An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

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Anonymous User
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An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:12 pm

Background

I recently received notification that I made it to a round two interview at a small law firm that I applied to. The firm is based out of Florida, and is opening a new office in NJ. I interviewed with the lawyer that owns the firm, for a vacancy in the NJ office, and was taken by surprise. I did research on the firm before I went in, like any normal applicant would. The firm in Florida practices corporate law, contracts, estates/trusts/wills, tax, and "insurance" law. The vacancy announcement for the job in the new office in NJ stated that the practice would be focused on insurance law. After doing my research I figure that he is opening up some sort of insurance defense firm and will also be doing transactional work. I go into the interview and he makes the job sound like something straight out of a John Grisham novel.

He is opening the office in NJ with the initiate focus of growing a practice focused on insurance litigation. In particular, suing insurance companies on behalf of Hurricane Sandy victims. Currently there are no lawyers in the office, and the person he is looking to hire will be the only lawyer in the office and will manage all of the litigation matters. This guy is originally from NJ, he moved to Florida for law school, opened up a practice and maintained it for years. He is now looking to stop practicing law and wants to manage is law firm from "the business end" and let associates do all the legal work. He said this NJ office will be a permanent part of his law firm and will grow beyond the Hurricane Sandy litigation in the years beyond. He said that NJ insurance law is like Florida insurance law from the 1980s before Hurricane Andrew. He said that insurance companies in NJ are totally screwing people over left and right, and that the litigation business in this area is going to be huge for a long time. He said that the hired attorney will represent any client that comes in with a claim against an insurance company, or a client that has signed a waiver of claims from an insurance company, and sue the insurance company. He said that the law in NJ will also change most likely against the insurance companies and will eventually resemble the law in Florida.

The hired attorney will be "his man in NJ". While there are some paralegals that will provide assistance, the hired attorney will manage them as well. This guy said he was going to provide oversight from Florida via email reveal of drafted documents, phone conferences, and that he is only a plane flight away. He also said that he will be handling the business side of the firm, which includes payroll, client marketing, micro managing the office manager....etc. He isn't licensed in NJ currently, but will be taking the bar in the future. This job is part-time and pays at $50/per hour. He said that it is only part-time because he doesn't know how much work is going to come through the door. He said that hopefully enough work will come through the door to make it full time.

My Concerns

1) Is what this guy is saying sound credible? While it isn't hard to imagine insurance companies screwing people over, does this really sound like a part-time job? He said that a lot of people have signed waivers from insurance companies and taken money about a 10th the amount the insurance company owed them. Are we really going to be able to sue these companies as successfully as this guy thinks we will?

2) If this job is really what he says its going to be, it sounds somewhat intimidating to someone fresh out of law school. Can you imagine someone fresh out of law school, with a couple internships under his belt, being effectively lone counsel against these giant insurance companies? He advertised the vacancy as an entry level position, and was interviewing a bunch of candidates fresh out of law school. It sounds like a little much. Law School Noob v. Insurance Companies.....not so sure.

3) What about ethical issues? I'm not sure how the payment system or business model works exactly. He made it sound like he was going to be making sure clients pay. How is he going to do that exactly, and aren't I going to be responsible for any screw ups since I'd be the lone lawyer in NJ? What about a potential litigation strategy screw up since I'm totally new at this and I'd be going up against presumably experienced counsel?

4) What about an exit strategy? Lets say I want to quit for whatever reason. I get a better offer someplace else, the guy isn't paying me, the hours are longer than he said they'd be and I'm not getting paid on a full time basis...whatever. As the only lawyer in the office, answerable to the office's clients, how would I quit? I can't just terminate a lawyer client relationship because someone from Florida has done a bad job of managing the office in NJ now can I?

All in all I came out of the first round interview feeling like it went well. I'm not surprised I got the second round interview. The job sounds like it could be a huge opportunity in a lot of ways if it is as good as he says it is. I'll get a ton of litigation experience immediately that would take me potentially years to get elsewhere. As the main NJ lawyer in a law firm just growing I can potentially become partner in this firm down the road or at least gain enough experience to eventually open my own. Not to mention I am highly sympathetic to the cause. If insurance companies are legitimately screwing people over, and I'm going to be the guy to fight back on behalf of Sandy victims, I can be proud of my work.

