Last week, the Washington DC office of the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb opened its doors to entry-level litigation support candidates. A few weeks earlier, I was contacted by Alex Billeb, the Practice Administrator at Cleary. She encouraged me to attend the event and she asked me to invite any of my students that might be interested.
The description for the event was as follows: Cleary Gottlieb Discovery & Litigation Support Information Session on Tuesday, April 3rd from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the firm, its culture, and our practice support function from firm litigation technology and HR professionals, as well as the opportunity to network with others in the eDiscovery and litigation support field. There will be a reception followed by a program including breakout sessions for entry-level and experienced professionals. Space is limited.
First, I was intrigued that a law firm was hosting this event, as opposed to a recruiting company. I really liked the concept and I was excited about the opportunity for some of our Georgetown University students and alumni to experience this event. Kelly Holdcraft, the Director of the Paralegal Studies program, forwarded an e-mail about the event to all of the students and alumni and I encouraged my students to attend. Attendees were encouraged to submit their resumes as well.
In addition to attending the event itself, I was looking forward to hopefully seeing a friend of mine that works in Litigation Support at Cleary. Her name is Noy Souvandara and we met in 2006 when I was briefly on the vendor side. Noy was awesome to work with and she has an impeccable work ethic. We have stayed in touch over the years and as it turns out, I did get to see her!
The first part of the evening consisted of networking and I took that opportunity to “market” the Georgetown students. There were several students from my Legal Technology class who are currently in their second semester of the Paralegal Studies program and there were several graduates of Georgetown's Advanced Litigation Technology and Legal Project Management program. In attendance were a number of Cleary's Litigation Technology team which consists of about 75 people and includes both technical staff and attorneys. There were also a few other individuals who are interested in breaking into the litigation support field.
For the next portion of the evening, we gathered in a large meeting room and Cleary representatives proceeded to give an overview of the firm itself and the Litigation Technology department specifically.
After the overview of Cleary, a couple of Cleary representatives provided an educational session which included an overview of eDiscovery, a mock interview of a litigation technology team member and an overview of the latest buzz technology — predictive coding.
Tom Hall, a Managing Attorney for the department said something that I agree 100% with and that is “we are constantly working with variables, but the constant should be consistency and adding value“. Tom is a smart man.
We were then split into two groups (entry-level vs experienced) and each group was given a scenario worksheet. The scenarios were similar for both groups. The audience was asked to toss out ideas as to how they would respond to the scenario and they were told there is no right or wrong answer. I decided to stay with the entry-level group because I wanted to encourage the Georgetown students.
The event ended right on time and I believe it was a success. I really appreciate that Cleary provided an avenue for some of the Georgetown students to spend time within a law firm environment and around law firm professionals, perhaps for the first time in their life. The students may have made up their mind to attend the legal programs at Georgetown, but they might have had no idea what their future work atmosphere might be like. I think they were able to gain some law firm exposure, some networking experience and some more education in the process.
Kudos to Cleary Gottlieb for thinking outside of the box and for opening up their doors to entry-level Litigation Support candidates.