No one needs to be reminded that 2020 has posed unusual challenges — and opportunities to shine — for everyone who works for a living, and for those who work on behalf of others working for a living! Our firm worked hard to adapt and reshape its summer associate program to the remote office environment. We were gratified to welcome five summer associates from all over the country, and offer them intensive exposure to our varied practice and to the Los Angeles labor community, to provide dedicated mentoring from our seasoned hands and from associates as well, and to present a series of nuts and bolts virtual seminars from well-versed practitioners on private and public sector labor law, writing (advocacy and advice), litigation, ERISA, client relations and much more. Here’s what our summer associates had to say about their 2020 with us:
Sara Yufa (UCLA)
I really enjoyed working at Bush Gottlieb this summer. I’m thankful that, in the midst of a global pandemic, I was able to spend my days helping workers demand adequate support and protections, and that much of my personal interest in following public health policies flowed into my COVID specific summer assignments. Even under remote circumstances, I got to know many of the attorneys and got a good sense of the firm. Bush Gottlieb took steps to make adapting to working from home easier than expected. Collaboratively working on projects was relatively seamless, whether it involved asking quick questions via chat, hopping on a phone call, working within a shared documents, or group video calls. Virtual “lunches”, happy hours, and weekly calls with assigned mentors gave us an opportunity to get to know each other. The assignments that I worked on this summer where tailored to my interests and what I wanted to get out of the summer, namely, a better familiarity with NLRB board process and strengthening my writing through in-depth research memorandums. As the summer progressed, I felt like I gained a deeper understanding of the application of labor law and how the firm’s work fits into the larger Los Angeles labor movement. This summer experience solidified my interest in pursuing a career in this area of the law, and will positively benefit my practice moving forward.
Al J. Staumont (UC Irvine)
My summer experience introduced me to the many facets of union representation and how a public interest firm can truly succeed in its mission. Having little labor experience, I found myself quickly becoming fluent in a language of acronyms and politics. I was able to work with a range of clients who I previously didn’t consider as similar, though it is clear to me now that unions hold a powerful position in the labor movement no matter the sector. The many needs of unions was also surprising and allowed me to work in practice areas ranging from employment discrimination litigation to bankruptcy. Though the pandemic kept all of our work remote this summer, everyone was available to jump on a call to talk through an assignment or clarify research needs.
James Power (NYU)
I really enjoyed my time with Bush Gottlieb this summer. Although I was working over 2,000 miles away from the actual office, I still felt connected to my fellow summers and everyone I worked with at the firm. We had a number of social events and weekly firm lunches which created a sense of community. As for the work itself, I always had something interesting to work on yet never felt overwhelmed. The types of matters were quite varied – from quick research assignments to multi-week projects that involved drafting letters for both clients and opposing counsel. From the first day, I was assigned COVID-19 related projects which made for both very important and exciting work as many of the topics I researched were still developing in real-time. Overall, I was able to get significant experience in only 10 weeks even while working out of my parents’ guest bedroom.
Samantha M. Keng (UCLA)
While I missed the feeling of sharing space with other people in an office, I really grew to enjoy working from home this summer. I appreciated that we were still able to create a sense of community thanks to Zoom, and that we still had the opportunity to learn together virtually during trainings that the firm organized. Working from home also made me take notice of my neighborhood and surroundings in a new way. I figured out that I like the way the light comes through our living room window around 2 PM, that the ice cream truck arrives daily around 3 PM, and that the dogs in the neighborhood start barking all at once every morning. I settled into a good routine in the mornings that included watering my plants and reading the news before work. During the day itself, the variety of work I got to do also made it easy to stay engaged throughout the day – it felt like I was encountering or digesting new information every day and with each new assignment. When I felt stuck on a project or needed to bounce ideas off someone, I was lucky to have my roommate Sara, who also worked at the firm this summer. We were able to talk about cases we were working on at our kitchen table. I’m grateful for my experience this summer – both in terms of what I learned and in how it made me appreciate our home.
Gregory S. Haffner (Georgetown University Law Center)
My time at Bush Gottlieb has been great! The pandemic trapped me on the East Coast for the summer, but even though I’ve been 3,000 miles away, they’ve done a great job at making me feel like part of the team. I’ve loved being able to try out so many different practice areas, and I was really impressed with the amount of hands-on experience they offered—it’s been so exciting to be given real substantive legal work! The most gratifying part is knowing that I’m working for a cause I believe in with people who share that commitment.