V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:23 pm

feralinfant wrote:
Watermelon Man wrote:because you guys + the blog article from the former S&C guy make it seem so easy to get fired in big law. it's just a shitty feeling with 200 g's of debt.


to be fair this seems like a pretty good reason to be fearful. I'm looking at sticker and it's frightening to think that even if you land big law its still far from sure that you'll manage to use it to put a dent in the debt.

To the OP- Hours and lifestyle issues aside what do you think of the work you're doing this far into your career? Interesting/challenging?


2L here currently with everything going according to plan. FWIW I wouldn't consider sticker anywhere but HYS unless my family was wealthy.

keg411
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby keg411 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:11 pm

anon168 wrote:If you decide to work in BigLaw (and it's your choice, remember that), just have the mentality that if a partner says, "Give me a blowjob" the only thing you should ask is, "Do you want me to swallow in one gulp, or two gulps."


:lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:27 pm

V10 anon.
Anonymous User wrote:Likely that partners you interviewed with during a callback fall into the category of people you would want to work for? Obviously not a shrewd analysis but there was a partner I really got on with during my CB whose group I find really interesting.
You most definitely cannot tell which partner is good to work for from an interview. The side you see at an interview is the side the partner shows clients. The partner is trying to sell you on the firm or at least not come off badly enough for you to go running your mouth about how bad xyz firm is. Once you are at the firm, you will likely never see that personable side of the partner again. In fact, the best way to find out how much ugliness a partner is capable of is to put yourself completely at the partner's mercy by working with that partner. Maybe the partner you met is truly nice. Maybe he is awful. Don't be naive enough to make any assumptions until you have real experience with him.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:31 pm

V10 anon.
Watermelon Man wrote:because you guys + the blog article from the former S&C guy make it seem so easy to get fired in big law. it's just a shitty feeling with 200 g's of debt.

Nowadays, it is very, very easy to get fired in big law. We are living in a post-economic crash world and things may never go back to being as they were before 2008. It's good that you know this going in. Live well below your means and pay off that debt aggressively or you could very well end up in a lot of financial trouble.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: If you're focused on M&A then you want to break into the V10 if at all possible because certain V10 firms completely dominate that practice area.


I'm a new poster to this thread, but I wanted to expand on this comment. How much difference is there, in quality of work, prestige, or exit options, between each Chambers band?

For example, Cravath (Band 1), Weil (Band 2), Kirkland (Band 3), Fried Frank (Band 4). Hypothetically, if one were to have a preference for those firms in reverse order, at what point should you give up the better culture and go for the prestige? E.g. do you think it's okay to pick Weil over Cravath, but not Fried Frank over Weil?

I have an interest in M&A, but without practicing...heck, maybe I'll like securities best in reality.

Many many thanks!
Cravath >> Weil ~ Kirkland >>> Fried Frank. The only name on your list that stands out M&A-wise is Cravath and exit options from Cravath are far superior to those at the other three. Kirkland is second but not a close second.

I can't tell you at what point to give up culture over prestige. That is too dependent on you and your personality and your stats. As I mentioned above, the better your school and grades, the more leeway you have firm-wise before the downgrade in prestige starts to bite you. HYSCCN with top grades can go to a V20 over a V10 and probably not suffer too much as far as exit options go. Tier 1 had better go to the best firm he gets - regardless of how high his grades are - if he cares a lot about access to the best exit options.

Questions to ask yourself include: If you are happier at a lower ranked firm, can you deal with being shut out of certain exit options or needing more work experience to land certain exit options? On the other hand, can you deal with hating your day to day life as long as doors are flung open at the name on your resume? Cravath is a miserable place with great exit options while Fried Frank is a mediocre (comparatively) place with perhaps a better quality of life. Personally, I'd choose Cravath because no matter what happens, you're at least guaranteed a well respected brand. There are no guarantees at a place like Fried Frank because you could end up working for the firm's one asshole partner at which point you're screwed prestige-wise and screwed lifestyle-wise. But that's just me.


Going back to exit options - If you do choose the lower ranked from, but still a V50 firm, what exit options are there. I know this question is general and the answer varies depending on the market and strength of practice group, so lets use the above firms as an example. If one did choose Fried Frank M&A because of the "fit," are exit options bleak? Say one chooses a stronger group in a lower ranked firm. From my experience recruiting, there are firms ranked around Fried Frank that are still considered "top firms" in the legal community. Am I off?

