Midlaw Does Exist

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Anonymous User
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Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:36 pm

I've taken a significant amount of wisdom from the people on this site, so now I want to give something back. I'm hopeful that my experiences will help people who find themselves in a similar position in the coming years.

About me: I have many qualities of the typical white male. I'm in my mid-20s, went to a strong public undergrad (but not elite), studied history, and don't have a tremendous amount of money backing me. I'm attending a school ranked somewhere between 40 and 60, paying sticker. I finished the year with grades just outside the top 20% at my school, and I'm on a secondary journal. I landed Midlaw at a great firm that pays, $135,000 (market here is $160,000).

I. School Choice
Though this won't be helpful for people who have already made a decision on a school, it stands as probably the most important thing that benefited me throughout this process. Simply put, I didn't choose a school on a whim. I chose a school in a solid, thriving market. I chose a school without much competition. I chose a school that had a great reputation in that solid market. This has helped me to somewhat outperform what my grades would have otherwise suggested. For those who are going to choose a school and don't have the credentials for the T14, I implore you to consider the target market, its health, and the school's relative position in that market. Less competition is best and a market that's hiring lots of people is ideal. This will give you a leg up and will give you more room.

Likewise, I chose a market that has lots going on. What do most midsize firms do? They specialize in a couple of industries and win market share. If you go to a place that has lots of different industries that need good law firms, then you'll have a better chance at landing a midlaw (or even a biglaw) position. This has been an important piece of the puzzle for me.

II. Bidding Strategy
When it comes to bidding, make sure that you target firms that are realistic. I didn't even bid on some of the more selective, larger firms, because I recognized that they wouldn't dip into the top 25%. I instead focused on a number of the midsize firms that came to our school's OCI. I applied to a few of the larger firms that were less selective, but really kept my attention on the medium-sized firms throughout the process.

III. Selling Yourself
This is the most important part of this "guide." Look around at your classmates and you'll see the same person over and over. They all say the same things in interviews. They all worked for the same judge 1L summer, and they all provide the firm with little more than a robot who Getting To Maybed his way to top-15% grades. Don't be that guy. Be something the firm can latch onto.

Most people think they interview well. This is because most people lack self-awareness and lack any idea of what a good interview sounds like. You don't have to be selling diamonds to do well with this, either. You just need to figure out what makes you unique and you need to come up with a sales pitch. To do this, go through every single line of your resume and figure out what is special about it. I did something completely non-law related in my 1L summer. People warned me that this was a terrible idea and that employers would look down upon it. In reality, it made me different than the other candidates, and I was able to talk about how being the middle man between people from different countries provided me with solid experience and perspective.

Likewise, I've run a small business throughout college and before law school. My business is nothing huge, but pays my bills typically. Though this isn't Steve Jobs starting Apple, it is something that makes me stand out. Midsize firms are looking for people who can go out and get the job done early. They want people who can bring in business early. I sold my experience with stories that showed I could be that guy. This made me somewhat different from every other law student who had come straight from undergrad and hadn't stopped to figure out how to pay their car insurance.

Chances are you have something on your resume that can pop. Sell it hard and use interesting stories. Speak with your hands and don't be afraid to be colorful. Be personable, but don't forget that you are selling. In one interview, I talked about college football for 15 minutes before finally finding a way to work my experience starting a business into the conversation. I later talked to many friends who interviewed with the firm and thought it went "great" because they hit it off with the guys talking about college football for 20 minutes. I did the same thing, but I showed them in that last five minutes that I actually had drive in addition to the ability to hold my own socially.

IV. Firm Targeting
One thing that too many people miss is the opportunity to target their interview pitch in a way that it meets the firm's needs. With midsize firms, there is typically something that they are very proud of. When I read the website and spoke with people about one firm, the message was that they valued entrepreneurial spirit. Naturally, I crafted my message around my experience there. I crafted every story in a way that it hit this point. The response from the firm was overwhelming.

For another firm, they were very proud of their firm "culture." Routinely named one of the best places to work in their home market, they focused a lot on fit. In those interviews, the idea was to show them that I was a person they could work with for extended hours. When I asked questions to that firm, I centered my concerns around the culture of the office. I wanted them to know that I valued the same things they valued. This wasn't pandering, either. It was absolutely true.

Don't miss the valuable opportunity to show a firm that you are what they need. My grades are not elite. They are strong, but not top 10% at a top-20 school. What was elite was my ability to craft a pitch to meet the needs of an employer. Midsize firms are typically hiring small classes. They can't afford to take someone who has great grades, but might not fit into their office. If they do that, it can impact their hiring practices and have a negative impact on the firm.


