Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

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rpupkin

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:10 pm

PeanutsNJam wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
foregetaboutdre wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:This firm is having a summer draft a MSJ?


I had the same initial thought. I know firm websites mention this as SA work example, but given its nature makes me think the firm NEEDS OP to do a shit ton of work.


I work at a lit boutique. We give our summers motions and such to draft.

We pay them market though, so we're not OP's firm.


You give your summers MSJs? Not all motions are equal.

Hey all: as lolwat suggested, just because a firm gives a summer a MSJ (or an appellate brief or another case-dispositive motion) doesn't mean that the firm is counting on the summer to churn out something useful. At my firm, we sometimes give summers assignments like this precisely because it will take a lot of time; that way, we don't have to think of a half dozen small projects to give them during the week.

If the summer actually produces something we can work with, all the better.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:10 pm

(1) If it's between saying no and staying till 8 or 9, I'd stay till 8 or 9. If it's between saying no and staying till 2 am, I'd say no.

(2) I give good summers motion drafting assignments all the time (but ask them to bill time to the bizdev code rather than the client-matter #). The summers universally love it and it makes them feel good about themselves, and occasionally the work (or at least some of the cases cited) ends up being helpful.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:51 pm

rpupkin wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
foregetaboutdre wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:This firm is having a summer draft a MSJ?


I had the same initial thought. I know firm websites mention this as SA work example, but given its nature makes me think the firm NEEDS OP to do a shit ton of work.


I work at a lit boutique. We give our summers motions and such to draft.

We pay them market though, so we're not OP's firm.


You give your summers MSJs? Not all motions are equal.

Hey all: as lolwat suggested, just because a firm gives a summer a MSJ (or an appellate brief or another case-dispositive motion) doesn't mean that the firm is counting on the summer to churn out something useful. At my firm, we sometimes give summers assignments like this precisely because it will take a lot of time; that way, we don't have to think of a half dozen small projects to give them during the week.

If the summer actually produces something we can work with, all the better.


On a note of general positivity, and obviously I'm just a summer, but I'm actually quite surprised and impressed by how well all the associates have given me work that seems to be "useful," but definitely in no way "essential." I don't think I'm being too careless when I say that I've drafted a few written pieces and had a "this is really useful, thanks!" and a few "actually, we were really hoping more that it would look like this..." and no one seems bent out of shape about it. You almost don't even need to say "no" to things, I just say Associate X has me doing A, and Associate Y has me doing B, when should I get this to you? Half the time they just say hey, don't worry about it at all, and it doesn't seem like a big deal. And when the associate guts half my memo, but the other half gets circulated to the group in some form in the end anyway, I figure it can't be too bad. Actually, TLS had me believing that this summer would be doing nothing of any significance, like I'd be mostly eating and not on active matters at all, but I'm definitely learning a lot about how this office works and such.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:34 pm

Sounds like my law firm. Just try and keep your head down and do the best you can on assignments.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby lavarman84 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:49 am

foregetaboutdre wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:This firm is having a summer draft a MSJ?


I had the same initial thought. I know firm websites mention this as SA work example, but given its nature makes me think the firm NEEDS OP to do a shit ton of work.


I've drafted a MSJ. It's not out of the ordinary at a smaller firm.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby cjw564 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:44 am

Don't say no, but you can get your point across politely. List your commitments with the partner and inform him of your various deadline. Then, ask him for advice about how you can best service the client in the project. If your workload is truly unmanageable, the partner will get the point but will still come back to you when he has other work down the road.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:32 pm

LurkerTurnedMember wrote:It depends on how sure you are they are actually going to hire a SA at the end of the summer. Do you know the past hiring practices of your firm from your school's career services? My understanding is that with smaller firms about 50 or less), the rules are different from biglaw. Biglaw firms are expected to hire every SA at the end while giving them made up work during the summer to keep them busy in between extravagant perks. Small firms have a small class sizes and they don't feel as much pressure to hire everyone, with less perks but more substantial work over the summer. So it could be the case that your firm might not hire all of you over the summer so anything seen as rocking the boat might decrease your chances at getting an offer.

My take: You should talk to your mentor there if they gave you one about managing the projects. Mentors tend to be younger associates you could talk to about stuff you can't talk about with partners. If you don't have one, then I would bring up your work load when you're asking them about the deadline, not to say "hey I have a lot to do already" but to say "given these other tasks before me, when would you like me to finish yours." If they see you have a lot on your plate they might go to someone new (especially if they see a project by a higher ranked person).

I know last year the two summers were brought on after graduation, but beyond that I have no idea. They told us "the goal is to make you offers." Thanks for the input, I think it's great advice! The workload seems to be slowing down. I think a lot of partners just wanted to hand over their assignments so they wouldn't forget to do it later in the summer.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:32 pm

rpupkin wrote:Yes, it's okay. It's much better to say "no" than it is to say "yes" and then turn in poor work product as a result.