It just seems like I'm hanging a shingle fresh out of law school (minus managing the business end of the firm), practicing in an area of law I have no experience in, and going up against much bigger and more experienced opponents. I also have no idea about what kind of support this guy is going to give me on the legal side. He said he'd reveal my work via email. Since he has no experience with NJ insurance law, civil procedure, or litigation, I don't know if its going to be adequate. At this point I probably sounds like I have confidence issues. I don't. I feel confident to perform legal work based upon my past experiences. It is just that this job just sounds like a bit of a stretch for a totally green lawyer to perform.

Sorry for the long post, but I have a lot on my mind about jobs and this is one of the more stranger openings I've competed for.

Any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.

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IAFG
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Re: An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

Postby IAFG » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:16 pm

So you'd basically be setting up a niche for yourself in Natural Disaster Law? Sounds like a good plan to me.

Anonymous User
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Re: An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:20 pm

IAFG wrote:So you'd basically be setting up a niche for yourself in Natural Disaster Law? Sounds like a good plan to me.


That is another positive way of looking at it. What do you think about the potential exposures for someone fresh out of law school taking a position like this though?

anon168
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Re: An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

Postby anon168 » Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Background

I recently received notification that I made it to a round two interview at a small law firm that I applied to. The firm is based out of Florida, and is opening a new office in NJ. I interviewed with the lawyer that owns the firm, for a vacancy in the NJ office, and was taken by surprise. I did research on the firm before I went in, like any normal applicant would. The firm in Florida practices corporate law, contracts, estates/trusts/wills, tax, and "insurance" law. The vacancy announcement for the job in the new office in NJ stated that the practice would be focused on insurance law. After doing my research I figure that he is opening up some sort of insurance defense firm and will also be doing transactional work. I go into the interview and he makes the job sound like something straight out of a John Grisham novel.

He is opening the office in NJ with the initiate focus of growing a practice focused on insurance litigation. In particular, suing insurance companies on behalf of Hurricane Sandy victims. Currently there are no lawyers in the office, and the person he is looking to hire will be the only lawyer in the office and will manage all of the litigation matters. This guy is originally from NJ, he moved to Florida for law school, opened up a practice and maintained it for years. He is now looking to stop practicing law and wants to manage is law firm from "the business end" and let associates do all the legal work. He said this NJ office will be a permanent part of his law firm and will grow beyond the Hurricane Sandy litigation in the years beyond. He said that NJ insurance law is like Florida insurance law from the 1980s before Hurricane Andrew. He said that insurance companies in NJ are totally screwing people over left and right, and that the litigation business in this area is going to be huge for a long time. He said that the hired attorney will represent any client that comes in with a claim against an insurance company, or a client that has signed a waiver of claims from an insurance company, and sue the insurance company. He said that the law in NJ will also change most likely against the insurance companies and will eventually resemble the law in Florida.

The hired attorney will be "his man in NJ". While there are some paralegals that will provide assistance, the hired attorney will manage them as well. This guy said he was going to provide oversight from Florida via email reveal of drafted documents, phone conferences, and that he is only a plane flight away. He also said that he will be handling the business side of the firm, which includes payroll, client marketing, micro managing the office manager....etc. He isn't licensed in NJ currently, but will be taking the bar in the future. This job is part-time and pays at $50/per hour. He said that it is only part-time because he doesn't know how much work is going to come through the door. He said that hopefully enough work will come through the door to make it full time.

My Concerns

1) Is what this guy is saying sound credible? While it isn't hard to imagine insurance companies screwing people over, does this really sound like a part-time job? He said that a lot of people have signed waivers from insurance companies and taken money about a 10th the amount the insurance company owed them. Are we really going to be able to sue these companies as successfully as this guy thinks we will?

2) If this job is really what he says its going to be, it sounds somewhat intimidating to someone fresh out of law school. Can you imagine someone fresh out of law school, with a couple internships under his belt, being effectively lone counsel against these giant insurance companies? He advertised the vacancy as an entry level position, and was interviewing a bunch of candidates fresh out of law school. It sounds like a little much. Law School Noob v. Insurance Companies.....not so sure.

3) What about ethical issues? I'm not sure how the payment system or business model works exactly. He made it sound like he was going to be making sure clients pay. How is he going to do that exactly, and aren't I going to be responsible for any screw ups since I'd be the lone lawyer in NJ? What about a potential litigation strategy screw up since I'm totally new at this and I'd be going up against presumably experienced counsel?

