Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:53 pm

Thank you random attorney from st. louis. More helpful than wustl's cso has to offer.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:13 pm

I'm a 2L, and I recently applied to a Federal Public Defender's Office for summer employment. I applied with the caveat that if I did not get any other offers, I wouldn't mind working there. Much to my surprise, they were the first to extend an offer for a summer internship. I still have a few outstanding interviews with other government and private offices, but this is the first place to get back to me. The problem is that I really don't want to do public defense when I graduate, and, even worse, I worked at a public defender's office last summer. My main concern is that by taking this internship I am pigeonholing myself in one area of law. So would taking this position preclude me from a government/private job after graduation? Or can I use it to my advantage?

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:35 am

First of all, thanks for taking questions. I have a question about my situation. I'm a 2L working at a small firm (8-10 attorneys) that does high-end litigation and some transactional work. I've been there about two months, and will be working there over the summer as well. So far I've received great reviews about the of work I've turned in.

Anyway, my question is what is the best way to determine my likelihood for securing employment after graduation? Do you usually give your clerks/SAs indications that you are leaning one way or another? Is asking one of the attorneys/partners a smart way to go about it? I think I have a chance, but have not broached the topic with any of the attorneys yet. If it's unlikely I'll be getting an offer due to economic circumstances that's understandable, but then I would probably enter the clerkship race. Having an idea soon would be helpful in that department.

Thanks in advance, and thanks again for answering questions.

Sm Firm Hiring P
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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:33 am

Apologies - been busy. I will try to answer the above questions tonight.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:2L here who will be a SA for a 20-40 person firm this summer. My worst grade was in Legal Writing, so I'm wondering if you have any advice on how to improve my writing before this summer, be it a book or just general principles to keep in mind. Again, Thank you for all your insight.



Hopefully, you will have opportunities with the firm this summer. New associates and even SA ask for copies of mark ups by partners and keep them for reference for the next writing assignment. Partners want to see progression and improvement. We don't expect people to walk in and write a perfect memo or draft a perfect document. Legal writing is, of course, different than regular writing. If you are going to work in litigation, go read some of the briefs submitted to the Supreme Court to see good persuasive writing. Ask the partners or senior associates of the firm for some examples of memos.

Sm Firm Hiring P
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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:02 pm

kalvano wrote:How much does an executive board position on a journal / law review matter? Is just being a member the important part, or does having some sort of higher-up managerial function (such as being one of the top 3 people) give a boost?



I believe with most smaller firms, the fact that you have been invited and take any sort of active role is a plus. We have 1 executive editor at our firm and several others who were just on staff or wrote articles, plus a few who had no position at all. I assume you are asking in terms of interviewing instead of how it translates into the workplace. We view it as a plus but just one of several factors and the lack thereof is not a big detriment.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions!

I'm a 2L and I'm going to get the chance to become a certified law clerk for a government agency; thus, I will be getting some court room experience over the summer. The agency's practice focuses on white collar work. Do you think that combo would especially beneficial as a 3L in looking for small business lit firms, or would it just sit there like any other job on the resume? If it would be helpful, and advice on how to pitch working on the private side? (Of course, I'd love to work for my agency upon graduation, but budget cuts suck. :( )



You would have to find a boutique that specializes in white collar work I would think or a firm that has a white collar practice as an important part of the firm for the "combo" to be beneficial. As far as business litigation firms in general, it is only a 2L summer and I think the fact that you had court room experience is helpful and should be emphasized.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:11 pm

drdolittle wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm frankly surprised that OP in this thread puts much stock in legal writing class samples, although he did acknowledge that they are flawed. I guess it's just all they have?

That surprised me too. The contrived nature of the class, differences between section instructors and small class sizes mean legal writing class grades can be all over the map, and seemingly disconnected from 'true' legal writing ability. Also as mentioned, in fact these classes often involve significant peer/instructor feedback where students that blindly do exactly what the instructor asks for throughout the revision process tend to get awarded the highest final grades. And everyone ends up with peer/instructor-reviewed writing samples. But I think OP noted that his/her firm has actually experienced higher legal writing class grades correlating with better writing in practice?

Along these lines, are there schools you regard as having particularly strong (or weak) legal writing programs, impacting the way you view writing class grades from such schools?



