Monday, July 28, 2008

Top Considerations for Choosing Firm

As you consider legal employment -- at any level -- you may be thinking "all firms are the same. It doesn't really matter where I end up."  Well, you are partially correct.  Many firms have similar attributes.  There can be distinguishing features, however.  You should pay attention to what is important to YOU.  What is important today ($$$, prestige, city, training) may change down the road (e.g, willing to take less $$ to be bigger fish in smaller pond, or gain more work-life balance, or move to boutique practice).

You need to consider what it is you really want in a place that you will spend most of your waking hours.  I suggest the following are good considerations.  Now, remember, what may be important to HP may not be important to you...these are just suggestions.  

10. Does firm have the practice areas in which you are interested?

9. Is there an opportunity for someone at your level to gain training and experience in those areas?

8. Does firm promote "up from the ranks," or are most partners laterals?

7. Do you feel comfortable at the firm?  If it feels stuffy and you feel uncomfortable, keep that in mind, assuming you have other choices.

6. When you visit the firm, are all the doors closed? Do people seem like they interact cordially with each other?  Maybe you don't care, but HP does.  

5. If you are a diverse candidate (woman, minority, gay/lesbian/transgender) does the firm appear to be a place that is supportive of all attorneys?  I realize this is a tough one to decipher.  No firm I know is going to admit to being anti-diversity of course.  You need to do some digging check on numbers of women/minority/gay individuals who are partners, in management, etc.  

4. Do you know anyone who has worked at this firm?  Get their insights...even if they have sour grapes, hopefully they can provide some insights to the good and the bad.

3. Have you used your research tools?  Check Google, Check Above the Law, do some sleuthing.  Sure, no firm or organization will have a perfect record, but if there is a LOT of negative commenting out there, go in with your eyes open.  

2. Will this firm or organization be a good platform for your next opportunity?  Even if you think you will stay around, it is always good to be thinking about options down the road.  Here, prestige does matter, to some degree. But don't be miserable for a few years just to have a name on your resume. 

1. What is the A-hole factor?  This is very important!  If the people you've met seem like cocky a-holes, this is not a good sign, as firms usually send out interviewers who are "people persons" and reflect well on firm.  If these people brag about the 2300 hours they billed, run...we all work but only tools brag about that.  You do not want a firm with a high A-hole quotient.  A simple, but important point. 


Anonymous said...

I interviewed with law firms almost exclusive looking to weed out places with A-holes! How did I do? Assuming I pass the bar tomorrow, I'll let you know by Christmas.

Richard said...

It would be helpful if you could post about steps to take in school that can help set students apart for hiring partners...thanks

Laurie, Owner of Halo Secretarial Services said...

Another suggestion - chat up some of the support staff if you can and find out what they think of the firm. They might share more than the lawyers will! Loyal support staff speak well of an organization.

Anonymous said...

HP, you're leaving us hungry over here.

Topics to blog about:
1. Interview experience. For all of us students, the process is still a black hole we enter and hope to come out of alright. I am sure we could learn something from your past experiences.

2. The summer long interview. Maybe you can share what you look for and related experiences, after the interview. They say the summer is one big interview, so I am sure you have insights on that as well.

Of course all of this would be most intriguing and would capture the most readership by sharing horror stories. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

what subjects are considered "taboo" during OCI interviews?

E. said...

How to bring up grades (good as well as bad) during a screening interview?

What if the interviewer doesn't ask for a transcript -- make sure to give a copy anyway, or leave it?

Anonymous said...

Taboo subjects: Information related to salary and bonuses. This is something you never talk about during any interview. Besides, it can easily be found online. If the firm is really small and the info is not online, wait until you have an offer to ask about it. Also, don't ask the amount of hours worked, quality of life, etc. It makes you look lazy.

Grades: Why would you want to give them a copy of your transcript? Doesn't your school already send this to them? Sure, bring a copy with you in case they forgot it. Also bring a copy of your resume and writing sample. Chances are the won't ask for it, but always be prepared.

I wouldn't address the grades issue at all, most interviewers won't even ask about it. If you have a bad grade, have an answer ready in case you're asked about it. Similarly, if you have a really good grade, have an answer prepared as to how you felt you really connected with the subject and blah blah blah but try not to sound like a dbag.

Generally if your grades are good enough to get the interview, you won't be asked about them.

e. said...

To anonymous above: I don't think that's good advice about grades. For one thing, at some schools (including mine) screening interviews are assigned by lottery, so firms have not chosen to interview us. The school doesn't send them transcripts.

I have heard that if your grades aren't impressive (even if they aren't bad), you may want to pre-empt any doubt the interviewer might have when looking at your transcript, and have a story ready. Advice on how to do that would be welcome.