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Immersing in Global Transactions

September 01, 2023

Jalen Starks L'25
Jalen Starks L’25

At Freshfields’ New York office, Jalen Starks L’25 worked on international M&A matters.

Settling into our office for the week, my fellow summer associates and I were greeted by an unexpected yet welcome visit from Sebastian Fain, a New York City-based M&A partner in Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Global Transactions practice. While such visits in the New York office are commonplace, this was no ordinary day—we were thousands of miles away working in the firm’s London headquarters. Sebastian, who was in Europe on unrelated matters, went out of his way to drop by, offer greetings, and lend us his support. This encounter perfectly illustrates the essence of Freshfields’ collegiality and cosmopolitan ethos.

This summer, I worked as a 1L summer associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the oldest international law firms with rich history dating back to the early 1700s. A global firm, now spanning 28 locations, Freshfields’ unique culture transcends geography and seamlessly bridges diverse legal landscapes. I was drawn to Freshfields for this very reason—its strategic location in my home city of New York offered an exciting blend of local and international legal work. The firm’s summer program was more than just an immersion into the intricacies of global transactions; it gave me a vantage point at the crossroads of historical eminence and modern ambition, allowing me to fine-tune my skills while deepening my understanding of a legal landscape that is as complex as it is vast.

Navigating Complex Legal Landscapes

Building upon my corporate paralegal experience, I focused my summer on Global Transactions and had the opportunity to work on several M&A matters. One memorable deal involved a prominent oil company’s divestiture from a complex, 50/50 joint venture, which required nuanced understanding of its corporate structure and each party’s optimal outcome. Another particularly engaging matter concerned public reporting in connection with the merger of an American company and another entity listed on a foreign stock exchange, accentuating the inherent challenges of navigating two distinct regulatory landscapes.

The research methodology skills I developed through the University of Pennslyvania Carey Law School’s Legal Practice Skills program proved essential when I was tasked with researching a selection of client companies. Specifically, I discerned whether they had begun updating their corporate governance documents in light of the rise of generative AI—a topic I had anticipated engaging. Penn Carey Law’s faculty encourage us to consider the future of the profession, including with respect to the use of AI, and it was exceptionally enriching to apply these reflections in my work at Freshfields.

Preparing for Multi-Faceted Legal Practice

Freshfields’ comprehensive approach to associate development included illuminating programming such as Intro to Public Company M&A and, one of my favorites, M&A Training: Corporate Governance Issues in ‘Succession’. Notable highlights of my summer include the aforementioned trip, where I had the opportunity to craft and deliver a client pitch. In addition, I completed a client secondment at a NYC-based alternative asset manager, offering me a taste of funds work and a glimpse into the unique experience of working in-house.

The varied and diverse experiences I gained while at Freshfields mirrors Penn Carey Law’s dedication to imparting a well-rounded, interdisciplinary education. Both institutions recognize the importance of exposing students to a wealth of experiences in order to prepare them for the multi-faceted nature of modern legal practice. I thoroughly enjoyed my summer at Freshfields, and I’m eager to see how these experiences will influence my legal journey in the years to come.

Pathways to the Profession highlights Penn Carey Law students and post-graduate fellows as they launch impactful legal careers. From summer internships in the private sector to public interest post-graduate fellowships, these firsthand accounts of substantive legal work demonstrate the myriad opportunities available to Penn Carey Law students and graduates as they hone their skills and advance their career goals.

Jalen Starks L’25, an aspiring corporate lawyer, is a 1L Summer Associate at the New York City office of international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP

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