In today’s episode I speak with Helam Gebremariam who is a Litigation Partner at Cravath, Swain, & Moore in New York City where her practice focuses on antitrust litigation, contractual disputes, securities and shareholder derivative suits, and investigations. She is also deeply committed to doing pro bono work and serves as an Executive Board Member of the New York University Law Alumni of Color Association, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Immigrant Justice Corps, and on the Board of Trustees of the Vera Institute of Justice. She is the first Black woman litigation partner in the Firm's history.
Helam began her legal career as a law clerk to Judge Robert Patterson, Jr. of the Southern District of New York and then after spending several years as an associate at Cravath worked at the U.S. Department of Justice as Senior Counsel in the DOJ's Office for Access to Justice and then as Senior Counsel to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. She then worked at WilmerHale in Washington, D.C. before rejoining Cravath in 2019 where she was elected to the partnership in 2020. She now serves as partner liaison to the Firm’s African American/Black Affinity Group and as a Member of the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee.
She is a first-generation student who graduated from Columbia and NYU Law where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the NYU Law Review.
In our conversation we discuss her path to law as the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants to the United States; her decision to join the government and her time doing policy work as an advisor at the Department of Justice; the reasons why its ok to close doors in your career (they often don't really close) and how new doors can open as a result; why she chose Cravath and her transition from summer associate to senior associate to junior partner; techniques for growth for junior lawyers in the increasingly remote practice of law; her favorite parts of going to trial; how to find a mentor (see her feature from Bloomberg on that topic here); being in a two-lawyer parent family; and what she does everyday as a generalist BigLaw litigator.
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