No one will care (or even remember) that you said you were too busy to work on something. But folks will definitely remember if you submit lousy work.

Definitely agree. Thanks for your advice!

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:34 pm

ur_hero wrote:What are your hours like as a result of this? I think you should do what you have to in order to ensure an offer (assuming that's a possibility). Even if you end up not wanting to stay, you're gonna want options as you approach graduation.

If you can, grind it out and produce amazing work for everyone. I feel like it's important to take as many opportunities to produce good work product as possible, and make an initial impression that you are the associate to go to, eager, willing to learn, etc. etc. etc. If you can establish this reputation from the start, I believe you'll be much more empowered/confident when it comes to your relationships and work flow from various partners (including the freedom to say "no" without seeming incapable or unreliable).

If this isn't realistic or makes you simply miserable, figure out the best persons to inform that you won't be able to get to their assignments until later. If it's urgent and you're very clear about your availability, they'll figure something else out. If you truly are too busy doing other things (and doing them well), this shouldn't hurt you that much absent a wrong-person, wrong-time scenario.

[Just as an aside, I figure no Partners are coming to a summer for work they absolutely need done by you. It's not necessarily busy work or made-up, but it's probably not as crucial/important/urgent as they are conveying. They most likely have go-to-associates that would crank it out in a fraction of the time. They are giving you an opportunity to demonstrate value and/or testing you out most likely.]

My hours have been the 8:30-5 that the partners told us they wanted at the beginning. I think I'll suck up any late nights that I might have to have. A lot of my feeling overwhelmed I think had to do with just starting. Now that I'm adjusting, the work doesn't seem too overwhelming.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:36 pm

TheSpanishMain wrote:I said "no" plenty as a summer and got an offer. As long as you truly are too busy, it's fine. It's much better to decline work than it is to turn in something half assed.

Just be smart and tactful about it. Don't say you're too busy to do something and then let everyone see you dipping out of the office at 4.

This is promising if I do ever need to say "no," but I think I'll try not to unless I absolutely have to. Thanks for your input.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:36 pm

jchiles wrote:An 1800 billable requirement does not equal 8:30-5 even if you take no vacation.

Their associates have the 1800 requirement, but partners told us they expect us to be in the office 8:30-5.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:39 pm

PeanutsNJam wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
foregetaboutdre wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:This firm is having a summer draft a MSJ?


I had the same initial thought. I know firm websites mention this as SA work example, but given its nature makes me think the firm NEEDS OP to do a shit ton of work.


I work at a lit boutique. We give our summers motions and such to draft.

We pay them market though, so we're not OP's firm.


You give your summers MSJs? Not all motions are equal. Must be super confident in your summers to let them draft dispositive motions.

I have a couple weeks on the MSJ deadlines, and I'm not sure they can feel too confident in me (yet?) because they haven't seen much work product so far. I think it's more of a "we might use some of the summer's work if it's good" type of thing rather than using it out of necessity--at least that's what it sounds like.

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Re: Is it okay to say "no" as an SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
foregetaboutdre wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:This firm is having a summer draft a MSJ?


I had the same initial thought. I know firm websites mention this as SA work example, but given its nature makes me think the firm NEEDS OP to do a shit ton of work.


I work at a lit boutique. We give our summers motions and such to draft.

We pay them market though, so we're not OP's firm.


You give your summers MSJs? Not all motions are equal.

Hey all: as lolwat suggested, just because a firm gives a summer a MSJ (or an appellate brief or another case-dispositive motion) doesn't mean that the firm is counting on the summer to churn out something useful. At my firm, we sometimes give summers assignments like this precisely because it will take a lot of time; that way, we don't have to think of a half dozen small projects to give them during the week.

If the summer actually produces something we can work with, all the better.


On a note of general positivity, and obviously I'm just a summer, but I'm actually quite surprised and impressed by how well all the associates have given me work that seems to be "useful," but definitely in no way "essential." I don't think I'm being too careless when I say that I've drafted a few written pieces and had a "this is really useful, thanks!" and a few "actually, we were really hoping more that it would look like this..." and no one seems bent out of shape about it. You almost don't even need to say "no" to things, I just say Associate X has me doing A, and Associate Y has me doing B, when should I get this to you? Half the time they just say hey, don't worry about it at all, and it doesn't seem like a big deal. And when the associate guts half my memo, but the other half gets circulated to the group in some form in the end anyway, I figure it can't be too bad. Actually, TLS had me believing that this summer would be doing nothing of any significance, like I'd be mostly eating and not on active matters at all, but I'm definitely learning a lot about how this office works and such.

Sounds like you're at a good place! I have gotten no feedback so far, but to be fair, most of my bigger assignments haven't even been turned in yet so there isn't much they could give feedback on.



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