Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

(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.
arizonairish
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:21 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby arizonairish » Sun May 26, 2013 9:27 pm

If there was one sentence of advice I should keep in my head this summer, what should it be?

User avatar
wiseowl
Posts: 1071
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:38 pm

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby wiseowl » Sun May 26, 2013 11:14 pm

arizonairish wrote:If there was one sentence of advice I should keep in my head this summer, what should it be?


Don't act like anyone in this thread. Ever. Present company included.

Myself
Posts: 1372
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:36 pm

.

Postby Myself » Sun May 26, 2013 11:24 pm

.
Last edited by Myself on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Skye
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:51 pm

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby Skye » Mon May 27, 2013 12:33 am

arizonairish wrote:If there was one sentence of advice I should keep in my head this summer, what should it be?

I thought the best piece of advice I read was; do not go forward with a project if you have any uncertainty on exactly what is expected. If you cannot personally connect face-to-face with the person who assigned the project, email them. Advice I wish I could have given a cohort who guessed and regretted the outcome. If by chance the assigning member gave you the wrong direction in person, at least the email will give you cover.

User avatar
Danger Zone
Posts: 7304
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:36 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby Danger Zone » Mon May 27, 2013 12:45 am

Why is anyone other than the OP answering questions? No one gives a fuck what you have to say if you are still in law school.

User avatar
wiseowl
Posts: 1071
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:38 pm

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby wiseowl » Mon May 27, 2013 12:49 am

Danger Zone wrote:Why is anyone other than the OP answering questions? No one gives a fuck what you have to say if you are still in law school.


some of us aren't still in law school :wink: follow your own advice.

and the Curmudgeon's guide was a good reference.

User avatar
Danger Zone
Posts: 7304
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:36 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby Danger Zone » Mon May 27, 2013 12:54 am

wiseowl wrote:
Danger Zone wrote:Why is anyone other than the OP answering questions? No one gives a fuck what you have to say if you are still in law school.


some of us aren't still in law school :wink: follow your own advice.

and the Curmudgeon's guide was a good reference.

I never answered a question in this thread. I'm in here because I know the OP is verified as legit and I want to hear his advice.

For all I know, not being in law school could mean you're a 0L.

User avatar
wiseowl
Posts: 1071
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:38 pm

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby wiseowl » Mon May 27, 2013 1:04 am

Danger Zone wrote:
wiseowl wrote:
Danger Zone wrote:Why is anyone other than the OP answering questions? No one gives a fuck what you have to say if you are still in law school.


some of us aren't still in law school :wink: follow your own advice.

and the Curmudgeon's guide was a good reference.

I never answered a question in this thread. I'm in here because I know the OP is verified as legit and I want to hear his advice.

For all I know, not being in law school could mean you're a 0L.


I'm pointing a bit more toward your second sentence.

Read more. Post less.

And I haven't been a 0L since last decade, but thanks.

TooOld4This
Posts: 638
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:09 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby TooOld4This » Mon May 27, 2013 8:52 am

arizonairish wrote:If there was one sentence of advice I should keep in my head this summer, what should it be?


Listen.

Seriously, almost all major SA screw-ups could have been avoided if the SA engaged in active listening.

When you get an assignment, listen to the directions carefully. If a key piece of info is missing, ask for it (or circle back via email later). But don't jump to conclusions, interrupt, or tune out when you are getting an assignment.

When you are in social situations, spend as much time as possible listening. Yes, a lot of events will appear to be focused on you, but if you spend at least as much time listening as you do talking, you are unlikely to make major mistakes. Listen for tone. Listen to introductions. Listen to the way non-summers are interacting to pick up social norms.

Listen to staff. Do not blow them off. They know how the place runs and can save your hide sometimes. Give them as much respect as you would any attorney.

Listen to feedback. This can be hard. Look engaged. Don't get defensive (sometimes it can be appropriate to explain yourself, but be careful and use "I" statements). After the feedback is given, then spend time processing it. Apply lessons learned to your next assignment.

Focusing on listening to everything that goes on around you is one of the best ways to assure that your work and other interactions aren't tone deaf.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273217
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 27, 2013 9:29 am

OP here - the above by TooOld4This is great advice that probably doesn't need to be expanded upon.

I'd say one nice piece of concrete advice would be: always bring something to write with when receiving an assignment, and never leave the room without (a) the billing information, (b) the exact time the assignment should be completed and (c) the format it should be in (memo, email, binder, print out, email, etc.). It's easy for an assigner to forget some or all of that, but if you force all of those questions to be answered there won't be much left to be unsure about.

To be honest, the summers I work with are either all great or else are making the kinds of mistakes that I doubt could be corrected by a thread like this (i.e. they seem tuned out in a way that makes me doubt they'd be lurking this thread trying to improve). If you want to do well as a summer, the odds are overwhelming that you will do well as a summer.

