There are many advantages to working for a corporation instead of a law firm: You learn a business from the inside out; work regularly with business people, rather than other lawyers; are spared the daily insanity of quibbling with opposing counsel about whether the deposition will be taken in Houston or Denver; can often avoid blowing up the week between Christmas and New Year’s because some clown dropped a TRO on your client on December 24; and on and on.
But it’s much too easy to write about that. So I’ve explored the other side of the coin: I’ve asked several litigators who recently went in-house what they missed most about private practice. I generally heard two things in response:
First: Many litigators enjoy litigating. A common refrain is this: “I miss doing it!”
“I can’t believe I have to sit in the back of a courtroom and watch other guys give opening statements. And over lunch, I’m just kibitzing from the sidelines, hoping the trial lawyers listen to my suggestions.”
Or, “There’s a huge difference between flying to Chicago to argue in the Seventh Circuit and flying to Chicago to watch your outside counsel argue. One is a real event. For the other, you call an old friend to set up dinner the night before, watch the end of Monday Night Football in your hotel room, and then roll down to the courthouse in the morning. Your pulse rate never goes above 60.”
If you love the spotlight (as many litigators do), you may not like stepping out of it. You may miss doing it….
First, a story; then, an attempt to find a job for an unemployed former editor-in-chief of the Chicago-Kent Law Review.
Here’s the story: After I wrote The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law, I thought about how to maximize sales of the book. I had the clever (if I do say so myself) idea of sending free copies to the editors-in-chief of a bunch of law reviews. I figured that those folks were likely to (1) read a book and (2) be “opinion leaders” on their respective campuses, so word of the book would spread.
But there was a fly in my ointment. If you send a law student a book, the student is likely to read the book and pass it on to a friend, who will do the same in turn. That generates readers (which is nice), but it doesn’t generate sales (which is nicer).
It makes sense for anyone contemplating law school to make sure he or she has a passion for the profession. Your friend would have to consciously be avoiding stories about unemployed law school graduates if she knows nothing about this. But perhaps, since you say she is a worrier, she doesn’t want to dwell on what the world will look like three or more years from now when she graduates. She wants to be a lawyer, so there’s no reason for you to fill her with your doubts.
— Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, answering a Slate reader’s question about whether she should warn her friend and roommate about the perils of going to law school.
It’s the new year – time to dust off that résumé. Even if you are happy with your 2010 bonus and not ready to jump ship just yet, you never know when you might get a call about a job opportunity that you simply can’t pass up. Or maybe you have been searching for a new job for a while now, with no luck.
With recruiting departments receiving hundreds or even thousands of résumés for a single job opening, your résumé only has a 30- to 60-second window to be reviewed before it gets forwarded to the hiring attorney or ends up in the trash. Is your résumé ready to land you an interview?
This week’s Expert Insights article, brought to you by Lateral Link, gives you advice to help you re-evaluate your résumé to make it an effective marketing tool in your job search….
When you interview for an in-house job as head of litigation, that’s what everyone — CEO, CFO, General Counsel — is likely to say: “All we want is to know in advance what’s happening. Don’t hit us with last minute litigation surprises.”
That characterization is only half true. Half the job is what you would actually expect, and why someone would actually pay money for a person to do this gig: Half the job is to minimize liability. That task, at least, requires a law degree and a little bit of skill.
But, remarkably, the other half of the job — avoiding surprises — is the aspect that seemingly draws the ire of the folks who run the joint. And that task is one that the kid down the block ought to be able to do with about fifteen minutes of training: How hard can it be to avoid surprises?
Piece of cake, right? Just track developments in all of the pending cases, estimate settlement values or likely verdicts, and flood the C-suites with information. Put together a calendar of every major event in every major case over the coming six months. Winning cases can occasionally be hard, but just tracking them? Nothing to it.
Remarkably, that isn’t true. There are five main reasons why it’s hard merely to track cases (and their values) and thus to avoid surprises, and outside counsel are responsible for three of the five….
I work in a fairly specialized litigation sub-field in a suburban market. The bar of attorneys who do what I do around where I am is therefore a pretty small and cutthroat group that hasn’t exactly emphasized “civility” in recent years.
I found out that a lawyer who’s one of my firm’s regular adversaries recently died. It wasn’t a big surprise; he’d been sick and in the hospital for some time, plus he was pushing 65-70. The thing is, he was (and his law partner still is) a gigantic asshole. He’d engage in frivolous tactics to rack up billables and then cut clients loose as soon as they couldn’t pay anymore. He’d insult other lawyers, including judges, in correspondence and at depositions. He’d condescend to women and junior attorneys. He even once wrote a smear piece about my firm as an op-ed in the local bar newsletter.
All this is to say, I know one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but I’m not exactly grieving. There’s going to be a memorial service, but I’m not exactly sure what to do in this situation. Should I go and at least make an appearance, and duck out at the earliest opportunity? Would it be bad form not to go, because the legal community in my practice area is so small? Should I just send a card? Or should I go and secretly gloat?
– Left Behind
Dear Left Behind,
When it comes to death and funerals, there is no right or wrong. People grieve in their own way, and sometimes not at all, particularly if the deceased was a truly horrible person…
I was chuckling with a client the other day about the insanity of trying to please a partner with a piece of written work.
The trick, she said – I’ve heard this before – is to adopt the voice of the partner. That’s what he wants – something that sounds like him. It doesn’t matter if your style is better than his. He wants to hear himself.
My client can imitate the writing styles of five partners. That includes whatever quirks – run-on sentences, rudeness, biting sarcasm, unnecessary adjectives, circuitous explanations – capture that partner’s unique gift. It’s a piece of cake: assemble substance, add ventriloquy, and voila! – a happy partner…
What kind of world are we living in where people post their 1L grades on Facebook? I guess that after years of status updates about your latest biological function, you can fool yourself into thinking that people actually care about your Civ Pro grade. The world is full of navel-gazers.
Companion question: What kind of world are we living in where people get “offended” because somebody posted his 1L grades on Facebook? I know law schools are hyper-competitive places, but at the end of the day, the only thing you can control is your own academic performance. Getting mad because somebody is boasting about his grades is a colossal waste of energy — energy better spent studying for the current semester (or at least trying to steal his girlfriend). Don’t get mad, get even.
I’m not really on either side of the current ridiculousness going down at Boston University School of Law over one guy’s Facebook page. You see, I live in a world where it’s perfectly acceptable to kind of hate everybody….
Please think for a second before you hit “send” and launch your next e-mail.
There are actually a bunch of things you should think about before sending your next e-mail, but today I’ll rant about just one: the “subject” line.
My rant comes in three parts.
First, the “subject” line has the potential to be helpful. At a minimum, an intelligent subject line can get my mind in gear for the information that I’m about to read, and perhaps can give me some sense of the urgency of your communication. At a maximum, an intelligent subject line can convey an entire message.
So use the thing! Please don’t send me e-mails with subject lines that are entirely blank. You’ve missed an opportunity to make communication easier, and you’ve forced me to pop open your e-mail to learn what you’re writing about. Put a few words in the subject line, to tell me what’s coming.
Second, please remember who I am and who you are. If you work at Kirkland & Ellis, it wouldn’t be too helpful to receive many e-mails with subject lines that read “Kirkland & Ellis.” That subject line wouldn’t distinguish one e-mail message from the other. You are Kirkland & Ellis; you don’t need to be told that every e-mail is about Kirkland & Ellis….
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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