Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
User avatar
nealric
Posts: 2391
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:53 am

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby nealric » Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:11 am

I agree with you in most respects, but I disagree that biglaw is "dying". The numbers simply don't support that assertion. Most Amlaw 100 firms experienced around a 5% drop in revenue last year- one of the worst ever. That hurts, but a 5% contraction in the worst economy in decades hardly indicates a moribund business model. Although business is not necessarily picking up uniformly, the general consensus is that thinigs are picking up quite a bit. At many firms that did mass layoffs, people are talking about being absolutely slammed with work.

However, I completely agree that biglaw gets disproportionate emphasis among law students. Glossy law school promotional brochures certainly help to ratchet up the fantasy of doing cutting-edge work in a gleaming office tower. I would say that the #1 priority for a new law school graduate is to get in the door of some place that will train you and allow you to develop a skill set. Biglaw might provide that opportunity, or it might result in doc-review purgatory.

User avatar
T14_Scholly
Posts: 416
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:46 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby T14_Scholly » Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:15 am

Dannes - do you base your opinion on whether one should start cultivating a cilent base immediately after law school on interaction/relationships with lawyers in small and mid-size law firms? After all, as a biglaw associate, if your only basis is your own experience, then we should take your opinion with a grain of salt. The fact that you compare cultivating a client base to "brain surgery" is telling, since in the world of biglaw it would obviously be harder than elsewhere.

User avatar
thesealocust
Posts: 8441
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby thesealocust » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:10 am

edit: n/m
Last edited by thesealocust on Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JOThompson
Posts: 1311
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 3:16 am

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby JOThompson » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:15 am

Thanks for taking the time to write that informative, thoughtful post.

User avatar
ggocat
Posts: 1662
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:51 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby ggocat » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:36 am

Thanks for posting.

AJRESQ wrote:I recommend that you read "How to Start and Grow a Law Practice." Even if you have NO intention of ever going solo, your career is going to be about your ability to be profitable. Every young lawyer should, at the very least, understand how a law firm operates.

And +1 to this book--actually, "How to Start and Build a Law Practice." Student members of the ABA can get it for $28 (often cheaper than used prices). http://apps.americanbar.org/abastore/in ... id=5110508.

I read most of it before law school, and I am so glad I did.

User avatar
Cardboardbox
Posts: 215
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:00 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Cardboardbox » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:38 am

Thanks for the post, it was really informative. As a 0L I won't throw in my conjectures about how to be a successful lawyer, but after having a few years of experience working at a couple of major I Banks in Wealth Management (as well as my own success in securing these positions) I definitely see the importance of cultivating a client base and building solid networking connections early on. I can't imagine (Disclaimer: 0L, as said before, so if I'm wrong feel free to correct me) that networking in the Legal field is radically different from networking in Finance.

AJRESQ
Posts: 94
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby AJRESQ » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:17 pm

I'm going to add a few more thoughts...

First, there was a post in here about going to a great law school and getting great grades still will land you a great job. That is probably still the case. The top 10% of most of your classes will find something making six figures. 90% won't. However, a great job out of the gate doesn't guarantee a great career. 5 years down the road, if you're not meeting your billables (which is more often than not because you don't have enough clients, or you haven't developed the type of relationship with partners to send you work) do you think a law firm, when making decisions as to who gets cut, is going to say "But he's a Harvard grad" or "She has a strong relationship with [CLIENT] and we're concerned if she laterals they might go with her." If you have your own clients (who will stay with you based on your work and relationships) you have much more job security. Far more than a law school degree could ever provide.

The post I responded to earlier is inductive of what I'm trying to convey. A great degree and grades can be the start of a good career. But it doesn't guarantee it. Conversely, you can go to a TTTT, but if you find a way to be profitable, you'll be much better situation than someone from a better school. If you're not in the top 10% and don't find a BIGLAW job it's certainly not the end of your legal career.

As for BIGLAW, it's never going to die. But it's going to adapt and change. Think of video stores: remember the gravy train of driving to the store, picking up the video, paying the late fees, the rewind fees, and all that other stuff? They were always out of the movie you wanted to watch? Technology changed, and places like Netflix figured out how to take the clients by providing a better service at a lower cost. Blockbuster is either going to go under, of they're going to scale back their operations and focus on internet based streaming DVD. They're going to lay off employees because customers aren't going to pay for what they're selling in that manner. BIGLAW is sort of the same -- it's going to adapt. Some are going to go under. Some partners are going to continue to be portable. But it's never going to be the gravy train it once was. And because of that, a great law school is no longer a guarantee to a successful career.

