Master of Laws Interviews Season 2: Episode 4: Evelyn Y. Riley, Counsel, Complex Litigation, Cozen O’Connor

by Yi Song

This is a story of transformation: an IP lawyer turned BigLaw litigation counsel.

When Evelyn was pursuing her specialized LL.M. in intellectual property, she planned on becoming an IP lawyer. Fate had other plans for her. Her pivotal career moment came through a judicial internship at the Chief Judge’s chamber at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The judge was one of her professors she took classes from. She ended up being the sole judicial intern selected by the judge from the LL.M. Program. The prestigious internship served as a launching pad for her next job in antitrust litigation, even if she had not taken any antitrust courses in law school. Today she’s at Cozen O’Connor, specializing in complex litigation.

How did she stand out among other candidates and secure the prestigious judicial internship? How did the internship lead her to her first permanent position in antitrust litigation? What are the essential skills employers are looking for when hiring internationally trained lawyers? What’s the one thing internationally trained lawyers should do during law school besides studying?

Subscribe to the LinkedIn weekly newsletter to receive FREE insider tips. Read Evelyn’s story here.

Wordrake Plain Language Series: An Interview with Prof. Stephen Horowitz

In connection with International Plain Language Day (which is a real thing), Wordrake recently published an interview with Georgetown Legal English Prof. Stephen Horowitz, who teaches in Georgetown Law’s Two-Year LLM Program, in which they asked him questions such as:

  • “What prompted you to combine Law and English as a Second Language?”
  • “What connections do you see between writing for lawyers, linguistics, English as a Second Language, and the plain language movement? How do you see these fields working together to promote clarity and equity?”
  • “How can other lawyers help clients who speak English as a second language? What should lawyers know about ESL processing that would help them better serve clients?”
  • “How can professors help students who speak English as a second language?”

Below are some quotes from the interview:

  • “In Japan I encountered so many situations and behaviors that felt uncomfortable and at times even irrational. I learned to stop myself and consider the possibility that it actually was rational if you’re working from a different set of assumptions. And I learned to question and evaluate my own assumptions about how things should work before I fell back on a judgmental view or comment. It’s led me to a passionate curiosity for trying to understand why people do things they do.”
  • “The plain English movement is a reaction to a sense that the writing of lawyers and judges had become unnecessarily complicated and was acting as a barrier to access to justice. Although not stated explicitly, the plain English movement seems to me to assume native English speakers as its primary users and consumers. Legal English, on the other hand, is a catch-all term relating to the approach and curriculum for helping lawyers and law students from other language backgrounds study or work with US (or UK, Canadian, Australian, etc.) law or contracts in English.”
  • “The primary overlap [between Plain English and Legal English] is probably with regard to input. In the case of plain English, if you simplify language and use fewer words, then there is less information to process, both in volume and complexity. That should work to the benefit of non-native English speakers. In other words, using plain English makes a text closer to the idea of “comprehensible input.” Of course, it’s also possible that even a text that meets plain English standards could still be challenging for a non-native English speaker to understand for a variety of reasons, including vocabulary, grammar, and cultural knowledge gaps. And of course among non-native English speakers, there will also always be a wide range of facility with English.”
  • “However, it seems to me that plain English and legal English begin to diverge regarding output. This is because plain English can often be conveyed as a series of prescriptivist rules and principles for how to use and not use language. Whereas in legal English, the priority is generally learning to communicate one’s ideas accurately, with style a little lower down the priority list depending on the student. From a legal English teaching perspective, we want the students to learn to feel confident in expressing their ideas.”

Below is a link to the full interview.

Wordrake Plain Language Series: An Interview with Professor Stephen Horowitz

Master of Laws Interviews Season 2: Episode 3: Guillaume Zouker, Director of International Tax Services at PricewaterhouseCooopers Miami office

By Yi Song

Guillaume Zouker

Director of International Tax Services at PricewaterhouseCooopers Miami office

How to make it to the top at Big Four?

Guillaume was tired of living Paris when he left his in-house job for a French oil and gas company. He always imagined himself working and practicing law in a language other than French, his native tongue.

Today he lives in Miami and directs the International Tax Services at PwC. What is like to work in a fast-paced multilingual dynamic place like PwC, where the entire floor was staffed with people from around the world? How to get an internship at the Big Four?  How to turn your internship into a job offer?

Subscribe to the LinkedIn weekly newsletter to receive FREE insider tips. Read Guillaume’s story here.

Master of Laws Interviews Season 2: Episode 2: Alina Solodchikova, Tax Controversy Leader and Principal Attorney at RSM

By Yi Song

Alina Solodchikova, Tax Controversy Leader and Principal Attorney at RSM

How to make it as an internationally trained tax attorney?

When Alina moved to New York with her newly minted LLM as a Russia-trained lawyer, someone told her that there was little chance that she would make partner because of her exotic last name. Boy, doesn’t she prove the naysayer wrong? After having worked at the IRS’s Office of Chief Counsel for nearly six years, today she’s the tax controversy practice leader and the principal attorney at RSM, the fifth largest accounting firm in the U.S.

How did she make it to the top at one of the biggest accounting firms in the U.S.? How did she find her first job through a networking event? What activities and events are the most helpful during her LLM year to develop her career?

Subscribe to the LinkedIn weekly newsletter to receive FREE insider tips. Read Alina’s story here.

Master of Laws Interviews Project Season 2 is back!

Posted by Yi Song

Yao Liu

Shareholder at Cavitch Familo & Durkin

How did he become the first ever international intern turned shareholder at a firm founded in 1886?

When Yao was applying for internships during law school, most firms had stopped accepting new applications. He decided to cold show up at the doorsteps of the top 20 firms in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was studying. He went to the first firm on his list. The receptionist welcomed him, offered him coffee and informed him that the hiring partner was not in the office that day. He left his cover letter and resume. He thought it was a dead end.

As he was waiting for the elevator, he saw another gentleman was waiting as well. He looked at his watch, it was 3:30. He thought that this guy must not be a lawyer. No lawyer leaves work at 3:30. They struck up a conversation. As it turned out the guy was indeed an (estate planning) lawyer who has been with the firm for 25 years. He introduced Yao to the hiring partner a week later. During the subsequent interview, Yao wasn’t begging the firm for a job, but rather trying to figure out: why were his peers with stellar grades not being hired?

This is a story with a happy ending. Yao became the first intern the firm ever hired in its 137-year history. At the end of his internship, he received a job offer, and eventually, he made history once again by becoming the first shareholder with an international background at the firm.

How did he manage to persuade the hiring partner to offer him the internship?

How did he turn the internship into a permanent position?

Why indeed didn’t his peers with stellar grades secure jobs like he did?

Subscribe to the LinkedIn weekly newsletter to receive FREE insider tips. Read Yao’s story here.