A few months ago, prior to my interview with Bilzin Sumberg, I remember meticulously combing through the company website in an effort to do my due diligence. When I stumbled upon the page dedicated to the Managing Partner, I read the contents carefully but with the expectation that I would never meet someone so important to the company. Needless to say Bilzin Sumberg had other plans for me.

Early one Friday morning at the office, I rushed downstairs to retrieve something, but I was stopped by the familiar countenance of a gentleman as he exited the elevator. Despite the mask that covered half of his face, and the fact that his height necessitated that I crane my neck at an ungodly angle upwards to observe him from a full foot below in my work heels, I could not shake the feeling that I knew this man from somewhere. As my brain sifted through the rolodex of Bilzin Sumberg faces and names, I idled at the entrance to the elevator, absentmindedly blocking it. As the man glided out of the elevators and down the hall, it finally dawned on me! My mouth hung open under my mask as I stared at his back with owl-like eyes stuttering in an attempt to ask him if he was, indeed, the Managing Partner of the firm. Perhaps Al heard my incoherent stammering and felt me staring intently at his back because he turned ’round and coolly introduced himself to me. Thankfully, I remembered my name correctly and somehow managed to introduce myself.

A few weeks later, Liz reached out to the Summer Associates and scheduled one-on-one chats with Al. This time, I came perfectly prepared to talk to Al about Al: I watched countless interviews, read numerous articles, and even looked into an obscure little sport called basketball. No amount of research prior to our meeting could have prepared me for the actual meeting. Bilzin Sumberg’s Managing Partner is so personable and relatable I did not need a single prepared topic, and once again I walked away from the meeting having experienced something outside of my realm of expectations. I left with a new understanding of mentor/mentee relationships, a deeper appreciation for the significance of leadership and community involvement, and an entirely unfounded speculation that Al somehow has Barack Obama on speed dial.

By the time I attended the group lunch that Liz so graciously arranged for us, the jitters from the elevator had long since dissipated like smoke. For the first time, I approached my seat at the table with no identifiable expectations–only an an open mind and genuine excitement to be in the presence of those attending. Al, Anthony, David, Joe, Lucas and I chatted like old friends, and I knew based on the atmosphere that I was not the only one who walked away impressed and amazed at Bilzin Sumberg’s Managing Partner, and Anthony’s stellar life advice. I am extremely grateful that my time here has allowed me to experience so many things that were beyond the scope of my imagination. These past eight weeks have truly been an expected, yet unexpected delight.