Law School Discussion

Re: Testing Period

Re: Testing Period
« on: January 28, 2016, 04:41:15 PM »
Hi all,

What's a testing period at a law firm? What should I expect to be able to perform and what should I expect to be trained on? Like do I need to be able to draft motions and stuff already before starting? Or will they teach me everything they expect me to do? As you all know, the law school courses are all substantive knowledge and very little practical drafting...

Thanks for your help!


Re: Re: Testing Period
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2016, 05:28:39 PM »
I assume you're talking about a probationary period?

It's simply a specified period during which the firm is trying you out, seeing if you're a good fit. During the probationary period they can let you go if it's not going to work. 

Also, do you mean as a lawyer, or as a law student? The expectations will vary accordingly.

As far as expectations, they should be pretty clear on what experience you have and what your capabilities are based on the interview and resume. They'll probably ask you stuff like "Ever written an MSJ?", so there should be no surprises.

The level of guidance and help you'll get varies (unfortunately). I had a great experience as an intern during law school. The attorneys were awesome about really teaching me something. I got to write MSJs, make appearances, lots of good stuff. My wife had the opposite experience. She was stuck in an office and told to do stuff with almost no guidance, "Go figure it out." It just depends.

By the time you are a lawyer (even a brand new one working at your first job) you will be expected to perform most basic legal tasks with little or no supervision. When something is more complicated, you will seek advice from other lawyers. Again, the level of help you'll get varies widely. Some offices are great and have good training, others have a sink or swim attitude.


Re: Re: Testing Period
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2016, 01:24:30 AM »
I guess? I know a probationary period is just where you're new and they want to judge you and you better not be an idiot or hard to get along and if you learn what you're trained and are willing to improve, you'll be okay. But they called it a testing period so wasn't sure if that's a different thing with higher standards?

And as a law student. Like serving as a law clerk/intern type position. They will train me right? Or are they expecting me to be able to draft up things like I know what I'm doing already? My classes sure have not prepared me to draft anything. Other than our basic memo and moot court brief.

They didn't ask me much about anything like that during the interview. It was a fairly short interview and just some basic questions. They didn't even ask me about my course work or brief or writing sample. But they did mention they're working on typical litigation type stuff as well as transactional contract stuff like contracts, settlements, motions, discovery, etc.

So what happens if the experience ends up like the one your wife had? Should I leave then? As a practicing attorney, would you say I should stay a minimum amount of time before I can consider leaving if it's a bad experience? And what if a better opportunity comes by? Is it rude or inappropriate to leave before a certain time? And how do you leave without burning that bridge? The Bay Area legal community feels super tight knit so I wouldn't want to acquire any bad reputation before I'm even done with law school.

Are there books or things I can get to better prepare myself for performing these more basic lawyer tasks?

Any advice for starting a law clerk job at a firm is appreciated! :) Just a smidge nervous to be starting a new position with a local SF firm.

Re: Testing Period
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2016, 07:05:36 PM »
Do you already have a law firm gig lined up or are you just hopeful?
You don't need any of that for the types of jobs that a lot of lawyers now days get stuck long term doing like document review, etc

Re: Testing Period
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2016, 11:22:56 PM »
I have an internship thing. Not really sure if it's considered a gig especially with this testing period thing as it's sounding like I have to prove myself before they'll hire me based on what I'm hearing here? Not a big full blown summer associate gig or anything like that though if that's what you were wondering.

loki13

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Re: Testing Period
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2016, 02:53:24 PM »
I have an internship thing. Not really sure if it's considered a gig especially with this testing period thing as it's sounding like I have to prove myself before they'll hire me based on what I'm hearing here? Not a big full blown summer associate gig or anything like that though if that's what you were wondering.

Yeah, no idea based on what you've related. Haven't heard it referred to as a "testing period," but a probationary period is common.

Kinda weird if it's just a summer gig.

Re: Re: Testing Period
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2016, 04:47:24 PM »
I agree with Loki, I've never heard of a probationary period for a summer internship. I mean, the whole thing only lasts a couple of months anyway.

Re: Testing Period
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2016, 10:35:23 AM »
I am not sure if this is a 1L summer or 2L summer gig, but as everyone else said it will probably be just a way to get your feet wet. Not many summer law school gigs are that intense in all honesty and particularly if it is an unpaid internship, or for credit class, but you still learn stuff.

As a law student and even the first few years after you pass the bar, you really don't know anything and over complicate things, which I know I did and I am sure everyone else that posted will agree.

I also would not stop your search in February, it is great you have something lined up, but don't put all your eggs in one basket, and if you can get an awesome summer job elsewhere that doesn't entail a cryptic testing period go for it.

I believe you are in San Francisco and I highly recommend signing up for the Bar Association of San Francisco and using their career center. It is only $30 for law students to join for the year.

Also, I know the BYU intercollegiate job bank was awesome, when I was a law student.

Basically there are a ton of options out there and the most important thing for any lawyer, law student, etc is to just have confidence in yourself. You are smart enough to have been accepted into law school and are very capable, but if you constantly second guess yourself it will be tough to succeed.

You will do fine, if you believe in yourself, but that is easier said than done. I know when I was in school and starting out I thought I was screwing everything up, but the longer you do it you realize nobody is inflappable, I mean the U.S. Supreme Court Justices disagree with each-other about the law all the time, and as one of my professors put it law is more are than science.






Re: Testing Period
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2016, 12:53:49 PM »
Thanks all!

So to shed some light on this mystery. I am working for this firm currently on a small part-time basis. The testing period turned out to be just the first day basically. They just wanted to see if I'm a good fit like you all said. So far the experience is good, but I'm definitely still searching for 2L summer opportunities. I actually got 2 offers today and I would love all of your advice on that. I started a separate topic for that one though.

Thanks all!