A residency-in-practice at the corporate headquarters of a nationwide chain of boutique grocery stores offered Faisal Sulman L’22 an opportunity to use knowledge from his studies in Elon University’s law and MBA programs.
Growing up in High Point, North Carolina, Faisal Sulman L’22 saw how hard his parents toiled to provide for their children: his father ran the family’s Oriental rug repair business, while his mother worked as a custodian at a local hospital.
Sulman concluded that his own future career in either medicine or law would be key to helping his parents retire. Neither had significant savings. They had only immigrated to the United States shortly before Sulman was born.
So why law? Sulman knew he could complete law school in less time and with less student loan debt than a medical career. He also knew how lawyers help small business owners like his father. That’s why he believes his experiences at Elon Law and in Elon’s MBA program will one day benefit his family.
Sulman, a Covenant Scholar who graduated with a degree in political science and government from UNC Chapel Hill, recently answered questions about working with deputy general counsel Gerald Walden during a 2022 Spring Trimester residency at The Fresh Market, a national chair of boutique grocery markets with headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina.
This is the fourth in a series of conversations with Elon Law students in the Class of 2022 completing their residencies-in-practice throughout the winter and spring trimesters.
Talk about your work for The Fresh Market and the responsibilities you’ve handled as part of your residency-in-practice.
Some of my assignments have been contract review, analysis, management, and redlining, plus research for various projects and reviews of litigation. I’ve reviewed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges and position statements, and I completed work on minor trademark assignments.
What’s been the biggest surprise about corporate law that you’ve discovered through your work with The Fresh Market?
The biggest surprise I discovered through my residency would be the amount of outside counsel we work with every day. The Fresh Market contracts with firms that specialize in certain areas of the law. Overall, the legal team in the corporate headquarters is only six people, but we have firms with whom we work that extend into every field of the law. It’s been an amazing experience to see how they interplay with one another.
Which of your traits benefited you the most in your approach to this residency?
I would say my ability to multitask and promptly communicate my findings has benefited me the most. This allowed me to work on several major assignments over the span of 10 weeks, across various fields of law with a multitude of supervisors. Supervisors gave me initial feedback, which allowed me to make additional edits and submit my assignments ahead of deadlines.
How has your time with The Fresh Market shaped your plans for after graduation?
My experience reaffirmed my desire to work as corporate counsel in a national or even international industry, or in business law more broadly as a practice area. It’s been a rewarding feeling in using my JD and MBA coursework in the tasks I completed and the difference I made for the client I serve. This residency has already shaped my summer plans in that I will intern at the Appalachian State University Office of General Counsel.
Share one “quick tip” for current and prospective students as they prepare for their own Elon Law residencies or, more broadly, law school in general.
I can’t overstate the importance of clear communication and networking. Communicate your goals and what you are looking to achieve at an internship or residency, and then network with people that can help assist you in getting there. It will be beneficial to you because you will be able to tailor your experience, but it also benefits the people you are working for because they have more hands on-deck.
About the Residency-in-Practice Program
Elon Law’s highly experiential 2.5-year curriculum requires every student to complete a full-time, course-connected residency-in-practice during their second year of study. Through faculty-directed residencies, students cultivate essential skills, values and judgment to help them excel as attorneys and deepen their understanding of various practice areas, while enabling attorneys to convey wisdom about the legal profession.
Students work 32-36 hours a week over a 10-week trimester with a judge or attorney supervisor and a faculty member to create and implement a learning plan that develops an increased proficiency in professional legal skills and in an area of law practice.