So I was invited to a rock concert in California with a couple of young, “normal” partners. Presumably it was because I expressed interest in the music (and would have attended anyway).
What is the expected protocol for concert attendance in this type of social setting? Am I expected to pre-party with them or offer to drive? I don’t want to be known as the office Bogart.
– Rolling Another Billable
Dear Rolling Another Billable,
Make no mistake, these junior partners invited you to this “rock” concert to see if you have that je ne sais quoi it takes to make partner. After all, any schmuck with a pen can draft a purchase agreement, but only a true partner-track associate knows all the lyrics to The Scientist and can ROCK OUT to Ants Marching. This concert is the most important night of your law firm career thus far, and if you’re not going to screw it up, you’re going to need a few pointers…
Hey, you. Yes, YOU there, the one with the boobs. You’re a lawyer, right? Or some sort of Big Law type, at least? I figured. I could tell by the bewildered look on your face. I know, sweetie, I know: It’s confusing being a woman in and around Big Law these days. First, unless you have a time machine and a magic wand, it looks like you’re not making partner any time soon. Sorry. Then, of course, there’s the finding-a-long-term-sex-partner-who-doesn’t-require-batteries problem. And then, there’s the latest slap: Laminated scraps of “advice” from Citibank your employer about the stupid things that you do to sabotage your career, you (apparently) soft-spoken, smile-happy, invisible moron cow.
And the advice doesn’t stop there. You can’t even find a good glass ceiling to smack your head up against anymore without tripping over a stack of advice for women lawyers on everything from how to dress for success(Avoid nudity!), to how to toughen up(Sass those boys right back when they act rapey at the office!), to how not to look like a drowned clown corpse at work (Forget it, lost cause!).
At this point, I’m so bored with the heaps of so-called advice from other lawyers and professional counsel-givers that I had to turn to the one person I could think of whose advice never fails. The one person who knows what it’s like to carve out a niche for yourself in an often cruel, mystifying profession overrun by over-educated lunatics: My friend, Alanna.
I think you could learn a lot from her. Why? Because she’s never wrong.
I was wondering if you could do a post about when/how we should tell our firms that we have accepted a clerkship offer — particularly if the clerkship is not a super prestigious one (i.e., fed magistrate), and if we have not yet started at the firm (in my case, because I chose to defer for a year).
I am nervous about telling my firm, before I start, that I plan to leave to clerk less than one year after starting. Even after starting, I have heard stories of people who tell their firm they are clerking getting taken off of all interesting work (the explanation being that they may not be there by the time the matter goes to trial). Please advise!
– My Baby’s Got a Secret
Dear My Baby’s Got a Secret,
Today is Day Two of Rosh Hashana — an especially bad day to tempt fate. You see, on RH, God tentatively pencils you into either the Book of Life or the Book of Death. Not that I’m accusing God of stealing the whole concept from One-Minute Mysteries and Brain Teasers, but honestly it DOES sound suspiciously like the riddle on page 43 with the doors to heaven and hell and one of the guards is a liar and you can only ask one question…
From time to time, we “go live” with the Career Center resources, to give you access to firsthand advice from the hiring partners and in-house counsel at major law firms and companies. Our next opportunity for this type of professional development will be Wednesday, September 22, 2010 in Miami, Florida.
If you are in the Miami on the 22nd, need free MCLE credit, and would like some great advice on taking control of your career, read on for details….
Martin Luther dropped out of law school - and so can you.
At what point should you give up on your dream of becoming a lawyer? It’s a question on many people’s minds lately. Whether they were laid off during the recession and haven’t been able to get back in, or if they’ve just graduated law school to the triumphant sounds of crickets, people are wondering when it’s time to stop throwing good money (and effort) after bad.
It’s a question some people start asking before they even graduate from law school. With the school year getting underway, returning law students are once again wondering whether or not they made the right choice when they matriculated to law school in the first place.
Earlier this week, Lat received this question from a 2L at a top-eight law school:
Hi David. I’ve got a dilemma and it’s really eating me up and I was wondering if you could give me some advice. Here are the salient points:
* I’m at [redacted] — an awesome school.