A lot of questions in these two posts so let me see if I can address them. We have seen a direct correlation of grades to writing. While law firm writing may be somewhat contrived, we know good writing when we see it and writing skills in class seem to translate over to firm work. The firm described in not like our firm at all. We provide comments to memos and draft of letters to clients and ask for questions. We expect lots of mistakes but those to diminish over time. We see that students either get it by the end of their 2L summer or are struggling. I know because I struggled but finally overcame it with some nice help from my mentor. Learning to be an attorney still is very much an apprenticeship type of experience and if there are not good and helpful lawyers to learn from, your odds of success are low.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:14 pm

Along these lines, are there schools you regard as having particularly strong (or weak) legal writing programs, impacting the way you view writing class grades from such schools?



I think I missed this. There are some schools that I am a little more leary than others. A lot depends on the student, but I have to say I was impressed with writing of a Case student recently and I understand that school has a very strong emphasis on writing. Granted, it was only an exposure to one student, but the project work I saw was better than I usually see from a 2L.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Genki » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:16 pm

I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Are federal magistrate clerkships valuable at all? When looking at the attorney profiles of reputable medium and small firms in my area, I only see COA, district, bankruptcy, state supreme, and state appellate clerkships listed.



Not sure I can really add much here since I honestly don't know. I would think for smaller firms, there would not be a huge amount of difference in how those experiences are viewed. Small firms tend to be more state practice based and look at court clerkship experiences more generically unless they have special practice areas. For example, we have a sizeable creditor's rights practice, so a bankruptcy clerkship would catch our eye.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:18 pm

What were others in your firm skeptical of? Do you mind if I shoot you a PM?



Sure, shoot me a PM.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:19 pm

I am still working my way through the questions, in order I hope.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:25 pm

Renzo wrote:Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. I'm curious how much of your hiring is entry-level v. lateral; and, if you do a non-trivial amount of lateral hiring, is it mostly experienced associates or partners/partner candidates with portable business?



Ah, an ever on-going discussion at our firm. I have to say that last year we had two lateral hires that were a disaster which has sent us back to being even more determined to develop from our SA program which we may even expand. Laterals are problematic sometime since they may be looking because they were encouraged to in lieu of firing or saw firing coming, were not part of the golden children in the big firm and did not get good training or may have a focus on a very narrow level. I think we keep learning over and over that those that we train from within make us the most money, are the most happy and stick around a lot longer. We have had a couple of lateral partners but have turned down many. Usually, it has to be someone a few of us know well personally or professionally. We have had 2 in the last 8 years or so, both from big firms with their own books of business. They have been great fits, have a better lifestyle and actually make more money than as a junior partner or non-equity partner at the larger firm.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L, and I recently applied to a Federal Public Defender's Office for summer employment. I applied with the caveat that if I did not get any other offers, I wouldn't mind working there. Much to my surprise, they were the first to extend an offer for a summer internship. I still have a few outstanding interviews with other government and private offices, but this is the first place to get back to me. The problem is that I really don't want to do public defense when I graduate, and, even worse, I worked at a public defender's office last summer. My main concern is that by taking this internship I am pigeonholing myself in one area of law. So would taking this position preclude me from a government/private job after graduation? Or can I use it to my advantage?



To be brutally honest, your concerns are legitimate in this economy unless your grades or connections are good. Your best bet for a private job might be a white collar defense boutique firm or a firm with a large practice in that area. If you are looking to be a transactional attorney or commercial litigator, I don't see it being all that helpful.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:33 pm

Anyway, my question is what is the best way to determine my likelihood for securing employment after graduation? Do you usually give your clerks/SAs indications that you are leaning one way or another? Is asking one of the attorneys/partners a smart way to go about it? I think I have a chance, but have not broached the topic with any of the attorneys yet. If it's unlikely I'll be getting an offer due to economic circumstances that's understandable, but then I would probably enter the clerkship race. Having an idea soon would be helpful in that department.

You guys are tough tonight! I think it is fine to ask. I am asked all the time. My answer is as honest as I can be that if you do well and the business continues, that you will likely get a job. I am clear that it is not a guarantee but in our firm, we seem to lose someone every two years which makes openings and if you look at our website, you can see we have associates who were summer associates so that we have some history. It is a gamble, but look at the firm's track record for some guidance. Even if we cannot give them an offer, I tell them that having a summer at our firm still helps a lot with their resume and trying to get a job with other firms our size. In this economy unfortunately, there are no for sures any more.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby mabfff » Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:50 pm

I'm currently a paralegal looking to go to SLU part-time so I can work full time (I'm a little older than the traditional student and simply can't afford to live off loans). My big concern is not being able to pull great grades due to the major time restrictions school and work would place upon me. All things equal, would lower grades but solid legal experience be looked upon as equivalent to someone with better grades but perhaps little experience?

