Student Explores Law Firm Life With Veteran's Internship at WilmerHale

A number of lawyers in WilmerHale’s Boston office provide pro bono counsel to veterans through the Boston Bar Association’s (BBA) outreach programs. They reached out in a new way this year, by welcoming US Army veteran and Boston native Fritz Barthelemy, an aspiring lawyer, to the firm as an intern.

Barthelemy joined WilmerHale through the BBA’s Veteran Internship Pilot Program, which aims to help qualified veterans transition into a civilian career by placing them at paid, six-week positions with law firms. Partner Jack Regan and Associate Chris Schmitt brought the program to the attention of the firm’s Human Resources Department, which looks to partner with such initiatives to bring in staff members from an array of backgrounds. 

Barthelemy, a current Suffolk University undergraduate majoring in business and sports marketing, seized the internship opportunity after he heard about it through a fellow student. “I thought it would be great experience to see the inner workings of a firm before I even got to law school,” he says.

Before receiving a medical discharge due to a knee injury, Barthelemy spent six years in the US Army. He lived for about half of that time at Fort Campbell, which straddles the border of Tennessee and Kentucky, and he served the other half in Afghanistan. During those years, he supervised a battle company, trained new recruits on the Army’s rigorous standards and maintained equipment worth more than $1.5 million.
In other words, he has quite a bit more professional experience than the average intern.

“Much of what the military instilled—discipline, focus, time management—is already benefiting me in school, and will translate into my career,” says Barthelemy.

Barthelemy’s internship is scheduled to end at the close of November. Since he joined the firm in September, he has worked under the supervision of Paralegal Services Manager Kathleen Hall to prepare documents related to corporate transactions, such as IPOs and closings. “The paralegals know what I’m interested in and that I want to go to law school,” he says. “I get to see documents I’ve studied at school and how they are applied in the real world.”

Barthelemy has also attended mock trials during his time at the firm, which are not new to him—he has watched students at Suffolk Law School practice—but he has appreciated the chance to see actual associates at work, practicing in front of experienced partners.

Other military veterans in the Boston office, including Regan, Schmitt and Senior Associate Tyler Sparrow, as well as Associate Fred Kemper, the son of a disabled Vietnam Army veteran, have offered professional guidance. Barthelemy says they have given him insight into litigation and securities law, and provided a model for how to transition into the corporate world.

Barthelemy cares about making this transition successfully not just to meet his own career goals—currently, to represent athletes and entertainers. It also matters because, he says, “it shows that former military don’t always fit the stereotypes that people automatically associate with veterans returning home. Some of us are here, and successful, in corporate America.”

He has appreciated his time at WilmerHale, he says, in part because he hasn’t felt the presence of those stereotypes. “When people find out I’m a veteran, sometimes I can see in their faces that they’re thinking, ‘I hope he’s ok.’ It’s not like that here. People here have been extremely welcoming. They say, ‘Thank you for your service—now here’s some work to do.’”