Small firm new associate advice

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Icculus
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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Icculus » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:08 am

thesealocust wrote:Philosophically, imagine everyone you work with as a lion with a thorn stuck in its paw, then remove the thorn.

Constantly ask yourself: how can I make the lives of the people around me suck less?


This is just good life advice. You'd be amazed how far this kind of attitude can take you.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:24 am

Icculus wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Philosophically, imagine everyone you work with as a lion with a thorn stuck in its paw, then remove the thorn.

Constantly ask yourself: how can I make the lives of the people around me suck less?


This is just good life advice. You'd be amazed how far this kind of attitude can take you.


Agreed. This is a key component of being seen as a future partner. Fill tha gaps you see around you.

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:08 pm

Great advice guys- thank you so much

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holdencaulfield
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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby holdencaulfield » Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:05 pm

Just wanted to join this cool thread.

My 2 cents: get a broad range of experience your first two years. Even if you have already committed to practicing in a specific area, let the partners know you that you'd like to get some exposure to other types of law.

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 16, 2013 6:47 pm

Great advice. My firm seems like it will have some sort of training for the first year or so which is great.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby reasonable_man » Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Great advice. My firm seems like it will have some sort of training for the first year or so which is great.


I'm curious - Have they specifically talked about this?

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:39 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Great advice. My firm seems like it will have some sort of training for the first year or so which is great.


I'm curious - Have they specifically talked about this?


They have. They said everyone is planning on pitching in and training me for a specified duration of time. This is great, right?

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Great advice. My firm seems like it will have some sort of training for the first year or so which is great.


I'm curious - Have they specifically talked about this?


They have. They said everyone is planning on pitching in and training me for a specified duration of time. This is great, right?


Absolutely. I really like that idea in that it will give you an opportunity to really see how everyone works. We joke around sometimes at my office and say we have like 7 private practices that team up on some projects from time to time. What we mean by that is that each attorney works on their own on a lot of cases and each of us works very differently. Then on the big cases we work together. In that, there are lots of different styles and some great methods that are used to attack problems differently. While training our newest associate, I've taken the lead on bringing him to court and depositions, etc., while the partner that is an amazing writer has really taken the lead on the writing front, etc. Another associate with a ton of motion practice write now has given a lot of work over to the young associate for writing, etc. The result is the he is learning a lot by working with a wide variety of people. I think this is probably similar to what you are going to be doing and is really a great way to learn.

Let us know how its going from time to time. As someone that trains young staff/attorneys, I would love to know what is working and not working for you. Also, what market are you in (you don't have to be too specific - just give us a general geographic region)?

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:09 pm

Thanks so much for your response! That is exactly how I thought they would do it. Good to hear. I'll make sure to check in with you from time to time. The market is northeast.

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks so much for your response! That is exactly how I thought they would do it. Good to hear. I'll make sure to check in with you from time to time. The market is northeast.



PM me. I will not disclose your identity to anyone (on TLS or otherwise).

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Sheffield
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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Sheffield » Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:45 pm

I take it that the good advice given here (firm under 40 attorneys) also applies to an SA. Or, is SA advice different somehow?

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby a male human » Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:26 pm

a male human wrote:I figured it was something like networking (in fact, it was networking)! Did your grades matter or was it more your interest in the practice area? Or something else that got you in the door?

Would like to open this to anyone who might have anything to say about it.

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:34 pm

a male human wrote:
a male human wrote:I figured it was something like networking (in fact, it was networking)! Did your grades matter or was it more your interest in the practice area? Or something else that got you in the door?

Would like to open this to anyone who might have anything to say about it.


I had a connection. I worked part-time at the firm all through law school and hustled.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:59 pm

Sheffield wrote:I take it that the good advice given here (firm under 40 attorneys) also applies to an SA. Or, is SA advice different somehow?


A lot of it will transfer over - I started at a firm with 90 lawyers.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:07 pm

a male human wrote:
a male human wrote:I figured it was something like networking (in fact, it was networking)! Did your grades matter or was it more your interest in the practice area? Or something else that got you in the door?

