By: Vincent Wu
It was daunting. I stood outside, peering up at the goliath of a building where my first law internship interview would be held. Sweat formed around my brows and doubts, questions, and worries came crashing down on me: What if I fumble on one of their questions? Where is the interview going to be held? Am I wearing my lucky underwear? After quickly checking my undergarments to reassure myself that I was indeed wearing my lucky Spongebob underwear, I decided that I was only delaying the inevitable. I walked in, head held high, and tried to mask my nervousness with a façade of cool confidence. However, my anxiety dissipated instantly when I stepped into their office. The law firm bought out the entire floor and modeled it after a very futuristic chic design. However, before I can admire the setting further, I was called into one of the managing partner’s office, and my worries resurfaced.
To make a long story short, they never had a high school intern there before, especially someone who was just going onto 10th grade, but they were eager to put me on for a trial period. At the end the interview, the partner shook my hand as I gladly took the just-created internship and it was a decision that I never looked back from.
I was interested in law ever since I entered high school, but never knew how to further explore my curiosity. Based on a recommendation by a friend, I decided to look for summer research internships under law professors at universities in Southern California. Having no connections, the only plausible route for me was to mass email all the law professors in each university directory. For about every 100 emails I sent out, only ten responded back, and among those ten, less than five were willing to give me an interview. With a stroke of serendipity, one of the professors that replied was also a lawyer who worked at Dovel & Luner, a boutique patent litigation law firm.
Upon entering the establishment, one can immediately tell that the firm takes extremely good care of its employees by creating an ergonomic work environment. There is an obvious air of comfort as reflected by the paralegals and lawyers. They will often play pranks on one another and then all go out to lunch together. There are two kitchens that are constantly stocked with fresh fruits from the Farmers’ Market, pastries from the local bakery, and an assortment of healthy snacks. There is not a set time when people arrive to work as long as they are not egregiously late. But besides the frivolities, everyone in the firm does not take advantage of such lax rules and understand the importance of their work. When they are not joking or relaxing, they will all be diligently working to complete whatever task assigned, which sometimes stretches past “closing” time. They all share the same desire to be the best at their jobs.
When I first joined, it was only natural that I was assigned more of the menial and rote tasks, and honestly, I was rather thankful because I was unsure myself whether or not I could handle anything more serious. I worked on administrative work such as digitizing invoices and organizing previous court cases, typical work for an intern. However, I was not put off by these tasks because I knew that I needed to first prove my dedication and responsibility. Since the first time working there, I came back every subsequent summer to show that my curiosity to know more about law did not die down, and if anything, it grew and I was pleased that the lawyers and paralegals saw that.
The summer before I came to the University of Chicago, the firm fulfilled my desire as I was assigned to work on finding evidence of patent infringement in a case that included Samsung, HP, Sony, etc. And the more I researched and presented what I found to the senior paralegal, I find that they no longer saw me as an intern, but as a member on their team. They respected my work and saw me as an equal to them. I have worked at Dovel & Luner for about three summers now, and it is not a decision I regret. I gained insight into the legal world and learned valuable knowledge on patent laws and procedures. For that I am very thankful for the opportunity they provided me, and I urge everyone to intern/work at a law firm at least once. I can promise that it will be an unforgettable and worthwhile experience.
Vincent Wu is a first-year in the College.