vanwinkle wrote:Even before ITE, I knew someone who was top 25% at Penn and got cut from a law firm like so many associates do. He ended up doing temp work at one of the big investment firms in NYC, and it took him years to get them to finally take him onto a full-time position. Despite the degree and grades and prior work experience, they did not want to take someone who'd fallen into temp work as a full employee. It was only the fact that he did solid work for them on a series of contracts for more than three years that finally convinced them to hire him.
So, do we know why? I mean, aside from prestige whoring?
It's about hiring momentum and the risk of decision.
There is such an *enormous* pool of attorneys that it makes distinguishing them very difficult. Additionally, very few legal jobs are "plug and play." There is almost always a significant learning curve that keeps an attorney from being worth their salary for a period of time. This means employers are generally hiring potential, and potential can be very difficult to identify. Add to that, there is often blame passed around when a new hire doesn't work out. No one wants to either catch that blame if the person they pushed for turns out to be a dud or worse, or be the person who got in the way of a candidate being pushed by someone higher up the food chain.
As an applicant, you have two things that can speak on your behalf: your resume and personal connections. One reason personal connections are so important is because they cut through much of the uncertainty. If someone is willing to stake part of their reputation on your skills, that says a lot. But, if you don't have that, then you are left with your resume. Job descriptions are *not* going to distinguish you. They can all be massaged to sound the same and employers know it. Further, ethically they generally need to be rather generic -- you are somewhat limited as to what you can put on your resume by attorney client privilege.
So what does that leave a potential employer with? Your pedigree. If your resume demonstrates that competitive place after competitive place has taken a chance on you, then you have momentum going in your favor. The next employer can rely upon the fact that their positive view about your potential has been shared by others to bolster the decision to put your application through. If you turn out to be a dud, there is usually less blame -- "but school X, and employers Y and Z all shared my view, how should I have known he wouldn't work out." If, however, you have a back slide in your resume, you have shifted the momentum and are forcing the employer to take a greater risk. Even in this economy many of the people who were forced out have landed on their feet. Employers want *those* people (which is why they like hiring laterals). They know that a lot of the people who are doing temp work are just victims of bad circumstances, but they also know that not *all* of them are. Sorting out which is which is difficult and time consuming. In a market where there are more than enough people to choose from that have not done temp work, there is no reason to take either the risk or the time.
So the very short summary to a very long answer is: when the supply of attorneys far exceeds demand, employers can be as picky as they want, and it is rational for them to behave in this manner.