Sort of like when I did tutoring in high school and college - inevitably, it was never the people who really needed it that showed up.

hds2388
Posts: 206
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2009 4:07 pm

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby hds2388 » Mon May 27, 2013 9:53 am

I'm about to be a first year at a large firm and I was wondering how you think a first-year's approach to getting assignments/interacting with others/etc. should be different than a summer's. (I can think of a few obvious differences, but was just curious about your experience or any nuggets of advice.)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273217
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 27, 2013 10:22 am

hds2388 wrote:I'm about to be a first year at a large firm and I was wondering how you think a first-year's approach to getting assignments/interacting with others/etc. should be different than a summers. (I can think of a few obvious differences, but was just curious about your experience.)


Op here --

Insanely firm and practice area dependent. You will start off damn near fungible at most firms. My advice is, no matter what your environment (free market, coordinator, direct assignment to one or two partners, small office with no system, etc.), take an active role.

If you like some kinds of work, mention it. If you dislike some kinds of work, be politic, but make it known you would prefer other work. If you find good people to work with, hang on to them for dear life. If you work for intolerable people, use caution but realize that if you suffer in silence, that might be all the firm needs to keep you in that position while others abandon ship.

My maneuvering hasn't always yielded immediate results, but if you do good work with a positive attitude and express opinions or request more work in certain areas, you dramatically increase your odds of doing what you want to do.

Don't take it too far though - "good work and good attitude" are more important than taking an active role. Do a good job with the shitty work for people you hate, and then leverage your reputation for doing good work to get the hell out with a smile on your face the whole time.

Aspirational? Maybe. But nobody else is going to manage your career for you, even though everyone will be paying attention to your attitude and reputation.

User avatar
Skye
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:51 pm

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby Skye » Mon May 27, 2013 10:57 am

TooOld4This wrote:Seriously, almost all major SA screw-ups could have been avoided if the SA engaged in active listening.

I do not know details but, as I understand it, the partner verbally asked for vanilla, the SA brought back vanilla and the partner says, I asked for chocolate. The SA did not try to point out the miscommunication, instead simply took the hit.

After hearing about that experience and from what I’ve seen in this this thread, my advice to me is, figure out a way to email the assigning partner, be it in the form of a question, update, etc. Do you want whipped cream on your vanilla ice cream? If I bring vanilla ice cream and the partner said he made it clear he wanted chocolate, then I could pull out the email (or not) — rock and hard place.
Last edited by Skye on Mon May 27, 2013 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

TooOld4This
Posts: 638
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:09 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby TooOld4This » Mon May 27, 2013 11:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:
hds2388 wrote:I'm about to be a first year at a large firm and I was wondering how you think a first-year's approach to getting assignments/interacting with others/etc. should be different than a summers. (I can think of a few obvious differences, but was just curious about your experience.)


Op here --

Insanely firm and practice area dependent. You will start off damn near fungible at most firms. My advice is, no matter what your environment (free market, coordinator, direct assignment to one or two partners, small office with no system, etc.), take an active role.

If you like some kinds of work, mention it. If you dislike some kinds of work, be politic, but make it known you would prefer other work. If you find good people to work with, hang on to them for dear life. If you work for intolerable people, use caution but realize that if you suffer in silence, that might be all the firm needs to keep you in that position while others abandon ship.

My maneuvering hasn't always yielded immediate results, but if you do good work with a positive attitude and express opinions or request more work in certain areas, you dramatically increase your odds of doing what you want to do.

Don't take it too far though - "good work and good attitude" are more important than taking an active role. Do a good job with the shitty work for people you hate, and then leverage your reputation for doing good work to get the hell out with a smile on your face the whole time.

Aspirational? Maybe. But nobody else is going to manage your career for you, even though everyone will be paying attention to your attitude and reputation.


Excellent advice here. I would only add a few points on implementation (I hope the OP doesn't mind).

1. Find as many mentors as possible. People a year or two senior to you can be great resources for finding out about pitfalls and resources. They have been around long enough to have an idea about how things work, but are still junior enough to remember what it is like to know nothing. Mid-levels can be amazing mentors. They can help you navigate office politics, especially if you can identify practice areas you are interested in. Senior associates can be valuable in skill development, especially when the system judges seniors on their ability to manage juniors. Partners in your group can become benefactors, keeping you fed and defending you when needed. Partners outside your group can help develop particular skills and be a sounding board generally. Don't look to develop these all at once, but keep an eye out for people you click with.

2. Especially your first year, quality should trump quantity. At most firms, there is a much higher tolerance for someone who does superb work, but is on the back end of the billing curve, than for someone whose work is poor but bills like crazy. If you find yourself needing to move around, be careful that you don't take on too much work and tarnish your reputation. Switching practice groups generally requires stretching, but be careful not to set yourself up for failure.

3. Remember, this is no longer an interview, it is your career. You need to pace yourself and remember your goal is no longer to try to meet and impress as many people as you can in 10 weeks. Think strategically. Figure out what you want out of the job and keep the long term game in mind.

TooOld4This
Posts: 638
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:09 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby TooOld4This » Mon May 27, 2013 11:09 am

Skye wrote:
TooOld4This wrote:Seriously, almost all major SA screw-ups could have been avoided if the SA engaged in active listening.

I do not know details but, as I understand it, the partner verbally asked for vanilla, the SA brought back vanilla and the partner says, I asked for chocolate. The SA did not try to point out the miscommunication, instead simply took the hit.

