Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

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Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:02 pm

I made the mistake of going to a firm that doesn't give practice group-specific offers. I thought this would be fine since I did work for the group I'm interested in last summer and got great reviews. I was clear about expressing my interest in that group. But on my first day a few months ago, I had the unpleasant surprise of finding out that I'd been assigned to patent litigation, despite having no technical background or interest/experience in civil litigation. It's been a rough few months. Not only do I hate the work, I'm bad at the work. The other associates on my team have advanced chemistry degrees, while I can barely understand the patents/depositions/expert reports we're working with. None of my work for this group has been well received, and they seem generally frustrated with my lack of knowledge base.

My assignments coordinator is really unreceptive to the idea of me changing groups, even after my current matters wrap up in a few months. Reaching out to partners I've worked with before in my preferred group hasn't been successful -- no one seems to have new work right now for me, even though the group seems busy overall. What are my options here? How assertive can I be in turning down a new patent matter if I haven't been able to secure the work I'm interested in? The best solution I've come up with is applying to clerkships as a way of making a graceful exit.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:42 pm

Putting you in that group was a polite way of slow-firing you. My guess is you were at the bottom of the list from the summer and they needed fewer people than they’d made offers to. It sucks, and I’m sorry. Happened to a friend of mine a couple of years ago.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:03 pm

OP here. Any idea how long your friend had before they were officially shown the door?

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Putting you in that group was a polite way of slow-firing you. My guess is you were at the bottom of the list from the summer and they needed fewer people than they’d made offers to. It sucks, and I’m sorry. Happened to a friend of mine a couple of years ago.


I don't think this is necessarily true. It might be, but my firm has moved a number of people into groups they didn't want to be in, but the groups they're in now are genuinely very busy, and the groups they wanted to be in are genuinely quite slow. It might not be a good sign for you, but I don't think it's evidence of slow-firing you.

What group do you want to be in?

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:37 pm

This seems very odd because at most firms that force you into groups, patent lit is a niche group, and you generally have to be specifically recruited by the group. This would be akin to forcing someone into Tax or Bankruptcy. Usually, general lit/general corp are what people get funneled into if they don't get specifically requested by a particular group.

Since you don't have a technical background, it doesn't seem like you'd apply to or go to full service patent firms like Fish, so idk seems weird.

Did you do any patent lit work over the summer?

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:54 pm

OP here. I didn't do any patent work over the summer. I've always been interested in white collar, which my resume/internships reflect. My firm has a really well regarded white collar group, which is why I chose to go there. The patent group is busy and clearly needs bodies, but the white collar group is busy too. I've found one other person at the firm in the exact same situation. I just don't understand how it benefits the firm to have us floundering around in the patent group. Both of us feel like we're being set up for failure.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:49 am

Yeah, that’s so odd and I’d be concerned getting pigeon-holed into a group where every future lateral position (should you want to move), will look for a hard science degree.

That said, it’s litigation. I don’t know what your law school/grades were, but I have heard from many litigator friends that clerkships become less grade sensitive once you have had litigation experience. These same friends also managed to clerk and rejoin different litigation specialities more to their liking, with a bump in class year. At worst, could you grind it out for a year and start applying to clerkships?

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby RaceJudicata » Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:27 am

No interest in litigation, but wanted to do white collar? Seems like an odd combo, imho. All junior white collar associates (at least at my firm) also handle a ton of commercial lit — and I imagine that’s the case most places..

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Wild Card » Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:57 am

Christ, at my firm (V50), all the summers were freaking out about this. This and getting flat-out cold-offered. So sorry.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Any idea how long your friend had before they were officially shown the door?


They left before the inevitable.

To respond to some of the other posts in this thread: OP, if you had wanted securities lit and you got white collar, that’s not a de facto firing, that’s just typical sorting into the best fit with need.

But putting you in a group so far from your preferences, that’s highly technical and requires credentials that you don’t have, is a kick out the door. My friend was the inverse: recruited for, summered doing, and hired to do patent work, then stuck doing investment grade bond offerings despite zero interest or a single transactional law school class. They’d lost a rainmaker patent guy and just didn’t have room. That was a “oops, please leave”. Yours sounds like one too.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:03 am

RaceJudicata wrote:No interest in litigation, but wanted to do white collar? Seems like an odd combo, imho. All junior white collar associates (at least at my firm) also handle a ton of commercial lit — and I imagine that’s the case most places..


