We’re spotlighting emerging leaders in Boston law to highlight the work they do, their legal careers thus far, and their connection to the larger Boston legal community. We caught up with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP Private Funds Partner Justine Le to learn more about her growing practice in investment management, her advice to new lawyers in Boston, and more. Check out the full interview below:
Boston Bar Association: What inspired you to become a lawyer? Specifically, with your focus in investment management?
Justine Le: I graduated college in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis. Like many college grads during this time, I found myself thrown into a tough job market missing out on economic opportunities that were available prior to the financial meltdown. As a result, I was particularly fascinated by how “Main Street” and “Wall Street” were intertwined, especially in terms of the law.
As an investment management lawyer, with a focus on private funds, I work directly with “Wall Street” clients in the asset management industry in guiding them through complex transactions. Many of the private equity, private credit, and hedge funds that we help our clients form and/or that our institutional investor clients (i.e., insurance companies, university endowments, etc.) invest in have touch points on our everyday lives. For example, a wind farm providing energy or the latest grocery delivery service may have been funded by capital raised by our clients’ private funds or in private funds that our clients invested in.
I view my work as having a say in how “Wall Street” acts, while always bearing in mind “Main Street” and how they can be directly impacted.
BBA: What advice would you give to new lawyers entering the profession?
Justine: Be hungry, be gritty, and be humble. As a new lawyer, you have a clean slate to be whatever lawyer you want to be. Take advantage of the opportunity to be a sponge in soaking up knowledge wherever you can, ranging from legal substance, to drafting and negotiation skills, to client- and time-management skills. Take advice whenever you can from more senior lawyers. Good work is typically rewarded by more advanced and sophisticated work, so aim to be a diligent, hard-working, and intellectually curious new lawyer. And lastly, acknowledge the mistakes that you will inevitably make along the way, and use those mistakes as a learning opportunity. I believe following this mindset will help you continue to grow in the legal profession and to set you up for long-term success in developing your skills and practice.
BBA: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Justine: I’m proud of seeing the junior lawyers with whom I have worked closely, trained, and mentored over the years flourish in their careers and become confident and successful lawyers.
BBA: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Justine: Without a doubt, Morgan Lewis’ people and the firm’s clients. I have found that everyone that I have come across during my time at Morgan Lewis is warm, collaborative, and supportive both personally and professionally. Being surrounded by people, both colleagues and clients, that you enjoy working with and for makes all of the challenging aspects of the job worthwhile and rewarding.
BBA: What’s your most memorable moment as a lawyer so far?
Justine: A memorable moment that stands out is a pro bono matter I worked on with a team of colleagues involving our representation of a U.S. veteran who was seeking to upgrade his discharge characterization before the Board of Correction of Naval Records (the “BCNR”). Our client was discharged from the Navy under “other-than-honorable circumstances” stemming from actions determined to be directly tied to our client’s PTSD. Our client experienced homelessness for a period of time following his discharge, but has since turned his life around while continuing to battle PTSD for now a better part of over three decades. BCNR was ultimately not convinced and denied his application. Despite this outcome, our client expressed heartfelt gratitude for our work because he felt that he was “finally heard.” As lawyers, I find that we often measure success by “wins,” so this moment was a significant reminder that we should measure our success by our advocacy efforts for our clients.
BBA: When a client comes to Boston and they aren’t familiar with the city, where do you like to take them?
Justine: There are too many great spots to pick just one! Assuming the client packed some good walking shoes and is a fan of sampling craft beers right in Boston and Cambridge, I would take the client on a leisurely afternoon walk starting at Trillium on the Greenway, before making our way across downtown and Beacon Hill over to Night Shift’s Owl’s Nest right in the middle of the Esplanade, and then heading to a final stop across the Charles River to Lamplighter Brewing at Cambridge Crossing.