Well, at least one lawyer thinks he has this whole Biglaw thing figured out. And he’s happy to share his wisdom with new associates. Writing at the Texas Lawyer, Jason Braun has some harsh advice for young lawyers:
When I became a lawyer, a partner gave me what I now realize was great advice: “Don’t think like an associate,” she told me. “Think like a partner.” I wisely nodded my head. “Of course,” I solemnly replied, hoping she would not notice my confusion….
New associates love being lawyers — or at least should — and hopefully their first and foremost goal is to become a great lawyer. Over the past few years, several tenets have helped me on the way to that goal. Some I learned quickly; others I learned through trial and error.
Oh boy. When you start out declaring what new associates should love in life, you can see where Braun is going.
Check after the jump for more reasons why giving yourself completely to the Biglaw experience is the only way to go.
I am a first year associate in a small/mid-sized firm. I graduated during during the height of the recession, so it took me many months to find this job. I have been working there for about three months (and I hate it).
Recently, I have noticed oppressive and harassing behavior in the workplace by the senior/managing partners. In addition, I have a strong suspicion of unethical practices occurring in the firm, but I do have not have clear evidence to confirm my suspicions. I have a strong inclination to leave the firm for these reasons.
However, if I leave, I am stuck as to how I will answer if asked why I left after just three months. Moreover, trying to find another job in the current economy in California is difficult. I’m afraid if I disclose the real reason I left, I may be saying untrue things about the firm, and/or be viewed as a whistleblower or someone who cannot be trusted. Any other answers will surely raise eyebrows as to my commitment considering the short time period spent at the current firm.
Give a Little Whistle
Give a Little Whistle,
I was sitting at home watching Cake Boss when my phone rang. It was Lat. He asked me what I was doing and I said, “Watching Cake Boss, this show is actually not that bad.” He then reminded me that I had a Pls Hndle Thx due the next day and when I said that I didn’t have any witty responses to the question posed above, he ordered me to – you guessed it – write a poem.
“It doesn’t have to rhyme,” he said, to which I responded, “Actually, last time I checked, ALL poems had to rhyme,” and he immediately conceded this point. So without further ado, I present to you, “Ratting on Your Firm on a Snowy Evening.”
Marin’s Poem and Elie’s Susan Boyle impersonation after the jump.
I was wondering whether I should get/admit to getting plastic surgery.
My issue is that if I was in L.A., I would have done it already, but Chi-town is different, and I want my co-workers to take me seriously notwithstanding the potential surgery.
Too Sexy for My Face
Dear Too Sexy for My Face,
At approximately 8:43 a.m. on November 1, 2001, in an office on Central Park South, Dr. Michael Evan Sachs punched me in the nose with his scalpel. Five days after his precision beating, I removed the bandages to reveal a magnificent elf shoe perched in the middle of my face. Going into the surgery, I hoped that a new nose would solve all my problems. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
There’s nothing inherently shameful about plastic surgery; some of us were simply born monsters and require surgery to address the situation. The only shameful thing about the whole ordeal is hatching some ludicrous story to explain away your new feature(s) or banking on the fact that your colleagues aren’t observant people and don’t live for this sort of shit. If you show up at work with two Christmas hams stuffed in your shirt or half of your nose hacked off and still pale despite your “Costa Rica trip,” your colleagues will notice, mainly because they aren’t morons. And because they’re tactful professionals, they won’t confront you about it, they’ll just tear you to shreds behind your back. Keeping quiet about it doesn’t make you look discreet, it makes you seem ashamed. If you remove the shame from the equation, the vicious gossip loses its sting. There’s not really anything further for people to discuss about your surgery if you’ve already told them everything yourself.
Stop being corny and worried about whether your colleagues will think you’re vain. Of course you’re vain if you’re getting cosmetic surgery, and there is no sense in wasting time or energy disabusing yourself or coworkers of the truth. Be true to yourself, even the plastic parts.
Elie objectifies us all, after the jump.
[Ed. note: This post is authored by ATL guest columnist Hope Winters. Hope is an early retired lawyer, turned Senate staffer, turned corporate lobbyist. She lives in Washington, DC. Read her previous work here. Read part I and II.]
