Once hired, what determines ones level of success?

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Once hired, what determines ones level of success?

Postby westinghouse60 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:05 am

So I've looked at, like everyone else has, the median starting salaries for various schools, where their grads are hired, what type of employment they find, etc. A question I've had for quite some time is this: once a grad is hired, what factors determine their level of success/salary/promotions in that firm? Is it based on the number of cases one wins, billable hours, or the quality of work they do? Basically, what consititues a newly hired lawyer doing a "good job"?

If someone manages to get hired at a big law firm for a $100k+ starting salary, and the firm doesn't like the work that attorney is doing, how long will they keep that them around to learn? Conversely, if someone graduates in the bottom half of their class or from a lower ranked school, how hard is it to work ones way up in the legal world? From what I can tell, it really seems as though T14 grads are set provided they graduate in the top half of their class (although I'm sure this isn't an anything close to an absolute).

Sorry, I know this is a lot of questions, so any information would be great, as there isn't much out there. I've looked at several big law firms websites etc, but it's hard to tell much from those.

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Re: Once hired, what determines ones level of success?

Postby Posner » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:45 am

Most of it is quality of work. People with high billables have them because of the quality of their work - partners keep going back to them and they are in high demand. By "quality of work" I also include dependability and the appearance of attention to detail, not necessarily legal brilliance. Clear writing is also important. Of course, a large book of business is #1...but this is more for partners.

In terms of working your way up, it is difficult to do. Generally, your first legal job is determinative of your legal career. If you happen to work for a smaller/medium sized firm that does work similar to that of a large law firm then it will not be as difficult to lateral into a larger firm, but if you start out doing family law you will not be able to lateral into a corporate position.

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Re: Once hired, what determines ones level of success?

Postby Pearalegal » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:56 am

From what I know...firms generally give year reviews that let you know where you stand. After a few years (5?), you'll be politely let know if you're on the partner track or not.

If they don't like you, they will tell you in that review and suggest the firm isn't the right place for you, and you will be given a certain number of months or whatever to find a new position.

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