When I came here as a second-year law student, I never thought in a million years that I’d be a partner at a big New York law firm. I was thinking I’d work here for a few years, pay off my student loans, get some good experience, and then figure out what my next step was. S&C had a reputation for being a “sink or swim” place—they would give you as much responsibility as you could handle at as junior a level as you could handle it—but I actually found that appealing. I figured it would allow me to gain as much experience in the three or four years I thought I would be here and help me to figure out what I wanted to do next. It turned out that I did get a tremendous amount of responsibility at a very junior level—and it wasn’t nearly as scary as people had made it out to be.
Even when I worked here as a summer associate, I was given a ridiculous amount of real responsibility; we really did substantive work that ended up getting filed with the court (after substantial editing, of course). By the time I was a third-year associate, I was arguing in the New York Court of Appeals and taking depositions in major cases on my own. By my fifth year, I was the senior associate on one of the largest, most important cases I’ll probably ever work on—United States v. Microsoft. I don’t think that could have happened anywhere but S&C.
During a lull in the long Microsoft antitrust trial, I was approached about an in-house job at an investment bank and, frankly, after the intensity of that case, I was thinking that I might be ready for a change. After about a year at the bank, however, I knew that I wanted to come back to S&C—I missed the challenging work, I missed working with truly brilliant lawyers, I missed the camaraderie, and I missed learning new things every day. When I did return to S&C, I worked on three entirely different and intense matters in a period of 18 months and then was elected a partner. To this day, I firmly believe that my experience as an in-house lawyer has made me a more effective outside lawyer, because I know the challenges and pressures that the client is experiencing.
Most of my closest friends have worked at Sullivan & Cromwell at one point or another. This place attracts amazingly bright, driven and loyal people who support each other, and you form very strong bonds working in the trenches with them. I go on vacations and spend weekends with them. My view is that, if you’re going to spend 40 years in one place working the hours we do, you’d better like the people you work with.
My most important mentors have been the people I worked closely with on the Microsoft matters. They really knew me—my strengths, my weaknesses, what I wanted out of life—by virtue of having spent so much time together over the years. The best mentors are the ones with whom you have a frank and honest relationship. They’re not just your cheerleaders; they’re people you trust to tell it like it is. Those relationships develop informally over time, but they are the most rewarding.
I have young twins, so we ride scooters in the park, play with Play-Doh and read picture books (over and over again). By the way: I can guarantee that parenting twins is about 10 times as intense as working at S&C. It has definitely made S&C seem calm and predictable by comparison!