Tips for Big Law SAs

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Tips for Big Law SAs

Postby quakeroats » Fri May 20, 2011 6:03 pm

Courtesy of PrawfsBlawg:

Advice to the New Summer Associate in Big Law
As a sequel to an old post advising new junior associates in big law (here), below are some nuggets of wisdom for those rising 3Ls and (fortunate) 2Ls about to spend a summer at a big firm.

Do Less Well

The firm’s assessment of you will be based more on how well you performed on the assignments you were given and less on how many assignments you completed. Beware the natural inclination to hand in an assignment too quickly in the pursuit of yet further assignments. This is probably the most costly mistake summer associates make. Keep people abreast of your progress, but take as much time as you need.

“S/He cannot Even do this Right!”

The expectations of the substance of your work product will be low. This has the unfortunate effect of inflating the expectations of the formal and technical aspects of your work. Spelling errors, typos, using a sample and failing to insert the name of the new client in the caption, saving your work to the wrong hard drive, forgetting the page numbers etc. are often blown out of proportion. So proofread! proofread! proofread! proofread! and then proofread some more.

Do not be a Brat

Many partners resent the summer associates, especially during an economic downturn. After all, that signed Chagall lithograph is not going to pay for itself. I recall tagging along to a meeting of a defense team that comprised the very best white-collar crime litigators in NYC. At the end, one of the partners from the hosting firm invited us all to “yet another party we are having for those brats.” Everyone but me – the only summer associate – laughed. Your aim is therefore to project an image of a thankful adult, as opposed to a spoiled brat complaining about the quality of the hors-d'oeuvres, that the Broadway show was not the most expensive show around, or that at Skadden they already upgraded to the newer Blackberry. It will surprise you how much of this goes on.

Getting an Assignment

Always have a pad and pen. When given an assignment ask questions. Better to ask even the dumbest question at the beginning than have to ask midway. Some basic things to know: what the deadline is; the scope of the assignment; the jurisdiction; the partner on the case; the name of the client; the billing number. Do not leave the room until you feel comfortable that you know what it is you are being asked to do. Worrisome of appearing ignorant and not wanting to waste a superior’s time, summers have a tendency to scribble the instructions on their pad with little understanding, thinking that they will figure things out later. This is a sure recipe for wasting everyone’s time, including yours.

“I’m FROM CORNELL, where are you from?”

Don’t do that.

Be Part of the Team

The fact that your discrete assignment is complete does not mean that there is no work to be done on the broader matter. Inquire. Offer to help. Do not leave for home or some firm event before checking in and finding out whether there is more to be done. Associates will appreciate you for this.

The Long Run

Although your main goal is to obtain an offer for permanent employment, do not lose sight of the long-term goal: having a successful career at the firm. Any negative impressions you leave people with during the summer will catch up with you a year or two later when you return. Remember this when interacting with junior people at the firm who may have little power over your offer prospects. The lowly second-year associate of today may be the mid-level associate who makes your life hell tomorrow.

Give Everyone thy Ear, but Few thy Voice

Everyone at a law firm gossips about everyone else in the firm. If there is something you do not want the firm or others to know, confide in no one. At least not until you have formed some consistent and reliable friendships.

Eye on the Prize

Regardless of whether or not you are certain about spending your first post-graduation years at a big firm (and there are weighty reasons not to), act as if that is your aspiration. Your primary goal should be obtaining an offer for permanent employment, and a firm is less likely to give such an offer to noncommittal candidates. Keep your reservations about geography, practice area, your dream of joining Amnesty International, your secret desire to get a slot with a top-ten ranked firm (there are as well weighty reason not to) etc. under wraps. Once you have the offer, there may be room for delicate negotiations.

Those RAH-RAH Folks in Recruiting

They may seem like your friendly camp counselors, but they are constantly assessing you. Do not trust them. Assume everything gets reported back to the hiring partners.

What do YOU Want?

You are assessing them just as they are assessing you. Do not allow your pursuit of an offer and eagerness to please to distract you from asking yourself – and mostly only yourself – whether the firm appeals to you. Look more to how people at firm act and appear and less to what they say. ... g-law.html

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Re: Tips for Big Law SAs

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Fri May 20, 2011 10:30 pm

You are assessing them just as they are assessing you. Do not allow your pursuit of an offer and eagerness to please to distract you from asking yourself – and mostly only yourself – whether the firm appeals to you. Look more to how people at firm act and appear and less to what they say.

Unless you're splitting, you probably don't have the option to just waltz into another biglaw job if you don't like where you're working at as an SA.

Gideon Strumpet

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Re: Tips for Big Law SAs

Postby Gideon Strumpet » Fri May 20, 2011 10:34 pm

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