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:56 pm

anon168 wrote:
Watermelon Man wrote:because you guys + the blog article from the former S&C guy make it seem so easy to get fired in big law. it's just a shitty feeling with 200 g's of debt.


Get a grip, dude.

It's called life. I would get used to it. Sooner rather than later.

If you decide to work in BigLaw (and it's your choice, remember that), just have the mentality that if a partner says, "Give me a blowjob" the only thing you should ask is, "Do you want me to swallow in one gulp, or two gulps."

Y'know, I think Sun Tzu's "Art of War" should be required reading for all 3Ls.


i think this is awful advice. i work with the attitude of laying low, not being a gunner, but the assignments i do get to do a good job on them. i make myself available, don't turn down work, and make sure to turn in quality work. but i don't take initiative, don't really go the extra mile, just a 'do what im told but do it well' type of worker. i think this coupled with a good attitude of just being eager to learn is fine. worrying about how many gulps to swallow in will kill you as an associate. why the hell should you work so hard. you're just screwing yourself over. im not trying to get any friggin gold stars here. just survive here for a few years and gtfo. no point in working any harder than you have to.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby anon168 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
anon168 wrote:
Watermelon Man wrote:because you guys + the blog article from the former S&C guy make it seem so easy to get fired in big law. it's just a shitty feeling with 200 g's of debt.


Get a grip, dude.

It's called life. I would get used to it. Sooner rather than later.

If you decide to work in BigLaw (and it's your choice, remember that), just have the mentality that if a partner says, "Give me a blowjob" the only thing you should ask is, "Do you want me to swallow in one gulp, or two gulps."

Y'know, I think Sun Tzu's "Art of War" should be required reading for all 3Ls.


i think this is awful advice. i work with the attitude of laying low, not being a gunner, but the assignments i do get to do a good job on them. i make myself available, don't turn down work, and make sure to turn in quality work. but i don't take initiative, don't really go the extra mile, just a 'do what im told but do it well' type of worker. i think this coupled with a good attitude of just being eager to learn is fine.worrying about how many gulps to swallow in will kill you as an associate. why the hell should you work so hard. you're just screwing yourself over. im not trying to get any friggin gold stars here. just survive here for a few years and gtfo. no point in working any harder than you have to.


That is what I am describing.

If you were trying to "friggin gold stars," you'd be giving blowjobs without being asked.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:19 am

V10 anon.
anon168 wrote:
Watermelon Man wrote:because you guys + the blog article from the former S&C guy make it seem so easy to get fired in big law. it's just a shitty feeling with 200 g's of debt.


Get a grip, dude.

It's called life. I would get used to it. Sooner rather than later.

If you decide to work in BigLaw (and it's your choice, remember that), just have the mentality that if a partner says, "Give me a blowjob" the only thing you should ask is, "Do you want me to swallow in one gulp, or two gulps."

Y'know, I think Sun Tzu's "Art of War" should be required reading for all 3Ls.

I completely disagree with your disgusting analogy. The whole point of figuring out who the truly influential are, working with a wide range of people, volunteering for the right matter before you're stuck on the wrong matter etc is to increase how much control you have over your big law career. If you go into big law putting your own interests first at all times and looking for ways to turn every situation to your advantage, instead of being a misguided "team player" or sycophant, you might not make partner (dependent on too many factors not fully under an associate's control), but you won't be a victim either. If an associate finds himself being someone's bitch to the degree you describe, it's time to jump ship because he will certainly be pushed out soon.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 01, 2012 1:30 am

V10 anon.
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: If you're focused on M&A then you want to break into the V10 if at all possible because certain V10 firms completely dominate that practice area.


I'm a new poster to this thread, but I wanted to expand on this comment. How much difference is there, in quality of work, prestige, or exit options, between each Chambers band?

For example, Cravath (Band 1), Weil (Band 2), Kirkland (Band 3), Fried Frank (Band 4). Hypothetically, if one were to have a preference for those firms in reverse order, at what point should you give up the better culture and go for the prestige? E.g. do you think it's okay to pick Weil over Cravath, but not Fried Frank over Weil?

I have an interest in M&A, but without practicing...heck, maybe I'll like securities best in reality.

