BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

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BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:12 pm

I am a 1st year at large firm in a secondary market in the Midwest. After 8 months of practicing I would dub myself as an average/below average associate. I have made some minor mistakes to a handful of larger mistakes due to being the guy who ends up with something way over his head on his plate at the end of the day when everyone else is gone and it has an asap deadline. Anyway, over the past few weeks I have heard rumblings that the word is being 'sort of spread' that I have made a few mistakes/annoyed some partners. At this point, my anxiety is sky high and I am slightly annoyed. I have no mentor/my 'legal assistant' is pretty much MIA so I am basically winging this shit everyday. Other 1st years among the firm in different practice groups seem to be thriving.

My question is, have I completely fucked up? My billables this year are crazy low as there has not been a lot of work coming my way, but that seems to have been the pace since day one. Note - yes, I email partners and mid levels daily for work.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:18 pm

Felt similarly. Changed groups. Thrived with fresh start. Also other group had more work so that wasn't a problem anymore and I get the sense that the slow group had more time to be critical and gossip because nothing else was going on.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Also other group had more work so that wasn't a problem anymore and I get the sense that the slow group had more time to be critical and gossip because nothing else was going on.


This is so fucking true. The more work your group has, the more civil everyone is to each other (perhaps ironically). Partners are nicer. Associates don't backbite in a fight over scraps of work.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:28 pm

Same thing happened to an associate in my group. I felt bad for him. He is smart and just got a bad rep for unfair reasons. He recovered and is a mid-level now and is very busy. I had it happen to me but on a smaller level - just with one partner who felt I didn't "get it".... well, other partners disagreed and have been very happy to keep me busy for several years now, and I don't work for that one partner anymore.

I wouldn't sweat it. Focus on doing really good work and try to double check your work and slow down so you don't make obvious mistakes. Being a 1st year is really hard - you know nothing and it is easy to make mistakes. Try to learn from it and keep your cool. Talk to mid level associate you trust and ask for advice.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:31 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Also other group had more work so that wasn't a problem anymore and I get the sense that the slow group had more time to be critical and gossip because nothing else was going on.


This is so fucking true. The more work your group has, the more civil everyone is to each other (perhaps ironically). Partners are nicer. Associates don't backbite in a fight over scraps of work.

Yup. Isn't it disheartening to know that the more you see your family the worse your work life is?

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Lacepiece23 » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a 1st year at large firm in a secondary market in the Midwest. After 8 months of practicing I would dub myself as an average/below average associate. I have made some minor mistakes to a handful of larger mistakes due to being the guy who ends up with something way over his head on his plate at the end of the day when everyone else is gone and it has an asap deadline. Anyway, over the past few weeks I have heard rumblings that the word is being 'sort of spread' that I have made a few mistakes/annoyed some partners. At this point, my anxiety is sky high and I am slightly annoyed. I have no mentor/my 'legal assistant' is pretty much MIA so I am basically winging this shit everyday. Other 1st years among the firm in different practice groups seem to be thriving.

My question is, have I completely fucked up? My billables this year are crazy low as there has not been a lot of work coming my way, but that seems to have been the pace since day one. Note - yes, I email partners and mid levels daily for work.


Sorry. I have nothing to add. But do you mind if I ask what you are practicing, corporate or lit? I've just heard that Corp., is a harder learning curve. Wondering if that is your practice group and whether you agree? You don't have to answer if you would prefer not to.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:34 pm

Lacepiece23 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am a 1st year at large firm in a secondary market in the Midwest. After 8 months of practicing I would dub myself as an average/below average associate. I have made some minor mistakes to a handful of larger mistakes due to being the guy who ends up with something way over his head on his plate at the end of the day when everyone else is gone and it has an asap deadline. Anyway, over the past few weeks I have heard rumblings that the word is being 'sort of spread' that I have made a few mistakes/annoyed some partners. At this point, my anxiety is sky high and I am slightly annoyed. I have no mentor/my 'legal assistant' is pretty much MIA so I am basically winging this shit everyday. Other 1st years among the firm in different practice groups seem to be thriving.

My question is, have I completely fucked up? My billables this year are crazy low as there has not been a lot of work coming my way, but that seems to have been the pace since day one. Note - yes, I email partners and mid levels daily for work.


Sorry. I have nothing to add. But do you mind if I ask what you are practicing, corporate or lit? I've just heard that Corp., is a harder learning curve. Wondering if that is your practice group and whether you agree? You don't have to answer if you would prefer not to.


Corporate. Yes, it sucks something awful right now.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Lacepiece23 » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am a 1st year at large firm in a secondary market in the Midwest. After 8 months of practicing I would dub myself as an average/below average associate. I have made some minor mistakes to a handful of larger mistakes due to being the guy who ends up with something way over his head on his plate at the end of the day when everyone else is gone and it has an asap deadline. Anyway, over the past few weeks I have heard rumblings that the word is being 'sort of spread' that I have made a few mistakes/annoyed some partners. At this point, my anxiety is sky high and I am slightly annoyed. I have no mentor/my 'legal assistant' is pretty much MIA so I am basically winging this shit everyday. Other 1st years among the firm in different practice groups seem to be thriving.