However, just like Netflix found a way to profit regarding video rentals, many smaller firms will do the same.

What's important is understanding that law is a client based field.

User avatar
bankruptedcasino
Posts: 95
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 5:24 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby bankruptedcasino » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:41 pm

Thank you for your post, AJRESQ. Your advice is credited, and is a far cry from TTTGrad who thinks we're all fools for plopping down the debt to go to law school. Deterring people on this site from chasing a dream is foolish, but offering unfettered and honest advice is noble. My experience has taught me the name on your diploma is infinitely helpful in the first few years after you graduate, but in the long-run your career is defined by rainmaking.

I'm curious: Do you own a practice and compete with biglaw for clients? Have you taken advantage of technology to offer the same services as a biglaw firm and how? Lastly (if you do own a practice), how much time after law school do you believe is necessary to practice with a firm before branching out on your own?

You can PM me if you don't want to answer in this forum. Thanks.

User avatar
ggocat
Posts: 1662
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:51 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby ggocat » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:45 pm

bankruptedcasino wrote:I'm curious: Do you own a practice and compete with biglaw for clients? Have you taken advantage of technology to offer the same services as a biglaw firm and how? Lastly (if you do own a practice), how much time after law school do you believe is necessary to practice with a firm before branching out on your own?

--ImageRemoved--

User avatar
Mr. Matlock
Posts: 1360
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2008 6:36 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Mr. Matlock » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:20 pm

romothesavior wrote:AJRESQ, thanks for posting. Don't let that moron deter you from posting here, we could use more practicing lawyers around these parts.

+Eleventy Billion!!

Plus.... has anyone heard from reasonable man lately?????

AJRESQ
Posts: 94
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:45 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby AJRESQ » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:30 pm

bankruptedcasino wrote:Thank you for your post, AJRESQ. Your advice is credited, and is a far cry from TTTGrad who thinks we're all fools for plopping down the debt to go to law school. Deterring people on this site from chasing a dream is foolish, but offering unfettered and honest advice is noble. My experience has taught me the name on your diploma is infinitely helpful in the first few years after you graduate, but in the long-run your career is defined by rainmaking.

I'm curious: Do you own a practice and compete with biglaw for clients? Have you taken advantage of technology to offer the same services as a biglaw firm and how? Lastly (if you do own a practice), how much time after law school do you believe is necessary to practice with a firm before branching out on your own?

You can PM me if you don't want to answer in this forum. Thanks.


Sure. I'm in a small firm where I work directly for a former BIGLAW partner; it's a 7 lawyer shop. Most of our work comes from former BIGLAW clients. The majority of it involves REO property preservation companies, and sometimes their vendors (subcontractors. Did you know you can make over a million dollars a year by cutting grass?). I'm opening my own shop in the next few months, but staying on board here as part time / of counsel. This is purely by choice. They would rather I stay full time.

Here is the thing with BIGLAW: it usually operates like a bunch of smaller firms under one roof. You'll have one partner who has generated all the work and he'll have his 4 associates and a support staff. You then share a mail room, space, certain paralegals, etc. But it's not necessarily like one giant autonomous entity in a lot of respects.

The technology you can use in a small firm varies. Google is great. For instance, you buy a domain name and then Google Apps for Business hosts the email. Your google email (that still uses @yourdomain.com) stores 250gb and is litigation compliant thanks to Postini. (archiving all your emails is important). You can sync it to Outlook and never notice the difference -- same with Google calendar. The analogy is the electric company: 100 years ago it made sense to have a generator. In more modern times, it makes sense to get power from a central source (the power company). Because of this, a lot of stuff that had to be done on a network can be done on cloud technology (provided your JDX's ethical rules allow you to use cloud on privacy concerns. I haven't found any that don't). There are cloud case management programs like Clio and Rocket Matter that function on this. I prefer Google Apps.

Adobe PDF 9 Professional allows you to bate stamp thousands of documents in minutes while at your PC. You can also add Exhibit labels for trial and all kinds of other stuff:

http://www.pdfforlawyers.com/

Most of your corporate clients don't want paper anymore. It's easier for them to archive everything as PDFs. This saves both you and your client costs. You just pull up letterhead, write whatever you want, save it to PDF, email it to whomever and be done with it. Also, most courts have electronic filing now, meaning you never have to generate a paper file if you don't want to, provided you have backed everything up sufficiently.

LexisNexis has pretty much killed the need for a physical law library. Depending on your service level, you can have the entire library right there online. Most state bar associations provide InCite for free, which means you have access to all the cases... just now law review, forms, etc. (which are very important).

