Summer Experience: Tom Boss ’24L Tom Boss worked as a summer associate with Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.
Tom Boss ‘24L is a third-year law student at Washington and Lee University and grew up in a small town in Maine. On campus, Tom serves as one of Law Review’s Executive Editors and as Davis Moot Court Competition Chair and can almost always be found at the third-floor double monitors. Tom also regularly teaches and performs with the Rockbridge Ballet. This past summer, he was a summer associate with Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C. After law school, he plans on starting his legal career with the firm back in D.C.
How did you find/get this position?
I actually cold‑applied to the hiring manager of the firm. Since not all firms do On-Campus Interviews (OCI) at W&L, I did a lot of searching online for firms in D.C. and Boston. Williams & Connolly quickly became one of my top choices, so I sent my resume and application materials directly to the hiring manager’s email. A little bit of luck later and I was granted a screener interview, which opened the door for me. Sometimes the long‑shot works out!
Describe your work experience.
Williams & Connolly prides itself on being a “generalist” litigation firm, meaning there are no real practice groups or specialists. My summer reflected that as I got to work on a number of criminal cases, securities fraud issues, and administrative appeals. I loved the variety of the work, as it kept things interesting and new, and I was surprised by how much responsibility I was given as only a second‑year law student. My last project was to draft a response brief before the Third Circuit, and the supervising attorneys gave me a ton of leeway in choosing the best arguments.
What were some skills you developed this summer?
My written advocacy improved a lot over the course of the summer. While I had a strong legal research and writing foundation from interning with a justice on the Virginia Supreme Court my 1L summer, I did not get the chance to write persuasive briefs. This summer gave me the opportunity to work the other side of the bench, attempting to persuade judges to support a certain interpretation or outcome. While the research can often be the same, I quickly learned that the writing style, word choices, and strategic decisions change drastically when writing for a different audience.
What surprised you about the work you did this summer?
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! Obviously, I was not going into the summer thinking I would hate the experience, but I had hesitancies about working for a bigger law firm. The tales of long hours, overbearing supervisors, and cutthroat competition are exceedingly common during the law school job search, and I was prepared to not enjoy all aspects of the work. Obviously, the summer associate experience is tailored to avoid these issues as much as possible, and firms attempt to wine and dine summer associates in an effort to entice them back. But in conversations with associates and partners, and through my own experience working on case teams, I found that (while difficult) the work was incredibly rewarding. Even if the hours got long, I never worked on a case team I did not enjoy being a part of, which made even the most mundane tasks exciting and fulfilling.
What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?
I think it goes back to the variety of work I was able to do. I never wanted to specialize in a particular area of law, and I enjoyed every class I took at W&L regardless of subject matter. Being able to work on an administrative law issue in the morning and flip to a criminal sentencing issue after lunch kept things fresh and exciting. This also allowed me to put aside a particularly frustrating or difficult issue for a brief period of time and return to it later when I had time to process it and come back with fresh eyes, which I think led to a better and clearer work product at the end.
Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?
Yes. As I mentioned, I was a little concerned coming into the summer about whether law firm work was for me. While I am still unsure if I will remain in “BigLaw” for the long term, I certainly know that I want to return to the firm post‑grad and would enjoy and develop significantly as a lawyer from that experience.
How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?
This experience has piqued my interest in areas of the law I had no prior experience with and had never taken classes on. After doing both securities work and an immigration appeal, I definitely will look to take classes on those topics come 3L. On a broader note, the excellence and professionalism of the attorneys (and other summer associates) I worked with is something I want to work towards and emulate for the rest of my time at W&L. The standard to which my peers and supervisors hold themselves and others to is incredibly high, but consistently achievable. That is the kind of standard I want to continue setting for myself in everything I do during my last year here, and beyond.
Outside of Law School
I went to law school simply to fund my true passion, scuba diving!
Anxious People by Frederik Backman
Favorite thing to do in Lexington
Flag football outside of Sydney Lewis Hall truly showcases the best Lexington has to offer.