Friday, November 28, 2008

Advice for the Anxious

First, let me say that F-3, a frequent commenter here, has been giving some solid advice.  HP can't always blog as HP has client duties, administrative duties, and a personal life.  So, HP appreciates it when others step in to help out.  

I know that many of you are anxious.  On the subject of 1Ls, let me say that BigLaw jobs will be few and far between.  You guys and gals know that.  They always have been, and this year will be a heck of a lot worse. So, what to do?  If there's an area of law you are interested in, i.e. a specialty, I would recommend you try to find a paid (or unfortunately unpaid) internship at a governmental (state or federal) agency that handles these matters, at a corporation, or a smaller firm.  HP's friend who is an HP at another firm hired a gal for 2L summer from a decent (but not top tier) law school with pretty good, but not top of the class grades.  Why did this gal get the offer?  Well, a particular practice area has indicated they need a junior associate.  This gal spent her 1L summer at a governmental agency that oversees the industry served by practice group.  The gal also had prior work experience in the industry.  This gave her the edge over others who may have had better credentials but less "connection" to the specialty area.   Playing this out another way, let's say you may be interested in employment law.  There are tons of state anti-discrimination agencies out there where you could get experience helping to investigate matters under various civil rights laws.  

And, btw, we do often check references -- even if you don't provide them to us.  Oftentimes, either HP or someone in the firm will know people at the places you worked.  We may very well call up a contact there and get their assessment of you.  These are buyer's times again and we are buyers, so we can be extra cautious and careful about who we hire.  HP's friend had a gal who worked in-house last summer at a place where HP's friend knew a senior in-house counsel.  HP's friend called up the counsel and asked about the summer associate's work, demeanor, etc.  This goes in the advice category to do a good, solid job no matter where you are because -- HP ALREADY  SAID THIS: YOU NEVER KNOW WHO KNOWS WHO -- it is your reputation and career -- guard it -- work hard, be honest, treat people (supervisors, colleagues, opposing counsel, and staff) with respect.  What you do in one job or situation may come back to bite or help you. 

I know you are wanting more advice and I will try to get back on track on being a more frequent blogger.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving!  

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Summer 09

One of our commenters asked about next summer and whether everyone is "screwed."  The answer is, no.  I assume you mean for those of you who have offers?  Well, let's start there.   The majority of you will head into your summer jobs as usual. Some programs may be shorter than before.  This wouldn't alarm me.  Remember, firms view summer programs as a long term investment, not a money making enterprise.  So, it is understandable that they may limit the number of weeks summer associates spend in their offices.  

My advice for you is similar to what I did when I was a summer during a tough economic time (note: I was the only one in my summer class to get an outright offer...others were on "hold.").  Keep your head down.  Work work work ... like a dog.  Yes, you should take part in social activities  But, if there is a non-command performance and you have a project to finish...finish it.  It would be helpful to get in early, stay late, have people view you as the type of person they would want to work with longer term.  We often ask, is this someone I would want to work with at 2am if I had a deadline that took us into an this someone who I can spend time with...and who I can trust to put the time in, not blow stuff off, and do a solid job?

Yes, this summer will be tough.  You need to show that you are tough (but pleasant), bright, dependable.  Double-check your work, be enthusiastic about your projects.  If an important partner invites you to watch his or her depositions, negotiations, etc.  - GO.  Look interested.  Help with whatever is needed.  You need to make even more of an effort to show you are a STAR.  The fun is over, it is time to bear down.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

networking again

HP returns, sorry for the delay there.  The news out there in the legal market is grim.  HP's firm has not had economic layoffs and did plan conservatively for next summer and fall incoming class. If you are a law student and anxious, I would say stay in touch with your firm.  For instance, if you are invited to any firm events (such as a holiday party) and you can make it, show up and socialize (no drunks though, not helpful to future employment).  Keep your eyes and ears open about how the firm is doing -- google searches, etc.  

For those of you out there, you need to continue to develop your personal and professional network.  A couple weeks ago, I witnessed a master networker in action.  This guy was at a community service event and he was connecting with all sorts of people - in house, private firm, etc.  He sent an email the next day circulating different people's emails to each other.  He explained to me that as a GC, it is so important to network because you never know when your company will be sold, go out of business, etc.  Get out of your offices and connect with old and new friends.