Many many thanks!
Cravath >> Weil ~ Kirkland >>> Fried Frank. The only name on your list that stands out M&A-wise is Cravath and exit options from Cravath are far superior to those at the other three. Kirkland is second but not a close second.

I can't tell you at what point to give up culture over prestige. That is too dependent on you and your personality and your stats. As I mentioned above, the better your school and grades, the more leeway you have firm-wise before the downgrade in prestige starts to bite you. HYSCCN with top grades can go to a V20 over a V10 and probably not suffer too much as far as exit options go. Tier 1 had better go to the best firm he gets - regardless of how high his grades are - if he cares a lot about access to the best exit options.

Questions to ask yourself include: If you are happier at a lower ranked firm, can you deal with being shut out of certain exit options or needing more work experience to land certain exit options? On the other hand, can you deal with hating your day to day life as long as doors are flung open at the name on your resume? Cravath is a miserable place with great exit options while Fried Frank is a mediocre (comparatively) place with perhaps a better quality of life. Personally, I'd choose Cravath because no matter what happens, you're at least guaranteed a well respected brand. There are no guarantees at a place like Fried Frank because you could end up working for the firm's one asshole partner at which point you're screwed prestige-wise and screwed lifestyle-wise. But that's just me.


Going back to exit options - If you do choose the lower ranked from, but still a V50 firm, what exit options are there. I know this question is general and the answer varies depending on the market and strength of practice group, so lets use the above firms as an example. If one did choose Fried Frank M&A because of the "fit," are exit options bleak? Say one chooses a stronger group in a lower ranked firm. From my experience recruiting, there are firms ranked around Fried Frank that are still considered "top firms" in the legal community. Am I off?
I'm not a fortune-teller, so I can't predict your exit options with the certainty you seem to be seeking and I don't have much more for you on this topic beyond what I've already told you. You have to figure out for yourself where to go.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:35 am

V10 anon.
feralinfant wrote:
Watermelon Man wrote:because you guys + the blog article from the former S&C guy make it seem so easy to get fired in big law. it's just a shitty feeling with 200 g's of debt.


to be fair this seems like a pretty good reason to be fearful. I'm looking at sticker and it's frightening to think that even if you land big law its still far from sure that you'll manage to use it to put a dent in the debt.

To the OP- Hours and lifestyle issues aside what do you think of the work you're doing this far into your career? Interesting/challenging?
Big law is not interesting in the sense of "I can't wait to see what today holds." I'm not saving the world or even making it a better place. Reading about what I do in the papers actually sucks because only firms and partners get named, but associates do much of the grunt work. Being challenged by learning something new each day or week is nonsense and impossible because most of what we do is the same stuff over and over. I learn something truly new probably once a month or every other month.

You have to have a somewhat emotionally detached personality that enjoys things more than people in order to truly enjoy big law work. I identify with the quality of my work product, not with my firm, not with the people I work with (who are mostly unpleasant or unremarkable and get replaced regularly), and definitely not with the outcome of a deal/matter. I'm the sort of person who derives satisfaction from paying bills, saving money, arranging my work space. I like routine and I like working step by step to completion. Professionally, I am happiest around 2am when all the assholes who keep my blackberry buzzing have gone to bed and I can complete tasks without distraction. But that means I'm up at 2am and working alone in an almost eerily quiet office. Many people wouldn't like that at all.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:02 am

How the f#$% do I choose litigation or transactional If I'm not partial to either? My SA firm wants a preference indicated before coming in.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:39 am

V10 anon.
Anonymous User wrote:How the f#$% do I choose litigation or transactional If I'm not partial to either? My SA firm wants a preference indicated before coming in.
In my experience, expressing a preference for one side over the other makes little difference in your summer experience. Usually, it means merely that the "mentor(s)," if any, that the firm assigns you for the summer will likely be from that group as will your first assignment. Beyond that, however, you can ask for other types of assignments and get to know people from as many groups as you like. Just to be sure, ask the firm's recruiting department what the importance of expressing a preference is.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:V10 anon.
Anonymous User wrote:How the f#$% do I choose litigation or transactional If I'm not partial to either? My SA firm wants a preference indicated before coming in.
In my experience, expressing a preference for one side over the other makes little difference in your summer experience. Usually, it means merely that the "mentor(s)," if any, that the firm assigns you for the summer will likely be from that group as will your first assignment. Beyond that, however, you can ask for other types of assignments and get to know people from as many groups as you like. Just to be sure, ask the firm's recruiting department what the importance of expressing a preference is.