I'd be ok with pitching in on patent or commercial lit cases, if they'd thrown me a bone and I had at least one white collar matter. Ideally I'd like to split between white collar defense and our FCPA compliance/internal investigations group.

General consensus seems to be that I'm screwed. It's really late for a fall 2018 clerkship, so I would be looking at 2019 more realistically. I'm kinda worried that I won't be able to last that long. Is there any hope of lateraling at the one-year mark in this kind of situation?

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Hopefullitassociate » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:21 pm

Yes, I was in a very similar situation (placed in one practice group that was basically the opposite of the practice group I wanted to be in) and am about to switch to another firm to be in the practice group I want to be in after a little over a year. Feel free to PM me.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Any idea how long your friend had before they were officially shown the door?


They left before the inevitable.

To respond to some of the other posts in this thread: OP, if you had wanted securities lit and you got white collar, that’s not a de facto firing, that’s just typical sorting into the best fit with need.

But putting you in a group so far from your preferences, that’s highly technical and requires credentials that you don’t have, is a kick out the door. My friend was the inverse: recruited for, summered doing, and hired to do patent work, then stuck doing investment grade bond offerings despite zero interest or a single transactional law school class. They’d lost a rainmaker patent guy and just didn’t have room. That was a “oops, please leave”. Yours sounds like one too.


You're making broad assumptions from one data point.

Welcome to biglaw, folks. The firm doesn't actually care what practice group you want. They will try to accommodate your preferences, but will ultimately place you where needed. People that wanted lit get placed in transactional, and vice versa, all the time. This is not a "slow firing". This is a "we don't actually care about your white collar aspirations, cap markets needs a body."

OP, it's odd you got placed in patent lit of all groups, but maybe they really needed a junior to do the grunt work. Who knows. In any case, your best option is to lateral, sorry. But I wouldn't worry about an imminent firing.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby SmokeytheBear » Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:08 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Any idea how long your friend had before they were officially shown the door?


They left before the inevitable.

To respond to some of the other posts in this thread: OP, if you had wanted securities lit and you got white collar, that’s not a de facto firing, that’s just typical sorting into the best fit with need.

But putting you in a group so far from your preferences, that’s highly technical and requires credentials that you don’t have, is a kick out the door. My friend was the inverse: recruited for, summered doing, and hired to do patent work, then stuck doing investment grade bond offerings despite zero interest or a single transactional law school class. They’d lost a rainmaker patent guy and just didn’t have room. That was a “oops, please leave”. Yours sounds like one too.


You're making broad assumptions from one data point.

Welcome to biglaw, folks. The firm doesn't actually care what practice group you want. They will try to accommodate your preferences, but will ultimately place you where needed. People that wanted lit get placed in transactional, and vice versa, all the time. This is not a "slow firing". This is a "we don't actually care about your white collar aspirations, cap markets needs a body."

OP, it's odd you got placed in patent lit of all groups, but maybe they really needed a junior to do the grunt work. Who knows. In any case, your best option is to lateral, sorry. But I wouldn't worry about an imminent firing.


This is 99.9% exactly what I was going to say. You shouldn't put too much thought into trying to figure out why firm management does something; they're worse than you're irrational ex-girlfriend.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Pokemon » Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Any idea how long your friend had before they were officially shown the door?


They left before the inevitable.

To respond to some of the other posts in this thread: OP, if you had wanted securities lit and you got white collar, that’s not a de facto firing, that’s just typical sorting into the best fit with need.

But putting you in a group so far from your preferences, that’s highly technical and requires credentials that you don’t have, is a kick out the door. My friend was the inverse: recruited for, summered doing, and hired to do patent work, then stuck doing investment grade bond offerings despite zero interest or a single transactional law school class. They’d lost a rainmaker patent guy and just didn’t have room. That was a “oops, please leave”. Yours sounds like one too.


