AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

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Lateral2013
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AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Thu May 30, 2013 9:48 pm

I've been posting comments here and there, but figured it could be helpful to start a thread, especially since you guys are just starting your summers. I'm a senior (think 6-8 years) associate at a large NY firm. I went to a top 20 school after transferring after my 1L year from a state school. Most importantly, as I said in another thread, I was an awful summer. Really truly terrible. So bad that I got no offered. It didn't end my career or life and I'm now several years out. Getting no offered was a really horrible experience for me, and I really think it could have been avoided if I had a mentor that I really trusted and if I would have been confident enough to use him or her. As a result, I go out of my way now to help our summers out here and don't mind doing the same virtually. I'm winding down here as I'm about to make a lateral move, so I got all the time in the world, ask away!

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Icculus
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Icculus » Thu May 30, 2013 9:50 pm

What made you such a bad summer? What should we avoid doing?

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thelawyler
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby thelawyler » Thu May 30, 2013 9:57 pm

How would you prepare for your SA before and even during the summer?

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Thu May 30, 2013 9:58 pm

In a prior thread, someone asked me what made me a bad summer. I was bad on two fronts, the first was socially. I over shared about my personal life with people in the office and I got drunk and puked in front of partners. Not that hard to avoid.

But the second was my work sucked, and I didn't know it at the time. Things were misspelled, there were too many spaces between words, I left in language from the precedent document in my final draft. Basically, stupid mistakes. But I was so interested in being a super star and blowing them away with my brilliant legal mind that I didn't sweat the small stuff. I figured as long as they could see how super smart I was and how well I thought outside of the box, that was more important than typos.

I was wrong. As a summer associate, there is nothing more important than typos. When we review your work, typos jump out at us like red flags. Lawyers love nothing more than finding typos. So use spell check. Then take a ruler and go line by line, from the bottom up and make sure there are no typos. If you are creating a document from a precedent, keep track of what terms/language you take out, and before you turn in the doc, use the find feature and make sure there's nothing else hanging out in the document that you should have taken out.

When we say quality is more important than quantity, we mean it. Take the extra time, it will serve you well.

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Thu May 30, 2013 10:03 pm

thelawyler wrote:How would you prepare for your SA before and even during the summer?


There's nothing you can really do to prepare, to be honest with you. Other than maybe take some time to be really self aware and know your strengths and weaknesses and be alert for both of them through the summer. And convince yourself that you deserve to be there and everything will be ok. I promise you, 99% of the associates who choose to interact with summers do so because we love to teach and mentor. We want you to succeed, rely on us, really. The only caveat is to keep your personal life personal or any inter summer politics or drama to yourself. No matter how well intentioned the associate, it comes out over drinks to other associates. I try really hard to be awesome for the summers but I've found myself chuckling with coworkers about the girl who went through three boyfriends over the summer, or the guy who thinks everyone is out to get him.

Anonymous User
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 30, 2013 10:14 pm

Currently a junior. I bill 2400+ hours a year and my work product is decent and my attitude is great. But I get a little careless at times and miss typos here and there for the sake of being responsive (I always feel rushed to do things when I get a request because I always view it as a fire drill). Is this fatal? I'm working on correcting this, but wondering if I'm basically gonna get fired.

Also, bad if I can't mark up an entire merger agreement by the beginning of year 3?

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Thu May 30, 2013 10:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Currently a junior. I bill 2400+ hours a year and my work product is decent and my attitude is great. But I get a little careless at times and miss typos here and there for the sake of being responsive (I always feel rushed to do things when I get a request because I always view it as a fire drill). Is this fatal? I'm working on correcting this, but wondering if I'm basically gonna get fired.

Also, bad if I can't mark up an entire merger agreement by the beginning of year 3?



Totally different for a junior associate. You are dealing with real clients and time pressure. You aren't on an extended interview and have a much longer time to impress. We all make typos, all the time. I still make typos, the partner I work with makes typos. That's why we review each other's work, and even then some slip through the cracks. so no not fatal, especially if you have a good attitude.

But you should watch the fire drill mentality. It's still my biggest fault all these years later. When I was junior I believed that I couldn't know as much as the more senior attorneys, but I could be more responsive so I always shoot off emails and return calls asap. It's gotten me into trouble more times than I would admit (the email sent without the attachment, copying the wrong person, or just flat out giving a wrong answer). Sadly I have no advice here. I'm the same way and can't seem to break the habit. I think some people are just wired that way. It gets easier as you get more senior because you are dealing with more big picture things, so by the time docs get to you they've been reviewed at least once, you just got to make it through the junior period where it can tank your career. I swear by the ruler trick, it's the only thing that's worked to slow me down.

