Real Work, Early On

McClain's Career Story

McClain Thompson

Associate Washington, D.C.
McClain Thompson Profile
The energy stands out at Kirkland. People are interested in what they do, and they’re excited about their work.

Opportunities

Kirkland partners are consistently looking to pass down opportunities, and getting meaningful responsibility early is something that separates Kirkland from other big firms. As a third-year associate, I argued a motion in federal court, presented multiple witnesses in court, and defended several depositions. Kirkland is certainly ahead of the curve in giving us these opportunities.

Training

The opportunities attorneys get at Kirkland are also a testament to Kirkland’s emphasis on training, namely the Kirkland Institute of Trial Advocacy (KITA) program. The Firm is committed to it. Senior partners fly to St. Charles, Illinois in the dead of winter and put their phones away for two days to judge a full-on mock trial, with real experts and a mock jury, all to ensure that associates are comfortable with stand-up opportunities in billable matters.

Growth

It all comes together the first time you are the point person on a case. Not only do you have to handle the legal aspects, but also have to manage expectations, of the client and partner, and staffing issues. Taking a pro bono case is a great way to have a lead role.

Involvement

I helped three federal inmates secure early release through the Clemency Project. They were nonviolent drug offenders who — had they been sentenced today — would have received shorter sentences than they did. It’s quite an experience when your client gets called into the warden’s office, and you’re on the phone and share the good news that he’s getting out of prison years ahead of schedule. I’m also part of a team that represents a death row inmate in Tennessee. There is no physical evidence that our client committed the crime, and someone else has confessed. We are pursuing multiple angles to get him released.

Culture

The energy stands out at Kirkland. People are interested in what they do, and they’re excited about their work. That was very attractive to me, and it was one of things that distinguishes Kirkland from other firms.