Pathways to the Profession: Justin Prelogar L’20
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 United States and abroad. This post is one in a series of firsthand accounts detailing how students’ summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers.
Justin Prelogar L’20 is from Leawood, Kansas, and is interested in exploring disputes at the nexus of domestic and international law. At Penn Law, Justin is Managing Editor of the Journal of International Law and serves as 3L Class President.
Colorful art from around the world fills every nook and cranny of the two-and-a-half floors of White & Case LLP’s Washington D.C. office. A majority of these pieces come from far-away countries where many of the firm’s clients are based — an effort, I imagine, aimed at giving clients a sense of home when they visit, as well as reminding attorneys and staff of the firm’s nearly century-long commitment to global practice.
This summer, I am one of twenty Summer Associates in White & Case’s Washington, DC, office. In large part, I was drawn to this firm because of its global practice, particularly our work in international arbitration. White & Case has forty-four offices spanning thirty countries, and regardless of practice area, case teams often are composed of individuals from different offices across the world. In light of increased globalization and the complexity of the legal problems, I find great value in engaging the best and brightest from around the world, from different backgrounds and legal systems, and working with them collaboratively to arrive at the best approach to serving our clients.
Several experiences from my first two years of law school helped provide a baseline for my engagement with the international arbitration group here at White & Case. I found that from International Law class, our exposure to the WTO, ICSID, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration provided a frame of reference for the different tribunals clients might avail themselves of when pursuing dispute settlement. My work at the International Criminal Court last summer gave me an appreciation for how to approach legal research when the case law I seek may be siloed on different platforms, restricted in publication, or even published onlyin a language that I cannot understand. While these experiences are not a perfect roadmap to completing my summer work, they have provided me a foundation onto which I can graft new information to make connections that may otherwise be delayed or missed.
I have also enjoyed the opportunity to survey other practice areas to ensure that my experience at White & Case includes exposure to the broad panoply of legal services we offer. In just one summer, my work has spanned beyond international arbitration to include the energy group, the commercial litigation and disputes practice, as well as incredibly meaningful pro bonowork.
Penn Law’s devotion to cross-disciplinary education has also provided me an understanding of less-observable features of “big law.” Having completed Wharton’s Executive Management Certificate and having now begun Wharton’s Business, Economics, and Public Policy Certificate, I more fully appreciate White & Case’s considerations as a business, and I am more cognizant of our corporate clients’ interests as we guide them through the intricacies of the law.
After this summer, I look forward drawing on my experience, taking courses that will provide me a greater understanding of these different practice areas, and engaging with my course materials through the lens I have developed this summer while working at White & Case.