There are no structured activities left (other than Karmic Yoga which I will not even respond to here) so we decide to take a hike on the pristine lake the Dining Captain told me about before he attempted to rape me. Olivia whips out the sketchy map we can’t follow, and we end up not on a trail but stuck on path of poison ivy and prickly things and mud. We muddle through streams and rocks; my Chanel sunglasses slip and crash on a rock and break. I remind myself that I hate the Ashram and all its surrounding premises.
But suddenly, as we exit the rocks and the African bush, we really do emerge on flat land facing this huge vast beautiful lake. We just stare at it. It’s sparkling and navy blue and placid. Not a ripple. Not a crescent.
We’re suddenly silent. Peaceful. Grateful. We are Whitman and Thoreau.
We’re getting into it.
But will it last? The adventure ends after the jump.
For the NY bar, exam takers were given the option of either hand writing the test or typing it on a laptop using ExamSoft. I chose to type it because I can obviously type faster than I can write, but I have been having nightmares about my computer freezing on me or some kind of tech glitch happening during the test. I am really freaking out over here. Should I change over to handwriting?
Katharine Gibbs School for Typing
Dear Katharine Gibbs School for Typing,
When I was your age, there was no such thing as being given “the option” to type the bar exam, unless you were among a select group of Benedict Arnolds who volunteered to participate in the 2005 bar exam laptop test run. Everybody else hand wrote the exam, just like our fathers before us, and their fathers and our father’s father’s fathers and so on and so forth as far back as President Abraham Lincoln, who somehow got away with just “reading” law, most likely because he was a giant and people weren’t about to pick a fight with him over minor things.
The law guild is no different than any other gang: you have to get jumped to get in. Us hand writers wrote until our fingers seized up and our hands gnarled into claws, and by God we liked it that way. My year, some poor soul’s hand fell off altogether so he switched hands and kept right on writing, because that’s just what you do. You typers seem to forget that the first part of the Character and Fitness test is purification by pain.
But you and your Turing machines know nothing of “”honor” or “loyalty” or “code.” Maybe your so-called “laptop” will ease your sissy hand cramps, but it will do nothing to address the fundamental issue here. You, sir, have no respect for your elders or for the handwriting brotherhood. You sicken me.
Will there be problems with your laptop on the day of the exam? Only God knows. And He is watching you and your computer, my friend. And He is judging.
[Ed. note: This post is authored by ATL guest columnist Hope Winters. Hope is an early retired lawyer, turned Senate staffer, turned corporate lobbyist. She lives in Washington, DC. Read her previous work here. Read part I of this piece here.]
After this dinner I’m still starving from, we hop into the car to drive to the purported “private” room we paid extra for. Now I’m really starting to believe murder or rape is a foregone conclusion. I attract criminals like Jewish men attract Asian girls. And here’s the thing, there’s nothing to stop anyone from doing anything. We’re not allowed to lock either our door nor the front door to the Brady Brunchesque house we will be staying in tonight. Our “private” room is in this house. I said a private room. Like hotel room. Not a room in some random family’s house. Not some room I’m not allowed to lock.
As I enter the spacious open living room containing a lot blue mats and a lot small purple chairs for meditation, I find a DVD player. Excellent. Civility. I’ll just do my Denise Austin Yoga for Abs video and skip class tomorrow. It’s almost pitch black in the room because not only do these people not eat, they don’t do electricity.
I walk over to the big glass window peering out over the water — trying to find the lake, and then, I hear this boy’s voice.
“Hey.” I turn around quickly.
Plaid flannel shirt. Black wire rimmed glasses. Scruffy beard. Red North Face jacket. So Ted Bundy.
I have met my maker.
Can Hope survive her first encounter with Ashram men? Non-homicidal details after the jump.
Dear Above The Law,
I am a summer associate at a BigLaw firm in New York. I have no work and I spend my day surfing the net. My assignment coordinator forbade me from getting work from anyone else, but won’t give me any either. The partners and associates ignore me. I feel like they’re creating an impossible situation where they’re setting me up to be no-offered. What should I do?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Dear Who Framed Roger Rabbit,
If you’ve seen Intervention, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew seasons 1-3 or Sober House, you’re no doubt familiar with the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity: To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.
