Tuesday, July 22, 2008

3L Hiring

A few of you have asked for insights on 3L hiring.  What I will say, I'm sure will be criticized later as "obvious," but here goes:  3L job search is difficult.  Depending on your circumstances, it can be extremely difficult.  But, not entirely impossible.  There are different scenarios:

-- Do you have solid grades and credentials and a good reason you would rather interview than take 2L summer offer?  This is a decent position to be in.  However, what is your reason?  We HPs don't like pure "shopping" or you're not being sure about the 2L summer firm: that might signal you would be unsure about any firm and either just take an offer and continue shopping or join but only stay a very short time.    We want people who, even if they won't stay the full partnership track, will stay long enough to make it worthwhile for both firm and attorney.  What might be good reasons:  change of city for justified reasons -- e.g., newly engaged and fiance (ee) is in city of 3L interview - common scenario.  Some firms will be hiring 3Ls.  Why?  It may be that their 2L summers are not coming back, for various reasons - e.g., family member ill in another city and summer wants to be closer to home; 2L decides to move for spouse/fiance, etc.  2L decides to clerk.   Some slots do open and if you are a star and interested in an area where the firms has needs, you should fare well.  Be honest with your 2L summer firm because the 3L firm may want to check references.  Let your potential references know in advance.  HPs and firms appreciate honesty. We understand plans change, especially when it comes to some of the scenarios I have described.  

-- Did you not get an offer at 2L summer?  This is more problematic.  It is best to be honest.  Deal killer you say?  Well, depends.  If no offer because it is well publicized the firm over-hired, then referring to the reports (rather than making it look like your personal opinion) may be helpful. Or, it could be that you really want to practice in X area (e.g., white collar criminal defense), and it turns out that particular group is not hiring and the firm gives offers from particular departments or groups.  If you did not get an offer because of substantive work, or judgment issues -- e.g., embarrassing all office e-mail you sent -- this is a big problem.  Do not lie.  Remember, hiring partner told you that HPs and HPs colleagues have friends at other firms.  If you look great on paper but do not have an offer, we may think something does not smell right.  We're not dumb.  

-- So, assuming you don't follow into the first "easy" scenario above (and yes, I realize there are others - e.g, you worked at a public interest organization and now want to go to a firm), what do you do?  The 3L search is not for the lazy.  You need to work hard.  Most importantly, you need to NETWORK.  This is HUGE.  You may need to explore smaller firms, regional firms, boutiques, positions in government, other organizations.  We will explore this in more detail in a later post.  HP does have work to do.  Good luck!  


Anonymous said...

Hiring Partner,
You post an awful lot for someone with the responsibilities of a partner. Just a thought.

Hiring Partner said...

Perhaps HP is on vacation with laptop? Or writing from home?

Anonymous said...

This might go hand-in-hand, but can you talk a bit about just-graduated 3Ls? My deal was, after getting a solid offer from my 2L employer in a small state, I decided I wanted to make a life decision to move to the big city in the next state over. Now I'm there, studying for the bar and looking for jobs but the economy isn't exactly optimal. Thoughts?

stuffbiglawassociateslike.wordpress.com said...

Hm, HP, why are you so worried about being criticized? that's the fun part of writing a blog. toughen up. for an AmLaw 200 HP, you are a bit on the crybaby side. (<-- see, you even get criticized for being worried about being criticized).

Beside the fact that your post was obvious, heh, i think it was a big simplified. I think a lot of students don't get offers their 3L years that firms are more open into knowing why. Not all of us are rockstars and went to Harvard and got an offer at Wachtell. There are alot of good talent that, for whatever reason, didn't get an offer.

I work at BigLaw, and we look at their grades/school and if they didn't get an offer but they do well in the interview and we have room, we will give them a call back. If they seem like they can smile and not cut one of us, then they will get an offer. Why would we let talent walk out the door just because they got a little too drunk and puked on the hiring partner's trophy wife's big titties at a summer associate event? The main problem 3Ls face is that we simply don't have room. We hire alot of 1Ls and 2Ls and always have a big entering class that we can't use another sniveling snot nosed inexperienced attorney sucking 160K out of the firm's deep pockets. Also, you are at a disadvantage b/c you didn't summer. Nobody knows you. This may hurt you when you first start and if you're not the proactive type, you will get stuck in the edges near the chewed gum and condom rappers.

If you had a year or so of experience, even at a small firm, we might take you (and it helps if your daddy is a client).


Anonymous said...

I'd urge law students to do what they WANT to do as early as possible in their professional lives. Like RIGHT NOW. There's no better time to take a job that's exciting in a city you want to live in doing work you like to do with people whose values reflect your own. You didn't go to law school to be a widget in a widget factory. Like any relationship, it doesn't get better over time. If you're not thrilled -- and I mean THRILLED -- to be practicing law in year one, there's something wrong -- you're in the wrong firm or city or practice area or working with the wrong people. Hiring partners know a lot about conforming to firm expectations. Look for a firm that conforms to YOURS!! From an Old Timer

Hiring Partner said...

Big Law is not for everyone...agreed. And, that's fine. Some people start at boutiques and move to Big Law. Some people stay away from Big Law like the plague. That's fine too. I will say that Big Law can offer invaluable training and experience. I know that I was taught how to be a great lawyer at Big Law firms. Big Law also presents tremendous alomni networking opportunities, since Big Law attorneys move laterally, to corporations, and other organizations. HP's friend got a large matter referral from a former Big Law colleague. This assumes, of course, that you maintain these relationships and treat people well. I agree, though, that you should not stay in any miserable situation. Just be careful. With the economy being as it is, it is alway easier to look for a job when you have a job. Stay positive and continue to do good work...and end any Big Law or other job on a high note. Burning bridges are a difficult fire to put out. Thanks for the comments. We are enjoying the discourse.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when people tell me to network, then I go to receptions and whatnot, smile and make nice, collect a couple of business cards, later email those people for "advice" but never, ever ask for a job, and get no or unhelpful responses. I'm from a small midwestern town and my parents had barely one step up from blue collar jobs. I don't know any lawyers other than those I've worked for. Some USEFUL advice on networking would be helpful, but I'm sick of the same old "tell everyone you know you're looking for a job" and "go to ABA events, etc."