Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

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FDRSnowball
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:45 pm

Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

Postby FDRSnowball » Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:59 pm

Ok, first of all, I am sincerely looking for help here. I am not here to humblebrag and I realize that the "dilemma" I am in is a good problem to have. Nevertheless it is a tough decision and I would appreciate thoughtful responses and advice.

I'm a 2L at a T-30 law school. I was lucky enough to get a Summer Associate offer from a very well respected large firm in the geographic location I want to practice in. It's not Cravath/Sidley level BigLaw, but it's in the NLJ 350 (near the bottom mid-law level) and they are very well respected in this area. The position is for six weeks (they require split summer) and the pay is better than any paycheck I have ever received. I accepted the position because there was a short time frame in which to do so and I didn't expect to find another private practice offer that would be anywhere near as good as this one.

I have been pretty focused on criminal law and public interest, but decided to branch out during OCI because I didn't want to pigeon-hole myself by having a pure public interest resume. I am honestly very conflicted between pursuing a public interest career, or taking the safe (and more lucrative) private practice route. I was hoping to get a private practice job for half the summer and a public interest position for the other half so I would get a little more experience to help me decide which route to pursue. I am not as interested in the corporate law stuff as I am in criminal law, but this firm has a great business litigation practice which I would be into and they also have a pretty big white collar defense practice which I find pretty interesting (although this is a criminal law area where I would prefer to prosecute rather than defend).

Recently one of my professors asked me if I would be interested in working at a very prestigious public defender office. He worked there during the summers when he was a student at HLS and still has lots of contacts including a great relationship with the recruiting director. I was extremely excited, and decided to interview with them and raise the prospect of a split summer after the job offer was mine. I got the offer, but they are not willing to let me split. Which brings me (finally) to my dilemma. This is a tremendous opportunity. It is one of the best (if not the best) PD offices in the country and would provide me with great training and a boatload of networking connections for my PD job search following graduation. However I am worried about the effects on going back on my commitment to the other firm. How screwed do you guys think I'll be if I retract my acceptance of the firm offer?
Do firms keep a "blacklist" of people who do stuff like this? If things don't work out with this PD office and I want to practice in my hometown (where the firm is located) will I have damaged my reputation in the legal community there? It is not a big town (350,000 people) so it is a pretty close-knit bar. I would appreciate any insight you folks might be able to offer.

underwhere759
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:48 pm

Re: Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

Postby underwhere759 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:19 pm

First and foremost congrats on getting two offers! That is a fantastic dilemma to have.

As for what to do, though career services are often useless for most things you may want to ask their advice on this problem.

My advice would be to do what you want to do, and if that is the Public Defender's office go for it- and apologize wholeheartedly to the firm.
Why?

1. Remember, especially in this economy, no matter how much a firm "likes" you - this is business and the only person truly looking out for your best interest is you. 3 years down the road (or even less) a firm could fire you if they are financial trouble.

2. They will not like it- but probably won't be that upset. ITE you are a replaceable commodity- and especially this far away from summer they can find someone else to fill your spot.

3. If you take the firm job and don't like it- you may wind up back 3L year looking for another job you would prefer- and that search will be a whole lot harder.

4. Ultimately, you have to go with what will make you happy. I know this is very touchy feely non-top law school.com advice- but you really do need to make the decision for yourself. I am in my 2nd year out of law school- and I am in a job that is a compromise between what I want to do and something I definitely don't want to do. You will be a whole lot happier (once you get over the short term joy of just having a job) if you are doing something you like.

5. It isn't the end of the world to reject an offer you have already accepted- especially if you do so graciously and ASAP. Firms will understand, and if they don't they certainly won't waste time calling everyone in your market telling them not to hire you.

Just my two cents

anon168
Posts: 920
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

Postby anon168 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:07 pm

FDRSnowball wrote:Ok, first of all, I am sincerely looking for help here. I am not here to humblebrag and I realize that the "dilemma" I am in is a good problem to have. Nevertheless it is a tough decision and I would appreciate thoughtful responses and advice.

I'm a 2L at a T-30 law school. I was lucky enough to get a Summer Associate offer from a very well respected large firm in the geographic location I want to practice in. It's not Cravath/Sidley level BigLaw, but it's in the NLJ 350 (near the bottom mid-law level) and they are very well respected in this area. The position is for six weeks (they require split summer) and the pay is better than any paycheck I have ever received. I accepted the position because there was a short time frame in which to do so and I didn't expect to find another private practice offer that would be anywhere near as good as this one.

