Real Work, Early On

Sarahi's Career Story

Sarahi Constantine Padilla

Associate Washington, D.C.
Sarahi Constantine Padilla
Kirkland’s a place where I have always felt supported. People are invested in my growth, development and journey to become the best lawyer I can be. That type of support is just invaluable.

Pro Bono Involvement
1:33 min
A Kirkland team secured justice for a police officer who was fired after she intervened to stop excessive use of force by a fellow officer on an arrestee. Associate Sarahi Constantine Padilla shares her experience working on the case.
Pro Bono Involvement
1:33 min
A Kirkland team secured justice for a police officer who was fired after she intervened to stop excessive use of force by a fellow officer on an arrestee. Associate Sarahi Constantine Padilla shares her experience working on the case.
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Culture

Kirkland’s culture is best described as driven and high energy. Everyone is working on a huge array of matters in different markets and different segments of the market. It’s an exciting energy you get from everyone who’s working on a million different things.

At Kirkland, you’re encouraged to think of a better way of doing something — it makes sense to constantly evolve. Particularly in the antitrust space, where we’ve seen the emergence of tech and its growth and influence in a lot of markets, you see how quickly things can change and the need to keep up. Kirkland encourages new ideas from associates. No matter who has an idea, someone’s always willing to listen.

Whether it’s a billable matter or a pro bono matter, we dedicate the same amount of energy, dedication and commitment. Seeing everybody succeed in the huge array of practice groups with all of the talent that Kirkland has makes me proud to be here and to be on the front lines pushing the industry forward.

Growth

Everyone is invested in seeing me and other associates grow, develop and gain the skills we need to be the best lawyers we can be and to have the careers we are striving for.

I’ve learned how to manage different situations and how to speak up when I’m not the most senior person in the room. Having the confidence to speak up in that environment has been the biggest takeaway from my career at Kirkland so far.

Opportunities

Pro bono work gives you the opportunity to practice law very early in your career and also practice a completely different type of law than what people might think law firms do. It’s so rewarding to see the impact on people's lives.

I had a pro bono case out of Buffalo, New York, where we represented a police officer who had been fired when she intervened when a fellow police officer had a Black male suspect in a chokehold. She pulled him off of the Black male suspect and ended the chokehold. She was fired for doing that. And this was what? Over 10 years ago. And we’ve seen the world change and how important it is to have more police officers who were willing to do that. She basically got her justice 10 years late, but her firing was vacated, and that blemish she’s had to deal with on her record has been corrected.

To be able to see the impact that this one judgment will have on her life going forward: she went from not being eligible to have her pension because she was terminated less than a year before her pension was supposed to vest, to now having her full pension, which is life changing. It’s a source of income. She had to live in her car during periods of time. She didn’t have a roof over her head for other periods of time after she got fired. These types of decisions can really have an impact in someone’s life. And it’s always rewarding to be a part of that team to get justice for individuals like that.

Involvement

I’m super passionate about diversity and inclusion, and I’m always eager to talk to new students, whether it’s law students or college students who are thinking about a career in law. It’s not just about attracting students to Kirkland, but making sure that they’re having a fruitful career and developing as attorneys as well. The Diversity & Inclusion Committee has given me that opportunity. I met some great associate and partner mentors in that committee who have done that for me. It’s great to see how your efforts are paying off when you see more and more diverse candidates, which brings a completely unique perspective to the Firm and makes everyone a better lawyer. It makes all of our teams for all of our matters better because it helps you think about things in ways that we maybe weren’t thinking about them before.

It’s also great to have a support network of people who you trust and can turn to if you're having an issue whether it's related to work or your personal life. I’ve found everyone in the Diversity & Inclusion Committee always open and happy to talk and be a support system.

Kirkland’s a place where I have always felt supported. People are invested in my growth, development and journey to become the best lawyer I can be. That type of support is just invaluable.

Experience

I was three months into my first year as an associate at Kirkland and our client was issued a second request, which is when the government has a detailed investigation into a pending transaction. We were producing millions of pages of documents for the government. I had the opportunity to go to several investigational hearings, which are all-day affairs where the government deposes various key executives or employees of the client. I went with the partner on the matter and prepared our witnesses, and I was able to see how the preparation translates to the actual testimony and ultimately our witness performed well and the deal was cleared.

Seeing that whole process confirmed that I had picked the right practice group, and I was excited to keep working. A lot of the work we do is figuring out how likely it is we’ll get a second request and how to prepare for it if we get one. Having the opportunity to work on a second request and see why all that prep work is so important was a helpful experience to have so early in my career.