Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273408
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:34 pm

I'm a 3L with a full time offer from my summer SA (mid-law, insurance defense). Problem is, I absolutely hated my summer experience. It was very stressful, and they clearly only cared about how many billable hours they could squeeze out of you during your work day (and this is as an SA, not even as an associate). There's a myriad of other reasons why that place sucked which I don't want to get into, but trust me it was terrible. The starting salary is $80k, and although they alluded to a "significant" salary bump for second-years, they would not give any concrete figures. I'm assuming I would need to work here for at least 2 years before any serious lateral options open up.

I'm looking for other jobs, but nothing has panned out so far. I could get a post-grad job working as a full-time law clerk at my 1L SA, which I loved, and which would have the potential to turn into a full-time offer. Of course, nothing's guaranteed--I could remain a clerk for years if their attorney hiring needs don't change.

I'm tempted to take the law clerk position and just hope for an associate position to open up. But I'm very worried that this will be career suicide if I don't end up getting a full-time offer. Am I crazy to even think about taking the clerking position over the full time position?

Pokemon
Posts: 1861
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:58 pm

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby Pokemon » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:40 pm

This is the type of think that it is impossible for other people to give you advice because 1) they have no idea how bad your SA experience was, 2) your chances of turning clerk position to attorney position.
Can you leverage this SA for a better position at your 1L firm?

User avatar
IAFG
Posts: 6665
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:26 pm

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby IAFG » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:45 pm

Well, I tend to think about these decisions in terms of, "will you wish you had..."

In the case of going back to the ID firm, which you clearly hated, I think you'll more wish you had given your 1L firm a shot and hustled for an offer than you'll wish you had just taken the ID job. But, only you can know.

LOLyer
Posts: 134
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:49 pm

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby LOLyer » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 3L with a full time offer from my summer SA (mid-law, insurance defense). Problem is, I absolutely hated my summer experience. It was very stressful, and they clearly only cared about how many billable hours they could squeeze out of you during your work day (and this is as an SA, not even as an associate). There's a myriad of other reasons why that place sucked which I don't want to get into, but trust me it was terrible. The starting salary is $80k, and although they alluded to a "significant" salary bump for second-years, they would not give any concrete figures. I'm assuming I would need to work here for at least 2 years before any serious lateral options open up.

I'm looking for other jobs, but nothing has panned out so far. I could get a post-grad job working as a full-time law clerk at my 1L SA, which I loved, and which would have the potential to turn into a full-time offer. Of course, nothing's guaranteed--I could remain a clerk for years if their attorney hiring needs don't change.

I'm tempted to take the law clerk position and just hope for an associate position to open up. But I'm very worried that this will be career suicide if I don't end up getting a full-time offer. Am I crazy to even think about taking the clerking position over the full time position?


No you're not crazy, but the difference in the two firms would have to be pretty substantial for me to consider it if I were in your position. I don't know everything about your experience, but it seems to me that all big/medium firms work you pretty hard, and getting an offer after a clerkship isn't a sure bet.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273408
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:49 pm

Pokemon wrote:This is the type of think that it is impossible for other people to give you advice because 1) they have no idea how bad your SA experience was, 2) your chances of turning clerk position to attorney position.
Can you leverage this SA for a better position at your 1L firm?


I doubt it. They really liked me, and would definitely consider me for an associate position if one opened up, but otherwise I'm not a hot enough commodity for them to break with their business plan/business needs just to get me to work there.

I guess you're right; I can't really quantify how bad the experience was. Bad enough that I loathe the thought of working there with no end in sight. I guess my question is: assuming I apply for another job (private practice) in 2 years time, how bad is it to have worked as a law clerk only instead of an attorney? Will my resume just get thrown into the trash immediately?

User avatar
IAFG
Posts: 6665
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:26 pm

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby IAFG » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:25 pm

Can you negotiate with them on your title, mentioning your other offer maybe?

005618502
Posts: 2577
Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:56 pm

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby 005618502 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:45 pm

What is the pay of the law clerk position from your 1L firm. I think that is a pretty important factor.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273408
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:17 am

IAFG wrote:Can you negotiate with them on your title, mentioning your other offer maybe?