The doctrines that you read on TLS are true, but only partially. The economy is shit, and it's hard to get hired. People here routinely strike out with top 15% grades. These people inevitably have no idea what held them back. You don't have to be just like every other law student, though. If you have a unique story and you craft a unique voice to tell that story in your interviews, people will respond. Interviewing with these firms is an awful lot about knowing your man. Understand that person on the other side of the table and understand what they are looking for. Don't just parrot off the same uninteresting responses that every one else is giving. Focus your efforts on being a breath of fresh air.

It can be done. Midlaw does exist.

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quiver
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby quiver » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I chose a school that had a great reputation in that solid market.
I can say from experience that there are some T2/T3s that have an absolute monopoly on their market. The rankings don't matter at that point, their the only law school within 150 miles and they consistently place grads into midlaw jobs in their strong secondary market.

Anonymous User
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:38 pm

Definitely some good advice here, though frankly, the idea that everyone in the top% of your class will intern for the same judge (is that even a prestigious 1L summer?), or that doing something non-legal will help set you apart in a positive way is misguided (even if it didn't hurt the OP too much).

However, I think that most people agree that mid-sized law firms exist, and that some people are hired at them. The general concern is that they are lower paid without a corresponding drop in hours. If you are only working 80% the hours of biglaw, then you are right, the mythical midlaw exists and is no doubt a great deal for a lot of people.

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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:55 pm

OP's post is hugely credited, at biglaw as well. Top school in secondary market ~10% not LR, and operated similarly. Performed way above my stats, i.e., two top firms (top in market biglaw, best biglaw satellite) accelerated their recruiting cycle to offer me at an early point, which is virtually unheard of according to career services.

Great write up OP, and really strong, sound advice.

EDIT: I will say though, that you either have the personality to pull this off, or you don't. If you just can't do it without falling flat on your face, might be best to avoid. One thing that helped me not in OP's post, due to scheduling quirk, while all my CBs were 'early' the most important ones were last, and by that point I had things ironed out very well.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:13 pm

OP here.

I should say that I worked for a pro sports team between my 1L summer, so I wasn't just off waiting tables or something. This likely helped me more than any old non-law job would, as it gave me something interesting to talk about with associates/partners who enjoy sports.

Your mileage may vary on this point, but it goes back to taking what you have and selling your unique qualities.

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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Definitely some good advice here, though frankly, the idea that everyone in the top% of your class will intern for the same judge (is that even a prestigious 1L summer?), or that doing something non-legal will help set you apart in a positive way is misguided (even if it didn't hurt the OP too much).

However, I think that most people agree that mid-sized law firms exist, and that some people are hired at them. The general concern is that they are lower paid without a corresponding drop in hours. If you are only working 80% the hours of biglaw, then you are right, the mythical midlaw exists and is no doubt a great deal for a lot of people.

In my limited experience, that concern is misguided. I have interviewed at a couple of midlaw firms in my secondary market and never got the impression that they pulled biglaw hours. One partner specifically told me: "this is not New York." I think the major market midlaw/boutique firms are the ones with biglaw hours -- gotta keep up with the norms of the market to survive.

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ggocat
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby ggocat » Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:10 am

I landed a Midlaw summer associate position at a great firm that pays, $135,000 (market here is $160,000).

Is this correct? Just to clarify...

keg411
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby keg411 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:56 am

ggocat wrote:
I landed a Midlaw summer associate position at a great firm that pays, $135,000 (market here is $160,000).

Is this correct? Just to clarify...


There are a number of MidLaw firms that hire SA's. You can probably also call OP's firm "regional biglaw" but they're pretty close.

viking138
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby viking138 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:42 am

Super credited, for people at any school, particularly the "selling yourself" aspect. Something I did that really helped me was craft a narrative of my educational choices (a bit different than most) that could sell a variety of my traits depending on what the firm seemed to want. For example, for free market firms I'd emphasize the importance to me of guiding my own education, which had led me to xyz, and how that made me want to work in an environment where I could have a strong hand in guiding my own career. I had a very strong performance and I do think my ability to be social while selling an aspect of myself was a big part of that.

Thanks for a great post, OP, and congrats on what sounds like a great position!

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drylo
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby drylo » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:04 am

keg411 wrote:
ggocat wrote:
I landed a Midlaw summer associate position at a great firm that pays, $135,000 (market here is $160,000).

Is this correct? Just to clarify...


There are a number of MidLaw firms that hire SA's. You can probably also call OP's firm "regional biglaw" but they're pretty close.


Not to nitpick too much, but if OP's firm pays $135k when the market rate in that city is $160k, I think people here generally would not refer to that as "regional biglaw."

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TaipeiMort
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby TaipeiMort » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:42 am

drylo wrote:
keg411 wrote:
ggocat wrote:
I landed a Midlaw summer associate position at a great firm that pays, $135,000 (market here is $160,000).

Is this correct? Just to clarify...


