Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Answering some questions II

I've received a few inquiries regarding whether firms will look closely at 2L grades in an effort to weed people out.   I honestly think this is going to be mixed, but I think definitely a lesser factor than flaws in work product, and personality/"fit" with the firm.  We ask for grades and I usually take a quick look to see if the grades are generally in the same place as when we interviewed the student at the beginning of their 2nd year.  If they are, I move on. If a little lower, not a big deal, especially if the work performance is good.  In fact, it has worked to someone's advantage where I could say, "hey, this person did a great job for us and their 2L grades have even gone up significantly."  

Will firms need to weed more people out than usual?  Of course they will, in those firms that significantly over hired.  I think mediocre (or poor) 2L grades might be something to "cite" to if they wanted to no offer but honestly, I really see much more attention paid to situations where someone would criticize work product (poor proofing, missed a main case, writing jumbled and not coherent, missed the big issue), production (not on time, not what was asked, etc) or firm fit (perceived insult to staff member, too nervous/anxious, etc.).  So, the long answer to your short question is that I don't see 2L grades being such a significant factor.

One of our female readers asked about how many suits one should have and if four is enough where there's a Friday business casual. I would say to start out, 4 should be ok, but if you can, pick up something once you have a little summer moolah to add - what if one of these suits gets a cup of coffee spilled on it -- it would be good to have a substitute.  For men, I think 4 is enough.  I've asked around on this one and one of my friends had a good add -- and that is women can also usually do some mixing and matching with accessories and tops and such so that it doesn't appear you are wearing the same 4 suits week after week.  

On the subject of socializing, I thought F-3's ideas, as always, were good ones.  F-3 is HP's teacher pet here.  Actually, I do not know F-3, but F-3 does usually have insightful things to say.  I will speak to this more perhaps next time.  You do not have to be the "life of the party."  The key is to be on time, pleasant, sociable, and not offend.  I agree it is helpful to be able to comment on different (hopefully non-controversial) topics.  I have a close friend from law school. She was once at a post-screening day recruiting cocktail thing with a bunch of lawyers from a big NY firm.  A few others from her law school were at the table with these lawyers.  Pleasant chit chat ensued. Obviously, all the law students wanted to make an impression. One by one, however, they had to catch planes, trains.  My friend had some time. Instead of leaving with the others, she stayed.  So it was her and about 4 male attorneys, including some senior partners.  They talked about where friend is from. Friend is from a big sports city. They started talking about sports teams.  Friend could talk about sports teams, told stories about going to the ball games in her youth, what players she liked, how a former player coached at her college etc.  Friend was invited back and did in fact get a 2L offer from this firm.  Of course, friend's grades helped a lot, but I have no doubt that it was friend's ability to carry on chit chat with strangers that helped friend make that impression.  

OK, HP's dog needs to go a walkin so HP's gotta go.


Anonymous said...

I saw someone asked this in the comments to the last post, but ABSOLUTELY wear a suit the first day even if your firm is business casual. It is the right thing to do and whether people say it or not, it's what's expected of you. It shows that you care and that you want to make a great first impression. Even if they tell you that you don't need to wear one the first day, do it. Also, you don't want to look like the slacker when everyone else shows up in a suit. After the first day you're fine with business casual.

Also, once you're shown your office, take a few minutes to settle in, but then start introducing yourself to the secretaries that sit near you. If their office doors are open, you can also introduce yourself to the attorneys next to you. Obviously if they're on the phone or look busy then wait until later. This makes you look like you're friendly, enthusiastic, and a team player.

Anonymous said...

Wait, really, four suits? I'm a guy, I own one suit (which worked fine for interviews), I need to go buy three more for fifty days of work? Wow. So long, first week's salary.

Anonymous said...

7:17 - on the other hand, no one will remember what you wore on your first day unless you forgot to put on pants or something.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 7:17am. My firm said business casual, but all of us (male and female) wore suits on the first day, and didn't feel awkward when we discovered that many partners (including the MP) had meetings that day, and greeted us in suits. You've heard it many times - never hurts to be slightly over-dressed for the first impression. We downgraded to business casual by the next day.

Something to think about - keeping a suit in the office. I've heard stories about people being asked to join a court hearing or a client meeting at the last minute. Last-minute invitations never happened to me (I always got advance notice), but I think it's wise to heed that advice.

Anonymous said...

Four suits may seem a lot, but it's an investment that lasts (under normal circumstances). I still wear suits from 7 or 8 years back because if you take good care of them, they'll serve you well for at least several years, if not longer.

If your firm requires a suit every day, having a rotation of 4 will pay off because you will spread out the wear and tear.

If budget is an issue (and that's totally understandable), just get 2 to start off, and re-evaluate after 2 or 3 weeks.

Anonymous said...

As long as we're erring on the side of being overly formal, I suggest that on your first day you show up in a tux with matching white gloves. Obviously you'd then just switch to business casual the next day.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post HP. Keep up these kinds of posts. VERY help!