“When my youngest daughter came home with her kindergarten yearbook, she asked me to take it to work so ‘all her friends at Hogan’ could sign it.”
- Michele Sartori, Partner, Washington, D.C.
My practice involves representing clients in government investigations, both criminal and civil, as well as assisting clients with internal investigations.
Getting to know Hogan Lovells
I chose Hogan Lovells (then Hogan & Hartson) twice — once as a law student and again when leaving my position as an Assistant U.S. Attorney to return to private practice — for three main reasons. As a student, I knew of the practice’s excellent reputation for female lawyers and that was (and is) very important to me. Second, I had no clue what I wanted to do practice-wise, so the firm’s rotation system for new associates really appealed to me. Third, and most importantly, I felt comfortable with the lawyers and felt that this would be a place where I could be myself. I was right!
When I later decided to return to private practice, the choice was simple. I did not even look at any other firms. I loved the people at Hogan Lovells, which had more than lived up to its reputation for female lawyers, and I knew this was a place where working hard and being a good person were equally rewarded.
My experience here has far exceeded my expectations. I never expected that as a junior litigation associate, I would be taking depositions and arguing motions in court — but I was. I never expected that when I told the partners I wanted to serve in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, they would support me and do everything in their power to help me attain my goal — but they did. I never expected that I would meet some of my closest friends here. And I certainly never expected that as a young partner, I would be asked to serve as the practice manager of my group.
I think what is unique about my experience here is how I was an associate in civil litigation, left to become a prosecutor, came back to work in a whole new group — Investigations, White Collar, and Fraud — and I have found that all the things I loved about Hogan Lovells before have proven true again, even in the context of a totally different group. The lawyers here are top notch, and I feel that I become a better lawyer every day working alongside them. They are also just really good, fun people that I enjoy spending time with.
The great thing about the Investigations, White Collar, and Fraud practice is that we work in big teams and small teams, which allows multiple levels of interaction and, frankly, just fosters a close-knit group. For example, a large government investigation can easily have a dozen or so lawyers working together at any given time, whereas an internal investigation is typically staffed by just one partner and one associate. Since we tend to travel a fair amount, we also become close — everyone knows everyone else’s stories in our group!
Hogan Lovells is committed to maintaining an environment where all lawyers, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else, can excel. I have always felt fully supported in my career here as a female lawyer and as a working mother. I had my first child as a junior associate at the firm and I remember feeling nervous at the time that having a child, and taking a long maternity leave, would somehow impact my career. I could not have been more wrong. I returned to Hogan Lovells after my leave to find the place the same as I left it and all my cases still mine when I returned. I’ll never forget my first week back from maternity leave how many female lawyers — partners and associates — came by my office to say “there are lots of us here doing it and you can too!” I have always felt fully supported here — as a woman, and as a parent. Moreover, as a young female partner, I have been awed at the leadership opportunities that have been offered to me. For example, I serve as the practice manager for my group. Joining the ranks of management at such a relatively early stage in my career is not something I expected and not an opportunity I would have at any other firm.
I think there is a relaxed, friendly atmosphere in general at Hogan Lovells. It is not a stuffy or formal place, which has always been important to me. We work hard, and so it’s nice to be someplace where you feel you can also laugh and be yourself. I’ve always found Hogan Lovells to be very supportive of its lawyers’ outside lives and commitments, which is also important. As a working mother, I appreciate the fact that I feel totally comfortable leaving work to go to my kids’ school or camp in the middle of the day if they have a special event — I have never felt the need to put in “face time” or sit in my office just because. We work hard but we also respect each other’s non-firm lives and commitments, and that fosters a very content atmosphere in my opinion.
The best example I can give of Hogan Lovells’ collegial, friendly atmosphere is that I count my colleagues here among my closest friends. When my youngest daughter came home with her kindergarten yearbook, she asked me to take it to work so “all her friends at Hogan” could sign it. If you happen to see me in a fashionable outfit, it was most likely given to me by a partner in our Baltimore office who is one of the smartest lawyers and funniest people I know, and who, in addition to being a close friend, is also my fashion guru. I know the families of my colleagues here and they know mine. It was this atmosphere that attracted me to Hogan Lovells in the first place and it is what makes me enjoy coming to work every day.
Word to the wise
My advice is to follow your gut. When I met with the lawyers from Hogan Lovells who interviewed me, I had a good feeling in my gut that they were good, down-to-earth people with whom I would enjoy working. My gut has never steered me wrong.
I serve as the practice manager for our Investigations, White Collar, and Fraud practice. My practice focuses on white collar criminal defense, government investigations, internal investigations, government enforcement actions, and complex civil litigation. I have particular experience in the areas of pharmaceutical, medical device, and healthcare fraud investigations and False Claims Act litigation.
I serve on our Training Committee and am heavily involved with associate development and training. I am particularly proud of how the Training Committee has completely restructured the curriculum in order to give associates hands-on, practical experience and real-time feedback.
Prior to joining Hogan Lovells (for the second time), I served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.