Reflections on My Time at Shearman & Sterling


Below is a reproduction of my departure memo.

After seven and a half years at the firm, this is my last week at Shearman & Sterling.  It’s been an amazing run.

When I look back on my time at the firm, I realize how tremendously blessed I’ve been.

In the headline making deals that my friends and family recognized, I’ve been blessed with a sense of accomplishment.

In the nearly sixty matters I’ve worked on spanning Capital Markets, M&A, Asset Management and even Litigation, I’ve been blessed with the experience I’ve gained.

In the access to the firm’s global knowledge and vast resources, I’ve been blessed with the support system that made my job incalculably easier.

In the two luxury watches I never dreamed I’d be able to afford, I’ve been blessed financially.

But above all, I’ve been blessed with the people I’ve worked with.

It’s been a pleasure working with all the talented, hard-working people of the firm, from New York to Tokyo and everywhere in between. I’ve often said that this job is only doable if you like the people you’re working with. I remained at the firm for over seven years because, ultimately, I enjoyed the company of my colleagues, even at wee hours of the night.

When it comes to the people, there are too many to thank.

I’m obviously grateful to the partners.  They first gave me a chance when few other firms would, then showed patience with me when my only knowledge about capital markets was that it was a place I’d lost a lot of money.  They then entrusted me with their clients and transactions even as I was just beginning to get my head around securities law, M&A and P.E. funds.  Through the good times and the bad, the partners provided me with invaluable guidance while always treating me with respect.  Thanks to them, what I take away from here is a little bit about law and a lot more about life.

I’m also thankful to the senior lawyers who mentored me over the years.  Some are still around and many are long gone, but each one played a critical role in my growing to become a senior associate. If I managed to become a capable associate, it’s only because even better associates who preceded me taught me much of what they knew.

I’m also indebted to the more junior associates.  They were the ones who tolerated my demands and my moods, night after night, often through stressful times.  The work required in a headline-making transaction is far more than any person, however great, can handle alone.  If credit is due for a successful transaction that I was involved in, such credit must be shared with every associate on the team who gave me support.

Finally, I will forever be grateful to the current and former colleagues who began their careers around the same time as I did.  Because they easily related to what I was going through, I could seek their advice, look for encouragement, share war stories or confess moments of weaknesses, simply by popping my head into their offices.  What I will miss the most starting next week is the time I spent with them just bantering about nothing while waiting for a document.

Because of all these things that I’m thankful for, I knew fairly early on in my career here that this was probably going to be the last firm I will be working for.  Some may say this is just “ignorance is bliss,” but I’d always thought that bliss is still bliss.

And so it is that I leave Shearman & Sterling not to join another firm but to join a former colleague, at Amazon of Japan.  Working with him again was an opportunity that was just too good to pass up.

I try to live my life by the motto of my alma mater Boston College, Ever to Excel.  During the last seven and a half years, I’ve been able to live by the motto because the firm challenged me to excel, day in and day out.

But I also have a personal corollary to the motto, to make a difference.  I hope that, in return for all that the firm has given me, I’ve been able to give something back and leave a small mark behind.

I will miss the firm and everyone I’ve worked with.

Thanks and godspeed.  It’s been a lot of fun.

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1 Response to “Reflections on My Time at Shearman & Sterling”



  1. 1 2016 Was the Year of Changes | The World According to Joe Trackback on December 22, 2016 at 11:25 pm

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