After months of classroom lectures, coursework and reviewing cases, rising 2L and 3L students venture outside the walls of William H. Gates Hall and work in-house at law firms, companies, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and elsewhere.

They take a break from their typical legal education for just a few short months and get a glimpse into what real-world legal work is like, often working alongside practicing attorneys.

As the first in a three-part series, two J.D. students below reflect on their first week of work, their expectations with the experience, as well as any surprises that come along.

Olivia Bravo

Olivia Bravo

I am working as a Summer Associate in a joint 10-week program between Dorsey & Whitney LLP (eight weeks) and their client, Meta (two weeks). I am broadly interested in the intersection of law and technology, so during the summer job search, I was primarily applying to firms that had a strong technology practice. When applying to Dorsey’s downtown Seattle office, I loved that it was a full-service, trial-ready practice with ties to the technology markets through its London and China offices. Additionally, diversity, equity and inclusion is extremely important to me in the workplace, and I felt that Dorsey made it a priority.

This summer, I am a part of Dorsey’s IP Litigation team, assisting them with their current cases pending trial, as well as fielding pro bono projects and other assignments from different practice groups. Because the range of projects and assignments that I am receiving are so diverse, it feels like I am learning on the job with every task I complete.

During my first two weeks, I was asked to research primate rate damages for pre-judgment interest; fraud in the inducement related to the general release of a third-party beneficiary; the corporate structure and jurisdiction of an infringing company; and First Amendment issues related to liability for advocacy organizations that financially support entities accused of having ties with Hamas. I also worked on a pitch to TikTok for two cases of infringement of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Quite a range!

Right after I was hired in March, I was invited to Dorsey’s client appreciation event and was able to meet the head of the Seattle office, the managing partner, and much of the IP litigation team from the Seattle office. This event was great because it showed how the attorney’s interacted with each other off the clock, and how the firm treated their clients and their staff. Since then, Dorsey has continually shown this same level of care, throwing a welcome reception on my first day and going above and beyond with their hospitality.

My office is in Columbia Center, so I am hoping to explore downtown more, find some good happy hour deals and grab some after work drinks. If anyone has any recommendations, let me know!

Skylar Fisher

Skylar Fisher

This summer I am working as a legal intern at the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) in Asheville, North Carolina. I lived in North Carolina for ten years before law school, and wanted to see what it would be like to practice here before having to find a “big girl” job. This office, in particular, serves Appalachia and focuses on protecting the region’s natural resources including forests and water. I wanted to work at SELC because it operates on a place-based model and works hard to build trust with the local community. This approach to legal work is unique to SELC and it was the most important factor for me when accepting this position because I am interested in a career in environmental justice.

On my first day, I was so excited that I had to remind myself to act professionally. Everyone in the office was so friendly and seemed really interested in helping me get my bearings. My supervisor asked me what kind of work I was interested in, and soon I was engaged in water-related projects and research for litigation. I was also invited to several client meetings in my first week, and it was obvious that the attorneys and clients had a collegial, respectful relationship. The end of my first week concluded with a whitewater rafting trip on the French Broad River with the entire office and some clients, too.

This summer I am subletting a room in West Asheville, an artsy part of town full of things to do and great food. I enjoy being in the mountains and I try to hike every chance I get. I am also grateful for being able to spend a summer closer to old friends and family, although I miss Seattle and my friends from school. Deciding to leave Washington for the summer was a difficult choice, but I am happy that I listened to my gut and chose the position that was the best fit for me.