Help with Q's for a Biglaw associate...

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dabbadon8
Posts: 767
Joined: Tue May 11, 2010 2:17 am

Help with Q's for a Biglaw associate...

Postby dabbadon8 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:06 pm

I have an appointment to talk to a biglaw associate that is an alum of both my UG and future LS. They practice on the transactional side, M&A and what not, in a market I would like to work in. I am interested in getting some info, but also hopefully making a connection I can keep open for future employment. What are some good questions to ask? Also how direct should I be... should I ask specific questions about whether they hire 1L SA's, what their firm looks for, etc... or would this possibly be a turn off? Any tips for how I can leave things with them, so that I could maintain an open line of communication? (As opposed to just saying "thanks for talking to me, have a nice day") Thanks for the help.

vb007
Posts: 91
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:29 am

Re: Help with Q's for a Biglaw associate...

Postby vb007 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:48 pm

I would stick to somewhat general questions at this point. For example, you can ask how you can position yourself to be successful academically and in terms of getting a summer job. I would refrain from asking about a summer job at your contact's firm right now because I feel like it will be more effective to build your relationship with them first, and then ask for their help around November/December when the hiring process for 1Ls is about to get underway. In the meantime, you should probably e-mail them every now and then just to check in and ask questions. You don't realize it now, but you will definitely have questions once you start school. Just don't be shy about asking them.

That being said, an associate doesn't have much pull at a firm, so I would not expect your contact to get you a job. It would still be valuable to use them as a conduit for meeting other attorneys though, some of which may be in a better position to help you land a job.

Master Tofu
Posts: 235
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2006 11:43 pm

Re: Help with Q's for a Biglaw associate...

Postby Master Tofu » Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:33 pm

For the most part, an associate is not going to be able to help you much with getting a job; I have my doubts as to whether a (non-hiring, non-managing, non-practice group leading) partner would have that pull. Just go and get to know him. Chances are good that he agreed to see you because he wants to get to know you too. Just be yourself.

Omerta
Posts: 381
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:47 pm

Re: Help with Q's for a Biglaw associate...

Postby Omerta » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:26 pm

dabbadon8 wrote:I have an appointment to talk to a biglaw associate that is an alum of both my UG and future LS. They practice on the transactional side, M&A and what not, in a market I would like to work in. I am interested in getting some info, but also hopefully making a connection I can keep open for future employment. What are some good questions to ask? Also how direct should I be... should I ask specific questions about whether they hire 1L SA's, what their firm looks for, etc... or would this possibly be a turn off? Any tips for how I can leave things with them, so that I could maintain an open line of communication? (As opposed to just saying "thanks for talking to me, have a nice day") Thanks for the help.


Ok I should be studying right now, but I keep seeing this sentiment over and over again on here and wanted to post a longer reply. But regarding your specific situation, look up the firm on the NALP directory. Don't be awkward, get a card, then send him an update email when you get your grades back if they're good or before spring OCI interviews. As soon as you're out of sight, write down three unique/important things about the interview on the card.

When I met with attorneys, it would generally follow this chronology. Intro --> talk about whatever/their background --> transition to what they do --> take what they said and apply it to what I wanted to find out ("saw you clerked for federal district judge but you do transactional; what's up with that?) --> bullshit about sports interlude --> what I plan to do in the future/prospective advice --> conclusion and business card. Most young associates are pretty chill, you can judge how informal and blunt to be based on the flow of the conversation.


(1) Meeting and knowing associates (and most partners) will be next to no help in securing employment
Saying you know an associate is like saying you know a branch manager at Bank of America. Yeah, pretty sweet job, but small fucking potatoes in the scheme of things. Most partners are not going to bat for a guy or girl they met twice for lunch; their rep is on the line just as much as yours.

What it CAN do is show the firm that you took the time to meet with someone who works there and project a feigned or actual interest in that particular firm. Law firms are super-homogeneous, but everyone likes being told that they are special. Associates, especially recent grads (post 2008) can give you great interview tidbits about what the firm likes to hear and what groups they're looking to expand.

(2) Unless you have a clearly demonstrable background in a field, beware of appearing too gung-ho about it.
If someone came up to me and told me that they were interested in M&A without a finance background or experience in a similar field, I would struggle not to laugh in their face. To me, that would code in my brain to the person has no idea what M&A work is and has models & bottles on the mind--another person with I-banker penis envy. Yeah, some people are die-hard public interest or a specific niche field, but most people don't expect you to have a particular field you want to go into. I think--to a certain degree--firms like when you admit many things interest you that would like to explore further without saying, "I guess I like everything."

(3) Don't bug your connections, but say something when you have a reason to say so.
Send out a "pulse" every few months just to remind people you exist, but make it for something that mattered. Here's an example from me:
I had lunch with a partner at a midlaw firm that pays secondary market. I asked him about what he found most valuable outside of classes at law school. He said to join the Inn of Court (a type of networking organization). So I did when I got here. BUT show self-restraint here. I didn't email him "hey I signed up for that thing you said" because at that point I hadn't really done anything. Instead, I waited two months until after I attended some meetings. Then I sent him a message about how valuable and helpful the organization had been (it was) and that I really appreciated his opinion. Got a great note back and the partner reminded me that his firm comes to our OCI (like I didn't know that, but a nice touch). Show the person (a) you listened to them (b) you did something to act on what you were told (c) that you appreciate what you told them.

edit: of course, listen to any actual attorneys over me but what I said above has worked really well for me so far. I doubt anyone would disagree with what I wrote above though.

alumniguy
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:24 pm

Re: Help with Q's for a Biglaw associate...

