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.
Managing people at big law firms is easy: You don’t!
First, you don’t have anyone to manage. As an associate, you have a secretary. That’s it. And you share your secretary with other people, so you have only limited responsibility for giving annual reviews.
As a typical partner, you also don’t have to manage anyone. You still have a shared secretary. And you’re asked to complete associate evaluation forms once every year, which you dutifully do. Some other poor clown is stuck with the job of reading to associates the results of the review forms and saying, “I can’t really answer your follow-up questions, because none of these comments are mine.” Unless you’re responsible for some unusual duty — evaluating contract attorneys, or legal assistants, or some such thing — a partner at a law firm doesn’t manage people at all. (Chatting with an associate about an upcoming meeting or event, or discussing the contents of a brief, constitutes either doing work or being human. It doesn’t count as personnel management.)
Second, “career paths” at law firms are no secret. The “career path” (such as it is) for a secretary at a law firm is fairly obvious, so your secretary won’t ask much about it. And the career paths for lawyers are obvious, too. If you’re an associate, work hard and do good work, and you’ll be a partner some day. (I’m not passing judgment on whether this path is realistic or not; I’m saying only that, to the extent that it exists, everyone knows what the path is.) If you’re a partner, your career path is equally obvious: Work harder, and do better work, and bring in clients, and you’ll be even richer and more important some day.
Nothing to it. Everyone knows the game, so managing people is a no-brainer. No muss, no fuss, and (if you’re like me) you don’t even notice that you’re not managing people. You might even deceive yourself into thinking that you are.
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.
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….
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.…
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….
After we announced our special event for law students, We Know What You Should Do This Summer, we heard from a number of our readers from outside New York. These law students, from D.C. and South Carolina and elsewhere, expressed apoplectic anger regret that they wouldn’t be able to attend our NYC event and benefit from the wisdom of our great panelists.
So we’ve decided to make a change. As a web publishing company, we’ve decided to take our event to the web. We’re turning this panel discussion into a webcast — or, more precisely, a series of webcasts — which we will post on Above the Law, accessible for free to all of our readers.
Here’s where we need your help. These webcasts will be providing career advice, with a focus on summer opportunities. To make the webcasts interactive with our readership, we’d like to address the issues that are most relevant to you, our readers. So if you have career questions or requests for advice that you’d like our experts to tackle, please submit them to us by email (subject line: “Event Question”). We will review them and pose selected queries to the panel.
Thanks to the readers who took the time to reach out to us about this; thanks to our sponsor, the Practical Law Company (read more about PLC here); and thanks in advance for your questions to the panel. We look forward to reading them, and to hearing what our panelists have to say.
(And thanks to everyone who originally registered for the in-person event; we’ll be issuing you refunds shortly.)
This is the time of year when future lawyers have to make a crucial choice that will follow them for the rest of the legal careers: where to go to law school. The choice of law school is critical, maybe unfairly so. When you look at medical schools, the hard part is getting into a medical school. But in the legal profession, your choice of law school will be a huge factor in what professional opportunities you can take advantage of with your J.D.
Perhaps in past years, this choice was really easy for 0Ls: they could just go to the highest-ranked school they got into, and then hope for the best. But given the realities of the legal economy, 0Ls need to look at a number of factors beyond the U.S. News law school rankings: how much the school costs, what job markets the law school feed into, and so on.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve received a number of inquires from 0Ls asking for advice about which law school to attend. We’ve pulled out two of the best questions, and now we want to open it up to the Above the Law readers to give these students — and all 0Ls — the combined wisdom of the ATL community.
These are really tough choices, and we know reasonable people will disagree. Hopefully you guys can help these 0Ls feel comfortable with their decisions, whichever way they go….
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.
I am an aspiring law student getting ready to send off my law school application. However, I have a problem: I can’t go to the only law school that makes sense for me; not because I did not score well enough, but because of an American Bar Association rule whose blanket coverage does not really apply in its intended sense to my situation. The rule deals with not allowing anyone to attend a full time law program while working more than 20 hours per week.
Currently, I have my full time dream job as New York City fireman and, honestly, I could not imagine quitting it for anything. However, it does not mean that obtaining my J.D. and having the opportunity to give back more to the community and stimulate my mind on my days not at the firehouse is not also an aspiration of mine. Unfortunately, it seems that both of my dreams cannot be achieved in an economically feasible manner. Only one of the schools in the area is a state school and affordable (see: rational) for me to attend, but they only offer a full time program….
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:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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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The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!