A large international law firm like DLA Piper works on global projects across a range of practice areas: real estate, litigation, corporate and IP, pro bono work, and more. For the average Boston public high school student, it would be a lot to take in; but Hermuna Taib, placed at DLA Piper for the summer, is not your average student.
Few students grow up with Hermuna’s background: born in a Sudanese refugee camp after her family fled from their native Eritrea in the late 1980s, she and her family were relocated to Boston in 2011. In her application essay to the program, Hermuna explained: “Africa is…known for the horrible genocides that have happened. And, this has all happened because there was no law to protect the people from such injustices. One day, I want to work with the law to be able to help people from my country and communities have peace, justice, and a better life.”
Her drive to learn as much as possible about the legal profession led her to participate in the Summer Jobs Program not just once, but twice – first as a summer intern at the BBA itself, and now this summer at DLA Piper.
What’s special about her experience at DLA Piper is the range in the types of projects and practice areas she gets to see. “When I found out I’d be in a different office, I thought, ‘that’s exciting – meeting new people and finding other stuff that I might like about law,’” Hermuna said about spending her second summer in the program at DLA Piper. “I didn’t learn about real estate at the BBA, or business, or other work that DLA Piper does. When Elaine [Carmichael, Office Administrator at DLA Piper] told me about the pro bono work they do, I didn’t know much about it, or about litigation. I kept asking the question, ‘What is DLA Piper all about?’”
DLA Piper is all about excellence in the law and helping Hermuna find her place in the office environment. “Hermuna came in very positive and with a lot of enthusiasm,” said Carmichael, Hermuna’s supervisor. “She’s always after me to give her more work! She’s been able to adapt to different administrative tasks in different practices – she’s working with our records department on a database project, has helped in the accounting department, and in real estate has worked with signature pages on documents, which required a lot of attention to detail – she did a splendid job on that.”
One of the most compelling projects that Hermuna has helped with relates to international pro bono work in Uganda, with attorney Sara Andrews, the firm’s senior pro bono counsel. Recently, DLA Piper sent a team of lawyers to train East African government lawyers on contract negotiations. “As part of our training program, we have the lawyers we’re training fill out evaluation forms about how the experience went, and we had a pile of these feedback forms,” explained Andrews. “Hermuna was instrumental in helping to review and provide analysis of those – transcribing the answers and then making sense of them to help us as we engage in future training programs.”
But above all, both Hermuna and her team of supporters at DLA Piper are making the summer fun. “The Summer Jobs students are always a lot of fun!” laughed Carmichael, noting that DLA Piper has been a major supporter of the program for over ten years. Added Andrews, “It’s really been a pleasure to get to know Hermuna and hear about her story and passion for learning about law, as she figures out her future. It’s fun to be exposed to that energy and enthusiasm of someone who’s starting out on their career path.”
Hermuna may not know yet what type of law she’d want to focus on if she continues on to law school, but she has no shortage of opportunities to learn at DLA Piper, including seminars and training programs with different firm attorneys coming up. “I know a lot more than I did my first day here, and I’m so glad I’m working here and know all of these great people,” Hermuna said with a smile. “If I decide to go to law school and already know all of this legal knowledge, it could really help me. It’s been a great opportunity for me.”