Anonymous User wrote:I’m a practicing attorney at a biglaw firm and a summer I was very close with was no-offered. That summer rushed through 2-3 projects for high-level partners that worked in a practice group the summer had no interest in, but did good work with the group s/he wanted to be in. Unfortunately, the 2-3 high level partners really thought the work was a disaster and lobbied hard to get her/him no offered. His biggest supporters were lower level partners in the group he wanted to be in, but all the higher level partners in that group were super busy on a trial/deal/closing/etc. for the entire summer, so they had no input. The high level partners won.
In the end, in what I think is a move of rationalization, everyone but a handful of people that really liked the summer now act like s/he did terrible work and deserved the no-offer. In sum, the firm tries not to think of it, and when they need to, they rationalize. No one wants to go to work every day for an evil employer, so they ignore the things that point that way.
To me, this is the best evaluation of the situation. The truth has to lie somewhere between "all no offered people are stupid" and "all no offers are because firms are evil." It also walks the line between "arbitrary" and "totally deserved."
Take me, for example. I was 1 of 6 no offered. We were all told that the spots were ours to lose, and everyone acted like we would all be joining. I felt blindsided by it because I was told there was no problem during my midterm, but was given a negative overall final review that made the no-offer less surprising. The most concrete feedback I remember was that it was a combination of work product/attitude. The example I remember was that multiple people said I didn't take enough notes when getting an assignment (herp derp, because I was actively listening not jotting down everything like a 1L in their first class). This was taken as a lack of interest or something similar, so any mistakes I did made were viewed through the lens of "this guy doesn't really want to be here." To be fair, I didn't want to be there after the first week, but I think my work was objectively not no-offerable (based on reviews by "second readers" at the firm).
I also recall one assignment where I was sent to literally just find a good quote for a brief after the partner couldn't find one better than what was in the draft. After a few hours of looking, it was obvious I wouldn't find it (just based on how the relevant cases were written). I gave it a few days, but basically reported back that there was nothing worth using. Whether this affected my offer I don't know, but in retrospect it seems like the kind of thing that can. If a partner on the hiring committee gets all butthurt by being told (correctly) that what they want doesn't exist, then what are you gonna do?
Ok, now compare this to the stories I was told about how bad one had to be to receive a no offer. One was the girl who only did 1 assignment over 10 weeks because she kept making up computer problems as a reason for delay. The other was the guy who slept in his office every afternoon during the summer.
Now it's possible that these stories are true, but it is also possible that the quoted is TCR in that it is all hearsay/exaggerated. I bet that the girl really completed 5 assignments when everyone else did 10. I bet the kid napped 5 times, but somehow got caught 3 of them. Were they no-offer material? Probably, but the stories make it sound worse.
Either way, the stories are problematic because if they are true, then it goes to show they are misleading because you can get offered for a whole lot less. If they are false, they are problematic because it goes to show that no offered stories get blown out of proportion as part of a rationalization process.
So at the end of the day, my no offer wasn't arbitrary. There were real reasons why it happened. Were those reasons objectively strong enough to no offer me (especially in light of the stories used as examples)? I highly doubt it. I think this is the crux of the disagreement here. If your experience is like mine, you kind of assume the reasons for no offers are exaggerated or are bad luck (like getting the hardest assignment from the douchiest partner who also happens to be on the hiring committee). If you didn't, its easier to assume that a few mistakes aren't enough to get no offered. After all, you made mistakes and are still standing, so the no offered kid must have royally fucked up.
The point about the comparison to corporations is also credited. In real life it is often that 5 people are all reviewed by 1 manager. 10 weeks is long enough to know who is better. But when 5 summers do 10 assignments from 30 different people, it is a different story. A major part of being a good employee is knowing what your boss wants (do they want you to check in three times a week or just leave them alone unless you have a necessary question?). When you have 5 bosses in 10 weeks and your competition has 5 different bosses, are you really comparing apples to apples unless it is like a missed deadline?