do biglaw firms discriminate against older job candidates

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
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do biglaw firms discriminate against older job candidates

Postby patchin411 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:04 pm

I heard that law firms will only hire 20somethings for first year associates. I hear that firms view older candidates as job risks. Is this true?
I will be 33 years old when I finish law school. I am an AA male with no kids but I will have 200,000 in educational debt. Is my age a problem?

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Re: do biglaw firms discriminate against older job candidates

Postby YoungFogey » Thu Nov 25, 2010 9:43 am

As with most things, it's in how you sell it.

For me it was a huge plus. Going in to OCI I was worried that being older (and having a family -- double whammy) would make me an unattractive candidate. I sent targeted letters to firms that didn't do OCI at my school in late July, maxed out my bids, picked up extra interviews after the slots were announced, and hustled during OCI to add a few more interviews with firms I got locked out of by the bidding process. It turned out that this was overkill and my fears that firms wouldn't like my quirky background were unfounded. (Though I wouldn't change what I did -- it was far better to be in a position of turning down callbacks than being locked out of them.)

I made sure that I sold myself as someone who knew what I was getting into. I had worked before. I researched firms, I had friends who had already been associates at law firms. My resume had a few red flags on it (things that might indicate I'd be a flight risk after the summer), so I made sure I could address why I didn't want to go back into my old line of work, and why I did want to work for a firm. I had a number of people (especially the partners) comment on the fact that my age (or as they phrased it, "experience") was one of the reasons that they were talking to me.

Now, I wouldn't count on your age being a factor that will get you jobs that your school/grades wouldn't otherwise make you eligible for (unless you have connections you can work). But, as long as you are aware of how your age could be seen as a negative and are able to sell it as a positive instead, it should not stand in the way of you getting a firm job.

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Stringer Bell
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Re: do biglaw firms discriminate against older job candidates

Postby Stringer Bell » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:03 am

YF's post echoes what I have heard from someone in career services at the school I will be attending.

Apparently, several years ago being a bit older was a liability and big firms only wanted fresh faced folks in their mid 20's. I've been told this has certainly changed and that firms are placing alot of value on people having proven themsevles in the workforce. Even though most of their grads are graduating in their late 20's vs. early 30's, I think Northwestern's meteoric rise in relative biglaw placement is a testament to this.

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Re: do biglaw firms discriminate against older job candidates

Postby Rotor » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:39 am

My experience is largely similar to YFs. I'll be 45 when I take the bar exam, but still landed a great v20 in DC.

Pre-OCI, I asked several partners from various firms whether it was an issue. Nearly unanimously, they felt it was a positive. I did have one person caution me though that that should be expected from partners who did not want to get sued for age discrimination.

During OCI (screenings and callbacks) I got questions that were veiled questions about my age: how are you going to handle being bossed around by someone half your age; how have you fit in with your classmates at school; how do you think your experience will impact your track to partner. Be prepared to answer questions like this (and other subtle age related questions). I didn't realize that last Q was in this category until one interviewer explained my foreshortened time as a partner when I get to that point at ~55 might be seen as a liability. In your mid 30s, it'll probably be much less of an issue.

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