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Interviewing with Associate v. Partners

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 8:32 pm
by Anonymous User
I've noticed that all of my CBs have come from firms where an associate conducted my screeners (in other words I've struck out with partners). I'm beginning to think that I should alter my interview approach with partners.

I feel like I'm struggling to connect with partners in a 20 minute screener in the way I do with associates. I would guess this is because associates have personal experiences that I'm much more interested in (i.e. they actually understand what it is like to be a summer/junior associate at the target firm). Generally, I ask associates questions about these experiences and whether the firm fulfilled their original expectations in a variety of areas. This has worked, but I don't really know what to ask partners.

I've heard that some people ask partners about their area of practice or cases they've worked on... but I feel like this is disingenuous if you aren't interested in their area of practice. I also feel like it's a bad idea if I don't know anything about their area of practice, as I'll risk sounding ignorant. Finally, I can't see how asking about their area of practice will actually affect my decision to choose their firm, especially if they're in an area that I'm not interested in.

Anyone have any thought or advice for how to alter your approach when interviewing with partners?

Re: Interviewing with Associate v. Partners

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:17 pm
by johndhi
I didn't really read your post that closely, as I'm also listening to a class recording, but maybe this will be a good perspective; it's like I'm a partner.

Some things I've done well with partners on: talking about the firm's history, or the office itself. Often this stuff starts with, "WEeeeeeeel I came to the office when there were only seven lawyers!" and things get good from there. Second, one thing I've sort of discovered that partners want out of associates is to, "make my life easier." Don't make them do the work; sort of show them what they want to see and volunteer things.

Good luck.

Re: Interviewing with Associate v. Partners

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:10 pm
by Haribo
I like to ask partners about an interesting case they worked on. Gives them a chance to talk about something they like, and lots off opportunity for followup questions (how was the case staffed, what did junior associates do, etc etc.)

Re: Interviewing with Associate v. Partners

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:17 pm
by Anonymous User
You can actually get a ton of really useful "big picture" information from partners, I've found. You can get a good sense of bigger decision-making processes and cultural pressures at the firm by asking them about the business rationale behind certain policies the firm may have, or why they lateraled to X firm (if they did), how they've managed to continue practicing in various relatively unrelated areas, etc. Associates can tell you what it's like to be an associate – which, granted, should be the most important consideration – but partners are more likely to roll up their sleeves and tell you the way things are. They have less to lose and tend to be a bit more candid, if you ask the right questions. I had partners tell me they didn't want to open new offices because their profits per partner would decline. If that's not honest, I don't know what is. (Incidentally, the guy who thinks like that is not the kind of guy I'd want to work for – which is valuable information to have.)

Re: Interviewing with Associate v. Partners

Posted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:11 am
by Anonymous User
OP here.

Thanks for the feedback. This is pretty helpful.