Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

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adonai
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby adonai » Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:32 pm

What is your idea of a great interview? Do you have any tips for someone who is more on the quiet side? From what I read, it seems to be that law firms tend to favor overly social "bros" and I don't believe I fit that model.

Dmac
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby Dmac » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:38 pm

Donniedarko & Kring345 -

I am combining an answer to both of your questions about developing business.

Let me start with addressing the sentiment that law school doesn't really prepare students to be good business folks -

The "dumbest" I have ever felt in my entire life was during my first year as an associate. Law school prepares you to think like a lawyer - but not to actually be one. Ok - that may be overgeneralizing things. If you are going to be a litigator, law school does a better job of preparing you. If you are going to be a business attorney, not so much. I'm just telling you this so that you won't start working and think that you are the only one who feels that way. Everyone does to some extent. And btw - being a summer associate is nothing like being a real associate. I felt relatively smart as a summer associate. I also was doing the things that I had been prepared to do - a lot of research and writing memos.

To be perfectly honest, a lot of times developing business is matter of luck. I hate to say that but it's true. If you are one of the few who has family/friends with business connections, you are lucky and I am envious. I had none of that. Well, that is other than my family/friends who wanted free legal advice - I had more than my fair share of that. So, how do you do it? Your firm usually does very little to teach you. What I learned was from the partners I worked for and through trial and error.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Learn to be a good attorney (this may seem to contradict something I wrote in an earlier post but it really doesn't - what I am saying here is that this is part of how to develop your own business - it is not the only thing that you need). You will see others who develop business but are not good attorneys - it happens more often than it should. But eventually the client will realize this and will either move the business to an attorney at another firm or cut this attorney out of the loop and go straight to the attorneys who this type of attorney employs to do the actual work for the client.

2. Everyone will say "networking" is the key. To some extent that is true. However, this doesn't mean that you should join every organization that will take you. You really have to think about where/what you are spending your efforts. Find something that you really want to be part of - it is easy to identify "posers." Ex - I know an attorney who joined an up and coming church located in a upscale neighborhood. He had no interest in religion at all. When I saw him there (I dated a guy who attended this church and went to service with him), he looked like he was "running for office" or something. He came across as insincere. And it wasn't just me that thought so. Don't get me wrong, some people can pull this off. I just think that most savvy business people can spot a person like this from a mile away. Also, don't think that if you join an organization that a thousand other attorneys are all members of that you will gain tons of business from it.

3. I will probably get some boos here but I am just being honest - as a woman, I think that it is easier for a man to develop business. There, I said it. Let me tell you why. Even in today's world, much of the decision makers will be men. As a woman, I cannot just invite a guy to a baseball game, or to play golf (although I am a decent player!), etc. If it is a group, that is different. But one-on-one is difficult. Lunch is ok. But let's be honest, not many business people are going to have lunch with you and then decide to transfer all of their legal business to you. And again, to be completely honest, there are men out there who will have other "motives" (there could be woman out there who are like this also - I female so I have no insight into that). You can think that I'm full of crap but I've been there and I have found all of this to be true.

4. Many people will find out that you are an attorney and ask for your card because they have some new business or something that they may need you to handle. As a young associate, I fell for this too many times and wasted too many hours on things that I shouldn't have. Don't be so excited to get your own business that you are fooled by people who make themselves seem more important than they are. One of the hardest things as an associate for me to do was to ask for a retainer when starting something for a new client. That changed after I did "free" legal work for those people. You need to make sure that the client can pay you. You don't need to waste billable hours on something that you will never collect - and you don't want the partners of your firm to see you opening uncollectible files.

5. This should have been at the top. Do not be afraid to ask for work. Many attorneys are good at schmoozing. Most attorneys (including myself) are reluctant to come straight out and ask. The business person knows that you want his/her business. But attorneys tend to not actually ask. Also, be persistent - but not a pest. There is a difference.

6. One of my biggest sources of new business comes from the other side of a previous deal. Don't be an ass. Be respectful. You can win an argument without coming across as a jerk. And if you do a great job representing your client, the other side will see it.

7. When you are a "little fish" it is ok to go after some business from other "little fish." Your first client does not have to be Microsoft (and won't be). Little clients can grow into big clients. And if they are currently clients of big fish attorneys - they won't be getting the attention that you can give them. And trust me, everyone likes to feel like they are being treated like they are important. This also goes along with identifying "up and coming" people in the community. For example, I developed a relationship with a person who worked for a farily big commercial real estate broker. I could tell that he was smart and motivated and while he wasn't in a position when we met to direct any real business to me, I had a hunch he would be able to later. I was right - eventually he started his own development company and became very successful. Keeping in touch with him as his career progressed, paid off with business a few years later.

Hope this was helpful. Developing business was my least favorite part of my job. But if you don't develop your own, you will always be expendable.

Dmac
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby Dmac » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:39 pm

I have to quit for today. I kept answering while pretending to watch movie with my daughter but it's over now. I will continue to answer questions so if I didn't today, I will try tomorrow.

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Kring345
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby Kring345 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:44 pm

Dmac wrote:I have to quit for today. I kept answering while pretending to watch movie with my daughter but it's over now. I will continue to answer questions so if I didn't today, I will try tomorrow.

Thank you for your response!

And be prepared for about a million questions! Seriously, these threads are uber popular (but also fantastically useful!).

johndhi
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby johndhi » Sun Jun 10, 2012 8:09 pm

What a terrific opportunity - thanks so much Dmac.

This is kind of a different question: what made you want to go into your own business? What keeps you there and keeps you from going back into providing legal services? I'm interested in maybe heading into the business world at some point, but as a litigator do you think I'm at a disadvantage?