Postby alumniguy » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:12 am

Omerta wrote:
dabbadon8 wrote:I have an appointment to talk to a biglaw associate that is an alum of both my UG and future LS. They practice on the transactional side, M&A and what not, in a market I would like to work in. I am interested in getting some info, but also hopefully making a connection I can keep open for future employment. What are some good questions to ask? Also how direct should I be... should I ask specific questions about whether they hire 1L SA's, what their firm looks for, etc... or would this possibly be a turn off? Any tips for how I can leave things with them, so that I could maintain an open line of communication? (As opposed to just saying "thanks for talking to me, have a nice day") Thanks for the help.


Ok I should be studying right now, but I keep seeing this sentiment over and over again on here and wanted to post a longer reply. But regarding your specific situation, look up the firm on the NALP directory. Don't be awkward, get a card, then send him an update email when you get your grades back if they're good or before spring OCI interviews. As soon as you're out of sight, write down three unique/important things about the interview on the card.

When I met with attorneys, it would generally follow this chronology. Intro --> talk about whatever/their background --> transition to what they do --> take what they said and apply it to what I wanted to find out ("saw you clerked for federal district judge but you do transactional; what's up with that?) --> bullshit about sports interlude --> what I plan to do in the future/prospective advice --> conclusion and business card. Most young associates are pretty chill, you can judge how informal and blunt to be based on the flow of the conversation.


(1) Meeting and knowing associates (and most partners) will be next to no help in securing employment
Saying you know an associate is like saying you know a branch manager at Bank of America. Yeah, pretty sweet job, but small fucking potatoes in the scheme of things. Most partners are not going to bat for a guy or girl they met twice for lunch; their rep is on the line just as much as yours.

What it CAN do is show the firm that you took the time to meet with someone who works there and project a feigned or actual interest in that particular firm. Law firms are super-homogeneous, but everyone likes being told that they are special. Associates, especially recent grads (post 2008) can give you great interview tidbits about what the firm likes to hear and what groups they're looking to expand.

(2) Unless you have a clearly demonstrable background in a field, beware of appearing too gung-ho about it.
If someone came up to me and told me that they were interested in M&A without a finance background or experience in a similar field, I would struggle not to laugh in their face. To me, that would code in my brain to the person has no idea what M&A work is and has models & bottles on the mind--another person with I-banker penis envy. Yeah, some people are die-hard public interest or a specific niche field, but most people don't expect you to have a particular field you want to go into. I think--to a certain degree--firms like when you admit many things interest you that would like to explore further without saying, "I guess I like everything."

(3) Don't bug your connections, but say something when you have a reason to say so.
Send out a "pulse" every few months just to remind people you exist, but make it for something that mattered. Here's an example from me:
I had lunch with a partner at a midlaw firm that pays secondary market. I asked him about what he found most valuable outside of classes at law school. He said to join the Inn of Court (a type of networking organization). So I did when I got here. BUT show self-restraint here. I didn't email him "hey I signed up for that thing you said" because at that point I hadn't really done anything. Instead, I waited two months until after I attended some meetings. Then I sent him a message about how valuable and helpful the organization had been (it was) and that I really appreciated his opinion. Got a great note back and the partner reminded me that his firm comes to our OCI (like I didn't know that, but a nice touch). Show the person (a) you listened to them (b) you did something to act on what you were told (c) that you appreciate what you told them.

edit: of course, listen to any actual attorneys over me but what I said above has worked really well for me so far. I doubt anyone would disagree with what I wrote above though.


This all is pretty much spot on (coming from a 3rd year associate NYC biglaw). Everyone knows that these "mentoring" type relationships are all about the 0L wanting to get a foot in the door for a job, so there is no need to make it even more obvious by asking questions like "Does your firm hire 1Ls?" Most information related to employment is available on NALP - and as a busy attorney (at times) there is nothing more frustrating then when people don't exhaust known resources before asking questions. At the very least, phrase the question in a way that the associate/partner knows that you've done the research.

Also, despite the fact that it is a "firm" - each associate/partner likely will have personal views on what the firm looks for in hiring candidates. A better question that reaches the same result is something along the lines of "What do you think made you a desirable candidate/has made you successful in the legal field (this second one for more established lawyers)?"

I disagree slightly with the information regarding specific practice areas. I would caution against saying you "know" you want to do X, but saying that you are actually interested in M&A will at least show that you've looked at what the firm does. A person could be intrigued by M&A for any number of reasons (e.g., maybe you're actually interested in business and the idea of combining two business and the issues that arise sound interesting). The key is that you need to be honest. If you aren't really interested, then don't feign interest. Associates/partners aren't stupid. We know that being a lawyer can be a career with a comfortable salary and that many students are drawn by the salary (I mean, most associates and partners are drawn by the salary and if that if the salary was much lower, they likely wouldn't be working at a firm). I wouldn't come out and say this, but my point is that you don't need to prove your interest in any field.

The last thing to mention is that firms "recruit" students for a reason - it is in there interest to get the best students possible. Partners (to a less extent associates) want students to think highly of the firm so they can recruit the best students. While the partner may send a nice card saying they interview on campus, you're unlikely to get the interview without the grades. However, if you get the interview, then this is when have the contacts pays off. Depending upon the relationship you've created, you can send a quick note saying you had an interview with so-and-so today and you were really impressed. That partner - depending upon whether s/he (i) actually liked you and (ii) has any pull - could help you get the callback by contacting the recruiting partner and ensuring that you are given a callback. Again, this isn't guaranteed, but the point is that making contacts at any particular firm won't get you a job - it may help boost your candidacy, but that is about the extent of it.

Omerta
Posts: 381
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:47 pm

Re: Help with Q's for a Biglaw associate...

Postby Omerta » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:37 am

Thank you for your perspective.




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