Lateral Link

I know what you did this summer –- so thanks for filling out the 2011 Summer Associate Experience Survey. We’ve highlighted a few more of the unique and memorable summer programs in 2011. For more summer associate program information, check out the updated summer associate program sections of the law firm profiles on the Career Center, sponsored by Lateral Link.

To continue with our summer program superlatives, click on the links below to see if your firm received any accolades….

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Now that 2011 summer programs have officially come to an end at Biglaw firms everywhere, law students are returning to their schools a little less naïve about working in Biglaw, a little bloated from all the free food, and seriously missing their fat summer associate paychecks. But how hard did they have to work, and how well were they fed on the firm’s dime?

Here at the Career Center, we know that summer programs are about much more than numbers and stats. So we surveyed summer associates at the top law firms in the country to find out about all aspects of their summer experience. Based on these survey results, brought to you by Lateral Link, we have completely updated the summer associate program sections of the Career Center’s firm profiles.

As befits the end of any school year, we’re also handing out some summer program superlatives to commemorate the 2011 summer class. Click on the links after the jump to see if the firm you work at, or want to work at, made the cut….

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In this week’s Career Center Tips Series, Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner, discusses the importance of research prior to on-campus interviewing.

View the interview as an athletic contest that requires energy, preparation, and constant flexibility. You will turn the tables and impress the employer with your knowledge of her firm. Even the toughest question (about bad grades and the like) can be handled with aplomb. The lawyer who projects an image of relaxed self-confidence will carry the day. Think for a moment about the differences between nervous, high energy politicians (George Bush “41″ and Michael Dukakis) and relaxed and self confident politicians (Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton). In politics, law, or medicine, a good bedside manner is critical to care for citizens, clients and patients.

You have begun a multi-decade career as a lawyer after investing three years and a small fortune. Just as the first year of law school was a demanding mélange of information, chaos, rumor, fact, stress, and progress, so too will be the process of finding the right place to continue your career. From the beginning of the process through the final decision, the student who understands the prospective employer will compete more effectively.

How can you become better prepared for an interview? Read on, after the jump….

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Now that the summer is almost over, the Career Center will be switching gears and posting tips and advice on the most magical time of the year for law students — On-Campus Interviews (OCI). In the next few weeks, law firms will be dropping down the chimneys of law schools across the country, giving summer clerkship offers to good little boys and girls. Obviously, you need the grades and class rank to be initially placed on the “Good List,” but to remain on that list once firms are “checking it twice,” it is important to be prepared when firms are “gonna find out who is naughty or nice.”

Now enough with the Christmas puns and on to the first OCI Tips post, brought to you by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, legal recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner….

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So how do firms decide how many summer associates will get permanent offers? Why do some firms have high offer rates, while others tread closer to the 50% offer range? The law firm recruiting process is very similar to the rush process of fraternities and sororities. There are a ton of drinking and “rush events” that summer associates partake in as law firms try to woo in new associates; but on the flip side, summer associates still have to “prove themselves worthy” enough to be accepted in the Brotherhood of Six-Figure Salaries or in the Sisterhood of Big Law Prestige.

Unlike sororities, you will not have to strip down to your underwear as current members take black sharpies and draw marks on the parts of your body that can use some “improvement.” Rest assured, however, that you will still have to work to impress the people at your summer law firm to keep the number of black sharpie marks on your file to a minimum, and ultimately secure that coveted permanent offer….

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It’s inevitable, but at some point during your summer clerkship, you will have to write, and odds are, you will be writing a lot. Words are the currency of lawyers. Once you graduate from law school, you will be paid hundreds of dollars an hour to write brilliant briefs, ironclad contracts, and demand letters that would even make Dick Cheney cry. With that in mind, you will need to proof and analyze everything you write during your summer clerkship –- even if it is as an informal as a one-page memo or quick email.

This week’s Career Center Summer Associate Tips Series focused on helping you develop your writing skills, and is brought to you by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner.

Read on for more information on how to manage your written work product as a summer associate….

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In case you might have forgotten, a summer clerkship at a law firm is a job. You are expected to be at work during normal business hours, to follow instructions, and to complete assignments. The fact that the firm may take you to concerts and fancy restaurants should not control how you perceive the summer clerkship experience. You must determine your priorities and plan accordingly. By far, the most frequent problems encountered by summer associates are the challenges presented by handling multiple assignments or meeting tough deadlines. This week’s Career Center Summer Associate Tips Series features advice on managing your assignments and deadlines from Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner.

Lawyers live in a world of deadlines — depositions must be taken, briefs must be filed, statutes of limitation will run, deals must be closed, and client presentations may be made. Some deadlines change unexpectedly. Others are immutable. Before tackling any assignment, you must understand the relevant deadlines….

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'Please take me to a nice lunch!'

If the law firm is a circus, the summer associates are the clowns –- albeit clowns with one heck of a paycheck. I could go on and on with other circus-themed comparisons: the partner is the ring leader, the senior associates are the lion tamers, the junior associates on document review are the shovelers following the elephants to “sort” what comes out. But this post focuses on the summer associates who, like clowns, must learn how to juggle –- and instead of balls or bowling pins, summer associates must learn how to juggle several work assignments simultaneously.

According to Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner, one of the toughest challenges for young lawyers is managing their own workload. It is difficult to estimate the time that a project will take, especially since nothing in law school prepared you for the actual practice of law. Not to mention you will be working for several partners and attorneys simultaneously, which places an additional burden on you.

Here are some tips to help you juggle your assignments….

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Mastering assignments begins with understanding what the lawyers you are working for want. You are not in law school; this is not a contest where you are graded against other students. Clients want answers, not issue spotting. Sophisticated clients already know the issues. Clients want answers based on the facts and applicable law — not theory based on policy arguments, law review articles, cases from other states, dissenting opinions, or model statutes that have not been adopted.

According to Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner, the most frequent problems in summer programs arise from misunderstood assignments. Common errors include spending the wrong amount of time on a project, delivering the wrong type of work product, memoranda that speak with the voice of a law student rather than that of a lawyer, and inadequate or excessive legal research. Each is preventable.

If you do not enjoy research, call that truck driving school. If you do not have a natural curiosity about legal issues, you are in the wrong profession. That means a rigorous, disciplined approach to defining problems and finding answers even if it means going through scores of cases, stacks of treatises, and hitting innumerable dead ends until you are satisfied.

Know that your assignment will be delivered by an attorney responsible for coordinating projects for summer associates or the attorney for whom the work will be done. Therefore, do not leave the office of the assigning lawyer without answers to these eleven questions — which you can read by clicking here. Don’t forget, for additional career insights as well as profiles of individual law firms, check out the Career Center.

Welcome to the world of Biglaw — a world of wonder, a world of magic, a world of pure imagination — okay, not really. After you are done watching Willy Wonka, come with me and you’ll see a world of schedules, time constraints, and statutory deadlines with loopholes and an infinite number of exceptions. If you haven’t already, buy yourself a watch — and no, not a Rolex (as Elie well knows, student loans are not easy to live with).

Transforming your wake-up-at-9:55-to-get-to-class-by-10 schedule to a working-at-a-law-firm schedule is not easy. The work habits of many students do not match well with the daily life of a firm. I’m not saying that law students do not know how to work hard, but when you join a law firm, you follow the pulse and practice of the firm, its partners, and its clients.

The following tips on managing your time and transitioning from law school to law firm are brought to you by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner. Now on to the tips…

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