Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:11 am

I am a 2L who will be a summer associate at a mid-size Midwestern firm this summer. How negotiable are starting salaries for your new full-time associates? Is it $74k, take it or leave it? What is the general trend for small/mid-size firms in the Midwest?

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

Postby NoleinNY » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:12 am

Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:3. For 2Ls, we look for some legal experience particularly office experience where they know what a legal file is, how it is to be maintained, the use of typcial law firm systems, ability to articulate, whether they researched our firm thoroughly and asked intelligent questions and personality. The "fit" with our firm culture is very important. We call all references and expect to see professors, prior employers and personal references. The cover letter is extremely important. With the volume we have been receiving, a good unique cover letter can set you apart. I do get tired of "I have honed my skills" and similar stock phrases.


Thanks!


(Note to self: Change cover letter... :| )

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:15 am

2L here going biglaw route and thinking about longer term career routes. Would you recommend your route to others? You said you still do the same work but with lowered rates due to less overhead. Do you clear more profit running your own firm than you would've as a big firm partner due to the lower overhead? Did you ever think about going in-house to one of your clients? Do you think the changes in the legal market make it more likely that people will take a similar route to yours, since it's a) harder to make partner and b) clients are putting pressure on prices?

I know it's a lot of questions, but basically I'm just curious what advice you would give someone who is starting out in biglaw but wants to keep the option of taking a similar route as you open long term?

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:09 pm

I have a callback interview with a small firm this week, but it is only scheduled to be a 30 minute interview and as far as I can tell, it is with the same 2 people I conducted my screening interview with. The short time and interviewing with the same people seems odd to me and I'm not sure what to make of this? Should I expect a third round of interviews? Does the short-time mean they are probably still interviewing a bunch of candidates?

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20160810
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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby 20160810 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:21 pm

How much do you care about clerking experience when evaluating applicants?

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

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have a question that is probably on everyone's minds- a lot of us, despite being very hard working and talented, fell short grade wise to nab a big law job. Sometimes, this can be something like being a 3.4 gpa instead of a 3.5. How much do you care about grades, as opposed to work experience, when hiring?



Grades are certainly important to our firm. Almost all of our associates are in the top 25% but work experience and other factors play their part. Interestingly, our corporate partners care more about grades than the litigation partners. We also look at factors which might affect grades. Someone in the top third might also be very attractive if they worked through law school - also shows a good work ethic. We hire an associate year who fired a few months later because the person could not get their rear in the office by 9 (or earlier like most associates) despite being warned several times. In this economic environment I was shocked.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:23 pm

kalvano wrote:You mentioned the cover letter as being important when evaluating applications. Could you talk a little more about that? What do you look for? And do you get a lot of applications from non-local people? If so, how does someone without any immediately apparent ties to the area make themselves an attractive candidate to you?



Keep in mind in this environment, there are a huge amount of cover letters and resumes floating around. We advertised in early January and ended the beginning of the 2nd week of February. We are not members of NALP like most smaller firms. I saw 152 cover letters and resumes during that time. I look at the cover letter first. If something there grabs my attention and makes me feel that it is not part of a mass market same ole cover letter, I read on. Put in something to distinguish yourself and try to do something different than "I honed my skills" or "your firm appeals to me because." Examples, I am president of the Business Law Society which further demonstates my commitment to business law, I am eager demonstrate my hard work and dedication to your firm... and my strong work ethic is demonstated by ...., in studying your associates' backgrounds I feel I have many of the qualities that you look for to be a good long term investment by your firm.
As to ties, that is tough. If you have friends and family members in the area then point that out for sure. If not, talk about things in St. Louis you enjoy as to why you intend to practice there - enjoy the midwest lifestyle, cardinal baseball, etc.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby 20160810 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:25 pm

Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:
kalvano wrote:You mentioned the cover letter as being important when evaluating applications. Could you talk a little more about that? What do you look for? And do you get a lot of applications from non-local people? If so, how does someone without any immediately apparent ties to the area make themselves an attractive candidate to you?



Keep in mind in this environment, there are a huge amount of cover letters and resumes floating around. We advertised in early January and ended the beginning of the 2nd week of February. We are not members of NALP like most smaller firms. I saw 152 cover letters and resumes during that time. I look at the cover letter first. If something there grabs my attention and makes me feel that it is not part of a mass market same ole cover letter, I read on. Put in something to distinguish yourself and try to do something different than "I honed my skills" or "your firm appeals to me because." Examples, I am president of the Business Law Society which further demonstates my commitment to business law, I am eager demonstrate my hard work and dedication to your firm... and my strong work ethic is demonstated by ...., in studying your associates' backgrounds I feel I have many of the qualities that you look for to be a good long term investment by your firm.
As to ties, that is tough. If you have friends and family members in the area then point that out for sure. If not, talk about things in St. Louis you enjoy as to why you intend to practice there - enjoy the midwest lifestyle, cardinal baseball, etc.

