Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky / Q&A with New Partner Sean Mullen
Sean Mullen is a commercial litigator who was recently promoted to partner at Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky. He has represented clients in litigation and arbitration involving securities, complex international investments, LLC and partnership agreements, employment agreements, and other contract disputes.
Before joining DPK, Sean completed a clerkship on the Supreme Court of New Jersey and worked as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Below, Sean talks about the path he took to become a lawyer, his college experience at a college with no grades, his board game obsession and latest book recommendations.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
The whole time I was in college, I really didn’t think about a legal career. I originally wanted to teach and to become a college professor. I moved to New Jersey to go to graduate school for history, but after a couple of years, I realized that was not for me.
I worked at a tutoring company when I was in graduate school, and it was there that I was exposed to the LSAT. I remember seeing the test and realizing, this is something I am pretty good at. That’s what prompted me to start thinking about a career in the law. I realized that being a lawyer meant using skills that I already had from being a history graduate student and as someone who loved to read and write.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who just started their career?
Don’t worry too much about where you’ll end up, especially when you are just getting started. I think the important thing is to try to find positions that interest you and that challenge you. And if you do that, you’ll end up in a place that’s the right fit for you and in a role that’s right for you.
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Definitely the people I meet – clients, coworkers, and even opposing counsel, if things aren’t too testy. I enjoy all of that. There are some lawyers who like nothing better than to be left at their computer all day long writing briefs, and I like a little bit of that too, but it’s the personal interaction that I enjoy most.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career to date?
Making partner just a couple of months ago. That would certainly probably be the highlight so far.
What was your first job?
My dad works in construction. When I was in high school and I needed extra money, a lot of times I would just work with him. I also worked for a local city Public Works Department. I quickly found that I didn’t have any of my dad’s handiness, and that I should be in other fields. When I was in college, I got a work study job at the college library, and between then and law school, it was all desk and teaching jobs.
What’s your favorite food?
My favorite cuisines are Mexican and Indian.
Do you have any talents or hobbies?
I’m a very avid board gamer, and my wife is as well. We play a lot of games, and frequently they’re more complicated games. The one that got me interested in board games in the early 2000s was Settlers of Catan. But over time I became obsessed with learning about the new games coming out, and I’ve attended board game conventions. Some of my favorite games are A Feast for Odin, Great Western Trail, and Twilight Struggle.
Did you have a favorite subject in college?
I went to an alternative college, Evergreen State College, with no grades and no course requirements other than just earning a particular number of credits. In lieu of grades, we received page-long written narrative evaluations from the professor about your work over the course of the course of the quarter. It was great! We would only take one class at a time, so the classes were interdisciplinary. For example, I took a course that lasted for two quarters, The Physicist’s World, which was a history of science and philosophy from ancient times into the 20th century.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
I have three recommendations, which I think are the best books I’ve read over the past couple of years. The first is These Truths by Jill Lepore, which is just a really good one volume history of the United States. The second is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. The final one is The Three Body Problem, and its sequels, by Liu Cixin.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Definitely a morning person. My best work hours of the day start at around 7AM.
Are you a coffee or tea person?
I’m from Seattle originally, so it’s coffee all the way.
What’s your favorite season?
I always used to say fall, but now it’s summer. My wife and I enjoy traveling in the summer, but it’s also just a great time to be in the city.
What’s something that you’re proud of?
Over the course of the pandemic, like many people, I’ve worked on developing certain household things and I can mix bar quality cocktails from home and serve you a steak at the perfect temperature. So those are nice accomplishments I’m hoping to share.