Op, I cannot help but agree with this and think op needs to look at lateral opportunities. Even what happened to anons friend here (going from ip to securities) is not that bizarre since securities law does not really require any background, but being put in a patent group without really any background in it is extremely bizarre. It is not even erisa, or tax, it is something that most firms would never consider putting a Supreme Court clerk in unless that clerk had the scientific background.

Also, even if this was not firm setting him up for failure, it does not matter. Op is already failing and not sure why it would get better at current group

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby sparkytrainer » Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:52 pm

OP, if you feel comfortable, PM me. I am curious about what firm this is.

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Roy McAvoy

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Roy McAvoy » Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:52 pm

Pokemon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Any idea how long your friend had before they were officially shown the door?


They left before the inevitable.

To respond to some of the other posts in this thread: OP, if you had wanted securities lit and you got white collar, that’s not a de facto firing, that’s just typical sorting into the best fit with need.

But putting you in a group so far from your preferences, that’s highly technical and requires credentials that you don’t have, is a kick out the door. My friend was the inverse: recruited for, summered doing, and hired to do patent work, then stuck doing investment grade bond offerings despite zero interest or a single transactional law school class. They’d lost a rainmaker patent guy and just didn’t have room. That was a “oops, please leave”. Yours sounds like one too.


Op, I cannot help but agree with this and think op needs to look at lateral opportunities. Even what happened to anons friend here (going from ip to securities) is not that bizarre since securities law does not really require any background, but being put in a patent group without really any background in it is extremely bizarre. It is not even erisa, or tax, it is something that most firms would never consider putting a Supreme Court clerk in unless that clerk had the scientific background.

Also, even if this was not firm setting him up for failure, it does not matter. Op is already failing and not sure why it would get better at current group


I must have missed where OP said they were a SCOTUS clerk, or why that would be relevant, but okay. Amd there’s plenty of grunt work a non-technical person can do in patent lit - I’d bet that Smokey and LaLiLuLeLo are spot on.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:01 pm

Roy McAvoy wrote:
Pokemon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Any idea how long your friend had before they were officially shown the door?


They left before the inevitable.

To respond to some of the other posts in this thread: OP, if you had wanted securities lit and you got white collar, that’s not a de facto firing, that’s just typical sorting into the best fit with need.

But putting you in a group so far from your preferences, that’s highly technical and requires credentials that you don’t have, is a kick out the door. My friend was the inverse: recruited for, summered doing, and hired to do patent work, then stuck doing investment grade bond offerings despite zero interest or a single transactional law school class. They’d lost a rainmaker patent guy and just didn’t have room. That was a “oops, please leave”. Yours sounds like one too.


Op, I cannot help but agree with this and think op needs to look at lateral opportunities. Even what happened to anons friend here (going from ip to securities) is not that bizarre since securities law does not really require any background, but being put in a patent group without really any background in it is extremely bizarre. It is not even erisa, or tax, it is something that most firms would never consider putting a Supreme Court clerk in unless that clerk had the scientific background.

Also, even if this was not firm setting him up for failure, it does not matter. Op is already failing and not sure why it would get better at current group


I must have missed where OP said they were a SCOTUS clerk, or why that would be relevant, but okay. Amd there’s plenty of grunt work a non-technical person can do in patent lit - I’d bet that Smokey and LaLiLuLeLo are spot on.


I believe he's trying to say firms wouldn't even do this to the best of the best.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:04 pm

I’m sort of curious what firm this is. I’d love to work in patent litigation without a science background.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby jarofsoup » Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:05 pm

The lateral market heats up in feb. start looking. It's big law you just need to survive. By survive I mean keep a job and make every career move seem to be a part of a larger plan.

Most lawyers get pushed out of a firm at some point.
Stop reading the tea leaves and just move on.

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Re: Frustrated by Practice Group Placement

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:33 pm

Lateral. Sort of in the same situation. Hired for one thing.. totally wont be able to do it and there is no need in the correct group to even get somewhat similar experience to build my skill set. Can’t sit here too long doing work I’m not good at that will hurt me when trying to lateral to the correct practice group. Definitely have two recruiters now and hoping come February things move quickly. Start the process now.



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