We continue our look at our third year curriculum’s actual practice requirement with a post from Tyler Brown. Tyler worked for Rosetta Stone in Harrisonburg, Virginia in their legal department. Below are Tyler’s thoughts on this experience:
This past semester, I had the opportunity to work as an extern in the legal department of Rosetta Stone, Inc. I have probably heard over a dozen attorneys and law students quote the old adage that says, “The first year they scare you to death, the second year they work you to death, and the third year they bore you to death.” While for many the saying may hold true, that has not been my experience, especially in my third year at W&L.
At the end of my second year, I approached the administration about an externship with the in-house counsel of a large corporation and mentioned Rosetta Stone as a possibility. Luckily, they had already begun discussing this possibility with Rosetta Stone and so the school was able to secure a placement. Rosetta Stone, Inc. is the maker of the world’s leading language-learning software. The company was started in 1992, had its IPO in 2009, and now has offices all over the world and provides language-learning solutions in over 150 countries.
From the very first day, I encountered the broad range of issues typically faced by an in-house corporate attorney. While there, I was able to review actual agreements, provide feedback on certain provisions, and sit in on meetings discussing how to negotiate the agreement. The work also included drafting some proposed revisions to agreements. Needless to say, before law school I did not envision I would be drafting and reviewing portions of actual agreements for a publicly traded company and getting academic credit for it.
On most days, I also met with stakeholders in the corporation outside of the legal department. This really reinforced the practicality of the work I was doing. In an in-house setting, your client is the company, which is then broken down into various departments, so, while you might spend one day reviewing a sales agreement, the next day may be spent negotiating an agreement with a private contractor or advising how to enforce against infringers of intellectual property rights. Needless to say, this was why I came to Law School, to learn how to actually practice law.
The work on-site was coupled with a classroom component. This component encouraged me to take a step back and review the challenges at Rosetta Stone, and these discussions only enhanced my experience. My externship with Rosetta Stone was a refreshing way to practically apply the skills that law students develop in traditional courses. I sincerely believe that this experience will be crucial to my transition from a law student to a practicing attorney.