Lindsey Y. Shi
To make a direct impact on someone's life – there's just no substitute for that feeling.
To me, Kirkland’s culture is defined by the autonomy associates have. The Firm is very supportive — no one is micromanaging you. Each associate has the freedom to decide when to work, how to work, what to work on and whom to work with. Partners lead by example.
Everyone is very collaborative. You have a bunch of people firing on all cylinders individually. When you put them together, it's a good combination. I’m proud of the mark of excellence that Kirkland’s name carries.
I joined Kirkland right after law school. I wanted to focus on developing skills such as written and oral communication and gaining experience taking and defending depositions, arguing motions, preparing witnesses, drafting briefs and doing research. In the last few years, my writing has improved significantly, thanks in no small part to the partners who have coached me and provided feedback on my work. I am more confident flying solo and handling hearings on my own. I'm driving cases forward, and taking and defending depositions.
Each argument and brief I write builds on the previous ones. After a few years, you look back and think, “Wow, I've really accomplished a lot.”
At Kirkland, younger associates get client interaction early on. In a case I’m on right now, we're on a big call with the client every month, and the client wants to hear from each of the associates. Clients trust this Firm enough to speak directly with associates, including junior associates. They want everyone’s input on strategy and other matters.
I've been on plenty of cases where I'm interfacing directly with the client — the in-house counsel or even the CEO, CFO or COO. Being able to build strong rapport with these clients is a great experience.
Kirkland really supports associates who want to do pro bono work. I’ve been able to lead my own pro bono cases, which have been interesting and fulfilling. I was calling the shots — deciding what to submit, how to characterize our claims and how best to argue certain issues. I was the one going to hearings, representing the client and doing a direct examination of the client. It’s a valuable experience not only personally, knowing that you helped someone, but also professionally because of the opportunity to run cases.
The most personally fulfilling cases have been the ones where I'm sitting across from a person in immediate need of assistance. I've worked on several pro bono housing cases representing low-income, non-English speaking tenants in Los Angeles who are being unfairly forced out of their apartments. I took a pro bono case for a military veteran who was injured in her service and wasn’t receiving benefits for surgeries that she needed. And, we recently obtained asylum for a woman who was routinely assaulted in her home country.
Both the billable and non-billable work are important. But to make a direct impact on someone's life — there's just no substitute for that feeling.