how much contact do you have with partners?

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how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:02 pm

I work in a satellite office of a large firm. While visiting our HQ offices, I've sent a quick email or two to a few partners in my practice group mentioning I was visiting and that I'd like to come by their office and say hi/introduce myself if they're free. Two of the three emails I sent went ignored. I don't think they were weird or anything since I had someone look over the emails.

Is this typical? I would have stopped by and said hi, but a senior associate advised that I email first instead and that one of the partners I emailed was "very friendly" and would probably be open to lunch or coffee.

Beginning to wonder if some sexism is going on since one of the partners I reached out to has a reputation for working mainly with male associates.

Did i happen to catch these partners at a bad time, or does it sound like the partners at my firm aren't very friendly? I'm a recent lateral.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby SFSpartan » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:12 pm

The partners were probably just busy.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:15 pm

Ignoring you wasn't great, but I understand it's not unusual for some partners to blow off emails from juniors. FWIW, at least at my firm there isn't a need to receive prior approval before just dropping by a partner's office. Recommend doing so in the future in lieu of emailing (or after emailing if you don't hear back).

Of course, there are partners who are sexist (racist, too...), but IMO it doesn't do much good thinking of folks you don't know as being potentially discriminatory.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Ignoring you wasn't great, but I understand it's not unusual for some partners to blow off emails from juniors. FWIW, at least at my firm there isn't a need to receive prior approval before just dropping by a partner's office. Recommend doing so in the future in lieu of emailing (or after emailing if you don't hear back).

Of course, there are partners who are sexist (racist, too...), but IMO it doesn't do much good thinking of folks you don't know as being potentially discriminatory.


Thanks, that's probably true.

What I find especially annoying is how partners will enthuse about how friendly X partner is and how you should try to get to know them, but when you attempt to they brush you off. I've slowly learned that partners treat each other very differently from how they treat associates.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Ignoring you wasn't great, but I understand it's not unusual for some partners to blow off emails from juniors. FWIW, at least at my firm there isn't a need to receive prior approval before just dropping by a partner's office. Recommend doing so in the future in lieu of emailing (or after emailing if you don't hear back).

Of course, there are partners who are sexist (racist, too...), but IMO it doesn't do much good thinking of folks you don't know as being potentially discriminatory.


Thanks, that's probably true.

What I find especially annoying is how partners will enthuse about how friendly X partner is and how you should try to get to know them, but when you attempt to they brush you off. I've slowly learned that partners treat each other very differently from how they treat associates.


Ha! At least the partners at your firm treat each other well... at my firm the partners don't even treat each other all that well. Comparatively they actually treat "their" associates better than partners they're competing with...

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:44 pm

Responding to the title question: I'm a second year at a biglaw firm and have a few times now gone many months without any contact with partners. I work for senior associates and counsel. Not unusual at my firm.

Responding to the post content: not sure how partners at my firm would respond, but it wouldn't surprise me of they ignored an email like that. Almost seems a little bit too forward / weird to me.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby grixxlybear99 » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:49 pm

Threads like this (and this: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=280779) are becoming a little rampant both on this site and irl. What evidence do you have that sexism was involved here? Why even bring it up?

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Responding to the title question: I'm a second year at a biglaw firm and have a few times now gone many months without any contact with partners. I work for senior associates and counsel. Not unusual at my firm.

Responding to the post content: not sure how partners at my firm would respond, but it wouldn't surprise me of they ignored an email like that. Almost seems a little bit too forward / weird to me.


It depends on the firm. At a place with a very entrepreneurial/free market culture, reaching out cold can be pretty much the best way of getting your name out there and getting work. I'm not bold enough to just casually pop into a partner's office and stick out my hand, so I usually use the email-first approach. If the partner tells me to swing by, great! If not, I'll still swing by (now that I've at least emailed to introduce myself!). :P

But I can see how it'd be weird to do this at a firm with a more centralized assignment system. There, acting like this might be perceived as gunnerish, I guess.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:56 pm

grixxlybear99 wrote:Threads like this (and this: http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewt ... 4&t=280779) are becoming a little rampant both on this site and irl. What evidence do you have that sexism was involved here? Why even bring it up?


