On-Campus Interviewing

All across the country, law students and law firms are gearing up for on-campus interviewing. If you are seeking to advance your legal career or trying to figure out where to work, check out Above the Law’s new Career Center, which contains a wealth of resources to help you with your job search.

On Friday, we pointed you to our brand-new ATL Law Firm Directory. The Directory contains ratings for over 70 law firms, based on responses from over 6,000 attorneys. Our individual firm profiles break down the employers using a number of metrics, and based on your surveys we’ve been able to give each of the firms a letter grade (curved around a “B,” which should be familiar to most law grads). The profiles are dynamic, reflecting both publicly available information and user responses, so if you feel like your firm is getting an unwarranted grade, the profile page will lead you right to the survey, where you can tell us what you think.

We’re also interested in hearing about how the summer associate experience has been this year. We invite you to take our summer associate survey.

Over the weeks and months ahead, we will be adding new components and resources to the Career Center. Today we are going live with our Law Students section. This page provides advice and articles about job hunting, academics, and clerkships, as well as access to our law firm profiles. Some of the content provided by our five partners — The Girl’s Guide to Law School, Legal Writing Pro, Lateral Link, JD Match, and Leopard Solutions — is available only on the Career Center, so check it out.

Our effort to expand the career-related resources for our readers is just getting started. We’ll soon be launching a page dedicated to lawyers in the lateral market, as well as resources for those in other career paths outside of Biglaw. As more people fill out surveys, we’ll be able to construct profiles for more firms. And yes, eventually we will have letter grades for law schools as well as law firms — and that won’t be controversial at all!

The Career Center will grow and evolve over time, and we welcome your suggestions for adding to and improving it. If you have recommendations, questions, or concerns, you can reach the Career Center team by email: careers@abovethelaw.com.

It’s an exciting time here at Above the Law, and we hope you’ll take advantage of these new offerings. In today’s fast-moving and challenging world, information is king — and we want you to have access to all of it.

Law Student Career Center [Above the Law Career Center]
Law Firm Directory [Above the Law Career Center]

OCI’s coming, and it’s a buyer’s market. Law students who do their research will have a distinct advantage. And we want to help Above the Law readers out-compete their peers.

Check out the ATL Law Firm Directory, our new resource to help you compare among potential law firm employers and prepare for the crucial interview season. See what insiders have to say about where they work and review our new law firm ratings, based on our ongoing survey of the massive ATL audience. Stay tuned for more updates from the ATL Research Team.

There’s information in the Career Center that won’t just help you for your interviews, it will also help you choose the law firm that is right for you. For instance one up-and-coming-firm, dubbed the “Most Feared & Loathed Firm in Silicon Valley,” owns a ping-pong table that converts into their conference board room. They know exactly what they’re looking for; are you looking for them?

Our friends at JD Match provided 14 key interview tips. Again we want to help you get a job this OCI season, so check out the tips…

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I used to work at Debevoise & Plimpton. Before I interviewed with them, I learned that the firm was called Debevoise (rhymes with “noise”) and not Debevoise (rhymes with voire “boudoir”).

Not everybody who showed for interviews had that level of commitment. How embarrassing for them. At Debevoise, they’re a little touchy about the proper pronunciation of the firm’s name — and not just with potential recruits. Do you know how stupid you sound when you are sitting with a bunch of Biglaw New York lawyers and your roll out with “Debevoir” or “Curtis Mallet” (as in hammer)? You sound like an idiot. People will make fun of you when you go to the bathroom. I once heard a person pronounce Cravath like “cravat,” and it was so jarring that I swear that’s the only thing I remember about the person. If I saw him again, our mutual friend would have to pull me aside and say, “That’s the ‘cravat’ guy.”

There are services out there to help you avoid these embarrassing mistakes. You should put in a little bit of time before you head to New York, or D.C., or L.A., or anywhere where top lawyers are likely to be….

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Obtaining a summer associate position at a major law firm remains difficult. That’s the upshot of a recent report (PDF) issued by our friends at NALP. You can read summaries of the report at the NALP website and at the ABA Journal. This quip, by NALP executive director Jim Leipold, pretty much says it all: “This is not a hot recruiting market.”

Given that employers are still in the driver’s seat, at least when it comes to entry-level recruiting — recruiting of lateral lawyers, whether associates or partners, is a different kettle of fish — you’d think that law firms would use this opportunity to experiment a bit with fall recruiting. There are some interesting alternatives out there to the standard model of 20- to 30-minute screening interviews, typically held in the summer before or early fall of the 2L year, followed by callback interviews at the firms. E.g., JD Match (disclosure: a past ATL advertiser).