(poster from above) I'm sure you're right, although it may be slightly different in this case due to the fact that the firm primarily houses the two "divisions" in separate buildings.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:22 am

I'm interested in hearing anything you might know about the tax people/practice at your firm. How do their experiences seem to measure up relative to litigation/corporate--do their hours have wild fluctuation at various times like M&A is known for, or more of a constant flow? Are they as aspie as stereotypes suggest? Is there less up-or-out (something I wonder about given the smaller # of people in tax)? Does relative happiness there seem any better/worse? TYIA!

ETA: Curious whether law review publication is of any significance 3-7 years out when lateraling is a consideration if you already have a publication in secondary journal + LR board.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby AP-375 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'll give you an example. Shrewd associates figure out early who the powerful people are and work hard for only those people. So, while other associates are killing themselves for bad people who only give bad work, smart associates never work hard for:

1) People with no credibility. Some partners/senior associates have no credibility at all and are just there because their number hasn't come up yet (partners do get pushed out). They can't help you up the ladder because their position on the ladder is shaky at best. They can only hurt your brand because if you become known as xyz idiot's go-to associate, then you are an idiot by association.

2) People who mentally ill or capricious. All your hard work won't save you on the day their bagel is too dry or their coffee too milky and they look at you and decide it's your fault. All of their go-to associates get pushed out sooner or later for incredibly trivial reasons no matter how hardworking and smart they are. Identifying who the nuts are is probably your #1 task as an associate.

3) Idiot work. You need to be learning something that is not only new, but also can be transferred to a new deal/matter/firm. If the work you are doing does not fall into both categories, then you need to get off the case even if you are getting great reviews and being told you're the next big thing. You can be pushed out of big law at any time on short notice and you need to have more on your resume than "can review the heck out of some mindless documents." The more substantive work you have on your resume, the more easily you can lateral, the less afraid you are, the more bold you are in steering your career.

How do you figure out which people/work fall into these categories? I gave pointers earlier in this thread. If you avoid killing yourself for stupid/crazy people on stupid deals, then other associates who bill more than you, know more than you, care more than you do, but work for the wrong people will get pushed out long before you do. This is probably more than half the battle in big law.


Hey, I just want to a) Tag, and b) Say thanks because I think you, V10 anon, are one of the best posters on here and this info is really helpful.
Question: When you're focusing on your brand, or your own personal opportunity, or your own career development, instead of being a sycophantic "team-player" (as you've suggested), how do you avoid being transparently Machiavellian? Does it just come down to investing properly in relationships with the right people?
Many thanks.

TooOld4This
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby TooOld4This » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:30 pm

AP-375 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'll give you an example. Shrewd associates figure out early who the powerful people are and work hard for only those people. So, while other associates are killing themselves for bad people who only give bad work, smart associates never work hard for:

1) People with no credibility. Some partners/senior associates have no credibility at all and are just there because their number hasn't come up yet (partners do get pushed out). They can't help you up the ladder because their position on the ladder is shaky at best. They can only hurt your brand because if you become known as xyz idiot's go-to associate, then you are an idiot by association.

2) People who mentally ill or capricious. All your hard work won't save you on the day their bagel is too dry or their coffee too milky and they look at you and decide it's your fault. All of their go-to associates get pushed out sooner or later for incredibly trivial reasons no matter how hardworking and smart they are. Identifying who the nuts are is probably your #1 task as an associate.

3) Idiot work. You need to be learning something that is not only new, but also can be transferred to a new deal/matter/firm. If the work you are doing does not fall into both categories, then you need to get off the case even if you are getting great reviews and being told you're the next big thing. You can be pushed out of big law at any time on short notice and you need to have more on your resume than "can review the heck out of some mindless documents." The more substantive work you have on your resume, the more easily you can lateral, the less afraid you are, the more bold you are in steering your career.

How do you figure out which people/work fall into these categories? I gave pointers earlier in this thread. If you avoid killing yourself for stupid/crazy people on stupid deals, then other associates who bill more than you, know more than you, care more than you do, but work for the wrong people will get pushed out long before you do. This is probably more than half the battle in big law.