4) What about an exit strategy? Lets say I want to quit for whatever reason. I get a better offer someplace else, the guy isn't paying me, the hours are longer than he said they'd be and I'm not getting paid on a full time basis...whatever. As the only lawyer in the office, answerable to the office's clients, how would I quit? I can't just terminate a lawyer client relationship because someone from Florida has done a bad job of managing the office in NJ now can I?

All in all I came out of the first round interview feeling like it went well. I'm not surprised I got the second round interview. The job sounds like it could be a huge opportunity in a lot of ways if it is as good as he says it is. I'll get a ton of litigation experience immediately that would take me potentially years to get elsewhere. As the main NJ lawyer in a law firm just growing I can potentially become partner in this firm down the road or at least gain enough experience to eventually open my own. Not to mention I am highly sympathetic to the cause. If insurance companies are legitimately screwing people over, and I'm going to be the guy to fight back on behalf of Sandy victims, I can be proud of my work.

It just seems like I'm hanging a shingle fresh out of law school (minus managing the business end of the firm), practicing in an area of law I have no experience in, and going up against much bigger and more experienced opponents. I also have no idea about what kind of support this guy is going to give me on the legal side. He said he'd reveal my work via email. Since he has no experience with NJ insurance law, civil procedure, or litigation, I don't know if its going to be adequate. At this point I probably sounds like I have confidence issues. I don't. I feel confident to perform legal work based upon my past experiences. It is just that this job just sounds like a bit of a stretch for a totally green lawyer to perform.

Sorry for the long post, but I have a lot on my mind about jobs and this is one of the more stranger openings I've competed for.

Any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.


So essentially he wants you to be his Joe Vititoe to his Ed Masry?

I don't really think anyone on these boards can give you sound or solid advice. You should really talk to someone in your law school, like your CSO, and then your parents or significant others.

I've been through quite a bit, and I can say I've never really seen a situation like this presented to someone fresh out of law school. And I'm almost certain most folks trolling these boards haven't either.

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IAFG
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Re: An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

Postby IAFG » Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
IAFG wrote:So you'd basically be setting up a niche for yourself in Natural Disaster Law? Sounds like a good plan to me.


That is another positive way of looking at it. What do you think about the potential exposures for someone fresh out of law school taking a position like this though?

I'm not clear on what your alternatives are, but Anon168 is right, this might not be the place to get advice.

For my personal just-a-3L opinion, it sounds exciting and risky and possibly rewarding.

Agent
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Re: An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

Postby Agent » Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:31 pm

I have limited relevant experience. PM me if you want to chat.

Anonymous User wrote:1) Is what this guy is saying sound credible? While it isn't hard to imagine insurance companies screwing people over, does this really sound like a part-time job? He said that a lot of people have signed waivers from insurance companies and taken money about a 10th the amount the insurance company owed them. Are we really going to be able to sue these companies as successfully as this guy thinks we will?


That depends on how many clients you have and the specific needs of those clients. A lot of this stuff can get pretty messy, particularly once contractors swoop in and start complicating matters. That said, there are some things you can do to help clients without actually filing a complaint or going to court.

Anonymous User wrote:2) If this job is really what he says its going to be, it sounds somewhat intimidating to someone fresh out of law school. Can you imagine someone fresh out of law school, with a couple internships under his belt, being effectively lone counsel against these giant insurance companies? He advertised the vacancy as an entry level position, and was interviewing a bunch of candidates fresh out of law school. It sounds like a little much. Law School Noob v. Insurance Companies.....not so sure.


Yes, it'd be intimidating, but I think it's doable if you attained practical skills during law school. Unfortunately, that's probably not the case for most law grads.

Anonymous User wrote:3) What about ethical issues? I'm not sure how the payment system or business model works exactly. He made it sound like he was going to be making sure clients pay. How is he going to do that exactly, and aren't I going to be responsible for any screw ups since I'd be the lone lawyer in NJ? What about a potential litigation strategy screw up since I'm totally new at this and I'd be going up against presumably experienced counsel?

4) What about an exit strategy? Lets say I want to quit for whatever reason. I get a better offer someplace else, the guy isn't paying me, the hours are longer than he said they'd be and I'm not getting paid on a full time basis...whatever. As the only lawyer in the office, answerable to the office's clients, how would I quit? I can't just terminate a lawyer client relationship because someone from Florida has done a bad job of managing the office in NJ now can I?


