Kirkland & Ellis Career Paths in the Law Reception

A couple of weeks ago, law students and summer interns in Chicago gathered after work to attend a networking event downtown at Kirkland and Ellis.  Kirkland has hosted a number of events this summer, in the new building they moved into along with Boston Consulting Group about a year ago.  These events have not only been a great way to socialize with a wide range of people in the legal industry but also a way to get to know some of the various attorneys and recruiters who work at Kirkland.

This particular reception attracted summers, associates, and partners from the firm, in addition to law students from the broader legal community.  It also gave us the opportunity to chat with fellow law school classmates, meet new friends from other schools, and get insight from those who had made it through the law school recruiting process in years past.

First up on the agenda was a mini-reception, which was upstairs on the sixth floor. This is where a lot of K&E mixers take place, and as usual there was an open bar and some appetizers.  A couple of partners from the corporate and litigation groups were there, including a partner I’ve been in touch with from the antitrust practice.  I also had the opportunity to chat with a Northwestern JD-MBA who is working in their corporate group this summer, an accelerated JD from Northwestern that is working in litigation this summer, and with a couple of friends I’ve made who work full time in the corporate group. I specifically ended up chatting for a while with a K&E corporate attorney from the east coast that I met a few weeks earlier at a similar event, along with one of my favorite and smartest section-mates from law school.

After about 30 to 45 minutes of mingling, K&E announced it was time to move to a new room for the highlight of the event which was a panel session. So a few of the recruiters escorted us to a mini-conference room around the corner where there was a panel was composed of former K&E attorneys, a judge from Indiana, a former litigation attorney who now works at a Fortune 1000 corporation, the Executive Director of Public Interest Law Initiative (i.e. PILI), and a current attorney in the IP department.

I sat next to one of the superstar 1Ls from my section last year during the session, and we listened closely as the panel members gave their opinions on the legal industry and the recruiting process.  The panel discussed things such as the impact of the current economic environment, different career paths to consider in the legal industry, and what skill sets are important to develop.  In the process, they also stressed the ability to write quickly and concisely, the importance of networking and getting involved in civic organizations, and the value that comes with working at a big firm, as opposed to starting off in alternative career paths. After all, we were at a K&E sponsored event.

After the panel session was over, the event ended with a bit of informal networking with the panelists and with some of the members of K&E.  In my view, this is often the best part of these events, because it provides the attendees with a unique opportunity to mingle with peers and follow-up on the some of the remarks from the panelists sessions.  In this case, I stayed behind to catch up with a few people I wanted to touch base with and I spoke at length with the former litigation attorney that now works as Counsel at a local Fortune company.  I could tell during the session that he had an interesting professional background and that we a number of similar views on networking and volunteering.  It was definitely a nice connection to make at the end.

We also talked a little bit about OCI.  I mentioned that I am personally excited for OCI, because from a 30,000 foot view, I’m interested to see how the overall numbers will play out as compared to last year and how that will ultimately reshape the legal field.  Based on dozens of talks I’ve had with firms and recruiters, it sounds like the numbers will be a bit better.  But only time will tell, and most students are still a bit nervous since everything is so uncertain.  And understandably so.

Kirkland has had a number of similar events this summer, including an event co-hosted with the Chicago Committee On Minorities In Large Law Firms the following week, which I attended with a few people from my firm, including our head of recruiting, Bo Kim, with my summer mentor from Vedder Price, and also with a firm partner I’ve worked pretty closely with this summer.

Once again, the turnout at the event was good. I suspect that’s because these events have become more important for up-and-coming professionals in today’s economy.  For one, law school recruiting takes place in about two weeks, so students have begun flocking to meet as many attorneys as possible. Second, is because younger professionals are also looking to network more and become even better connected to firms, which may have future opportunities down the line.  In fact, at the event I chatted extensively with a Northwestern alum that I met at another networking reception a few months before.  As it turns out. he had recently moved to a new firm.

This raises an important point. That getting out and meeting people in your industry is important. These events are a great way to start the process.   Not just because you’re looking for a job through OCI or because the economy may be slumping and you want to have future jobs lined up but more importantly because over time people tend to move around a lot, and the legal and business communities in any location are small.  And so it’s good to get to know the people in your field, to share information about trends and emerging issues, and sometimes simply enjoy the success you’ve achieved together.

In the end, this reception was a great opportunity to get to know the local legal community and also attorneys at K&E.  For all those interested in either, it might make sense to attend a similar  future event.

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 Careers, Networking

2 Comments to Kirkland & Ellis Career Paths in the Law Reception

August 7, 2010

I am a local law student in the midwest.

I hope to see you one of these upcoming events.

Good luck.

Jeremy C Wilson
August 7, 2010

@anonymous Thanks for visiting the site, and for your comment.

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


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