Editors’ Note: As part of our ongoing Faces of MoFo series, Vanshika Vij, an associate in the firm’s Litigation Practice, discusses her career path and what led her to call MoFo home.
While in law school, I gravitated to criminal law. I was drawn to the process of constructing and analyzing the narrative of a case and the interplay of human nature and individual motivation in that story. This interest culminated in a semester-long internship at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. While there, I worked in Chambers during the trial of Radovan Karadžić and dug into the evidence regarding specific events in the context of the charged war crimes. This experience helped me realize that I wanted to work on sophisticated and challenging criminal law cases and I feel privileged to have found the space to do that at MoFo alongside great colleagues and mentors.
My practice now encompasses enforcement and investigations related to white collar enforcement and defense, national security, and crisis management for both corporate and individual clients. Early in my career at MoFo, I worked on a fascinating case with James Koukios, representing a financial institution and several of its employees as witnesses in connection with the Special Counsel’s investigation into matters involving Paul Manafort and the related 2018 trial in federal court. This involved quickly getting up to speed on a complex set of facts and the corresponding legal implications, as well as understanding our clients’ needs and priorities at different stages in the case. Having a deep understanding of the facts, legal issues, and our clients’ interests enabled me to help effectively prepare our clients for investigation interviews and for testimony in a high-profile federal case. This case set the tone for my career at MoFo; since then, I have been fortunate to work on a diverse set of interesting cases.
I am thankful to have had outstanding mentors at the firm who have given me opportunities to push myself and develop my skills, whether it is presenting to a government agency, working directly with clients to understand their needs and priorities, or even just discussing a complicated legal issue. These mentors have also taken the time to discuss their careers and advise me on mine. In addition, having had the privilege of this mentorship in my career, I try to pay it forward to more junior attorneys I work with, particularly as a member of the Women’s Strategy Committee and as co-chair of the Washington, D.C. Attorneys and Paralegals of Color Affinity Group.
I am also grateful for MoFo’s commitment to pro bono work, which has helped me live my values. I grew up as a first-generation immigrant in the U.S. and I feel immense gratitude to my parents, whose sacrifices and hard work gave me the opportunity to become the first lawyer in my family. I have worked on a wide variety of pro bono cases and, as I now work on a case seeking asylum in the U.S. for a family of refugees, I feel privileged to use my legal skills to give back and help empower others.