When to contact small firm

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When should I contact partner?

Now
2
33%
December
4
67%
A time in between, I'll tell you in the comments
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 6

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king3780
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:12 pm

When to contact small firm

Postby king3780 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:15 pm

I'm a 3L at a school in the east coast, trying to get back to a specific area in the west where I have ties. Blanketed firms in the target state a month or so ago with resume, letters of reference and writing sample. I know many small firms won't make hiring decisions until at least spring and maybe into the summer and fall, but I thought it would be wise to get my name in their minds now. I also didn't want to take a chance of missing out by waiting, in case someone actually was thinking of hiring almost a year in advance. I'll be in the target state for Christmas break, so I hoped to net a few interviews while I'm there.

I got a letter from one firm I'd love to work for, but I'm unsure how to interpret part of it. The letter says they aren't sure if they're going to hire for next fall, but were impressed with my credentials and would like to meet with me when I'm in the area. The end of the letter says when I'm in the area, "we would enjoy meeting with you. Please contact me if you wish to do so."

So I'm unclear on if I should let him know now that I would like to meet with him over Christmas break, or if he's suggesting I contact him when I'm there in December. Any thoughts?

sebastian0622
Posts: 276
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:30 pm

Re: When to contact small firm

Postby sebastian0622 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:30 pm

I got hired by a dozen-lawyer firm last week for next summer already. Last year, I got hired for my 1L summer in April from a similar-sized firm. The point is that it varies a lot. Some small firms know for sure they need to bring in an SA, others play it by ear. In my case BOTH firms knew a solid year ahead of time that they wanted an SA, but one firm decided to wait until spring so that the candidate pool would self-select (e.g. they could find a 1L left in the hiring pool who would be good enough for them, and they wouldn't be competing for people who were still considering other options). They bring in an SA every year with that strategy, and then they can be picky and offer about one in four SA's and still expand with that recruitment level. There were a lot of 1L's still wanting a firm job in April, and I ended up being the good enough leftover 1L. :)

The moral of the story may be to question the conventional advice that small firms don't know what they want until a few months out. I'd definitely be getting in touch with them now. The caveat is that both of the small firms I've gotten on board with may be a cut above in terms of being a century old with really established clients and practice areas. They are both financially strong and can afford to plan/budget a few years out. Other small firms don't have the luxury.

I think the firm you are talking to is probably just hedging. What I translate that as, knowing how these firms work, is "we would love to hire the right person, otherwise we will just pass." These firms can be pickier than biglaw. My 2L firm has done over 30 screeners and a handful of CB's since they last extended an SA offer. If they aren't sold you're someone they may want long term, they'll just pass. That's why they are being non-committal. With a response like that, assuming they are established and financially-secure, there is no doubt in my mind they would bring you on if they like you when they meet you.

It sounds like this firm is in a holding pattern. I'd probably call now, but you'll probably be fine if you wait to get in touch until a few weeks before you head back to the area.

User avatar
king3780
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:12 pm

Re: When to contact small firm

Postby king3780 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:53 pm

sebastian0622 wrote:I got hired by a dozen-lawyer firm last week for next summer already. Last year, I got hired for my 1L summer in April from a similar-sized firm. The point is that it varies a lot. Some small firms know for sure they need to bring in an SA, others play it by ear. In my case BOTH firms knew a solid year ahead of time that they wanted an SA, but one firm decided to wait until spring so that the candidate pool would self-select (e.g. they could find a 1L left in the hiring pool who would be good enough for them, and they wouldn't be competing for people who were still considering other options). They bring in an SA every year with that strategy, and then they can be picky and offer about one in four SA's and still expand with that recruitment level. There were a lot of 1L's still wanting a firm job in April, and I ended up being the good enough leftover 1L. :)

The moral of the story may be to question the conventional advice that small firms don't know what they want until a few months out. I'd definitely be getting in touch with them now. The caveat is that both of the small firms I've gotten on board with may be a cut above in terms of being a century old with really established clients and practice areas. They are both financially strong and can afford to plan/budget a few years out. Other small firms don't have the luxury.

I think the firm you are talking to is probably just hedging. What I translate that as, knowing how these firms work, is "we would love to hire the right person, otherwise we will just pass." These firms can be pickier than biglaw. My 2L firm has done over 30 screeners and a handful of CB's since they last extended an SA offer. If they aren't sold you're someone they may want long term, they'll just pass. That's why they are being non-committal. With a response like that, assuming they are established and financially-secure, there is no doubt in my mind they would bring you on if they like you when they meet you.

It sounds like this firm is in a holding pattern. I'd probably call now, but you'll probably be fine if you wait to get in touch until a few weeks before you head back to the area.


Thanks for the response. FWIW, this is a 13 person firm that's well established. I think around 100 years old. Funny story, the firm has four names in the title, none of which are still alive. Apparently they get calls from people asking for Mr. Jones, not realizing he's been dead for 10 years, but the caller probably just picked a name from the firm title. Another interesting thing, in light of what you're saying, is that they hired four people currently at the firm in 2009. I can't tell who may have worked there and then left, but for people currently there, there were no hires in the past two years and none between 2004 and 2009.

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king3780
Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:12 pm

Re: When to contact small firm

Postby king3780 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:10 pm

Still looking for opinions.




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