10/5/21 - News
Meet Chase Hinman
Chase Hinman joined the firm in May as a project assistant. He recently graduated from Rice University with a double major in Philosophy and Kinesiology. Throughout college, he worked as an EMT and as special events coordinator for Rice’s Emergency Medical Services.
When did you become interested in law? What motivated you to pursue this position?
I was pre-med in college, went through the whole application process, and got accepted. Then, over winter break in 2020, I had a change of heart. It was really challenging to give up something I’d been working toward for four years, but after some reflection I realized that law was a better path for me. So, in January 2021, I started studying for the LSAT and researching possible job opportunities. I wanted to work in a legal environment as a trial run before law school.
How did you connect with SHJ?
I had a very specific vision in mind of the job I wanted. My older brother is a transactional attorney at Baker Botts, and he’d worked as a paralegal in New York after college, an experience he continues to rave about today. He told me that I needed to get hands-on experience at a high-quality firm if I wanted to hit the ground running. As soon as I saw SHJ’s posting on Handshake, I knew it would be the perfect fit. They do very impressive work in the areas I’m most interested in, but they’re small enough that I would gain exposure to the whole process. I was certain they weren’t just going to stick me in a cubicle.
What is your day-to-day like? How are you finding the work and the culture?
My work is split 50/50 between paralegal projects and intensive work with the lawyers. I have lots of opportunities to sit in on depositions, attend hearings, and complete assignments they’ve given me. They’ll often ask me to do a file review, draft a deposition outline, or do research for a case. (I’ve been told by law school grads that this kind of work is more on par with what I’d be doing as a summer or even first-year associate.) The lawyers are also really great about checking in with the project assistants, making sure we’re getting the most out of our experiences.
Before I got here, I had zero knowledge of the law. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I can now interpret a one-sentence instruction from the lawyers and get them what they need. I think being a philosophy major in college has helped me significantly in terms of coming in with a strong intellectual toolkit at my disposal. I know how to construct persuasive arguments, read analytically, and write with precision and an eye for detail.
As a former EMT, I’m also used to serving as a thorough and persistent advocate. That job was all about getting patients what they need and ensuring optimal outcomes. We do the same thing for legal clients—finding a workaround for a seemingly unsolvable problem, continuing to hunt for solutions even when you think you’ve exhausted all the options.
What’s one thing you hope to get out of your time at SHJ?
The four months I’ve spent at SHJ have convinced me that I want to be doing this kind of work. Litigation is definitely my top choice after law school. That said, my priority now is just to learn as much as I possibly can so I can perform at the top of my game as a summer associate in two years. I genuinely don’t think I could have found a better position to get me there.
SHJ’s project assistant initiative is part of an ongoing effort to better serve clients’ needs by optimizing our internal processes. Over the course of a one- or two-year term, project assistants gain hands-on, real-world law firm experience as they assist lawyers with fact research, data analysis, and trial preparation. According to recruiting partner Adam Dinnell, “our goal was to identify candidates with an interest in law school and litigation who recently graduated from some of the country’s top undergraduate schools.”