Secondment

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lawyer4321

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Secondment

Post by lawyer4321 » Tue May 26, 2020 2:20 pm

Hi all,

First time poster long time reader.

I am 3rd year associate at a large international firm. I have been employed at the firm for only about 8 months. All reviews have been positive and all partners have said that my work is to a high standard.

Recently (and mainly due to covid) the work in my firms practice area has dried up. There are not many associates that are any where near their billable targets. I have only been billing about 10-15 hours a week for the last few months.

Recently I have been asked to go on secondment with an insurance company client. The role doesn't sound fantastic (claims handler role) but I feel that it is at least a way for me to stay employed in these uncertain times. Has anyone else been seconded and if so what are your thoughts? I have prepared some pros / cons below and I would appreciate any advice or wisdom you can provide me:

Pros:
1. Guaranteed job for 12 months
2. Get experience with a client to learn how they do things
3. Broaden my skill set and potentially develop better relationships with clients
4. May be viewed as a team player as I am helping out the firm

Cons:
1. Could be a way of my firm pushing me out the door
2. Fear that when I return the work in my department will have completely dried up and/or there will be nothing for me
3. The firm must not think that highly of me if I am being sent on secondment. Do firms ever send their best associates on secondments?
4. I have no plans to ever work in house and I think I would be better staying in a firm where I will be surrounded by the best lawyers and receive the best training
5. My development / growth / partnership prospects may be stunted.
6. Could be difficult to explain to future employers why I was seconded

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RedGiant

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Re: Secondment

Post by RedGiant » Thu May 28, 2020 12:44 am

Please PM me...worth chatting on phone.

The firm is throwing you a lifeline. They are doing you a favor. You will learn a lot, regardless of the industry being slightly less sexy. Firms generally do not second associates who they believe are incompetent--you are a representative of the firm and they want you to shine there. Is it a job you'd pick yourself? Not necessarily. Is it better than being laid off with tons of other biglaw refugees who are just wishing they could find a gig to weather the economic storm? Yes.

I promise you--even if you find it boring, you will have kissed a frog! You can talk about how you get "partnering with the business" and understand how a large legal department is run. This is only a positive for your resume.

If your practice area is dried up, there will not be six months from now at a law firm--you will be "repurposed" within the firm to a practice area you never thought you'd be in, or you will be laid off. Take this secondment as the gift it is, and go with a smile, willing to learn, and willing to be an ambassador for your firm.

LBJ's Hair

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Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: Secondment

Post by LBJ's Hair » Thu May 28, 2020 1:20 am

lawyer4321 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 2:20 pm
There are not many associates that are any where near their billable targets. I have only been billing about 10-15 hours a week for the last few months.

I agree with the above: You take the secondment (which is a fantastic opportunity IMO), or find another job. They're not gonna let you bill 45 hours a month for the rest of the year.

sparty99

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Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:41 pm

Re: Secondment

Post by sparty99 » Thu May 28, 2020 1:37 am

lawyer4321 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 2:20 pm
Hi all,

First time poster long time reader.

I am 3rd year associate at a large international firm. I have been employed at the firm for only about 8 months. All reviews have been positive and all partners have said that my work is to a high standard.

Recently (and mainly due to covid) the work in my firms practice area has dried up. There are not many associates that are any where near their billable targets. I have only been billing about 10-15 hours a week for the last few months.

Recently I have been asked to go on secondment with an insurance company client. The role doesn't sound fantastic (claims handler role) but I feel that it is at least a way for me to stay employed in these uncertain times. Has anyone else been seconded and if so what are your thoughts? I have prepared some pros / cons below and I would appreciate any advice or wisdom you can provide me:

Pros:
1. Guaranteed job for 12 months
2. Get experience with a client to learn how they do things
3. Broaden my skill set and potentially develop better relationships with clients
4. May be viewed as a team player as I am helping out the firm

Cons:
1. Could be a way of my firm pushing me out the door
2. Fear that when I return the work in my department will have completely dried up and/or there will be nothing for me
3. The firm must not think that highly of me if I am being sent on secondment. Do firms ever send their best associates on secondments?
4. I have no plans to ever work in house and I think I would be better staying in a firm where I will be surrounded by the best lawyers and receive the best training
5. My development / growth / partnership prospects may be stunted.
6. Could be difficult to explain to future employers why I was seconded
You are pretty stupid to turn down a secondament billing 10 hours a week. You will be employed for another 12 months and it will likely be easier then working at a law firm. You will also make connections if you ever decide to go in-house. And you are dumb to think that only law firms have the best lawyers. In-house and government lawyers are talented too. No employer will ever care that you were asked to do a secondament. They wouldn't even know unless you told them. You are still employed by the firm. And everything is about how you pitch it. You really are not thinking the bigger picture with all your cons.

