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Meet Project Assistant Sean Nail

Meet Project Assistant Sean Nail

Sean recently graduated from Rice University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Politics, Law, and Social Thought. His legal experience includes a judicial internship with Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, an internship with the Houston firm Schwartz Immigration Law, and an executive board position with the Rice Pre-Law Society.

When did you become interested in law?

I read Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir in 8th grade and was instantly fascinated by her life and career. I thought the law would be a really interesting path to take. There are no lawyers in my family or my immediate circle, so since then, I’ve spent a lot of time getting as close to as many lawyers as possible in the hopes of making the connections I need to pursue this career.

 What motivated you to pursue this position?

I finished college in three years, which involved summer semesters and a lot of extra work. Even though I do plan on going to law school, I knew I needed to take a year off, so I started looking for positions to fill that gap. This job happened to be exactly what I wanted: a yearlong position at a small firm that does corporate litigation. I’ve always thrived in smaller environments (I chose Rice University because of the 6:1 student to faculty ratio), so SHJ seemed like the perfect fit.

 What were your first impressions of the firm?

I first encountered the firm via a Handshake listing. When I started doing my research, I discovered that the partners all do interesting, top-notch work—and that one of the current project assistants, Chase, was a Rice alum. We connected over that during my interview, and I felt encouraged that SHJ would be the right place for me.

What’s one thing you hope to get out of your time at SHJ?

I know I want to be a lawyer, but I’m not sure if I want to be a litigator—I hope that’s something this job can help me clarify. I’m very keen to gain exposure to a “day in the life” of a litigator at a boutique firm. I’d also like to expand my network of contacts in Houston since I hope to end up here career-wise.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Ideally, I’ll have made the transition from working in government to the private sector. My time interning for a federal judge gave me valuable insight into the judicial mindset, but it also strengthened my interest in being a litigator, since most of my time was spent reading briefs prepared by litigators. Having experience on both sides of the bench will definitely be useful as I navigate between the government and corporate worlds.

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.”