I have been pretty focused on criminal law and public interest, but decided to branch out during OCI because I didn't want to pigeon-hole myself by having a pure public interest resume. I am honestly very conflicted between pursuing a public interest career, or taking the safe (and more lucrative) private practice route. I was hoping to get a private practice job for half the summer and a public interest position for the other half so I would get a little more experience to help me decide which route to pursue. I am not as interested in the corporate law stuff as I am in criminal law, but this firm has a great business litigation practice which I would be into and they also have a pretty big white collar defense practice which I find pretty interesting (although this is a criminal law area where I would prefer to prosecute rather than defend).

Recently one of my professors asked me if I would be interested in working at a very prestigious public defender office. He worked there during the summers when he was a student at HLS and still has lots of contacts including a great relationship with the recruiting director. I was extremely excited, and decided to interview with them and raise the prospect of a split summer after the job offer was mine. I got the offer, but they are not willing to let me split. Which brings me (finally) to my dilemma. This is a tremendous opportunity. It is one of the best (if not the best) PD offices in the country and would provide me with great training and a boatload of networking connections for my PD job search following graduation. However I am worried about the effects on going back on my commitment to the other firm. How screwed do you guys think I'll be if I retract my acceptance of the firm offer?
Do firms keep a "blacklist" of people who do stuff like this? If things don't work out with this PD office and I want to practice in my hometown (where the firm is located) will I have damaged my reputation in the legal community there? It is not a big town (350,000 people) so it is a pretty close-knit bar. I would appreciate any insight you folks might be able to offer.


If you want to be a PD, and really covet the PD gig, then ditch the firm.

I've broken off acceptances with judges. Life goes on. You're not that important. No one keeps a running "black" lists of 2L summers that renege.

Good luck and congrats.

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11725
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

Postby kalvano » Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:38 pm

What's the firm's offer rate versus job possibility with the PD's office?

FDRSnowball
Posts: 18
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:45 pm

Re: Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

Postby FDRSnowball » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:10 am

kalvano wrote:What's the firm's offer rate versus job possibility with the PD's office?


I don't know exact numbers for either one, but I do have a few reasons to think that my prospects with the firm are pretty good provided I don't perform poorly this summer. It is a new office for a growing firm and most of the partners are fairly old so there seems to be room for upward mobility in the near future. They also mentioned during the interview that they have had multiple associates stay for a few years and then jump ship for a larger market. They seemed very interested in my ties to the area and my interest in practicing there following graduation. I also know several recent alums from the past two years who have gotten offers after doing a 2L summer gig, and the summer program

I could probably find out what the rate for the PD office is but I haven't run across the info yet. The whole thing has been kind of a whirlwind since I didn't go through their traditional hiring process, but was recommended by a professor who worked their previously. I am really still researching the office. I don't know what my chances of a permanent offer would be but I don't have ties to that city and I think I would be competing against a bigger group of summer clerks at the PD office compared to the firm, and the other PD summer clerks will be from higher ranked law schools for sure. So while I don't have any hard data on either the firm or the PD, I probably feel a little better about my long term prospects with the firm

Also, thanks to the above two posters for their advice. I appreciate it.

User avatar
mr. wednesday
Posts: 406
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:15 am

Re: Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

Postby mr. wednesday » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:18 am

You will be fine if you retract your offer, because chances are, no other firm will look at you anyway if the PD office doesn't give you a post-grad offer. Don't even worry about that part. Even if you ruffle a few feathers, it's not that big of a deal and you need to do what's best for you.

Worry about the part where you could potentially graduate unemployed. The stress of going through 3L year and then bar study with no idea how you are going to pay rent or your loans absolutely cannot be overstated. It can be life changing and not in a good way.

What is your debt load? If the firm only wants 6 weeks, can you apply to other PD offices that are willing to let you split?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273561
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:43 am

Before you withdraw from the firm, see if the firm is willing to be flexible. How long is the gig at the PD? Depending on when you finish next semester, you may be able to do six weeks at one place and 8 weeks at another.

Is it at all possible to do both?

User avatar
Amity
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:36 am

Re: Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

Postby Amity » Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:07 am

If this year is like last year, there are 16 weeks between school ending and school starting. Your “firm” SA can begin right after your PD SA. True, no summer vacation but (if like last year) there will be one three day weekend and one four day weekend (one holiday fell on Thurs and no SA was required to work on Friday). So you might be able to fit in two mini-vacations.

sparty99
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:41 pm

Re: Looking for advice on an employment dilemma

Postby sparty99 » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:44 pm

Work at the firm. Do the PD route during the school year as an externship. Make sure you do white collar projects at the firm.




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