Summer Work with DocuSign

Vignaliby Emma Vignali, Class of 2018

Emma Vignali is a rising 2L, originally from historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated from Auburn University (War Eagle!) with degrees in Finance and Psychology. While at Auburn, Emma developed an interest in finance and corporate governance. She spent time in Washington, D.C., interning for Senator Mark R. Warner, who serves on the Senate Committee on Finance. She then went on to intern in the office of the Chief Operating Officer for one of the largest law firms in the world. Now at William & Mary Law School, Emma serves as Secretary for the Women’s Law Society, and is a member of the William & Mary Law Review. She hopes to either practice corporate law or work in-house after graduation.

As the first semester of my 1L year quickly drew to a close, the thought of finding a summer internship weighed heavily on me. When I began law school, I hoped to eventually work in-house at a large company. However, my first semester of law school provided no substantial clarity on my future calling.  Criminal Law with Professor Combs surprisingly sparked an interest that I felt compelled to pursue. How could I be interested in two so drastically different practice areas? While confused about my future, I decided the best way to ease my mind was to spend my 1L summer immersed in one of these areas.

I began my summer internship search by implementing the first piece of advice given in law school: using my already established connections. The 1L internship search tends to be daunting, especially as students realize the number of law students across the country who are all vying for the same positions.  By reaching out to a close family friend, I solidified an interview with in-house counsel in Seattle. I was so excited to receive the position with DocuSign, Inc., as the opportunity to work in-house is a unique experience for a first year law student. I left for Seattle feeling confident that my summer would help me solidify my initial desire to work in-house.

docusignLife does not get much better than it does working in the legal department at DocuSign. On the first day, I was assigned a mentor to lead me through my ten-week journey at the company. My mentor consistently provided direct feedback on my work and became an amazing resource for career advice. It was incredible to have such close contact with a practicing attorney, especially one who truly cared about my progress throughout my internship.

I was also lucky enough to receive an abundance of interesting projects, spanning a number of practice areas and overseen by a range of attorneys. I was tasked with creating a teaching document for the company on open source licensing. Without a tech background, I found myself intimidated by the new terminology and vast amounts of information. However, receiving a project outside of my comfort zone turned into the ultimate learning experience, as I realized the research and writing skills I honed at William & Mary could lead me to be successful at anything I set my mind to. Yet, my favorite project at DocuSign was drafting a lead generation addendum to be attached to an already existing contract. The concepts taught by Professor Oman in my Contracts class became invaluable for my first contract drafting experience. Drafting an addendum from scratch was something I never imagined doing this summer, but resulted in a budding interest for transactional work.

I also found time to fit in a bit of fun in the beautiful state of Washington. DocuSign offers a bi-weekly happy hour for all employees, which became a great opportunity to get to know the attorneys outside of the office. The interns would also often take lunch breaks just a few feet away at the famous Pike Place Market. On weekends, I hiked the surrounding mountains, flew on sea planes, and even went whale watching!

As nervous as I was just a few months ago, I leave Seattle feeling sure of my goals for the future. The scenic landscape of Washington and the state’s wonderfully generous and friendly people have truly impacted me. I can now say with certainty that I plan to take the bar in Washington after graduation.  But even more relieving is the clarity I have gained on my future area of practice; I plan to pursue corporate transactional law after graduation. My internship at DocuSign allowed me to explore a field I had not previously considered, even if just briefly, and I am excited to potentially incorporate transactional work into my practice after graduation. However, that does not mean I have to dismiss my growing interest in criminal law. My hope is to eventually work at a firm where I can incorporate areas of criminal practice into my pro bono work. My summer experience in Seattle has been fun, enlightening, and completely invaluable. I am excited to return to William & Mary for my second year, where I can put the skills I learned this summer into practice.