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armyjag

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #80 on: July 13, 2009, 08:33:58 PM »
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TruOne

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #81 on: July 14, 2009, 12:14:38 PM »

I would add spend your 3rd year networking hardcore if you got dumped from your 2L summer SA job. I had several open offers coming out of my last semester all from contacts and all guaranteed jobs if I just said the word. These ranged from being brought in by a managing partner at a big firm in town to work directly under him in his department to clerking for a judge. Who you know can beat just about everything. But it takes TIME and TRUST before you can start calling in favors so start as soon as you get back to school by getting involved in the legal community outside of law schools. Leave the clubs at the school for people who think mass mailing is a good way to find a job. Get out and make your rep in the legal community during your third year and you will have lots of people on the inside to help you find something.

I agree, I remember when I started 3L year. It was real depressing. I knew some many people who were smart, sociable, good grades and even PUBLISHED, that came back to school with no offer in hand and had to enter the rat race again. Career Services was absolutely  NO HELP because they recognized that *&^% was hitting the fan and that there was nothing they could do about it.

Of course, they gave the obligatory e-mails "network and make phone calls, join local bar associations to meet more lawyers." and all that crap, but there really wasn't much they could do because the knew that the writing was on the wall that as a new lawyer or a law student you were in one of two categories:

Unemployed

or

About to be unemployed.

and this isn't even counting all the "Deferred start dates" and crap.

Sands:

If you could redo your 1st 6 months as a 1st year associate, what would you do different?
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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #82 on: July 14, 2009, 01:39:42 PM »


Sands:

If you could redo your 1st 6 months as a 1st year associate, what would you do different?


I would have saved every penny of every f-ing paycheck like Scrooge McDuck.

There's a large misconception out there, predicated mostly on what used to be untouchable conventional wisdom about Biglaw:  you go to a good law school, you get good grades, you get into a good firm, and then you're set for life on easy street.  If you haven't been paying attention for the past year, then let me help you out: throw that *&^% out the window! Biglaw is no longer a safe bet.  In fact, it's probably one of the more volatile and risky things you can do right now out of law school.  Your career would be much better served by taking on a meaningful clerkship or some other legal practice in a non-"biglaw" market, and then giving Biglaw a call in a year or two (or three?).

That said, obviously had I known then what I know now I would have saved every last dollar b/c you never know how long you are going to be out of work in a situation like that.  Like I said earlier, I have friends right now with great legal credentials who have been out of work since late 2008.  Nobody is hiring! Headhunters are useless right now. Career Service departments all across America are useless right now. It's like Tru One said, you're either "unemployed" or "about to be unemployed."  that about sums it up.

There was a long period of time towards the end there where I honestly did not think that I would ever work in BigLaw again.  Many of my friends are starting to come to this conclusion now and its saddening to see it manifest itself in people who you know are really talented lawyers.  Even thought I've been blessed with a new opportunity, I still look at my new firm sideways with a skeptical eye.

I find that I'm forever jaded by this whole experience.  It's like falling in love with somebody and finding out they cheated on you, you guys break up, and then later on down the road they want you back.  Can you ever really look at that relationship the same way again?


But again, if I could go back and do it again, that would be my best advice to young padawans starting off in Biglaw - save your loot.  Biglaw is not the lottery.* It never was.  Not even during good economic times. Fortunately for me, when the axe came I had about 3 or 4 month of Manhattan rent stashed away in my checking account but had I known, I would have saved more. Look at your bank account under the following prism: If I lost my job today, how many months of rent/mortgage will I be able to make?



*EDIT - BTW, making $160,000/yr does not make you "rich" by any stretch of the imagination. "Rich" people don't work for bi-weekly paychecks, especially ones taxed at 40%.  $160k means you can pay all of your bills and still have some money left over to go out at night or pick up a few nice items here or there.  It doesn't mean you're driving a Ferrari and living in the Hamptons with a summer home in Martha's Vineyard.  At best classification, even if you're living in the midwest it means you're upper middle class.  In NY you're just average (perhaps even below average depending on which part of NYC you live).  But don't get me wrong, making $160k is nice, but you're not "rich."  Just wanted to clear up that misconception from a point of personal experience. 
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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #83 on: July 20, 2009, 03:54:33 PM »


Sands:

When your first firm gave you the Axe, did they do it like in Office Space, or did they leave you a stickey note on your computer and deactivate your fob?


