age and big law employment

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dale41
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age and big law employment

Postby dale41 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:13 pm

im 41 when i come out of law school. will this be a factor in:
(1) employment out of law school
(2) law firm partnership prospects

im guessing yes. but i would love to hear anecdotes or thoughts on the general issue of age and big law.

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Lincoln
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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Lincoln » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:35 pm

This is based on no real evidence whatsoever, but my feeling is that employment prospects increase somewhat with the number of years you took off between college and law school (assuming you did something worthwhile, at least) but then start declining after a handful of years. Four years substantive work experience matters more than two years, for example, but with 12 years work experience you should probably have a pretty good story for why you want to start at the bottom of the ladder. I know several people who did very well graduating in their early 30s. I can't think of anyone who did correspondingly in their early 40s, but you guys are rare, so that may mean nothing.

Partnership prospects are so anachronistic and such a long shot, I'd counsel against even thinking about it. But either way, I know nothing about it.

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Detrox
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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Detrox » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:07 pm

This question has been asked a few times and answers have been mixed. The most repeated recognitions is that your workplace and "real world" experience will be recognized and appreciated. What will be of concern is whether you will be able to handle being a junior associate and tolerate taking guidance/orders etc. from 20 something year old midlevel associates without issue.

I won't even venture to comment on how age may affect partnership prospects as such a determination depends so much on the work you do, the firm you're in and your competition.

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:25 pm

I'm going to turn 41 this spring, soon before I graduate. I landed a biglaw job in a major market. About 3.6 gpa at a T14. I had two offers and was probably going to get a couple more, but I had already gotten an offer from my first choice. Overall older (I mean 35+) students seemed to do well in my class at OCI.

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ScottRiqui
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Re: age and big law employment

Postby ScottRiqui » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm going to turn 41 this spring, soon before I graduate. I landed a biglaw job in a major market. About 3.6 gpa at a T14. I had two offers and was probably going to get a couple more, but I had already gotten an offer from my first choice. Overall older (I mean 35+) students seemed to do well in my class at OCI.


Could you expand on what kind of work experience/education you had prior to starting law school (keeping it general, of course)?

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm going to turn 41 this spring, soon before I graduate. I landed a biglaw job in a major market. About 3.6 gpa at a T14. I had two offers and was probably going to get a couple more, but I had already gotten an offer from my first choice. Overall older (I mean 35+) students seemed to do well in my class at OCI.


same observation here on older students doing better in OCI.

Aside from better work experience, I think older students also tend to be more focused and determined in class than young law students. The 30+ people in my class are all in law reviews and will join top firms next fall.

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:23 pm

I graduated about 5 years younger than you will. Some firms will love you, some will hate you. Credentials will matter along with work experience. Be open to government.

Just remember to embrace being an intern & then a junior. It is a chance to start over & learn from mistakes. But you need to be humble. That will show in interviews. You need to make 30something senior associates and junior partners comfortable with the idea of supervising and mentoring you.

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:19 am

Yes, this isn't biglaw, but I throw it out for what it's worth: I was 42 when I graduated in 2011. I just recently accepted an offer from the DOJ Honors Program. Before the offer, they called one of my references and expressed concern that I was overqualified - I wouldn't want to get down in the trenches and do the grunt work, or would have a problem with supervisors who were less "experienced/qualified" than I am. I put that in quotes because it refers to my pre-law school work experience, which really has nothing to do with my qualifications as a lawyer. But I have an advanced degree not many people have, and my previous work involved a lot of independence/autonomy, so they apparently worried I'd have a problem reporting to someone 10 years younger than I am who doesn't have that degree or whatever. :-P

Now, I got the offer, so obviously this is a concern that can be dispelled. I usually try to address it in interviews by talking about how much I enjoyed working with all my law school classmates of all ages (worded better than that) (I had a board position on our LR and the EIC was a K-JD and I always point out how working with him was GREAT). I've also been asked directly about it (honestly, I'd rather people just ask) and always expressed great enthusiasm for learning new things and avowed that I was happy to start over at the bottom, that kind of thing. Having a really good reason for wanting to go to law school/leave your previous career helps.

(I can't speak too directly to biglaw because my law school market doesn't really have a lot of biglaw, OCI was decimated the year I did it, and at that point my grades were a little low for a lot of the top firms. I didn't get a ton of interest, but I'm not sure how much can be chalked up to me being old and how much is the rest of it. Based on the fact that I mostly got bites from places that prided themselves on being "unconventional," and on who at my school did do well in OCI, I did get the impression big firms liked younger, more conventional candidates better. But I'm pretty sure that could be mitigated by excellent grades and certain kinds of pre-LS experience.)

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:04 am

Lincoln wrote:This is based on no real evidence whatsoever, but my feeling is that employment prospects increase somewhat with the number of years you took off between college and law school (assuming you did something worthwhile, at least) but then start declining after a handful of years. Four years substantive work experience matters more than two years, for example, but with 12 years work experience you should probably have a pretty good story for why you want to start at the bottom of the ladder. I know several people who did very well graduating in their early 30s. I can't think of anyone who did correspondingly in their early 40s, but you guys are rare, so that may mean nothing.

