Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

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BigLawRecruiter
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Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:48 am

It's the slow week between Christmas and New Years, and I happened to stumble upon this web site again after using it myself many years ago. Reading a few posts refreshed my recollection about how many 0Ls base their law school decisions on an employment market that they know almost nothing about except for self-reported employment numbers published by the schools themselves, U.S. News, and NALP. So, I thought I would take advantage of some downtime by making myself available for some questions from the perspective of someone who was in your shoes and now is "living the dream."

About me: I was magna cum laude at an undergraduate institution that hovers around the top 25, took several years off between undergrad and law school, and scored a 175 on my LSAT. I was admitted to Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Northwestern, Virginia ($), Georgetown ($), GW ($$), and George Mason ($$) -- probably a few others that I only applied to because they were free, although I had no intention of attending. My only rejection was from Yale (which I received, by e-mail, on April 25). Ultimately, my choice came down to Harvard and Georgetown. Ultimately, having lived in DC at the time and wanting to settle in DC, I chose Georgetown. To some people, that alone should disqualify me from ever working as an attorney, but to each his own. I obtained a summer associate position in DC after my first year of law school and split the summer with that firm and another DC firm after my second year of law school. I received offers from both firms, and currently am a mid-level associate at the second and a member of the recruiting committee.

What this thread is for: generic questions about the relative merits of law schools from my perspective and generic questions about law firm hiring.
***Before you waste your time, there are two things that are off limits: (1) personal advice about what school you should attend in your individual circumstances; and (2) specific details about my firm and its hiring practices. ***

With that said, fire away. I am a working attorney with a family, so I cannot promise to check this thread everyday. But, as I mentioned earlier, it's the slow time between the holidays, so I should have some time to engage for at least the next several days.

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redsox
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby redsox » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:54 am

BigLawRecruiter wrote:I obtained a summer associate position in DC after my first year of law school...


What's the best way to do this? People on this site often describe getting a 1L SA position as incredibly unlikely if not impossible.

Thanks for posting.

rad lulz
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby rad lulz » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:58 am

What yr did you graduate

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:02 am

redsox wrote:
BigLawRecruiter wrote:I obtained a summer associate position in DC after my first year of law school...


What's the best way to do this? People on this site often describe getting a 1L SA position as incredibly unlikely if not impossible.

Thanks for posting.


Admittedly, I did this in better times, and it has only become more difficult.

You should go into the process realizing that 1L hiring is almost always about recruiting, not hiring. Firms understand that the majority of 1L hires do not end up working for that firm. And no summer associate justifies his or her salary. So why do firms hire 1Ls? Mostly to create a buzz about their firm and to place someone on the ground who will be able to talk to his or her peers.

What does this mean for someone interested in a 1L summer associate position? First, apply all over the place. I must have sent out 100 applications, both blindly and in response to firms recruiting at Georgetown. I probably received about 10 screening interviews and three call backs. Second, position yourself as a leader among your class. Considering the purpose of 1L hiring, firms are not looking for wallflowers, but people who are respected by their peers and likely to be an influential presence on their campus. Third, have a backup plan. Again, these positions can be hard to get -- especially if you are not at a campus where firms are competing hard for an upper-hand.

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:03 am

rad lulz wrote:What yr did you graduate


Let's just say it was before the shit hit the fan. I was fortunate. The world has changed, but many of the underlying principles are the same.

BigLaw_Lit
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLaw_Lit » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:10 am

BigLawRecruiter wrote:Ultimately, having lived in DC at the time and wanting to settle in DC, I chose Georgetown. To some people, that alone should disqualify me from ever working as an attorney, but to each his own.


What are your thoughts on Georgetown? Do you think it gets a bad rap on TLS?

stayway
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby stayway » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:18 am

I recently started as corporate counsel for a midsized retailer (class of 2013). What are my chances at lateraling into biglaw? My LS and grades are mediocre but since I'm the only attorney here I got throw into the fire and learning a lot (for a first year). Thanks.

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:28 am

BigLaw_Lit wrote:What are your thoughts on Georgetown? Do you think it gets a bad rap on TLS?


Georgetown is an outstanding law school. It has a distinguished faculty that is student-driven and tries very hard not to treat its students as numbers, notwithstanding the size of the school. Georgetown has an excellent clinical program that is continually growing and provides many unique opportunities based on its location.

Does Georgetown get a bad rap on TLS? Yes and no. If you approach law school as a pure numbers game, then it is accurate to say that generic student x, all things equal, will have a better chance of obtaining a higher paying job at a higher-ranked school. So in that sense Georgetown's rep is accurate (although, for the record, every one of my friends from Georgetown who wanted a job in BigLaw now works in BigLaw). But that assumes that law school students have no control over their own destiny. I do think Georgetown offers advantages to students are willing to go the extra mile and develop a plan to utilize Georgetown's location and the size of its alumni base. I have received several job opportunities resulting from networking with Georgetown alums beginning as a 1L and from getting out in DC through professional organizations and internships during the academic year - something you can't do as easily in New Haven, Boston, or Charlottesville.

