Ask a lawyer anything

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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scifiguy
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby scifiguy » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:52 pm

anattorney wrote:I was there for about six months (started in 2008 and got laid off in the crash). I had two extremely busy months followed by four months of billing less than 5 hours a month.

For the couple of months I had work it was fine, I couldn't have personally sustained the pace over many years but the people were pretty nice if very office-politicky.

At this point, out of my class of 20something first years only one is still with the firm.



Sorry to hear about your crash layoff. Seems like a lot of folks got hit reall yhard.

You seem to be doing well now and was wondering if your student loan debt at the time of exiting biglaw was very high? Was there a period of struggle at all from when you left biglaw to getting in with your firm now that pays you well?

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scifiguy
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby scifiguy » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:54 pm

anattorney wrote:
Mick Haller wrote:
anattorney wrote:I was very lucky. While I was off I volunteered full time in my current practice field (family law) and then found an entry level position to apply to. My initial salary was pretty bad, considering my debt load, but has almost doubled since I started.


Volunteered at like a court mediation program or something?


I was at a non-profit that assists low income clients. Where I am they want about 5 years of experience for an attorney to act as a volunteer mediator in court.


But at the time, you didn't have those 5 years. Was it purely the volunteering that got you in the door?

anattorney
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby anattorney » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:33 pm

scifiguy wrote:
anattorney wrote:I was there for about six months (started in 2008 and got laid off in the crash). I had two extremely busy months followed by four months of billing less than 5 hours a month.

For the couple of months I had work it was fine, I couldn't have personally sustained the pace over many years but the people were pretty nice if very office-politicky.

At this point, out of my class of 20something first years only one is still with the firm.



Sorry to hear about your crash layoff. Seems like a lot of folks got hit reall yhard.

You seem to be doing well now and was wondering if your student loan debt at the time of exiting biglaw was very high? Was there a period of struggle at all from when you left biglaw to getting in with your firm now that pays you well?


I was very freaked out at the time it was all happening, but we saw the layoffs coming ahead of time so I saved up all I could instead of throwing extra money at loans, etc. I did run up some credit card debt the first year out because I was locked into an expensive lease.

anattorney
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby anattorney » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:35 pm

scifiguy wrote:
anattorney wrote:
Mick Haller wrote:
anattorney wrote:I was very lucky. While I was off I volunteered full time in my current practice field (family law) and then found an entry level position to apply to. My initial salary was pretty bad, considering my debt load, but has almost doubled since I started.


Volunteered at like a court mediation program or something?


I was at a non-profit that assists low income clients. Where I am they want about 5 years of experience for an attorney to act as a volunteer mediator in court.


But at the time, you didn't have those 5 years. Was it purely the volunteering that got you in the door?


Yes. The two keys were 1) it showed I was actually interested in the subject matter and not just applying to any existing job opening, as everyone was doing at the time and 2) I got a great personal recommendation from someone well-connected to many attorneys in the practice area.

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Sheffield
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby Sheffield » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:06 am

The firm you are at now, size wise, how would you define it? Mid-law, less than 40 attorneys, or. . .

Do you hire SAs, if so, what is your view on SAs from a firm perspective?

anattorney
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby anattorney » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:15 am

Sheffield wrote:The firm you are at now, size wise, how would you define it? Mid-law, less than 40 attorneys, or. . .

Do you hire SAs, if so, what is your view on SAs from a firm perspective?


Between 20-30 attorneys. I know that the firm has hired SA's, but it's not something that happens every year. The major difference with a small/medium firm as opposed to biglaw is that the small firm cannot afford to make an investment in someone that may or may not turn into a valuable attorney five years down the road. At a small firm, you really need to be able to be useful right away in order to get a job and that includes a summer job. Or else you need to be willing to work for free/next to nothing.

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Skye
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby Skye » Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:19 pm

Aside from circumstances out of your control, is there anything you would have done differently in LS, pursuing OCI, selecting a firm (one over the other) or anything else you can think of?

I asked this Q in another forum and did not receive a response, so trying again. . .if your school had a club for networking (i.e., the Harvard/Yale/Torch Club) did you join, if so, how did it work out?

anattorney
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby anattorney » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:18 pm

Skye wrote:Aside from circumstances out of your control, is there anything you would have done differently in LS, pursuing OCI, selecting a firm (one over the other) or anything else you can think of?

I asked this Q in another forum and did not receive a response, so trying again. . .if your school had a club for networking (i.e., the Harvard/Yale/Torch Club) did you join, if so, how did it work out?


I'm not sure if I'd pursue biglaw/OCI if I had it to do over. On one hand, I think my idea of doing it for a few years to pay off loans and then switching to what I really wanted to do, was not a very feasible plan. On the other hand, it's scary to be graduating without a job and pretty tough to find entry level jobs in small firms.

