Big-Law externship: Hurt or Help State AG job prospects???

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NonTrad82
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Big-Law externship: Hurt or Help State AG job prospects???

Postby NonTrad82 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:43 pm

Hi, all. Looking for input/advice/insights on the above question, and the following situation...

For clarity, here's my situation: I'm a 0L, starting LS this Fall. My major career goal is getting into my state AG's office. Out of the blue, I got an e-mail from a big-law firm associate (who is also an alumnus of the school I'll be attending) at an office in my state, expressing desire to meet and chat about my plans. I've inferred that its an informal 1L summer gig interview. Since the legal job market is not what it used to be, and I have a family, I feel inclined to rigorously pursue any lead that might turn into a job.

Here's the question: If I snag a 1L summer gig at that big-law firm, how would that experience impact my later prospects of pursuing AG internships or later employment?


Sorry about the length, and thanks for any input y'all might have for me.

Barrred
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Re: Big-Law externship: Hurt or Help State AG job prospects???

Postby Barrred » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:02 pm

1) You are a 0L with no grades, it is very likely not an informal 1L summer gig interview (which would be called a summer associateship, not a biglaw externship). More likely to be the case is that your school sent out all of the 0Ls info to various alumni who volunteered to act as informal mentors, and this guy is just reaching out in that capacity. Its a good connection to foster, and could possibly result in a 1L summer gig if you play it right, but definitely not without stellar first semester grades.

2) Spending your 1L summer at a biglaw firm would be a great first step to almost any career in private practice/government, as these often result in 2L summer gigs at the same firm, which often result in post-graduation offers. I have no particular experience in this arena, but spending a few years in biglaw seems like an excellent way to break into government work like the State AG's office.

NonTrad82
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Re: Big-Law externship: Hurt or Help State AG job prospects???

Postby NonTrad82 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:39 am

Barrred wrote:1) You are a 0L with no grades, it is very likely not an informal 1L summer gig interview (which would be called a summer associateship, not a biglaw externship). More likely to be the case is that your school sent out all of the 0Ls info to various alumni who volunteered to act as informal mentors, and this guy is just reaching out in that capacity. Its a good connection to foster, and could possibly result in a 1L summer gig if you play it right, but definitely not without stellar first semester grades.

2) Spending your 1L summer at a biglaw firm would be a great first step to almost any career in private practice/government, as these often result in 2L summer gigs at the same firm, which often result in post-graduation offers. I have no particular experience in this arena, but spending a few years in biglaw seems like an excellent way to break into government work like the State AG's office.


Thanks for the response, Barred. So would you think that even if the big-law firm didn't have any particularly 'public-interest'-oriented fields in which their attorneys might practice, that the AG office would not look upon that sort of work experience unfavorably, but rather favorably? (Put differently, I'm concerned about what I've read elsewhere that the absence of public interest work experience makes PI employers unenthusiastic at best, and that the presence of what might be generously referred to as "business interest"-oriented makes those employers fairly circumspect. Is that flawed reasoning?)

Also, mentor status sounds absolutely plausible, likely even, since I don't have any grades yet. I'd considered that possibility, but I also thought that mentorship might only make sense insofar as that mentorship was, in some way, self-interested (on the part of the associate and/or his firm), and that an associate who, it turns out, obtained his degree only 4 years ago might have substantially less mentoring capacity than a more veteran attorney. At any rate, your point it is well taken.

Barrred
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Re: Big-Law externship: Hurt or Help State AG job prospects???

Postby Barrred » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:22 am

NonTrad82 wrote:Thanks for the response, Barred. So would you think that even if the big-law firm didn't have any particularly 'public-interest'-oriented fields in which their attorneys might practice, that the AG office would not look upon that sort of work experience unfavorably, but rather favorably? (Put differently, I'm concerned about what I've read elsewhere that the absence of public interest work experience makes PI employers unenthusiastic at best, and that the presence of what might be generously referred to as "business interest"-oriented makes those employers fairly circumspect. Is that flawed reasoning?)


I think you are really putting the cart before the horse. You need to focus 100% on getting good grades. But to answer your question, I think that non-governmental PI organizations (ACLU, run-of-the-mill legal aid societies, etc.) might look down on a business-oriented track record, but the same is not true of government positions like your state AG's office. Government offices, especially prosecution-oriented office, generally look to hire outstanding lawyers with good experience handling complex matters, which is exactly the type of people who come out of biglaw. You can also indicate your PI-interest while in biglaw by taking on a lot of pro bono work.

Don't rule out biglaw as a step toward your ultimate career goals, but I can guarantee you that you aren't currently being recruited as a 0L by a biglaw firm. Take advantage of the networking opportunity that your school has setup for you, and if you do really well 1L year, you may be able to parlay that into a biglaw SA position (though, with good grades you likely will be competitive for an SA position at many firms, not just the one you have a connection to through this assigned mentor).

tl;dr: biglaw may be a good mid-term career move for you, but you are putting the cart way before the horse. You need to focus on getting really good grades 1L year, otherwise none of this, including your connection to a local biglaw firm, will matter.

NonTrad82
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Re: Big-Law externship: Hurt or Help State AG job prospects???

Postby NonTrad82 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:42 pm

Thanks for the advice, Barre--I appreciate your taking the time to respond.

I'm wondering if you'd care to elaborate on what you said here:

Barrred wrote:Take advantage of the networking opportunity that your school has setup for you...


I do feel that this contact--even if not an outright recruitment--represents an opportunity not to be wasted. What are your thoughts on the best approach/tactics to maximizing the utility of this contact?

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lymenheimer
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Re: Big-Law externship: Hurt or Help State AG job prospects???

Postby lymenheimer » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:02 pm

NonTrad82 wrote:Thanks for the advice, Barre--I appreciate your taking the time to respond.

I'm wondering if you'd care to elaborate on what you said here:

Barrred wrote:Take advantage of the networking opportunity that your school has setup for you...


I do feel that this contact--even if not an outright recruitment--represents an opportunity not to be wasted. What are your thoughts on the best approach/tactics to maximizing the utility of this contact?

Try treating him as a person rather than a utility metric, for starters.

Barrred
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Re: Big-Law externship: Hurt or Help State AG job prospects???

Postby Barrred » Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:38 pm

NonTrad82 wrote:I do feel that this contact--even if not an outright recruitment--represents an opportunity not to be wasted. What are your thoughts on the best approach/tactics to maximizing the utility of this contact?


Biglaw lawyers (from first year associates to hiring partners) generally want to work with people who are (1) intelligent, (2) hard-working, and (3) easy to be around. The only way for you to demonstrate (1) and (2) are through your grades and performance as a summer associate. Therefore, your main priority in interacting with this potential-mentor should be to show him that you are easy/fun to be around. You want to show that you are pleasant, not high-maintenance, respectful, and socially adept. Basically, you want the associate to think that you are the type of person he wouldn't mind (a) pulling an all-nighter with to work on a case, (b) taking to a client-dinner, or (c) grabbing a beer with after a long day at work.

I would try to set something up with the associate in person (I find that coffee is best), but let him dictate how the relationship is going to go as much as possible. Have good questions for him about law school/his practice, and keep in touch with him after your initial meet-up without seeming needy or wasting his time.




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