Right from the start, the Unassigned Program contributed to my overall excitement about Latham & Watkins. As a law student I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of work I wanted to focus on. Based on my experience at that point, I thought I could add the most value as a transactional attorney, but I wanted to gain at least some litigation experience as well. With the Unassigned Program, I knew I had the option to do both.
When I started as a full-time associate at Latham, I focused on transactional work, specifically in the Finance Department. I also had the opportunity to work on a few environmental land use projects — something which I had never studied in law school — and was surprised how much I really liked that type of work. For example, I worked on two contract disputes involving a city’s approval of a private party’s development project that was being disputed by a third party. These projects broadened my perspective on the finance work, which frequently involved land use issues, and it was exciting to see the overlap of the two practice groups. Towards the middle of my second year, I also had the opportunity to work on a full-blown trial involving a white collar matter. I found being enmeshed in a complex litigation matter to be exciting and challenging, and that my strengths lent themselves better to the litigation practice. It turned out that, contrary to my instincts upon graduating from law school, transactional work wasn’t the best fit for me after all.
The Unassigned Program allowed me to try out various practice areas, making me a more well-rounded attorney in the process. Without a doubt, it also allowed me to find a niche that was right for me. It was not an easy decision in the end because I had had so many great supervisors and mentors in the finance and environmental departments. If I had worked solely in a transactional practice, and not had the opportunity to work across several practice areas, I probably would have been content to be a transactional attorney for the rest of my career, never knowing that a better fit existed. But Latham’s Unassigned Program gave me the opportunity to figure out what type of attorney I wanted to be, allowing me to make a more informed decision about my practice.
Aside from the obvious benefits the Unassigned Program provides to individual attorneys, I think it also allows the firm to better allocate resources. The Unassigned Program helps people who otherwise are still undecided to discover the practice areas they are best suited for based on the skill set they develop over their first two years as an attorney. And ultimately that’s what makes coming to work more enjoyable — knowing you are contributing to the team in the best manner possible.