Summer employment dispatches: Jennifer Leventhal L’13
Editor’s Note: Each summer Penn Law students hone their skills through a wide array of private and public sector internships across the country and around the world. Generous financial support and fellowships for international and public interest work enable students to pursue diverse assignments in the U.S. and abroad. This dispatch from Jennifer Leventhal L’13 is one in a series of firsthand accounts by Law School students about how their summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers.
Leventhal, who is planning a career in corporate law, is working as a summer associate at the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in New York City.
Entering the corporate practice at a major New York law firm in the midst of the Eurozone crisis, I was unsure how much legal work there would be for me to perform. I had been warned that corporate groups tend to be slower in the summer—especially in an election year—and was worried that the added economic uncertainty would limit my opportunities as a summer associate. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. I have been fortunate to work on many exciting and high-profile matters during my summer at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.
During my 12 weeks at the firm, I have worked on matters from the Mergers & Acquisitions, Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits, and Financial Institutions groups. Almost all of these projects have featured prominently in The Wall Street Journal, and, in each case, I truly felt a part of the team. I most enjoyed my involvement on an executive compensation issue, working alongside partners and associates on the team in analyzing the appropriate implementation of a complex legal instrument. Having the opportunity to work on cutting edge corporate law issues as a summer associate allowed for me to put my analytical skills to use outside of the classroom.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the summer has been the opportunity to work on various pro bono matters. My partner mentor is a board member of a developing charter school in Brooklyn, and I was fortunate enough to become involved as a part of the team. This included an on-location visit, participation in board meetings, and assisting in drafting the charter school application. Additionally, I have been working with a charitable organization assisting in its incorporation efforts, its New York and New Jersey charitable registrations, and board appointments. The associate I worked with on this matter allowed me to take the lead drafting the documents, which gave me a great opportunity to implement my legal writing skills.
Lest one think that my summer has been all work and no play, the firm has organized an exciting program geared toward acclimating the summer class with one another, the firm, and New York City. I have been to a Broadway show, Shakespeare in the park, baseball games, a private advanced screening of The Dark Knight Rises, and more meals than I can remember!
I have come to appreciate the importance of a teamwork-oriented firm culture. I often worked with other summers and associates, and they often came to me, to talk through issues or to learn from someone who had completed a similar assignment. Everyone has been extremely helpful and patient, and with events like in-house cocktail parties, “floor” events, and Penn Law lawyer outings, I was relieved to learn that collegiality extended beyond my Penn Law experience and into the workplace!
Additionally, Sullivan & Cromwell highlighted the importance of continuing education. Reminiscent of the many lunchtime and afternoon programs Penn Law offers, the firm regularly hosts training breakfasts, lunches, and afternoon snack sessions. Topics range from practice group introductions and updates, to intimate conversations with partners about various aspects of law firm life, or even hands-on negotiation and deposition workshops.
My summer experience at Sullivan & Cromwell has affirmed my desire to embark on a corporate law career in New York City. The dynamic nature of the work and the ability to work alongside those who literally “wrote the book” on their respective fields, has been an exciting and rewarding (and also exhausting) experience!
- Jennifer Leventhal
More summer student dispatches:
-Alisan VanFleet L’13, who is working in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
-Hannah Gerstenblatt L’14, who is working in the Commissioner’s Office of Major League Baseball in New York City.
-Stephanie Shyu L’14, who is working for the Beijing Arbitration Commission in Beijing, China.
-Lauren-Kelly Devine L’14, who is working for the Athletes and Personalities division of Octagon Inc. in McLean, VA.
-Will Moine L’14, who is working in the Office of the Federal Defender for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento.
-Christen Farr L’13, who is working for the International Finance Corporation, a member institution of the World Bank, in Istanbul, Turkey.