Thanks a lot!

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby DocHawkeye » Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:47 pm

How do you feel about sending a follow-up thank you letter after an interview? Essential? Noteworthy? Nice but not required? Not necessary/not appropriate? I just had an interview for a summer clerkship with a solo practitioner and I would really like the job. I felt like we really connected but I noticed that she didn't take any notes on my resume. I am looking for ways to stand out.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:13 pm

mabfff wrote:I'm currently a paralegal looking to go to SLU part-time so I can work full time (I'm a little older than the traditional student and simply can't afford to live off loans). My big concern is not being able to pull great grades due to the major time restrictions school and work would place upon me. All things equal, would lower grades but solid legal experience be looked upon as equivalent to someone with better grades but perhaps little experience?

Thanks a lot!


With respect to small firms there are different schools of thought on this. We even disagree within our firm. I think more would value the grades but I am sure there are others who feel otherwise. It might depend on the practice area having a direct correlation to the firm. Beware, there are some attorneys who think former paralegals have a tough time transitioning to being an attornye. We hired a former paralegal who was about 10% below our typical target cutoff essentially giving some difference to the experience. However, I am not sure if it had been a 30% swing, we would have done so. Hope that helps.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:16 pm

DocHawkeye wrote:How do you feel about sending a follow-up thank you letter after an interview? Essential? Noteworthy? Nice but not required? Not necessary/not appropriate? I just had an interview for a summer clerkship with a solo practitioner and I would really like the job. I felt like we really connected but I noticed that she didn't take any notes on my resume. I am looking for ways to stand out.


My answer is for a small firm it is essential to send a follow up letter right away. The person we hired this year sent thank you emails the night we interviewed her and followed up with hand written letter to all 3 of us who did the screening interviews. Same thing for the callback. If I don't receive one, I presume that they are not that interested. We want people who are very interested and downright excited to work with us.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:29 pm

Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:
DocHawkeye wrote:How do you feel about sending a follow-up thank you letter after an interview? Essential? Noteworthy? Nice but not required? Not necessary/not appropriate? I just had an interview for a summer clerkship with a solo practitioner and I would really like the job. I felt like we really connected but I noticed that she didn't take any notes on my resume. I am looking for ways to stand out.


My answer is for a small firm it is essential to send a follow up letter right away. The person we hired this year sent thank you emails the night we interviewed her and followed up with hand written letter to all 3 of us who did the screening interviews. Same thing for the callback. If I don't receive one, I presume that they are not that interested. We want people who are very interested and downright excited to work with us.


Is this peculiar to small firms? Or would you recommend the same approach with middle & biglaw firms as well?

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:
DocHawkeye wrote:How do you feel about sending a follow-up thank you letter after an interview? Essential? Noteworthy? Nice but not required? Not necessary/not appropriate? I just had an interview for a summer clerkship with a solo practitioner and I would really like the job. I felt like we really connected but I noticed that she didn't take any notes on my resume. I am looking for ways to stand out.


My answer is for a small firm it is essential to send a follow up letter right away. The person we hired this year sent thank you emails the night we interviewed her and followed up with hand written letter to all 3 of us who did the screening interviews. Same thing for the callback. If I don't receive one, I presume that they are not that interested. We want people who are very interested and downright excited to work with us.


Is this peculiar to small firms? Or would you recommend the same approach with middle & biglaw firms as well?


In general, I think it is more peculiar to small firms but there are places in the country, like the south, where it is more generally expected.

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Flash
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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Flash » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:02 pm

Would you consider your firm a boutique or just a small firm?

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:06 pm

Flash wrote:Would you consider your firm a boutique or just a small firm?


Probably more of a boutique though our practice is not quite as narrow as some think of boutiques. We are not a general practice firm. There are lots of areas of business law we do not practice in such as tax, securities, labor, etc.

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newyorker88
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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby newyorker88 » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:47 pm

What is diversity like at your firm? Do you find that minority attorneys tend to fit in with the firm culture? Do you have different gpa cut offs for minority attorneys?




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