Lovely Ludwig Van wrote:Thanks for doing this and congratulations on your success!
1) Do you think the fact that you got biglaw in the first place contributed to the firm hiring you?
2) You mentioned you had a great recommendation that played a role in getting the job, may I ask what type of person (e.g. a judge, a partner, a professor, etc.) made the recommendation?
3) Did you get a lot of questions about the short stint in biglaw? If so, how did you sell that?
4) What were your grades like in law school?
The recommendation came from a high-up person at the nonprofit I volunteered at. In terms of networking, I think that if you can develop a really good relationship with just a few, or even one, well connected people in your desired practice area, that is going to go a very long way to helping you out in the job search. Rather than just making a lot of connections with people who you are on a speaking basis with, you need to have a few people in your corner who will actively tell you about job openings, mention you to their colleagues, stick their necks out in terms of making a call for you or recommending you.
I don't think that biglaw per se mattered, but the fact that I had grades/a resume good enough to get biglaw did. That said, I think for non-biglaw law firm hiring, grades do not matter quite as much as you might think. The qualities needed to be a successful associate in a smaller firm overlap, but are somewhat different than the qualities needed in biglaw. IMO the most important thing in smaller firm hiring is having a resume and cover letter that really demonstrates what you can contribute to the firm. In biglaw, they do not expect you to contribute much of anything your first year, they just expect you to learn and not fuck up what work they give you. In a small firm, there isn't going to be a whole team of people reviewing your work product and you need to be able to deal with a steep learning curve.
My grades were 3.5ish.
I did get questions about biglaw and I was honest about the reasons why I thought I would prefer my current line of work to biglaw. I think the only really "bad" answer would be focusing on work/life balance too much or saying that you don't want to work a lot.