Here’s some wisdom: your quandary is of the “things I cannot change” type. If you’re not getting any work and everyone’s avoiding you it’s either because you smell or they didn’t want the ATL press associated with rescinding your summer offer and now they’re just humoring you for 10 weeks. Assuming that they are humoring you, your no-offer destiny is written in the stars and it doesn’t make sense for you to fret about it and beg for work. Puritanism died out because people eventually realized that there was no point in being righteous if their fate was predestined. God The firm has predestined you to find a job elsewhere, so grab a scarlet letter and party like it’s 1647. You also might want to look into the smell thing just in case because it’s good to be able to cross things like that off the list.
Your situation is pretty ideal, because now that you know that you’ll be no-offered you can kick back and enjoy the rest of summer without the nagging uncertainty. Take your $2,500 a week and buy a Margaritaville DM1000 Frozen Concoction Maker and sip daquiris from a Nalgene bottle at your desk. Go on a Sex and the City tour and crap your pants when you get to Magnolia Bakery. Walk into a Starbucks at 2 pm and demand to know, “Don’t you people have jobs?” Whatever you do, don’t waste your time worrying about an offer that is never going to happen. Serenity Now.
Biglaw is suffering — big time. Meanwhile, many smaller and midsize law firms are doing just fine, even thriving. (A number of them — e.g., Silver Golub & Teitell, McKool Smith, and Stone & Magnanini — are expanding, with the help of job postings on Above the Law.)
These days, Am Law 200 firms are generally doing better than their Am Law 100 counterparts. This generally hasn’t been the case, at least in recent years. Industry observers are wondering: Is small beautiful?
That was one theme of Casting a Wider Net: The Rise of the Small to Mid-Sized Law Firm, another panel at yesterday’s conference, co-sponsored by the New York City Bar and Vault, entitled Getting Back in the Game: How to Restart Your Career in a Down Economy. (We wrote about an earlier panel here.)
The panel on small to midsize law firms consisted of:
ALLA ROYTBERG (moderator), Solo Practitioner, and Director, City Bar Small Law Firm Center;
Yesterday we participated in an extremely interesting panel discussion, Breaking Back into a Large Law Firm: How to Make Your Way Back into a Top Law Firm. It was part of a day-long conference, co-sponsored by the New York City Bar and Vault, entitled Getting Back in the Game: How to Restart Your Career in a Down Economy.
The panel consisted of:
Write-ups of the discussion have appeared on the websites of the New York Times, Vault, and the ABA Journal. We recommend them to you.
We’ve also prepared our own summary of the discussion, which goes into greater detail than the other write-ups. It tackles such topics as general recommendations for the job search, when to use a recruiter (and when not to), how contract work is viewed by prospective employers, and what happens to your résumé after you send it into the cyber-ether and it arrives at a firm.
Read more, after the jump.
[Ed. note: This post is authored by ATL guest columnist Hope Winters. Hope is an early retired lawyer, turned Senate staffer, turned corporate lobbyist. She lives in Washington, DC. Read her previous work here.]
Well, as I told you in my last piece, I have been desperately searching for inner peace during these incredibly depressing times.
I decided, however, that I needed to amp up my desire for such peace. Meditation class was increasingly becoming too easy, and I was now ready to become a guru of inner peace. So, my friend Olivia and I packed up our car, left the comforts of our urban existence, and headed out to the great unknown. The Ashram.
I had found the Ashram online. It was a place where we could find balance, do yoga, and eat organic vegetarian meals. And it was dirt cheap, to boot. Girls, in case you missed the Times piece, ashrams are the new spas. We all have to cut back now. And isn’t it about time we work on our insides instead of outsides? Don’t worry. Those saddle bags are going to whittle away anyway due to scarce food supplies forecasted for fourth quarter ’09.
“I didn’t know it was a silent retreat all weekend. I thought that was just on Saturday.” Olivia, already breaking the rules, whispers to me upon arrival.
Oops. I forgot to shepardize this case. I don’t recall reading that part on the website.
More after the jump.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.