Biglaw lawyer taking questions

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Merrill
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Merrill » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:48 pm

A lot of firms have a free-market system for assignments, and they say that the system allows associates to decide who they work for. But your last post made me think that choosing to not to work with a partner again might be a harder/more political choice than I had considered, even in a "completely" free-market system.

So two questions: a) does your firm use a free-market system, and b) if so, how much choice do associates actually have about who they work with?

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions in this thread--your perspective is really helpful.

3rdYrLitigator
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:25 pm

Merrill wrote:A lot of firms have a free-market system for assignments, and they say that the system allows associates to decide who they work for. But your last post made me think that choosing to not to work with a partner again might be a harder/more political choice than I had considered, even in a "completely" free-market system.

So two questions: a) does your firm use a free-market system, and b) if so, how much choice do associates actually have about who they work with?

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions in this thread--your perspective is really helpful.


Well, we do have a free-market system, and associates mostly have choices in the beginning of their careers, but the way it ends up working usually is that once you've worked with a partner or two, you'll keep getting work from them. If you're using the free-market system after a year or so, sometimes that has something to do with your work product. Essentially, if a partner wants you, it's hard to stop them and the thing about a-hole partners is that they often stick to associates until the associates burn out (maybe because it's really hard to get more experienced associates to work with them).

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:43 pm

Thanks so much for this thread. I have two questions.

1) Is there anything you think an incoming associate could do during 3L to give herself a leg up?

2) Do you have any suggestions for us deferred incoming associates who are unsure when we'll start in 2011? And unsure if we'll get a salary advance/stipend? Just search for a job and tell them we don't know how long we'll be able to work before we leave for the big law job?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks so much for this thread. I have two questions.

1) Is there anything you think an incoming associate could do during 3L to give herself a leg up?

2) Do you have any suggestions for us deferred incoming associates who are unsure when we'll start in 2011? And unsure if we'll get a salary advance/stipend? Just search for a job and tell them we don't know how long we'll be able to work before we leave for the big law job?


1) It may be too late for this, but I'd try to do a clinical course in the area of law I was interested in. You're going to realize that there is very very little course work that is applicable to actual practice, and the quicker you can pick up firm practice, the better off you'll be.

2) I'd search for a job as if you're not going to actually start in 2011. Who knows what firms will do, I certainly wouldn't put all my trust in those start dates pushed-back start dates (then again, it does depend on what firm you're talking about).

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby pleasetryagain » Sat Sep 19, 2009 11:20 am

how much of what youve learned in law school do you actually use in practice?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:07 pm

3rdYrLitigator wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thanks so much for this thread. I have two questions.

1) Is there anything you think an incoming associate could do during 3L to give herself a leg up?

2) Do you have any suggestions for us deferred incoming associates who are unsure when we'll start in 2011? And unsure if we'll get a salary advance/stipend? Just search for a job and tell them we don't know how long we'll be able to work before we leave for the big law job?


1) It may be too late for this, but I'd try to do a clinical course in the area of law I was interested in. You're going to realize that there is very very little course work that is applicable to actual practice, and the quicker you can pick up firm practice, the better off you'll be.

2) I'd search for a job as if you're not going to actually start in 2011. Who knows what firms will do, I certainly wouldn't put all my trust in those start dates pushed-back start dates (then again, it does depend on what firm you're talking about).

With regards to #2, that is my thinking as well (even though given the firm, I'm not nervous about if, it's just when). However, how do I really approach this with interviewers? They'll see I worked as a summer associate and that an offer was extended. Will any place really want to hire me right out of law school for only 4 months possibly? Especially right now when there aren't enough jobs to go around anyways.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:45 am

DCD wrote:how much of what youve learned in law school do you actually use in practice?


Honestly, close to nothing besides getting a lot of experience writing. I'd say the most useful things from school were the basic rules of Civ Pro (as in what a 12(b)(6) motion is, nothing more complex than that) and the Bluebook. Everything else is pretty much useless. I guess an argument can be made that all the classes taught me how to "think like a lawyer" but I'm not quite sure that's true or quantifiable.

With regards to #2, that is my thinking as well (even though given the firm, I'm not nervous about if, it's just when). However, how do I really approach this with interviewers? They'll see I worked as a summer associate and that an offer was extended. Will any place really want to hire me right out of law school for only 4 months possibly? Especially right now when there aren't enough jobs to go around anyways.