As for the second question, it depends. What are other junior associates doing? In some firms by year three it is expected you can negotiate a merger agreement for small deals solo, but in other firms third years are still doing due diligence and sig pages.

Myself
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.

Postby Myself » Fri May 31, 2013 11:44 am

.
Last edited by Myself on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Fri May 31, 2013 12:58 pm

ajax adonis wrote:Any typical faux pas that you've seen summers make that you wish you could've prevented?

Do you see any significant differences in the way men vs women are judges/reviewed/etc.?

How about for races?


Socially, the one I see the most is trying too hard. If you are at a firm with 100% offer rate, then it's less of an issue, but in firms where it's pretty much a given that someone or a few someones won't get an offer, the offers go to the people we like. Trying too hard makes it difficult for people to like you. I was a gunner in law school and I can sympathize with that type personality, but its hard to like them or to seek them out. I am actually one of the few lawyers I know who still really loves my job and a big reason for that is that I like the people I work with. When thinking about the next generation, I want to make sure that continues to be the case.

With respect to work, here are a few that I've seen. Not that all of these will cause you not to get an offer, but they are ones that could have been prevented and if there are a bunch of them, the cumulative effect may cause a no offer.

-Don't make the same mistake twice. We get it, you guys are in law school and have never practiced, so if I ask you to take a first crack at a document and you leave in provisions that just aren't applicable in the current deal, that's not a big deal at all. I wouldn't expect you to know to remove them. However, I will take the time to sit down and explain to you why something should be removed. After that, if you make the mistake again, I'll start to get annoyed.

-Don't ask too many questions, but don't ask too few. It's a really fine line. I gave some advice on an earlier thread, if you are going to come with a follow up question or are unsure of something phrase the question in such a way that you make it clear you've tried for yourself to think it through. So "I've looked X Y and Z and based upon that I think A. But before I go down that path, I wanted to see if you had any other suggestions". Go through the document once and get all your questions together and ask them at once. I'd rather sit down for an hour and go through questions than stop what I'm doing 10 times to answer 6 questions. Sometimes it can't be helped, you will have questions you missed, but really try to ask them in bulk.

I don't see any difference in the way races are judged whatsoever. Females versus males, not necessarily judged on work product differently, but I do think males have it easier because socially males can bond with males without too many restrictions. Females I think tend to have to walk a finer line between being friendly and being that girl. FYI, I'm female so that may skew my perspective. Females tend to judge other females a little more harshly, so a male associate might see no difference in how they are treated at all.

desertlaw
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby desertlaw » Fri May 31, 2013 1:42 pm

When is the ideal time to lateral in-house? Did you see your options limited now that you are a senior associate instead of doing it at 4-6th year?

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Fri May 31, 2013 1:49 pm

desertlaw wrote:When is the ideal time to lateral in-house? Did you see your options limited now that you are a senior associate instead of doing it at 4-6th year?



Great question. It depends on the level of in house (like CLO or staff attorney or going to the IB side). IB, usually 3-5 years. Junior in house, really anytime, depends on the company's need. Senior in house, 8-10 years at least. For going in house, the firm you are at is the big determining factor, at least in NYC. The way most people go in house is by going over to work for a client that they have a relationship with rather than applying or submitting resumes.

Yes. My options when making a lateral move were much more limited now as a senior associate. For a couple of reasons. First, I moved from one firm to another after 3 years, so this will be my third firm in my career, that's kinda a lot. Second, taking on a lateral as senior as I am, means that there has to be some conversation about making partner, a firm has to accept that there is another associate in the mix that they may have to share their pot of gold with.

However, I'm actually moving out of the NYC market and into a smaller market in a different geographic region, and the type of work I do is starting to be in high demand again, so I really had no issues getting interest in my resume. If I were looking to lateral within the NYC market, I think it would have been much more difficult, and I would have had to go over to a smaller firm, which I don't think I would ever do.

Anonymous User
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 31, 2013 5:05 pm

Just graduated and I'm going to a V20 doing litigation in NYC. I'd like to eventually (2-4 years) lateral to my hometown, which is a fairly small secondary legal market. Different state in a different part of the country. Preferably I'd lateral to one of the few biglaw offices there, or to one of the large regional/midlaw firms.

Do laterals like this typically lateral on the "partner track," if such a thing exists? Any tips for putting myself in the best situation possible?

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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 31, 2013 5:18 pm

Do laterals like this typically lateral on the "partner track," if such a thing exists? Any tips for putting myself in the best situation possible?


