Worried about job security

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Worried about job security

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:24 pm

1st year specialty practice in a non-NY major market biglaw. Billable has been low since I started (average 20 hours a week) and not too much work in sight. Got myself on a number of pro bono but not sure about long term prospect. I'd like to think it's not my fault if there isn't enough work to go around, but also worried if I unknowingly pissed off a partner in the already small group and so people don't want to work with me. The other associates in my group seem to have work but no one gets super busy.

My work product based on limited feedback has been okay, but every so often I make stupid mistakes that I want to shoot myself in the head for.

Welcome any advice on whether the insecurity is normal for first years, tips on discretely asking for more work, how to prepare for a layoff, etc.

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glitched

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Re: Worried about job security

Postby glitched » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:05 am

I wouldn't worry too much - sometimes there just isn't enough of the type of work for a first year. I would say take your time on your assignments and really learn them and why your'e doing them, if you have the time to do it. Stay observant, and do not be discrete about asking for more work. It's okay to ask by email, or in person. I left my first firm because I thought I was being iced out of hours, and when I went into the partner's office to give my 2 weeks, he thought I was coming to ask for more work, and that he was about to message me about a new project. I still keep in touch with him. Mistakes are stressful, but think of them as learning opportunities. If there are clear signs that the firm doesn't have the capacity to take you on, especially in the upcoming years, the best thing to do now is to just get as much experience as possible anyway so that you can beef up your resume.

HarrisonBarnes

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Re: Worried about job security

Postby HarrisonBarnes » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:48 am

Almost every new attorney makes stupid mistakes and gets criticized for this when they start. You need to fix this, though, or otherwise people will stop giving you work. If your hours are low you are at risk of losing your job. You should do what you can to get as much work that helps the firm. Ask for assignments from as many people as you can. When you are given work, do the assignments as thoroughly as you can and do not miss anything. As a junior associate, you need to develop the reputation for (1) doing the best work and (2) billing the most hours. In law firms you will know how you are doing quite often by the amount of "repeat business" you get from people who gave you work in the past and the number of hours you are billing. I used to work in a giant law firm and there were attorneys who were at my level billing 2,800 hours a year and those billing 1,200. The ones that were billing 1,200 were not getting work because the partners did not like their work and those billing 2,800 were impressing those they worked for. While billing 2,800 hours is not fun, this is the sign of someone who partners want to do their work in many firms.

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Re: Worried about job security

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:51 pm

HarrisonBarnes wrote:Almost every new attorney makes stupid mistakes and gets criticized for this when they start. You need to fix this, though, or otherwise people will stop giving you work. If your hours are low you are at risk of losing your job. You should do what you can to get as much work that helps the firm. Ask for assignments from as many people as you can. When you are given work, do the assignments as thoroughly as you can and do not miss anything. As a junior associate, you need to develop the reputation for (1) doing the best work and (2) billing the most hours. In law firms you will know how you are doing quite often by the amount of "repeat business" you get from people who gave you work in the past and the number of hours you are billing. I used to work in a giant law firm and there were attorneys who were at my level billing 2,800 hours a year and those billing 1,200. The ones that were billing 1,200 were not getting work because the partners did not like their work and those billing 2,800 were impressing those they worked for. While billing 2,800 hours is not fun, this is the sign of someone who partners want to do their work in many firms.


So are you saying that both types of associates were given the same amount of projects, but the ones that were "impressive" were simply taking longer to do it?

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rowingmyboat

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Re: Worried about job security

Postby rowingmyboat » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:30 pm

It can be hard for first years to get in the mix. If everyone else is slow, I wouldn't worry too much. Work trickles downstream, so associates above you might be grabbing work that they otherwise would hand off to you if they were too busy. That being said, you should definitely ask around. This can be as simple as popping into an associate's office and saying "Hey, I'm a little slow right now so let me know if you need anything." Ask others throughout the week too. And keep asking regularly until you're busy or someone tells you the group is slow so chill.

I think it's too early for anyone to be icing you out of work, and since you said it's a small group, they probably wouldn't have the luxury of having a first year associate sitting around getting a paycheck for no work when they get busy even if they wanted to. That said, as the above mentioned, always turn in good work so in the future folks will advocate to get you on projects with them. Everyone makes mistakes. There are tons of things you don't know and that's ok. But don't make lazy mistakes (always, always proofread; don't repeat mistakes). If an associate thinks they have to look over all your work with a fine-tooth comb, you aren't saving them any time and they won't want to work with you.



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