* It’s a crappy economy and I don’t anticipate getting a job anytime soon.
* My 1L grades are A-, B+, B, B, B-, B-, B-, B-.
* I’m not sure I really want to spend my life being a lawyer. It seems like such a boring profession.
* I think I would be really happy being a public interest attorney, like working at the DA’s office or on Capitol Hill. I get excited about those jobs — but they pay nothing and are super-hard to get.
* I’m about $70K in debt — so I’ve invested so much!
People tell me that a JD is a great credential to get. I just don’t know if it’s worth it to finish the degree. It’s so darn expensive. Realistically, if I stay the course I’ll graduate with $170K in debt. If I don’t finish, I’ll never have the degree and the prospects that come with it.
I feel that long-term, over a 40-year career, it could be good to have the law degree — it’s from [redacted], not from a lower-ranked school.
Associates are under a lot of pressure these days. But we applaud those junior lawyers who respond to the current demands with initiative and creativity. We found just such an associate in Toronto.
The man’s problems seem trivial to the outside world. His office is crappy. He needs an upgrade, but not because he wants to feel like he’s some hotshot. He just knows that he has to look like a hotshot in order to generate business. This is how he explains it on a Craigslist post:
I work in a large Bay Street law firm. Many of my partners and clients have extensive collections of original artwork. As a struggling associate with a mortgage, no job security and a wife with a penchant for running into things with our car, I cannot afford to buy original artwork myself, so I appear low-rent to the higher-ups. Given the high standards of my clients and partners, I also cannot go out and buy prints or copies of original art – I will be laughed into the unemployment line.
A lot of associates would have noted the problem and left it at that. Maybe they would have gone home crying to their mothers about life’s unfairness. But not this kid…
The recruiter calls are picking up, and I want out. However, it’s August, and that bonus payout is getting very close. I have an option to get out of here just after Labor Day, but the position might not be open in February.
Should I leave now, or should I hang on, get my bonus, and restart my search in the new year?
– It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Dear It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,
A few months ago, I would have said some Chicken Soup for the Soul crap, like “your bonus cannot buy you happiness.” That was before my associate friend bought an amazing NYC apartment, and I spent three weeks in a jealous rage…
In my review, I was told that a sixth year, I need to start working on business development and bringing in clients to the firm. Given that my last name isn’t Vanderbilt or Trump, I’m not sure how to go about doing this. Any suggestions?
I am freaking exhausted this week. I went to a 30th birthday party on Monday and got hit on by a guy wearing a shell necklace from Hollister. I got food poisoning on Tuesday and Wednesday night I stayed out drinking Pimm’s Cups which are humiliating to order but refreshing to drink and then I rolled up to my apartment drunk as a skunk at 1:30 a.m. and found my dog cowering in the corner texting Child Protective Services….
Today’s confirmation of Elena Kagan as the fourth woman ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court is a milestone worth celebrating. For ladies in the law, things are looking up.
But female law students and lawyers still have complaints. Check out a recent query submitted to the Dear Prudence advice column over at Slate, by a correspondent calling herself “Livid but Lost Law Student”:
I am a female law student who is employed for the summer (and potentially for the school year) at a small firm that I’m really enjoying. The law office shares a floor of an office building with a bigger law firm, and my cubicle is “on the border.”
All of the attorneys at both firms are male, but at the other firm, the men are far from politically correct. I have two issues….
Let’s explore this law student’s “issues,” shall we?
Can you please offer your insight into proper etiquette for ring tones in the workplace? I understand someone may have an affinity for The Jitterbug in their personal life, but when did it become acceptable to leave your cell phone on full volume while in the office knowing that it will go off at least three times each day? I work next to a law clerk whose phone sounds like it’s Mario eating a magic mushroom whenever he receives a message. I’ve asked him to put his phone on vibrate or silent when he comes to work, but it hasn’t sunk in — do I need to pull a Bluto from Animal House and smash his phone to stop the madness?
Dear Gallagher, this question is disturbing on many levels….
What does it mean to be “newly admitted?” To us, it means endless possibilities!
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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 six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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