Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

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Anonymous User
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Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:05 am

My friend mentioned this awkward situation in his SA, and since we had differing opinions on the best approach to it I wanted to get opinions here.

SA receives an assignment from Associate 1 via voicemail at his desk. SA can't make out part of the message, so calls back Associate 1 hoping to clarify. No answer, so SA visits Associate 1's office, but Associate 1 is absent. 1's officemate, Associate 2, says 1 should be back soon; she offers to have 1 call SA back as soon as 1 returns. SA says sure, thanks, and goes back to his office. SA waits about three hours with no call from 1, then finally calls 1 again.

1 answers now, and when SA asks the clarifying question, 1 says "I've been here for three hours, why did you take so long to ask such a basic question about the assignment?"

- Does SA explain that 2 had promised him to pass on the message and apparently just forgot?
- Or does SA take the fall and just apologize for it?

Basically (at least in terms of not damaging your likelihood of an offer) is it worse to throw Associate 2 under the bus and blame her for the break in communication, or is worse to look incompetent/clueless by pretending he sat around for three hours w/ no idea how to approach the assignment?

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wiseowl
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby wiseowl » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:11 am

why didn't he just leave a voicemail when he called?

splitmuch
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby splitmuch » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:My friend mentioned this awkward situation in his SA, and since we had differing opinions on the best approach to it I wanted to get opinions here.

SA receives an assignment from Associate 1 via voicemail at his desk. SA can't make out part of the message, so calls back Associate 1 hoping to clarify. No answer, so SA visits Associate 1's office, but Associate 1 is absent. 1's officemate, Associate 2, says 1 should be back soon; she offers to have 1 call SA back as soon as 1 returns. SA says sure, thanks, and goes back to his office. SA waits about three hours with no call from 1, then finally calls 1 again.

1 answers now, and when SA asks the clarifying question, 1 says "I've been here for three hours, why did you take so long to ask such a basic question about the assignment?"

- Does SA explain that 2 had promised him to pass on the message and apparently just forgot?
- Or does SA take the fall and just apologize for it?

Basically (at least in terms of not damaging your likelihood of an offer) is it worse to throw Associate 2 under the bus and blame her for the break in communication, or is worse to look incompetent/clueless by pretending he sat around for three hours w/ no idea how to approach the assignment?


Wouldn't Associate 1 have seen the missed call?

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:16 am

That's very tough. Logically, I would lean towards not blaming attorney 2, although emotionally that is hard to do. The SA can explain that he contacted the associate several times to no avail. Three hours isn't that long of a wait, and perhaps the SA could have gotten started in the meantime on the parts that he did understand. It sounds like the associate is being a bit unreasonable. And hopefully, associate 2 can follow through later on his own initiative and say, "Oh, I forgot to mention, but I said that I would tell you that SA stopped by."

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:19 am

splitmuch wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My friend mentioned this awkward situation in his SA, and since we had differing opinions on the best approach to it I wanted to get opinions here.

SA receives an assignment from Associate 1 via voicemail at his desk. SA can't make out part of the message, so calls back Associate 1 hoping to clarify. No answer, so SA visits Associate 1's office, but Associate 1 is absent. 1's officemate, Associate 2, says 1 should be back soon; she offers to have 1 call SA back as soon as 1 returns. SA says sure, thanks, and goes back to his office. SA waits about three hours with no call from 1, then finally calls 1 again.

1 answers now, and when SA asks the clarifying question, 1 says "I've been here for three hours, why did you take so long to ask such a basic question about the assignment?"

- Does SA explain that 2 had promised him to pass on the message and apparently just forgot?
- Or does SA take the fall and just apologize for it?

Basically (at least in terms of not damaging your likelihood of an offer) is it worse to throw Associate 2 under the bus and blame her for the break in communication, or is worse to look incompetent/clueless by pretending he sat around for three hours w/ no idea how to approach the assignment?


Wouldn't Associate 1 have seen the missed call?


I'm not sure whether they record "missed calls" in the office phone system or just voicemails. Anyway, @ wiseowl, yeah he probably should have just left a voicemail to start with, but given that he didn't and this is how it turned out, just wondering what's the best (or least bad) way to dig out of the hole

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:20 am

As stated above, 1 should see missed calls and realize that your friend already contacted him/her earlier.

I think the best approach would be to say I called you earlier but you weren't in and I asked around and heard you would be back in a bit. In the meantime I worked on another assignment/did another activity. Since being gone for "a bit" sounds like a short period of time, 3 hours is a reasonable gap between the first and second calls.

