Summer All-Star Break: Mike Tsoi

July 27, 2012

“I think a true legal education is more than reading cases, discussing them on a theoretical level, and taking a 3-hour exam.  As a summer associate, I have had the opportunity to extend my legal education by learning from practicing attorneys.”


Mike Tsoi ( Leonard, Street and Deinard, PA)

Law School/Year:  I am going into my third year at William Mitchell College of Law.

Desired Practice Area:  I am interested in a judicial clerkship immediately after law school, and I am interested in practicing civil litigation as a career.

Past Life:  I attended The University of Texas for undergrad, then I moved to Chicago and worked as a  management consultant.

Favorite Movie:  Forrest Gump or anything starring Tom Hanks in the 90’s.

Guilty Pleasure:  I watch a lot of T.V.


How has your summer associate experience changed your view of the legal profession?

 It has solidified my view more than changed it.  As someone that worked as a management consultant and has a business background, I was interested in learning how my business experience might complement my legal work.  My summer associate experience has solidified my view that private practice is not just about what’s legally right or wrong—which is the only thing that they teach you in law school—it is also about providing the legal services in a manner that the clients can afford.


What’s the most important thing you’re learning as a summer associate that you’d never get from your law school experience?

Understanding the business component of the law and experiencing how private practice operates in reality.  Another thing is learning is how the law is applied in reality.  There are few opportunities in law school to see how legal arguments play out in front of a judge or an opposing party, unless someone is enrolled in clinical courses.  I think true legal education is more than about reading cases, discussing them on a theoretical level, and taking a 3-hour exam.  As a summer associate, I have had the opportunity to extend my legal education by learning from practicing attorneys.


Tools in your toolbox:  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.)?


Research resources are crucial, so I use Westlaw on a daily basis.  And at a firm of this size, I am grateful to have the support of our Research Services department, which is a resource that a lot of firms do not enjoy.  Also crucial is the task of time keeping.  Fortunately as a former management consultant, I am familiar with the importance and process of time keeping.  But here, the firm has a technology that I didn’t have at my consulting firm, and it allows me to track my time down to the second and sync with the billing process.


If you were not in law school, what would you be doing instead?

I would probably be a management consultant. It was a challenging job that I enjoyed.

 How did you come to choose the practice of law?

I had been considering the practice of law since undergraduate school when I took a business law course.  I also enjoy problem solving in general, and I think the practice of law allows me to do so in the highest form.

 Do you use social media (LinkedIn, FB, Twitter etc..) for personal or professional

I use Facebook for personal purpose, and I use use LinkedIn  for both personal and professional purposes. I use LinkedIn to connect up with friends, classmates, and acquaintances.  LinkedIn allows you to see what everyone is doing and where they are working, which is information that you don’t necessarily get from Facebook.   I think LinkedIn is a good tool for connecting up with people without intruding on their personal lives.

 Is there anything else you would like us to know as a SA at the firm you are at?

Just that I am having a good time learning about the practice of law and meeting great people.

[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!]