This week we present part two of our series on using internal networking to advance your career within your law firm. Last week we discussed networking to make partner; this week’s focus is on how to get better assignments.
As we mentioned last week, in order to succeed and be truly satisfied with your Biglaw career, you will need to do more than to simply be a great attorney. There are thousands of talented and hardworking attorneys out there who leave the world of Biglaw jaded, unhappy, and unfulfilled. Yes, Biglaw may not be the be-all and end-all for everyone, but there are many attorneys who play the Biglaw game, and play it well. By utilizing networking skills and tactics while working at a Biglaw firm, a young associate can increase his or her chances of succeeding AND being satisfied.
As soon as a young attorney gets a job offer and begins working, networking typically takes a backseat until a new job search begins. This fact is not surprising. Junior associates must maintain high billable hours, participate in countless training and CLE events, and still attend various non-billable firm events. While networking and the daily tasks of a junior associate are not mutually exclusive, networking still deserves some individual and active attention from time to time.
In order to succeed and be truly satisfied with your Biglaw career, you will need to do more than to simply be a great attorney. There are thousands of talented and hardworking attorneys out there who leave the world of Biglaw jaded, unhappy, and unfulfilled. Yes, Biglaw may not be the be-all and end-all for everyone, but there are many attorneys who play the Biglaw game and play it well. By utilizing networking skills and tactics while working at a Biglaw firm, a young associate can increase his or her chances of succeeding AND being satisfied.
There are two basic goals that are common for associates in large law firms: making partner and getting better assignments. In today’s Career Center "Expert Insights" article, we will cover networking with the goal of making partner. In next week’s article, we will cover how to network to get better assignments. We will post the complete article next week on the Associate Resources section of the Career Center (where you can find many career improvement articles).
So if your goal is to make partner, what steps should you take?
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.
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?
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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