It's not like I have a ton of experience in this area, but if I had an interviewee in front of me and they presented it like "I summered, got an offer, but the start date is unknown, so I question the long term health of the firm and would like to find a better fit" I wouldn't count it against them at all. All other things equal I'd probably consider that candidate over another that didn't summer anywhere or one that got no-offered. Of course, this assumes that you can even find a firm interviewing 3Ls.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:37 pm

3rdYrLitigator wrote:
It's not like I have a ton of experience in this area, but if I had an interviewee in front of me and they presented it like "I summered, got an offer, but the start date is unknown, so I question the long term health of the firm and would like to find a better fit" I wouldn't count it against them at all. All other things equal I'd probably consider that candidate over another that didn't summer anywhere or one that got no-offered. Of course, this assumes that you can even find a firm interviewing 3Ls.

I'm not looking for another big firm though. I love this firm, but I just might need some $ to pay the bills until I start, so it'd definitely be short-term. I'd be surprised if anyone was willing to hire me on these terms though, unless it was contract work. Is this a correct assumption? Or do you think it's worth applying to some medium/small firms and see what they say?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
3rdYrLitigator wrote:
It's not like I have a ton of experience in this area, but if I had an interviewee in front of me and they presented it like "I summered, got an offer, but the start date is unknown, so I question the long term health of the firm and would like to find a better fit" I wouldn't count it against them at all. All other things equal I'd probably consider that candidate over another that didn't summer anywhere or one that got no-offered. Of course, this assumes that you can even find a firm interviewing 3Ls.

I'm not looking for another big firm though. I love this firm, but I just might need some $ to pay the bills until I start, so it'd definitely be short-term. I'd be surprised if anyone was willing to hire me on these terms though, unless it was contract work. Is this a correct assumption? Or do you think it's worth applying to some medium/small firms and see what they say?


Yeah, if that's the case, and you're upfront about it, I think you're going to have a lot of problems. Even contract work is going to be hard to come by, from what I hear.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:05 pm

I don't know if you're still around taking questions, but if you are, I have one.

Are there ever situations where a case you are assigned to conflicts with your beliefs? If so, how do you or other associates you know handle that?

For example, if someone has a background working for a labor union before law school, and wanted to use their background to work on labor compliance or negotiating, but didn't want to be involved with union-busting, is that possible? Or would it be better to just avoid the labor and employment practice group altogether?

In general, what happens if there's a case you strongly disagree with? Can you opt out of it, or just not sign up for it to begin with (I don't know how assignments work, whether you pick your assignments or get assigned to cases)? Can you just not sign up for the case, or do you have to tell them you don't want to work on it? Is "conscientious objecting" allowed, and is it looked upon really badly?

(Sorry if this is an abuse of the anonymous feature, but I use my screenname here for a lot of other sites and if I ever interview for BigLaw one day I don't want this traced back to me).

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:I don't know if you're still around taking questions, but if you are, I have one.

Are there ever situations where a case you are assigned to conflicts with your beliefs? If so, how do you or other associates you know handle that?

For example, if someone has a background working for a labor union before law school, and wanted to use their background to work on labor compliance or negotiating, but didn't want to be involved with union-busting, is that possible? Or would it be better to just avoid the labor and employment practice group altogether?

In general, what happens if there's a case you strongly disagree with? Can you opt out of it, or just not sign up for it to begin with (I don't know how assignments work, whether you pick your assignments or get assigned to cases)? Can you just not sign up for the case, or do you have to tell them you don't want to work on it? Is "conscientious objecting" allowed, and is it looked upon really badly?

(Sorry if this is an abuse of the anonymous feature, but I use my screenname here for a lot of other sites and if I ever interview for BigLaw one day I don't want this traced back to me).


I've never had this issue, and I don't know anyone else who has had this issue. I think it would be very difficult to turn down a case on those kinds of grounds. You can turn down work, but mostly only if you're really busy and you'd have to be really busy. I think they'd probably allow you to "object" but I also think it would be looked down upon. When it comes down to it, associates are fairly interchangeable. If you start turning down work, you'll start getting passed over for work and then you'll be gone.

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TTH
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby TTH » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:23 pm

I've read that litagators can't really go in-house. What are the exit options like for litagators who are interested in work-life balance after a few years in biglaw?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:37 pm

To build off the last question, do you have recommendations on positioning oneself to maximize exit options? I likely won't be in litigation, but if you can't comment outside of litigation I'm still interested in your response.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:02 pm

I am interested in patent law. How do PhD (in hard science)/JDs fare in your firm?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:43 am

TipTravHoot wrote:I've read that litagators can't really go in-house. What are the exit options like for litagators who are interested in work-life balance after a few years in biglaw?


