Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

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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 9:25 pm

BTW, thanks for the PM some of you sent. I am surprised there is so much interest in the topic, but glad to see it. Like I told one who sent me a PM, some OCS offices don't get it fully. We have never had an OCS come to our firm, take us to lunch, quiz us for this type of information and most importantly ask what they can do to help us hire more of their students.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:37 pm

Another 2L with a biglaw SA coming up and set on litigation. After a highly involved and hands-on litigation experience this past summer, and pre-law school work experience under my belt, I'm eager to jump in and commit to developing a successful career as a litigator. However, I know that mere verve is not going to meet expectations.

What are the main obstacles and pitfalls you see young associates encountering that contribute to under-performance? What affirmative steps do you see being characteristic of the more successful young associates?

Thank you for your time.

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 9:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Another 2L with a biglaw SA coming up and set on litigation. After a highly involved and hands-on litigation experience this past summer, and pre-law school work experience under my belt, I'm eager to jump in and commit to developing a successful career as a litigator. However, I know that mere verve is not going to meet expectations.
What are the main obstacles and pitfalls you see young associates encountering that contribute to under-performance? What affirmative steps do you see being characteristic of the more successful young associates?
Thank you for your time.



Sounds like you had a great 1L experience. In a biglaw firm there are a lot to figure out unless you spent your summer at that firm. Work the hellish hours, be as pleasant as can be and don't turn down any assignments unless you are dying. Ask you mentor for feedback. Keep a copy of the partners comments to all work and make sure you don't make the same mistakes twice. Expected new attorney mistakes are ok, but don't repeat them. Show you learn quickly. Also, keep in contact with the associates a few years your senior. They can be a wealth of dos and don'ts in biglaw.

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

Postby Flash » Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:03 pm

Does your firm intend to have everyone you hire make partner or is attrition necessary even at a firm your size?

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 10:05 pm

Flash wrote:Does your firm intend to have everyone you hire make partner or is attrition necessary even at a firm your size?



No attrition is not necessary but like all firms, we have significant attrition. Partners are paid on a formula system so you have to continue to earn your keep so to say. If you don't, it can be a sign you need to move on. We only had that happen once.

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

Postby quakeroats » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:17 am

How does corporate work translate outside of the major markets? Is working in a specialty typically done in big cities (antitrust, financial institutions, investment management, etc.) a liability when moving to a smaller city?

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:45 pm

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.


How do you look at a short-term grades drop? Say for example someone had a high gpa, then as a 2L in the fall semester, grades dropped down due to one bad grade. Is that something that would cause you not to hire someone?

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:07 pm

is it possible to lateral to partner at a small firm after working at a federal agency job? if so after how many years of exp (5? 10?)?

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

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:17 pm

quakeroats wrote:How does corporate work translate outside of the major markets? Is working in a specialty typically done in big cities (antitrust, financial institutions, investment management, etc.) a liability when moving to a smaller city?



I may not be the best to address this. I guess it depends what you mean by small. My city, while in the midwest, has a population of over a million. We have several big firms and many smaller ones. I would think if you go too small, there is not going to be much need for antitrust or financial institutions unless you mean creditor work or loan documentation, which is likely in demand in all cities that have banks and other financial institutions. A city my size would have plenty of need for the areas you mention other than perhaps antitrust.

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

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
How do you look at a short-term grades drop? Say for example someone had a high gpa, then as a 2L in the fall semester, grades dropped down due to one bad grade. Is that something that would cause you not to hire someone?


Firms our size would not care much particularly if you had already summered with us. We care more about the work product, work ethic, personality and general fit with the firm. The big firms may be a little less forgiving but if you have a strong resume otherwise and are personable and comfortable in the interview, I don't see it as a big concern. You need to be prepared to address it. We just had that situation. We had many candidates in the top 5 and 10% of their classes. We advertise generally prefer top 20%. We ended up hiring someone who was just barely outside the 20% because it was just one bad grade AND there were so many other things. I even told the candidate that if it was all about grades, the candidate would lose, but there was an awful lot to like about the candidate's resume.

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

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:is it possible to lateral to partner at a small firm after working at a federal agency job? if so after how many years of exp (5? 10?)?


I would think this would be tough. I do not have any personal experience with that. There would be concerns about whether you knew how to practice, effectively bill hours (the bane of private practive) and work with a sense of urgency given the demands of private practice (the pace is so much faster). I would only see this working if you developed a specialty and contacts at that agency and the firm had a significant practice area to use those skills. Example would be like working at the EPA and then going to a boutique firm that practiced environmental law or working at the NLRB and going to a labor boutique firm. We have a labor boutique firm in town with about 20 attorneys and they practice all over the country and occasionally hire from federal agencies.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:26 pm

So I'm confused, and this is not to be rude in any way, but conventional wisdom I got off these forums is that small firm hiring is generally for people outside the top 25%, i.e. people who didn't get big law. Are you offering salaries that are equal ($3,000 a week etc...)? What is it about your firm that's making people in the top 5% of their class apply to your firm?

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

Postby Flash » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:30 pm

Would your firm's grade standards change for someone coming from a T10 school rather than a Mizzou/SLU level school?

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

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:So I'm confused, and this is not to be rude in any way, but conventional wisdom I got off these forums is that small firm hiring is generally for people outside the top 25%, i.e. people who didn't get big law. Are you offering salaries that are equal ($3,000 a week etc...)? What is it about your firm that's making people in the top 5% of their class apply to your firm?