Because if you're part of a group that has historically faced discrimination/doesn't fit the lawyer stereotype, if someone treats you weirdly, it's hard not to wonder whether you being different is part of what's going on, especially if there's anything else that might suggest that (like the person in question rarely working with people of your gender). I mean, plenty of times it's not, but sometimes you wonder. It's not like the legal profession has a good track record wrt women/minorities.

And there's nothing wrong with bringing it up if it's something you wonder about. There's only so much people here can answer, but that's never stopped anyone from asking questions here before. People are free to say that there are lots of other possible non-discriminatory reasons.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby grixxlybear99 » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:02 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
grixxlybear99 wrote:Threads like this (and this: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=280779) are becoming a little rampant both on this site and irl. What evidence do you have that sexism was involved here? Why even bring it up?


Because if you're part of a group that has historically faced discrimination/doesn't fit the lawyer stereotype, if someone treats you weirdly, it's hard not to wonder whether you being different is part of what's going on, especially if there's anything else that might suggest that (like the person in question rarely working with people of your gender). I mean, plenty of times it's not, but sometimes you wonder. It's not like the legal profession has a good track record wrt women/minorities.

And there's nothing wrong with bringing it up if it's something you wonder about. There's only so much people here can answer, but that's never stopped anyone from asking questions here before. People are free to say that there are lots of other possible non-discriminatory reasons.


Seems a bit reckless to say the least. If this sort of notion becomes accepted, think of the consequence. E.g., I don't respond to someone's email, they report me to HR for sexism and the incident is marked in my employment file - regardless of whether its resolved favorably or not. Major issue.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby unlicensedpotato » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:03 pm

In my experience it isn't uncommon for partners to ignore/not respond to even substantive emails. I wouldn't read anything into it. For my firm, it would be completely normal to just knock on a partner's door (or door frame) and say "hey, do you have a second?"

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby unlicensedpotato » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:04 pm

grixxlybear99 wrote:
Seems a bit reckless to say the least. If this sort of notion becomes accepted, think of the consequence. E.g., I don't respond to someone's email, they report me to HR for sexism and the incident is marked in my employment file - regardless of whether its resolved favorably or not. Major issue.


This is insanely stupid.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Pokemon » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I work in a satellite office of a large firm. While visiting our HQ offices, I've sent a quick email or two to a few partners in my practice group mentioning I was visiting and that I'd like to come by their office and say hi/introduce myself if they're free. Two of the three emails I sent went ignored. I don't think they were weird or anything since I had someone look over the emails.

Is this typical? I would have stopped by and said hi, but a senior associate advised that I email first instead and that one of the partners I emailed was "very friendly" and would probably be open to lunch or coffee.

Beginning to wonder if some sexism is going on since one of the partners I reached out to has a reputation for working mainly with male associates.

Did i happen to catch these partners at a bad time, or does it sound like the partners at my firm aren't very friendly? I'm a recent lateral.


You are a lateral so you probably know as much as the other people here. At my firm though a partner not paying attention to that email would be normal. Even on substantive matters, I often follow up and am expected to follow up, 2-3 times. People are just busy and easy to ignore/put away stuff when that busy. I doubt it is sexism. Even if a partner is sexist, I doubt this is the type of situation it would show up in.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Responding to the title question: I'm a second year at a biglaw firm and have a few times now gone many months without any contact with partners. I work for senior associates and counsel. Not unusual at my firm.

Responding to the post content: not sure how partners at my firm would respond, but it wouldn't surprise me of they ignored an email like that. Almost seems a little bit too forward / weird to me.


It depends on the firm. At a place with a very entrepreneurial/free market culture, reaching out cold can be pretty much the best way of getting your name out there and getting work. I'm not bold enough to just casually pop into a partner's office and stick out my hand, so I usually use the email-first approach. If the partner tells me to swing by, great! If not, I'll still swing by (now that I've at least emailed to introduce myself!). :P

But I can see how it'd be weird to do this at a firm with a more centralized assignment system. There, acting like this might be perceived as gunnerish, I guess.


