by Justin Kadoura and Alexandra Markward; edited by John Basenfelder
Chanda Miller works as an associate in the litigation group at Drinker Biddle & Reath in Philadelphia. She graduated magna cum laude from Temple Law in 2007. While at Temple, Chanda served as the editor-in-chief of Temple Law Review. Prior to joining Drinker Biddle & Reath, she clerked for the Honorable William H. Yohn Jr. in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Read the full interview here.
TLR: So moving on to present day, what was the process or how did you begin working with Drinker?
CM: Are you asking why I picked Drinker or . . .
TLR: I guess a little bit of both. How you got there and why you ended up there.
CM: So I did the typical [on-campus interview] process. Not being a Philadelphia native, I felt a little bit like I was operating in the dark on Philadelphia firms. At that point we knew we were going to stay in Philly. I did a lot of research; I talked to my professors who were invaluable in terms of offering their feedback on what to be looking for in a firm based on what I had told them about my interests. Going through the process, I liked everyone I met at Drinker and I really liked what Drinker had to offer in terms of developing new lawyers through training. I liked Drinker’s commitment to pro bono. I liked the quality of work, the type of work that we do here.
TLR: Many staff editors are in the process of doing on-campus interviews and going to look for these jobs. What is the day-to-day experience at a firm like Drinker?
CM: Well, today I have a filing due. So I spent the first three and a half hours working with one of the partners on the case on file edits. Word choice really matters on things like this. You spend the last few hours quibbling over verbs and making sure there’s not too many adjectives. We have probably twenty-five exhibits to this filing and we need courtesy copies so I’ve been working with the paralegal and the vendor to make sure everything is going to be copied on time or hand delivered before the close of business. We spend a lot of time on discovery issues as well. I think that’s one aspect that the law school experience doesn’t necessarily capture. But writing and responding to discovery requests, preparing for and taking depositions, in a lot of the cases that I handle in a larger scale, there’s multiple depositions and preparing for them can take a few days
TLR: Have you had any particularly interesting assignments or experiences while you’ve been there?
CM: We work a lot with state plaintiff initiated civil litigation which is, over the past few years, has been an increasing area of the law and it’s really interesting when a government is the plaintiff in a civil litigation. The law and procedure that applies is really interesting and it’s a developing area of the law and being on the front end of some of that is always really interesting.
TLR: You mentioned earlier that something you liked about Drinker was the pro bono side of it, and Drinker’s website says that you work with Philadelphia VIP?
TLR: So is there something specific that draws you to them or something you enjoy about working with that organization?
CM: Philadelphia VIP is a place of last resort for a lot of individuals who are in civil litigation issues and don’t have the resources to find their own representation. So it’s really a way to impact someone meaningfully on an individual level and they, VIP, has great lawyers and resources and that’s sort of what drew me to them. I’m also currently working on a class action litigation in connection with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Education Law Center, both of which are also great public interest organizations. The Philadelphia community is really unique in that there are a lot of very strong public interest organization that have pro bono clients and offer great pro bono opportunities for lawyers.
TLR: Are you working on specific types of cases with Philadelphia VIP?
CM: I tend to do name change cases. It was a training I had gone to a few years ago so I stuck with that. It’s a way to help someone individually and, for example, you find a lot of times someone’s name on their birth certificate maybe doesn’t match up with the social security card or driver’s license and that prohibits them from getting passports or signing leases, things like that. And so just helping them through the procedures of making sure all their identity documents match up helps them to move on.
TLR: Do you feel that working at Drinker they give you a good amount of time to do that kind of work?
CM: Absolutely. Drinker is very committed to the pro bono community and to providing pro bono support.
TLR: Great. I think generally that’s the questions that we have for you. Do you have anything that we didn’t get to that you’d like to talk about?
CM: I think these interviews are a great idea. I think law review is a phenomenal experience and it does help you going forward. It helps you with other people editing documents, learning to track down the sources you need to support what you’re saying. It is easy while you’re in the middle of it to get caught up in how busy it is and the details but it’s a great opportunity, not just for the things you learn but for the people you connect with and the authors you get to connect with so I think its great you guys are doing it.
Are you a TLR alumna or alumnus? Reach out to TLR at firstname.lastname@example.org.