Thursday, May 21, 2009

Queries and Other

Hi folks, HP catching up; sorry for the delay there but HP is a P and does have client commitments and travel, as well as an actual life outside the office.  

Let's see, someone said they had accepted a job offer on the spot but then might have another perhaps more preferred job offer given in succeeding weeks and could they renege on their acceptance.  I agree with the person who said, essentially, that they accepted the job and should stick to it.  I don't know the market they are in, but you don't want to develop a bad reputation, particularly in a smaller, or medium sized market.  If you accepted, you should stay with the folks who gave you a job.  HP is very into loyalty and integrity.  Next time, if possible, try to buy some time and follow up with the potential outstanding firm.  Of course, now that you are going to firm 1, you need to do a fabulous job, be enthusiastic, etc.  Even if this is not ultimately where you want to be, you want to be in a position that you've earned the respect of these colleagues and built your reputation, can get great references, etc.   I spent my 1L summer in a different market from where I work now.  It was a medium size firm, but not the sophistication of BIGLAW.  Did I want to work there forever  NOOOOO. But, I got great experience (accompanying partners to court, drafting summary judgment motions, even working on criminal cases), AND I made terrific contacts who later served as references.  Especially when these experiences are hard to come by, you need to grab them and run with them.  Remember, every opportunity is an opportunity to build on, even if it is not your end game.  

I got a long email from a gentleman who wanted to share some advice on shirt "stays" for collars and other dressing advice; I will send that along next time.  He did mention poplin suits for summer. I have to say I am not a fan and would rather stick with the basics. Now, maybe it depends on the market, but I just think they look goofy and kind of grandfatherly and have not seen people in firms I have practiced or worked with wearing them.  

One more thing, the other day, I got a call from a lawyer I worked with many years back on a matter.  She is now the lawyer on a different matter and we will be working together again.  We exchanged needed information and will continue to work together as the weeks progress.  The point I wanted to make here is that because we handled our last matter professionally, she knows that I will do my job while being someone who is good to work with.  I know that she will be careful, yet firm, but still professional.  We can each tell our clients that we have worked together before, which will give them confidence that the matter will go smoothly.  This goes to my point of not being an a-hole (unless truly necessary) and being professional.  Even in larger legal markets, what goes around comes around.  You do need to deal with these people or their firms again and your reputation is always important.  

Monday, May 11, 2009

good luck to those starting this week

I got a few emails from people starting summer jobs this week.  Good luck, all!   Remember, you need to be on your game.  Consider every day an interview.  Don't be psycho on edge, deer in the headlights, but don't get too comfortable either.  People engage in office gossip?  Don't go there.  Feel like complaining?  Don't do it.

A female reader indicated she is going to work in a warm climate and wonders if wearing hose is necessary. Now, some may vary on this, but HP says to wear the hose, especially at the beginning. You can see as the summer develops if others go without, but I always go with the conservative side and that is to recommend wearing the hose.  Most offices are cool in the summer anyway, so most of the day you will be just fine. 

You will be getting your first assignments soon.  With any assignment, make sure you understand a few key points: 

 when is it due?  Note the date and make sure you give yourself a reminder and plenty of time to complete it AND time to carefully proof (I always print out my docs and sit and read the hard copy through). 

what kind of product does the assigning person want?  A memo?  An email summarizing the key cases?  Document summaries?  Make sure you understand what they want delivered.

what resources can be used/are recommended?  Lexis ok - some clients have restrictions on what can be utilized.  

how should you bill?  This can vary -- .25 or .10; some clients require task codes, or specific breakdown by descriptions -- for instance, instead of "draft memorandum; research regarding statute of limitations; conference with J. Smith" 1.75;they want "draft memorandum (1.0); research regarding statute of limitations (.5), conference with J. Smith (.25).  A good question to assess this is "are there any special billing instructions for this client/project?

another question: what is the best way to contact you if I have questions? Or how do you prefer I contact you if I have questions?


Those are a quick few thoughts to get you going.  I am sure you all will have some queries for me as the weeks progress.  Remember, it is always good to clarify instructions in advance.  AND, seriously, it is REALLY important to deliver the product ON TIME AND WELL PROOFED.  I cannot stress this enough.  Jobs have been lost over this.  Manage expectations-- If you encounter roadblocks in your research, you should go to the assigning person, BEFORE the deadline.  

Good luck !  

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

addressing some questions

Someone asked about whether it would be a good idea to keep a suit (or at least a blazer) in the office if you are in a business casual environment.  Answer: yes.  In fact, when I worked at a firm that decided to go business casual, it was a requirement that you keep a suit in the office.  Let's say you are sitting around, doing your research this summer, and Partner Susan comes by and says she has a court hearing at 2pm, and she didn't think about this before, but would you like to come?  You don't want to look at your outfit and think "uh oh."  You want to be ready to go (which is why I like the more formal work attire anyway, it looks nice, and it is just ready for impromptu meetings and the like).

Exit options - this may merit a whole separate post, but I can start now.  Well, as far as going in-house, there are a few practice areas that come to mind - general corporate/commercial - lots of companies have lawyers working on commercial contracts in -house (contracts where they buy services/products, contracts to sell their services/product etc.).  At lot of in-house counsel are more "generalists," so the broader range of experience you can show, the better.   Intellectual property is another.  There's some great in house jobs for lawyers who can help protect a company's IP.  Employment law - another good one -- there's employment lawyers all over the place and many companies have employment lawyers in-house to handle regular HR issues, policies, handbooks, employment contracts and non-competes, etc.  Litigators - yes, companies do hire them - to handle day to day matters, and I even know of some very large companies who hire litigators to work on contracts -- because the litigators know the issues that may get the companies into trouble.  Even though the law firms have been encouraging specializing, I do think that if you can get broader experience within your general area, that would be helpful for exit strategies.

Now, a separate word of advice -- and you know I have mentioned this one before -- networking, building relationships, staying in touch, building your reputation -- all are key here.  Most in house jobs are not found through legal trade press listings or other advertisements.  Most are filled through referrals.  I frequently get emails from friends in house asking if I know someone for a new position - this is very common, because the in house people want a co-worker who is a known quantity (to someone). If they come highly recommend by, say, HP,  my in house friend has that to go on and going into the interview the person has a leg up because friend can tell GC or if friend is GC, just consider, that this is someone who has been tested and trusted by HP.  I have to say, I get these requests fairly often.  Now, if you are someone I worked with and I thought you didn't seem that committed to the job, or did sloppy work, or were real difficult to work with, obviously I am not recommending you to my in house friend.

And I know I mentioned this before, but if you are the candidate and you see an opening, you may want to reach out to your network to ask if they know anyone in-house or even non-lawyer at the company who may be in a position to take your resume and get it in the right hands.  Just the other day, I saw a friend on Facebook ask some of us on Facebook if we knew anyone at XYZ company.  Doesn't hurt to ask.  And make sure you express your appreciation if someone does take the extra step and get your resume in the door.