Partnership prospects are so anachronistic and such a long shot, I'd counsel against even thinking about it. But either way, I know nothing about it.


Went through the process with 6 years of experience and I'm going to be 29 when I start at my firm (assuming I don't get no offered), and I think that whether work experience helps you really depends on the firm. Corporate firms love people with banking experience, but IP firms seem upset that I went to the banks with my degree. It really depends on the firm, just like being an evening student helps with some firms and hurts with others. I think you might want to do a bit of research when your applying to firms to find ones that fit your background well and aren't known for taking mostly people who go straight through. The one hesitation I guess that might come up with someone in their 40s is that they wouldn't be as willing to put in the long days, however I've found that focus and work ethic improve with age.

If your in an interview where it seems like your getting looked down upon for your experience I would say just move on, there's plenty of firms out there.

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:32 am

A couple of years of any kind of work experience is an asset; more than that tends to be a liability, unless it's prestigious/interesting/relevant. The people over 30 I'm friendly with at my (T10) law school have generally underperformed their grades.

And while some of the older people I know graded on to law review and credit the skills they gained in the workplace, I also know a number of older individuals whose grades put them near the bottom of the class and they tend to blame having been out of school for so long. It's kind of a crap-shoot, basically.

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IAFG
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Re: age and big law employment

Postby IAFG » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:43 am

All of the 40+ law students I know personally landed biglaw, and I have no reason to think they underperformed their grades. This isn't something that would keep me up at night if I were you.

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:28 am

I am familiar with two 40+year-old students and their IP credentials. I am also familiar with the IP job hunt. Each seems to have underperformed. One confided to me that they believe their age significantly cut against them. I buy it. FWIW.

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:43 am

ScottRiqui wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm going to turn 41 this spring, soon before I graduate. I landed a biglaw job in a major market. About 3.6 gpa at a T14. I had two offers and was probably going to get a couple more, but I had already gotten an offer from my first choice. Overall older (I mean 35+) students seemed to do well in my class at OCI.


Could you expand on what kind of work experience/education you had prior to starting law school (keeping it general, of course)?


Sure -I was a schoolteacher, and ran my own small consulting business after that. I think the running my own business part helped in particular - there are tons of former teachers out there and that isn't all that special.

I would echo what someone said about remaining humble. Also, be social without trying too hard to act like you are 23. I was by far the oldest SA at my firm. I didn't go out for the afterhours karaoke but I went to all the events, and hung out with everyone to the extent I could with having a family.

I will say also that I never mentioned my family at interviews. It never hurts to be careful.

Anonymous User
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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:
ScottRiqui wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm going to turn 41 this spring, soon before I graduate. I landed a biglaw job in a major market. About 3.6 gpa at a T14. I had two offers and was probably going to get a couple more, but I had already gotten an offer from my first choice. Overall older (I mean 35+) students seemed to do well in my class at OCI.


Could you expand on what kind of work experience/education you had prior to starting law school (keeping it general, of course)?


Sure -I was a schoolteacher, and ran my own small consulting business after that. I think the running my own business part helped in particular - there are tons of former teachers out there and that isn't all that special.

I would echo what someone said about remaining humble. Also, be social without trying too hard to act like you are 23. I was by far the oldest SA at my firm. I didn't go out for the afterhours karaoke but I went to all the events, and hung out with everyone to the extent I could with having a family.

I will say also that I never mentioned my family at interviews. It never hurts to be careful.


I was 31 during OCI. I explicitly mentioned my family during interviews and I believe it helped me. FWIW, I had five offers after my first seven callbacks. Two of my good friends were in their early 40's going through OCI. One kicked ass and the other slightly under performed. All three of us top 10%/LR at a T1 in a major market.

Anonymous User
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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ScottRiqui wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm going to turn 41 this spring, soon before I graduate. I landed a biglaw job in a major market. About 3.6 gpa at a T14. I had two offers and was probably going to get a couple more, but I had already gotten an offer from my first choice. Overall older (I mean 35+) students seemed to do well in my class at OCI.


Could you expand on what kind of work experience/education you had prior to starting law school (keeping it general, of course)?


Sure -I was a schoolteacher, and ran my own small consulting business after that. I think the running my own business part helped in particular - there are tons of former teachers out there and that isn't all that special.

I would echo what someone said about remaining humble. Also, be social without trying too hard to act like you are 23. I was by far the oldest SA at my firm. I didn't go out for the afterhours karaoke but I went to all the events, and hung out with everyone to the extent I could with having a family.

I will say also that I never mentioned my family at interviews. It never hurts to be careful.


I was 31 during OCI. I explicitly mentioned my family during interviews and I believe it helped me. FWIW, I had five offers after my first seven callbacks. Two of my good friends were in their early 40's going through OCI. One kicked ass and the other slightly under performed. All three of us top 10%/LR at a T1 in a major market.


I guess it could go either way. I got burned once years ago mentioning my kids in an interview for a different position (not in the legal field). All the other 40+ year olds at my school I know of are dads - I'm the only mom, and a single mom - it may be 2012 but to some people I still think it makes a difference. It might be different in different markets and it might depend how old your kids are also. My career advisor told me that they are less concerned about current kids than future kids, but I just kept my mouth shut until day one of SA.

