition to talk about your experience as a partner. How do you begin to develop relationships with clients?
Josh: I didn’t think this way in law school, but in retrospect, I think a lot of your relationship building begins there. Your law school classmates and friends are going to be some of your deepest and most important relationships you can have as a lawyer. When else are you going to be in a circle of 300 lawyers who are going to go off and do really intriguing, important, and exciting things?