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harris beach logo.JPGMany people have interviewing horror stories. But few people actually bother to send a letter to the offending firm.

One Georgetown University Law Center student did just that. After her interview with Harris Beach, the student sent a letter to James Spitz, CEO of Harris Beach:

I was looking forward to the interview until Mr. Frederick Fern and Ms. Judi Abbott Curry entered the conference room. This was the worst and most unprofessional interview that I have ever been on. Not only did Mr. Fern insult me by repeatedly stating that “the only reason” I had received the interview was because my “mom or somebody” had “called in a favor,” he then suggested that I was lazy because I did not have a job yet. “What have you been doing since July?” he kept exclaiming.

I didn’t even know how to respond. When I finally responded, he proceeded to read a document or tap on the table with his pen while I spoke. It was awful.

Harris Beach’s firm motto is “Lawyers you’ll swear by, not at.” It is worth noting that our own personal experiences with Harris Beach attorneys have been positive and professional. But perhaps these particular attorneys could have used a little more tact when dealing with a student trying to navigate these uncertain employment waters.

The full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyers You’ll Swear At, Not Work For”

Not Hiring sign.jpgWhat can men do against such reckless hate?

Unless you are in the top 3rd of your class at a top school, or in the top 10% of your class at a lower ranked school, fall recruiting is kicking your ass. After sifting through nearly 300 comments to our fall recruiting open thread, one dominant theme emerges:

What’s different this year is that the bottom 60% at top schools and the bottom 90% of lower-ranked schools is not doing well.

In Part I of our fall recruiting follow-up, we’ll explore some general themes and discuss which markets are particularly struggling. In Part II we’ll look at which law schools are doing fine, and which ones are not living up to their promises of milk, honey, and money.

Many commenters had stories of great fall recruiting success, much like I have awesome “stories” about that one time I had sex with this one girl … and her sister, in Canada. But even if we leave aside some of the unattributed tales of personal greatness, the consistent meme is that top students are still doing just fine.

For everybody else there seems to be a clear move by firms to limit the size of their summer classes:

offer guarding seems prevalent; firms don’t want to accidentally end up with big classes that they have to no-offer because too many took summer positions.

Here’s another take:

T-20 school, top 20% w/ journal. I had 14 callbacks all within the V25 in NY. I ended up going on 9 of the 14 and took an offer at a V15 because I honestly was exhausted by the process and didn’t think I would take any of the remaining firms over what I had if they panned out. Of those 9 however, I only received 3 offers. I was told that last year 67% of callbacks in NY resulted in offers. I could be inept, but since I had around a 70% callback rate, I don’t think that’s likely. Additionally, almost none of my friends have offers. I really think the firms are trying to exercise more control by only extending offers to those they are certain are going to accept.

Reports about which legal markets are worth avoiding after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Follow-Up: Part I”

pyramid scheme capstone small.jpgMock in-house counsel if you want to (and apparently many of you “want to“), but those jobs still pay great money. A new study says that the average pay for in-house attorneys is $236,000.

Maybe that is what CNBC was talking about when they promised aspiring law grads $200K salaries.

The numbers were even better at the top. According to the ABA Journal:

The average cash compensation, including bonuses, amounts to about $700,000 for general counsel and more than $900,000 for chief legal officers, according to a survey by the legal consulting firm Hildebrandt International. Long-term incentives increased the average total compensation to nearly $1.5 million for general counsel and nearly $2 million for chief legal officers, according to a press release summarizing the survey.

It seems that even as companies are shedding in-house counsel jobs, the attorneys that hang on are making good money.

Unfortunately for those working for law firms, corporations might look to save money by decreasing their reliance on outside counsel. The National Law Journal reports:

Most companies — 67% — said they expect no change in the number of law firms they plan to use in 2008, but nearly a third — 29% — said they anticipate decreasing that number.

The report doesn’t contain an analysis of the hours in-house counsel have to work for their salary. But law firm associates usually cannot claim that they work less than their in-house counterparts.

So while the jobs might be harder than ever to get, in-house still seems to be a great exit option. Unless you were in-house at: Bear, Lehman, WaMu, AIG, or whichever company spits the bit next.

Average Pay is Up In-House Lawyers, as their Numbers Dwindle [ABA Journal]

Global corporations slowing their spending on legal fees, study finds [National Law Journal]

Earlier: Open Thread: Is In-House Still Worth It?


cap gown diploma graduate.jpgGiven the economic Armageddon happening right in front of our eyes, you might think that even your investments in your own education are depreciating faster than the Congressional approval rating.

But you’d be wrong. According to Karl Okamoto over at the Conglomerate:

Is law school a good value? That’s the question I ask my students to figure out, hoping to teach them a bit about finance. Using crude numbers, the answer looks like a resounding “yes.” As they say in the investment business, it looks like a “three bagger.” Even if you have to put $230,000 in, you get over $700,000 back!