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ScottRiqui wrote:Could you expand on what kind of work experience/education you had prior to starting law school (keeping it general, of course)?


Sure -I was a schoolteacher, and ran my own small consulting business after that. I think the running my own business part helped in particular - there are tons of former teachers out there and that isn't all that special.

I would echo what someone said about remaining humble. Also, be social without trying too hard to act like you are 23. I was by far the oldest SA at my firm. I didn't go out for the afterhours karaoke but I went to all the events, and hung out with everyone to the extent I could with having a family.

I will say also that I never mentioned my family at interviews. It never hurts to be careful.


I was 31 during OCI. I explicitly mentioned my family during interviews and I believe it helped me. FWIW, I had five offers after my first seven callbacks. Two of my good friends were in their early 40's going through OCI. One kicked ass and the other slightly under performed. All three of us top 10%/LR at a T1 in a major market.


I guess it could go either way. I got burned once years ago mentioning my kids in an interview for a different position (not in the legal field). All the other 40+ year olds at my school I know of are dads - I'm the only mom, and a single mom - it may be 2012 but to some people I still think it makes a difference. It might be different in different markets and it might depend how old your kids are also. My career advisor told me that they are less concerned about current kids than future kids, but I just kept my mouth shut until day one of SA.


I completely understand. This issue is tough for parents going into OCI. My answer to the "why law school" question was that my wife and I were about to start having kids and I knew I needed to get LS done. That led to the followup that our oldest was a little over a year old when I went through OCI which led to the topic of juggling a newborn, law school and work (I'm in a PT-program).

FWIW, my firm did a great job making me feel at home as a young parent. My two associate-mentors had a combined total of five kids under the age of five. Every associate in my first practice group rotation either had a young child or was expecting a first child. Firm-wide, we had ~100 SAs and I think ten of us were parents. I'm not suggesting it will be easy to work biglaw and be a parent, but to the extent that it's possible, I felt like my firm was relatively family friendly.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: age and big law employment

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I guess it could go either way. I got burned once years ago mentioning my kids in an interview for a different position (not in the legal field). All the other 40+ year olds at my school I know of are dads - I'm the only mom, and a single mom - it may be 2012 but to some people I still think it makes a difference. It might be different in different markets and it might depend how old your kids are also. My career advisor told me that they are less concerned about current kids than future kids, but I just kept my mouth shut until day one of SA.

Yeah, as much as I think it sucks rocks, I think women and men are judged completely differently as parents. Man has kids? He's a stable guy who'll work hard at this job to support his family. And any time he actually lays hands on the baby, awww, what a good dad! Woman has kids? She's going to be distracted by kids getting sick/going to soccer games, she'll want to go part-time, what if she wants more kids and maternity leave AHHHHHH.

Again, I totally don't believe this, and plenty of people in law firms won't believe this, either. But I think plenty of people still do.

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby kryptix » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:22 pm

I definitely got the feeling that as a guy, having kids seemed to help rather than hurt especially with female interviewers, and while I would hope that these days there wouldn't be such gender stereotypes any more, I guess it doesn't completely surprise me that some women might have found it the opposite. That said, I wouldn't bring up paternity leave at an interview...

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:19 pm

Again, this is anecdotal evidence. I'll be in my mid 30s when I graduate. I had plenty of work experience coming into school. I finished 1L somewhere between the top 5-10% from MVP. Career services told me I'm a fine interviewer. I bid on grade-appropriate firms. I had a full slate of interviews. My screener-to-callback and callback-to-offer ratios were significantly lower than my peers. (The caveat to this is that I bid on a fairly wide range of geographies, which probably hurt me.) Career services indicates that this is often the case: older candidates fare worse. There seems to be a sweet spot of probably three years out of college, with good work experience during that time.

That's not to say you won't get a biglaw job. I did, and it's a good one at that. There are certain firms that love older candidates.

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Re: age and big law employment

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:03 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I guess it could go either way. I got burned once years ago mentioning my kids in an interview for a different position (not in the legal field). All the other 40+ year olds at my school I know of are dads - I'm the only mom, and a single mom - it may be 2012 but to some people I still think it makes a difference. It might be different in different markets and it might depend how old your kids are also. My career advisor told me that they are less concerned about current kids than future kids, but I just kept my mouth shut until day one of SA.

Yeah, as much as I think it sucks rocks, I think women and men are judged completely differently as parents. Man has kids? He's a stable guy who'll work hard at this job to support his family. And any time he actually lays hands on the baby, awww, what a good dad! Woman has kids? She's going to be distracted by kids getting sick/going to soccer games, she'll want to go part-time, what if she wants more kids and maternity leave AHHHHHH.

Again, I totally don't believe this, and plenty of people in law firms won't believe this, either. But I think plenty of people still do.

This. I hate it like the plague, but I do feel like there's a "wow, how do you DO it?" with moms that the dads don't experience. Not giving them any reasons to question whether or not I'll be in the trenches with everyone else, come 2am.




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