My question is, have I completely fucked up? My billables this year are crazy low as there has not been a lot of work coming my way, but that seems to have been the pace since day one. Note - yes, I email partners and mid levels daily for work.


Sorry. I have nothing to add. But do you mind if I ask what you are practicing, corporate or lit? I've just heard that Corp., is a harder learning curve. Wondering if that is your practice group and whether you agree? You don't have to answer if you would prefer not to.




Corporate. Yes, it sucks something awful right now.


I summered in a secondary market last summer. All the corporate associates kind of echoed what you just said. Some even said it took them like two years to get in a good work flow/ feel confident. I spent a good amount of time talking to them and felt that they were being candid and honest with me. They also seemed to think that it can be a little bit harder doing corporate in a secondary market because you sometime get really slow unlike New York and mistakes can be magnified. Sorry for the unsolicited anecdotes, but I thought it might make you feel better.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:42 pm

Lacepiece23 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am a 1st year at large firm in a secondary market in the Midwest. After 8 months of practicing I would dub myself as an average/below average associate. I have made some minor mistakes to a handful of larger mistakes due to being the guy who ends up with something way over his head on his plate at the end of the day when everyone else is gone and it has an asap deadline. Anyway, over the past few weeks I have heard rumblings that the word is being 'sort of spread' that I have made a few mistakes/annoyed some partners. At this point, my anxiety is sky high and I am slightly annoyed. I have no mentor/my 'legal assistant' is pretty much MIA so I am basically winging this shit everyday. Other 1st years among the firm in different practice groups seem to be thriving.

My question is, have I completely fucked up? My billables this year are crazy low as there has not been a lot of work coming my way, but that seems to have been the pace since day one. Note - yes, I email partners and mid levels daily for work.




Sorry. I have nothing to add. But do you mind if I ask what you are practicing, corporate or lit? I've just heard that Corp., is a harder learning curve. Wondering if that is your practice group and whether you agree? You don't have to answer if you would prefer not to.




Corporate. Yes, it sucks something awful right now.


I summered in a secondary market last summer. All the corporate associates kind of echoed what you just said. Some even said it took them like two years to get in a good work flow/ feel confident. I spent a good amount of time talking to them and felt that they were being candid and honest with me. They also seemed to think that it can be a little bit harder doing corporate in a secondary market because you sometime get really slow unlike New York and mistakes can be magnified. Sorry for the unsolicited anecdotes, but I thought it might make you feel better.


I appreciate it. I think it's more of will I last that long?

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:43 pm

Lacepiece23 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am a 1st year at large firm in a secondary market in the Midwest. After 8 months of practicing I would dub myself as an average/below average associate. I have made some minor mistakes to a handful of larger mistakes due to being the guy who ends up with something way over his head on his plate at the end of the day when everyone else is gone and it has an asap deadline. Anyway, over the past few weeks I have heard rumblings that the word is being 'sort of spread' that I have made a few mistakes/annoyed some partners. At this point, my anxiety is sky high and I am slightly annoyed. I have no mentor/my 'legal assistant' is pretty much MIA so I am basically winging this shit everyday. Other 1st years among the firm in different practice groups seem to be thriving.

My question is, have I completely fucked up? My billables this year are crazy low as there has not been a lot of work coming my way, but that seems to have been the pace since day one. Note - yes, I email partners and mid levels daily for work.


Sorry. I have nothing to add. But do you mind if I ask what you are practicing, corporate or lit? I've just heard that Corp., is a harder learning curve. Wondering if that is your practice group and whether you agree? You don't have to answer if you would prefer not to.




Corporate. Yes, it sucks something awful right now.


I summered in a secondary market last summer. All the corporate associates kind of echoed what you just said. Some even said it took them like two years to get in a good work flow/ feel confident. I spent a good amount of time talking to them and felt that they were being candid and honest with me. They also seemed to think that it can be a little bit harder doing corporate in a secondary market because you sometime get really slow unlike New York and mistakes can be magnified. Sorry for the unsolicited anecdotes, but I thought it might make you feel better.


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Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:52 pm

Guy, please don't highjack my thread for law student advice. Free pass if this is the person who has been applying above.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 11:16 pm

I watched another first year struggle with the same issue; she hit her stride this year. (I'm still trying to hit my stride but I generally work with only one partner who I enjoy a very relaxed relationship with.)

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 10, 2015 11:25 pm

I'm also a first year in corporate in a secondary market. I feel the same way and have made similar mistakes.

I've also pissed off partners, but senior associates have been encouraging.