TooOld4This
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby TooOld4This » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:21 am

"Friend" fucked up.
1. They should have left a voicemail/email.
2. They should have realized the other associate was not an assistant and could have gotten pulled on something that would have prevented the message from getting passed along.
3. Be back soon means that when the person had not heard in 30-45 minutes, they should have followed up.

Explaining that they stopped by and saw the other associate is not throwing them under the bus, because this gap in communication is 100% on your friend for the reasons above.

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wiseowl
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby wiseowl » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:As stated above, 1 should see missed calls and realize that your friend already contacted him/her earlier.

I think the best approach would be to say I called you earlier but you weren't in and I asked around and heard you would be back in a bit. In the meantime I worked on another assignment/did another activity. Since being gone for "a bit" sounds like a short period of time, 3 hours is a reasonable gap between the first and second calls.


This is probably the best option. Throwing Associate 2 under the bus is highly unadvisable.

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:48 am

EMAIL EMAIL EMAIL.


Hard records homie. Furthermore, emails allow attorneys to reply at their convienience; unless this was an urgent assignement, he should have emailed.

AllTheLawz
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby AllTheLawz » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:59 am

SA should apologize.. its not Associate 2's problem that the SA apparently does not understand the value of e-mail. No one under the age of 35 listens to voicemails, always follow up a work related call with e-mail.

Olive83
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Olive83 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:09 pm

Well, it's already happened. Live and learn.

At this point, your friend should very graciously and quickly take the blame, then move on by knocking the assignment out of the park. A simple, "I'm sorry. I dropped by earlier but heard that you were out and would be back in a bit. I should have followed up sooner. When would you like this assignment by?"

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:24 am

(OP here)

Just for the record, how it ended up going was:

My friend (SA) says he kind of reflexively replied that Associate 2 had promised to tell him when 1 had returned, and that he'd been waiting to hear back before calling. 1 then audibly asked 2 (who was still there in the room with 1) whether that was true, 2 evidently confirmed, and 1 said to SA "Well it'd still be a little more efficient if you'd left a voicemail, just for next time."

2 later tracked down SA and told him she'd been kind of humiliated by the incident. She promised she wasn't going to personally hold a grudge, but said SA should know in general for his success at the firm that it's not good to assign blame, especially to someone higher on the totem pole.

Basically my friend freaked out at that point and spent the next couple weeks worrying about it, but ultimately did end up with the offer (along with I believe 100% of the other summers). He didn't even bring this up to me until after the offer, but when I heard the way it went down it sounded like a good learn-from-others'-mistakes lesson.

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:(OP here)

Just for the record, how it ended up going was:

My friend (SA) says he kind of reflexively replied that Associate 2 had promised to tell him when 1 had returned, and that he'd been waiting to hear back before calling. 1 then audibly asked 2 (who was still there in the room with 1) whether that was true, 2 evidently confirmed, and 1 said to SA "Well it'd still be a little more efficient if you'd left a voicemail, just for next time."

2 later tracked down SA and told him she'd been kind of humiliated by the incident. She promised she wasn't going to personally hold a grudge, but said SA should know in general for his success at the firm that it's not good to assign blame, especially to someone higher on the totem pole.

Basically my friend freaked out at that point and spent the next couple weeks worrying about it, but ultimately did end up with the offer (along with I believe 100% of the other summers). He didn't even bring this up to me until after the offer, but when I heard the way it went down it sounded like a good learn-from-others'-mistakes lesson.

The "don't blame others" advice is all well and good advice, but 2's response about being "humiliated" by the incident is just absurd. I can't for the life of me understand people who are so insecure that they feel the need to power trip over something like this. Sure, the SA should have sent an email to reach 1 since he probably had his blackberry with him. But 2 dropped the ball after offering to help, and her posturing to mess with a SA is honestly just extremely weird.

If she was literally and truthfully humiliated by forgetting. to. pass. on. a. message. to. her. junior. associate. officemate. . . . I mean, I don't know what to say. I'd honestly tell your friend to do everything he can to avoid interacting with her in the future. She sounds nuts.

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby onehellofaride » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:49 am

.
Last edited by onehellofaride on Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nealric
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby nealric » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:37 am

If the associate is junior enough to have an office mate (i.e. a first or second year), nobody who matters at the firm cares what they think.

They were just getting too excited about being the one to give the orders for once.

AllTheLawz
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby AllTheLawz » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:10 pm

nealric wrote:If the associate is junior enough to have an office mate (i.e. a first or second year), nobody who matters at the firm cares what they think.