Possibly.. I'll definitely look into that.

AssumptionRequired wrote:What is the pay of the law clerk position from your 1L firm. I think that is a pretty important factor.


Base is a little bit less ($70-75k), but it's a plaintiffs firm so settlement bonuses can potentially bump that up quite significantly on any given year.

User avatar
legalese_retard
Posts: 334
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:14 pm

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby legalese_retard » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:
IAFG wrote:Can you negotiate with them on your title, mentioning your other offer maybe?


Possibly.. I'll definitely look into that.

AssumptionRequired wrote:What is the pay of the law clerk position from your 1L firm. I think that is a pretty important factor.


Base is a little bit less ($70-75k), but it's a plaintiffs firm so settlement bonuses can potentially bump that up quite significantly on any given year.


(1) Is that ($70-75k) base for an associate or YOU as a law clerk?

(2) Plaintiff v. Insurance Defense are on the opposite side of the spectrum. I think you have more options leaving an ID firm. You can always move to a plaintiff's firm after working at an ID firm, but the reverse is not always true.

(3) Why can't they just call you an attorney or even staff attorney?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273408
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:21 pm

Why would they be willing to keep you on as a "law clerk" until there is an attorney spot but wouldn't be willing to offer you an attorney opening after you've been working at the other firm for a year or two?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273408
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:49 pm

OP here.

legalese_retard wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
IAFG wrote:Can you negotiate with them on your title, mentioning your other offer maybe?


Possibly.. I'll definitely look into that.

AssumptionRequired wrote:What is the pay of the law clerk position from your 1L firm. I think that is a pretty important factor.


Base is a little bit less ($70-75k), but it's a plaintiffs firm so settlement bonuses can potentially bump that up quite significantly on any given year.


(1) Is that ($70-75k) base for an associate or YOU as a law clerk?

(2) Plaintiff v. Insurance Defense are on the opposite side of the spectrum. I think you have more options leaving an ID firm. You can always move to a plaintiff's firm after working at an ID firm, but the reverse is not always true.

(3) Why can't they just call you an attorney or even staff attorney?


Whoops, sorry. $70-75k as an attorney. $55k for a law clerk (paid hourly, so plus a bit of overtime too). Also, as I indicated above, my relationship with the firm is good, but not good enough that they'll bend over backwards to accommodate my career needs. So I don't know what their response will be if I ask them to be an attorney in title, but just do clerk work.

Anonymous User wrote:Why would they be willing to keep you on as a "law clerk" until there is an attorney spot but wouldn't be willing to offer you an attorney opening after you've been working at the other firm for a year or two?


The issue is that I don't want to work at the other firm for a year or two..

Anonymous User
Posts: 273408
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Why would they be willing to keep you on as a "law clerk" until there is an attorney spot but wouldn't be willing to offer you an attorney opening after you've been working at the other firm for a year or two?


The issue is that I don't want to work at the other firm for a year or two..


Well fair enough but this is the safest thing for you to do. At least then if you want to apply to other jobs within a year or two (if no position at the 1L firm opens up) you'll have attorney experience instead of law clerk experience. Being a "law clerk" instead of a lawyer seems like it would be quite negative on your resume if the 1L firm doesn't work out.

User avatar
IAFG
Posts: 6665
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:26 pm

Re: Turning down an associate position for a law clerk position?

Postby IAFG » Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:33 pm

I don't think you should necessarily take the safest path. Heresy coming from a law student, I realize, but you seem to know what you do and don't want.

I would ask to talk to your 1L firm, have a serious heart-to-heart about your concerns (about your title and chances of coming on full-time, about how busy they are and how likely they think it is they'll need a full time atty, maybe even ask directly where previous clerks who weren't hired ended up and what the market was like when those clerks were looking). I say that because I think you need some mentorship, and not the kind that TLS can give you. Based on what they say directly and imply, I think you'll have a better idea of how comfortable you are rolling the dice.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.