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As a 2014 summer associate at Babst Calland in Pittsburgh, Forrest Smith practiced and honed a variety of legal skills. From writing memos, briefs and motions to researching and assisting at depositions, Smith experienced it all. The firm, Babst Calland, is comprised of over 100 lawyers in five locations.
“I was fortunate to be exposed to and perform work in almost every practice area at Babst Calland,” he said of his first experience as a summer associate. “I do not think I can point to a single favorite project, but I can say that the overall experience was immensely beneficial to my development into a young attorney.”
Smith began the search for this position methodically during his second year of law school. He focused on finding firms with strong reputations for quality legal work that were close to where he wanted to live and practice. This quickly narrowed his search, allowing him to concentrate his efforts on reputable firms in western Pennsylvania.
“I took the time to learn about the places I was applying and the people who were interviewing me,” Smith said. “Doing my homework allowed me to be knowledgeable and in turn make a good, lasting impression on those I had a chance to meet.”
Working in private practice, Smith acknowledges the benefits of his law school courses. He points to Evidence in helping him apply legal rules and concepts, as well as the value of other foundational classes such as Torts, Contracts and Property. While Babst Calland covers many different areas and specializes in energy, oil and gas law, Smith notes that energy practice encompasses many areas including environmental, business services, land use and public sector law.
“In deciding what classes to take, it’s helpful to know what type of law you want to practice,” Smith said. “Though you’ll never learn enough to be an expert just from classes, the ability to understand the terminology puts you in a better position to succeed.”
Even though the summer associate position entailed rigorous work, Smith is grateful for the opportunity.
“I regret that the summer is ending and I'll have to leave Babst Calland,” he said. “I definitely worked hard in my time as a Summer Associate, but the work was rewarding and the opportunity to learn from so many skilled attorneys was invaluable. I learned a great deal, and I know that I will take that knowledge with me throughout my legal career.”