My MoFo Story: Haley Paloutzian on Learning There Is No Right or Wrong Way to Partnership, Only Your Way

While there were several engaging presentations throughout the MoFo Summer Program, the “Partner Pathways” presentation stood out as my favorite panel discussion. The panel included partners Alexis Amezcua, Jay Gavigan, Christin Hill, Mike Krigbaum, and Alex Yap, each of whom spoke about their individual paths to partnership.

What I took away from this session was that there is no one path to making partner and that MoFo celebrates different backgrounds and skillsets. I particularly enjoyed hearing Mike talk about his experience as a corporate partner, as he was someone who recruited me during the on-campus interview process. Mike discussed the challenging nature of his work, which keeps him engaged and motivated. He also shared his insights on finding work-life balance, and how he values producing excellent work for his clients while also finding time to spend with his family.

The presentation also highlighted MoFo’s commitment to advancing and supporting women’s paths to partnership, which is something that is important to me. It was really interesting to learn that Alexis was put up for partner while she was on maternity leave, and that the firm supported her when she took a sabbatical to travel with her family. Alexis also emphasized the importance of making long-lasting connections. She shared how a connection she made as a summer associate at MoFo led to her secondment at a major multinational technology company.

Christin’s path to partnership was intriguing because she had about 10 years of experience under her belt before she joined the firm. She talked about how she feels fulfilled as a litigation partner at MoFo, where she is able to utilize her written and oral advocacy skills to the fullest extent. Like Mike, Christin emphasized that her work and the general environment at the firm keep her intellectually stimulated and energized. It was fun to hear about her passion for advocating on her clients’ behalf in the courtroom.

Jay offered the perspective of someone who thought he knew exactly what type of law he wanted to practice as a young associate, but learned it was beneficial to try out different areas in order to find the practice that suit him best. He advised that the more lawyers can expose themselves to a variety of practice areas and industries, the more confident they will be in advising clients and meeting all their clients’ needs.

Alex shared what it was like to take a hiatus from the firm to pursue a career as an administrative patent judge at the USPTO, and how he was able to apply the skills he learned from that experience to his career at MoFo, once he returned. During Alex’s time away from the firm, he built up his expertise in patent law, which greatly contributes and adds value to his current practice.

Finally, some of the partners touched upon how to deal with Imposter Syndrome, which—as someone with a background in psychology—I found really fascinating. It was impactful to hear that even some of the most skilled and intelligent attorneys struggle with feeling inadequate at times. I was impressed by the partners’ willingness to be vulnerable and share more personal details. To combat Imposter Syndrome, several partners underscored the importance of surrounding yourself with people who support you, affirm you, and believe in you, and also finding time to reflect on how far you’ve come in your career.

From this panel, I felt like I got to know each partner on a deeper level. I learned that every career path at MoFo looks different, but that the partners at the firm are united in their commitment to client service, to making a positive impact on the community, and to supporting one another.

xxx

Haley Paloutzian is a rising 3L at Santa Clara Law. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Haley is interested in corporate transactional work, particularly mergers and acquisitions. A fun fact about her is that she learned how to play chess during quarantine!