Well, a little perspective. I doubt we would draw many from a top 20 school in the upper 5%. In fact, we have only one, a partner. What we offer is primarily lifestyle (1750 annual hours requirement), the ability to get client contact and responsiblity right away, a close mentoring environment by very experienced attorneys, the ability to work on sophisticated work, the ability to develop your own clients and bring start ups at a fee structure they can afford, a very friendly atmosphere if you are responsible, etc. Nothing magical but it does draw. Many of our attorneys have friend in the bigger firms and understand the benefits and detriments of both environments. While most are in the top 20%, we do have two single digiters. This past process we saw 152 resumes for 1 position almost all in the top 20%. About 10 were grads, about 10 were outside the top 20% and the rest were in the top 20%, about evenly split between 1L and 2L. More higher ranks in the 1Ls. However, I would also say that the economy has an awful lot to do with it as well as we primarily draw from schools ranked 50-100 since many of those schools are in or near our city. There is probably more to it, but the foregoing is a broad brush overview.

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

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:39 pm

Flash wrote:Would your firm's grade standards change for someone coming from a T10 school rather than a Mizzou/SLU level school?



Yes, provided all the other qualities were there. We have a T20 school nearby and certainly would not overlook someone in the top 40% of that school.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:43 pm

^ Ok now the world makes sense. For some reason I got the impression that you only hire the top 20% out of a t-14 or something and it was really confusing as to why your standards are so incredibly high...

By the way, the job you offer sounds amazing, I'm not knocking it down, I just was confused with the qualifications.

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

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:^ Ok now the world makes sense. For some reason I got the impression that you only hire the top 20% out of a t-14 or something and it was really confusing as to why your standards are so incredibly high...

By the way, the job you offer sounds amazing, I'm not knocking it down, I just was confused with the qualifications.



Yes, I agree that would be strange and we would have to be a super boutique to do so. Thanks. Believe it or not, we have people that seek us out for those qualities. I do understand it is easier to do if you were on part or full scholarship and much harder when you have $ 150,000 in student debt.

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

Postby kalvano » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:47 pm

Just wanted to give a public thank you to the OP here for some excellent and much-appreciated advice.

Truly a gentleman(woman) and a scholar.

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

Postby Campagnolo » Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:49 pm

Tagged for helpful cover letter / small firm perspective.

Thanks, poaster!

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:31 am

1L here, T-14, slightly above median grades after 1st semester. Gave the BigLaw SA a shot and wasnt surprised it didnt come through. I worked at a small firm while in college and was hoping to try and land something similar for this summer. I know hiring is a lot more sporadic time wise and typically less formal of a process, but how would you recommend going about it? Phone call inquiries? Email? I don't want to resume/cover letter bomb every firm around but I'm not opposed to that if it would be potentially effective.

Thanks for all of your responses and for taking the time to answer questions!

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

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1L here, T-14, slightly above median grades after 1st semester. Gave the BigLaw SA a shot and wasnt surprised it didnt come through. I worked at a small firm while in college and was hoping to try and land something similar for this summer. I know hiring is a lot more sporadic time wise and typically less formal of a process, but how would you recommend going about it? Phone call inquiries? Email? I don't want to resume/cover letter bomb every firm around but I'm not opposed to that if it would be potentially effective.

Thanks for all of your responses and for taking the time to answer questions!


Smaller firms hire on need and are traditionally conservative in hiring which translates into them waiting until March or April to look for summer help. If you have a target geographic area, you could research the firms that do the type of law you are interested in. I would suggest a letter with a follow up call or email a couple of weeks later. The cover letter should be something to catch their eye, show you have a passion for the law they practice, show you are hardworking and dedicated, have ties to the area, etc. and enclose references particulary law professors in town or other professionals someone at the firm may know if possible. A follow up letter could be sent as well. I had several candidates call or email me after we made our choice asking about what they could have done better, if they could keep in touch and if they could let them know if I heard of any opportunities. I would suggest doing the same if you are rejected and you like the firm. You never know what could happen. I was not offended at all and have tried to help them.

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Re: Small Firm Hiring Partner Here For Any Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:10 am

Just based on experience or just your advice generally, do you think its better for students to avoid taking jobs at law firms that only have 1 or 2 lawyers? i.e., is there such a thing as TOO small?

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

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:Just based on experience or just your advice generally, do you think its better for students to avoid taking jobs at law firms that only have 1 or 2 lawyers? i.e., is there such a thing as TOO small?


I think you need to be much more careful there. Check out the credentials of the attorneys carefully. Make sure they have been practicing for a while. Confirm they are AV or at least BV rated by Martindale Hubbell. Look for peer acknowledgemens/ratings like Best Lawyers in America. Don't put much stock in the Super Lawyers which is more commercialized and does not go through the independent evaluation criteria of BLA. I would presume they would specialize and be somewhat of a boutique. If they are a general practice firm, be more careful unless you truly want to be a general practice attorney. The key is finding good lawyers. If they are good lawyers and willing to invest some time with you, you actually could learn a lot more than at a bigger firm.

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

Postby ScrabbleChamp » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:34 am

How much do ties matter in light of other factors? For instance, I have traveled all over and know cities in which I'd like to live after school. Though I have no ties to XYZ city, if I were to interview with your firm and cite reasons the area appeals to me (safe for kids/families, offers great recreational opportunities, etc...), would that quell any fears you might have due to me having no ties?

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

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:37 pm

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I have a few myself. First, I'm a 2L and will be at a smaller firm this summer, but am still interested in working for a bigger firm after graduation for a few years. If I were to send out applications to other firms in the same city (think Denver-sized legal market), do you think it would get back to my summer firm and they would avoid giving me an offer at the end of the summer? If so, is there a way around that gamble?

Second, how do you view students that manage to get published while in school? Does it matter more or less for bigger firms? Or is getting published only really relevant for clerkship applications?




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