Summer All Star Break: Natasha Phillips

July 24, 2012

[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!]



Natasha Phillips


“In law school, you learn about the substance of law and how to think like a lawyer.  What you don’t learn is the day-to-day aspects of being a lawyer.  How do I reach out to this client, or how do I build a relationship, or what’s the impact going to be, or how do we market our services? These are things that we are not taught in law school.”

Law School/Year:  I am going into my 3rd year at Georgetown University Law Center

 Desired Practice Area:  I am currently leaning towards practicing real estate on the transactional side.

 What interested you about real estate?

I got my Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree in Urban Planning.  So I have an interest in development, zoning and real estate in general.

Past Life (previous professional/business experience if any):    I was trying to decide between grad school and law school when I was in undergrad.  I made the decision to grad school first.  The first semester of our program we had to take a required planning law course.  It was my favorite class of the semester, so I kept law school in the back of my mind.  I went straight from undergrad to graduate school and then to law school.

 So are you from here, or from out east?

I am from Minnesota.  I went to the University of Minnesota for undergrad.

 Favorite Movie:  When I was a kid it was Cool Runnings.  I think I have seen it over a 100 times.  I know I have.

 So can you recite it?

Yeah, pretty much.  Now, I would say my favorite movie is Coming to America.

 Guilty Pleasure:  I have a huge sweet tooth so I eat a lot of candy and sugar…its bad.


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

You really start to see a lot more of the business side of things.  They really try to emphasize when you’re a law clerk to really think about the cost to your client. If you participate in clinics in law school, most of the time they are low income clients so they aren’t necessarily paying for the services or, to the extent they are paying, it’s not a whole lot.  Whereas in a large law firm it’s obviously the exact opposite so they really try to get you to think about how this is going to impact your client when you’re doing research or trying to build the relationship. That is probably the most eye opening things for me.  It’s something that they don’t really talk about in law school.

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

In law school, you learn about the substance of law and how to think like a lawyer.  What you don’t learn is the day-to-day aspects of being a lawyer.  How do I reach out to this client, or how do I build a relationship, or what’s the impact going to be, or how do we market our services? These are things that we are not taught in law school.

 Has any of that been a surprise to you?  The way that is done or how it’s done? 

Not really a surprise, I just think more about the realities of the practice now.  Obviously the firm gets business somehow but as law students, we  often don’t think about how that happens or  how we can contribute to it.

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.)?

Our research service librarians here are amazing.  With each research questions, they know if you should start with a particular treatise before you go searching on Westlaw or Google.  I have used the West Reference Attorneys as well.  They help you to see things that you aren’t thinking about when you’re researching.  They say, “Let’s put this search together” and it’s a long search of things you never would have even thought to put together.  Having the access to not just the actual sources of research but the people who can help you access information more efficiently has been really, really helpful.

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

I would probably be an urban planner.  I did get my masters in this area and completed a couple of internships.  I really enjoyed the work.  One of the reasons I went to law school was because I didn’t think I could be an urban planner after 25, 35, 40 years.  But that’s what I probably would be doing.

Why did you not think you could do that for an extended period of time?

I didn’t love every aspect of the work. I loved the issues, and my favorite part about it was seeing legal ramifications of all the development of all the things the city was doing and how they worked with the neighborhoods and the residents.  However, I was always thinking of the legal side of things or how to get it done rather than the actual planning of it.

How did you come to choose the practice of law?  

The planning law class I took as a graduate student was great and it was the thing that got me most excited about the law.  I would always complete that homework first and then I would sit there for hours before I did the other stuff.  So I knew I should go into law.

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

I use both Facebook and Twitter.  I am not on LinkedIn.  Mostly for personal purposes.  Facebook mostly for pictures and staying connected to people.  I am rarely on Twitter anymore but I used to be on it a lot more.  I like to see what’s happening.  The things I read the most often now on Twitter are law school tweets like the Georgetown fitness center.   I will see if they have special hours or classes occurring.  I also will read the ESPN tweets, so I would say I read more of the informational things then I do reference tweets.

 What has been your favorite thing about being a summer associate?

I love all the other summer associates.  It is nice to have people to bounce ideas of.  Their brains are working just like associates and partners.  But we are all in the same boat so I can say, “Well, I was going to say this.  What do you think?”  The summer associates have been great.  I have really enjoyed the people here.

 Has anything surprised you or been substantially different then you imagined it would be?

No.  I think for me, because I was interested in transactional work,  I sought that out in the clinical work at law school as well as last summer in my other internship. So this is the first time I am really working on litigation projects.  It’s been a change trying to get used to how litigation  works and the analysis is a little bit different, so that’s probably the biggest difference I have encountered.