Picking a practice area based on a good rep with a partner?

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Anonymous User
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Picking a practice area based on a good rep with a partner?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 13, 2015 4:05 am

I'll be doing an SA at a V20 this summer. During the interviews and receptions, I managed to make a really good first impression with a partner in a practice area that drives a lot of the firms business (Just take my word for it; I get that it seems ludicrous, but this guy really seemed to take an unusual liking to me). In addition, I think chances of partnership in general would be much stronger within that area as it is probably the most high growth in terms of volume.

Let's say my only goal was to make partner; how stupid would it be to squander this relationship by choosing a different practice area? Would it even matter? Or is it far more stupid to make your choice of practice area based on partnership potential and a single relationship based on, for the most part, shallow, non-work related interactions thus far? It's a dumb question but I had to get some outside input.

Ancillary question - how stupid is it to bank on partnership in a V20? Is it all about how much you're willing to put into your work, or is it more politics or luck?

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: Picking a practice area based on a good rep with a partner?

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Wed May 13, 2015 7:14 am

Partnership at a big firm is not a great thing to plan around - as you surmise, politics and luck play a big role (although hard work is usually a prerequisite too). A great relationship with a partner could actually help you with the politics part, but luck is a huge factor - with boomers refusing ever to retire, there may simply not be "room" for you.

A great relationship with a partner is not the worst reason ever to pick a practice area - depending on how far out you have to pick, and with the caveat that you must also like the work. But you have to actually do work for him or her first, or you really don't have the data you need. If you have till the end of the summer to pick, see how it plays out. If you have to pick now, or don't get the data you need, I wouldn't weight it very heavily. Remember also that anyone can leave the firm tomorrow - some more likely than others.

Omerta
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Re: Picking a practice area based on a good rep with a partner?

Postby Omerta » Wed May 13, 2015 10:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'll be doing an SA at a V20 this summer. During the interviews and receptions, I managed to make a really good first impression with a partner in a practice area that drives a lot of the firms business (Just take my word for it; I get that it seems ludicrous, but this guy really seemed to take an unusual liking to me). In addition, I think chances of partnership in general would be much stronger within that area as it is probably the most high growth in terms of volume.

Let's say my only goal was to make partner; how stupid would it be to squander this relationship by choosing a different practice area? Would it even matter? Or is it far more stupid to make your choice of practice area based on partnership potential and a single relationship based on, for the most part, shallow, non-work related interactions thus far? It's a dumb question but I had to get some outside input.

Ancillary question - how stupid is it to bank on partnership in a V20? Is it all about how much you're willing to put into your work, or is it more politics or luck?


1. You haven't even done work for the dude. I like that you're cognizant that firms aren't meritocracies, but you're taking it a bit overboard.
2. If you want partnership, there's nothing wrong with considering what the main drivers are versus service groups. Be aware, however, that what's popular when you need it to be popular is largely out of your control. For example, I really like bankruptcy but couldn't find a bankruptcy spot because the work was starting to dry up as the economy improved and weaker companies already declared or 363'd.
3. Try being an associate before you get all gung-ho for partnership. That being said, working with people you get along with is huge huge huge. Working for bad partners is like having a spouse that you hate. Then again, it's stupid to start planning your career around one dude you met at a reception. It'd be different if you did a bunch of work for him over the summer, he liked your work, etc.
4. It is very stupid to bank on partnership. It is a mix of the three things you identified.

Take the summer and figure out whether it's what you want to do. My girlfriend, for example, worked at a firm for about 3 years before she realized that she had little interest in becoming a partner because she thought they were mostly miserable people. Now, she's in house. She gets paid slightly more (nominally) and much more on a per-hour basis--plus she's far happier because working in-house is much more congruent with her personality type.

Check out that NYT article that came out today or yesterday. Do you want partnership at a fancypants firm because that's what lots of people want or because that's what you want? These kind of questions should be the ones you figure out before you start making decisions to optimize your chance at making partner.

I thought I wanted to work at a large firm when I was in law school, then I worked at one and hated it. Maybe you'll think it's the greatest thing in the world, or maybe you'll find it as horrendous as I did. Just go in with an open mind and see whether the firm is somewhere where you'd like to start your legal career before deciding whether you want to try to make partner.

