My First Year at Selendy & Gay: Daniel Metzger
December 19, 2019
In 2018, Daniel Metzger was nearing the end of a federal clerkship and pondering the next step in his legal career. After accepting a meet and greet invitation from a then weeks-old firm, he was drawn in by the adventure of joining something new.
Here, Daniel looks back on his first year at Selendy & Gay, including a billion-dollar breach of contract case and an unexpected crash course in metal refining, and explains why keeping an open mind can lead to some thrilling professional moments.
How did you first learn about Selendy & Gay?
I first learned about Selendy & Gay while I was clerking in the Eastern District of New York in 2018. The firm, which was only a few weeks old at the time, was hosting a meet and greet for law clerks. I was still deciding what I wanted to do after my clerkship, so I jumped at the chance to learn about the firm and meet its partners.
I had been to about a dozen other receptions at that point, but the energy and spirit at Selendy & Gay’s was unlike anything I’d encountered. Rather than waiting for candidates to approach them with questions, and delivering canned answers, each partner I met (and nearly all were at the reception) went out of their way to explain the firm’s vision and why they took on the challenge of starting something new. Their excitement was, and still is, thrilling.
What made you want to join the firm?
Being new to the practice of law, I wanted an opportunity that would give me substantive experience in all aspects of litigation early in my career. I quickly learned this is a core tenet at Selendy & Gay.
What was less evident to me going in, but I later realized was equally important, was that I also wanted a firm that emphasized collaboration. I recognized that having a collective, accessible brain trust in one unified office and teammates who really want you to succeed would allow for unparalleled growth.
What has your first year been like?
The first year has been full of unexpected and welcome surprises. In my first week I was staffed on a complex breach of contract dispute with nearly a billion dollars at stake. That same week I was interacting directly with clients, drafting motions, and preparing for a deposition. In the months that followed, I was helping to handle a pharmaceutical patent dispute and a renewable energy appeal in the Ninth Circuit, to name just a few.
Of course, there’s a learning curve and the work can be challenging. But we take time to relax and recharge. A few weeks ago the partners, associates and our families went to Miami for a weekend-long retreat. It was restful, fun, and even more importantly, a good reminder that even while practicing at the highest level of excellence, we all have lives outside of work and the firm celebrates that.
What advice would you give to recent graduates or law clerks who are interested in joining Selendy & Gay?
While you are deciding if S&G is right for you, take the time to get to know us. Every one of the associates and partners are excited about their work here, and we look forward to sharing our experiences with attorneys considering joining us.
If you do join, take on a variety of cases and projects—and keep an open mind about what kind of things you might enjoy. Some of my favorite projects have been ones I never imagined myself capable of before I joined Selendy & Gay.
For instance, not long after I joined, I began representing a client who lost a shipment of gold when a precious metals refinery suddenly declared bankruptcy. The case had me and my team learning about how gold and silver are mined, shipped, and eventually refined, then building from archaic precedent in New York, Florida, and Canadian law to craft cutting-edge arguments.
Other cases have been just as interesting. I am currently working with an alternative energy provider to develop a groundbreaking approach to valuing solar energy, which we hope will be a new paradigm in regulatory proceedings throughout the country and potentially abroad.
How has the firm helped you develop professionally?
Selendy & Gay gives every associate tremendous opportunity to grow. First, there are formal trainings given by partners where associates practice core litigation skills and receive real-time feedback. As part of this training, I worked with an actor (who played the role of a witness) to prepare them for, and later defend in, a mock deposition. The partners audited the deposition, offering tips and guidance, and sharing their own candid trial experiences and “war stories.”
Along with practical skills, we receive monthly business development and networking trainings, and get invited to all sorts of events that the firm sponsors. Aside from being productive, these can be a lot of fun—this spring a group of us went to the NRDC’s Night of Comedy.
The firm also gives associates 24/7 access to a professional career coach. I’ve gotten to work one-on-one with the coach, who offers advice on time management, balancing work and personal life, and a range of other “soft” skills that are critical to every attorney’s success.
Looking back, I am amazed by all I’ve learned in my first year at S&G. These experiences have catapulted me from a new lawyer trying to figure out what practice is all about, to a confident associate—managing cases, making arguments, and cultivating a practice that fits who I am.