0L but I think my question belongs here

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Anonymous User
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0L but I think my question belongs here

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 31, 2013 2:19 pm

So, I got a mediocre performance review this year at my job and I'm really disappointed and worried for my future. I am starting law school in the fall, but I want to make sure I learn the right lessons from this experience, so I don't repeat the mistakes in the future when, fingers crossed, I start my legal career. (Yes I am a 0L but I don't think this belongs in the Ask a Law Student forum.)

This past year, I wanted to get ahead and have more responsibility and ownership at work. Due to circumstances out of my control, I ended up being moved from the team I was on to a new team. The new team was already halfway through a major phase of operations, and all the good work had been doled out long ago. Fast forward 6 months after I joined the new team: I have no ownership over anything impressive. I do good work, but I don't have anything I can point to that proves I'm a rockstar. It's especially disappointing considering I had been a rockstar and go-to on my previous team and got an extremely high rating/raise.

I then start to feel desperate and flail about, especially since I got a midyear performance review that was, as expected, mediocre. It mentioned that I had no real ownership over anything, as expected. So I end up volunteering to take ownership of 2 tasks that came down the pipeline, just so I could put my name to something. I thought I could do them and impress people. Turns out I couldn't. They were total boondoggles and I failed. Turns out, there was a reason no one else had already taken ownership of these tasks...they were impossible to do well and involved getting zero credit for many long nights of work. I gambled and it blew up in my face.

So, after this tl;dr, here is my question. Is this a common situation in a law firm? How do you get ahead at work without shooting yourself in the foot? How do you pick tasks when you have no idea whether they will help you get ahead or completely tank you? Is it better NOT to take risks at all, and just tread water for a year when you're stuck in a position like this? In retrospect, I think I should have seen the writing on the wall when I joined my new team, and petitioned to join a different team or something instead. But what if that wasn't an option? I've seen this sort of thing happen to people in the past, but all of them ended up missing a promotion in a crucial year as a result, and then they quit and got new jobs. Is that the only option? If luck plays a huge part in this stuff, what is it that you CAN do to help yourself advance?

I'm feeling totally burned by my failures and totally hopeless about my future in the law. The job I have now obviously doesn't matter in the long run, but law is supposed to be my real career. If the same thing ends up happening to me there, I don't know what I would do. I really need help.

mr.hands
Posts: 892
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:23 pm

Re: 0L but I think my question belongs here

Postby mr.hands » Fri May 31, 2013 2:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:So, I got a mediocre performance review this year at my job and I'm really disappointed and worried for my future. I am starting law school in the fall, but I want to make sure I learn the right lessons from this experience, so I don't repeat the mistakes in the future when, fingers crossed, I start my legal career. (Yes I am a 0L but I don't think this belongs in the Ask a Law Student forum.)

This past year, I wanted to get ahead and have more responsibility and ownership at work. Due to circumstances out of my control, I ended up being moved from the team I was on to a new team. The new team was already halfway through a major phase of operations, and all the good work had been doled out long ago. Fast forward 6 months after I joined the new team: I have no ownership over anything impressive. I do good work, but I don't have anything I can point to that proves I'm a rockstar. It's especially disappointing considering I had been a rockstar and go-to on my previous team and got an extremely high rating/raise.

I then start to feel desperate and flail about, especially since I got a midyear performance review that was, as expected, mediocre. It mentioned that I had no real ownership over anything, as expected. So I end up volunteering to take ownership of 2 tasks that came down the pipeline, just so I could put my name to something. I thought I could do them and impress people. Turns out I couldn't. They were total boondoggles and I failed. Turns out, there was a reason no one else had already taken ownership of these tasks...they were impossible to do well and involved getting zero credit for many long nights of work. I gambled and it blew up in my face.

So, after this tl;dr, here is my question. Is this a common situation in a law firm? How do you get ahead at work without shooting yourself in the foot? How do you pick tasks when you have no idea whether they will help you get ahead or completely tank you? Is it better NOT to take risks at all, and just tread water for a year when you're stuck in a position like this? In retrospect, I think I should have seen the writing on the wall when I joined my new team, and petitioned to join a different team or something instead. But what if that wasn't an option? I've seen this sort of thing happen to people in the past, but all of them ended up missing a promotion in a crucial year as a result, and then they quit and got new jobs. Is that the only option? If luck plays a huge part in this stuff, what is it that you CAN do to help yourself advance?

I'm feeling totally burned by my failures and totally hopeless about my future in the law. The job I have now obviously doesn't matter in the long run, but law is supposed to be my real career. If the same thing ends up happening to me there, I don't know what I would do. I really need help.


Why?

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 0L but I think my question belongs here

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 31, 2013 2:28 pm

Because I need advice on what advancement at a law firm is like and law students don't know that. 6 months from now, I'll be a "Law Student" but I sure as hell won't know the answer to this.

ETA: Caption of the Ask a Law Student/Graduate forum: "A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about their schools and law school in general." <--not a question about their schools or law school in general.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: 0L but I think my question belongs here

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Fri May 31, 2013 2:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Because I need advice on what advancement at a law firm is like and law students don't know that. 6 months from now, I'll be a "Law Student" but I sure as hell won't know the answer to this.


It's ask a law student / graduate--it's a forum to ask law students or practicing attorneys. The only difference I see is that they don't have anon posting in that forum.

ETA: You're right that the description for the forum might be a little misleading. But the legal employment thread is definitely not for 0L questions like this. You're better off asking a mod to move this thread to the ask a law student / grad forum.

Lateral2013
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Re: 0L but I think my question belongs here

Postby Lateral2013 » Fri May 31, 2013 2:37 pm

So what did you learn from the experience? Sounds to me like you learned that you operate better when given more responsibility and are able to see the big picture, rather than just a part in isolation. Many attorneys are like that, but you have to make sure you find the right firm. Some firms involve their associates every step of the way (letting them sit in on conference calls and copying them on all emails) other firms have associates work in isolation only on the part of the case/deal they are assigned. You now know that in order to be successful, you have to be at a firm that takes the first approach and you need to ask questions during OCI that help you make that determination.

Some law firms give associates as much responsibility as they say they can handle, other law firms have very set criteria over what associates can do at certain levels. Your challenge will be knowing what you can handle. People who thrive under high responsibility tend to have a hard time acknowledging what they don't know.

You will be fine, but you have to be very careful in choosing a firm that operates in a way that you will be successful. But that's a few years down the road.

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dailygrind
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Re: 0L but I think my question belongs here

Postby dailygrind » Fri May 31, 2013 2:39 pm

Yeah, we could probably change the caption. Sorry if it's misleading.

PwnLaw
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 7:07 pm

Re: 0L but I think my question belongs here

Postby PwnLaw » Fri May 31, 2013 2:57 pm

This kind of thing happens all of the time in law. You'll get a herculean task that needs to be performed at a high level of excellence in a very short time window. Failure is not an option there. If you do fail, people will remember. If that type of situation bothers you, do not go into a large firm.




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