Would like to open this to anyone who might have anything to say about it.


My first job at a law firm (before LS - during college), was a great experience. I learned a lot and made a lot of great connections. During LS I worked for almost the entire time for a larger firm (90 attorneys) over the summers and at a small solo shop near my LS during the school year. The last year I stayed on part time during the year for the larger firm and they had actually offered me a job before my second summer ended. I killed myself working for both places non-stop and ultimately it gave me a ton of experience. The experience at the larger firm (and the solo experience during LS) helped me land my current position, which is one that I truly love. My grades were good, not great (top 30% at my TTT). I sorta knew that the only way I would land a job was by gaining a ton of real experience and lining one up before I left LS.

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:15 pm

RM - Do you enjoy construction law? I worked in-house for awhile at a large construction company. We were mainly a subcontractor so we were always getting brought in under our contractual duty to indemnify and because we had to name the GC and Owner as additional insured. Some of these cases were just huge messes, particularly the construction defect cases. None of it ever seemed that exciting. We also did a lot of mechanic's liens, almost all of them stayed out of court.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:RM - Do you enjoy construction law? I worked in-house for awhile at a large construction company. We were mainly a subcontractor so we were always getting brought in under our contractual duty to indemnify and because we had to name the GC and Owner as additional insured. Some of these cases were just huge messes, particularly the construction defect cases. None of it ever seemed that exciting. We also did a lot of mechanic's liens, almost all of them stayed out of court.


I do enjoy it. In NY (where I practice), the Labor Law (which protects injured workers at construction sites), is a heavily litigated area and can raises some interesting issues (and the cases can be fun to develop). It's not the most interesting area of law, but its generally a good opportunity for billing and construction clients are usually pretty good clients.

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:12 pm

How stressful is it to be a first year associate at a small firm? Less so than at a big firm?

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How stressful is it to be a first year associate at a small firm? Less so than at a big firm?


Depends what you mean by stress. Some stress might actually come from something you enjoy.

Long hours x no substantive work (big law) = stress

Long hours x very substantive work (Susman, Boies) = stress

Low hours x no substantive work = stress (if you care about being a lawyer)

Low hours x very substantive work (many p-side firms) = stress

So on and so forth.

My limited experience (interviewing, and one summer) at a small firm compared to my experience as a big firm...

I've found small firms to be much more of a "family." When you actually know everyone in your office, things just seem to be happier and more enjoyable. When your entire office can fit into one conference for a fantasy football draft, it's pretty awesome. Of course, this is totally firm dependent, because if you know everyone and they all suck, well...

You're going to get more substantive work sooner in small firms, simply because they cannot afford to overstaff cases at multiple tiers (partner > sr associate > midlevel > first years) like big law can. You might get thrown into the fire some.

Hours...totally firm and practice area dependent. A firm like Susman (if you can consider that small) or Gibbs & Bruns or Bickel & Brewer, you're going to be billing more than big law. A smaller, lesser-known p-side shop that does all contingency work will, on average, have you working less.

Opportunity for advancement...firm dependent again. In my limited experience, if you get your foot in the door at a small firm, you're going to make partner if you stick it out and do good work. You don't necessarily need to be a superstar (though you would need to be a star to make equity partner). These firms don't hire a ton, and when they do, they hire people who want to be there a long time. Attrition is not their model. However, some firms concentrate power in a very few, and the odds of cracking equity partner status are almost non-existent (I believe The Lanier Law Firm has a reputation like this, but I may be misremembering).

Pay...also firm dependent. Many smaller p-side firms will start you much, much less ($30k-$100k less than big law), but there is a higher earning potential (due to the likelihood of making partner and the amount the equity partners earn in a good year). Other smaller firms (Susman, Bickel & Brewer, Gibbs) pay more right off the bat.

What it boils down to, really, is that outside of the comfortable confines of lockstep and "market" (the area where most small firms fall) your experience is entirely dependent upon the firm.

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Re: Small firm new associate advice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:45 pm

Brilliant..Thanks!




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