First Year Associate, Taking Q's

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First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:36 pm

First year associate here. Graduated in law school 2009 (T25). Was deferred and went on a one year public interest fellowship before starting at the firm about a month ago.

Did my 2L summer at the firm I'm working at, on the east coast. My 1L summer was with a different firm in CA (both V25). I'm primarily doing IP work.

Just thought I'd make myself available if anyone has questions. Can't give away too much about myself, and probably don't know all that much... but fire away.

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FunkyJD
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby FunkyJD » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:41 pm

A few quickies:

1) How does actual practice differ from what you imagined it would be?

2) What's the best way to make a good impression as a summer associate?

3) Are you practicing in the field of law that initially interested you as a law student? If not, why not?

4) What's great and not so great about BigLaw? Aside from the obvious answers (money v. workload, etc) What have you learned about working for a BigLaw firm that you didn't realize before you came on board, either good or bad?

5) Knowing what you know now, if you could go back three or four years, would you study law again -- why or why not? (I mean, aside from ITE issues; what about the other aspects of the journey and your practice?)

Thanks very much for being available and taking these questions.

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mrmangs
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby mrmangs » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:47 pm

Were you hard science and/or engineering in UG? How hard is it to break into IP without that sort of history (i.e., what do you have to do in LS to get it)?

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reasonable_man
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:First year associate here. Graduated in law school 2009 (T25). Was deferred and went on a one year public interest fellowship before starting at the firm about a month ago.

Did my 2L summer at the firm I'm working at, on the east coast. My 1L summer was with a different firm in CA (both V25). I'm primarily doing IP work.

Just thought I'd make myself available if anyone has questions. Can't give away too much about myself, and probably don't know all that much... but fire away.


Were you worried at any point that your firm would retract its offer?

Are you enjoying your new role as a firm associate more or less than your public interest fellowship?

How many hours per day (on average), are you billing?

005618502
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby 005618502 » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:55 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:First year associate here. Graduated in law school 2009 (T25). Was deferred and went on a one year public interest fellowship before starting at the firm about a month ago.

Did my 2L summer at the firm I'm working at, on the east coast. My 1L summer was with a different firm in CA (both V25). I'm primarily doing IP work.

Just thought I'd make myself available if anyone has questions. Can't give away too much about myself, and probably don't know all that much... but fire away.


Were you worried at any point that your firm would retract its offer?

Are you enjoying your new role as a firm associate more or less than your public interest fellowship?

How many hours per day (on average), are you billing?


And how many hours a day are you actually working

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:10 am

1) How does actual practice differ from what you imagined it would be?


I have done a variety of work so far. Some of it involved hitting the books and researching points of law, very much like law school. I've also had write deal documents, do client development work, be the main internal contact on a deal, and do some grunt work reviewing documents. All of that I actually kind of expected from the beginning.

What was jarring for me was (1) the ungodly amount of e-mails and phone calls that come through which you can't bill in responding to most of them (that shaves off at least half an hour a day for me) and (2) getting accustomed to doing things the firm's way (adjusting your writing style, e-mailing style, document organization style, etc. to how the firm does it). All this administrative and bureaucratic stuff is something I didn't quite expect.

2) What's the best way to make a good impression as a summer associate?


Ask questions about your work assignments if you're unsure, work with influential partners and associates, socialize, and communicate well.

3) Are you practicing in the field of law that initially interested you as a law student? If not, why not?


Yup, I have a technical background so IP is something I came into law school knowing I would do. As a first year though, I have the freedom to try things so I've been staffed on matters from several different departments.

4) What's great and not so great about BigLaw? Aside from the obvious answers (money v. workload, etc) What have you learned about working for a BigLaw firm that you didn't realize before you came on board, either good or bad?


BigLaw pro: despite what people think, a lot of work we do is not simply about making money for its own sake. We help clients protect their rights, expand their business, and make sure they are acting lawfully.

BigLaw con: work is always on your mind. It's hard to shake it... you keep spending time thinking about a problem even though you are technically "off."

5) Knowing what you know now, if you could go back three or four years, would you study law again -- why or why not? (I mean, aside from ITE issues; what about the other aspects of the journey and your practice?)


Yes, it was the right move for me. Personally, I had grown professionally about as much as I could have in my pre-law job. Going to law school was a logical and beneficial step for me. I would not have gone if it was simply because I couldn't think of anything better to do.

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:13 am

mrmangs wrote:Were you hard science and/or engineering in UG? How hard is it to break into IP without that sort of history (i.e., what do you have to do in LS to get it)?


Yup, engineering undergrad.

It's not all that hard. You need a technical background for patent prosecution. For transactional IP, it's preferred but not necessary. Hell, the head of our corporate IP department has no technical background. IP litigation as well... it's helpful, but not necessary. You just need to prove you are interested and that you can put in the legwork to do a good job.