Yeah, our firm does not have a centralized assignment system either. Were encouraged to knock on doors. But I'm not always sure inshould do that because busy partners might be like "wtf are you doing here get out I'm busy." The safest way to get your name out seems to be by reaching out first via email, esp if youre in a satellite office doing work mostly coming out of HQ.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:04 pm

grixxlybear99 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
grixxlybear99 wrote:Threads like this (and this: http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewt ... 4&t=280779) are becoming a little rampant both on this site and irl. What evidence do you have that sexism was involved here? Why even bring it up?


Because if you're part of a group that has historically faced discrimination/doesn't fit the lawyer stereotype, if someone treats you weirdly, it's hard not to wonder whether you being different is part of what's going on, especially if there's anything else that might suggest that (like the person in question rarely working with people of your gender). I mean, plenty of times it's not, but sometimes you wonder. It's not like the legal profession has a good track record wrt women/minorities.

And there's nothing wrong with bringing it up if it's something you wonder about. There's only so much people here can answer, but that's never stopped anyone from asking questions here before. People are free to say that there are lots of other possible non-discriminatory reasons.


Seems a bit reckless to say the least. If this sort of notion becomes accepted, think of the consequence. E.g., I don't respond to someone's email, they report me to HR for sexism and the incident is marked in my employment file - regardless of whether its resolved favorably or not. Major issue.


OP here. Believe it or not outside the context of law I do sometimes feel that sexism/racism is tossed out too casually.

However, I work in an IP group where female and minority representation is abysmal. Its sad. Male partners also seem to seek out male associates to socialize with, leaving female associates out. I sat in a dinner where all the men around me chatted about football and their kids for hours on end. There are also certain male partners who surround themselves with teams of male associates. I once tagged along to a hearing with multiple partners and associates in which I was the only female present from our firm.

It's hard not to wonder.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby MKC » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I sat in a dinner where all the men around me chatted about football and their kids for hours on end.


Everyone with kids loves to talk about their kids at every opportunity, and I have no idea how that relates to racism or sexism.

Dudes talking about football is par for the course, and sports is one of the few safe topics for social conversation that doesn't risk venturing into controversial territory. Personally, I know dick about sports. Couldn't care less. Follow along, pretend you're interested, and do what you have to do to keep making a good impression. Guys who like to talk about football are going to gravitate towards other people who like to talk about football. That's just kind of how shit works. While I'm certain this perpetuates the gender imbalance, and it's not fair, I also don't know how you fix it in an industry where "fit" means "people I like to shoot the shit with."
Last edited by MKC on Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:41 pm

One thing to be aware of is that a partner at a big law firm has worked with hundreds if not thousands of associates. 95% those associates left/were pushed out and now work somewhere else. There's not a lot of incentive to get to know someone when they'll likely be gone in a couple years anyway. Even as a junior associate, after the majority of your class year has moved on, one gets a bit jaded w/r/t chatting people up.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:49 pm

MarkinKansasCity wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I sat in a dinner where all the men around me chatted about football and their kids for hours on end.


Everyone with kids loves to talk about their kids at every opportunity, and I have no idea how that relates to racism or sexism.

Dudes talking about football is par for the course, and sports is one of the few safe topics for social conversation that doesn't risk venturing into controversial territory. Personally, I know dick about sports. Couldn't care less. Follow along, pretend you're interested, and do what you have to do to keep making a good impression. Guys who like to talk about football are going to gravitate towards other people who like to talk about football. That's just kind of how shit works. While I'm certain this perpetuates the gender imbalance, and it's not fair, I also don't know how you fix it in an industry where "fit" means "people I like to shoot the shit with."


When you talk for hours on end about kids and football and things that happened with Team X in '78, it means you couldn't care less about the 27 year old female associate who really has nothing to add after feigning interest for 45 minutes. I can only feign interest for so long. And frankly, every dinner I sit in on should not involve me feigning interest.

