Success at the Firm As a summer associate with Epstein Becker & Green in New York City, John Milani '20L learned how to manage expectations in a fast-paced corporate law environment.
John Milani is a second year law student from Armonk, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 2017 with a degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. At W&L, John is a Kirgis Fellow, a Sports Czar, and an executive board member for Phi Alpha Delta.
What did you do for work this summer?
This summer, I was a summer associate at Epstein Becker & Green, PC in New York City. During the ten-week program, I gained exposure to corporate labor and employment and health care matters with four other summer associates.
Describe your work experience.
Though I was assigned to the labor and employment group, I worked primarily with attorneys in both that group and the health care group. I researched labor and employment case law to assist senior attorneys in pending matters. Some of the issues I researched were health care insurance discrimination policies, the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts and employer drug testing policies, and updates to local 2018 minimum wage rates. I also researched and co-authored several blog posts and articles for the firm’s publications.
The firm did a fantastic job of providing us with varied work and helping us meet attorneys in both practice groups—as such, I learned a lot about health care work, too. I was able to see how my contributions to a project impacted the advice and strategy developed by the other attorneys with whom I worked on the project.
My summer culminated in the opportunity to participate in the cross-examination of a key witness in a FINRA arbitration for which the attorneys had been preparing for months.
What were some skills you developed this summer?
This summer, I gained valuable insight into how law firms operate, how to succeed in a fast-paced, corporate environment, and how to manage the expectations of other attorneys, both at the associate and partner level, as a junior associate.
I honed the skills in research and writing I learned as a 1L to draft memoranda and synthesize hours of research into a cohesive work product. I also developed organizational and communication skills which allowed me to meet deadlines and communicate promptly with assigning attorneys about my work. These skills and tips will be invaluable as I progress in my legal career.
What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?
Although all of my courses 1L year served me well, I found administrative law and professional responsibility to be most substantively useful. First, having learned the basics of the administrative process, rulemaking, and the role of federal agencies, I felt prepared to track and understand developing laws, a task instrumental in both employment and health care work.
Second, professional responsibility taught me the fundamentals of law firm administration. Simple things like billing hours and checking for conflicts of interest came naturally to me having learned their true importance in school. I was pleased that I was able to then see how these principles applied in a practice.
What surprised you about the work you did this summer?
What most surprised me about my work this summer was the responsibility I had as a first year. Working with senior and junior attorneys alike on client deliverables, I truly contributed to the firm’s work product. I think this is a unique and valuable experience to have as a 1L, especially because it put into perspective for me the opportunities and challenges associated with working in a legal environment.
What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?
The favorite part of my summer was working with the other EBG attorneys. They were friendly, supportive, and interested in my professional development. I felt comfortable walking into attorneys’ offices, both senior and junior, to clarify assignments and inquire about their practice areas, challenges they face, and their careers. Their perspectives are invaluable for me going forward in shaping my career path.
Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?
Working at EBG confirmed my interest in working at a corporate firm. I plan to pursue a position in corporate labor and employment and health care law next summer and beyond
How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?
My experience has inspired me to pursue coursework in labor and employment and health care law, as well as the moot court competition. I also plan to pursue more transactional coursework like negotiations to understand better the other side of corporate legal practice.