Not OP, but I have firsthand experience with this. The short answer is it depends. The biglaw offices and the regional firms with more than 30 or so lawyers will almost certainly hire you as whatever your class year in NYC would be.

But. If it's like the smaller market I have experience with, those biglaw offices and bigger regional firms are going to make up a far smaller piece of the hiring market than they do in NYC. A lot of the places interested in you -- especially as a litigator -- are going to be the smaller shops, probably in the 15-30 range. Those places likely won't have a lockstep promotion system. You'll be "up" for partner whenever they feel like it (or whenever you build a big enough book to make them scared that you're going to pull it).

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Fri May 31, 2013 5:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Just graduated and I'm going to a V20 doing litigation in NYC. I'd like to eventually (2-4 years) lateral to my hometown, which is a fairly small secondary legal market. Different state in a different part of the country. Preferably I'd lateral to one of the few biglaw offices there, or to one of the large regional/midlaw firms.

Do laterals like this typically lateral on the "partner track," if such a thing exists? Any tips for putting myself in the best situation possible?


As the above poster said, it depends on so many things. Whether the market or the firm has a particular bias against NY trained litigators, what connections you have in your hometown, how well you keep up with them while you are in NY.

As far as tips, if the market you eventually want to be in has a particular industry (like Detroit with cars or something like that) try to get experience litigating matters involving those types of industries. Also, try to not get too specialized while in NY. If you have 3 years experience litigating patent claims for square widgets, and your eventual market has little patent work, or has never heard of a square widget you are going to have a much harder time. Find out if there are firms that really welcome NY experience and keep them on your radar throughout your time in NY. Start a conversation about 6 months before you really want to move. Often times a firm may want you but just not have the space for you, so you need to keep a conversation going so that when they do need someone, they go directly to you.

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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 31, 2013 5:39 pm

If you're an introvert (friendly, but just quiet), does that make it harder to stick around in NYC biglaw for a while even if work product is good?

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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 31, 2013 5:43 pm

Lateral2013 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Just graduated and I'm going to a V20 doing litigation in NYC. I'd like to eventually (2-4 years) lateral to my hometown, which is a fairly small secondary legal market. Different state in a different part of the country. Preferably I'd lateral to one of the few biglaw offices there, or to one of the large regional/midlaw firms.

Do laterals like this typically lateral on the "partner track," if such a thing exists? Any tips for putting myself in the best situation possible?


As the above poster said, it depends on so many things. Whether the market or the firm has a particular bias against NY trained litigators, what connections you have in your hometown, how well you keep up with them while you are in NY.

As far as tips, if the market you eventually want to be in has a particular industry (like Detroit with cars or something like that) try to get experience litigating matters involving those types of industries. Also, try to not get too specialized while in NY. If you have 3 years experience litigating patent claims for square widgets, and your eventual market has little patent work, or has never heard of a square widget you are going to have a much harder time. Find out if there are firms that really welcome NY experience and keep them on your radar throughout your time in NY. Start a conversation about 6 months before you really want to move. Often times a firm may want you but just not have the space for you, so you need to keep a conversation going so that when they do need someone, they go directly to you.



Thanks!

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Fri May 31, 2013 5:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If you're an introvert (friendly, but just quiet), does that make it harder to stick around in NYC biglaw for a while even if work product is good?


Do you mean make it harder not to get laid off/fired or make it harder for you as a person to take the job?

If its the first. Absolutely not. You will see that there are enough people in any law firm that are just lazy or not the sharpest tool in the shed. If there are layoffs, at least in the first round, they are the first to go, regardless of personality.

I actually think as junior associates introverts have the advantage (as opposed to interviewing/ SA where I think they are at a disadvantage). Being an introvert is not so great when it comes to building business and client contact, but that is a long way down the road. As a junior associate, as long as you are friendly, I suspect you will find you may do better than the people who are extroverts. Extroverts run the risk of rubbing someone the wrong way. The truth of the matter is if you do good work, and you don't grind on people's nerves, you will be fine and maybe even preferred over people who are a bit more out there.

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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:09 am

Any tricks of the trade you want to share that aren't obvious (be available! work hard! have a great attitude!) that you think have helped you thrive/survive in BigLaw?

Basically, what are a few things you wish you could tell yourself if you could go back in time?

shock259
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby shock259 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:29 am

How did you end up in the practice group you are in? Did you like that work more? Or was it the personalities of the people within that group? Or was it the one with the most work available?

Thanks!

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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:23 am

I'd love to be a partner at a law firm, but I'll be starting out at a regional office of a V10 firm. No chances. I'd rather become a partner at a smaller firm. If I'm doing mega deals, is that transferrable to going to a smaller firm (like a regional of 40-80 attorneys). It seems like the Biglaw pyramid structure and rate schemes would prevent me from leading smaller deals that would be good experience for going to a smaller firm.