I know a girl who follows sports just to get along with the boys at work. But she's a senior associate and they're still not making her partner. Her male counterparts are the ones on the shortlist.

It seems like everytime someone tries to talk about the very real diversity problem we have in biglaw, people have to counter with " maybe it's YOUR problem." No, it is not always our problem we don't get invited to drinks, we get caught in the middle of these long dinners involving hours of football discussion... And after enough years of feigning interest someone decides we're not natural or comfortable enough to be one of the partners.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:17 pm

unlicensedpotato wrote:
grixxlybear99 wrote:Seems a bit reckless to say the least. If this sort of notion becomes accepted, think of the consequence. E.g., I don't respond to someone's email, they report me to HR for sexism and the incident is marked in my employment file - regardless of whether its resolved favorably or not. Major issue.


This is insanely stupid.

Yeah, there's a huge leap here from "OP is wondering whether there could be some gender bias at work" to "OP intends to report someone for gender bias based on not getting their email returned." That's not remotely how this works at all, also not something I came anywhere close to suggesting (nor would I suggest it).

Re: kids and football - frankly the kids thing seems way more of an age/marital status thing than a gender thing. If there aren't any other women then they're not there to talk about this stuff, but talking about kids doesn't remotely exclude women for being women (if part of the discussion is "kids and how my SAHW handles them" that's a little weird for people who don't have a SAH spouse, but generally speaking women talk about their kids all the time). For that matter talking about football doesn't exclude women either (at my last office particularly there were just as many women fans as men), though I get with men of a certain age and persona it can be macho semi-exclusive talk (especially if they assume that you couldn't possibly be interested).

But some of it is just a general homogeneity problem. Most of my colleagues have school-aged kids. As a childless person I don't really care much about kids' school or after school activities. But there is a LOT of discussion of them because everyone else cares, and so I act interested. (Mostly I'm just glad my job rarely requires me to sit at dinners with people.)

I'm not saying these things have no connection to seeing women/people of color as entirely different species who don't really "fit," and I get that that absolutely happens and hurts partnership chances, but on their face kids and sports aren't super gendered topics. It seems to me the issue is more generally people who've known each other for years not being interested in genuinely getting to know younger people.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby lolwat » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:17 pm

Re: kids and football - frankly the kids thing seems way more of an age/marital status thing than a gender thing. If there aren't any other women then they're not there to talk about this stuff, but talking about kids doesn't remotely exclude women for being women (if part of the discussion is "kids and how my SAHW handles them" that's a little weird for people who don't have a SAH spouse, but generally speaking women talk about their kids all the time). For that matter talking about football doesn't exclude women either (at my last office particularly there were just as many women fans as men), though I get with men of a certain age and persona it can be macho semi-exclusive talk (especially if they assume that you couldn't possibly be interested).

But some of it is just a general homogeneity problem. Most of my colleagues have school-aged kids. As a childless person I don't really care much about kids' school or after school activities. But there is a LOT of discussion of them because everyone else cares, and so I act interested. (Mostly I'm just glad my job rarely requires me to sit at dinners with people.)

I'm not saying these things have no connection to seeing women/people of color as entirely different species who don't really "fit," and I get that that absolutely happens and hurts partnership chances, but on their face kids and sports aren't super gendered topics. It seems to me the issue is more generally people who've known each other for years not being interested in genuinely getting to know younger people.


Yeah, I think this is pretty much so.

I get it, OP is a female in a pretty male-dominated profession and, not only that, a male-dominated practice group. So, not surprising she feel the way she does. Even so, I fail to see why it is everybody else's problem for gravitating towards people they have something in common with, or discussing something that, at least, nearly everybody at the dinner table is interested in talking about. Personally, I'm male, I know jack shit about football or any other sports (and I have no kids and never plan to have any), so I just sit there and eat my food silently if the conversation at a lunch or dinner goes that way because I can't even feign any interest whatsoever in that shit. (I guess I have some interest in how other peoples' kids are doing just because why not?) I also decline many offers to go grab a beer after work with my colleagues (almost always using the "I need to get this shit done" excuse) because I don't drink and I'm often uninterested in the conversations anyway.