In the post-Pujols eras, you'd pretty much have to treat anyone who says they'd move to STL for the baseball as a liar.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Cupidity » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:29 pm

What would you say is the key securing an offer? Is ambition important? I found a dream job at a small firm this summer in my desired practice area and they sometimes offer, sometimes don't. How can I improve the odds.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:33 pm

Would a JD/MBA combination affect your hiring decision ?

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:35 pm

quakeroats wrote:Thanks for answering questions. I thought of a few:

1. Aside from money and free time, do you find you miss (or gain) anything practicing outside of the major legal markets (New York in particular)?

2. Can you talk about the process of large firms buying small firms? What’s the typical reason on each side? Does it make sense as a strategy? What sort of reasons led you to decline?

3. How was striking out on your own? Why did you do it? Would you do it again? When does it generally make sense and when is it a bad idea?


Well, my midwestern city has a million plus population, so we are not herding cows here. But in all sincerity, there is life beyond the coasts. While I understand the mega cities have their attraction, many like a less the less intensely urban areas. As to "buying," I may have used that term loosely. Basically it is a merger. However, the acquiring firm is primarily interested in the partners and the clients and will try to shave off as many associates and staff as they can while offering the carrot of supposably more money. Call it old fashioned, but our partners have no intention to do that to any of our staff or associates, many of whom have been with us a long time. As you become more successful as an attorney, the money becomes less important. Striking out on your own is scary and I lost some sleep over it. In retrospect, I wish I had done it earlier. Less politics, less administrative hassle, good comradery, great sense of accomplishment and being able to direct the future of the firm. You need some of your own clients or some partners with a decent book of business to safely take the leap. Interestingly, we found clients who said they were hiring us now because they did not like something about the big firm we were with and had several conflict referrals from the big firms with the understanding we would not raid their clients. The smaller overhead certainly helps profitability.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:As a 2L who struck out at OCI/mass-mailing and with fairly below median GPA, do you have any specific advice on how to work past the grades issue in finding a firm, big, midsize, small, any, to look past those grades and to consider you? Especially at the mailing/networking stage where all they kind of see is you on paper with that negative GPA albatross hanging around your file before they even meet you or speak with you. I will presumably be involved in the 3L job search as well and with hopefully better grades over the next 2-3 semesters, so if you've got any advice on how to go about that with small firms (or big and midsize since you seem to have insight into that hiring process as well) as a 3L I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you for taking the time to do this!


I have told more than one 2L that if you don't get something lined up by late March, early April, I would contact some firms that showed any amount of interest about part time jobs or unpaid/minimum pay work. The resume enhancer is well worth it. The good news is that very many small to mid size firms don't get serious about hiring until March or April. They tend to hire on circumstance and want to be sure that they have the work. Attorneys are a very conservative bunch when it comes to running a business. Emphasize you really would like the law firm experience and ability even for part time to demonstrate your dedication. Tough times need tough decisions.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a 2L who will be a summer associate at a mid-size Midwestern firm this summer. How negotiable are starting salaries for your new full-time associates? Is it $74k, take it or leave it? What is the general trend for small/mid-size firms in the Midwest?



There is no one I know in the firms our size that would negotiate starting salaries in this economy. Recognize that many pay in lock step so if your salary goes up then the ones above you need to be adjusted. We did this once for a lateral and increased the other salaries accordingly. But it was rare. We differentiate in the bonus. Get in there, prove yourself for a year or 2 and then ask about more pay if your bonuses do not make you feel good.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:2L here going biglaw route and thinking about longer term career routes. Would you recommend your route to others? You said you still do the same work but with lowered rates due to less overhead. Do you clear more profit running your own firm than you would've as a big firm partner due to the lower overhead? Did you ever think about going in-house to one of your clients? Do you think the changes in the legal market make it more likely that people will take a similar route to yours, since it's a) harder to make partner and b) clients are putting pressure on prices?

I know it's a lot of questions, but basically I'm just curious what advice you would give someone who is starting out in biglaw but wants to keep the option of taking a similar route as you open long term?


Yes, a lot of questions. Let's see, yes I think clients are much more fee conscious and more will depart to or form their own firms. We do very well but there is no way my income can match that of a senior partner (ie, the inner core) of a mega firm. Our profit percentage is larger but with the smaller hourly rates, there really is not that much difference. Most smaller firms operate (whether they realize it or not) on the old 1/3, 1/3 1/3 model. I would recommend my route to those who spend several years in the big firm and find they don't like it.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby kalvano » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:47 pm

Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:
kalvano wrote:You mentioned the cover letter as being important when evaluating applications. Could you talk a little more about that? What do you look for? And do you get a lot of applications from non-local people? If so, how does someone without any immediately apparent ties to the area make themselves an attractive candidate to you?



