David Singh – CUP Leadership Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I am an attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, a global law firm with over 1200 attorneys across 21 offices worldwide.  I work in the Litigation Department of the New York office, where I concentrate my practice in various forms of high stakes complex commercial litigation, including consumer fraud class actions, multidistrict litigation, contract disputes, alleged violations of state deceptive trade practice acts, fraud, product liability cases, and transactional risk assessment.  I have represented clients in a broad range of industries, including investment banking, energy, high-performance fiber, health care, insurance and long-term care, media and entertainment, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, commercial real estate, and transportation.

I first set my sights on a career in the legal profession during high school, when I developed a passion for argumentation and advocacy as a member of the speech and debate team.  In furtherance of my goal of being a lawyer, I attended Cornell Law School.  During the summer after my second year of law school, I worked as a summer associate at Weil.  I was offered a position as an associate, and I have worked at Weil since graduating law school in 2003.  It has been a wonderful journey.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?
I represent clients in high stakes disputes involving tens, hundreds, or even billions, of dollars.  The issues in such cases are extremely complicated, the pace and intensity is fierce, and discovery is  burdensome (e.g., the parties often exchange hundreds of thousands or millions of documents, which must be reviewed, and conduct dozens of depositions).  Providing excellent client service and achieving the client's objectives in such high stakes cases requires complete and unwavering dedication and personal sacrifice.

What is your proudest achievement?
My grandmother, who is an immigrant from Guyana, South America, pronounces lawyer "liar."  Unfortunately, this mispronunciation dovetails with popular sentiment, which maligns lawyers as greedy and unscrupulous.  My proudest achievement is that, although I am a zealous advocate for my clients and a formidable adversary, I have remained true to my principles.  I am ethical, work hard to mentor those behind me, regularly perform pro bono legal service for those who cannot afford legal representation, and work to better the legal profession and community through diversity initiatives, bar association activities, and involvement in non-profit organizations.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
The leaders I admire the most are Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi.  Each of these transformative leaders had a strong ethical vision, did the right thing, and was courageous and persistent in the face of adversity.  In terms of modern business leaders, I admire Steven Jobs for his forward-thinking approach and innovation.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I love the practice of law and, in particular, the intellectual challenge of dealing with difficult legal issues, so I will likely be a lawyer for life.  However, with a decade more experience under my belt, I expect to be "first chairing" more teams and trials.  I also hope to continue my ascent as a leader in the legal community and to have more opportunities to give back with pro bono and non-profit service.

How has your participation on the Leadership Board impacted the way you approach your day-to-day role?
Participating on the CUP Leadership Board has motivated me to further leverage the platform that I have as an attorney at a world class law firm by assisting the underprivileged and becoming more involved in non-profit organizations.