It's an oversimplification like anything but it's correct - firm have less mid-levels than junior, less mid-level associates than senior associates, and less senior associates then partners.
Is it not a waste of time to hire someone from like NYU and then cut him or her after ONE year? Is that enough time to even train the person and give them a chance to succeed?
The business model of firms has traditionally relied on NOT training associates. That is, an associate is given an assignment in which he is expected to learn his own way and the cost of that training (in the form of inflated hours because it takes the associate so long the first time) is passed onto the client.
The only other jobs I know that are like this seem to be sales, where there is a quota system sometimes. If you can't sell X number of products, then you get cut, because the employer needs to bring in Y revenue and they are looking for people who can be the one to do it for them.
The analogy is more appropriate than you think. "Noble profession" aside, the private practice of law is simply the sale of legal services. That's it.
Could you guys elaborate on what those "other" reasons are?
So, in other words, at the end of Year 1...Y2,....Y3, what are the criteria by which you are judged (if not by being a good rainmaker)?
You will be evaluated on three general things:
1) Quality of Work
Your supervisors will notice if you write better briefs than your peers and finish things more quickly than your peers. Contrary to some misconceptions, biglaw is not "monkey work" that any first-year from a good school can do equally well. Associates have varied ability and superiors notice.
2) Interpersonal Skills
"Work" includes not just written work but intangibles. As in any profession, no one (including partners) is going to want to work with you if you are an asshole. Law is a high-stress profession, and one thing an office doesn't need is someone who is abrasive is his interactions, or clearly can't take the stress. (I've worked with a few people who let the stress get to them very easily, and when you work collaborately with them, their anxiety is contagious and its terrible).
You will be judged favorably if you have a good personal relationship with your superiors and working relationship with clients. For instance, something that was very positive for me was that a client spoke highly of me and mentioned to the partner that he thought I was much more senior. This was very positive during annual reviews because, hey, all we're doing here is selling legal services to clients.
3) Whether you Meet Your Expected Billable Hours
You have to understand that, although the billable hours requirement may appear merciless, if you are not meeting your hours that is a good proxy indicator that there are other problems with #1 and #2 above. If your hours are below other associates in your group/class that is an indication that a) your work is relatively bad and partners are preferring other associates to work on projects for them or b) you haven't actively sought out work or relationships with new partners (which, by the way, is a good proxy for whether you will proactively actively seek out clients when you are more senior).
It's really pretty simple - do good work, and be someone people like.
I get that at some point you'll likely have to be a rainmaker in biglaw. And it sounds from everyone's posts that it's in the later stages - usually not before the 3rd year.
To get terminology straight, "rainmaker" is slang for a partner who generates an enormous amount of business for both himself and other firm lawyers. There are basically no associate rainmakers who are not also scions of family-held conglomerates that direct all their legal business to the firm. There are very few rainmaker partners