Lawdragon Campus: Tell us a little about what you are doing with your law degree – is this your first job out of law school? What is your current position and what do you enjoy about it?
Sherin Parikh: I’m an associate at O’Melveny & Myers LLP in the downtown office. This is my first job out of law school. After my 2L year, I was a summer associate with O’Melveny and received an offer for full-time employment after graduating law school in 2014.
In my two years at O’Melveny, I’ve been blessed to work with great attorneys on litigation matters involving investment-fund mismanagement, food mislabeling class actions, personal injury and insurance defense, an international multi-billion dollar breach of contract claim, and many more cases. I love the diverse nature of my caseload and substantive assignments. I’d say the parts I have loved most so far were being part of several trial teams and taking the lead on drafting major substantive briefs.
LDC: What did you learn at Southwestern Law School that you find most valuable in your current position?
SP: Work ethic and hands-on experience. Southwestern is a school that truly prepares its students for the rigors of practicing law. Southwestern believes that a law student should have real-life legal experience before graduating. Southwestern has many opportunities available, including externships with law firms, the district attorney’s office, judges, etc. It was through Southwestern that I was able to land a full-time externship with a federal district court judge during the fall semester of my 2L year. Southwestern also has many extra-curricular activities such as the Trial Advocacy Honors Program, where students prepare for national mock trial competitions by working with some of the best trial attorneys in Los Angeles.
Southwestern also taught me never to give up or doubt my abilities, and to be the most prepared person in the room.
LDC: What was your favorite thing about Southwestern – the environment, campus, classmates, clinic, moot court, a professor? How did that experience enrich your life?
SP: This is a tough question since there are so many. I particularly enjoyed serving as a board member on the Trial Advocacy Honors Program (“TAHP”). There is nothing like preparing for a trial—working with a team to create a theme and theory, preparing for and conducting witness examinations, giving opening/closing arguments, etc. My time and experience on TAHP has paid dividends for me at O’Melveny. During my first year, I was part of two trial teams where I helped draft witness examination outlines, including conducting a cross-examination of a key witness. It was my time on TAHP that gave me the confidence and skills necessary to take on these responsibilities.
LDC: What do you see as your future as a lawyer? And how valuable is Southwestern’s alumni network to you?
SP: I think Southwestern’s alumni network is great. I’m currently a board member on the Nickel Club, which is for alumni that are five or less years out of law school. One of the Nickel Club’s purposes is to help recent graduates connect with other alumni. I have seen firsthand how helpful Southwestern’s alumni network can be. People often get jobs or referrals based on these network connections.
As for myself, I think it is important to keep in touch with Southwestern’s alumni network. You just never know when you might need contacts to find a new job or even help on a case in your existing job. Second, it’s a way of giving back to the community. I had such a great experience at Southwestern. So much of who I am today, as a lawyer and a person in general, can be traced back to my time at Southwestern. Keeping connected gives me the opportunity to help other students or recent grads as they start their careers.
LDC: What advice would you provide today’s law students as they make their way through law school?
SP: You only get one chance to get it right. So make the most of your legal education, take your classes seriously, and take advantage of all the different hands-on experience Southwestern has to offer. If you work your tail off for three years, you will be rewarded.
LDC: What, if any, challenges do you see today that you did not have and what challenges did you have, that you see as less pressing today?
SP: The challenge that is less pressing today than it was while in law school is the need to have everything in my life planned out. When I was in law school, I had a very set vision for how my career would play out and specific benchmarks I wanted to hit along the way. But I have come to realize that you need to be flexible. Otherwise, you might miss out on an opportunity simply because it didn’t fit your “plan.” For instance, some of my favorite substantive work at O’Melveny has been in areas that I had absolutely no interest in during law school.
The challenge today that I did not have before is balancing work and personal life. Law school has an end date, which allows you to be selfish during those three years. You can prioritize your workload much easier. But when you start working, there is no end date, in theory, so you have to adjust your schedule accordingly. I’m truly blessed to have such a tremendous wife, Jenna Parikh, to share my life with, along with friends and family. But it takes a concerted effort to make time for your personal life. Luckily, O’Melveny recognizes the importance of work-life balance and provides great flexibility in work schedules.
LDC: What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?
SP: Finding solutions to problems that seem to have no answer and attacking an adversary’s argument.