Associate Advice

In the first part of our Career Center “Tip of the Day” series, focused on how to evaluate a counteroffer, we covered the importance of re-evaluating your current employment situation to remind yourself of the reasons why you began your job search in the first place. Today we’ll discuss how to assess what the new firm is offering you, and how to determine whether it addresses the issues with or shortcomings of your current firm.

More on tip #2….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center Tip of the Day: Evaluating the Counteroffer — Should You Stay or Should You Go? (Part 2)”

Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

Two guys from my high school. One year apart.

Hipster… and Lawyer.

Hipster plays in jazz band with Lawyer. They have the same academic advisor, and fall into a casual friendship.

Hipster has trouble in school. He plays drums and guitar, but struggles to maintain the grades. It’s nothing to do with behavior – everyone likes him. The academic advisor does his best, but after failing a few courses, Hipster’s expelled. He ends up bouncing from school to school, and manages to graduate, then heads to a halfway-decent state university known for partying. He spends most of his year there jamming with his buddies and soon drops out. They start a rock band, smoke dope, wear tie-dye, collect Grateful Dead tapes and call each other “dude.”

Lawyer thinks it’s a shame Hipster got kicked out of school. His own grades are A’s. He wins academic prizes, a scholarship to study in England, and advanced placement at Harvard, where he graduates magna cum laude. He heads to a first-tier law school, and places near the top of his class. An offer arrives from a white-shoe law firm.

Stop the tape…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hipster. And Lawyer.”

The current installment of the Career Center “Tip of the Day” series focuses on helping associates evaluate the counteroffer. Since most law firms have trimmed the “fat” and reduced the number of attorneys on their payrolls, associates have been working harder and billing record hours. It is not surprising that many associates will be searching for jobs at new firms — and some will be fortunate enough to secure new positions. For the first time since the recession began, firms may actually be disappointed when one of their associates gets hired at another law firm, and are more likely to present these associates with tempting counteroffers.

We all know the studies and employment reports: it costs a firm more to hire new employees than to retain current employees. This fact is especially true for firms operating with fewer associates and an increased amount of work projected in 2011. It is important to be prepared and know how to react when presented with a counteroffer.

These tips will assist you in case you are ever put in the unenviable (or maybe enviable?) position of dealing with a counteroffer from your current firm. Now, on to the first tip….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center Tip of the Day: Evaluating the Counteroffer — Should You Stay or Should You Go? (Part 1)”


Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

So you’re at a small firm and you want to be successful. Good. Why you wouldn’t want that is beyond me. But if you want to be a successful lawyer, you need to make a name for yourself. If you don’t want to be a successful lawyer, you can leave this post now. We’ll wait. [Waits while the preternaturally mediocre leave ATL for Dlisted or whatever.] OK? The rest of you stick with me.

Look. You didn’t end up at a big firm, because you didn’t go to a top law school or because your first-year grades weren’t as stellar as they could have been. So you’re not going to be making a huge salary in exchange for billing 2,500 hours a year. Deal with it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a very successful career as a lawyer. It just means that you need to take a different approach.

The most important thing you can do to make a name for yourself as a lawyer is to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Here are six tips on how to do it.…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Firms, Big Lawyers: Six Steps to Becoming an Expert”

In the first four parts of the Career Center “Tip of the Day” series, focused on how junior associates can become more indispensable to their law firms, we covered the importance of taking ownership of your work, becoming an expert in your field, developing effective management strategies, and the knowing the local rules of court and the judge’s chambers rules.

Today’s final tip focuses on developing relationships with clients….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How to Become an (Almost) Indispensable Junior Associate
(Part 5)”

My tenure at Sullivan & Cromwell ended – along with my legal career – in a smoking crater. Picture scorched earth. Nuclear armageddon. The fat lady sang.

That said, I actually got off to a pretty good start. At least for the first couple weeks.

I was assigned to a rather jolly partner, fresh back from running an office in Asia. He didn’t seem a bad sort, and I was feeling on top of the world, commencing my career after a month’s vacation. Off I scrambled to the library to write a memo on a detail of securities law. The topic was complex, but I kept my cool, summarized what I found – with a touch of wit – and called it a day.

Things went swimmingly. The partner loved the memo. He deemed it clever and refreshing and pretty close to accurate. Apparently, I’d managed to lighten the mood at a key moment in a tough deal. I decided I loved him…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Calm Center”

In parts one, two and three of the Career Center “Tip of the Day” series, focused on how junior associates can become more indispensable to their law firms, we covered the importance of taking ownership of your work, becoming an expert in your field, and developing effective management strategies. Today, we’ll discuss a point that sounds obvious but has some subtleties: following the rules.

These tips are provided by the experienced recruiters at Lateral Link, who, in addition to providing sound career advice, can advance your career by consulting with you on the hundreds of law firm and in-house positions they have in their network.

Now, on to tip #4….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How to Become an (Almost) Indispensable Junior Associate (Part 4)”

Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon.

I asked a client how things were going at work – or not-going. She’s a junior at a big firm where it’s been dead slow for the whole year she’s been there and partners are starting to flee.

“Not horrible,” she said.

That’s a not-uncommon sentiment from to people in her position. As a junior, you’re asking for not-much. You’ve realized law school was a mistake – and the thought of your loans makes you queasy. If you get through the day without being criticized or given some god-awful assignment, you can go home and try to sleep. That’s a good day.

Not-horrible means not-unbearable, even if you hate what you’re doing, see no way out and cry alone in your office.

Not-horrible is not-unemployed. Better to not-complain.

One junior associate client has a corporate headhunter friend, who asked him to write something down and commit it to memory:

“There. Are. No. Jobs.”

Okay. Got it?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Not Horrible”

In parts one and two of the Career Center “Tip of the Day” series, focused on how junior associates can become more indispensable to their law firms, we covered the importance of taking ownership of your work and becoming an expert in your field. Today, we’ll discuss effective management strategies you can use to not only help you manage your work but the people with whom you work.

These tips are provided by the experienced recruiters at Lateral Link, who, in addition to providing sound career advice, can advance your career by consulting with you on the hundreds of law firm and in-house positions they have in their network.

Now, on to tip #3….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How to Become an (Almost) Indispensable Junior Associate (Part 3)”

In the first part of our Career Center “Tip of the Day” series, focused on how junior associates can become more indispensable to their law firms, we covered the importance of taking ownership of your work.  Today, we’ll highlight a productive way to spend your precious non-billable time.  These tips are provided by the experienced recruiters at Lateral Link, who, in addition to providing sound career advice, can assist you with a lateral move to one of hundreds of law firms or in-house positions they have in their network.

Now on to tip #2…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How to Become an (Almost) Indispensable Junior Associate (Part 2)”

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