Networking is really, really important, and I say this as an introvert who doesn't like doing it. I don't think that you necessarily need to join groups specifically designed for networking, but you should focus on getting to meet and know people and developing your relationships with them. This includes your fellow law students. It's not going to help you get a job right out of school, but five years down the line they will be making referrals to you and vice versa. I wish that I had made more effort to get involved in the school community and extend myself to more people.

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Lovely Ludwig Van
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby Lovely Ludwig Van » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:25 pm

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?

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prezidentv8
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby prezidentv8 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:55 pm

Aside from the obvious (e.g., debtpwnage, family, survival, etc.), how do you stay motivated?

anattorney
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby anattorney » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:05 pm

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.

anattorney
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby anattorney » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:18 pm

prezidentv8 wrote:Aside from the obvious (e.g., debtpwnage, family, survival, etc.), how do you stay motivated?


I find that as I get more experience and feel like I am getting better as a lawyer, I am more intrinsically motivated to improve the quality of my work and my skills in areas of the job that don't come easily to me. In other words "lawyer" is becoming more of an identity to me rather than just a job.

There are of course some weeks that suck and where it's only debtpwnage motivating me.

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Skye
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby Skye » Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:03 pm

Thank you for your previous response to me. One more question, since you are are happier with a boutique size firm rather than BigLaw. That’s what I am facing right now.

As a 1L SA who had not received a 2L SA invite (by the time OCI started) I threw my hat into the OCI ring. As timing would have it, shortly after several OCI interviews, I received an invite (and accepted) from my 1L SA firm. . . a few days later I received an offer from a V50 (hundreds of attorneys and dozens of SAs) but I had to decline. I have been second-guessing my decision ever since, partly because of the $15K I left on the table and because the V50 has offices in a number of attractive cities.

Given your experience, did I likely screw up bypassing BigLaw or did I luck out by going straight to a BigLaw-ish boutique (40 attorneys) . I know you do not have a crystal ball, but interested in your opinion, especially since this scenario might resurface next year.

anattorney
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby anattorney » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:31 am

Skye wrote:Thank you for your previous response to me. One more question, since you are are happier with a boutique size firm rather than BigLaw. That’s what I am facing right now.

As a 1L SA who had not received a 2L SA invite (by the time OCI started) I threw my hat into the OCI ring. As timing would have it, shortly after several OCI interviews, I received an invite (and accepted) from my 1L SA firm. . . a few days later I received an offer from a V50 (hundreds of attorneys and dozens of SAs) but I had to decline. I have been second-guessing my decision ever since, partly because of the $15K I left on the table and because the V50 has offices in a number of attractive cities.

Given your experience, did I likely screw up bypassing BigLaw or did I luck out by going straight to a BigLaw-ish boutique (40 attorneys) . I know you do not have a crystal ball, but interested in your opinion, especially since this scenario might resurface next year.
[quote="Skye"]

I don't think that money out of the starting gate should be your most important consideration. You want to look at what is going to set you up best for success and career satisfaction over the long term. If your ultimate goal is to do something that biglaw on the resume would really help with, then that might be the better decision. But if you want to stay where you start out, you like your 1L firm and if it has good opportunities for advancement within the firm, then that is probably the better decision. For example, at my firm it is very possible for associates to make partner. I also think it's important to look at what kind of experience you will actually get at each firm, although to some extent it's hard to predict this in the interview process/when you are working there as a summer. But generally if you are at a smaller firm where there is one partner and one associate working on every matter/deal, you are going to get a lot more responsibility (for better or worse) than a firm that's highly leveraged.

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Barack O'Drama
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby Barack O'Drama » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:49 pm

What was your U.G major? And why did you choose it?

anattorney
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby anattorney » Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:46 pm

GregoryADevine wrote:What was your U.G major? And why did you choose it?


History. I just picked it because I had to pick something and the professors in that department were good. I considered pretty much every liberal arts or social sciences major.

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Barack O'Drama
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby Barack O'Drama » Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:11 pm

anattorney wrote:
GregoryADevine wrote:What was your U.G major? And why did you choose it?


History. I just picked it because I had to pick something and the professors in that department were good. I considered pretty much every liberal arts or social sciences major.


History is my major! Which proves there is hope for me yet. Thank you for taking the time to answer, much appreciated. Do you think any skills you learned as a history major matter in law school? Perhaps reading or critical writing skills?

anattorney
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Re: Ask a lawyer anything

Postby anattorney » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:14 am

GregoryADevine wrote:
anattorney wrote:
GregoryADevine wrote:What was your U.G major? And why did you choose it?


History. I just picked it because I had to pick something and the professors in that department were good. I considered pretty much every liberal arts or social sciences major.


History is my major! Which proves there is hope for me yet. Thank you for taking the time to answer, much appreciated. Do you think any skills you learned as a history major matter in law school? Perhaps reading or critical writing skills?


Yes, I'd say being in any research/critical thinking/writing intensive major is probably good preparation for law school.




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