By: Matthew Stevenson, Law Clerk
Choosing the perfect summer clerkship can be like drawing a number out of a hat – you never know what you are getting yourself into until you see it for yourself. It is hard to tell whether the work will be engaging or whether law clerk professional development is a firm priority. To help paint a clearer picture of one clerkship opportunity, I would like to share my summer experience. My name is Matthew, and I clerked at the business law firm Saalfeld Griggs during the summer of 2019. Read on for my insights into the law clerk program at the firm.
Being a law clerk at Saalfeld Griggs means that you are treated just like a new associate. After my initial orientation, I understood the basics to get ready for my first assignment. Only, there wasn’t just one “first” assignment – there were many. Nearly every partner had matters for me to assist with, and I was able to dive right in. Right off the bat, I was expected to manage the variety of deadlines and work product expectations. Thankfully, I had the support of every member of the firm guiding my execution. Whether it was advice about a legal argument or an explanation of local court rules that I needed, the highly experienced team at Saalfeld Griggs was always there to back me up.
My initial projects were primarily legal research. One of my favorites was when Caleb Williams, a partner in the Business & Taxation group, asked me to analyze a potential business deal structure for Hart-Scott-Rodino compliance concerns. He needed the results on the following business day, and he needed to understand the reasoning behind my results. After a review of regulations and recent case law, I submitted my findings to Caleb. We discussed the options and likely outcomes for our client. For my part, I was able to clarify the potential deal’s costs for our client. Like this assignment, most of the research projects I completed were time-sensitive and focused on developing areas of the law. This kept the research hours fresh and stimulating.
After my first several assignments, I was allowed to meet with a client one-on-one. Alan Sorem, a partner in the Real Estate & Land Use group, asked me to meet with a client on-site to discuss their land use plans and collect relevant evidence supporting those plans. After scheduling a meeting with the client, I drove out to the potential building site. Once on-site, the client and I discussed their building options while we looked at the available land. I took pictures and video evidence for inclusion in future submissions to the local land use planning board. The client thanked me for our services, and I had a wonderful time assisting them in meeting their goals.
It was great to experience initial client meetings, consults, and even a mediation. My supervising attorneys often followed up on these experiences to mentor me in the best practices of excellent client service. My clerkship also included drafting assignments. Supervising attorneys nearly always provided drafting feedback, and there were plenty of opportunities to improve as a legal writer.
I don’t want to forget about the social element either. Saalfeld Griggs always included me in their practice group meetings, lunch discussions, and firm outings. I strategized client development at practice dinners and lunches with partners. I also got to know many of my coworkers better at the annual firm picnic. Saalfeld Griggs never neglected the opportunity to include me in legal networking events and introduce me as part of their firm. No matter the occasion, I was always reminded that I was surrounded by a close-knit team.
In a single summer, I had the opportunity to draft claims, work one-on-one with business clients, and perform research on complicated corporate regulations. Saalfeld Griggs’ plan to get me right in the middle of the action was perfect for me. I learned so much by being treated like a new associate in the firm.
With my graduation just around the corner, I want to make sure that I’m ready to hit the ground running. The summer clerkship at Saalfeld Griggs prepared me to do just that. Even better, I don’t have to leave because Saalfeld Griggs offered to let me stay on as a part-time clerk in their Real Estate & Land Use practice group through my final year of school!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.