Hey, I just want to a) Tag, and b) Say thanks because I think you, V10 anon, are one of the best posters on here and this info is really helpful.
Question: When you're focusing on your brand, or your own personal opportunity, or your own career development, instead of being a sycophantic "team-player" (as you've suggested), how do you avoid being transparently Machiavellian? Does it just come down to investing properly in relationships with the right people?
Many thanks.


Not V10 anon, but I'll answer. You are on the right track. You need to learn to listen early. Be genuinely personable. Meet as many people as you can early on and find out about them. Don't try to sell yourself, just absorb the information they are giving you. Ask associates you sit near how they are doing and listen to the answers. You'll figure out pretty quickly what practice groups are the ones to avoid.

If you find an area that is interesting to you, start talking to people that do the work. Talk to partners you want to work for. Express an interest in what they do. Let them know you are available for the kind of work people try to duck (generally non-billable projects that still need to get done). When you are given the opportunity to do that kind of work, take it and do it well. Develop a reputation for quality. Firms rarely fire people with low hours out of the blue if their work is good. Instead they will come to you and tell you to step up your quantity. A lot of associates live in fear of that talk. To avoid it they end up killing themselves and turning in subpar work. Don't be one of them. That doesn't mean that you slack, but it does mean that you focus on how well you do your projects, not how many you do.

After you have figured out what you want to do and start getting a steady stream of that kind of work, learn how to say no to work you don't want. There are ways of saying no at every firm. You need to learn how to do it effectively. Generally, you can figure it out by asking more senior associates. Pick ones that seem to get consistently quality assignments. While some people are just lucky, generally people who get good work have figured out how to operate within the system. Learn from them.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:32 am

V10 anon.
AP-375 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'll give you an example. Shrewd associates figure out early who the powerful people are and work hard for only those people. So, while other associates are killing themselves for bad people who only give bad work, smart associates never work hard for:

1) People with no credibility. Some partners/senior associates have no credibility at all and are just there because their number hasn't come up yet (partners do get pushed out). They can't help you up the ladder because their position on the ladder is shaky at best. They can only hurt your brand because if you become known as xyz idiot's go-to associate, then you are an idiot by association.

2) People who mentally ill or capricious. All your hard work won't save you on the day their bagel is too dry or their coffee too milky and they look at you and decide it's your fault. All of their go-to associates get pushed out sooner or later for incredibly trivial reasons no matter how hardworking and smart they are. Identifying who the nuts are is probably your #1 task as an associate.

3) Idiot work. You need to be learning something that is not only new, but also can be transferred to a new deal/matter/firm. If the work you are doing does not fall into both categories, then you need to get off the case even if you are getting great reviews and being told you're the next big thing. You can be pushed out of big law at any time on short notice and you need to have more on your resume than "can review the heck out of some mindless documents." The more substantive work you have on your resume, the more easily you can lateral, the less afraid you are, the more bold you are in steering your career.

How do you figure out which people/work fall into these categories? I gave pointers earlier in this thread. If you avoid killing yourself for stupid/crazy people on stupid deals, then other associates who bill more than you, know more than you, care more than you do, but work for the wrong people will get pushed out long before you do. This is probably more than half the battle in big law.


Hey, I just want to a) Tag, and b) Say thanks because I think you, V10 anon, are one of the best posters on here and this info is really helpful.
Question: When you're focusing on your brand, or your own personal opportunity, or your own career development, instead of being a sycophantic "team-player" (as you've suggested), how do you avoid being transparently Machiavellian? Does it just come down to investing properly in relationships with the right people?
Many thanks.
Thanks. I don't quite understand your question, perhaps because I'm not sure how the approach I've outlined can be perceived to be Machiavellian. Can you explain?

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:18 am

V10 anon.
TooOld4This wrote:
AP-375 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'll give you an example. Shrewd associates figure out early who the powerful people are and work hard for only those people. So, while other associates are killing themselves for bad people who only give bad work, smart associates never work hard for:

1) People with no credibility. Some partners/senior associates have no credibility at all and are just there because their number hasn't come up yet (partners do get pushed out). They can't help you up the ladder because their position on the ladder is shaky at best. They can only hurt your brand because if you become known as xyz idiot's go-to associate, then you are an idiot by association.