There are a number of MidLaw firms that hire SA's. You can probably also call OP's firm "regional biglaw" but they're pretty close.


Not to nitpick too much, but if OP's firm pays $135k when the market rate in that city is $160k, I think people here generally would not refer to that as "regional biglaw."


Or they would refer to it as Perkins Coie.

Anonymous User
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Definitely some good advice here, though frankly, the idea that everyone in the top% of your class will intern for the same judge (is that even a prestigious 1L summer?), or that doing something non-legal will help set you apart in a positive way is misguided (even if it didn't hurt the OP too much).

However, I think that most people agree that mid-sized law firms exist, and that some people are hired at them. The general concern is that they are lower paid without a corresponding drop in hours. If you are only working 80% the hours of biglaw, then you are right, the mythical midlaw exists and is no doubt a great deal for a lot of people.

In my limited experience, that concern is misguided. I have interviewed at a couple of midlaw firms in my secondary market and never got the impression that they pulled biglaw hours. One partner specifically told me: "this is not New York." I think the major market midlaw/boutique firms are the ones with biglaw hours -- gotta keep up with the norms of the market to survive.


This is also true of a number of satellite offices and regional biglaw, though definitely not all. I think, once you are making 130 - 160k per year, you will be expected to bill a lot of hours, but whether that "a lot" is 1850 or 2500 depends more on the city.

Ronburgandy2468
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Ronburgandy2468 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:06 am

tag

Anonymous User
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:12 am

Where is good to look for midlaw opportunities? NALP seems to be very hit or miss for non-BL firms.

theduder
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby theduder » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:41 am

tag

Anonymous User
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:56 am

lol they exist but most of the "midlaw" firms only hire 1-3 SA each year. In some cities, "midlaw" is essentially regional biglaw ie Cinci, Detroit, Columbus.

Eco
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Eco » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:02 am

Do you mind sharing more details? For example, what market (D.C.?)? Maybe even what firm (you're already offered there so why worry about saying the firm)?

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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:19 am

I'll say that the market is a Texas market. D.C. is not what I would consider a market without competition.

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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:20 pm

He didn't say market without competition, he said his school isn't competitive. Makes me think of GW a bit. Is that your school OP?

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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:24 pm

If OP is in a Texas Market that has a strong "secondary market", OP is likely in DFW, leaving SMU or Texas Wesleyan as his non-competitive school.

flcath
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby flcath » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:32 pm

There are some odd simplifications on this site... but a lot of it is the firms' poor consistency in terminology:

*Cahill calls itself "mid-sized," (HP's words... absurd, IMO),
*Honigman (a Detroit-based firm with a 200-lawyer main office, and satellite offices in Michigan only) styles itself "a mid-sized Michigan firm," and
*Mika [deleted] (40-lawyers, one office in Grand Rapids) also jumps on the "mid-sized" boat.

Everyone wants to be mid-sized. It has the right connotation.

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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:43 pm

OP can you let us know which market? And if you're willing, firm/school?

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ggocat
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby ggocat » Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:17 pm

keg411 wrote:
ggocat wrote:
I landed a Midlaw summer associate position at a great firm that pays, $135,000 (market here is $160,000).

Is this correct? Just to clarify...

There are a number of MidLaw firms that hire SA's. You can probably also call OP's firm "regional biglaw" but they're pretty close.

No doubt, but "landed midlaw" at a "great" firm suggested to me that OP got a post-grad job and has actually worked at the firm to know that he/she thinks it's great.

I agree $135K in TX would probably be one of the larger local firms like Gardere or Munsch. (Am I close, OP?)

sebastian0622
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Re: Midlaw Does Exist

Postby sebastian0622 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:48 pm

My response to your post is bifurcated (groan).

Basically, I agree with a lot of what you say, but I also think you fall into the trap of projecting one successful strategy onto the entire landscape of legal employment. Like you, I have a lucrative offer that fits what I am looking for. However, I got the job by: bidding on it in 1L OCI, not uploading a resume, transcript, or writing sample as required, getting selected for a lottery interview anyway, going to career services the day before to fix a 2 year-old resume, showing up at the interview in the slot immediately before lunch with the required documents in hand (except still without a writing sample). I got the job, summered, and got offered, but I sure as hell wouldn't recommend that approach to anyone else.

In other words, I think "selling yourself" and selling your uniqueness MAY be good advice, but it may not be. For a person with great grades, quality work experience, and a boring personality, selling himself by trying to be unique and show his personality might be a horrible idea, actually.

I do like the post and I think it provides some great perspective on one guy's approach, but I'd warn people against taking it as a blueprint for success. Like me, you may have been the exception to the rule. Like you, I have some unique stuff on my resume and a good personality. Subtract any of those two and I probably wouldn't have gotten the job. So this stuff doesn't work for everyone.




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