My First Year at Selendy Gay Elsberg

My First Year at Selendy Gay Elsberg

In 2020, Adam Hersh was nearing the end of his second federal clerkship and contemplating the next step in his career. He was eager to gain hands-on experience in high-impact litigation but didn’t want to compromise certain core values in that pursuit.

Now a year into his tenure at Selendy Gay Elsberg, Adam reflects on developing confidence as a litigator, helping to build a multi-billion dollar case against a pharmaceutical company, and why the firm truly “walks the walk” in its commitment to equality.

What made you want to join Selendy Gay Elsberg?

When I was looking for jobs after clerking, Selendy Gay Elsberg stood out as one of the only firms that had committed itself to a set of values that I wanted in my practice. I wanted to be at a place where I would get excellent training and litigate interesting and challenging cases, for sure, but it was also very important to me that I not compromise my core beliefs in fairness and equality in doing so. That worldview is a big part of what animates Selendy Gay Elsberg – and it’s something the firm really “walks the walk” on.

I was also excited about the opportunities the firm provided to develop litigation skills early and often. I’ve always been someone who learns by doing, and I didn’t want to spend years on huge case teams, working on small parts of cases in which I had little investment. I hoped to avoid those experiences at SGE, because of the firm’s size, lack of hierarchy, and commitment to giving junior associates significant responsibility right away. And I have!

What has your first year been like?

My first year at Selendy Gay Elsberg has been a whirlwind. I joined in November 2020, when the office was closed and no respite from the pandemic was in sight. I worried that starting remotely would limit my ability to connect with colleagues and integrate into the firm, but people were very proactive in reaching out to make sure I felt welcome and getting me onto case teams. Within a few months, I was an active participant in major cases, including a multi-billion dollar matter against a pharmaceutical company that I helped pitch and build from the ground up. I was also on a team representing the U.S. House of Representatives in opposing a challenge to the Electoral Count Act, and was involved in defending state and local bans on LGBTQ conversion therapy.

Now, coming up on a year at the firm, I feel like I’ve gotten my sea legs. I know my colleagues well and am honing the litigation skills I’d hoped to improve when I joined. I feel I make meaningful contributions to my case teams, not just taking on the tasks I’m assigned, but finding ways to affirmatively advance our clients’ interests.

I’m excited to keep learning, improving, and building a career at the firm. If I have one regret, it’s the number of really interesting cases that have come to the firm in the last year that I haven’t had time to join.

What achievements from your first year are you most proud of?

I’ve contributed to two Supreme Court amicus briefs in the last few months on issues I care deeply about – first, representing a coalition of state and local government groups in a case about whether gas companies can seize state land to build natural gas pipelines, and second, representing the ACLU and other civil liberties groups on a challenge to a New York rule of criminal procedure that significantly limits defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to confront their accusers. Working with the extremely accomplished advocates on those cases – both at Selendy Gay Elsberg and beyond – has been a hugely rewarding and educational experience.

I’m also proud of my involvement in the pharmaceutical case I mentioned. It was enlightening to be part of the process of shaping a case from concept to complaint. It also speaks to the value of the firm’s apprenticeship training model – the next time someone needs help writing a complaint, I’ll know what to do, and I’ll know how to do it well with a lot less oversight.    

How have you changed as a lawyer over the past year?

I know so much more now about every aspect of litigation – drafting, discovery, finding and using experts, dealing with opposing counsel, and communicating with clients, among many other areas.

The last year has helped me develop confidence as a litigator. I remember being very anxious the first time I was told I should get on the phone with opposing counsel. Now, I have the base of knowledge to take and advocate positions confidently.

It takes time to think like a litigator. You learn to take creative and even novel positions in the interest of your client. I’ve done a lot to develop that mindset over the course of the last year.

What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

Now that everyone is vaccinated and it’s possible to do so safely, I’m looking forward to getting to see more of my colleagues and friends in person! The best thing about the firm is the people who work here.

I’m also looking forward to having some of my cases go to trial. Being part of a trial team is one of the experiences I was most excited to pursue at Selendy Gay Elsberg, and I’m grateful that I’ll have the chance to work on several in the coming year. Beyond that, I’m excited for the opportunities ahead that will allow me to sharpen my abilities as a litigator, from depositions to oral arguments and brief writing. I’m eager to continue developing a well-rounded set of skills that I can put to use for the rest of my life in the law.