2) People who mentally ill or capricious. All your hard work won't save you on the day their bagel is too dry or their coffee too milky and they look at you and decide it's your fault. All of their go-to associates get pushed out sooner or later for incredibly trivial reasons no matter how hardworking and smart they are. Identifying who the nuts are is probably your #1 task as an associate.

3) Idiot work. You need to be learning something that is not only new, but also can be transferred to a new deal/matter/firm. If the work you are doing does not fall into both categories, then you need to get off the case even if you are getting great reviews and being told you're the next big thing. You can be pushed out of big law at any time on short notice and you need to have more on your resume than "can review the heck out of some mindless documents." The more substantive work you have on your resume, the more easily you can lateral, the less afraid you are, the more bold you are in steering your career.

How do you figure out which people/work fall into these categories? I gave pointers earlier in this thread. If you avoid killing yourself for stupid/crazy people on stupid deals, then other associates who bill more than you, know more than you, care more than you do, but work for the wrong people will get pushed out long before you do. This is probably more than half the battle in big law.


Hey, I just want to a) Tag, and b) Say thanks because I think you, V10 anon, are one of the best posters on here and this info is really helpful.
Question: When you're focusing on your brand, or your own personal opportunity, or your own career development, instead of being a sycophantic "team-player" (as you've suggested), how do you avoid being transparently Machiavellian? Does it just come down to investing properly in relationships with the right people?
Many thanks.


Not V10 anon, but I'll answer. You are on the right track. You need to learn to listen early. Be genuinely personable. Meet as many people as you can early on and find out about them. Don't try to sell yourself, just absorb the information they are giving you. Ask associates you sit near how they are doing and listen to the answers. You'll figure out pretty quickly what practice groups are the ones to avoid.

If you find an area that is interesting to you, start talking to people that do the work. Talk to partners you want to work for. Express an interest in what they do. Let them know you are available for the kind of work people try to duck (generally non-billable projects that still need to get done). When you are given the opportunity to do that kind of work, take it and do it well. Develop a reputation for quality. Firms rarely fire people with low hours out of the blue if their work is good. Instead they will come to you and tell you to step up your quantity. A lot of associates live in fear of that talk. To avoid it they end up killing themselves and turning in subpar work. Don't be one of them. That doesn't mean that you slack, but it does mean that you focus on how well you do your projects, not how many you do.

After you have figured out what you want to do and start getting a steady stream of that kind of work, learn how to say no to work you don't want. There are ways of saying no at every firm. You need to learn how to do it effectively. Generally, you can figure it out by asking more senior associates. Pick ones that seem to get consistently quality assignments. While some people are just lucky, generally people who get good work have figured out how to operate within the system. Learn from them.
I mostly agree with you, but I totally disagree with the parts in bold. First, I completely disagree that associates should be soliciting non-billable projects and other such forms of shit work. In theory, partners would appreciate that you are doing shit work to get close to them. In reality, you are not making the partner as much money as the associate who is doing quality, billable work and you are not rising in anyone's esteem because the work you are doing is not respected. You distinguish yourself by doing a great job on difficult, money-making, skills-building billable work, not by picking up work other associates are smart enough to avoid.

Second, you learn how to say no by saying no. Saying no in big law isn't easy so you need to start practicing early in order to hone this skill. In addition, if you earn a reputation for taking on a steady stream of whatever comes your way and then suddenly start saying no, you will piss people off. Partners and senior associates know when they are dumping shit work on you or putting you in an impossible situation. If you don't push back, they will quickly come to not only expect but also feel entitled to your acquiescence. It will then be difficult to assert yourself, even in a reasonable way, without making enemies. You have to resist shit work and say no (tactfully) when you have enough work from the very beginning in order to avoid being constrained by a reputation you don't want. You won't always be successful in turning down work, but the attempt to resist sends a message about what kind of associate you are and what role you see yourself playing in the group.

All of this is especially true if you are any sort of "minority," whether you are a woman and/or of color and/or homosexual and/or foreign and/or something else that the white males in big law are not accustomed to respecting. I hope saying this isn't too blunt for this forum.

