I have received hundreds of emails over the past few months from job seekers, and today I would like to answer some of these questions.
The Recruitment Team
1. Do you take a sadistic pleasure in rejecting candidates?
I have received emails calling me “smug,” “arrogant,” “fat,” and “in all likelihood unattractive.” I am fat and, on most days, unattractive, so well done on that front. However, I am not smug or arrogant. BigLaw is a particular work environment, and it is an environment that I have observed firsthand for 20 years. I am trying to provide readers with some inside information. Please recall that it is just a singular viewpoint on a huge industry.
Neither I nor my colleagues enjoy denying smart people who have worked hard a chance to work in the setting of their choice. There is nothing gratifying about rejecting a candidate.
2. Does the scan of the applicant’s transcript come before or after you review the résumé?
I’m the official “rankings hater” around here, and that hate extends even to rankings that I helped design. There is some useful consumer information in the Above the Law rankings — but it’s also important that consumers understand what is not here, what we didn’t do, and what our rankings can’t tell you.
Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about what’s wrong with our rankings…
Every once in a while, I would run a Google search on myself. On the first page, I would see my LinkedIn profile, an article I wrote a few years ago on an obscure topic, and my five-star Yelp rating. Thankfully, no drunken college pictures appeared. So my Google footprint was clean — which is supposed to be good. But then I ran a search on two other attorneys I highly respect and saw pages showing their accomplishments, their connections, and newspaper articles featuring their names. That’s when I realized that I was a nobody.
But now that I am looking for a job, it is very important that my internet image is clean and wholesome. So I did a more detailed search. I tried using different search engines, like Yahoo and Bing. I also used more detailed search terms. Unfortunately, I discovered an old rant on a message board which I think some employers might find offensive. So now I had to find a way to remove it before someone sees it….
I get at least an email a week from law students seeking advice on what they should be doing to secure a law firm job involving China. This post is my once and future answer to those emails.
Two kinds of firms have a China law practice: mega firms (I began my career at one) and high end boutiques (I founded one). A small number of in-house lawyers also do China work, but nearly all of these lawyers went in-house after working for a mega firm or a high end boutique. Both kinds of firms generally interview only law students with top grades from highly rated law schools.
This means that entry-level China law jobs in the United States are generally limited to only the best students at the best schools. On top of this, most mega firms do not have recent graduates work on international law matters because they believe associates must first master corporate law or tax law or dispute resolution or labor law or IP law or whatever before being tasked with the additional layer of complexity of an international matter.
So what are the options for a law student who wants to practice China law?
In my time here, I’ve seen some truly terrible job listings, but this is something truly special.
A very recognizable company posted a job listing that you could characterize as insulting, but that’d be insulting to the word insulting. They want a lawyer to work in a short-term, full-time job opening sorting mail for $11/hour. Now you probably don’t believe that — because it’s insane — but we have the listing so you can stare at it in disbelief.
It’s the kind of job that makes babysitting look like a good option.
So what company has a job opening so easy a J.D. can do it….
Now with an important update that makes the whole tale more of a misunderstanding…
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Abby Gordon is a Director with Lateral Link’s New York office. Abby works with attorney candidates on law firm and in-house searches, primarily in New York, Boston, and Europe. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Abby spent seven years as a corporate associate with Cleary Gottlieb, focusing on capital markets transactions for Latin American clients in New York and for the last five years for European clients in Paris. A native of Boston, Abby holds a J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in government and romance languages, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College. Abby also worked with the International Rescue Committee as a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain. She is a member of the New York Bar and is fluent in French and Spanish (and dabbles in Portuguese and Italian).
Choosing a law firm and a practice area is a big decision. While 62% of lawyers move firms within their first four years of practice, your career path will likely be clearly shaped by your first job as a lawyer. I cannot stress enough how difficult it is to switch practice areas once you have started your legal career. It is not impossible, but it can be very difficult. Some firms are much more flexible than others in letting you dabble in various areas before committing to a practice area. In fact, certain firms never officially require you to choose a group. However, it is extremely rare for associates to find opportunities to switch from one firm’s practice area A to another firm’s practice area B. If you are lucky enough to have this opportunity, you will almost inevitably be asked to take a haircut in class year.
So what are the major factors you should consider in choosing a firm as a summer associate or first-year associate?
‘This one is a story about shoes… international shoes!’
Let’s have a chat about the job market. For the past few years, it’s been a rather bleak situation, with a little more than half of recent law school graduates employed in full-time, long-term jobs as attorneys. Jim Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement, recently revealed that the class of 2011 would “historically come to be seen as the bottom of the market.” Less than half of the class of 2011 found jobs in private practice, with the overall employment rate sinking to lows not seen since the mid 1990s.
Now that it’s been a few years since they graduated, just how screwed are the members of the class of 2011? By all accounts, it seems like the answer may be “very.” As it turns out, all of the law professors who thought they were cheekily offering babysitting jobs to their students for some extra cash were really just preparing them for their future careers.
Take heed before you apply to law school, lest you become a nanny with six figures of debt…
A hallmark of horrible regimes everywhere is the insistence that everyone around them profess a deep and abiding faith that they are, in fact, super-awesome regimes. This is why Kim Jong-un has at least 35 laudatory epithets attached to his name and holds parades about how awesome it was that he sprayed the populace down with AXE Bodyspray. Or something. I’m a little shaky on the details because bad regimes make a point of keeping the truth out of the public eye.
At least one law school has taken a lesson from mid-20th century fascism and adopted a total blackout on the truth about the substandard results it’s been getting. A blackout so absolute that, while hosting a candidate for the open position of dean, the school reportedly asked the candidate to leave and threatened to call security when he or she brought up the fact that, “hey, enrollment is down and those jerks from Above the Law make fun of us for our terrible bar passage rate” at a faculty gathering.
Can’t let the proles hear that.
So let’s have some fun — which law school do you think it is?
* When asked whether she thought Edward Snowden was “a whistleblower or a traitor,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg politely declined to answer — justices of the Supreme Court don’t just give previews of their opinions. [CNN]
* Ed Siskel recently left his role as deputy counsel in the Office of White House Counsel. It’s anyone’s guess which Biglaw firm added Gene Siskel’s nephew to its practice. Hopefully it’ll get a thumbs-up. [Politics Now / Los Angeles Times]
* It’s a “tale of two law schools”: the kind that place their students in jobs and the kind that let them languish in unemployment or underemployment. More on this tomorrow. [National Law Journal]
* Two NYU Law students’ emails were subpoenaed after they denounced the business activities of one of the law school’s trustees. Now, we’re not going to say that the school picked a side, but… [DNAinfo]
* Congrats, you can “Like” General Mills all you want without fear of arbitration. The company was so overwhelmed by negative consumer response that it withdrew its new legal terms. [New York Times]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.