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:31 am

stayway wrote:I recently started as corporate counsel for a midsized retailer (class of 2013). What are my chances at lateraling into biglaw? My LS and grades are mediocre but since I'm the only attorney here I got throw into the fire and learning a lot (for a first year). Thanks.


I'm not going to lie - it will be difficult. Lateral hires typically involve attorneys with specific skill sets developed at a law firm (or through clerkships). Unfortunately, although working as corporate counsel is a great experience, the skills that you develop are generally not the same skills as those developed at a law firm. Your best bet will be a firm that your company works with and that would benefit from your particular industry experience or another law firm that specializes in that industry.

stayway
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby stayway » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:35 am

BigLawRecruiter wrote:
stayway wrote:I recently started as corporate counsel for a midsized retailer (class of 2013). What are my chances at lateraling into biglaw? My LS and grades are mediocre but since I'm the only attorney here I got throw into the fire and learning a lot (for a first year). Thanks.


I'm not going to lie - it will be difficult. Lateral hires typically involve attorneys with specific skill sets developed at a law firm (or through clerkships). Unfortunately, although working as corporate counsel is a great experience, the skills that you develop are generally not the same skills as those developed at a law firm. Your best bet will be a firm that your company works with and that would benefit from your particular industry experience or another law firm that specializes in that industry.


Yeah. That's the answer I expected. It's really the lack of oversight that's frustrating here. I'm going to look to apply as a 1st year all over again when I get sworn in. Any advice on approaching this? General advice would be appreciated as well - not just biglaw specific. One positive is that I am interested in the industry I am in currently. Thanks.

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SweetTort
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby SweetTort » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:40 am

If you could do it all over, would you have done biglaw? Law at all?

sah
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby sah » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:44 am

To what extent do your firm's perceptions of the reputations of the various schools track with the rankings? (Assuming equal grades) Do you look at a Harvard degree as significantly better than a Chicago degree? A UVA degree? A Georgetown degree? Do small differences in school reputation matter that much in your recruiting efforts, or are you more comparing other factors at that point?

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:12 am

SweetTort wrote:If you could do it all over, would you have done biglaw? Law at all?


For me, yes and yes. But I found a practice area that I really enjoy. Most of the miserable attorneys that I know got in for the money first and don't love what they do. When you are spending as many hours (plus much of your off-time) focused on something as much as you will as a large firm attorney, you better enjoy it.

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:22 am

sah wrote:To what extent do your firm's perceptions of the reputations of the various schools track with the rankings? (Assuming equal grades) Do you look at a Harvard degree as significantly better than a Chicago degree? A UVA degree? A Georgetown degree? Do small differences in school reputation matter that much in your recruiting efforts, or are you more comparing other factors at that point?


Speaking more broadly, and not for my firm specifically, I think there is some correlation. Firms may go deeper into a class from a Harvard or a Yale than a lesser-ranked school under the assumption that those schools attract "better candidates" and therefore will have more students that the firms would want to hire. At the same time, there are terrible candidates from Harvard and great candidates from schools outside the so-called top-14. There are also geographic preferences. Some schools, like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, travel nationally. But DC firms and offices tend to hire less from Columbia and NYU and more from UVA and Georgetown. For New York offices, it is the opposite. And you don't find as many Chicago, Northwestern, and Michigan alums in DC as you would in Chicago. Just like law schools, law firm positions are about yield, so firms are looking to offer students who are likely to accept.

Another factor to consider is how easy or hard it may be to get your foot in the door. I believe all of the top-14 schools assign interviews to law firms during OCI instead of allowing law firms to select students to interview. This can be annoying for law firms, which have to interview students they almost certainly will not call back, much less hire. But it does provide the rare opportunity for someone to shine and earn a call back even if they do not meet the typical cut-offs on paper.

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NYC2012
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby NYC2012 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:37 am

At your firm, how much of a boost is it for candidates to have work experience? Specifically, what about people who were big firm paralegals?

Thank you, by the way! This is helpful.

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BmoreOrLess
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BmoreOrLess » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:06 pm

Not sure if you're transactional or lit, but how does work experience in the back office/middle office of a bulge bracket investment banking firm look? I know it can be seen as a black eye in the finance industry (probably the closest comparison to law would be a staff or non-partner track associate), but it seems to have been helping me out perform my numbers in admissions. I was curious as to how it looks with law firms.

fluffythepenguin
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby fluffythepenguin » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:07 pm

What did you do to utilize the GULC alumni network in D.C.? What did your "plan" consist of?

lawschool2014hopeful
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby lawschool2014hopeful » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:11 pm

Given the current 2:1 graduates to available opening job ratio, every year a long list unemployed lawyers accumulate, some of which will have, or hopefully gained meaningful non-legal experience during their time not finding a job as a lawyer, how does a new grad compete with them?

Is the current legal market worse than 50% of making it to law as it is suggested by the 2:1 ratio?