TooOld4This
Posts: 638
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:09 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby TooOld4This » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I mostly agree with you, but I totally disagree with the parts in bold. First, I completely disagree that associates should be soliciting non-billable projects and other such forms of shit work. In theory, partners would appreciate that you are doing shit work to get close to them. In reality, you are not making the partner as much money as the associate who is doing quality, billable work and you are not rising in anyone's esteem because the work you are doing is not respected. You distinguish yourself by doing a great job on difficult, money-making, skills-building billable work, not by picking up work other associates are smart enough to avoid.

Second, you learn how to say no by saying no. Saying no in big law isn't easy so you need to start practicing early in order to hone this skill. In addition, if you earn a reputation for taking on a steady stream of whatever comes your way and then suddenly start saying no, you will piss people off. Partners and senior associates know when they are dumping shit work on you or putting you in an impossible situation. If you don't push back, they will quickly come to not only expect but also feel entitled to your acquiescence. It will then be difficult to assert yourself, even in a reasonable way, without making enemies. You have to resist shit work and say no (tactfully) when you have enough work from the very beginning in order to avoid being constrained by a reputation you don't want. You won't always be successful in turning down work, but the attempt to resist sends a message about what kind of associate you are and what role you see yourself playing in the group.

All of this is especially true if you are any sort of "minority," whether you are a woman and/or of color and/or homosexual and/or foreign and/or something else that the white males in big law are not accustomed to respecting. I hope saying this isn't too blunt for this forum.


I don't believe that you were reading my response in the context of the question.

If you are looking for work with the "right" partner (as opposed to having landed in the right group by good fortune) you generally need to stretch to get the work you want. Very few partners will take on new associates without first assessing their work. Certainly don't offer to take non-billable over billable. But the good partners generally have more than enough people to do the billable work. If you are looking to get your foot in the door, non-billable work (whether client dev or the partner's pet pro-bono work, if they have any) can be a great way to get a trial run. It is low risk for the partner and doesn't take any billable hours out of the mouths of the associates they have already agreed to keep fed.

Likewise, moving from work you don't want to work you do want is a tricky move. Yes, you need to learn to say no early, but you need to do it in such a way that you aren't pissing off the people you do get work from before you have lined up the work you actually want. You do not want to be the associate who is consistently "unavailable" and only billing at 1/2 of pace. The more senior associates who have a steady stream of good work and don't seem to be killing themselves are the ones you want to talk to early on. They have figured out the art of saying no in a way that enhances their reputation, rather than trashes it.

Once you have found your way into the group you want, yes, you should focus on billable work and setting boundaries. But the OP was asking how to get into that position, which, if you didn't luck into it, can take a more careful touch.

anon168
Posts: 920
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby anon168 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:35 pm

TooOld4This wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I mostly agree with you, but I totally disagree with the parts in bold. First, I completely disagree that associates should be soliciting non-billable projects and other such forms of shit work. In theory, partners would appreciate that you are doing shit work to get close to them. In reality, you are not making the partner as much money as the associate who is doing quality, billable work and you are not rising in anyone's esteem because the work you are doing is not respected. You distinguish yourself by doing a great job on difficult, money-making, skills-building billable work, not by picking up work other associates are smart enough to avoid.

Second, you learn how to say no by saying no. Saying no in big law isn't easy so you need to start practicing early in order to hone this skill. In addition, if you earn a reputation for taking on a steady stream of whatever comes your way and then suddenly start saying no, you will piss people off. Partners and senior associates know when they are dumping shit work on you or putting you in an impossible situation. If you don't push back, they will quickly come to not only expect but also feel entitled to your acquiescence. It will then be difficult to assert yourself, even in a reasonable way, without making enemies. You have to resist shit work and say no (tactfully) when you have enough work from the very beginning in order to avoid being constrained by a reputation you don't want. You won't always be successful in turning down work, but the attempt to resist sends a message about what kind of associate you are and what role you see yourself playing in the group.

All of this is especially true if you are any sort of "minority," whether you are a woman and/or of color and/or homosexual and/or foreign and/or something else that the white males in big law are not accustomed to respecting. I hope saying this isn't too blunt for this forum.


I don't believe that you were reading my response in the context of the question.

If you are looking for work with the "right" partner (as opposed to having landed in the right group by good fortune) you generally need to stretch to get the work you want. Very few partners will take on new associates without first assessing their work. Certainly don't offer to take non-billable over billable. But the good partners generally have more than enough people to do the billable work. If you are looking to get your foot in the door, non-billable work (whether client dev or the partner's pet pro-bono work, if they have any) can be a great way to get a trial run. It is low risk for the partner and doesn't take any billable hours out of the mouths of the associates they have already agreed to keep fed.