If all that makes me not partnership material, it's not because of my gender (or race; I'm not white), it's because I couldn't connect/shoot the shit with the right people. Sadly, that's just how things go, and I see no reason to feel as if everyone else should shift the conversation to bitcoins or something I might be interested in. I'll invest in my goddamn coins and be a multi-millionaire in a few years and retire while they still talk about football at their work dinners. :P

Anyway, back to the OP's question, it's hard to tell, but why not just try to pop in and introduce yourself anyway. Pokemon's post a bit up (quoted below) is really my experience with partners being busy and I'm not even in a big firm. I often have to follow numerous times and it sucks ass because sometimes things happen like I send drafts of substantive briefs like 3-4 days before its due, follow up 5 times and finally get comments back two hours before we need to get it filed. Same thing with important e-mails involving time-sensitive decisions to be made way above my paygrade. If the partners can't even get around to that why would they get around to an e-mail from someone asking if they can drop by and say hi.

At my firm though a partner not paying attention to that email would be normal. Even on substantive matters, I often follow up and am expected to follow up, 2-3 times.

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby grixxlybear99 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:46 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
unlicensedpotato wrote:
grixxlybear99 wrote:Seems a bit reckless to say the least. If this sort of notion becomes accepted, think of the consequence. E.g., I don't respond to someone's email, they report me to HR for sexism and the incident is marked in my employment file - regardless of whether its resolved favorably or not. Major issue.


This is insanely stupid.

Yeah, there's a huge leap here from "OP is wondering whether there could be some gender bias at work" to "OP intends to report someone for gender bias based on not getting their email returned." That's not remotely how this works at all, also not something I came anywhere close to suggesting (nor would I suggest it).


I think you are viewing the world in a bubble//suffering from an obvious disconnect if it is more likely in your world that (failing to respond to an email is evidence of sexism) than (someone who feels they have been subjected to sexism by a co-worker reports the sexism to HR).

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Re: how much contact do you have with partners?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:20 pm

grixxlybear99 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
unlicensedpotato wrote:
grixxlybear99 wrote:Seems a bit reckless to say the least. If this sort of notion becomes accepted, think of the consequence. E.g., I don't respond to someone's email, they report me to HR for sexism and the incident is marked in my employment file - regardless of whether its resolved favorably or not. Major issue.


This is insanely stupid.

Yeah, there's a huge leap here from "OP is wondering whether there could be some gender bias at work" to "OP intends to report someone for gender bias based on not getting their email returned." That's not remotely how this works at all, also not something I came anywhere close to suggesting (nor would I suggest it).


I think you are viewing the world in a bubble//suffering from an obvious disconnect if it is more likely in your world that (failing to respond to an email is evidence of sexism) than (someone who feels they have been subjected to sexism by a co-worker reports the sexism to HR).

This is leaping to a bunch of conclusions. I didn't say that failing to respond to an email was, in and of itself, a sign of sexism. I also didn't say that, if it *was* a sign of sexism, it was something that the OP should report. Maybe you've never had to think about this, but women deal with low-key incidents of sexism all. the. time. without reporting them. I would never suggest that someone report anyone's failure to answer an email, in itself, as evidence of sexism.

But if someone thinks they might be dealing with bias at work, sure, patterns of email responses could be something to take note of. If the OP discovered, for instance, that a particular partner regularly ignored her emails, while not ignoring emails from male associates, that's still not something I would necessarily recommend reporting as sexism (I'd probably raise it with someone only if it interfered with doing my job, and then only as its own issue - "hey, partner x never answers my emails, can you talk to them about responding or how I can otherwise get the info?" or the like), but it's worth having a record of *if other issues arise*.

Despite people's concerns about being accused of sexism, it is actually very very hard to prove these cases. It's not some kind of automatic scarlet letter for the accusee. And getting known as the person who accused someone of sexism isn't a great career move either. All that is way down the line from what the OP raised, though. You seem to think women are chomping at the bit to make accusations like this, and that's simply not true.



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