Wasn't able to explain something to a partner

(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: 325089
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Wasn't able to explain something to a partner

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:59 pm

So I had an assignment that required some legal research based on a few technical facts that were outside of my immediate knowledge (organic chemistry). I could have researched more into the chemistry, but we had an opinion from an outside firm that provided a fairly good summary of the technical points. I read those and concluded that it seemed reasonable so I focused on the legal research aspect. The day comes to present my analysis and I get asked a lot of basic technical questions. I say that I relied on the third party opinions and that I don't have the technical basis to confirm whether their representations were correct (which would have been true no matter how much research I put into the chemistry because normally we'd need expert opinions for this type of thing). He concluded by the end of it to join in another associate who has the relevant background. I could tell he was disappointed, and I've been feeling self conscious about this ever since. I'm a junior to mid-level associate if that matters. Obviously the next time something like this comes around, I'll be more diligent regarding the technical aspects, but I can't help feel really shitty. Any advice/consolation would be appreciated.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325089
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Wasn't able to explain something to a partner

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:22 pm

sorry to hear that; maybe the partner isn't so much disappointed in you as in the fact that he didn't realize third-party info wasn't sufficient? I can't see how this would be your fault.

Hang in there!

Anonymous User
Posts: 325089
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Wasn't able to explain something to a partner

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:sorry to hear that; maybe the partner isn't so much disappointed in you as in the fact that he didn't realize third-party info wasn't sufficient? I can't see how this would be your fault.

Hang in there!


That's possible. I'm probably being paranoid. Thanks!

Anonymous User
Posts: 325089
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Wasn't able to explain something to a partner

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:04 pm

Don’t sweat it at all. At worst this sound like a decent job but maybe you didn’t knock it out of the park. It happens and it won’t be held against you.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325089
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Wasn't able to explain something to a partner

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:32 pm

There's not a whole lot else you could do in terms of being diligent about the technical stuff; you can't learn orgo in a day and if you don't have it, you don't have it.

Only thing I'd say (and I don't even know if this is an issue, but just in case): if you ever come across something again that's in a field you don't have familiarity with, it's always best to warn the partner ASAP (i.e., "Hey I looked this over; happy to keep working, but just want to let you know ___ is out of my wheelhouse"), rather than doing a bunch of work on it and then telling the partner you were clueless about some stuff. That way if he really needs someone who understands ___ to do the work he can reassign the work accordingly, and if he doesn't, he's at least been given fair warning you can't write a dissertation on whatever the facts are and that you can't be expected to write as if you can.

In any case, doesn't sound like something that will tank your career, so I don't think you should lose sleep over it.

lolwat

Silver
Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:30 pm

Re: Wasn't able to explain something to a partner

Postby lolwat » Tue Oct 17, 2017 12:20 pm

In general, I would suggest getting at least a good working knowledge of whatever it is you're going to be talking about. My firm takes on cases in all sorts of different areas and even if we have experts advising us, we personally need to still learn and be just as good at those areas as opposing counsel who often have been litigating those cases for decades.

That's not to say you necessarily did something wrong here--organic chemistry isn't exactly easy--but remember that you need to add value ... think about it from their perspective; if they always have to add another associate because you don't have the background and can't/won't learn it on your own, you better be damn good at what you CAN do.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325089
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Wasn't able to explain something to a partner

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:49 pm

lolwat wrote:In general, I would suggest getting at least a good working knowledge of whatever it is you're going to be talking about. My firm takes on cases in all sorts of different areas and even if we have experts advising us, we personally need to still learn and be just as good at those areas as opposing counsel who often have been litigating those cases for decades.

That's not to say you necessarily did something wrong here--organic chemistry isn't exactly easy--but remember that you need to add value ... think about it from their perspective; if they always have to add another associate because you don't have the background and can't/won't learn it on your own, you better be damn good at what you CAN do.


Yes this essentially cuts to the heart of it - I felt expendable. Oh well. Not much I can do but move on and be better.

ghostoftraynor

Bronze
Posts: 114
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:43 pm

Re: Wasn't able to explain something to a partner

Postby ghostoftraynor » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:51 am

Not that you should worry, because you absolutely shouldn't, but I think this was the issue "I say that I relied on the third party opinions and that I don't have the technical basis to confirm whether their representations were correct." Obviously a true statement, but saying it kind of comes off like "I did this research but I have no idea what I'm talking about."

Again, doesn't sound like a thing to lose sleep over, but next time I'd come off more confident. Even if that seems slightly irresponsible, it absolutely is what the partner wanted.



Return to “Legal Employment?

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.