Frank Kimball

Disclosure: This obituary has been provided by Lateral Link, an Above the Law advertiser.

We are very sad to inform the legal community that Frank Kimball, a true leader in our legal industry who influenced thousands of attorneys, from law students to managing partners, during his successful career, passed away last Friday, October 28.

In addition to contributing to Above the Law, through a popular series of career advice posts, Frank provided search services, project consulting and training for leading law firms for almost two decades. He interviewed, hired, placed, or counseled more than 11,500 law students and attorneys. Frank was a partner with McDermott, Will & Emery from 1986-1992, served for six years on the hiring committee, ran two summer programs, and was chair of the national hiring committee in 1990-1992.

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In today’s Career Center Tips Series, Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, legal recruiter and former hiring partner, discusses the challenges that new attorneys face in today’s world.

No matter what the differences will be a decade from now, it is safe to say that young lawyers will always have similar personal and professional concerns as they jump the hurdle from education to practice. Those concerns will be similar without regard to the school attended, the corner of the profession chosen, whether you are the first or one of many lawyers in your extended family, and whether you are “going home” to the city where you were raised, or moving to a city you have never lived in before.

But that being said, this generation of law school graduates is quite different from my generation….

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Today’s Career Center Tips Series, focused on the billable hour, is brought to you by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former hiring partner.

Students and new associates are concerned about hours. So are firms. You will hear anecdotes and twice-told tales about monstrous hours. You will hear that Smith & Jones is a sweatshop, but that Arnold and Baker is a laid-back place. Most lawyers are hardworking by nature, and will work hard no matter where they practice. You will work many hours beyond client hours to manage the practice, be trained and train others, stay current in your field and market, and manage the firm.

The differences among firms’ expectations have never been as great as law students believe (and hope). In the wake of the 2000 and 2007 compensation avalanches, expectations on billable hours changed forever….

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This fall you will be invited to attend pre-interview receptions, post-OCI dinners, and various meals and receptions during and after callback interviews. How you handle yourself during these events can have an impact on whether you receive an offer and your reputation in the firm.

Follow these sensible rules, courtesy of Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, former hiring partner and expert recruiter, and you’ll never get yourself in trouble….

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It is crunch time for 2Ls and 3Ls. You’re awash in information — some of it concrete — but much of it ambiguous, amorphous, and second-hand, at best. The dissonance of hearsay collides with the harmony of recruiting. This year, perhaps more than any in the past ten years, Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner, has heard stories of “negative” recruiting.

A lawyer with Jones and Brown disparages Johnson & Smith. While any professional recruiter worth his or her grain of salt would never condone such a tactic, several attorneys consider it an effective manner of recruiting. Word to the wise, if the best feature of the firm is the interviewer disparaging other firms, run away!

Negative recruiting takes many forms, but usually appears in one of the following forms….

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Think back when you were five years old and learning how to swim. A parent or an older sibling probably took you to a pool or pond, told you to hold your breath, and then pushed you in. Your head went underwater, you flailed your arms, and swallowed enough water to fill a gallon jug. Eventually, you made yourself learn how to tread water and keep your head above water.

Hope you enjoyed that trip down memory lane; if you are a law student, you will be learning how to swim on your first days at work — and fast.

There is no substitution for learning on the job, but there are some things future associates should consider before taking the plunge into the deep end. Check out the following tips, courtesy of Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, and use them as your flotation device during your first few days as a law firm associate….

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Can you name the Biglaw firms with great lifestyles, supportive and friendly partners, lots of mentors, a commitment to parenting, salaries high enough to pay off your debts in 6 years with no pressure to develop business, and a guarantee of partnership (and frequent sabbaticals)? This tough question cannot be answered. There is no perfect law firm — and despite the warm fuzzy noise of recruiting, every law firm has strengths and limitations.

You have chosen a demanding field where clients expect the best advice from the best lawyers. The explosion in associate compensation caused significant and permanent changes in law firms’ expectations for new associate performance, the tolerance for slow starters, and the likelihood of promotion. This generation of new lawyers will work harder, compete harder, and be under greater pressure to contribute (produce business) than was ever present in the past. That’s the reality of practice in the new millennium. But the desire to find the best law firm in an imperfect world is a legitimate quest.

Before deciding on which firm to join, consider these tips, provided by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former hiring partner….

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With OCI coming to an end at most law schools, now is the time to sit back and assess the interview process. While you may be tempted to tune out until you receive an offer (or rejection), don’t.

In addition to reviewing your performance in the interview, you should critique the performance of the law firm.

Furthermore, be sure to consider the following tips from Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball before you accept an offer….

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There are no magic questions to take through the interview process. There are only areas to be examined. Life is one long extemporaneous speech. It is not canned dialogue. The student who prepares and understands the areas that are significant to her decision will know where to focus her questions.

Some questions should be directed at associates, while others should be directed to partners. Students sometimes forget that they can actually learn something more about the firm by asking questions. Yes, the questions you ask will be assessed by the interviewer; but please don’t ask certain questions for the sake of asking questions.

This helpful information is provided by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball. What follows is an outline of areas you may want to consider, but remember who your audience is….

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As part of your interview preparation, you should familiarize yourself with the kinds of questions you may be asked and prepare responses to those questions. Nothing turns off an interviewer more than “ummms” and “uhhhs.” You don’t have to memorize your responses verbatim (and you shouldn’t), but being prepared will help you avoid any Miss Teen South Carolina answers to any interviewer questions.

While it is impossible to cover every single question an interviewer may ask, Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, legal recruiter and former hiring partner, provides his recommended responses to commonly asked questions, adds comments explaining the purpose of the question, and points out any “traps” the interviewer may be setting by asking you the question.

Below are some of the most common questions asked during on-campus interviews….

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