‘Tis the season to be frantic, especially if you’re an incoming associate at a small law firm. Last November, Elie posed this question to the Biglaw readership: “Bar results are out. Does everyone still have a job?”
I’m really curious to hear how smaller firms are handling this. Generally speaking, you’re closer to the action as a first-year associate at a small firm. Sometimes, you’re knee deep in the action. See, e.g., this email I received from a reader and first-year associate at a small firm:
I draft contracts and other documents largely on my own, they go from me to the principal, back to me for revision, and then to the client/court. I deal with clients all the time. I go to court, mediation, negotiations…
This describes my own experience as a new associate almost exactly. I was expected to be… well, to be an attorney — with most things I was called upon to do requiring a license….
Thus I was told, in no uncertain terms when I started, that my continued employment was dependent upon a passing score on the bar examination. I say “continued employment” because I started in September, which meant that I had a full month of what amounted to a trial period. During that time, the firm’s partners routinely said things like “Oh, I’m sure he passed” when discussing the matter in my presence, but obviously had their reservations as the firm’s manager / marketing director was instructed not to order business cards or post my name to the website. I was really excited about those business cards…
By contrast, my understanding is that soon-to-be Biglaw associates usually get (at least) two bites at the bar exam apple. True? Has this changed since the economy tanked? If not, why? There will surely be plenty of young ‘n tenders that passed but are still looking for employment. Why not ditch your now extremely overpaid research assistant for someone that’s good to go? But I digress.
My point is that bar results season is arguably more trying for those starting in small law because bad news begets more bad news. True? False? Also, if you know your job is on the line and find out you failed, what’s your move? Do you just not come back from lunch? Do you ask for another try?