The hiring partner tells you: what is BigLaw looking for when hiring internationally trained lawyers?
When Ruoke graduated from law school, the U.S. economy was in the midst of the subprime crisis. The job market posed unprecedented challenges. Undeterred, she persisted and eventually secured a position in the investment funds practice group.
Now, as a hiring partner at Morgan Lewis, she interviewed and hired many candidates. What lawyering skills and qualifications do BigLaw firms seek when hiring internationally trained lawyers? What advice does her have on effective networking? What was her most important takeaway about legal writing? Why does she believe that listening to English improves writing as a non-native speaker?
How did he transition from the World Bank to BigLaw?
When Nick arrived in the U.S. for his LL.M, he planned to return home after graduation. However, a few weeks into the LLM, he found his classes intriguing, and he began to reassess his plan. Soon he realized that he would need to pass the bar to keep practicing law in the U.S. He took more courses after he graduated to meet the New York Bar requirement, he successfully passed the bar exam two years after he graduated. His externship at the World Bank became a permanent position, which he stayed on for five years with a short stint at PwC. Today he is an associate attorney at the Investigation, White Collar and Fraud practice at Hogan Lovells in DC.
What activities and events he attended during law school are the most helpful to develop his career? How did he get the externship at the World Bank? How did he turn his externship into a permanent position? Why did he say that law school is a journey of self-discovery?
How to network and ace your BigLaw interview with a personal touch?
For most internationally trained lawyers, the job search in the U.S. begins on Day One of their LL.M. Program. For Monica, it started from Day Zero. She started searching for jobs in the summer before her LL.M. program began. She dedicated eight months to meticulous research, networking and interviewing with potential firms that could hire her. A Brazil-trained lawyer fluent in Portuguese, French and English, Monica had countless coffee meetings with BigLaw partners specializing in international arbitration. Some generously shared their own career journeys, while others were more blunt, “I have five minutes. What do you want?”
One day, while preparing for one of these informational interviews, Moica discovered that the senior partner who was to interview her had lived in Brazil for six months some thirty years ago. She seized this connection to add a personal touch to their conversation. Today she’s working with the partner at Steptoe & Johnson specialized in international arbitration.
How did she jumpstart on networking from Day Zero to land a prestigious externship? How did she turn the externship into a permanent position at another renowned firm? What’s her strategy to network with partners at BigLaw and effectively following up with them? How can you add a personal touch to the daunting process of networking?
How did he turn his BigLaw externship into a post-graduation job offer?
When Ignacio walked out of his first interview for a competitive externship position, he wasn’t feeling optimistic. He was thrown off his pace by the interviewer’s first question: “So, do you have any questions for me?” He managed to get hired as an extern anyway in the International Arbitration Group at McDermott Will & Emery. The externship later turned into a long-term position that allowed him to stay with the firm after he graduated with his LLM degree.
How did he turn things around during the interview, even if he felt like he started off on the wrong foot? How did he turn the externship into a long-term position? What is expected of an internationally trained lawyer like Ignacio in BigLaw? Being a licensed attorney in Spain, England & Wales, what’s Ignacio’s take on the work culture difference between BigLaw in the U.S. and in Europe?
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?
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?
Master of Laws Interviews Season 1 Finale – Catherine X. Pan-Giordano!
Dorsey & Whitney Partner, Corporate Group Head NY office, Chair of the U.S.-China Practice, Member of the Management Committee
Asian, female, multilingual and partner, Catherine X. Pan-Giordano, Esq. is the epitome of success that Ingrid from the hit Netflix series Partner Track aspires to achieve.
Catherine is featured in the New York Times Magazine as one of Top Women Attorneys in New York, hailed as a Rising Star. She was honored as one of the Top Women in Dealmaking by The Deal in 2023; recognized as a Foreign Expert (China) by Chambers Global for four consecutive years and in Lawyers of Color’s Power List.
Growing up in China, Catherine loved ancient Chinese detective stories and crime fiction. She has studied law in China, Sweden and the U.S. She has been the top of her class throughout her school years, except at law school in the U.S., where she admittedly learned the most. When she started her career in the U.S. as a first-year associate, she made an unusual request with the firm that hired her. What was her ask? How did she make partner in BigLaw and earn one of the seven seats at the firm’s Management Committee? What was the most important factor contributing to her success?
Before Xin made partner at Baker McKenzie, he could not find many role models who have the exact same background as his. He moved to the U.S. from China in his early twenties to pursue a graduate degree in biochemistry. He was increasingly disillusioned about the scientific research he was doing. One day, he was studying in the library with a friend, who was studying for the LSAT. It all started with a joke about whether Xin would be able to beat his friend on the test. Xin ended up going to law school and the rest is history.
By now you have probably read the Paul Hasting’s presentation on the non-negotiable expectations for junior associates, what does a BigLaw partner think of that? How did Xin find his first job in the U.S. leveraging the alum network at Georgetown Law? How did he survive and thrive at BigLaw? What are the challenges he faced as a non-native English speaker and how did he overcome it? How does he develop meaningful relationships with colleagues and clients?