Also, why do you think in big law the turnover ratio is 4/5 within 5 years? This sort of high ratio is almost unheard of in any other profession, some of which require more than the 60hrs+ week. What do people do after getting off the big law track? Are most of them financially secured through other means? Or are most of these turnovers firings?

Thanks for answering the questions in advance.

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:25 pm

NYC2012 wrote:At your firm, how much of a boost is it for candidates to have work experience? Specifically, what about people who were big firm paralegals?


It certainly doesn't hurt to have relevant experience, whether in a specific industry or as a paralegal. It will not get you a call back if you clearly are not qualified, but it certainly will compare favorably if you are being considered against candidates without such experience.

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:27 pm

BmoreOrLess wrote:Not sure if you're transactional or lit, but how does work experience in the back office/middle office of a bulge bracket investment banking firm look? I know it can be seen as a black eye in the finance industry (probably the closest comparison to law would be a staff or non-partner track associate), but it seems to have been helping me out perform my numbers in admissions. I was curious as to how it looks with law firms.


I am lit/regulatory, but generally I think a recruiting committee will like any relevant industry experience. The question then becomes whether it will create conflicts or be frowned upon by clients.

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:31 pm

fluffythepenguin wrote:What did you do to utilize the GULC alumni network in D.C.? What did your "plan" consist of?


Georgetown puts on several events that provide 1Ls with opportunities to interact with practitioners. Attend as many of those as you can and meet as many people as you can. Law firms hold receptions during 1L year - attend as many of those as you can. Remember that recruiting departments play an important role in the process, but they are gatekeepers and work for the attorneys. Thus, connecting with actual attorneys at firms where you would want to work can be the key to getting in the door. Also, look up Georgetown alums at firms where you want to interview and ask them to meet for coffee so you can pick their brains. This is where attending law school in the city where you want to work can be particularly beneficial.

linkx13
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby linkx13 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:34 pm

BigLawRecruiter wrote:
fluffythepenguin wrote:What did you do to utilize the GULC alumni network in D.C.? What did your "plan" consist of?


Georgetown puts on several events that provide 1Ls with opportunities to interact with practitioners. Attend as many of those as you can and meet as many people as you can. Law firms hold receptions during 1L year - attend as many of those as you can. Remember that recruiting departments play an important role in the process, but they are gatekeepers and work for the attorneys. Thus, connecting with actual attorneys at firms where you would want to work can be the key to getting in the door. Also, look up Georgetown alums at firms where you want to interview and ask them to meet for coffee so you can pick their brains. This is where attending law school in the city where you want to work can be particularly beneficial.


While I realize you're big law, do you have any insight into the competitiveness Georgetown grads have for PI jobs in DC/NY?

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:39 pm

jimmierock wrote:Given the current 2:1 graduates to available opening job ratio, every year a long list unemployed lawyers accumulate, some of which will have, or hopefully gained meaningful non-legal experience during their time not finding a job as a lawyer, how does a new grad compete with them?

Is the current legal market worse than 50% of making it to law as it is suggested by the 2:1 ratio?

Also, why do you think in big law the turnover ratio is 4/5 within 5 years? This sort of high ratio is almost unheard of in any other profession, some of which require more than the 60hrs+ week. What do people do after getting off the big law track? Are most of them financially secured through other means? Or are most of these turnovers firings?

Thanks for answering the questions in advance.


I honestly don't focus on overall law school employment statistics and have no comment on the ratios. Most law firms conduct the strong majority, if not the entirety, of their new attorney hiring through their summer associate programs, so new graduates have advantages over out-of-work attorneys. If you are asking about students who graduate with no job vs. attorneys who have been working in non-legal capacities for several years, they are generally equals with regard to law firm jobs. My suggestion would be to be innovative and create opportunities - even if it means working for cheap or accepting part time employment to get a foot in the door.

Lawyers who have worked in BigLaw have two things that make them transferable: experience and money. As soon as your bio hits the firm website you will start getting calls from recruiters. Lawyers leave their jobs for a variety of reasons - some to go to other firms, some to go in-house, and some to get out of the business completely. It can be a stressful job and it is not just about the hours (although investment bankers have a similar attrition rate). The other thing is that by the 5th year attorneys have a sense of their partnership prospects, and that can cause movement as well.

BigLawRecruiter
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby BigLawRecruiter » Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:02 pm

linkx13 wrote:While I realize you're big law, do you have any insight into the competitiveness Georgetown grads have for PI jobs in DC/NY?


Sorry, I really don't. I know several people who work in PI jobs, but I don't know much about the details of their search. Georgetown does have a separate career office for PI positions and co-hosts (with GW) a PI/government job fair each year.

hos9903
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Re: Ask a BigLaw Recruiting Committee Member

Postby hos9903 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:07 pm

thanks for posting....this has already been very helpful.


Can you speak to whether or not there is a disadvantage for K-JDs in OCI? I have an offer to work consulting for a field/market that I have no interest in, and would only consider it if I'd be shooting myself in the foot for OCI by not taking it.

Thanks again!




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