"Free Market" System

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Anonymous User
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"Free Market" System

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:23 pm

Law firms that have a "Free Market" System for work assignments say that associates are able to manage their own workload by determining their own practice areas, what matters they work on, and which attorneys they work for.

So how does the "Free Market" System actually work in practice?

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fundamentallybroken
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Re: "Free Market" System

Postby fundamentallybroken » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:30 pm

The same way it works in the real world: if the partners (your customers) like you and your work, you have so much work you can't possibly keep up; if you piss enough people off, work doesn't come to you, and you go hungry.

ETA: Why anonymous?

Murphy1022
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Re: "Free Market" System

Postby Murphy1022 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:02 am

fundamentallybroken wrote:The same way it works in the real world: if the partners (your customers) like you and your work, you have so much work you can't possibly keep up; if you piss enough people off, work doesn't come to you, and you go hungry.

ETA: Why anonymous?


I'm interested in how this works too, and the answer above didn't provide any substantive insight at all. Anyone care not to be a jerk about it?

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sambeber
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Re: "Free Market" System

Postby sambeber » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:09 am

Murphy1022 wrote:
fundamentallybroken wrote:The same way it works in the real world: if the partners (your customers) like you and your work, you have so much work you can't possibly keep up; if you piss enough people off, work doesn't come to you, and you go hungry.

ETA: Why anonymous?


I'm interested in how this works too, and the answer above didn't provide any substantive insight at all. Anyone care not to be a jerk about it?

The interesting thing is that the answer above did provide substantive insight. Are you truly interested in the mechanics of someone knocking on your door or you picking up the phone versus an assignment pool?

RodneyRuxin
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Re: "Free Market" System

Postby RodneyRuxin » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:09 am

Murphy1022 wrote:
fundamentallybroken wrote:The same way it works in the real world: if the partners (your customers) like you and your work, you have so much work you can't possibly keep up; if you piss enough people off, work doesn't come to you, and you go hungry.

ETA: Why anonymous?


I'm interested in how this works too, and the answer above didn't provide any substantive insight at all. Anyone care not to be a jerk about it?


I think his answer was pretty helpful.

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fundamentallybroken
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Re: "Free Market" System

Postby fundamentallybroken » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:39 am

RodneyRuxin wrote:
Murphy1022 wrote:
fundamentallybroken wrote:The same way it works in the real world: if the partners (your customers) like you and your work, you have so much work you can't possibly keep up; if you piss enough people off, work doesn't come to you, and you go hungry.

ETA: Why anonymous?


I'm interested in how this works too, and the answer above didn't provide any substantive insight at all. Anyone care not to be a jerk about it?


I think his answer was pretty helpful.


I'd have given even more info if there was more to give, but it really is as simple as that. Partners give you work (or you ask around for work from partners), and you do it. If you do a good job, and add value for the partner's client, then it's likely the partner will come back to you for more work on other cases/transactions/general matters. If you fuck it up (or really even just do the minimum of what was asked, without bringing value to the table), then it's unlikely you will get much work from that partner in the future. Do that enough times, and you won't have any work at all.

RodneyRuxin
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Re: "Free Market" System

Postby RodneyRuxin » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:59 am

fundamentallybroken wrote:
RodneyRuxin wrote:
Murphy1022 wrote:
fundamentallybroken wrote:The same way it works in the real world: if the partners (your customers) like you and your work, you have so much work you can't possibly keep up; if you piss enough people off, work doesn't come to you, and you go hungry.

ETA: Why anonymous?


I'm interested in how this works too, and the answer above didn't provide any substantive insight at all. Anyone care not to be a jerk about it?


I think his answer was pretty helpful.


I'd have given even more info if there was more to give, but it really is as simple as that. Partners give you work (or you ask around for work from partners), and you do it. If you do a good job, and add value for the partner's client, then it's likely the partner will come back to you for more work on other cases/transactions/general matters. If you fuck it up (or really even just do the minimum of what was asked, without bringing value to the table), then it's unlikely you will get much work from that partner in the future. Do that enough times, and you won't have any work at all.



Another good thing is that partners are sort of required to not be total dicks because they need people to accept their work.

TooOld4This
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Re: "Free Market" System

Postby TooOld4This » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:37 am

TBF, there is more to playing the free market system game well than just knocking on doors and doing good work.

To really succeed in a free market system you need to figure out the politics pretty quickly. You want to know not just what type of work you want to do, but which partners have the best reputations and the greatest ability/willingness to protect their associates. The more proactive you are, the better chance you will have to control your own destiny.

Over your SA summer at a free market firm, it is a good idea to listen as much as possible. Get a sense of who does what, who is good to work for, and who people try not to make eye contact with. Try to get to know associates at all levels. Junior associates will be mid-levels by the time you start and can be good allies in helping you navigate your way to good work. More senior associates can also be useful, but don't be surprised if a good number of them have left by the time your first day rolls around.

Know what you are going to say before you knock on a partner's door. Generally you want to introduce yourself, tell them why you are interested in what they do, and let them know you would love to work on a project for them, even if it is (nonbillable) client dev. Don't ask too many people for work at once. You want to be able to knock first projects out of the park and you can't do that if you are juggling too much. Saying no to someone you asked for work from can close the door permanently.

Once you have work, you need to learn to manage it. Ideally you will find a group that will keep you fed. If you do good work, you run the risk of having too many people coming to you too often. This is where you really need to be aware of politics.

Just like good reputations spread, bad ones spread (often more quickly, since partners are more likely to keep good associates to themselves). This will result in it becoming increasingly difficult to find work and the quality of the work going down. Most free market firms I know of have a (sometimes informal) backstop assignment system, where associates with low hours are funneled to the partners/projects other associates don't want. If you find yourself there, start putting your résumé out.




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