MoFo’s 2020 Summer Associate Program Is a Virtual Success

On June 15, 2020, 126 talented law students representing 34 of the nation’s top law schools joined MoFo for the Summer Associate Program. Even though no one could have predicted that we would have our largest summer class attend the program completely online, it couldn’t have gone better, thanks to the Recruitment team who worked so diligently to ensure their experience was as engaging as it would have been in-person.

The six-week Summer Associate Program is designed give students the chance to learn about the lawyers, staff, and clients who make MoFo such a special place, and to learn from them in every capacity, from classroom lessons and workshops to researching and drafting briefs for real-life cases. Each week, a new theme was introduced to provide the associates with technical and soft‑skill training in areas such as written and oral communication, legal problem-solving and creative analysis, and teamwork and client service.

Rather than traditional lectures, the summers were invited to join a number of panel discussions and forums where they heard from and interacted with MoFo lawyers and a variety of special guest speakers, such as author and historian Dr. William Meinecke, Legal Writing Works founder Kiko Korn, and leadership development trainer and improv coach Jessica Hoffman.

In addition, a number of MoFo partners from varying practice groups took the time to discuss some of their biggest cases and lessons learned throughout their careers and give practical advice. Some of the “Meet the Experts” sessions addressed practical skills, such as interpersonal communication, strategic negotiation, persuasive written advocacy, and contract writing. The partners also shared their own MoFo Stories regarding landmark cases they worked on, such as Doe v. Wolf, which ordered an overhaul of the way U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detains people in its custody in the Tucson Sector of Arizona, and Waymo v. Uber, in which MoFo litigators won a favorable settlement after just four days of jury trial and defeated a motion for preliminary injunction that sought to bar Uber’s autonomous vehicle program.

Summer associates receive a broad mix of assignments, including writing briefs, motions, contracts, and client memoranda; assisting in drafting and negotiation sessions; helping with depositions and witness preparation; and performing due diligence in corporate transactions. They are also encouraged to volunteer for pro bono assignments. The goal is to provide a variety of substantive projects in which to demonstrate their writing, research, and analytical skills, and get a realistic perspective on what it’s like to be a lawyer at MoFo. This year, we invited some of the associates to write about their experiences from the program and tell us a little more about themselves.

Read their MoFo Stories here:

Building Legal Practice Skills Through State Survey of Election Audits – Megan Smith, Washington, D.C.

Gaining a New Perspective on Career Path Possibilities – James Dionne, Washington, D.C.

How MoFo’s Pro Bono Program Makes a Difference – Kacyn Fujii, Palo Alto

Learning There Is No Right or Wrong Way to Partnership, Only Your Way – Haley Paloutzian, Palo Alto

Helping an Important Pro Bono Client Gain Tax-Exempt Status – Kevin Brown, Boston

Navigating the Path to Relicense Dams on the Toulumne River – Ian Bennett, Palo Alto

The Summer Associate Program wasn’t all training and assignments though. The Recruitment team planned several virtual networking events, including a mixology class, paint night, and a Cyber Sleuths exercise. The virtual social events helped the participants connect with fellow summer associates and attorneys through throughout the summer and resulted in some pretty funny moments.

MoFo Chair Larren Nashelsky addressed the summers for one final virtual meeting, where he took questions from the group. He closed by noting that “No one expected this summer to turn out the way it did, so I was especially impressed by the professionalism, patience, and enthusiasm of this class. Our recruiting team went above and beyond to make sure this year’s program went off without a hitch. I thank each and every one of you who took part in the Summer Associate Program for your flexibility and positivity. It was certainly one to remember.”