Today we bring you a new installment in our popular series on celebrity summer associates. The stories in this series have been positive and uplifting — but we should note that we welcome tales of summer associate scandal as well.
With the summer winding down, it’s safe to share salacious tales of SA misbehavior. Please submit them by email, to email@example.com (subject line: “Summer Associate Story”), or by text message. As you know, we keep our tipsters anonymous.
Now, on to today’s celebrity summer associate.
Last week, in a piece for the New York Times’s Room for Debate project, I argued for reforming legal education by bringing back apprentices in law. But I was not optimistic about that change happening anytime soon.
Well, it seems that my call for apprentices has been heard. A former star of Donald Trump’s popular reality television show, The Apprentice, is now “apprenticing” at a major law firm, as a summer associate.
Who is this ex-Apprentice, and where is this person working?
If you’re bummed about having to shelve your plans for a nice tropical vacation this summer, you’re not alone. According to 43% of survey respondents, this summer is turning out to be busier than the rest of the year.
The top reasons cited for the increased billables are that partners are bringing in more business (63%) and the economy is improving (42%). Some of the other reasons, however, are not as upbeat: respondents report having to pick up the slack for other associates who left their firm voluntarily or involuntarily (28%), or who went on vacation (15%).
Another 30% of survey respondents say that this summer has been slower than other months (while the remaining 27% of respondents report that their workload is about the same as the rest of the year).
Why the work slowdown? Which firms and practice areas are turning up the heat this summer? An which ones are cooling things down?
The summer months can be a mixed bag at Biglaw firms. Some firms are incredibly busy, with trials and deals heating up at the same time. Other firms experience a work slowdown, as partners go on vacation, but try to maintain a façade of being busy while the summer associates are still around.
Now that we’re well into the summer, have you noticed a difference in your work flow compared to the rest of the year? Take our short Career Center survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, and tell us how busy you’ve really been this summer and why (your responses are kept completely confidential). Then check back later this week for the survey results.
When a law student is described as a “rock star,” this usually means she has a high-ranking position on law review and is going to clerk for the D.C. Circuit. The closest most lawyers get to rock stardom is playing Rock Band (a favorite pastime of Elie and Kash; I can’t quite get the hang of it).
Well, what if we told you that a real international pop star is in law school now? And that she’s currently summering at a well-regarded boutique law firm in Chicago?
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….
Recruiting athletes isn’t just for sports coaches. Many law firm hiring partners like to acquire athletes as well. The thinking is that successful athletes possess many of the traits sought in talented attorneys.
Athletes are disciplined, hardworking, and mentally tough. They are focused and strategic thinkers. If they play a team sport, then they probably excel at teamwork too.
So it shouldn’t come as a shock that Williams & Connolly, a firm full of fearsome litigators who love to win, has a great athlete among its 2011 summer associate class. This individual, who has traveled around the world playing his sport, is our latest celebrity summer associate. (We’ve previously profiled actor Wai Choy, a former co-star of Lindsay Lohan, and Phil Alito, son of Sam.)
Who is this star athlete turned Williams & Connolly summer associate, and what sport does he play?
Last week we discussed the art of receiving feedback from your firm. The coin of feedback has two sides — praise and criticism. You learn more from the latter than from the former. If you are a solid citizen who is committed and enthusiastic, you can learn great deal from constructive criticism. You must understand why it is given and what it means. In this week’s Career Center Summer Associate Tips Series, Lateral Link’sFrank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner, discusses how to best handle criticism over the summer.
Criticism is usually well-intended. Firms want you to succeed; if you are bright, well-liked, and energetic, the natural human instinct takes over. The partners running the summer program want to run a successful program. Experienced lawyers love to find new lawyers who they can bring into their groups or teams. That, in one respect, is what the summer program is all about. Criticism is not delivered in the abstract. It is delivered (1) on the spot when you have made a mistake, (2) at a quieter moment during the project when the assigning attorney has a moment to breathe, or (3) during the regular review process.
Some lawyers are just unpleasant or angry people. Usually, however, the lawyer is angry about your mistake because it disrupted his or her schedule, confused his client, screwed up an issue in a brief, or otherwise made his professional life unpleasant. The lawyer might also be angry because it was his or her fault for not providing enough instruction or sufficient oversight (but don’t you point this out). Depersonalize your reaction and learn from it. Contain your own hostility, rage, anger, and other emotional reactions. Do not head to your office in tears, vent your emotions to other summer associates, or storm off into professional oblivion. At the end of the day, run five miles or bike around the lake. Go to the gym and beat the heck out of a punching bag. Get on Above the Law and yell at Elie for a spelling mistake in one of his posts.
For more tips on handling criticism and making the most out of your summer clerkship experience, click here. For additional career insights, as well as profiles of individual law firms, check out the Career Center.
Welcome back to school, summer associates –- well, not yet — but many of your summer clerkships are coming to an end. With the scent of sweet, sweet money still lingering in the air since spring bonuses were announced, Biglaw summer associate programs are roaring back to life –- or are they?
Are partners partying like it’s 2007, or groveling before their clients like it’s 2009? Are full-time offers being passed out like candy, or hoarded like the world’s last Twinkie? Are future associates (gasp!) no longer going to be subject to deferred start dates, or is your start date contingent upon a group hug between the Democrats and Republicans?
If you are a 2011 summer associate, let us know if it’s okay to go ahead and pop the bubbly by filling out a short survey (as always, responses will be kept strictly confidential), sponsored by Lateral Link.
This year, the celebrity wattage is considerably lower. But there are still a few notable names floating out there (and we welcome additional submissions, by email). For example, we recently wrote about actor Wai Choy, a former co-star of Lindsay Lohan who is now summering at Proskauer in New York.
Our next celebrity summer associate isn’t super-famous in his own right (even though he’s as good-looking as many a Hollywood actor). Instead, he derives his celebrity from a famous father.
Law school isn’t a bad choice or financially ruinous choice for everybody — just for many people.
Given the state of the legal economy, it sometimes feels like law schools are pumping out two classes of law students. The first blessed group of people can follow a “traditional” path to financial security: summer at a Biglaw firm, get an offer, work there for a few years while paying off debt, etc.
The other group consists of the law school have-nots. They didn’t get Biglaw summer associate offers because the supply of legal jobs has contracted while the number of available law students has increased. The “secondary” or “local” markets aren’t hiring either. Public interest work doesn’t quite pay the bills. Nobody is coming to interview them 3L year. They are members of the Lost Generation.
There are, of course, more law school have-nots than there are lucky ones. That’s just the way of things. But law schools tend to trumpet the few stories of success while ignoring the many stories of distress.
We’ve talked about all of this before, of course. But today we have an interesting opportunity to take a peek inside the head of a successful candidate — and see just how myopic his worldview is. And we can look at the thoughts of a have-not — and see just how bitter he’s become.
Below are two emails. One came from a summer associate at Cravath, raving about his wonderful, awesome world. The other is a response written by a rising 3L describing his no good, very bad employment prospects….
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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