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Firm’s summer associate program nets 2 new hires

By Debra Talcott
Legal News
With the hiring of two recent graduates of the University of Michigan Law School, Foley & Lardner celebrates the continued success of its summer associate program as a proving ground for young attorneys. In early November, Felicia O’Connor and Nick Kyriakopoulos joined the firm’s Detroit office in the Comerica Bank Building on Woodward Avenue. Both had been involved as summer associates in 2011, between their second and third years of law school.

Jeffrey Kopp, recruiting and hiring partner at Foley in Detroit, said the program introduces law students to life at a regional firm with national resources over the course of eight to ten weeks, helping determine whether the student demonstrates the entrepreneurial mindset and self-starter mentality the firm is seeking.

“We look for smart, energetic, and ambitious attorneys with an unwavering dedication to client service,” says Kopp. “We strive to achieve a diverse workforce of attorneys who have broad interests and are committed to the Detroit region, pro bono, and our clients’ success.”

The summer associate program is designed to expose the associates to various aspects of the firm’s business.  Associates participate in research and writing assignments, attend hearings and depositions, and collaborate with attorneys on litigation and transactional matters.

“Our summer associates are treated like associates and are entrusted with providing value-added services for our clients,” explains Kopp.  “Summer associates are then evaluated and may be offered an opportunity to join the firm after graduation from law school.”

Felicia O’Connor is part of the Labor & Employment Practice in Foley’s Litigation Department.  She was interested in that group even prior to
participating in the summer program because she had enjoyed the employment law course during her second year at U-M.

“Then, during the summer program I had the opportunity to work with attorneys in the Labor & Employment Practice, which increased my interest.  After completing the summer program and completing labor, administrative, and disability law classes, I continue to be very interested in the subject matter, and I know the Labor & Employment Practice is the perfect fit for me,” says O’Connor.

Knowing she would be joining the Labor & Employment Practice upon graduation allowed O’Connor the luxury of tailoring her classes during her final year of law school to better prepare her for her future work.

“I then graduated from law school, had my first child, and studied for and passed the Michigan Bar,” she says.

O’Connor says one of her most memorable experiences as a summer associate was working on a pro bono project with the Innocence Clinic, an organization that investigates and litigates cases on behalf of prisoners who have new evidence that may establish their innocence in the crimes for which they have been convicted.

“It was very rewarding to potentially help someone who did not have the resources or legal knowledge to effectively advocate for himself or herself,” says O’Connor.

Another of O’Connor’s favorite activities of the summer associate program was working with Think Detroit PAL, a nonprofit group that provides athletic and leadership programs for children in Detroit.

“Many members of the Detroit Foley office worked to restore a baseball field in Detroit. This activity brought the office together to help improve the city and benefit the children involved in Think Detroit PAL sports,” she says.

O’Connor was born in Boston and raised in Santa Cruz. She now resides in Birmingham and feels fortunate to have joined Foley & Lardner.
“I chose Foley because of its reputation for excellence as well as the culture of the firm.  I wanted an opportunity to do high-quality work in the Detroit area at a firm that is committed to engagement with the community in Detroit. Foley delivered on all aspects.”

Nick Kyriakopoulos is equally pleased to be a new member of Foley. He has joined the Litigation Department, specifically working with the business litigation and dispute resolution group. During the summer program he had the opportunity to work on a variety of assignments and found the litigation assignments most rewarding.

“I want to work in a profession that involves real people and attempts to resolve the problems they face.  This is the fundamental role of an attorney:  to zealously advocate for his or her client with the goal of remedying the client’s legal issue,” says Kyriakopoulos.

During his time as a summer associate, Kyriakopoulos had the opportunity to work with a Foley partner on a pro bono project that aimed to secure federal funds for a school in Detroit, saying that project required him to “think outside the box” to help a school close to his own home.

“Another project I enjoyed required that I research and prepare a memorandum on a personal jurisdiction issue—specifically, the question involved new and interesting ways in which to obtain jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants based on their actions online,” he says.

After gaining this experience during the summer program, Kyriakopoulos completed his final year of law school and gained additional experience during the spring semester.    “That semester, I worked as a student attorney at the University of Michigan Criminal Appellate Clinic, where I represented indigent defendants in the Michigan Court of Appeals. After graduation, I studied for and passed the Michigan Bar Exam and had the opportunity to travel to South America to climb Machu Picchu.”

Scaling this 15th century Inca site with an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet is proof that Kyriakopoulos is one to embrace life’s challenges—making him a good fit at Foley & Lardner.

“The attorneys with whom I interviewed—both partners and associates—are not only accomplished attorneys, but also interesting and unique people who bring something to the table outside of knowing the law. Many are involved in the Detroit community and serve on boards of local charitable organizations. They appreciate that I am serious about Detroit philanthropy, and they appreciate my work and life experience outside of the legal field,” Kyriakopoulos says.

According to Kopp, the pair can look forward to the experiences they will gain from working for a law firm that takes pride in serving clients in the automotive, e-business, health care, finance, retail, transportation, private equity and venture capital industries, and many others.

“On behalf of my colleagues at Foley, we could not be happier to have Felicia O’Connor and Nick Kyriakopoulos as part of our legal team,” says Kopp. “Both have demonstrated remarkable success and achievement during their undergraduate and legal training and during their work prior to attending law school. Felicia and Nick will be strong assets as we continue to enhance our ability to provide top-notch legal services for our clients.”

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