Jones Day truly needs no introduction. Founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1893, the firm is now one of the largest in the world, boasting clients like Goldman Sachs, General Motors, and even the President of the United States. The firm operates all over the world, with 43 offices in places like London, Paris, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Dubai, Beijing, Sydney and more.
Fittingly, among top firms, Jones Day employs some of the highest numbers of LL.M. graduates, with at least 43 percent of their non-UK or US lawyers holding an LL.M. degree, according to 2015 research from LLM GUIDE. For the LL.M. recipients who went on to work at Jones Day, their paths from degree to eventual employment with the firm are incredibly varied, both in experience and in purpose.
To be clear, an LL.M. is not a requirement to work at a place like Jones Day. But for many at the firm, getting an LL.M. was essential, serving the dual purpose of demonstrating a seriousness and passion for law while also improving their legal English. “There are still some Americans who think that nothing much has happened in Europe since the Mayflower disembarked,” says Marc Groebl with a laugh. Groebl is a partner at Jones Day in Munich, Germany, joining the firm after the dissolution of Howrey LLP in 2011. Completing the LL.M. at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina was a foundational part of his educational experience, he says, one that significantly improved his credibility as he continued his legal career in America and abroad.
“When international firms like Jones Day see that you have an LL.M., I think they trust you a bit more,” Groebl explains. “If you can show a firm that you went to a U.S. law school, or maybe even that you passed the bar, that really works as a door of entry to work here. Also, doing an LL.M. really helps you with your English and with English legal terms.”
Another way in which the LL.M. proves beneficial is through the connections one makes during their period of study.
“It’s not only about studying. It’s about making friends,” reminds Floris Pierik, a partner at Jones Day in Amsterdam who received his LL.M. from King's College London. Pierik has been with Jones Day for six years, making partner three years ago. Both he and Groebl highlighted the importance of the network developed during their LL.M. studies to their current positions at Jones Day. “I’m still in contact with many people with whom I did the LL.M.,” Pierik says, “and that is very useful for your future career.”
Making these connections is often eased by the university itself. For example, American University established its LL.M. program in the early 1980s, and since then, its Washington College of Law has been connecting students and graduates with large firms like Jones Day.
“We have an LL.M. career counselor whose sole job is to help LL.M.s get OPT (Optional Practical Training) and improve their resume writing and interviewing skills,” says Professor Padideh Ala'i, director of International and Comparative Legal Studies at the college. “Almost 90 percent of our LL.M.s get some sort of job opportunity during their studies.”
When it comes to Jones Day, the university’s connection is both personal and professional.
“Jones Day is where I started my legal career,” remembers Ala'i. “We have many distinguished alums there… [and] we collaborate with Jones Day all the time for the benefit of our students.” Ala’i notes that, for example, Jones Day has participated in summer programs and panels that the school has hosted.
Face-to-face time like this is crucial, claims Groebl. For this reason, he recommends attending job fairs and utilizing a university’s career placement services in order to get as much personal time with a firm as possible before applying.
“Job fairs are places where you will meet law firms with an ease and openness that you will not have if you simply submit your application to a law firm by mail,” Groebl states. “I participated in the New York Job Fair. In a very short time, I was able to speak to many law firms, and it was there where I found my first job.”
Focus your interests
Besides attending job fairs, students currently pursuing an LL.M. who hope to work at Jones Day in the future should focus their interests, say both Pierik and Groebl.
“Be serious about the topics you take. It is good to choose something that is not too vague or comparative, but really something that you can immediately use when you start working,” advises Pierik. “It gives you a head start, so to speak. You develop a set of tools that will really help you in your practice.”
Groebl concurs. “I think it is good to focus on one area. There are some courses you have to take, but if you can imagine that you want to go into a certain field later on, then you can get incredible knowledge in that area during your LL.M. that you can later use at work.”
While there is no set blueprint for students interested in working at Jones Day, an LL.M. can set an applicant apart from the rest. As our research has previously indicated, LL.M.s are becoming an increasingly popular educational component for those pursuing a career in Big Law, and if one hopes to someday work for the firm, an LL.M. is a step in the right direction.