Anonymous User
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Re: Picking a practice area based on a good rep with a partner?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 15, 2015 1:56 am

I appreciate both of your responses. I can see the truth in pretty much everything you both said, I just had to hear it from someone else.

Do you want partnership at a fancypants firm because that's what lots of people want or because that's what you want?


Just gotta address this. I think I want it for two reasons - 1) it seems like that's the only time you're really being a real attorney in my book...making judgment calls, actually delivering advice to clients, etc. Could be a naive way to view the industry, and doesn't address the fact that you're talking about fancy pants firms in particular, but that's how I currently view the situation. 2) Money. Not afraid to admit it. Never really had any and I think being a partner is a badass way to make a fortune. Maybe I'll get complacent when I actually experience what having a comfortable amount of income is like, but that's to be discovered. I wouldn't be against hearing your criticisms of this line of thinking. (You can tell I'm used to TLS users reaming me for saying stupid shit, but you guys were constructive and I appreciate that).

Maybe you'll think it's the greatest thing in the world, or maybe you'll find it as horrendous as I did. Just go in with an open mind and see whether the firm is somewhere where you'd like to start your legal career before deciding whether you want to try to make partner.


But yeah, there's nothing to do but this. No point in making up my mind now before seeing what I'd be getting myself into.

KidStuddi
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Re: Picking a practice area based on a good rep with a partner?

Postby KidStuddi » Sat May 16, 2015 4:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:I appreciate both of your responses. I can see the truth in pretty much everything you both said, I just had to hear it from someone else.

Do you want partnership at a fancypants firm because that's what lots of people want or because that's what you want?


Just gotta address this. I think I want it for two reasons - 1) it seems like that's the only time you're really being a real attorney in my book...making judgment calls, actually delivering advice to clients, etc. Could be a naive way to view the industry, and doesn't address the fact that you're talking about fancy pants firms in particular, but that's how I currently view the situation. 2) Money. Not afraid to admit it. Never really had any and I think being a partner is a badass way to make a fortune. Maybe I'll get complacent when I actually experience what having a comfortable amount of income is like, but that's to be discovered. I wouldn't be against hearing your criticisms of this line of thinking. (You can tell I'm used to TLS users reaming me for saying stupid shit, but you guys were constructive and I appreciate that).

Maybe you'll think it's the greatest thing in the world, or maybe you'll find it as horrendous as I did. Just go in with an open mind and see whether the firm is somewhere where you'd like to start your legal career before deciding whether you want to try to make partner.


But yeah, there's nothing to do but this. No point in making up my mind now before seeing what I'd be getting myself into.


So I've got some good news and bad news. The good news is, if your idea is being a real attorney is "making judgement calls and delivering advice to clients," you'll be a real attorney very soon after starting at a firm, though I guess it can depend on what practice area you're in. But making calls and delivering advice isn't reserved for partners by any means. Partners heavily rely on associates to run shit and clients take notice. Again it might depend on what you do and of how competent you are / seem to the client, but even as a junior associate I get call from clients directly asking me what I think about issues pretty frequently. If I get a question that stumps me, sometimes I'll ask a relevant partner, but usually it goes the other way around where a partner gets a question and sends it to an associate to do the research and find the answer.

The bad news is, I'd bet almost everyone thinks that partner loves them. You don't become a rainmaker by being difficult to talk to or having people think you don't like them. Unless the partner is spontaneously taking just you to his/her country club for a round of golf next week, I highly doubt the connection you made was special. In the context of recruiting events especially (aka everything before you're an actual associate), I would assume likely what you felt was just a first-hand experience of what it's like to be on the receiving end of world class business development skills. I'm not saying don't go work for that person, because there's a ton to be gained by being associated with people like that and their connections can become your connections if you play your cards right, but you'd be really foolish to do it because you think you've found the fast track in the space of a screener and a cocktail reception / dinner.

Also, your partnership prospects are limited by your peers more than anything. You're graded on a curve. You might be a rockstar in your own right, but if you start at the same time as the second coming of [insert god of your practice area], your chances are still probably fucked. If you really want to be shrewd about maximizing your chances at partner, going for the practice area that's sure to draw all of the gunners is probably asking for trouble.




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