Many law students don’t have a clear idea of what a law firm culture will really feel like until they choose a summer associate program. But for Emily Ahdieh, it was, in part, the very culture of Morgan Lewis that helped her become a lawyer. Starting her career as a client services assistant, Emily learned the important skill of how to provide exceptional client service, even before she learned the law. Now as an associate, she uses that experience to serve clients in a different way. Emily shares how Morgan Lewis supported her career trajectory long before law school.
I was around 10 years old when I first started saying that I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up. I had no lawyers in my family, so I had no idea what that actually entailed. It wasn’t until high school and college that I started contemplating it more seriously and pursued jobs and internships in the legal field. Every related job or internship I had reinforced that notion that I wanted to be a lawyer, so I stuck with it. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s in philosophy and political science, and then started my first job as a client services assistant at Morgan Lewis.
As the title indicates, a client services assistant does whatever is necessary to be a resource to clients. I did a mixture of billable legal work, client development/business development work, and administrative work. For our early-stage technology clients, I helped organize pitch nights at the firm with Potential Energy DC, where startups would present their business plans to a panel of judges. Our clients would also use the firm’s conference space for a variety of things (board meetings, events, pitches, etc.) so that was a nice opportunity to work with clients face to face.
Even though I am in a completely different practice group now, I learned so much about providing exceptional client service from my time as a CSA. The majority of law school is very doctrinal. You learn how to interpret the law and analyze/build legal arguments, but you don’t necessarily learn that much about how to work with clients directly. The attorneys I worked for as a client services assistant always went above and beyond for their clients, which taught me so much. As a first year associate, sometimes I get to work with clients, but my “clients” are also the senior associates and partners I am working with. My experience as a CSA helped prepare me to always try to go above and beyond for them.
When I first started at Morgan Lewis, a couple weeks after my college graduation, most people knew that I was interested in going to law school. Even though that meant I would be leaving the firm and potentially not returning, everyone at Morgan Lewis was still very supportive of my decision. I remember sometimes the receptionists would check to see if there were any empty conference rooms or offices where I could study for the LSAT during my lunch breaks and after my workday ended.
The people at Morgan Lewis are definitely the reason why I chose the firm. Not only have I met so many super smart lawyers whom I’ve learned a lot from substantively, but I’ve also made great friends. Almost everyone I worked with was a mentor to me in some way. Latisya Bell, a legal secretary in the corporate and business transactions group, taught me so much about how to be a professional and how to navigate a law firm. The associates and partners in the group mentored me along my entire pathway to becoming a lawyer. They gave me advice on preparing for the LSAT, applying to law school, and even picking classes my 2L and 3L years. Andy Ray, another partner, has been a really important mentor to me ever since I graduated college. He initially hired me at the firm, and has been a consistent source of guidance throughout my career. Whenever I have a big decision to make, I know I can turn to Andy for honest advice.