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Author Topic: Small firm advice requested  (Read 2664 times)

Skallagrim

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Small firm advice requested
« on: February 10, 2008, 08:58:41 PM »
I'm a 1L at a good school with good grades. I'm hoping to make a career in criminal defense, preferably as a PD but if not then in small private practice. I'm thinking about summer employment. If my application to the local PD office doesn't work out, then my intention is to find a small/solo firm to work for during the summer. My plan is to mass mail my resume and related documents to all likely firms I find through Martindale, probably sometime in March, with the intention of starting in May.

Does this sound reasonable or am I making a miscalculation somewhere? Is a two month lead time from mailing to hopeful hiring too much, too little or just right? Is there a better way to find reputable small firms other than a Martindale search?


cesco

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Re: Small firm advice requested
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2008, 09:10:15 PM »
I know this does not really answer your question, but after reading your post I thought I'd suggest that you also  apply to intern for a criminal district court judge.  I am doing this now, and am absolutely amazed at how much I am learning about the criminal process.  You get a big picture exposure to criminal law and get to see how a variety of attorneys handle procedures ranging from arraignment to trial.  Watching trials (IMO) is fascinating and extremely educational. 

Just a thought.   
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thorc954

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Re: Small firm advice requested
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2008, 09:12:44 PM »
Umm... Im not sure about timing, but I would always assume the sooner the better (within reason as small firms usually hire later in the summer).  I dont know another resource, but if your school has simplicity, I would look into that.  In addition, sometimes the CDO has books of law firms to consider. 

One option I think you may be missing or maybe its just not your interest at all, but there is the DA's office. It might give ya some great experience and make you a little more desirable for a later PD job then working at a small practice.

However, this is all just my advice, like most people, I dont have any real grounds to say any of this, but its just something to consider.

good luck with whatever you decide on.

vaplaugh

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Re: Small firm advice requested
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2008, 10:05:14 PM »
I agree with Thorc re: DA office.  Plus, think of the networking opportunities - not only will you probably interact with PDs, but also solo and small firm criminal defense lawyers.

But, as for small/solo firms, I would suggest also using the old fashioned yellow pages.  If I remember correctly, Martindale is a fee service and not all lawyers are on there.

Skallagrim

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Re: Small firm advice requested
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2008, 10:48:48 PM »
I have strongly considered the judicial internship idea, but I just can't get excited about it. I don't think the courts where I want to work have a "criminal" branch so I could end up spending an entire summer doing civil work. It wouldn't be totally wasted but it's not really what I want. Plus there's no money, and if I'm not doing exactly what I want then I want to get paid for it.

I think the prosecutor advice is sound in theory, but I could never work for the prosecution. I respect what they do, but the same drive that pushes me toward defense keeps me away from the state.

The yellow pages advice is excellent -- it's almost too simple :)

I figure if everything completely falls through, then I can just spend some time sitting in on trials as an observer, working on my Spanish, and otherwise just keeping busy but not too busy.

Thanks for all the advice so far (and more is welcome).

John Galt

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Re: Small firm advice requested
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2008, 11:59:41 AM »
A mass mail isn't goping to hurt you, but I woundn't make it the centerpiece of a job search. You may get some hits, and even a job, but it is woefully inefficient. Your best bet would be to make it part of a overall strategy of meeting attorneys.

I always hated the idea of networking and "information interviews" because I thought it was cheesy, but most people are receptive, especially lawyers in the 3-5 year range. They are young enough (in terms of years in the profession)  to remember how much looking for a job sucks, but have a couple years worth of contacts they can help you with. It doesn't have to be a formal think either, just coffee, a phone call or exchange a couple of emails.

I have not statistical basis for saying this, but my guess is most small firms hire someone they know or another lawyer referred to them, rather than a cold resume mailing from someone they don;t know. 

Peaches

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Re: Small firm advice requested
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2008, 12:38:12 PM »
So you're banking things so far on one application?  Hope it works out for you, but you should've been exploring other options already and should start your firm search ASAP.  Starting earlier rather than later could land you in the enviable position of having too many offers.

Also, if you have trouble getting into the mindset of working for the prosecution, then a summer internship with the prosecutor may be a BIG help for you.  Learning to see things from their perspective (and make arguments as they would make them), even if it isn't what you want to do, could be a great skill to learn.  Many defense attorneys have worked for at least some period of time as an assistant DA.

Skallagrim

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Re: Small firm advice requested
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2008, 08:58:10 PM »
@John Galt: Yeah I agree with you on the value of networking but unfortunately the hiring organizations that contact my school to schmooze are generally not the right size (small), the right field (criminal defense) or from the right geographic location.

thorc954

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Re: Small firm advice requested
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2008, 10:38:27 PM »
why so opposed to prosecutors?  I feel like its the same thing as a PD job in that sometimes innocent people go to jail and some times guilty people avoid jail and it all depends on the competency of the lawyer and the intelligence of the judge? 

Not insulting your preference cause I certainly would never do anything myself that didnt interest me, but just wondering where you are coming from.

jacy85

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Re: Small firm advice requested
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2008, 11:01:07 PM »
@John Galt: Yeah I agree with you on the value of networking but unfortunately the hiring organizations that contact my school to schmooze are generally not the right size (small), the right field (criminal defense) or from the right geographic location.

NONE OF THIS MATTERS.  This is where people go wrong - they wait for their schools to set up networking events or find them a job.  Wrong.  You set up your own networking events, you find your own job.

Look up alums of your school that are in criminal defense and ask for informational interviews on how they get started, whether they have tips for the job search while in law school, etc.  Or look for CLEs (continuing legal education) or defense bar events that are open to students.  The defense bar is typically pretty tight knit, in that people all know each other.  Since most people love to talk about themselves, you shouldn't have a problem finding people to meet with and befriend.  It's these contacts that get you jobs - they get to know you, can give you advice, and when they hear of job openings, they can recommend you (or at least let you know of the opportunity).

Waiting for your school to set up the networking opportunity that meets your specific needs is a good way to get no-where in your job search.  Show some more initiative, and you'll really impress the people you hope to work for/with someday.