That’s a cool $470,000 in net present value — a much better return than any American bank is likely to offer you this lifetime. The methodology is based on the Department of Labor’s statistics:

[T]he Wall Street Journal reported recently on salary statistics. While the median salary for persons holding just a BA has slipped to $47,240, those of us with professional degrees have gone up to $89,602. Even better, recent Labor Department numbers show the median salary for lawyers at $106,120. So, as I say to my students, think of your law degree as an annuity. It represents a payment stream that lasts for a career (say 40 years) that equals the spread between what you would have earned without your law degree versus what you can with it. Using the median salary numbers, that spread is almost $60,000. Discounted at 8%, the annuity has a present value of over $700,000. The present value of three years of tuition (at $40,000 a year), books and foregone salary (at the median) is about $230,000. So, as your stockbroker used to say about Lehman bonds, a “no brainer!”

Nice. Of course, that median salary is largely dependent on top firms paying their lawyers large salaries, based on the huge fees charged to wealthy clients.

Should a major economic collapse send the American economy back to the antebellum period, wealthy corporations might not be able to afford… well, everybody here understands we’re totally screwed the worst-case scenario.

If you are considering going to law school, it’s still probably a safe bet. At least it’s a better bet than being an I-banker right now.

What is the NPV of a JD? [The Conglomerate via TaxProf Blog]

Undergrads: Listen Up –Time To Think About Law School! [Millennial Money / CNBC]

Not Hiring sign.jpgSince the last time we took a look at fall recruiting there have been a few interesting economic developments: Lehman collapsed, Heller Ehrman collapsed, and apparently we now live in a socialist republic.

But is all the dour economic news affecting law students in search of summer employment?

Yes. Big time. One tipster reports:

Harvard OCI is NOT going well. People with good grades are not getting callbacks from mid-level firms (e.g., White [& Case]) and people with average grades aren’t getting callbacks from blah firms (Proskauer [Rose], Clifford [Chance], etc.) Chadbourne canceled their whole Harvard OCI program. And people with great grades are getting callbacks at, say, Cravath but not Simpson.

Correction: Apologies. From a Chadbourne spokesperson:

In an item on Abovethelaw.com today headlined “Open Thread: How is the Fall Recruiting Season Shaping Up?” you say that Chadbourne & Parke has cancelled “their whole Harvard OCI.” This is wrong. We are continuing to recruit for our summer program at Harvard Law School. In fact, Chadbourne recruiters are at the Harvard OCI taking place today.

The California market is dealing with its own kind of callback hell. See, e.g., Heller Ehrman.

What are your experiences out on the trail? Last summer, firms claimed that their summer programs were oversubscribed. Are they “correcting” the problem, or is it last call at the Overlook Hotel?

Share your stories in the comments.

Earlier: Fall Recruiting Open Thread: 3Ls

More on On-Campus Interview Cancellations

apprentice apprenticeship lawyer baker.jpgClients want associates to remember who pays their salary. As we have previously reported, the authors of What About Clients are trying to start a “Value Movement” which, among other things, asks whether associates should pay their firm for the privilege of working.

Unfortunately, this idea just won’t die. And Holden Oliver thinks that the market meltdown is a perfect opportunity to reexamine the structure of the business of law:

Hopefully, there’s this silver lining in the Down Economy: a renewal of the notion that workplaces exist to serve and give value to Customers and Clients, and the companies organized to help them. Not to serve and cater to Employees. As we see it — and most states have traditionally seen it–it’s a privilege to work. Not a right. And it’s a special honor to learn and practice the law.

More people jump on the bandwagon, below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clients Want Associates To Get To Work”

funny-pictures-your-cat-will-sleep-for-food.jpgWe received 964 responses to our ATL / Lateral Link survey on whether you’re looking for work, and one thing is pretty clear: if you’re a 2L right now, there’s a pretty good chance that the associates you meet in your callbacks don’t actually want to be there.

A whopping 45% of respondents who had been practicing for at least a year said that they were either already looking for a new job or about to start their search.

Specifically,

  • 27% said they were looking for a new job right now,
  • 12% said they were getting their resumes ready, and
  • 6% plan to get their resumes ready just as soon as they receive their bonus checks.

But not everybody’s looking to leave right now. Another 14% of practitioners said that they weren’t planning on looking for a new job . . . because they had just started one.

Even among incoming associates, there was a surprisingly strong tendency toward jumping ship. 14% of respondents in the Class of 2008 are already looking for new jobs, and another 2% are getting their resumes ready.

And third-year law students are also looking around, as 28% of 3L’s said they were interviewing again this fall. Of these, 62% said they were no-offered, and another 5% said they received a cold offer from their summer employer.