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megaTTTron
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby megaTTTron » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:19 am

Can you see yourself sustaining this position (BigLaw) long term? Everyone's different, I know, but are you looking to be in-and-out or are you in it for the long haul?

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FunkyJD
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby FunkyJD » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:21 am

Thanks, OP. Good stuff.

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:24 am

reasonable_man wrote:Were you worried at any point that your firm would retract its offer?

Are you enjoying your new role as a firm associate more or less than your public interest fellowship?

How many hours per day (on average), are you billing?


I was not too worried. My firm has a reputation of sticking to their promises and trying hard to accommodate associates. I'd say I was 95% sure the offer would stay.

I enjoyed both positions for different reasons. At the firm, it's intense, complex work that you're just thrown into and have to figure out what to do. It's a nice adrenaline rush. At my public interest position, the atmosphere was very calm and communal, and I could take my time to really learn things in depth (also, the city I was in was pretty awesome).

I currently bill around 7-8 hours. Some of it is in non-billable client development time (which is annoying because you can do a lot of substantive work but it doesn't count towards your hours). I actually stay at the office for 9-10 hours a day though. It's amazing how much time you lose doing menial non-billable tasks.

My billable time is somewhat low right now because the people I'm working with are still trying to shield me from the brutal hours. They fall on the sword so us newbies won't have to... at least yet.

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:25 am

megaTTTron wrote:Can you see yourself sustaining this position (BigLaw) long term? Everyone's different, I know, but are you looking to be in-and-out or are you in it for the long haul?


No, not in it for the long haul. I don't think I have what it takes (nor do I want to develop what it takes) to become partner. I want to gain good experience and ship out, probably to an in-house position.

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ResolutePear
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby ResolutePear » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:42 am

FunkyJD wrote:Thanks, OP. Good stuff.

eternallearner
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby eternallearner » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:58 am

Good stuff.

What does it take to become partner at a big firm?

Thanks!

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ResolutePear
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby ResolutePear » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:Good stuff.

What does it take to become partner at a big firm?

Thanks!


Very generic - do you mean at *his* firm?

Also, why anonymous?

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mrmangs
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby mrmangs » Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:00 am

Very informative. Thank you! :)

bree
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby bree » Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:04 am

Hey OP, thanks for taking questions.

I have a handful of questions.

1) What type of IP are you doing? (litigation? transactions? prosecution?)

2) What market would you say has the most amount of IP? (California because of the technology firms? Virginia because of the patent office? Texas because of the southern district?) Is it anymore valuable to be in a particular market?

3) Given that you did a 1-year public fellowship and now you're in BigLaw, where would you say that you've received the better training? (as best as you can tell in your relatively short time in both) Where would you say you received the better "experience"? (meaning you get hands-on experience)

4) How long do you think it will take for you to develop the legal skills necessary to move in-house? Do you think you're getting the necessary training at the law firm to make the move eventually?

Thanks for your help again!

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:40 am

ResolutePear wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Good stuff.

What does it take to become partner at a big firm?

Thanks!


Very generic - do you mean at *his* firm?

Also, why anonymous?


My firm has a set of metrics that are used to evaluate associates at all levels. As you approach the senior associate level and beyond, you basically have to get awesome at all of them: core legal skills, communication skills, client service skills, business development, teamwork, leadership, project management, and support of firm values and organization.

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:59 am

bree wrote:Hey OP, thanks for taking questions.

I have a handful of questions.

1) What type of IP are you doing? (litigation? transactions? prosecution?)


A little bit of everything. I have a few litigation matters that I'm working on, a transactional matter (due diligence), and I will start some prosecution work in January. By the end of the first year though, I need to pick either litigation or transactional/prosecution.

2) What market would you say has the most amount of IP? (California because of the technology firms? Virginia because of the patent office? Texas because of the southern district?) Is it anymore valuable to be in a particular market?


Well, different areas of the country are known for different aspects of IP:
New York - IP lit, copyright & trademark work
Boston - biotech IP
NorCal - lots of IP work all around
LA - copyright & trademark
San Diego - biotech IP
Texas - IP lit, prosecution in Austin
DC - IP lit, prosecution, IP regulatory work, ITC 337

3) Given that you did a 1-year public fellowship and now you're in BigLaw, where would you say that you've received the better training? (as best as you can tell in your relatively short time in both) Where would you say you received the better "experience"? (meaning you get hands-on experience)


I had more well-rounded training at the public interest place, mostly because I had more time to learn and they had more time to train me. At the firm, you have to finish work by the deadline. Sometimes that ends with me doing work but not quite understanding everything I'm doing or why I'm doing it. Hopefully I'll pick up on more stuff as time goes on. Also, it's less hands on because the other associates just break off pieces of the work to give to you - it's harder to see the big picture. There's a lot of training seminars at the firm, but I can't attend most of them because I'm busy with work.