Also, how many SA's at your firm do you think are gonna get No-offered this summer?

I tried to come into work one day and found all my poo outside on the sidewalk.  Just kidding.  :D

Actually, what had happened was...As with many other firms, the rumors and speculation were buzzing long before we got any official word.  Everybody was walking on pins and needles for months.  I officially found out by opening up the Wall Street Journal and reading a headline that our firm was giving folks the axe.  That forced the partners' hand to come clean and so then they broke their silence and gave people official notice.

Re your second question - that is the million dollar question that everybody has been wondering, especially the summer associates.  Wish I knew but I don't make those decisions so I'd hate to speculate and freak people out anymore than they already are.  I can tell you that the morale among the summers is down. They all pretty much expect to get axed regardless of whether this is true or not.


So what advice would you give to a SA that got no-offered and is forced into 3L OCI.

It used to be that only "drunk idiots who did crappy work" got no-offered, but now it is a likely possibility that good SA's will get the axe. Do you think they'll still have that stigma of "what was wrong with you?" surrounding them when they enter the Job hunt/rat race again?


Absolutely not.

Look, everybody knows that BigLaw is getting bent over right now.  After I lost my job, every single place I interviewed with knew what time it was and nobody asked me "so why did you leave?"  1 year ago, you would have been asked that if you tried to jump ship from one firm to another.  Today, all the conventional wisdom of Biglaw has been turned on its head.  I've literally seen scores of the best and brightest attorneys in the profession from the best schools get laid off in the blink of an eye like they were nothing.  Once I saw my frat brother get laid off from Skadden, I knew that silly season was in full effect.  This guy was Ivy league undergrad, T-14 law school, Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review, came out of law school working for Cravath right off the bat before transferring over to Skadden.  Laid off. 

Bananas I tell you.  Straight bananas.

So no stigma should attach to any summer who is in 3L OCI trying to find a job.  As a 3L you should have the right to smack somebody with the Homey the Clown sock for even suggesting something that stupid in an interview.

Although as a caveat, 3L OCI is traditionally a hard sell even in good economic times.  Most firms don't hire 3L's, as you probably know.  Thus, my advice for folks who get dinged from their SA position, either (i) go into a clerkship or (ii) search outside the V-100.



I would add spend your 3rd year networking hardcore if you got dumped from your 2L summer SA job. I had several open offers coming out of my last semester all from contacts and all guaranteed jobs if I just said the word. These ranged from being brought in by a managing partner at a big firm in town to work directly under him in his department to clerking for a judge. Who you know can beat just about everything. But it takes TIME and TRUST before you can start calling in favors so start as soon as you get back to school by getting involved in the legal community outside of law schools. Leave the clubs at the school for people who think mass mailing is a good way to find a job. Get out and make your rep in the legal community during your third year and you will have lots of people on the inside to help you find something.

Mathies is spot on.  Networking can never be mentioned enough.

The pecking order of Biglaw hiring (and pretty much everybody else as well) is:

1. Your Connections, which will trump
2. Your Law School's Ranking, which will trump
3. Your Grades, which will trump
4. Your Law Review Status, which will trump
5. Your Other Legal Journal Status, which will trump
6. Your Moot Court Status, which will trump
7. All other law school affiliations, clubs, activities, etc.


One good connection and you're in the door, no matter what.  You could be bottom of your class at Mom & Pop Law School, but if the Managing Partner of Biglaw LLP says you're in, then you're in.


"A lawyer's either a social engineer or a parasite on society. A social engineer is a highly skilled...lawyer who understands the Constitution of the U.S. and knows how to explore its uses in the solving of problems of local communities and in bettering [our] conditions."
Charles H. Houston

Matthies

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #84 on: July 20, 2009, 04:03:27 PM »


Sands:

When your first firm gave you the Axe, did they do it like in Office Space, or did they leave you a stickey note on your computer and deactivate your fob?


Also, how many SA's at your firm do you think are gonna get No-offered this summer?

I tried to come into work one day and found all my poo outside on the sidewalk.  Just kidding.  :D

Actually, what had happened was...As with many other firms, the rumors and speculation were buzzing long before we got any official word.  Everybody was walking on pins and needles for months.  I officially found out by opening up the Wall Street Journal and reading a headline that our firm was giving folks the axe.  That forced the partners' hand to come clean and so then they broke their silence and gave people official notice.