I've known litigators to go in house, the only other thing I've seen people do from lit. are go into the gov't, smaller firms, and drop out of the practice of law entirely.

To build off the last question, do you have recommendations on positioning oneself to maximize exit options? I likely won't be in litigation, but if you can't comment outside of litigation I'm still interested in your response.


Try to work closely with a client you're interested in, and I'd imagine general corporate lawyers have the easiest time moving in-house. Other than that, going to firm everyone's heard of will probably help.

I am interested in patent law. How do PhD (in hard science)/JDs fare in your firm?


I actually don't know any PhD's. Our IP dept. are mostly engineers with BS degrees (I think). From what I gather PhDs are basically required for Bio patents, and I'd assume they're in high demand, but I don't think my firm does much bio work.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:32 pm

What percentage of women would you say work in your firm? And with kids (that you know of)? Have you noticed if there's some allowance made for working mothers... like more acceptance of working from home, for example?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:40 pm

Is it difficult to plan vacations and other time off, especially as a first or second year associate? Have you (or do you know of people who) had to cancel vacations?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby aussie3b » Sat Nov 07, 2009 1:58 pm

As someone who has been in the working world and seen how "pedigree"/ law school rankings weigh in hiring, promotion etc...if you were talking to someone thinking about taking a full ride at a lower ranked t10 school versus hefty loans at HYS would you be leaning one way or the other?

A lot of posts on TLS seem to set HYS apart when it comes to these questions but I worry that those are the perspectives of neurotic applicants rather than the reality of the situation of someone from say UVA vs. Yale in this economy.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:01 pm

aussie3b wrote:As someone who has been in the working world and seen how "pedigree"/ law school rankings weigh in hiring, promotion etc...if you were talking to someone thinking about taking a full ride at a lower ranked t10 school versus hefty loans at HYS would you be leaning one way or the other?

A lot of posts on TLS seem to set HYS apart when it comes to these questions but I worry that those are the perspectives of neurotic applicants rather than the reality of the situation of someone from say UVA vs. Yale in this economy.


Seconding this question. How bad do you see the legal market being in the next few years after unemployment supposedly will recover 2nd half of 2010? Or maybe for a more accurate perspective, how bad is hiring now in terms of ranking and school favoritism?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby NR5678 » Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What percentage of women would you say work in your firm? And with kids (that you know of)? Have you noticed if there's some allowance made for working mothers... like more acceptance of working from home, for example?



+100

I would add, have you noticed if there's some allowance made for working parents in general, mothers AND fathers. Do you have a sense of how difficult it is for a parent who has taken time out of working shortly after the birth of his/her child to get back into the workplace?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Nov 07, 2009 4:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What percentage of women would you say work in your firm? And with kids (that you know of)? Have you noticed if there's some allowance made for working mothers... like more acceptance of working from home, for example?


I'd say almost half of the associates are women, it's pretty close to half. Partner ranks, I wouldn't know for sure but I'd guess 1/4 to 1/3 are women. I haven't noticed much of an allowance made for anyone when work needs to get done.

Is it difficult to plan vacations and other time off, especially as a first or second year associate? Have you (or do you know of people who) had to cancel vacations?


Usually it's not difficult if you tell people ahead of time, I haven't had to cancel vacations but I do know a fair number of people who have.

As someone who has been in the working world and seen how "pedigree"/ law school rankings weigh in hiring, promotion etc...if you were talking to someone thinking about taking a full ride at a lower ranked t10 school versus hefty loans at HYS would you be leaning one way or the other?

A lot of posts on TLS seem to set HYS apart when it comes to these questions but I worry that those are the perspectives of neurotic applicants rather than the reality of the situation of someone from say UVA vs. Yale in this economy.


I'd lean towards taking the HYS degree. However, I don't think taking a full ride at a lower t10 school would be a bad idea at all. The HYS thing sticks with you for your career, I've heard partners refer to mid-senior level associates by their HYS pedigree.

Seconding this question. How bad do you see the legal market being in the next few years after unemployment supposedly will recover 2nd half of 2010? Or maybe for a more accurate perspective, how bad is hiring now in terms of ranking and school favoritism?


I think the market will be bad for a few years as the deferred classes are absorbed and the market remains soft. Hiring is pretty tough when it comes to ranking and favoritism. I'd be very very wary of going to a non T14 school right now.

