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“Making a Substantive Contribution”: A Q&A With First-Year Associate Jessica Goodman

“Making a Substantive Contribution”: A Q&A With First-Year Associate Jessica Goodman

Jessica Goodman, a University of Virginia School of Law graduate, previously served as a judicial intern to the Honorable William D. Matthewman in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. She focuses on complex commercial and civil litigation, drawing on her experience in healthcare and construction disputes, mass tort and product liability claims, and corporate governance.

What made you choose the firm?

I’ve known I wanted to do litigation since I was a child, so I was intent on pursuing that path all through law school. I spent time at a large firm last summer and didn’t feel like I was getting the experience I needed, however, so when I met with SHJ, I told them that I really wanted to get hands-on, real-world litigation experience. The partners said they could provide that in spades, and they’ve certainly made good on the promise. This firm is all about giving young lawyers the opportunity to assume lots of responsibility and take ownership of their work.

How have you found your first few weeks here?

I’ve already worked on five different cases across various industries and areas of law, which is great for helping me develop my skills generally and not just focusing on a narrow niche. Additionally, I feel like I’m making substantive, important contributions to each case I work on. It’s a really supportive environment for learning and growing. The partners here are happy to sit down with you and provide the feedback you need to develop as a professional. You can tell they’re so invested in every young lawyer at the firm.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve worked on so far?

I’m about to work on a huge fraud docket that overlaps with some bankruptcy work, which I’ve never done before, and an indemnity litigation project, which is also new to me. I’ve encountered so many terms that I learned in law school but didn’t ever use in real life, so it’s satisfying to be able to draw on that classroom knowledge and apply it in context.

Has anything surprised you about actually engaging in the “real-life” practice of law?

I’ve been surprised by how meticulously contracts are drafted. The frameworks are unbelievably comprehensive in accounting for everything, and every word is pored over from multiple different angles. Doing contract work has been incredibly educational in that respect; I’m learning what to look out for in a contract and how it might impact a client’s overall operations.

Have you set any goals for your time here?

I’d like to be able to take a deposition at some point in the near future. This is my first real legal position out of school, so I’m excited to gain the experience I need to confidently walk into a depo, take the reins, and communicate effectively to advance my client’s objectives.