The senior associates say this is par for the course and should be expected as a junior in biglaw corporate practice. I think the partners have less time for hand holding/making you feel comfortable. They just need the deal done. It's the midlevels and seniors who let you know that your fuck ups are more or less normal. Why don't you try befriending some of the mids/seniors in your group and use them as a resource? Seriously, I don't think this is as serious as you make it out to be. You're going to be fine...the bar for first years is very low.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:28 am

Corporate is a hard learning curve. No, you haven't completely fucked up. From reading your posts, I want to offer the following unsolicited advice:

1. Pay attention to instructions. Better to deliver what you were assigned to deliver than trying to add value by reinventing the wheel.

2. The answer to your questions or what you don't know is almost certainly in the documents you are working with. Nobody expects you to know the documents well (that will come with time and repetition). On the other hand, they will expect you to read the documents you are working on.

3. Stop emailing and asking for work. Get out of your office, knock on a partner's door with confidence and simply ask if there is anything you can help with. Don't lead with "I'm slow, blah blah blah." Just be confident and ask if you can help. Don't ask more than one partner per day. Do you have a partner that serves as a talent coordinator for your group? Keep him/her in the loop. I would also suggest that you stop emailing mid-levels for work. They likely don't have as much command authority as you think they do.

4. Listen to the polite suggestions you receive. In all likelihood, you're being given feedback in a passive manner.

5. Seek out a partner as a mentor. My first six months in biglaw were really rough, but I asked a partner who had taken a little bit of interest in me out to lunch. I point blank told him that I didn't feel connected to the workgroup and asked what I could do to add value and get integrated into the team. He plugged me in with his mentor (who happens to be my practice group leader) and a couple of years later, I'm now their go-to junior associate.

6. DO NOT PAY ATTENTION to how first years outside of your practice group are doing. Lawyers in big firms are really good at making it seem like they are always busy and their shit doesn't stink. You simply are not in a position to evaluate how others are doing.

7. Doing good work is the most important thing. Slow down and take your time. Your firm probably won't hold it against you if your partners have to write off some of your hours. Efficiency can come later.

8. Why do you think you are getting stuck with assignments on short deadlines? Any chance you are doing this to yourself? As a junior, you're kind of stuck with back-end deadline work, but it shouldn't be happening to you all the time nor should that be the majority of your work. On a related note, don't hesitate to text or email a partner at 11:30 pm asking for a phone call. Odds are, as long as you've made a good faith effort to solve your problem, the partner will prefer to get it right in the middle of the night instead of having to fix a mistake on a tight deadline in the morning.

9. When it comes to catching mistakes, be paranoid. Don't trust other people's work. Try to check every single word in the precedent you are using.

10. Don't wory about low hours (yet). Ask the second and third years in your group how long it took them to get busy. Believe them if they are saying things like "enjoy the slow time now" or "don't worry, the work will come." Figure out if your practice group is typically slow this time of year. If so, go with the flow.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby JohannDeMann » Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:44 am

Fuck I hope I get fired. I would just take my fat stacjk of cash and retire in my low COL hometown. With some unemployment for a year or so.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:06 pm

Appreciate the responses guys. Very helpful advice. At the end of the day, all you can do is just go in and do you. Amirite?

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:15 am

OP, I was in an almost identical position a year ago- first year associate at a Midwest "biglaw" firm, made a few minor mistakes (one in particular) that were blown WAY out of proportion by a two faced partner. She was encouraging and friendly to my face while trash talking me and pushing for my ouster behind my back. I had plenty of other partners who genuinely liked me and thought I was solid, but it really just takes one or two noisy partners to poison the well and effect your workflow. Couple that with low hours due to a slow practice group, and you can quickly find yourself looking for a job.

Unfortunately, I was let go and told I had three months to find something. But the partners who liked me fought for me to stay, and when it became clear I was on my way out, they started making calls for me and helping me transition. I eventually found a job at a respectable midlaw firm in the same city. I am currently stable, busy, and happy, and with strong reviews from my partnership to boot.

My takeaways from this? (1) If you see the writing on the wall, be proactive, both internally and externally. Try to move practice areas if you can. Start networking and doing lunches. Get your resume into shape. If you have anyone at your firm you can truly confide in, do so. The partners that like you at your current firm can be your biggest asset come crunch time.

And (2) don't let this situation define your self worth as a person or as a professional. I remember the sleepless nights after a 25 hour week. I remember feeling betrayed by the people I admired and respected, even getting my ass chewed for a litigation move that was exactly right by the rules of procedure according to all the precedent. (Seriously, fuck that partner.) But most of all, I remember questioning my ability to do this job. My move has given me a new sense of purpose and renewed my confidence in myself. Yes, I make less money (though still do fine). But I love what I do, and I know I'm pretty good at it.

Best of luck, OP.

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Re: BIGLAW - 8 months in - problems - need advice

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:00 pm

Wow. OP here, thank you for posting that. Much much appreciated. How long did you last, if you don't mind me asking?




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