There are tons of examples, but stuff like I've quoted above allows a small law firm to produce the same type of stuff a large law firm would. You can open up a law practice with a scanner, computer, and email depending on what you want to do provided your JDX doesn't have a "bona fide office" requirement. (Mine does)

Thanks to technology, the field of law is changing. For some, it's good. For some, it's bad. If clients think they can get the same representation for $200 an hour, why pay $500 an hour? Combine that with associates who are desperate to bill any time they can... and you see some jumping ship.

As for your final question, I think you should practice in a firm for 2 - 5 years before you go out on your own. For three reasons: first, you have no idea how to avoid certain malpractice issues. For instance, someone comes to you with a personal injury case, you reject it, and you write "You have two years to file suit from the statute of limitations." The potential client waits, files suit after a year and a half, and then the suit gets dismissed because there was a tort claims act notice issue that you didn't advise them of, and they relied on the fact you said two years. They turn around and sue you. Second... you have to learn the very basics (what is a motion in limine? what is a post trial motion? what is a certificate of service? how do I produce documents?), then you have to learn substantive stuff (what is a 'real party in interest?'), and then practice management (how do I not miss hearings? why is a calendar so important?). Third, in addition to the learning curve, you make contacts while working in a law firm who will refer you work. You just sort of get to know people.

User avatar
KeepitKind
Posts: 201
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 6:38 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby KeepitKind » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:32 pm

finally some useful information rather than the doom-n-gloom whining.. thank u!

reverendt
Posts: 499
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:56 am

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby reverendt » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:37 pm

Thank you OP, for sharing your thoughts.

mhernton
Posts: 174
Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 12:07 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby mhernton » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:40 pm

.

User avatar
bankruptedcasino
Posts: 95
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 5:24 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby bankruptedcasino » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:44 pm

Thank you! I just favorited this page on my browser. It is awesome.

ChewbaccaDefense
Posts: 70
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:03 am

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby ChewbaccaDefense » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:45 pm

In the interest of not taking up space, I'm going to say that I'm referring to AJRESQ's thoughts on hanging one's own shingle.

PLEASE give some thought to writing a detailed article and submitting it to the TLS Content Competition thread! If you cranked out that piece of gold on a lunch break, then you've got a load more rattling inside your skull that people would scratch and claw for on this site. It's in the announcements section at the top of the forum. And I'd be shocked if you wrote even a half-decently organized piece and receive anything less than $500 for it.

Either way, thanks for all you've shared and looking forward to hearing more.

Kobe_Teeth
Posts: 964
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:40 am

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Kobe_Teeth » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:55 pm

Thanks for the post.

User avatar
Scallywaggums
Posts: 249
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:52 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Scallywaggums » Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:56 pm

Thank you.
As one who's uncertain of my future ability to solicit clients (while I hope I'll do a decent job of networking in general), what do you (or anyone else) think of this goal:
1) Get lucky with BigLaw, stay for five years
2) Exit into Government
Exiting into Gov seems to be an exception to the rule of building a client base, yes? Specifically though, would I even last 5 years at BigLaw without bringing in solid clients?
Last edited by Scallywaggums on Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

keg411
Posts: 5935
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:10 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby keg411 » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:20 pm

AJRESQ, thanks for the posts. I lurk over at JDU and think you are pretty much the best poster on there because you always have something intelligent and interesting to contribute. Thanks for posting all of this here :D. (And thanks for the book recommendation!)

legendmaking
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:48 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby legendmaking » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:46 pm

I agree with the other posters; very informative information.

User avatar
kobebryant
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:51 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby kobebryant » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:24 pm

cheeeeeck it outttttt[img][img]http://pix.motivatedphotos.com/2009/6/5/633798037906607720-blackpeople.jpg[/img][/img]

User avatar
kobebryant
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:51 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby kobebryant » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:24 pm

--ImageRemoved--

User avatar
Alpine
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2009 11:31 am

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby Alpine » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:27 pm

Thanks, AJRESQ, for some valuable insight. It's refreshing to see something other than the law school is complete suicide POV.

User avatar
romothesavior
Posts: 14772
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:29 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby romothesavior » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:28 pm

In before:

Image

Or if it is Nightrunner:

Image



Seriously, don't derail this thread Kobe. This is a really good thread so far.

User avatar
kobebryant
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:51 pm

Re: Thoughts on employment from a practicing attorney

Postby kobebryant » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:29 pm

Dear Kobe -

enjoy permaban

--ImageRemoved--

- NR




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.