August 9, 2012
“I think it’s nice to deal with real facts. It’s not a hypothetical or an exam. These are real people or real companies or corporations and I like the reality of it much more. I enjoy that rather than sitting in a law school classroom. So for me that has been my most enjoyable aspect.”
Iain Johnson (Leonard, Street and Deinard, PA)
Desired Practice Area: Tax probably, which was a surprise, or trust and estates. I took tax last semester. Initially I wanted to just get through it and then I fell in love with the code. I have no business background, no accounting degree. I Just really enjoyed tax, so we will see.
Past Life: I came right to law school from undergrad. I graduated from Macalester [St. Paul, MN].
Guilty Pleasure: Guilty pleasure since law school would be frozen food. It really is so convenient.
How has your summer associate experience changed your view of the legal profession?
I think it’s nice to deal with real facts. It’s not a hypothetical or an exam. These are real people or real companies or corporations and I like the reality of it much more. I enjoy that rather than sitting in a law school classroom. So for me that has been my most enjoyable aspect.
So having a taste of that and knowing what this is like going to make it harder going back to your last year of law school?
Yeah, I think so. I think it will help to know where my interests are going to be and maybe a little more realistic having worked in certain areas. Hopefully I will just sail through my last year.
What’s the most important thing you’re learning as a summer associate that you’d never get from your law school experience?
Working with others, definitely. Obviously litigation is huge in working with others but the transactional side is, too.
Who are the others?
Shareholders, associates, support staff is huge too. Interacting with the secretary or paralegal and just that team environment is definitely different than working for a professor or for the law school in some capacity.
What apps, tools, or other resources are critical to your success as a summer associate (Or, which tools just make your life so much easier that you wonder how you got along without them.)?
Technology here is great. We just launched this new system, I don’t know what it is. I absolutely hate technology. I write my law school exams. I write my notes. But I really think the firm has been good helping us with it. As well as the support staff, the secretaries giving you the resources to use it. For instance, I was out one day sick and I was still able to work from home with the virtual desk top, pulling it up on my own laptop and it was as if I was here. It was very helpful.
If you were not in law school, what would you be doing instead?
Probably teaching. Maybe.
Teach what grade?
Probably middle school, which would be a challenge but I probably would have liked to teach.
How did you choose law instead of education?
The economy was a huge thing, it did influence my decision. I am pleased with my decision to go to law school.
What has been the most surprising thing about your summer associate experience?
The people are nice. I mean, you hear that in the interview, you really do. The culture and the people are friendly. Yes, it can be high stress, this is a larger firm, but it really does seem like a smaller firm. I am from a small town in southern Minnesota originally and it really kind of feels like a small community- there are elements that are similar-and I really enjoy that. A big firm has the resources you need but it’s not so intimidating that you are just terrified everywhere you go.
What have you enjoyed most about the experience?
Working with the individuals, particularly the access I get. I think every project I have had so far has been with a shareholder which I think is unique in that sense. My first project was a tax case with the chair of the tax practice group and it was a great experience to work 1 on 1 with someone who is actually leading the case for that project. I was very surprised with that.
How long is your summer associate internship?
10 weeks, from the first week in June through the first week in August.
Did you have any experience between your year 1 and your year 2?
I was in Las Vegas with the ACLU. It was a great experience; I liked it. I would never want to live in Las Vegas. I am happy to be back in the Twin Cities and at the firm. Non-profits are great but I need a little more structure, I am much more type A.
*[Editors’ Note : Reference Attorneys speak to Summer Associates very regularly. It’s fair to say, our Summers are busy. Every year we’re impressed with the professionalism of these folks. We rarely get a chance to learn a great deal about these new professionals beyond their nuts-and-bolts research needs. This year, though, we had an opportunity to ask a few Summer Associates from Leonard, Street and Deinard, PA about their experience as Summer Associates. So, we’re breaking from our regular research to profile four associates. We learned a lot. Thanks!]