Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistakes?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 325137
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistake

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:55 pm

Random question - when people say they want something by close of business do they mean "by 6 pm" or "before you go home"?

User avatar
homestyle28

Gold
Posts: 2362
Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:48 pm

Re: Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistake

Postby homestyle28 » Sat Sep 17, 2016 6:01 pm

Lacepiece23 wrote:
homestyle28 wrote:As a Jr. assoc who has given out a few summer memo assignments now there are only two things that would really concern me: a total inability to grasp the assignment/law (and even then I'd wonder if I didnt clearly describe something) and plagiarism. I've only ever seen the latter taken very seriously by others in my firm.

Esp as a litigator, the fetishism of typos is stupid. Everyone makes typos, if there aren't a ton it's not a big deal.


What do you mean by plagiarism?


Copying whole parts of a treatise, pasting it into a memo, and not saying that's what you did.

It's fair to say "I found this treatise that entirely answers your question, do you still want me to write a memo?" and it's fair to lean hard on secondary sources. But if you copy/paste, it better have quotation marks and cites.

ak362

Bronze
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:24 pm

Re: Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistake

Postby ak362 » Sat Sep 17, 2016 6:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Random question - when people say they want something by close of business do they mean "by 6 pm" or "before you go home"?


Different people have different interpretations, but here are mine:

Close of business: 6pm.

End of the day: before midnight (or, if something that partner/client won't be looking at when I send it at midnight, before 6am the next morning).

User avatar
zot1

Gold
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistake

Postby zot1 » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
zot1 wrote:Here's one story: SA gets assignment from partner who specifically states that he shouldn't bother with X issue. SA writes about other stuff but extensively about X issue. SA swears this is the only thing that was off during the summer he was no offered.

Assuming he in fact got no offered just because of this mistake, I think partially the biggest factor is that it happened directly with a partner. He or she probably felt like his or her directions to the SA were simple and he just couldn't follow it. He or she probably thought this SA wasn't worth developing.

My point of sharing this story is that you shouldn't take anything for granted over the summer. You haven't yet made it. You are not safe until you have that offer.


Jesus you think that would happen at a vault firm with a 100% offer rate for the past 4 years? I mean I see how the guy messed up, but that's far from egregious.


That can't have been the reason he was not offered. This summer a SA at a NY V5 hit an associate at a party and still got offered.


As I mentioned, the firm didn't have a 100% offer rate the summer he wasn't offered. It's possible they needed to cut some people, and since he had a mistake, it was easier to just cut him.

I agree that if a firm is 100%, you'd need to do a loooot more to get in trouble.

itbdvorm

Gold
Posts: 1710
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:09 am

Re: Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistake

Postby itbdvorm » Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:43 am

zot1 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
zot1 wrote:Here's one story: SA gets assignment from partner who specifically states that he shouldn't bother with X issue. SA writes about other stuff but extensively about X issue. SA swears this is the only thing that was off during the summer he was no offered.

Assuming he in fact got no offered just because of this mistake, I think partially the biggest factor is that it happened directly with a partner. He or she probably felt like his or her directions to the SA were simple and he just couldn't follow it. He or she probably thought this SA wasn't worth developing.

My point of sharing this story is that you shouldn't take anything for granted over the summer. You haven't yet made it. You are not safe until you have that offer.


Jesus you think that would happen at a vault firm with a 100% offer rate for the past 4 years? I mean I see how the guy messed up, but that's far from egregious.


That can't have been the reason he was not offered. This summer a SA at a NY V5 hit an associate at a party and still got offered.


As I mentioned, the firm didn't have a 100% offer rate the summer he wasn't offered. It's possible they needed to cut some people, and since he had a mistake, it was easier to just cut him.

I agree that if a firm is 100%, you'd need to do a loooot more to get in trouble.


Are you guys nuts?

If you got an exam question that said "summarize the key principles of 16th amendment law" and you wrote a response that briefly discussed 16th amendment law, then spent the rest of the exam writing about 17th amendment law, you're not getting a passing grade.

Is this on its own a "no-offer"? I don't know, but I sure wouldn't ever want to work with someone who did something like this. Would you? What kind of gap in logical reasoning suggests that it's a good idea to turn in work product that consists of what you were specifically told NOT to do?

Anonymous User
Posts: 325137
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistake

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:23 am

I'm a 4th year lit associate. Mistakes that would register on my radar might be:

  • Turning in a research memo or email that just consists of "here's a bunch of cases that might answer the question you asked" and then whole paragraphs copied and pasted from the cases instead of summarizing and analyzing them.
  • Misunderstanding the assignment and giving me a massive info dump on some topic that is tangentially relevant. Like the above, I find that this doesn't have anything to do with a lack of smarts or legal research/reasoning skills, but not fully understanding the assignment and then rushing through it or not calling me to clarify what it is.
  • Not reading in full/shepardizing key cases before sending them to me.
  • Making substantive edits to a brief without being asked or without clearing them first. Juniors often don't understand that every sentence or word in the brief (if it is done right) has a purpose and a reason for being there. If you think I can say something better, just send me an email explaining your proposed change and why it matters. Usually, I'll agree with you, if not, I'll explain why I did it the other way.