But law firms, as we know, are a conservative group. They tend to stick with existing models, even if those models are imperfect.

Well, most law firms. Nobody ever accused Quinn Emanuel of not daring to be different….

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File this under: “reasons why the alumni office should clear everything with the PR department.”

Yesterday, somebody at Columbia Law School sent out an email to recent alumni asking for a $1,000 donation (or twelve $85 monthly installments) to help current law students. No, Columbia isn’t setting up another scholarship fund for public interest fellows. CLS isn’t even trying to make direct cash transfers to unemployed graduates in exchange for their silence. Instead, Columbia wants $1,000 from alumni to help offset the cost of the “early interview program” during which Columbia rising 2Ls interview with Biglaw firms and snag offers for jobs.

Do you think Columbia culled its alumni list to make sure that only graduates who were also working in Biglaw were even asked to make this kind of questionable donation? Of course they didn’t! A bunch of Columbia grads who aren’t working in Biglaw were asked to… wait, let me get this language exactly right:

“Give a student the chance at a dream job.”

Hilarity ensues….

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Meet the new Biglaw. Same as the old Biglaw.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the Wall Street Journal has a good article about how various recession-era cutbacks have become entrenched in Biglaw. If you have been paying attention or are a current law student, you know the issues: smaller entry-level classes, stagnant salaries, and a partnership track long enough to make a first-year Ph.D. student laugh.

Basically, if you were already a Biglaw partner when the recession hit, you are likely to say, “What recession?” Your profits per partner have probably gone up, despite the general economy’s woes. Other industries use economic downturns to retool their business models and develop new ways to compete. Not Biglaw. It appears that Biglaw has used the recession to fire a bunch of people, exclude new partners, and keep associate salaries and bonuses at recessionary levels. They haven’t developed a new business model; they’ve just found a way to reduce the costs of the old business model.

Biglaw partner: It’s great work if you can get it. The WSJ even found one partner who was so busy loving himself and his life that he appears to be totally oblivious to the struggles of everybody else…

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist, is available on Amazon, as is his previous book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).

I was hiking in Iceland this past summer. We were pretty high up – around 1,000 meters – and it was raining hard, high wind, snow on the ground.

“Damn, it’s cold,” grumbled one of my American companions.

An Englishman behind us stumbled over a patch of frozen volcanic ash. “There’s a clue in the name, mate,” he offered helpfully.

Some things are so obvious they really don’t need to be explained anymore. Like it’s icy in Iceland. Like it sucks working at a big law firm. You kinda ought to know that by now — which is why interviewing 2L’s feels so heart-breaking.

I should know; I’ve been listening to senior and mid-level associates for the past month, telling me how much it sucks interviewing 2L’s….

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily think that it’s wrong to brag about receiving an offer in front of your friends, family, and total strangers. I personally subscribe to the Major League theory that you don’t want to be dancing in front of somebody who just died, but I understand that most of the kids these days have never even seen the movie I just referenced.

For the millennials, bragging comes so naturally they don’t even realize when they’re doing it. It’s like their biological imperatives are to survive, reproduce, and post evidence of it on Facebook.

Which is fine. I mean, just because somebody is bragging doesn’t mean you have to care. For instance, today we’ve got a kid bragging about getting an offer from a particular Biglaw firm. Some people will be envious; other people are going to make jokes about coat hangers. To each his own….

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Be careful about what you say in the airport, or on a crowded train, or on the subway. Above the Law’s spies are everywhere.

And be careful about what you place in the trash. Law firms have paper shredders for a reason; use them. Consider this your practice pointer for the day.

Earlier this month, an ATL reader sent us a collection of documents relating to Sullivan & Cromwell’s on-campus interviewing program at the University of Michigan Law School. For the record, our tipster didn’t have to go dumpster diving for this find. The documents were contained in a black binder that was conveniently placed on top of an outdoor recycling bin, where it caught our reader’s eye. (As we all know from California v. Greenwood, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in stuff you leave in the trash.)

So, what was in these documents? The contents will be of interest to partners and associates at other firms, as well as law students going through the OCI process right now….

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Every couple of years, people need to be reminded not to have private conversations in public spaces. Who could forget Acela Bob, the Pillsbury partner who talked about firing people on a crowded train?

University of Virginia law students, that’s who. Yes, we have another installment of: when popping your collar goes real wrong. On the way back to Charlottesville from New York City, a group of UVA Law students were waiting for their flight out of LaGuardia. They started talking about how their callback interviews went. They started talking loudly.

And others were listening….

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