I start early — I like to get into the office by 8 so that I have some time before the day gets underway to catch up on any emails or work from the night before and to have a little bit of down time before things pick up for the day. There’s no set pattern to my days, but typically I spend the majority of my time in meetings with various fund teams (at any given time I’m working for about 5-6 major private equity firms, each with multiple funds), drafting offering documents and partnership agreements, on calls with clients and answering emails. About once a week I go to firm-sponsored lunches with my mentor or mentee, summer interns or new hires, and once or twice a month I attend Continuing Legal Education programs with my team, usually over breakfast.
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INTERVIEW: MICHAEL MILANO ’12, PRIVATE FUNDS ATTORNEY
Michael Milano grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he attended Allentown Central Catholic High School. He came to Hopkins in 2008 thinking he would be either an International Studies or Political Science major, and ultimately graduated in 2012 as a Political Science Major. Senior year, Michael was captain of the football team and was named to the All-Centennial Conference First Team Defense three times.
Michael went directly from undergrad to law school, and graduated in 2015 from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. He now works as a Private Funds Attorney at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP.
Describe a day in the life of a Private Funds Attorney.
What initially attracted you to this field? Do you have any advice for an undergraduate interested in pursuing this body of law?
Going into law school I was fairly certain I wanted to go into corporate law, but I wasn’t sure of exactly what field within corporate law would be the right fit for me. I had the opportunity to rotate through three different practice groups during my first 18 months at my firm, which was nice because it helped me get a feel for the work and environment in each group, which I didn’t really have a good sense of going in. I did my first rotation in Capital Markets, my second in Private Funds and my final rotation in M&A. I enjoyed all three of my rotations, but I ultimately settled on Private Funds because I enjoyed the clients and the substance of the work.
What are some of the rewards and downsides of this area of law and the legal profession so far?
I find my work interesting and intellectually stimulating but anyone pursuing a career in corporate law should understand that it is fairly demanding.
What types of undergraduate opportunities did you pursue that led to your decision to apply to law school? Were there any experiences that you felt were particularly helpful in strengthening your application to law school?
I had the opportunity to intern for a judge in my hometown the summer after junior year at Hopkins. While corporate lawyers don’t spend much time in the courtroom, it was a valuable learning experience and helped me to solidify my decision to go to law school after graduating from JHU.
What did you pursue during your interim year(s)/before beginning law school, while in law school and during your law school summer(s)? How did you go about researching these opportunities?
I went directly from undergrad to law school, but to undergrads thinking of going to law school my suggestion would be to spend a year or two as a paralegal first. I think it can only be a benefit in your law school applications and it gives you a chance to confirm that being a lawyer is really what you want to do — law school is a big commitment of both time and money. I spent my first law school summer working for the Judge I interned with during undergrad (working for a judge is pretty common after 1L, even for people who hope to go into corporate law). After my second year of law school, I interned in the legal and compliance department at KKR, where I gained my first real experience with corporate law and fund work. I found the KKR internship opportunity via GW’s job portal, but I also looked on LinkedIn and attended networking events while I was searching for an internship.
What advice do you have for an undergraduate interested in pursuing law school and a career in law given your experience in today’s legal market and now as an attorney?
As I mentioned, I think spending a year or two as a paralegal is a great idea for anyone interested in going into corporate law. Law school is a huge commitment and I think it’s really important that you only pursue it if you are sure you want to become a lawyer. You should not even think about applying to law school if you’re doing it because you don’t know what else to do after you graduate. I’ve found it to be an interesting and fulfilling career but you need to make sure it is right for you.