After hearing about that experience and from what I’ve seen in this this thread, my advice to me is, figure out a way to email the partner, be it in the form of a question, update, etc. Do you want whipped cream on your vanilla ice cream? If I bring vanilla ice cream and the partner said he made it clear he wanted chocolate, then I could pull out the email (or not) — rock and hard place.


No offense, but you seem extremely high strung (I'm not saying this to be mean, but because I fear you are displaying this attitude at work). Why are you spending so much energy on what a fellow summer did or did not do? You are at best getting half the story and that half is filtered through that summer's own rationalizations.

This is not some huge chess game that you can figure out the rules to and win. Focus on the tasks you are given, do them the best you can and let the chips fall where they may. You aren't going to win any points with a "gotcha" email. If you are gracious, engaged, and willing to fix your mistakes/learn from them, that is pretty much all you can do.

User avatar
Skye
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:51 pm

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby Skye » Mon May 27, 2013 12:00 pm

TooOld4This wrote:Focus on the tasks you are given, do them the best you can and let the chips fall where they may. You aren't going to win any points with a "gotcha" email. If you are gracious, engaged, and willing to fix your mistakes/learn from them, that is pretty much all you can do.

Thanks for your expertise.

Actually, I am truly enjoying my SA experience, as I have continued to post, Better Than Advertised. Everyone has been great. And no, not planning on any “gotcha anythings,” but I still think that an occasional updated email might clear up any conceivable miscommunication. Last week I still had butterflies going into Monday. Little less as week 3 approaches.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273217
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 27, 2013 12:19 pm

OP here --

Excellent advice TooOld4This (some of which I should mull over myself!).

A random general thought/reflection: the biggest change from being a summer associate so far has been that as an associate, sometimes you're so brutally busy that you wish you could bill the client for triaging amongst your tasks/clients. As a summer if that happens it's probably either not actually important or you botched management, but once you become one of the brood sometimes client work/emergencies just pile up and you have to find your own path out.

What that will mean is constantly deciding how to slice up your life. You'll find that on many projects, you can work on it for X time and get something down, 1.5 X time and do it well, or 2 X time and do it near perfectly. But the answer cant' be "work on it for 2 X time" each time, because other clients/projects/the need for sleep and food will come knocking. It's challenging, and not something you can get much practice at until the avalanche hits.

Skye wrote:
TooOld4This wrote:Seriously, almost all major SA screw-ups could have been avoided if the SA engaged in active listening.

I do not know details but, as I understand it, the partner verbally asked for vanilla, the SA brought back vanilla and the partner says, I asked for chocolate. The SA did not try to point out the miscommunication, instead simply took the hit.

After hearing about that experience and from what I’ve seen in this this thread, my advice to me is, figure out a way to email the assigning partner, be it in the form of a question, update, etc. Do you want whipped cream on your vanilla ice cream? If I bring vanilla ice cream and the partner said he made it clear he wanted chocolate, then I could pull out the email (or not) — rock and hard place.



I think your perspective is off. A law firm is a business trying to answer questions and provide service to clients, not an exam you get points on. Don't worry (or worry less) about the process by which you get to the right answer/product, and instead focus on getting there.

The correct answer is "well, if you need chocolate how do we get to chocolate." You're hardly the first junior lawyer to be lead astray when given an assignment, but you'll stand out favorably if upon realizing it you work efficiently to getting to where you need to be.

Junior lawyers aren't just not-psychic, they're all the way to clueless. Expect scenarios like this to play out repeatedly, understand that it's happening to everyone, and respond with the right attitude.

User avatar
Sheffield
Posts: 411
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:07 am

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby Sheffield » Mon May 27, 2013 5:14 pm

anon2014 wrote:Is it really so uncommon for summer associates to misunderstand assignments? I guess maybe it depends on the assignment system and whether you're getting projects from people who specifically have the task of coordinating assignments (as opposed to getting assignments from partners/associates who are just giving you a part of what they're actually doing without as much attention to our total lack of experience/knowledge).

That’s an interesting question. Depending on the firm, the structure is either (a.) the SA deals directly with the partners and associates or (b.) the firm has an intermediary assigning the various tasks and if there is a question the go-to person is the intermediary. I think I would like b. a lot better (if the intermediary is normally available). On the other hand there are some benefits working directly with partners. Plus, if the intermediary did not like a certain SA, that could certainly be detrimental, whereas, one would have to be a total screw-up to get on the wrong side of a number of partners. Not overthinking — just a bit bored.

anon2014
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:12 pm

Re: Big firm associate working with a team of summers; AMA.

Postby anon2014 » Mon May 27, 2013 5:45 pm

Sheffield wrote: On the other hand there are some benefits working directly with partners. Plus, if the intermediary did not like a certain SA, that could certainly be detrimental, whereas, one would have to be a total screw-up to get on the wrong side of a number of partners. Not overthinking — just a bit bored.


Generally agree with what you're saying, but I think it'd be much harder to get on the bad side of an intermediary, whose job description includes dealing with clueless summer associates.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.