Considering all of that, when is it best to make the jump to a smaller firm?

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RVP11
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby RVP11 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:05 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'd love to be a partner at a law firm, but I'll be starting out at a regional office of a V10 firm. No chances. I'd rather become a partner at a smaller firm. If I'm doing mega deals, is that transferrable to going to a smaller firm (like a regional of 40-80 attorneys). It seems like the Biglaw pyramid structure and rate schemes would prevent me from leading smaller deals that would be good experience for going to a smaller firm.

Considering all of that, when is it best to make the jump to a smaller firm?


As soon as possible. Go back in time to 2L OCI?

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:Any tricks of the trade you want to share that aren't obvious (be available! work hard! have a great attitude!) that you think have helped you thrive/survive in BigLaw?

Basically, what are a few things you wish you could tell yourself if you could go back in time?


The biggest thing I would tell myself is "grow the F***up!" I was a K-JD and was just totally immature and had no idea how to have an adult job. I would come in hungover on Wednesday mornings, leave everyday at 4:00 to workout and return in workout gear, and other just stupid things. I think I was more immature than most, with more balls than many so that advice probably won't help you much.

The second is to be proactive. Don't be ok just doing the assignments you are given. Get involved with the whole process as much as you can (even if that means not being able to bill the time). When you see the whole picture, it makes it easier to know what needs to be done without someone asking you. And that is the key to being a great associate, nobody having to hold your hand and being able to say "already taken care of" when someone asks you to do something.

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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:17 am

RVP11 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'd love to be a partner at a law firm, but I'll be starting out at a regional office of a V10 firm. No chances. I'd rather become a partner at a smaller firm. If I'm doing mega deals, is that transferrable to going to a smaller firm (like a regional of 40-80 attorneys). It seems like the Biglaw pyramid structure and rate schemes would prevent me from leading smaller deals that would be good experience for going to a smaller firm.

Considering all of that, when is it best to make the jump to a smaller firm?


As soon as possible. Go back in time to 2L OCI?


Yeah, but that's not always possible. Lots of regional firms I am/was interested in only really hire Biglaw castoffs.

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:20 am

shock259 wrote:How did you end up in the practice group you are in? Did you like that work more? Or was it the personalities of the people within that group? Or was it the one with the most work available?

Thanks!


I didn't summer at my first firm (as I was no offered after my SA) so I didn't know the people. The firm that I went to out of law school was a satellite office of a major NYC firm. We had three choices of practice groups, all transactional. I picked the group that had the reputation for working less. Had no idea what they did really or anything about it, just that they tended to work less. I really am a model associate.

In my opinion, a lot of transactional work is the same, so don't sweat it. Doing a merger agreement, is much like doing an indenture, is much like doing a credit agreement, is much like drafting a mortgage. The substantive law and subject matter might change, but the process of getting to the end goal is the same (take a precedent, draft based upon agreed upon terms, send out to other party, haggle about the small sh*t until the night before closing, and scramble to get all the pieces to fall into place before close). The exception would be maybe some of the practices involved with SEC compliance.

Spend the summer figuring out whether you prefer litigation or transactional, and believe me most people have a very clear preference. For me, I'd go crazy doing litigation because when doing legal research, there's never any point you can say for certain you are DONE, there's always that lingering doubt that you may have missed something. I couldn't deal with that. Litigators would probably say the idea of drafting form documents and never going to court sounds like hell to them. Everyone has a preference. Work on figuring out yours and then narrow it down from there.

Lateral2013
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Re: AMA: Current Senior Associate NY BigLaw

Postby Lateral2013 » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'd love to be a partner at a law firm, but I'll be starting out at a regional office of a V10 firm. No chances. I'd rather become a partner at a smaller firm. If I'm doing mega deals, is that transferrable to going to a smaller firm (like a regional of 40-80 attorneys). It seems like the Biglaw pyramid structure and rate schemes would prevent me from leading smaller deals that would be good experience for going to a smaller firm.

Considering all of that, when is it best to make the jump to a smaller firm?


Ok the first answer wasn't helpful at all and just wrong. First of all, try not to look too far in the future. Do what works for you now. Where I thought I wanted to be when I left law school and where I want to be now are very different places. I would never ever ever work for a small firm, and when I got out of law school that's where I thought I wanted to be. When starting out at a large firm you have resources available to you that you will not have in smaller firms (such as a word processing department, a centralized filing system etc).

But yes, the experience doing large cap deals is absolutely transferrable. The process will be the same no matter the size of the transactions.




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