Sorry, I can't speak to these.

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

Re: An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
My Concerns

1) Is what this guy is saying sound credible? While it isn't hard to imagine insurance companies screwing people over, does this really sound like a part-time job? He said that a lot of people have signed waivers from insurance companies and taken money about a 10th the amount the insurance company owed them. Are we really going to be able to sue these companies as successfully as this guy thinks we will?

2) If this job is really what he says its going to be, it sounds somewhat intimidating to someone fresh out of law school. Can you imagine someone fresh out of law school, with a couple internships under his belt, being effectively lone counsel against these giant insurance companies? He advertised the vacancy as an entry level position, and was interviewing a bunch of candidates fresh out of law school. It sounds like a little much. Law School Noob v. Insurance Companies.....not so sure.


*DISCLAIMER* 0L here - but I have relevant experience on the defense (insurance) side of things. Mods - please don't out me. If you don't like this, delete it.

For 1) From the defense side, bad faith suits against insurance companies seem like easy money for the plaintiffs. Insurance companies are terrified to try cases, even when they have a solid case. A lot of this is just that juries are super, SUPER biased against large companies and insurance companies in particular. I handled a lot of claims from Hurricane Ike in 2008 in Texas. We had a TON of these end up in bad faith suits. Insurance companies typically don't pay homeowners a "tenth" of what they're owed. Usually the bad faith suits come down to we have an expert that says the roof was damaged by wear and tear, you have one that says it was damaged by wind. We deny the claim, you sue. Those cases are almost always settled because, again, insurance companies are terrified of trials. If you win, you're entitled to punitives (potentially) and attorney fees since it's a contracts case. So yeah, I'd say the insurance company pays at least something on 90% of suits that are filed. That's because judges rarely grant MSJs. I know this because a) I've been sued, and b) in my current position I occasionally handle the settlements for bad faith suits. I also know that my company is TERRIFIED of New Jersey. We're a national company (think 5 largest carriers) and we won't sell the 'brand name' insurance in NJ or FL because they're the two scariest states for us. I don't know exactly why that is.

For 2) Insurance attorneys aren't as experienced or good as you think they are. I'm not sure that as a law student I would be comfortable being a solo practitioner against them, but insurance attorneys are not exceedingly well paid (even the ones that defend the company). You can take them on. Again, remember that most of these cases are resolved in mediation - if you make arguments in front of a judge, it's typically regarding motions for summary judgement. These attorneys are usually graduates of TTTs with 3-5 years of experience under their belt. They also have a pretty huge case load. My company does flat fee arrangements in probably 75% of the bad faith cases we handle, so there's no incentive to have the defense attorneys work the case more than absolutely necessary. (They get paid the same if it goes to trial or settles in mediation - they want it settled). I guess what I'm saying is they're not like in house counsel (these suits are always contracted out for defense). They aren't usually the best, brightest law students. They're you a few years out.

The only thing to be wary of is that this is a lot like plaintiff work. (IE, think car accidents). To me, it's slightly slimy. Also, if you're an attorney in bad faith suits, it's really, REALLY difficult to ever move over to defense work. We will hire people who were plaintiff lawyers, but not typically ones who worked in offices known for mill type work for bad faith claims.

3) What about ethical issues? I'm not sure how the payment system or business model works exactly. He made it sound like he was going to be making sure clients pay. How is he going to do that exactly, and aren't I going to be responsible for any screw ups since I'd be the lone lawyer in NJ? What about a potential litigation strategy screw up since I'm totally new at this and I'd be going up against presumably experienced counsel?

4) What about an exit strategy? Lets say I want to quit for whatever reason. I get a better offer someplace else, the guy isn't paying me, the hours are longer than he said they'd be and I'm not getting paid on a full time basis...whatever. As the only lawyer in the office, answerable to the office's clients, how would I quit? I can't just terminate a lawyer client relationship because someone from Florida has done a bad job of managing the office in NJ now can I?


No idea here.

Hope some of this is helpful.

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dingbat
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Re: An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

Postby dingbat » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:46 pm

Could you please PM me? I have some questions I'd like to ask you

timbs4339
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Re: An Associate Position I'm not quite sure about (long).....

Postby timbs4339 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:03 pm

How exactly is work going to be distributed? It sounds kind of fishy to me, like he needs a front-man with a NJ bar license in order to be able to represent clients in the state immediately, but that he'll be doing all of the real lifting.




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