1L Summer Reflection by Jillian Patterson

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During my 1L summer, I had the pleasure of working as a Summer Associate at Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP in Wilmington, Delaware. For a student interested in working in business law after graduation—especially in the fields of corporate law, intellectual property, or bankruptcy—there is no better place to spend a summer than Morris Nichols. Working at Morris Nichols gave me invaluable exposure to all of these fields in one of the highest-volume jurisdictions in the country for all three.busin

Delaware is the corporate center of America, with 1.8 million business entities incorporated in the state, including 66.8% of Fortune 500 companies. As a result, the Delaware Court of Chancery, a state trial court sitting in equity, adjudicates the vast majority of corporate governance disputes in the United States. Morris Nichols is one of the “big four” Delaware law firms, specializing in Delaware law as both lead counsel and local counsel for big law firms. More than 80% of the AmLaw 100 big law firms use Morris Nichols as their Delaware local counsel because of their recognized expertise and background in Delaware corporate law. My corporate law projects ranged from researching the use of certain types of expert witnesses for an upcoming trial and researching federal anti-kickback statutes to assess risk for a corporate client in the corporate litigation practice group, to researching nuanced questions about cleansing votes in merger transactions in the corporate counseling practice group.

The federal trial court in Delaware, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, is also one of the busiest courts in the country for intellectual property (IP) litigation. The judges in the District Court are known for their expertise in IP, and many corporate and individual plaintiffs choose to bring their disputes to the Delaware court for the expertise of the judges and local attorneys. One discovery I made over the summer is that you do not have to have a technical background to practice in IP litigation. About half of the associates and partners in the IP litigation group at Morris Nichols do not have a technical background. For a student interested in litigating IP cases in a high-volume district, Delaware and Morris Nichols provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience.

The federal bankruptcy court, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, is also one of the busiest districts in the country for Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcy and restructuring practice. Similar to the corporate law and IP litigation practices described above, the bankruptcy judges in Delaware are known for their expertise in corporate bankruptcy and restructuring, so many corporations choose to file for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware. I began the summer thinking that bankruptcy seemed dry, dull, and depressing, but discovered that bankruptcy is actually one of the fastest-paced practice groups with the most variety. Bankruptcy practice touches on many areas of the law, offering a crash course in many types of industries (as wide-ranging as oil, banking, transportation, retail, etc.), with frequent opportunities for litigation and many commercial transactional aspects through regular auctions, mergers, and sales.

Morris Nichols encourages their Summer Associates to take full advantage of these many opportunities. Unlike many other law firms, Summer Associates at Morris Nichols are not placed in a particular practice group (or two), but are encouraged to try assignments from all of the practice groups to see what you enjoy. While working at Morris Nichols, I had the opportunity to work on research and writing assignments in Corporate Litigation, Corporate Counseling, Intellectual Property, Bankruptcy, and Commercial Counseling. I also had the opportunity to attend hearings and trials in the Delaware Court of Chancery, federal District Court, and federal Bankruptcy Court.

Spending my summer with Morris Nichols exposed me to a wide variety of business law practice, courts, and future career paths. With that information, I was able to make better choices for future classes and career opportunities. I discovered that I enjoy corporate law and am less interested in IP, but other Summer Associates were surprised to make the opposite discovery. My wonderful experience over the summer led me to apply for an externship in the Delaware Court of Chancery which I am currently completing and to quickly accept an offer to return to Morris Nichols next summer. I would encourage any student interested in business law to consider applying to Morris Nichols specifically, and Delaware law firms more generally, for some of the best and most diverse training available anywhere. For diverse candidates (including women), the Delaware legal community offers both a 2L Job Fair and a 1L Diversity Fellowship Program offering positions in several of the bigger Delaware law firms.