+100

I would add, have you noticed if there's some allowance made for working parents in general, mothers AND fathers. Do you have a sense of how difficult it is for a parent who has taken time out of working shortly after the birth of his/her child to get back into the workplace?


Not that I've seen. I think it depends on how far you are in seniority when you take off. For a relatively junior associate I think it's fairly easy to get back into the workplace as long as you're willing to give up all your time to the law again. I've also heard a fair number of women associates say they're waiting until partner to have children, I guess because it'll be harder to cut you when you're partner and presumably have some clients.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Vegas_Rebel » Sat Nov 07, 2009 4:56 pm

3rdYrLitigator wrote:
DCD wrote:how much of what youve learned in law school do you actually use in practice?


Honestly, close to nothing besides getting a lot of experience writing. I'd say the most useful things from school were the basic rules of Civ Pro (as in what a 12(b)(6) motion is, nothing more complex than that) and the Bluebook. Everything else is pretty much useless. I guess an argument can be made that all the classes taught me how to "think like a lawyer" but I'm not quite sure that's true or quantifiable.


This thread as been really eye opening in some respects, so thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

Most of the questions seem to be coming from 3L's, which makes a lot of sense. Given what you said above about using little from law school in actual practice, aside from the standard 'do well' advice, do you have any thoughts for a soon-to-be 1L in structuring my legal education? Specifically, is it worthwhile to take all/most of the classes in particular focus area (say, corporate law if that's the type of practice I'd like to do), should I spread out my education across legal topics with less depth to gain general familiarity, or does it not really help one way or the other? Put another way, GPA aside, what can I do in law school to craft a resume that should impress a big-law interviewer years down the road?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby ruleser » Sat Nov 07, 2009 5:18 pm

Vegas_Rebel wrote:
3rdYrLitigator wrote:
DCD wrote:how much of what youve learned in law school do you actually use in practice?


Honestly, close to nothing besides getting a lot of experience writing. I'd say the most useful things from school were the basic rules of Civ Pro (as in what a 12(b)(6) motion is, nothing more complex than that) and the Bluebook. Everything else is pretty much useless. I guess an argument can be made that all the classes taught me how to "think like a lawyer" but I'm not quite sure that's true or quantifiable.


This thread as been really eye opening in some respects, so thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

Most of the questions seem to be coming from 3L's, which makes a lot of sense. Given what you said above about using little from law school in actual practice, aside from the standard 'do well' advice, do you have any thoughts for a soon-to-be 1L in structuring my legal education? Specifically, is it worthwhile to take all/most of the classes in particular focus area (say, corporate law if that's the type of practice I'd like to do), should I spread out my education across legal topics with less depth to gain general familiarity, or does it not really help one way or the other? Put another way, GPA aside, what can I do in law school to craft a resume that should impress a big-law interviewer years down the road?

Along the same lines, would it be better to attend a school that offers, say like W and L now is, a 3rd year program that will be experiential/practical possibly over some higher ranked ones with far less of that?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:03 pm

Vegas_Rebel wrote:
This thread as been really eye opening in some respects, so thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

Most of the questions seem to be coming from 3L's, which makes a lot of sense. Given what you said above about using little from law school in actual practice, aside from the standard 'do well' advice, do you have any thoughts for a soon-to-be 1L in structuring my legal education? Specifically, is it worthwhile to take all/most of the classes in particular focus area (say, corporate law if that's the type of practice I'd like to do), should I spread out my education across legal topics with less depth to gain general familiarity, or does it not really help one way or the other? Put another way, GPA aside, what can I do in law school to craft a resume that should impress a big-law interviewer years down the road?


If what you're looking for is to impress biglaw interviewers, then for the most part no one is going to care about what classes you took. I think if you're going into a specialized area, taking some general classes may be useful. As a general litigator my class load wasn't very useful. I know from talking to friends that they feel like nothing they took in law school was really helpful to their specific areas either.

Aside from that, the typical journal followed by moot court activities are still good to have. If you're trying to be a litigator, maybe a trial team (but I wouldn't care that much about trial team myself, I'm not sure how others view it). I think clinical experience can be very good, but I don't know if other attorneys really care about it.

Along the same lines, would it be better to attend a school that offers, say like W and L now is, a 3rd year program that will be experiential/practical possibly over some higher ranked ones with far less of that?


Well, maybe among peer schools, but I wouldn't put too much weight on the program. That said, if you really want to get a leg up, clinics are the way to go.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Renzo » Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:13 pm

Did you law review? If so, was it worth it?




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