Advice to give to first-year who is being fired

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Re: Advice to give to first-year who is being fired

Postby Clytemnestra3 » Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:52 pm

I don't think 1 year in biglaw is too soon to leave. The opportunities aren't going to be as good as if you stayed for 2+ years, but as long as the legal market is strong (the most important factor, which is out of your control) and you have a good school/firm on your resume, you can always devise some plausible explanation for your departure.

I started getting a lot more recruiting calls around the third year. Years 5-7 is when you start getting good quality in-house offers. But it's important to note that the opportunities you hear about from recruiters are only a narrow slice of the opportunities that are available. Talking with as many people as possible and learning about what they do and how they got there (i.e. networking) while you are in biglaw and BEFORE you are thinking of leaving is going to benefit you enormously. Even if those discussions don't yield a job offer, you'll learn more about what's out there and whether it's anything you are interested in doing. Also, people are more likely to talk with you and enjoy the conversation when they don't think you are there just to get a job offer from them because you are unemployed. So if you are even just 3 months into biglaw and you effing hate it, try to make it to the end of the year of course, but also use that time to just meet people without revealing that you are unhappy or looking for new employment.

I also want to say something about social skills. When people think of bad social skills, they often think of someone who is on the autism spectrum or someone who is chronically offensive/abusive. The implication is that people can't learn to be social. Before I started working in biglaw, that's partly how I viewed it, too. Now that I've been working a bit, I view social skills in part as a set of rules and scripted behaviors that if you follow will take you pretty far even if those behaviors don't come naturally to you.

For example, be concise (in your speech and writing), don't discuss topics that everyone in the group isn't familiar with, ask specific questions about other people's lives, express gratitude every time a person is helpful, never try to show that you are the smartest person in the room by shitting on other people; just be very knowledgeable about a topic and your intelligence will appear naturally, etc. The list could go on and on, but the point is that these are specific things that anyone can do. You don't have to be good at reading social cues to do a lot of this stuff.

A terribly mediocre lawyer with these (practiced) social skills and a good law school/firm on his or her resume can have a very lucrative career, even if they have been fired/no-offered in the past.


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Re: Advice to give to first-year who is being fired

Postby hiima3L » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:06 am

What are the problems with the dude's social skills?

Sometimes it's too late to learn how to interact with people well. Some people are just not born with those skills and they are incredibly difficult to reverse or improve.


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Re: Advice to give to first-year who is being fired

Postby pml87 » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:13 am

Clytemnestra3 wrote:This is the first time I've heard of a first-year being fired in our firm. I don't think this person's reputation is ruined; it's just ruined within our firm. No first-year is important enough for lawyers to go spreading stories of his or her poor performance to lawyers in other firms. Maybe if the associate had messed up in a way that was really hilarious that story would get around the market and ruin a reputation, but that's not the case here.

People get fired for all sorts of reasons at all levels. In this case, the fault lay with the associate, but plenty of associates who are reasonably good at their jobs (or show the potential to be) get fired sometimes for no other reason than that the partner in charge doesn't like them or they don't get along well with the lawyers they work with.

I don't think that's necessarily wrong. Teams work best when all members get along and so it's not unreasonable for a firm to get rid of someone who is not a good fit. Law students should do their best to choose firms/practice areas with people they think they will click with and to put some effort into cultivating those relationships. But students are going to make mistakes and practice groups can turnover quickly so I also think firms should be generous and kind to associates when it doesn't work out and try to help them land in a place better suited to them. That's what I'd like to try to do here.

Second this. If I was the associate here, I would WANT and NEED to hear about what improvement I should make. I would have been deeply grateful for this. But if I was you, I am not sure if I would comment on the social ability of the associate, much of it cannot be corrected without excruciating effort. Perhaps advising him in an indirect way about the needs to get along with others in the group.

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