Likewise, moving from work you don't want to work you do want is a tricky move. Yes, you need to learn to say no early, but you need to do it in such a way that you aren't pissing off the people you do get work from before you have lined up the work you actually want. You do not want to be the associate who is consistently "unavailable" and only billing at 1/2 of pace. The more senior associates who have a steady stream of good work and don't seem to be killing themselves are the ones you want to talk to early on. They have figured out the art of saying no in a way that enhances their reputation, rather than trashes it.

Once you have found your way into the group you want, yes, you should focus on billable work and setting boundaries. But the OP was asking how to get into that position, which, if you didn't luck into it, can take a more careful touch.


At the end of the day whatever advice you get on these boards you have to keep it in context and perspective.

It's one person's experience, at one firm, in one particular office location, in one practice group (or area) with a handful of partners.

Extrapolating from that one single data point to all Vault firms is, well, a bit foolish.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273385
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:31 am

Another V10 associate here

Second, you learn how to say no by saying no. Saying no in big law isn't easy so you need to start practicing early in order to hone this skill. In addition, if you earn a reputation for taking on a steady stream of whatever comes your way and then suddenly start saying no, you will piss people off. Partners and senior associates know when they are dumping shit work on you or putting you in an impossible situation. If you don't push back, they will quickly come to not only expect but also feel entitled to your acquiescence. It will then be difficult to assert yourself, even in a reasonable way, without making enemies. You have to resist shit work and say no (tactfully) when you have enough work from the very beginning in order to avoid being constrained by a reputation you don't want. You won't always be successful in turning down work, but the attempt to resist sends a message about what kind of associate you are and what role you see yourself playing in the group.


1,000,000x this. Even at V10s, you can say no to work. You have nothing to gain (and probably more to lose) billing 3,000 hours when 2,500 will suffice.

And to convey what I've been told by my superiors: people don't remember "no's." but they do remember a yes and you screwing up.

The emphasis on hours should be only to a point. Yes, if you want to last long at your firm, try for above 2,200. But beyond that, focus on learning and doing a GOOD JOB.

AP-375
Posts: 413
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:18 pm

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby AP-375 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:V10 anon.
AP-375 wrote:
Hey, I just want to a) Tag, and b) Say thanks because I think you, V10 anon, are one of the best posters on here and this info is really helpful.
Question: When you're focusing on your brand, or your own personal opportunity, or your own career development, instead of being a sycophantic "team-player" (as you've suggested), how do you avoid being transparently Machiavellian? Does it just come down to investing properly in relationships with the right people?
Many thanks.
Thanks. I don't quite understand your question, perhaps because I'm not sure how the approach I've outlined can be perceived to be Machiavellian. Can you explain?

Perhaps Machiavellian was too strong of a word. I just worry about being whether it is bad to perceived as a "career gunner" or as anything other than someone who does what they are told and is grateful to be there.
Thanks for the discussion, everyone.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273385
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:53 am

How early is too early to leave biglaw? Is there a point before which you are basically just wasting the time you put in and maybe killing your career by leaving too early (I assume for lesser options than you could find later on)? Or is there still value in going to a large firm for a little bit to get the name on your resume?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273385
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:32 am

As someone who's trying to develop a reputation before the full-time position (summer associate 2013), I'm curious what constitutes good vs. bad work. Some things that come to mind are the name/prestige of the client and the complexity of the work. But it feels like this is not the sort of thing I can ask a senior associate about early on, so I'd appreciate comments.

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273385
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:How early is too early to leave biglaw? Is there a point before which you are basically just wasting the time you put in and maybe killing your career by leaving too early (I assume for lesser options than you could find later on)? Or is there still value in going to a large firm for a little bit to get the name on your resume?


not v10 anon. but i was speaking to a GC of a medium sized company who said he wanted three years minimum, preferably 4 or 5. he used to be a midlaw partner in nyc. he said anything less and the lawyers are useless b/c they have no substantive experience. however, i know plenty of people who leave after 2 years but it's pretty well accepted they have worse exit options than a 4-5th year.




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