Re your second question - that is the million dollar question that everybody has been wondering, especially the summer associates.  Wish I knew but I don't make those decisions so I'd hate to speculate and freak people out anymore than they already are.  I can tell you that the morale among the summers is down. They all pretty much expect to get axed regardless of whether this is true or not.


So what advice would you give to a SA that got no-offered and is forced into 3L OCI.

It used to be that only "drunk idiots who did crappy work" got no-offered, but now it is a likely possibility that good SA's will get the axe. Do you think they'll still have that stigma of "what was wrong with you?" surrounding them when they enter the Job hunt/rat race again?


Absolutely not.

Look, everybody knows that BigLaw is getting bent over right now.  After I lost my job, every single place I interviewed with knew what time it was and nobody asked me "so why did you leave?"  1 year ago, you would have been asked that if you tried to jump ship from one firm to another.  Today, all the conventional wisdom of Biglaw has been turned on its head.  I've literally seen scores of the best and brightest attorneys in the profession from the best schools get laid off in the blink of an eye like they were nothing.  Once I saw my frat brother get laid off from Skadden, I knew that silly season was in full effect.  This guy was Ivy league undergrad, T-14 law school, Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review, came out of law school working for Cravath right off the bat before transferring over to Skadden.  Laid off. 

Bananas I tell you.  Straight bananas.

So no stigma should attach to any summer who is in 3L OCI trying to find a job.  As a 3L you should have the right to smack somebody with the Homey the Clown sock for even suggesting something that stupid in an interview.

Although as a caveat, 3L OCI is traditionally a hard sell even in good economic times.  Most firms don't hire 3L's, as you probably know.  Thus, my advice for folks who get dinged from their SA position, either (i) go into a clerkship or (ii) search outside the V-100.



I would add spend your 3rd year networking hardcore if you got dumped from your 2L summer SA job. I had several open offers coming out of my last semester all from contacts and all guaranteed jobs if I just said the word. These ranged from being brought in by a managing partner at a big firm in town to work directly under him in his department to clerking for a judge. Who you know can beat just about everything. But it takes TIME and TRUST before you can start calling in favors so start as soon as you get back to school by getting involved in the legal community outside of law schools. Leave the clubs at the school for people who think mass mailing is a good way to find a job. Get out and make your rep in the legal community during your third year and you will have lots of people on the inside to help you find something.

Mathies is spot on.  Networking can never be mentioned enough.

The pecking order of Biglaw hiring (and pretty much everybody else as well) is:

1. Your Connections, which will trump
2. Your Law School's Ranking, which will trump
3. Your Grades, which will trump
4. Your Law Review Status, which will trump
5. Your Other Legal Journal Status, which will trump
6. Your Moot Court Status, which will trump
7. All other law school affiliations, clubs, activities, etc.


One good connection and you're in the door, no matter what.  You could be bottom of your class at Mom & Pop Law School, but if the Managing Partner of Biglaw LLP says you're in, then you're in.




I think this is really important for law students to understand, especially in this economy. OCI and being an SA is not the only way to get into big law. Partners, even some senior associates, at least here, are free to bring in people they want to work under them, summer SA or not. When a partner goes to HR and says I want X working under me, they dont say but hes not a summer! they make it happen. Most lawyers, even big law lawyers will tell you if given their choice they would much rather pick who works under them from law students they know personally then be assigned some random SA that firms says is now going to work in their department. You dont hear about this method of getting into big law as much not because it does not happen, but mostly because the vast majority of law students are so fixated on OCI/SA as the only way in they dont explore other options.
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #85 on: July 20, 2009, 05:22:26 PM »
The pecking order of Biglaw hiring (and pretty much everybody else as well) is:

1. Your Connections, which will trump
2. Your Law School's Ranking, which will trump
3. Your Grades, which will trump
4. Your Law Review Status, which will trump
5. Your Other Legal Journal Status, which will trump
6. Your Moot Court Status, which will trump
7. All other law school affiliations, clubs, activities, etc.


One good connection and you're in the door, no matter what.  You could be bottom of your class at Mom & Pop Law School, but if the Managing Partner of Biglaw LLP says you're in, then you're in.

what?

shocking huh?
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

Matthies

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #86 on: July 20, 2009, 05:58:51 PM »
You've got to define "says you're in."  Even for an MP, mandating a significantly subpar candidate requires the use of a good amount of political capital.