Keep in mind in this environment, there are a huge amount of cover letters and resumes floating around. We advertised in early January and ended the beginning of the 2nd week of February. We are not members of NALP like most smaller firms. I saw 152 cover letters and resumes during that time. I look at the cover letter first. If something there grabs my attention and makes me feel that it is not part of a mass market same ole cover letter, I read on. Put in something to distinguish yourself and try to do something different than "I honed my skills" or "your firm appeals to me because." Examples, I am president of the Business Law Society which further demonstates my commitment to business law, I am eager demonstrate my hard work and dedication to your firm... and my strong work ethic is demonstated by ...., in studying your associates' backgrounds I feel I have many of the qualities that you look for to be a good long term investment by your firm.
As to ties, that is tough. If you have friends and family members in the area then point that out for sure. If not, talk about things in St. Louis you enjoy as to why you intend to practice there - enjoy the midwest lifestyle, cardinal baseball, etc.



Thanks very much. I hope you don't mind, I sent you a PM.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have a callback interview with a small firm this week, but it is only scheduled to be a 30 minute interview and as far as I can tell, it is with the same 2 people I conducted my screening interview with. The short time and interviewing with the same people seems odd to me and I'm not sure what to make of this? Should I expect a third round of interviews? Does the short-time mean they are probably still interviewing a bunch of candidates?



That is a little odd. Most smaller firms have a screening group and then for 2nd interviews, meet with the other partners and senior associates in groups. Not sure I can help you there. Go, smile, be friendly, ask questions that show you researched the firm, ask if there is anything else you can provide them, etc. Good luck!

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:50 pm

In the post-Pujols eras, you'd pretty much have to treat anyone who says they'd move to STL for the baseball as a liar.[/quote]
\

Well, not sure I totally agree, but then scratch St. Louis and there is always the Royals, Cubs and Twins.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Flash » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:54 pm

Do most small firms give lockstep raises? If not, what criteria do you use in determining raises?

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20160810
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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby 20160810 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:54 pm

Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:In the post-Pujols eras, you'd pretty much have to treat anyone who says they'd move to STL for the baseball as a liar.

\

Well, not sure I totally agree, but then scratch St. Louis and there is always the Royals, Cubs and Twins.[/quote]
I was mainly just trolling you. The Cards still have a good shot at the NL Central.

<-- SF Giants fan.

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

Postby Flash » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:57 pm

I'm a 1L who will be working at a small firm this summer. I would love to work there 2L summer and beyond. Is there anything I should do, besides just quality work product, to increase my chances at getting an offer?

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:00 pm

Flash wrote:Do most small firms give lockstep raises? If not, what criteria do you use in determining raises?



Yes, to a certain degree. Salaries pretty much follow graduation dates. We use bonuses to distinguish. Our youngest associate last year actually received the largest bonus. Worked more hours than the others and had a high realization rate which is unusual for a fairly recent grad.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:03 pm

SBL wrote:
Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:In the post-Pujols eras, you'd pretty much have to treat anyone who says they'd move to STL for the baseball as a liar.

\

Well, not sure I totally agree, but then scratch St. Louis and there is always the Royals, Cubs and Twins.

I was mainly just trolling you. The Cards still have a good shot at the NL Central.

<-- SF Giants fan.[/quote]


Thanks :) As a novice to these types of forums, I am likely slower than most to catch on. Someone had to tell me how to use the quote button last night and I still seem to run out of space on longer replies and the screen keeps jumping around.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:06 pm

Flash wrote:I'm a 1L who will be working at a small firm this summer. I would love to work there 2L summer and beyond. Is there anything I should do, besides just quality work product, to increase my chances at getting an offer?



Make sure you ask your mentor a couple of times how you are doing and if there is anything you need to work on. Let people know you are really enjoying it after the first month. Go to lunch with the associates. At our firm, the associates may not make the decision but they can poison the well. Ask the senior associates about what you can do to help your chances. Most will be helpful. Ask to go with a partner or a senior associate to see a deposition or a closing. Make sure you are one of the last to leave and are in early. Lots of little things. We like hiring 1Ls with an eye to bringing them back and hiring them permanently. From an economic perspective, in the long term it is a real economic winner for us.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby romothesavior » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:16 pm

Obviously most of us who are big firm bound won't be there more than 3-5 years, whether by our choice or the firm's choice, although I hope to by at my firm as long as I can. Afterwards, a lot of us will be looking at going in-house or going to smaller firms. What are the top two or three things you look for when taking a lateral from a big firm? And what are the partnership odds for a lateral at a small firm?

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:21 pm

romothesavior wrote:Obviously most of us who are big firm bound won't be there more than 3-5 years, and then we'll be going in-house or going to smaller firms. What are the top two or three things you look for when taking a lateral from a big firm? And what are the partnership odds for a lateral at a small firm?



With laterals, practical experience and who they worked for at the firm. Many times the lateral will only worked on very small parts of matters and spent much of their time on research and memos. That makes it a much tougher decision for us because we are almost starting over. If they have some practical experience and/or worked directly for well known partners where we feel comfortable they were taught correctly, that is a big plus. There is some thought that big firm laterals could not cut it. That is not necessarily a bad thing - it could be for all the right reasons for a smaller firm, but we approach it cautiously. Then of course, there is a salary adjustment which most seem to know about. Many come to us because they want client contact, the ability to work on projects from beginning to end, etc. Our partnership track is 8 years with the firm with some adjustments for experienced laterals.




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