Asking Partner for a Reference

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BrooklynDodger89

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Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby BrooklynDodger89 » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:33 pm

I'm a third year big law associate starting to look for a new gig, and noticed many listings ask for one or more references. My question is: is it too risky to ask a partner at my current firm for such a reference? This partner has served as my mentor, is a great connection/reference to have, and I'm fairly certain would be enthusiastic about the position I'd be applying to. Nevertheless, I wouldn't want (1) word to get out at my firm that I'm actively looking for a new job; or (b) this partner to stop giving me work, in case I don't actually get the job and need to stay put for a while. My gut instinct is that it is just too risky to ask anyone at my current firm, but I thought I'd get some others opinions first.

Thanks in advance!

CanadianWolf

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:37 pm

Has your current firm given you any indication that you should start seeking work elsewhere ? If not, then it would be foolish to ask one of your bosses for a recommendation to work elsewhere. Although, it might be different if you were applying to a 2 year judicial clerkship & planning to return.

BrooklynDodger89

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby BrooklynDodger89 » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:46 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Has your current firm given you any indication that you should start seeking work elsewhere ? If not, then it would be foolish to ask one of your bosses for a recommendation to work elsewhere. Although, it might be different if you were applying to a 2 year judicial clerkship & planning to return.


Thanks for the reply. No, my firm hasn't given me that indication, and the position would not be something like a 2 year clerkship where a return is expected. I would normally never think about asking a current boss for a reference, but my relationship with this particular partner and the job opportunity (which aligns with her politics) made me question whether it could be appropriate. But, I think you're probably right that it would ultimately be a foolish risk to take.

Npret

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby Npret » Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:00 pm

BrooklynDodger89 wrote:I'm a third year big law associate starting to look for a new gig, and noticed many listings ask for one or more references. My question is: is it too risky to ask a partner at my current firm for such a reference? This partner has served as my mentor, is a great connection/reference to have, and I'm fairly certain would be enthusiastic about the position I'd be applying to. Nevertheless, I wouldn't want (1) word to get out at my firm that I'm actively looking for a new job; or (b) this partner to stop giving me work, in case I don't actually get the job and need to stay put for a while. My gut instinct is that it is just too risky to ask anyone at my current firm, but I thought I'd get some others opinions first.

Thanks in advance!

Do an interview and get an offer based on the condition that your references check out. That's standard practice for laterals as far as I know. No one asks for references advance of leaving unless they're being let go.

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:14 pm

BrooklynDodger89 wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:Has your current firm given you any indication that you should start seeking work elsewhere ? If not, then it would be foolish to ask one of your bosses for a recommendation to work elsewhere. Although, it might be different if you were applying to a 2 year judicial clerkship & planning to return.


Thanks for the reply. No, my firm hasn't given me that indication, and the position would not be something like a 2 year clerkship where a return is expected. I would normally never think about asking a current boss for a reference, but my relationship with this particular partner and the job opportunity (which aligns with her politics) made me question whether it could be appropriate. But, I think you're probably right that it would ultimately be a foolish risk to take.


The situation I'm picturing is you work at biglaw, are close with a female partner who is a mentor and is super liberal/into social justice. You are looking at a job with an ACLU type place and you think the mentor part of the partner would be excited about this oppurtunity for you and want to help you get it. (Or: super conservative and you're looking at a job with the NRA or something. Could go either way, I get it.)

I'm just a 2L, so this may be naive. But I could see situations where that could work. Could you sit down and talk to partner about the opprutunity, say how much you enjoy your current firm, and are struggling with the decision and want her advice? See how that goes?

To me, that is different then you shopping for a different biglaw job and wanting someone at your current firm to pre-emptively go to bat for you against their firm's interests.

CanadianWolf

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:26 pm

Do NOT do this if you wish to remain employed at your current firm.

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:58 pm

I have done this, but only after working with the person for 4-5 years and feeling comfortable that the partner wouldn't blab (or, at least, wouldn't blab to the wrong people). I would never do it with a partner I haven't known long, or who I know is great friends with someone who is likely to advocate for dropping me before I get a job.

It is super risky, though. You'll basically be risking your career on this person, so make sure the job and the partner are worth the risk.

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trebekismyhero

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby trebekismyhero » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:32 pm

Unless it is for a clerkship I wouldn't do it or if it is something that the partner has explicitly told you to look at doing, it seems too risky.

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rpupkin

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby rpupkin » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:36 pm

Npret wrote:Do an interview and get an offer based on the condition that your references check out. That's standard practice for laterals as far as I know. No one asks for references advance of leaving unless they're being let go.

This.

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smaug

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby smaug » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:55 am

rpupkin wrote:
Npret wrote:Do an interview and get an offer based on the condition that your references check out. That's standard practice for laterals as far as I know. No one asks for references advance of leaving unless they're being let go.

This.

Moreover, many places will explicitly allow you to have two sets of references: one that is safe to contact immediately, and then one or two people from your current firm to contact as soon as conflicts clear and you've given notice.

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:52 am

Do all laterals provide references from their current firm? As someone looking to lateral and that has had less than stellar reviews - this concerns me

Npret

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby Npret » Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do all laterals provide references from their current firm? As someone looking to lateral and that has had less than stellar reviews - this concerns me

Yes as far as I know.
A firm is usually more than willing to help you move in if they haven't given you good reviews.

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Re: Asking Partner for a Reference

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:39 pm

Npret wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Do all laterals provide references from their current firm? As someone looking to lateral and that has had less than stellar reviews - this concerns me

Yes as far as I know.
A firm is usually more than willing to help you move in if they haven't given you good reviews.


I lateraled from biglaw to biglaw about a year ago, secured offers from 4 firms, and not a single one asked me for a reference at any point before or after giving me the offer.



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