PI job without fellowship and other questions

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Anonymous User
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PI job without fellowship and other questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:52 am

By graduation, I will have worked full-time for a PI organization for about six months. I have also been trusted with fairly significant responsibility at this organization, have had great reviews, and have a close relationship with at least one of my supervisors. I have an SA coming up, but if it were somehow possible to work for this organization, I would consider leaving my BigLaw job (even upon graduation).

On the other hand, the practice area with which I have this connection is small, and recently hired a new attorney (who did a fellowship). This is not to say I might not still have a small leg up with the organization generally, but I don’t know whether this practice area would be able to hire (usual concerns about funding, etc.).

T14 with decent grades, if that matters. Sorry, but don't want to be more specific for obvious reasons. I know the obvious question is “why didn’t you do a fellowship right away instead?” but I’d appreciate if we could leave that at “life is complicated.” I deeply admire the people who take that route, and I realize PI is very competitive. This is part of why I’m asking -- because other than this relationship, my PI resume is pretty weak.

So I guess I’m curious 1) whether it’s possible to be hired with this sort of relationship rather than a fellowship and 2) whether there is any polite way I could or should make clear to my supervisor that I would be willing to work for them despite it potentially seeming like I’m set on BigLaw right now. Or is my only option to just check the organization's job postings and consider applying in 3L, hoping I can use the connection to my advantage despite having SA'd?

Edit: And just to clarify, the connection is only due to past work relationships. Not a family friend or anything like that. But we do get along well outside of work.

Anonymous User
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Re: PI job without fellowship and other questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:00 pm

So is your question essentially, should I not got to the biglaw job I have lined up just in case this organization can hire me, despite the fact that I have no idea what their budget is and they likely can't afford to hire me?

Either the org can afford a new attorney or they can't; you can talk to them about it, but if they can't, having a connection won't open up space in their budget. You're probably best served starting in biglaw, keeping a connection with this org through pro bono, and making it clear to the org that if they had a spot open up, you'd be happy to make the change. Alternatively, you can apply for fellowships during your 3L fall (I assume you are a 2L?) or after a year or two of practice to get funding to work there.

Anonymous User
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Re: PI job without fellowship and other questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:05 pm

Thanks for the response. I wouldn't leave my current job without getting an offer from them. I didn't mean to imply that they had budget issues -- I don't know. They are a large organization. My two concerns with applying for fellowships as a 3L would be my firm discovering this and getting upset (although I don't know if they would revoke an offer if I got one after 2L summer), and organizations being skeptical of my interest given that I SA'd (perhaps just assuming I got no offered). So yeah, maybe you're right that the best option is just to try it after a year or two of practice.

I also just wanted to see if asking about the funding would be a polite question to ask in the first place.

-OP

Myself
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Postby Myself » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:07 pm

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Last edited by Myself on Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

anon168
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Re: PI job without fellowship and other questions

Postby anon168 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:By graduation, I will have worked full-time for a PI organization for about six months. I have also been trusted with fairly significant responsibility at this organization, have had great reviews, and have a close relationship with at least one of my supervisors. I have an SA coming up, but if it were somehow possible to work for this organization, I would consider leaving my BigLaw job (even upon graduation).

On the other hand, the practice area with which I have this connection is small, and recently hired a new attorney (who did a fellowship). This is not to say I might not still have a small leg up with the organization generally, but I don’t know whether this practice area would be able to hire (usual concerns about funding, etc.).

T14 with decent grades, if that matters. Sorry, but don't want to be more specific for obvious reasons. I know the obvious question is “why didn’t you do a fellowship right away instead?” but I’d appreciate if we could leave that at “life is complicated.” I deeply admire the people who take that route, and I realize PI is very competitive. This is part of why I’m asking -- because other than this relationship, my PI resume is pretty weak.

So I guess I’m curious 1) whether it’s possible to be hired with this sort of relationship rather than a fellowship and 2) whether there is any polite way I could or should make clear to my supervisor that I would be willing to work for them despite it potentially seeming like I’m set on BigLaw right now. Or is my only option to just check the organization's job postings and consider applying in 3L, hoping I can use the connection to my advantage despite having SA'd?

Edit: And just to clarify, the connection is only due to past work relationships. Not a family friend or anything like that. But we do get along well outside of work.


Well, without knowing what PI you are talking about, or the type / area of PI you are talking about, it is nearly impossible to give you a sound answer as to whether it is possible to be hired with just having worked at the organization. That said, I know of people have been hired by PI (i.e., non-government PI) without the benefit of a fellowship. Possible, but certainly a bit more difficult.

As to your second question -- how to communicate to your sup that you want to work for them permanently -- I think the direct route is the way to go. Just ask to have a half hour of his/her time now and explain that (1) you love working for the organization and are passionate about their cause, etc. (2) working for them full-time post-graduation is your TOP choice and you will absolutely do whatever it takes to secure employment with them and (3) that you have a SA position lined up for this summer but this is, at best, only a fall-back plan.

In other words, use your time there to sell yourself and make it a quasi-interview opportunity. Granted, PI orgs being the way PI orgs are, they may not know their hiring needs and/or abilities 2 years down the line, so you may get the stock, "check back with us in a year" answer, but that's OK because at least (1) you've communicated your sincere desire to work there and (2) you know when to check back in with them.

Good luck.

Anonymous User
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Re: PI job without fellowship and other questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for the response. I wouldn't leave my current job without getting an offer from them. I didn't mean to imply that they had budget issues -- I don't know. They are a large organization. My two concerns with applying for fellowships as a 3L would be my firm discovering this and getting upset (although I don't know if they would revoke an offer if I got one after 2L summer), and organizations being skeptical of my interest given that I SA'd (perhaps just assuming I got no offered). So yeah, maybe you're right that the best option is just to try it after a year or two of practice.

I also just wanted to see if asking about the funding would be a polite question to ask in the first place.

-OP


Unless you use someone from your firm as a reference, they aren't going to find out that you are applying to fellowships. If you are going into litigation you can also cover your bases by saying you are considering applying to a clerkship--or actually applying to one, for that matter. That will give you a little more wiggle room as far as accepting an offer goes. BUT first feel people out and see if your firm is clerkship-friendly, because you really, really don't want to risk not getting an offer at all.

Some fellowships will look down on you being a SA but it depends largely on the specific fellowship and more broadly the type of PI. Some PI areas tend to be more... dogmatic, and you'd know if you were working in one of them. I also wouldn't broach the subject with the PI org as a funding issue. Maybe they wouldn't want to hire you even if they could afford it. Don't assume. Bring it up in a way that leaves doors open, including getting a fellowship post-3L AND developing a pro bono relationship as a 1st year.

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

Re: PI job without fellowship and other questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:12 pm

Thanks to all of you. Especially appreciate Anon168's suggestion about the honest talk. Probably the best way to go, and I will have an opportunity to do that coming up. I won't frame it as a funding issue. Sorry for not getting more specific, but it's probably getting closer to outing me if I did.

-OP.




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