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’sFrank 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….
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’sFrank 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….
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’sFrank 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’sFrank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner. Now on to the tips…
Jerry Maguire made a memorable plea to retain his client: “Help me, help you. Help me, help you.” As a summer clerk, you are very expensive for the law firm — in addition to your salary and entertainment expenses, firms spend hundreds of attorney hours monitoring your work and keeping you interested. You do not want to add more to that expense if it can be avoided, especially if it involves simply following firm policies and procedures. While we have already covered how summer associates should act in social settings in and outside the firm, summer associates must learn how to properly manage their work and conduct research on their day-to-day work assignments.
The following tips on time entry are brought to you by Frank Kimball of Lateral Link, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner. Please note that these are general guidelines a summer associate should adhere to — be sure to check with your firm to determine what the firm’s actual policies are.
Your summer associateship should be unfit for television (reality TV or otherwise).
What you do during your summer clerkship should not be viewed as a potential plot line in a TV series — or your future at the firm will last as long as The Deep End. From your fashion prowess to your social interactions, you should really be remembered for your work ethic and social competence. When you are being considered for a permanent position at summer’s end, you don’t want to be known as “Jäger Boy” or “Cleavage Girl.”
It only takes one momentary lapse in judgment to derail your future at the firm. Read these tips, brought to you by Frank Kimball of Lateral Link, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner.…
Greetings from lovely Palm Springs, California, home to the 2011 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (better known to many of you as NALP). The setting is beautiful, the weather is fabulous, and the conference panels have been stimulating thus far. Who needs SXSW?
Yesterday I attended a very interesting session, covering a topic near and dear to the hearts of many Above the Law readers. The apt title of the panel: “From Black Boxes to Glass Houses: Evolving Expectations of Law Firm Transparency.”
The lively discussion covered a wide range of topics — and also offered some advice for law firms for dealing with the increased transparency of the digital age….
* Lady Kaga issues her first single: a ruling against a Chapter 13 debtor, in favor of his credit card issuer, affirming the Ninth Circuit by a vote of 8-1. The lone dissenter: Justice Scalia. Weird, huh? [WSJ Law Blog; ABA Journal]
* How do you prosecute a deaf, mute, illiterate man? Please, please, please let the answer include pinball. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Should law school final exams use made-up hypotheticals or real-life cases? Professor Howard Wasserman assesses pros and cons. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Illinois State Senate takes a syringe stab at repealing the death penalty. [Reuters]
* Guns used to shoot off penises > Guns used to shoot at attackers. [Gawker]
* Congratulations to the 13 new partners at Bingham McCutchen. [Bingham]
* Lateral Link is teaming up with Frank Kimball, the former McDermott Will hiring partner who founded Kimball Professional Management, to focus on partner placements. (Disclosure: Lateral Link is an ATL advertiser.) [Am Law Daily; Lateral Link (press release)]
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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