We are the recruiting partners at Seward & Kissel LLP (“S&K”). We have been actively involved in recruiting and the summer program in official capacities for the past eight years. We are pleased to share our experiences with you and give you a bit about our backgrounds and help you see what sets S&K apart from the pack.
I am a partner in the Global Bank and Institutional Finance & Restructuring Practice Group. I joined Seward & Kissel in 1999, immediately after graduating from Fordham Law School. I vividly remember coming to the firm for my interview and meeting Royce Akiva, the Director of Recruiting. On the way to my first interview, Royce and I discussed our shared educational history – we both attended Barnard College and Fordham Law School. We discussed the merits of working at a firm like Seward & Kissel, and I knew before I left the firm, that this was where I wanted to work. I have been at the firm for 18 years and have had a wonderful experience at every stage – from junior associate, to mid-level associate to partner.
I am a partner in the Investment Management Group. I spent my 2L summer at the firm, and joined in 2000. When I went on the summer associate callback interview to the S&K office, I was immediately impressed by the people who interviewed me – they seemed bright, interesting and dedicated. I had a great summer associate experience and accepted the offer of permanent employment immediately. Throughout my tenure at the firm, I have been given a tremendous amount of responsibility. Clients that I worked with as a summer associate are now, in my capacity as a partner, my clients. I have enjoyed every stage of my career at the firm – from summer associate, associate, and now partner. Choosing Seward & Kissel was definitely the right decision for me.
I am a partner in the Litigation Group and also the partner in charge of pro bono efforts for the firm. I came to Seward & Kissel as a lateral associate. I have been exceedingly happy with the quality of the work that I have obtained throughout my career at the firm. From the first days of being an associate, I was given broad responsibility and was asked to handle matters typically given to a much more senior attorney. I work with the summer associates each year on pro bono matters that we take on for HerJustice, a not-for-profit organization that provides free legal help in family law, divorce and immigration to low-income women living in New York City. The work that the summer associates do is beyond compare – they are helping real people on real matters. At the end of each summer program, the summer associates remark that they feel fulfilled in the work they have done.
Seward & Kissel’s practice primarily focuses on corporate, litigation and restructuring/bankruptcy work for clients seeking legal expertise in the financial services, corporate finance and capital markets areas. S&K is particularly well known for its representation of investment advisers and related investment funds (including mutual funds, hedge funds and private equity funds), major commercial banks, investment banking firms, liquidity providers, hedge fund administrators, broker-dealers, institutional investors and transportation companies (particularly in the shipping area). We encourage you to review our website (www.sewkis.com) for more detail on the practice specialties.
We understand that the second-year recruiting season can be a daunting process. We also understand that it may be hard for you to differentiate among firms when you are overwhelmed with information about them. We trust that after visiting the firms and getting to know the attorneys, you will be able to pick the law firm that is most suitable for you.
We believe that bright, enthusiastic associates are attracted to the firm they choose for the summer due to the type of work the firm does and the hope of becoming involved in a meaningful way in that work. Our associates are exposed to the substantive areas of our practices as soon as they start and we provide year-round training to new associates to help advance their professional development. We staff client projects leanly and efficiently, which allows associates to take on a higher level of responsibility than they would at other law firms. We care about the development of our associates, both professionally and personally, and put a lot of time and resources into their development. We encourage you to review the Chambers Associate report on S&K to obtain more information that was provided directly by our associates, and to see why we are ranked as the #1 firm for associate satisfaction!
Although we are a mid-size firm, we compete favorably with big firms in many sectors. We would caution students not to draw the wrong conclusions about a law firm merely by categorizing it based on the total number of attorneys in the firm (i.e. as either a “big firm”, “medium sized firm” or “small firm”). If you look through the numbers on S&K, you will see that we are dominant industry leaders in various practices. For instance, we are acknowledged to be one of the pre-eminent (if not the pre-eminent) law firms for investment management, as the many survey awards have shown. Likewise, our maritime practice is similarly acknowledged, as are many of our other groups.
We understand that virtually every law firm you encounter will tell you how great the working atmosphere is (e.g., “collegial”) and how friendly everyone is, and that they have an “open door” policy (and we are no different in making the same claims). Unfortunately, the buzzword promises can differ from reality. There are things you should be looking for in order to allow you to access the claims a law firm makes about its atmosphere. These would include (i) the longevity and tenure of the partners’ service at the firm; (ii) the absence of turmoil events in the partnership, (iii) the satisfaction of associates with the working atmosphere and (iv) the atmosphere one senses when visiting a firm. We believe that we are clearly unique among our competitor law firms in being able to validate our claims on these variables. It will be immediately apparent to anyone who visits our offices that the firm is a friendly place that has cheerful banter among its workers in a stress-free environment. Most of our partners have spent their entire legal careers at S&K (i.e., straight from law school and in most cases having been part of our summer associate program). Because the partners have effectively grown up here together, there is a clear sense of trust, mutual respect and team loyalty that we know to be rare in law firms. We are down-to-earth people, which sets the tone for a wonderful working environment.
As the figures will show, we have had a 100% acceptance rate from our summer associate class in virtually every year. In terms of further objective data, we are most proud to say that we not only received 100% acceptances from the summer classes for each of the last six years (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017), but can report that all of these associates accepted their offers immediately upon receipt. We believe that we are unique among law firms in being able to make that claim.
We are proud to be actively involved in S&K’s recruiting efforts because we enjoy it and we are proud of the record we have compiled, and know how vital it is that we attract and develop valuable associates. We understand and freely acknowledge how important our associates have been to the firm’s success.
We believe that we can provide associates with a stimulating and relevant work experience in a phenomenal work environment. You will make and keep many friends here as the ties among S&K lawyers, both past and present, remain long and deep. You will acquire a great deal of knowledge and relevant work skills, which will prepare you well for your ongoing legal career, whether it would be to become a partner here or to pursue other opportunities from the contacts you will make here. We encourage you to contact any of us, our Director of Recruiting, Royce Akiva, or any attorney at S&K if you have any questions at all. We hope you will seriously consider us and good luck in the recruiting process.
Sharan Calay, Christopher Riccardi and Jack Yoskowitz