Atticus Wegman of Aitken*Aitken*Cohn in Santa Ana, Calif., a listee in the 2012 issue of Southern California Rising Stars, has the distinction of being the first lawyer named Atticus on any of our Super Lawyers or Rising Stars lists. In part one of our two-part interview, Wegman, a civil litigation attorney who graduated from Chapman University School of Law in May 2010, talks about how he found employment in this tough legal job market.
The last few years have been a particularly tough time for law school grads. How did you wind up at Aitken*Aitken*Cohn?
When I was in law school, the whole global financial crisis was happening and everyone could see that the legal market was changing. So I said to myself, “I’m not going to be able to rely solely on grades and submitting resumes; I need to get practical with the legal training and try to get as much experience as I can outside the classroom.” So I put a lot of focus on trying to apply what I was learning as I was learning it.
I started at Aitken*Aitken*Cohn as a law clerk at the beginning of my second year and just worked as much as possible–trying to find a good balance between work and school. I worked my second year, and that summer, and all third year. The entire time I was hoping I could make some connections, and maybe that could transition into a full-time associate position.
Which is what happened.
Exactly. Get in and make as many personal connections as you can. And do a good job. I did anything and everything I could–whether it was helping the firm move files to storage, attending personal functions with other attorneys, or attending work events. I was always asking: “Is there anything else I can do?” You have to go out there and take on much more than you can handle.
How did the law clerk position come to you in the first place?
I applied. And the first words out of the interviewer’s mouth were, “We’re not looking for any permanent position here; it’s a temporary law-clerk position.” But it’s such a great firm that I couldn’t pass up the experience and education I was going to get. In fact, the firm’s founding partner, Wylie A. Aitken, has the Chapman University School of Law courtroom named after him.
Your first name–did that help at all?
I think that opened the door a bit.
Accompanied with the interview itself.
TOMORROW: Being Atticus