Are You Looking For A New Job Right Now? Breakdown By Class

Class

Yes      


I’m getting my    
resume ready.    
I’ll get my resume    
ready once I    
get my bonus.    
No, I just accepted    
an offer or    
started a new job.    
Before 2000  
40%
18%
-
18%
2000
25%
-
-
25%
2001
28%
4%
4%
14%
2002
40%
9%
3%
20%
2003
36%
8%
6%
8%
2004
21%
21%
9%
10%
2005
24%
14%
8%
23%
2006
30%
9%
8%
12%
2007
24%
11%
7%
9%
2008
15%
3%
-
67%
2009
28%
2%
-
66%

Additional discussion, including a breakdown by practice area, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Looking For A New Job?”

Department of Justice seal DOJ seal Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgToday is the day that the U.S. Department of Justice emails applicants to set up interviews for the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Each division is sending out its own letter.

If you didn’t receive one of these emails, well, then you probably didn’t attend the Nobody F**** With the Jesus School Of Law:

Congratulations! You have been selected for an interview by the [redacted] for the Attorney General’s Honors Program.

The Department of Justice is issuing separate Email messages, component by component, to the candidates selected for interviews. Please note that your application was referred to all components you designated as employment preferences. If you do not receive a message from any specific component, then you were not selected by that hiring component for an interview.

Once all component notification messages have been issued, we will send a separate Email message providing instructions on how to schedule your interview. Please follow the instructions in the notification Email message and review the Travel Memo posted at www.usdoj.gov/oarm/arm/hp/hpinterview.htm.

Thank you for your interest in the Department of Justice and good luck in your interview.

We expect this year’s hiring process to be heavily scrutinized. What should an interviewee do as they walk into that charged environment? Wear a McCain button? Waterboard the receptionist? Or maybe go the other way and give her a hug (and then bus her halfway across town to a superior school district)? Either way, be sure to talk about “change” a lot.

We kid the Justice Department because they’re not nearly as scary as the IRS.

But seriously, what should these interviewees do to secure these important positions? Please share helpful advice on ways that I can kill myself how to ace the interview in the comments.

Earlier: The DOJ Honors Program Hiring Scandal: The ‘Harvard Law Avenger’ Strikes Again?

recession california associate pay raises.jpgA few days ago, we asked whether going in-house was still a viable option for Biglaw associates. Today we look at whether those who leave can ever come back.

The National Law Journal did a follow-up piece on Bear Stearns attorneys who weren’t able to move over to JP Morgan after the merger. They report (subscription):

Many refugees from Bear Stearns have landed at law firms, including Bingham McCutchen; Venable; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; K&L Gates; and Katten Muchin Rosenman.

“It’s like a port in the storm right now,” said one former Bear Stearns attorney who has landed at a law firm and asked not to be identified.

But as one commenter points out, moving back into Biglaw isn’t easy:

To get back in to BigLaw from most in-house positions is extremely difficult. If you work in a niche, like government contracts or FDA, it improves your chances significantly. However, if you are just a general corporate attorney at a company and are looking to get back in a firm, there’s little shot.

Going back to the firm will likely get even more difficult as additional attorneys from Lehman and Merrill Lynch flood the midlevel market. But we can expect that displaced in-house counsel will try to get back into Biglaw, because in this market, “job security” is the Holy Grail.

Do law firms actually provide a “safer” alternative? After the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In-House Counsel: The Prodigal Son Or The Red-Headed Step-Child?”

Homer Simpson Doh Above the Law AboveTheLaw blog.jpgEarlier this week, we created an open thread for the sharing of on-campus interview screw-ups. We then picked out a few favorite tales from the thread, and asked you to vote for the best (or worst?) of the bunch.
Here are the results:
interview idiocy poll results.jpg
You can read the winning story by clicking here.
Many of you seemed to enjoy the horror stories — and they’re informative, too, providing lessons about behavior to avoid. But don’t put too much weight on them. As one commenter observes:

[The problem with these stories] is that they presume that the stupid act in question was the sole reason the person didn’t get a callback. Not everybody at OCI gets callbacks. Plenty of people who don’t do one stupid thing in an interview don’t get callbacks. I suspect that these stories of stupidity are actually rationalizations for rejection.

See also this comment:

People who think they got rejected because they accidentally dropped a business card on their way out are deluding themselves. They tell themselves these bullshit tales of woe because if you think you got dinged because you dropped a business card, then next time you can tuck it into your portfolio tighter. And then you’ll SURELY get the offer! But the truth – that you are getting rejected because you are a mediocre student at a [mediocre] law school who should have tried to get a job at a mutual fund instead of spending $200,000 to learn about community property – that’s a lot harder to fix.

Loyola 2L, we missed you.
So, readers, what do you think? Are interview bloopers irrelevant because there may be other, less conspicuous reasons for not getting a callback or offer (e.g., you just didn’t stand out)? Or are they irrelevant because the hiring process is so “paper driven,” i.e., all about your transcript, resume, and law school ranking?
Earlier: OCI Bloopers By Students: Selected Stories (and a Poll)
OCI Bloopers By Students: Share Your Horror Stories

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