JusticeJackson

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Posts: 575
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:26 am

Re: Secondment

Post by JusticeJackson » Thu May 28, 2020 1:41 am

I think I’d actually really like a secondment like that. I was actually going to ask the firm if they could set one up. Do you think you could PM me more details? I don’t want to scoop your lead. But, man, I was actually just thinking about how to land something like this today.

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

Re: Secondment

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 28, 2020 2:12 am

Is the firm Shearman & Sterling? They routine second supposedly good associates. When those associates return, suddenly there's no need for them in their original groups. They end up in completely different groups. They're usually able to lateral to better firms. But just be prepared for it.

Great senior associates are seconded to major clients. And suddenly they join those clients full time. Willingly? Who knows?

jarofsoup

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Posts: 2120
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:41 am

Re: Secondment

Post by jarofsoup » Thu May 28, 2020 7:44 am

It gets you off the firms books for a year until things even out. I know a lot of people that did secondments. At my previous firm literally every associate in certain groups did one.

I am not entirely sure that you have an option to turn down a secondment and stay employed btw.

A lot of times people stayed. If you are seconded at a good place and you like the people and never wanted to make partner and are offered a job why not.

Casper123

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Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:56 am

Re: Secondment

Post by Casper123 » Thu May 28, 2020 8:03 am

lawyer4321 wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 2:20 pm
Hi all,

First time poster long time reader.

I am 3rd year associate at a large international firm. I have been employed at the firm for only about 8 months. All reviews have been positive and all partners have said that my work is to a high standard.

Recently (and mainly due to covid) the work in my firms practice area has dried up. There are not many associates that are any where near their billable targets. I have only been billing about 10-15 hours a week for the last few months.

Recently I have been asked to go on secondment with an insurance company client. The role doesn't sound fantastic (claims handler role) but I feel that it is at least a way for me to stay employed in these uncertain times. Has anyone else been seconded and if so what are your thoughts? I have prepared some pros / cons below and I would appreciate any advice or wisdom you can provide me:

Pros:
1. Guaranteed job for 12 months
2. Get experience with a client to learn how they do things
3. Broaden my skill set and potentially develop better relationships with clients
4. May be viewed as a team player as I am helping out the firm

Cons:
1. Could be a way of my firm pushing me out the door
2. Fear that when I return the work in my department will have completely dried up and/or there will be nothing for me
3. The firm must not think that highly of me if I am being sent on secondment. Do firms ever send their best associates on secondments?
4. I have no plans to ever work in house and I think I would be better staying in a firm where I will be surrounded by the best lawyers and receive the best training
5. My development / growth / partnership prospects may be stunted.
6. Could be difficult to explain to future employers why I was seconded

I think you're raising valid points. However, since you're only billing 40-60 hours a month it seems that you really just have the option to take the secondment or look for a new firm. Given the circumstances finding a new job at a firm will be very difficult. Go on secondment.

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

Re: Secondment

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 28, 2020 11:53 pm

A widely disliked junior in my group who I know for a fact that partners and "important" seniors think is utterly incompetent was seconded. They were hoping to get rid of her (they talk trash about her all the time). She eventually came back. Now they still all talk crap about her behind her back all the time.

I say this just to push against the point that firms never second "bad" associates.

That said, she: (a) still has a job, (b) has a "better" resume than other associates her class year because she has in-house experience at a household name of a client and (c) she got paid market biglaw rate to work 40 hours a week for a year. So she definitely came out on top, in that sense.

Even if all your cons were applicable here (I don't think they are), it would be insane to push back against this. You really must take it.

lawyer4321

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Posts: 2
Joined: Tue May 26, 2020 8:47 am

Re: Secondment

Post by lawyer4321 » Sun May 31, 2020 9:41 am

Thanks everyone for their input. I have taken it on board and accepted the position.

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