They were just getting too excited about being the one to give the orders for once.


Honestly, to me it sounds more like 2 was trying to give some friendly advice after the SA made a ridiculous series of mistakes. There was really no need to do anything other than say "my bad, I stopped by your office but I should have emailed or left a voicemail." I can't imagine a scenario where telling 1 that he told 2 to call him improves anything. In fact, it seems extremely childish to me. Anyone with even a modicum of professionalism would know how to handle this themselves.

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InferenceOptional
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby InferenceOptional » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:15 pm

Even if it was not your friend's fault at all they should still apologize. Part of being entry level is not having very much power. When you don't have very much power you should try to take the blame for everything. Taking blame shows character.

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guano
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby guano » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:23 pm

So you're asking advice about something that was resolved weeks ago?

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:27 pm

The answer is take the fall and just apologize. Your "friend" shouldn't be relying on other associates to deliver messages anyway -- the responsible thing to do is leave a vm, send an e-mail, even if it's just "when you have a minute I have some questions about the assignment" or to leave the message with the ASSISTANT or SECRETARY. It's not some other associate's job to keep track of your messages.

Besides, it's not a major mistake, and blaming just makes you look blamey.

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:30 pm

I don't want to blow this out of proportion, because, again, it's kind of a minor/newbie mistake, but this speaks to how you should think about things in general. Your goal should never be to pass responsibility off on someone else, it should be to make sure what needs to get done gets done. So "I told x to tell you" just doesn't cut it, because if you really care about the receipt of a message, you make sure the message is received.

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Icculus
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Icculus » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:33 pm

guano wrote:So you're asking advice about something that was resolved weeks ago?


Yeah, seriously, WTF?

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iLaw
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby iLaw » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:36 pm

AllTheLawz wrote:No one under the age of 35 listens to voicemails...

True enough. That is the only comment that made this thread bearable.

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby UMich11 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My friend mentioned this awkward situation in his SA, and since we had differing opinions on the best approach to it I wanted to get opinions here.

SA receives an assignment from Associate 1 via voicemail at his desk. SA can't make out part of the message, so calls back Associate 1 hoping to clarify. No answer, so SA visits Associate 1's office, but Associate 1 is absent. 1's officemate, Associate 2, says 1 should be back soon; she offers to have 1 call SA back as soon as 1 returns. SA says sure, thanks, and goes back to his office. SA waits about three hours with no call from 1, then finally calls 1 again.

1 answers now, and when SA asks the clarifying question, 1 says "I've been here for three hours, why did you take so long to ask such a basic question about the assignment?"

- Does SA explain that 2 had promised him to pass on the message and apparently just forgot?
- Or does SA take the fall and just apologize for it?

Basically (at least in terms of not damaging your likelihood of an offer) is it worse to throw Associate 2 under the bus and blame her for the break in communication, or is worse to look incompetent/clueless by pretending he sat around for three hours w/ no idea how to approach the assignment?



Should have sent an email, left vmail, gone and tried to find A1, and sent him a text too(or fbook message if they're that close). Don't pass the blame, "time to (wo)man up!". They're an adult, should take responsibility for themselves in this case.

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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:30 pm

I always send an email in this type of situation because I've been burned too many times in the past.

I'm also that obnoxious person who adds generous CCs to emails, just so that 1) the recipient knows that I am watching for them to reply and everyone who is CC'd is also watching now too, 2) multiple people will know that I am actively following up on an assignment. Yes, it's stupid to have to play these games, but get used to it, it's not just law firms that are on your ass like this. Sometimes I like to send an email out even if I've talked to someone about something IRL, just so that there is a paper trail that I can point to later if need be. Better safe than sorry, though you have to be sensitive to the dynamics of your work environment - obviously there may be situations where copying an authority figure unnecessarily will make you look bad.

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Icculus
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Re: Friend's awkward SA situation - what's the etiquette?

Postby Icculus » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I always send an email in this type of situation because I've been burned too many times in the past.

I'm also that obnoxious person who adds generous CCs to emails, just so that 1) the recipient knows that I am watching for them to reply and everyone who is CC'd is also watching now too, 2) multiple people will know that I am actively following up on an assignment. Yes, it's stupid to have to play these games, but get used to it, it's not just law firms that are on your ass like this. Sometimes I like to send an email out even if I've talked to someone about something IRL, just so that there is a paper trail that I can point to later if need be. Better safe than sorry, though you have to be sensitive to the dynamics of your work environment - obviously there may be situations where copying an authority figure unnecessarily will make you look bad.


This. I have done it in every job I have ever had.




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