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Sarah Tsou
Partner, New York
New York University School of Law

"Kirkland recognizes that it is optimal for people to work on things they enjoy, with people they enjoy working with. The free-market system has put me in charge of my career development. Whether it is selecting a new case or determining new responsibilities to assume in an existing matter, I feel that I am able to choose from many options and direct my path. Moreover, I have found that the free-market system motivates attorneys to cultivate and sustain their work relationships by honing their management and communication skills. Now that I have experienced Kirkland's free-market system, I cannot imagine it any other way.

I have developed strong mentoring relationships at Kirkland through both formal (summer associate mentor program; Women Leadership Initiative mentoring circles) and informal means. The free-market system has greatly facilitated my mentoring relationships by allowing me to work with people who care about my career development and with whom I have built trust. Also, non-hierarchical team structures promote communication and training opportunities. At Kirkland, I always feel that I have a network of people that I can go to for advice and guidance.

As a new associate, I was immediately treated as an integral member of my cases and I quickly assumed a significant level of responsibility. During my first year, I worked with the technical expert in one of my patent cases to develop his theories in expert reports and prepared him for his deposition. In another patent case that culminated in an arbitration my first year, I wrote the first draft of the cross examination of the opposing side's technical expert and worked with Kirkland's lead attorney on the case to develop that draft into the final cross examination. In addition to these incredible learning experiences, I second-chaired depositions and wrote summary judgment motions.

Because of the level of responsibility I am given on my cases, my deadlines are relatively long-term with no "micro-managing." This greatly assists me in maintaining a healthy work/life balance. In addition, because there is no "face-time" requirement at Kirkland, I can tailor a work schedule that allows me to get my work done but still leaves room for the other things in my life that are important to me. Finally, regular vacations are absolutely encouraged and respected at Kirkland.

I have been pleasantly surprised by how much people at Kirkland enjoy spending time together. Formal events – for example the annual holiday party, associates' party, and departmental retreats and events – are greatly anticipated. Each summer brings a wealth of activities related to the summer associate program that are well-attended by attorneys eager to reconnect with each other and perhaps even relive their summer associate days. But it is the informal get-togethers that truly demonstrate the collegial environment at Kirkland. For example, case teams regularly mark the completion of filings and other significant events in their cases by having dinner together or getting celebratory drinks. And I regularly spend time outside of work with many friends I have made at Kirkland."

*Sarah became a partner of the Firm in 2012.

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