The Firm’s Summer Program offers law students a first look into life at Sullivan & Cromwell—the people, the work and the fun. Future associates from the incoming class of 2017 shared how they took advantage of their summer experience and some of their favorite moments.
|C. Prentice Butterworth
|Hana K. Dhanji
|Lisa M. Morales
What was the most significant thing you worked on during the summer?
Hana: I spent six weeks in each of the London and New York offices during my summer which offered me unique insights into different industry and practice areas.
In London, I worked on an international project finance deal that resulted in a $36.8 billion dollar expansion of the Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan. Project Finance International recognized the expansion as the European Oil & Gas Deal of the Year in 2016. The highlight for me was being included as a meaningful part of the team. I had the opportunity to attend client calls, participate in team strategy meetings, and receive one-on-one training from my partner mentor, Stewart Robertson, who led the deal.
In New York, I worked primarily in M&A and Capital Markets. I sought out strong mentors early and received excellent training and exposure to M&A negotiations and deal dynamics from Melissa Sawyer and Scott Miller. One highlight was successfully closing a Latin American sovereign bond offering deal in my last week at the Firm. It was a fast-paced, exciting experience and allowed me to fully immerse myself in the S&C work environment.
HK: The most significant thing I worked on during the summer was writing a memo for a client on a tax matter. While I had taken some tax classes in law school, it was interesting to apply what I learned in class to a real-life problem that a multi-billion dollar business was facing. I actually used my corporate taxation class notes to help me with my legal research! Furthermore, it was great to be able to add value to the matter and make meaningful contributions to the matter, even as a summer associate with limited experience.
Lisa: The most significant assignment I worked on during the summer was an ongoing acquisition deal with the M&A Group. I continuously worked on tasks related to this deal throughout the summer, and the deal team made me feel like I was a valuable member of the deal team. My main tasks on the deal included, but were not limited to, maintaining up-to-date status charts for the various and extensive regulatory approvals and other closing requirements, joining all relevant calls, and attending team meetings. While no M&A process is exactly the same, this exposure to and deep immersion over a 10-week period into a complex acquisition deal significantly enhanced my general understanding of the progression of an M&A deal. This assignment helped in solidifying my interests in M&A, a practice area that I intend to focus on when I return to S&C this fall.
Prentice: One of the most significant projects that I worked on this summer was the landmark settlement reached on behalf of our client Volkswagen in the fall of 2016. Most notably, I was given the opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder with S&C's top litigators, learning from them in real-time while contributing to research and briefings.
An additional highlight of my summer was participating in the launch of a non-profit organization dedicated to helping shelter animals in the greater Los Angeles area. Along with a group of junior associates, I researched various points of law on charitable organizations and drafted formation documents.
How did these projects come across your desks?
Hana: The projects developed organically through the relationships I built at the Firm. My partner mentors in London and New York were in contact with me before I started in each office and integrated me into their deal teams ahead of time. This meant I was required to complete preparatory readings in advance on the background of the deal, but it allowed me to hit the ground running once I arrived. Other work projects came out of conversations I had with associates and partners over lunches and coffee. The best advice I received for getting the work assignments I was interested in was simply to take initiative and ask. Once I had proven myself on the first assignment, the rest followed.
HK: Since I was largely interested in tax work, I received most of my work directly from my partner advisor Davis Wang in the Tax Group. When I wanted to try out assignments that were not tax-related, I would call the work assignment coordinators who would in turn reach out to other practice groups for additional assignments for me.
Lisa: The advisor program creates great opportunities to receive substantive projects directly from associates and partners. A majority of my assignments during the summer were M&A-related assignments that came from my partner advisor, Frank Aquila. He consistently pulled me into a wide variety of M&A projects and assignments throughout the summer, which I greatly appreciated. I also received several Securities-related assignments from my associate advisor. Finally, I received some projects from partners or associates whom I met during the many lectures, panels, and programs held throughout the summer.
Prentice: I received projects in a number of ways. Most often, I was added to a project because I expressed interest or curiosity in the underlying subject matter or area of law.
What about the social experience? What kinds of things did you do for fun during the summer?
Hana: In London my three favourite experiences were riding the London Eye with the partners and associates, going on walking tours of the historical sites of the city, including the Royal Courts of Justice, and enjoying cocktails with the summer associates at The Savoy Hotel.
In New York, the top three highlights were attending the Coldplay concert at the MetLife Stadium, sailing on the Hudson River, and running a 5K race on Governor’s Island with my associate buddy, Kyra Ayo Caros.
HK: The summer associate program offered many opportunities for me to have fun. There were many partner-hosted events such as Escape the Room and a cooking class, but my favorite by far was the Hudson River boat cruise. I also attended a few social events hosted by the S&C affinity groups such as the LGBT network.
Lisa: I had the opportunity to do some amazing activities and experience New York in ways I had never had the chance to before, despite the fact that I had previously lived in the city for three years prior to attending law school. One of my favorite events was a day trip to Westchester Country Club, where we had an opportunity to take golf or tennis lessons. Another one of my favorite events was the boat cruise, which was held for the entire summer class and our peer advisors. It was a wonderful way to see the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline from a unique perspective. There were so many other memorable events that I had the opportunity to attend, including a Beyoncé concert, an Alvin Ailey Dance Theater production at Lincoln Center and a Broadway show.
Prentice: I had tons of fun! Whether it was hiking on the Malibu coastline, or sitting behind home plate at a Dodger's game, each day of my summer with S&C brought new, fun experiences. Summer events and activities aside, it's easy to have a good time when you enjoy the company of those you work with. I simply enjoyed coming into work every day!