Career Paths: Trey Smith ’22L Trey Smith will be working at Troutman Pepper in Richmond, joining the firm’s White Collar Litigation and Investigations practice group.
Trey Smith ‘22L is from St. John’s, Antigua. He received a B.A. in Government from the University of Virginia. Prior to studying law at Washington and Lee, Trey worked as a real estate paralegal in Charlottesville, VA. He spent his 1L summer working as a summer associate at MichieHamlett in Charlottesville and his 2L summer at Troutman Pepper in Richmond, VA. As a 3L, Trey served as Chair of the Moot Court Executive Board and President of the Black Law Students Association.
Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?
I will be working at Troutman Pepper in the firm’s Richmond office. I will be joining the firm’s White Collar Litigation and Investigations practice group after graduation.
Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work in this field?
Having worked as a real estate paralegal before law school, I knew that I enjoyed the intricacies of handling complex real estate transactions. However, during 2L, I took Business Associations and Mergers and Acquisitions, both with Professor Haan, and Uniform Commercial Code with Professor Chatman. Taking those courses sparked an interest in business law, so when I got to Troutman I took assignments from the Corporate, Multi-Family Housing, and White Collar Litigation practice groups. I really appreciated having the opportunity to sample such a wide variety of practice areas.
To my surprise, I especially enjoyed the assignments from the White Collar Litigation group. The group focused mainly on state attorneys general actions. Representing companies in this context allowed me to work on the cutting edge of business regulations. I performed extensive legal research in areas such as cryptocurrency, cannabis, financial technology, and data privacy. Given my interests in business and commerce, I realized this practice area was a great fit, especially since I admired and enjoyed working with my supervising attorneys.
What role did the size and location of the firm play in the search and decision process?
I always knew I wanted to work for a large firm after graduation, but I struggled with choosing a location. Having already lived in both New York City and Washington, DC before law school, I knew I wanted to live in a smaller city. Richmond always stuck out to me as a great option, and having attended undergrad nearby, I was already acquainted with the city. But ultimately, Troutman Pepper’s culture and sophisticated practice groups cemented the choice for me.
Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this career choice?
I have always had an interest in business and commerce (even before law school), so it was invigorating to get to Troutman and work on some of the issues I might read on websites like Law360 or the Wall Street Journal. Merging my non-legal passions with the practice of law helped to confirm that a career in this practice area was a no-brainer.
What classes do you think are helpful to prepare for this job?
As I mentioned earlier, Business Associations, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Uniform Commercial Code were great classes that helped me explore my legal interests which in turn helped me apply to law firms that were good matches for me. Legal Research, Legal Writing, and Advanced Legal Writing were also important because they taught me how to create a well-polished work product. Considering that research and writing are pretty much always the standard by which law students are assessed, I found it helpful to have a good grasp on those skills.
Can you describe the job search process?
The Covid-19 pandemic began right before my 1L summer, so that certainly made my job search process atypical. With that said, during my first few weeks of law school, I got to know the staff in the Office of Career Strategy. Dean Jarrett and Andrea Hilton were excellent advisors from the start. They really broke down the On-Campus Interview process and showed me practical resources like SCORE and Leopard Solutions. SCORE helped me to identify law firms that participated in W&L’s regional programs. I especially loved using Leopard Solutions because it provided a wealth of information and metrics on the law firms I considered applying to. Using these tools in tandem helped narrow my search to a few target firms. I tended to focus on firms that were part of W&L’s interview programs because I had less success with cold applications during my 1L job search.
Due to Covid-19, my on campus interviews were conducted on Zoom. A lot of the traditional wisdom for any interview nonetheless held true. You want to do your best to be professional, polite, and sincere. Ideally, you will have done some research on both the interviewing firm and your interviewers since they are taking the time to seriously evaluate you as a candidate. It is also a good idea to prepare intelligent questions to ask at the end of the interview.
What are you most looking forward to about this job?
By far I am most looking forward to working under the exceptionally talented lawyers I worked with this summer, in a practice area I am highly passionate about.