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“SHJ Puts People First”: A Q&A With First-Year Associate Kelly Swanson

“SHJ Puts People First”: A Q&A With First-Year Associate Kelly Swanson

Kelly Swanson, a recent graduate of Tulane Law School, returned to SHJ in October 2022 after completing the firm’s 2021 summer associate program. Before earning her J.D., she was a reporter for Global Investigations Review, where she covered government agency and internal corporate investigations. She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Stanford University.

What made you decide to return to the firm?

It’s mostly down to the fact that SHJ puts people first. As a summer associate, I liked that the partners had an open-door policy and were eager to answer any kind of question I had, whether it was about a specific assignment or my career more broadly. They also gave really thoughtful feedback on my work, so I always completed a project with a strong understanding of how I could do it better next time.

How have you found your first month?

It’s not too different from when I was last here. I appreciate that because it confirms my time as a summer associate was never sugar-coated or occupied by busywork. I also like that there hasn’t been any sort of trial period to make sure I know what I’m doing; I’m just being thrown into everything, which is best way to learn. It’s been really busy, but I’m definitely getting to do more than I would at a big firm. In fact, I’m now working on drafting a motion, which I know is rare for a first-year in their first month of practice.

Overall, I feel really supported. The partners check in on me a lot, and it seems important to them that I’m happy with what I’m doing. They’re consistently cognizant of what’s on my plate, too; they take care to make sure I have a docket of substantive assignments but I’m never stretched too thin. 

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

Last week, we had a temporary restraining order come in that had to be completed within 24 hours. Everyone—partners as well as associates—were assigned different issues to research and pieces of the puzzle to complete by end of day. The next day, we huddled and put it all together as a group. It was a really cool experience. Everyone was in the trenches together, which helped cultivate a great sense of camaraderie and collaboration. I also felt like I was making a contribution that added real, demonstrable value.

 Have you set any goals for your time here?

I’d like to see a case all the way through—from evaluating a client’s situation and deciding if we want to take the case through discovery, figuring out the strongest possible legal arguments, and finally trial. With the level of responsibility I’m currently being given, I’m sure that will happen in no time.