On July 6, 2023, AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee hosted a Students Meet Firms event, connecting law students with attorneys at Kirkland & Ellis. The Students Meet Firms series aims to connect rising second-year law students and other students pursuing law degrees with a range of diverse law firms, providing both insight into the legal profession and valuable networking opportunities.
The event, held at Kirkland & Ellis’ New York office, was moderated by Catherine Tran, J.D. Candidate, Columbia Law School ’25, and featured Partners Shaun Mathew and Kevin Lam, and Associates Keli Huang and Chrissy Pak. The panelists shared their personal experiences leading up to their current roles, what drew them to their particular practice areas, and insight into navigating on campus interviewing (OCI) in law school.
The event kicked off with panelists giving an overview the following practice areas: investment funds, shareholder activism and hostile takeover defense, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate. The panelists agreed that the culture of Kirkland played a major role in fostering a collaborative environment. In particular, Keli highlighted how the partners of the firm welcomed associates to take on early responsibilities and were receptive to hearing her ideas. Chrissy also added that through her intensive research in law school, Kirkland stood out as one of the most diverse firms and its AAPI attorneys are represented at the highest leadership levels. Kevin underscored that Kirkland truly believes in meritocracy and has a willingness to put its resources into entrepreneurial ideas available to all its attorneys. As an example, Shaun recounted when he first joined the firm and noticed the lack of a South Asian affinity group and led the way in creating firm-wide events to bring South Asian attorneys at the firm together.
The panelists then shared their advice for the OCI process and the importance of finding the right fit. Kevin kicked off the discussion by highlighting that as much as the law firms are interviewing candidates, the students are also interviewing the law firms. Chrissy agreed by giving sample questions one could ask the interviewer to really understand the firm’s value and use the interview as an opportunity to learn whether your goals align with the firm’s. While intensive research into Kirkland and its practice areas are vital, the panelists noted how outstanding candidates demonstrated the ability to ask tailored questions. Keli recommended treating networking opportunities as building both insight into the firm and connections with people you may work with in the future. Shaun also reiterated that you are never working alone, and you never know who might be of importance to your goals.
Another factor that Kevin believes separates candidates from the crowd is having passion and authenticity in what they are doing. As the panelists stated at the introduction of the discussion, the culture at Kirkland is built on its people. By showing your critical thinking skills and authentically portraying yourself in an interview, a compelling narrative could come through in a way that is unique to each candidate. Finally, the panelists shared their experience as attorneys at Kirkland and the type of questions they would ask interviewees.
After the discussion, the panelists and participants connected over an array of hors d’oeuvres and beverages.
Thank you to the Student Outreach Committee and Kirkland & Ellis for organizing this informative program. To learn more about the Student Outreach Committee, click here. Click here to read about the prior Students Meet Firms event featuring Cleary.