I second the associates in here saying that the idea that typos are considered "unacceptable" mistakes is way down the list of things that I'd consider unacceptable. There are two exceptions, though. First, there are always going to be 5-10% or so of seniors or partners who will think that if you send them a document with typos you are disrespecting them or intentionally making their lives harder. These people will generally be miserable to work for (getting yelled at over a typo will not come close to the worst of your complaints about them) and I guarantee that everyone has gotten/gets the same crap from them for typos, because everybody has typos in their work. The second is anything that is going out to the client or anything for a partner who you know likes to send work product to the client without reading it over first.

dixiecupdrinking

Gold
Posts: 3440
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:39 pm

Re: Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistake

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun Sep 18, 2016 5:38 pm

ak362 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Random question - when people say they want something by close of business do they mean "by 6 pm" or "before you go home"?


Different people have different interpretations, but here are mine:

Close of business: 6pm.

End of the day: before midnight (or, if something that partner/client won't be looking at when I send it at midnight, before 6am the next morning).

I generally take "close of business" to mean, "I want to be able to read this first thing in the morning," i.e., anytime before 6 a.m. and you're probably good, but it's worth clarifying with the people you work with.

Sgtpeppernyc

Bronze
Posts: 156
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:51 pm

Re: Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistake

Postby Sgtpeppernyc » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:13 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
ak362 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Random question - when people say they want something by close of business do they mean "by 6 pm" or "before you go home"?


Different people have different interpretations, but here are mine:

Close of business: 6pm.

End of the day: before midnight (or, if something that partner/client won't be looking at when I send it at midnight, before 6am the next morning).

I generally take "close of business" to mean, "I want to be able to read this first thing in the morning," i.e., anytime before 6 a.m. and you're probably good, but it's worth clarifying with the people you work with.


Depends who you work for. If it's a "I go home to eat with my family at 6:30" partner, then COB means "on my desk when I get in." If it's a somewhat more involved partner who works evenings, it's more likely 6.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325137
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Biglaw associates, what things are considered "acceptable" mistakes to make in a memo? What are unacceptable mistake

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:01 pm

itbdvorm wrote:
zot1 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
zot1 wrote:Here's one story: SA gets assignment from partner who specifically states that he shouldn't bother with X issue. SA writes about other stuff but extensively about X issue. SA swears this is the only thing that was off during the summer he was no offered.

Assuming he in fact got no offered just because of this mistake, I think partially the biggest factor is that it happened directly with a partner. He or she probably felt like his or her directions to the SA were simple and he just couldn't follow it. He or she probably thought this SA wasn't worth developing.

My point of sharing this story is that you shouldn't take anything for granted over the summer. You haven't yet made it. You are not safe until you have that offer.


Jesus you think that would happen at a vault firm with a 100% offer rate for the past 4 years? I mean I see how the guy messed up, but that's far from egregious.


That can't have been the reason he was not offered. This summer a SA at a NY V5 hit an associate at a party and still got offered.


As I mentioned, the firm didn't have a 100% offer rate the summer he wasn't offered. It's possible they needed to cut some people, and since he had a mistake, it was easier to just cut him.

I agree that if a firm is 100%, you'd need to do a loooot more to get in trouble.


Are you guys nuts?

If you got an exam question that said "summarize the key principles of 16th amendment law" and you wrote a response that briefly discussed 16th amendment law, then spent the rest of the exam writing about 17th amendment law, you're not getting a passing grade.

Is this on its own a "no-offer"? I don't know, but I sure wouldn't ever want to work with someone who did something like this. Would you? What kind of gap in logical reasoning suggests that it's a good idea to turn in work product that consists of what you were specifically told NOT to do?


This is 100% true. At my old job I supervised a mix of grad students and undergrads. There was always one undergrad every year who thought they knew more than me and my boss, even though she was the preeminent expert on our research topic (I think gender has a lot to do with this, BTW).

If the student came to me with questions I would explain the background, research methods, IRB issues, etc. Some of those students were obnoxious, but some of them ended up being my best workers. They were invested and they gave a shit about getting it right, which is a good quality if it's handled appropriately.

Twice though I had students who just ignored the instructions and didn't communicate about it, and their work was useless. We let both of them go over it. It is exactly like blowing a deadline. We didn't have work product we could actually use. Once we almost missed out on a multi-million dollar grant because of this fuckery. Just don't do it.

You need to give your boss the work product that they ask you for. If you can't do that, you need to communicate that to them ASAP. It is a big, big deal.



Return to “Legal Employment�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.