4) How long do you think it will take for you to develop the legal skills necessary to move in-house? Do you think you're getting the necessary training at the law firm to make the move eventually?


I'd say 3-5 years is what I'm aiming for. I want to develop knowledge of what goes down in dealwork and what is important to be aware of on the client side. I also want to learn how to handle litigation and what the options are at all stages. Yes, I think the firm is preparing me for this. They have a plethora of work for me to choose from. They also have counselors that can help you build your career (you can be candid with them, telling them you eventually want out).

Thanks for your help again!


You're welcome!

eternallearner
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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby eternallearner » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:13 am

Fabulous answers! Thank you for taking the time to answer them with insight and honesty. Highly appreciated!

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:
megaTTTron wrote:Can you see yourself sustaining this position (BigLaw) long term? Everyone's different, I know, but are you looking to be in-and-out or are you in it for the long haul?


No, not in it for the long haul. I don't think I have what it takes (nor do I want to develop what it takes) to become partner. I want to gain good experience and ship out, probably to an in-house position.


Can you elaborate on not wanting to develop what it takes to be partner? A lot of the partnership criteria you mentioned above - core legal skills, communication skills, teamwork, leadership, etc. - seem like the kind of thing you would want to develop regardless of where you were. I understand the not having what it takes from the perspective of not wanting BigLaw hours for the rest of your career, but I'm confused what you don't want to develop.

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Can you elaborate on not wanting to develop what it takes to be partner? A lot of the partnership criteria you mentioned above - core legal skills, communication skills, teamwork, leadership, etc. - seem like the kind of thing you would want to develop regardless of where you were. I understand the not having what it takes from the perspective of not wanting BigLaw hours for the rest of your career, but I'm confused what you don't want to develop.


Well, there's a lot of details I left off about the metrics. But basically I'm talking about the more firm-centric aspects of becoming a partner - being involved in various committees, navigating office politics, ass-kissing, promoting the firm, etc. I of course want to develop my legal and general transferable skills. I guess I'm just saying I don't want to become too invested in the firm.

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby FunkyJD » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:There's a lot of training seminars at the firm, but I can't attend most of them because I'm busy with work.


That's good to know.

What kinds of training seminars did the firm offer you as a SA? Did you find that they were helpful in a practical sense to learning the basics of what you needed to know to work at the firm, or were the seminars little more than time-killers for the summers?

Also- as a summer associate, were you ever given an assignment where, frankly, you didn't have so much as a clue as to where to start -- something that was just over your head, given your inexperience? If so, how did you handle that situation?

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:57 pm

FunkyJD wrote:What kinds of training seminars did the firm offer you as a SA? Did you find that they were helpful in a practical sense to learning the basics of what you needed to know to work at the firm, or were the seminars little more than time-killers for the summers?

Also- as a summer associate, were you ever given an assignment where, frankly, you didn't have so much as a clue as to where to start -- something that was just over your head, given your inexperience? If so, how did you handle that situation?


As a summer associate, they offered a few special training sessions in the beginning for all the SAs where they went over basic stuff (some all together, and some split between the corporate and litigation folks). Aside from that, we were invited to all normal training sessions that occurred over the summer. I attended a few and it was mostly over my head. There are varying levels of training... introductory, novice, and advanced. So basically I stayed away from the advanced ones.

I was given only a few assignments that were over my head as an SA (I have previous IP experience, so the IP assignments were readily understandable). But the attorneys were all very good at explaining the background, referring you to sources, and answering questions. It may be different at other firms, but here they do make sure you have enough to get going. I handled it by Googling basic stuff, and then asking questions as I progressed.

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:31 pm

From observing other junior associates and your own experience, what makes a good junior associate? How does one last the required 3-5 years?

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Re: First Year Associate, Taking Q's

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:From observing other junior associates and your own experience, what makes a good junior associate? How does one last the required 3-5 years?


Initially, ask lots of questions. There's a lot of stuff that happens in firms that's confusing or counter-intuitive. You just need to figure out how things work.

Next, work with as many people as you can. You learn different things from each person, and it gets your name out there. Regularly connect with work coordinators (if your firm has them) to update them on your work load and interests.

Go above and beyond what you are called to do. For example, if you are given some point of law to research and you find that another point of law is interrelated, address that as well. Ask if there are any additional tasks for you to do on a project. Be responsive on e-mails (but don't get obsessed... keep a balance).

If you mess up (which you will), admit it quickly, ask for advice on how to correct it, and take responsibility for it.

On down time, learn as much as you can. Firms provide tons of resources for you, so dig deeper into areas you are interested in. Also, learn each matter you are staffed on as much as you can, even if it doesn't directly pertain to your assignment.

Socialize with the people you work for. If you are friends with them, they are less likely to throw you under the bus come review time.

There's probably a lot more, but this is what I've gleamed so far.




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