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Summer employment dispatches: Joel Mallord L’14

August 15, 2013

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 Joel Mallord L’14 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. Mallord is working in Los Angeles as a summer associate at Irell & Manella LLP, where he hopes to begin his litigation career.

BigLaw and Life in Los Angeles

When I came to Irell & Manella LLP, I knew just a few things: they had a top-notch patent litigation practice, a main office in beautiful West Los Angeles, and a summer program consistently regarded as one of the best. After eight weeks at the firm, all of these have proven true.  The work assignments, the summer program, and life in West L.A. have been fantastic.

The work at Irell is engaging, and the pace is reasonable. Work coordinators find interesting projects for the summer associates and check in periodically to see how the projects are going. My “anchor case”—for which I attend team meetings and receive all emails related to the case—is a high-tech life sciences patent dispute with make-or-break implications for both parties. On another recent assignment, I drafted a brief to defend our pro bono client’s life estate interest from a party that purports to be a bona fide purchaser. Finally, on my current assignment I am researching a novel takings argument against a state administrative program. The firm tries to match projects to summer associates’ interest, and, for me, it has done a fantastic job.

Irell also offers a great location. Born and raised in the suburbs, I never liked the idea of living in Los Angeles. The sprawl and the traffic were intimidating. But the experience has been fantastic. I live in Santa Monica, two miles from the beach and a mere 15-minute drive to work (during rush hour). I’m surrounded by fine dining, a thriving arts scene, and an active outdoor community. For lifestyle purposes, it’s unbeatable.

Speaking of lifestyle, Irell’s summer program has been incredible. Dinners and lunches are available every day at the best local restaurants.  The firm treated the summer associates to a weekend on Catalina Island and another at a Palos Verdes resort. And while the events are plentiful, there is no pressure to attend when you can’t make it, or when you just need to rest. Irell has found the right balance of work and relaxation.

Overall, my summer experience has exceeded my expectations. It has alleviated my concerns about Big Law and life in Los Angeles, and I can certainly see myself working for Irell after graduation.

Read more summer employment dispatches.