Editors’ Note: Read about Jacob Tonks, a summer associate in our Washington, D.C. office, in the latest installment of our ongoing Faces of MoFo series.
I’m incredibly grateful to be spending my summer here at MoFo in Washington, D.C. It was clear at each stage of the interview and recruiting process that MoFo’s values reflect my own, both personal and professional. And while my perspective is still quite limited by being so new, I’ve found a surprising authenticity many warned could not be found in Big Law.
I feel especially lucky to be part of the firm during its Pride Month celebrations. My inspiration to become a lawyer can be traced to when I attended the oral arguments of Kitchen v. Herbert, the 2013 federal case that successfully challenged Utah’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. I was a young, inexperienced kid who had recently been expelled from my private undergraduate university for being gay. My life had evaporated, including my employment, housing, scholarship, church calling, and many friendships. Although so much was ripped away, I also realized my future was now a blank slate. My life was now fully mine to own. And as I sat in that federal courthouse listening to the impassioned personal stories of the plaintiffs and the intelligent arguments from their lawyers, I felt pulled toward a profession that could provide a tangible avenue for justice when no other may be available.
Pride has continued to propel my journey through a career and law school, often in the form of immense gratitude. Every benefit my husband and I currently enjoy can be traced to the efforts of someone, somewhere (including many lawyers) who fought for dignity in the face of oppression. Who fought for life in the face of death. Even today, as active forces still fight against equality, especially their escalating attacks against our transgender family, Pride is a reminder to continue the work to make life safe and prosperous for all.
MoFo has been, and continues to be, an active leader in that work. I’ve been inspired by MoFo’s LGBTQ+ Affinity Network leaders who speak openly about the difficulties they have faced historically in Big Law, their efforts to continue MoFo’s longstanding commitment to being a diverse and inclusive firm, and of course the important pro bono work that MoFo accomplishes for the LGBTQ+ community.
My career in business development (which continued through law school thanks to Georgetown Law’s Evening Student program) may have solidified my desire to practice on the corporate transaction side as opposed to litigation, but I hope to support and contribute where I can to MoFo’s work bettering LGBTQ+ lives. The training and assignments provided in the summer program have so far been an excellent start.
Outside my time spent in MoFo’s summer program, I’m often spotted eating too much food at local bakeries, paddleboarding on the Potomac River, or parading my puppy around at various D.C. breweries.