Jessica CooneyView Biography
What made you decide to start your legal career at Ropes & Gray?
I chose Ropes & Gray based on the people I met during my summer associate interviews and on the recommendation of classmates. I met with associates and partners in both the New York and Boston offices, and in each place I felt that the conversations were easy and natural—Ropes & Gray seemed like a place where people were treated with respect, while maintaining a collegial atmosphere.
When I came to the New York office for an after-offer visit, lunch ran a bit long and I was worried about missing my train home. The partner who joined us for lunch was worried that I wouldn’t make it in time if I took a cab, so they ran with me almost a mile to the train station—on foot—while holding an umbrella over my head because it was raining. That made my decision on law firms abundantly clear! I have stayed at the firm for this many years for the same reasons (along with the sophisticated level of our clients and the work we do).
How has Ropes & Gray helped you build a career as a lawyer?
The firm has been immensely supportive throughout my career. As both a summer associate and a junior associate, I was a part of multiple practice groups, which allowed me to gain exposure to various types of work. I enjoyed M&A the most, and found my home in private equity at the end of my second year (although I still dabble in some public company work). Private equity provided me with responsibility and client-facing experience early, allowing me to grow in confidence and skill quickly. I have also been supported through our strong training program, our Women’s Forum and the informal mentorships I’ve been a part of.
Tell us about a memorable matter you’ve worked on.
I represented a company in its initial public offering as a junior associate – my first foray into public company work. It was a long and arduous process, involving many late nights and unknown challenges. At the end, the partner, senior associate and I were invited to be a part of the Nasdaq closing-bell-ringing ceremony celebrating the listing of the company. I have photos of us on the Nasdaq big screen in Times Square. It was the first time in my legal career that my non-lawyer parents felt like they had something to brag about.
Tell us about a pro bono matter you’ve worked on.
I helped a client with a past criminal conviction re-enter the workforce. His application for a particular type of occupational license had been denied as a result of his past conviction. Our job was to represent him in front of the state and explain why the incidents in his past did not make him unfit to receive the license.
What was your role in the matter and what were some key takeaways?
I was part of the team that got to know our client and represented him at oral arguments in front of the state. With our help, his application was approved. It was immensely rewarding to have helped him be able to work in his chosen field.
The people at Ropes & Gray are supportive and collegial, and in fact have become some of my closest friends.”
How would you describe the firm’s culture?
Ropes & Gray is a collegial firm where everyone is treated with respect, and like the professionals they have worked hard to become. The firm has realized and embodies the idea that the stronger each member of your team is, the better and more efficient output you create for the client—and that strength comes from respect, support, training and teamwork. The people at Ropes & Gray are supportive and collegial, and in fact have become some of my closest friends.
What tips would you offer to a potential applicant?
I will pass along the best advice I received—most large law firms will provide a similar level of sophisticated work and require a similar demand on your life. The real difference is the people—who can you see yourself working with in stressful and tired times? When interviewing, at which firm(s) did you find conversations flowed easily and naturally? A firm that makes you feel comfortable and like you fit in will allow you to excel and take on opportunities you may not otherwise be able to capitalize on.