Robert J. Emanuel is a principal in the litigation & dispute resolution practice group at Much Shelist.
What do you like most about your practice?
I defend mortgage lenders in consumer financial services cases, which often involve challenges to various lending practices, loan products or payment processing procedures. This area of law is constantly changing, especially after the foreclosure crisis and state and federal legislation we have seen in its wake. There is always something new and interesting to learn.
While I enjoy my practice area, I am also very aware of how important it is to be surrounded by people with whom you enjoy working and who share your values. I feel extremely fortunate in that regard.
What is the biggest challenge for your practice?
Lenders are not very popular at the moment and many people are overly eager to blame banks for their troubles.
What advice do you have for new lawyers?
While it may seem obvious, I always tell young lawyers (and law students) to be very realistic about the type of law they want to practice and think about the kind of law firm or other organization where their best skills are most likely to flourish. Not everyone is going to be happy working at a big firm. Also, take advantage of as many internships, externships and clerkships as possible. Learn as much as you can about the various firms that handle the type of work that interests you and don’t be afraid to ask for informational interviews with attorneys and judges. A number of law students and young lawyers have contacted me over the years, and I have never declined an invitation to share my experiences.
Additionally, I advise our younger associates to remember that corporate clients don’t usually think in terms of legal problems. Instead, they focus on the business issues that are presented in a given lawsuit or other legal challenge. At the end of the day, clients are looking for you to use your legal knowledge to help them solve problems and reach their business goals.
Finally, never be afraid to ask for help. If you are working for a senior associate or partner who won’t provide the feedback you need to develop your skills, then it’s time to think about moving on to another opportunity.