He can tell a recruiting coordinator or hiring partner, "look out for this guy, good kid."  And that's more than helpful, right, but it's still within the province of the hiring committee to say "sorry Bob, couldn't squeeze him in from (class rank, school, whatever)."  Then at the other end of the spectrum, he can tell a hiring partner, "we need this kid, have to have him."  Probably that'll do the trick, but it's cost Bob a little bit to be that forward and pull rank on a hiring decision.  Let alone if it smells to somebody on the hiring committee like nepotism.

Anyway, in response to Sands' bit, yes and no.

Matthies would say, and would be right, that the thing to do is to have the MP put in the word for you, then to try to build a strong relationship with the HP as well.

(Personal experience here, in re the different degrees of help you can get & nepotism considerations.)

I think its very much depends on the firm. In places like NYC and firms like top vault firms where billings is based on the cravath model its probably much more unlikely. However those are not the majority of big law firms or where the majority of big law lawyers work. My personal experience and the ones I have seen from my friends was offer made and accepted by partner sealed there on the spot. No interview or meeting with hiring committee. I was hired to work directly under the partner in the department he was the head of by him and no one else. I showed up Monday morning went to HR filed out my stuff and reported directly to partner for work.

Both of my offers for big law after law school came the same way, directly by the partner I would be working for as an offer no interaction with HR whatsoever. All three of the firms had 250+ lawyers and where either HQd in Denver or large regional office of national firms. (A big note here, these where not casual relationships I had worked on bar association projects with these people, helped them author articles for the local law journals, been to games with them, had dinner at their houses, its not like some partner I met one time at some school function I e-mailed three times in three  years. This kid of pull takes people really knowing you well and wanting to grab you before someone else does.)

 From my experience Partners who are ultimately responsible for their departments and what they want more than anything else is someone who can do the work with minimal oversight, and wont rock the boat and or piss off the staff (the last part is KEY new associates are a dime a dozen but quality paralegals and legal secretaries who are really good at what they do for as low as they get paid are like GOLD). If their billing model is not based on more money for top degrees, they dont really care what the paper says if you can do the job. If they can hire someone they have personal experience with outside the firm, say working on projects with the bar or in an Inn of the court they will take that over an HR paper hire any day of the week. Law, in most firms, is no different that any other business, you want good employees that wont wreck the moral of the department, if you can pick people you have had a chance to work with over those you have not, most of the time youll pick the ones you know are going to be good from personal experience. 

*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

nealric

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #87 on: July 20, 2009, 10:23:19 PM »
Quote
1. Your Connections, which will trump
2. Your Law School's Ranking, which will trump

I would like to add just a tad of qualification here. I don't disagree with matthies at all but-

The strength of connections can vary greatly.

Having a family friend who is a partner will not trump grades/school that does not meet the firm's hiring criteria. It will probably get you an interview if you are on or just over the line.

A connection to a brand new non-equity partner won't mean nearly as much as a connection to the firm's biggest rainmaker. Not all partners can just take someone on without approval- only those with a certain amount of seniority can do that.


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Now who's being naive?

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #88 on: July 20, 2009, 10:41:35 PM »
Quote
1. Your Connections, which will trump
2. Your Law School's Ranking, which will trump


A connection to a brand new non-equity partner won't mean nearly as much as a connection to the firm's biggest rainmaker. Not all partners can just take someone on without approval- only those with a certain amount of seniority can do that.




pfft I don't hang with the newbi partners. Named and or mdoels and bottles only, beside the new equity partners are stuck with chaperoning the summer SAs on the booze cruze making sure they pass out face down so as to not drown in thier own vomit.
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

M_Cool

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #89 on: July 20, 2009, 10:42:34 PM »
Good grades / good school > All.  That *&^% follows you everywhere and you can always make new connections after you have your grades.  You can't change your grades.  

Sorry, but there is no way a managing partner at a big law firm is going to stick his neck on the line by recommending someone who is completely unqualified.  Connections only matter if you are at least in the ball park.  I think you are overstating it a little.  

Case in point is my buddy.  He went away to BU and is very good friends with several of the partners and associates at the big regional firm I'm at.  He got below median grades (like a 3.0) and now they sent him a letter saying they won't even interview him.  He gave them a call and the hiring partner said that he was sorry but he just wasn't in their grade range to justify interviewing him.