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Paul Slattery ’12
Trial Attorney, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Los Angeles CA
I litigate out of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan’s Los Angeles office, though my practice has taken me around the country and the world. Without assigned practice groups, I’ve tried cases ranging from antitrust to consumer class action to probate law and beyond as both plaintiffs’ and defendants’ counsel. My current cases concern the markets for Supima cotton, contracts between a major insurer and independent broker, the practices of a large home security company, and palimony.
I joined Quinn Emanuel out of law school. Two aspects of my work bring me the most satisfaction, one I expected and one I did not. First, litigation is exciting. That is particularly true when you pursue cases as if they are going to trial and have ownership over those cases. Translating your own preparation into questioning and argument – and seeing in real-time whether it works or does not – lends weight and interest to all you do. I have been the only associate on the vast majority of my cases, including two of my trials, which also makes winning more edifying.
Second, and this I did not fully anticipate, litigation can offer an incredible range of experiences. I moved to Dubai for a month to try a case before the Dubai World Tribunal. I travelled to collect a historic Oscar statuette to return to our client. I have studied nascent hedge funds, the structure of craigslist, the business of superstar magicians, and the economics of managing ports. In each case, I worked closely with industry players and experts. That unexpected breadth in topics and people you meet keeps litigating interesting and fresh over time.
On this score, I benefited from dumb luck, but if there were one unexpected thing grads pointed at law firms and litigation should know, it is this: the law firm and legal market you pick matters. It determines your substantive work, if there is variety in cases, if there is trial work, if you get meaningful experience (depositions, hearings, trial examination, etc.), and if your colleagues will be with you or mostly moving on over time. Those questions are worth pressing, even if you see yourself looking around after a couple years – whatever work you do will be your new pitch.