What is It Like to Work in a Large Law Firm?

Posted by on May 31, 2013

Paralegal Program Chair Kofi Montzka’s Litigation class took a field trip to explore some different aspects of the legal field. This was part of a series of Law Day activities planned by Montzka and the Minnesota School of Business-Blaine campus’s Legal Club.

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Criminal justice student Jillian Spencer tries her hand at the gavel in the mock trial room at Robins Kaplan Miller and Cerisi.

The day started with a tour of Robins Kaplan Miller and Cerisi, a large law firm based out of Minneapolis. The firm has about 600 employees located in six cities. The Minneapolis location is the largest office and is home to about half of the firm’s attorneys (about 150).

The students learned about the day-to-day business at the law firm and met with paralegals to discuss the experience of working in a large firm.

According to Rory Kluever, a student who attended, one of the paralegals they met had been with Robins Kaplan Miller and Cerisi for 30 years. “She talked about how things had changed so much in her years there. For example, she used to have boxes of files and documents, and now everything is electronic,” he said.

Students thought it was interesting to learn that the attorneys travel for certain cases, and sometimes are gone for up to a month, and that the paralegals even get to travel with them.

On the tour, the students saw a mock trial room, the library, and a large continuing education room where various events are hosted.

The students said many of their uncertainties about employment in a large law firm were put at ease. According to student Danica Halvorson, “I feel less anxious about working for a large law firm. We were assured that coming into the firm, you’re not expected to know everything. A lot is learned on the job.”

Student Adam Ellingson added, “This experience helped us to see that a big firm isn’t as intimidating as it first sounds.” The students all said they would consider working at a large firm.

Following the tour, the group walked to the Hennepin County District Court to watch trials and hearings. They had the opportunity to meet a judge before the hearing started. “It was really cool,” Ellingson said. “When we walked into the courthouse, he was the only one in there at first. He started asking us about what we’re interested in and asked us all kinds of questions about law.”

paralegal degree

Back, from left – Amanda Booth, paralegal; Jillian Spencer; Rory Kluever; Adam Ellingson; Danica Halvorson; Carol Peterman, paralegal; and Danielle Schmidt. Front, from left – Ron Brown; Anthony Hoppa, paralegal; and Kofi Montzka

Montzka was impressed with how professional the students were in handling the questions. The judge also gave a shout out to the students when the hearing began.

The experience was beneficial in that it gave students a look at a potential avenue for their careers after graduation. They also experienced some of the duties and activities a paralegal may be faced with day-to-day, and what a day in the courtroom might look like.

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