Thanks again and I hope you feel better soon.

.375 H&H Mag.
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby .375 H&H Mag. » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:49 pm

Thank you so much for this. It is one of the best threads already!
One of my dreams is to work in BigLaw, and then branch out to start my own company, much like it sounds like you did.
How did you pull it off while still working at the firm? Would you have done anything differently? When did you begin to prepare for that?

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donniedarko
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby donniedarko » Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:02 am

Dmac wrote:I have to quit for today. I kept answering while pretending to watch movie with my daughter but it's over now. I will continue to answer questions so if I didn't today, I will try tomorrow.


Dmac, thanks a ton! I've learned so much already...

keg411
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby keg411 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:05 am

Dmac, thanks so much for your posts. My question is -- how did you manage to break the mold and figure out a way to bring in business as a woman, when you acknowledge yourself how difficult it is and how we start off at a disadvantage? Also, do you think it's easier for women in some practice areas than others or is more firm-dependent? Do you think it helped you that you had kids before you entered firm life as opposed to being single/no kids and then having kids later? (For reference, I'm a rising 3L currently doing a BigLaw SA and trying to figure out... a lot of things).

Anonymous User
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:23 am

More on getting clients. What resources does the firm give you to help you get clients? Time to do this would come to mind as something you'd need but probably won't be given. How about the ability to negotiate on rates?

In a prior post, you said that when you were up for partner, you were the only candidate with a serious book. So, what happened to the others? Were you the only one to make it?

And one other thing: did I hear you right? You could bill time you worked on cases for your own company?

Anonymous User
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:49 am

How soon should you start trying to bring clients into the firm? How easy is it, from an operational standpoint. You said you just "open up a file?" How do you staff the file? Are you the staff? Again, comes back to time: will you have time to work it? I am wondering what this process is like.

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manofjustice
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby manofjustice » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:50 am

How soon should you start trying to bring clients into the firm? How easy is it, from an operational standpoint. You said you just "open up a file?" How do you staff the file? Are you the staff? Again, comes back to time: will you have time to work it? I am wondering what this process is like.

Dmac
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby Dmac » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:28 pm

Saw that someone asked about whether a hiring committee would look unfavorably upon someone who failed bar first time but passed second time.

I have no idea how the committe would know that this happend unless you told them. I guess maybe they would wonder based upon the timing of sending your resume if you waited to do it until you passed the second time. I can't imagine that the firm would try to figure it out otherwise. Then again, I can only speak about the firms I know here in town.

I had a good friend fail the bar the first time he took it. He graduated in the top of his class from UVA. My guess would be that he missed a question and his answers were off. Or I guess he just had a bad day. I will say that no one thought any lesser of his intellect because it was clear that he was intelligent. The firm gave him a second chance to pass it and he did. He is a great attorney and made partner the first time he was up for consideration.

Dmac
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby Dmac » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:34 pm

Dixiecupdrinking -

I know the credentials of the SA class this current summer and my credentials would most definitely still be in line with those students. You have to keep this in mind though - I am not in New York. I do not claim to be an expert about all BigLaw firms. But yes, I believe I still would have had offers for a SA spot. Perhaps I would not have had as many BigLaw summer associate positions to choose from as I did but I am pretty confident I would have had a couple.

I think I need to learn how to copy the question I am answering so I don't have to summarize what I am responding to. This is what happens when you are old (I'm sure you could have figured it out by my grad year - I am in my early 40s) - you won't be as computer savvy as the youngsters.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:38 pm

Dmac wrote:Dixiecupdrinking -

I know the credentials of the SA class this current summer and my credentials would most definitely still be in line with those students. You have to keep this in mind though - I am not in New York. I do not claim to be an expert about all BigLaw firms. But yes, I believe I still would have had offers for a SA spot. Perhaps I would not have had as many BigLaw summer associate positions to choose from as I did but I am pretty confident I would have had a couple.

I think I need to learn how to copy the question I am answering so I don't have to summarize what I am responding to. This is what happens when you are old (I'm sure you could have figured it out by my grad year - I am in my early 40s) - you won't be as computer savvy as the youngsters.

Interesting, thanks for responding. I certainly didn't mean to imply anything negative about your background, by the way, in case that wasn't clear; just curious whether you think it's much harder in the current economy for people at lower ranked schools to catch a break than it was ~10 years ago.

mrosmith
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby mrosmith » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:59 pm

I transferred from a tier 4 to T14, My GPA took a decent hit (3.7 > 3.1), but I made the E-board on my journal and worked part-time at the job I have over the summer now. My fiance works at Johns Hopkins as an RN but she is going to be attending CRNA school fall of 2013 in North Carolina. I graduate spring 2013. I am interested in Energy Law and Environmental Law.

My questions are:

How does an applicant incorporate the fact that a significant other will be attending a school in the market where you're applying (to establish contacts where you would otherwise have none) without overshadowing the applicant himself.

Along those same lines, how can an applicant incorporate the fact that he grew up in a single family home on government assistance and worked his way though undergrad into a cover letter without coming off as needy?

Thanks for your insight!

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Kring345
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Re: Tier 3 JD - BigLaw partner - here to answer your questions

Postby Kring345 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:10 pm

Dmac wrote:I think I need to learn how to copy the question I am answering so I don't have to summarize what I am responding to. This is what happens when you are old (I'm sure you could have figured it out by my grad year - I am in my early 40s) - you won't be as computer savvy as the youngsters.

Just press the "QUOTE" button instead of the REPLY button. It's located within that particular post itself rather than at the bottom of the page.




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