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.  


Anonymous said...

And law students who are reading this -- please remember that your reputation starts to build the day you enter law school (or even before that). I hear senior attorneys at the firm talk about people they went to school with, and why they will or will not deal with particular people, even though they have been out of school for a while.

Anonymous said...

What a great non-judgmental non-conformist work environment. Wonder why the turnover rate at big firms is less than two years...

Anonymous said...

Nice post, HP.

I agree with May 21 Anon that reputation can start in law school, and I have a similar opinion about certain classmates of mine who always seemed to be hung over and unprepared. Why, May 22 Anon, would I want to work with such people? Shouldn't I be judgmental? Maybe, if people who did not go to law school with them later recommend them to me as good attorneys, then I would give them a second chance because they have probably turned themselves around.

Lastly, the turnover rate at BigLaw is probably not much higher than in any legal position. It is a stressful job, the law seems to attract arrogant people at a higher rate than other professions, there are so many rules to follow that it is just, really, well, stupid. Put all this together and it is a prescription for disgust and depression at all levels of legal practice.

Anonymous said...

HP, a while back you spoke of a post on what differentiates a good summer associate from an excellent SA.

You've already posted some tips but said you'd have a more lengthy post soon. Could this be your next post since we're all starting?

Thank you for a great blog!

Anonymous said...


Great post, as always. I just started as an SA, and have found this issue come up for me (and other SAs at my firm and other firms with whom I've spoken): An attorney gives you an assignment to research the state law on an obscure topic, with the deadline of "ASAP." You spend three to five hours looking for anything remotely related to this subject, and there's nothing. You are 95% certain that you can give up and tell the attorney that there are no statutes/case law in your state related to this subject, but you're afraid for that 5% chance that you're wrong and you actually just overlooked the right source.

Any recommendations for this situation? Maybe a post on the more general question of being thorough versus not spending too much time on one given project (while within the deadline) would be helpful. Thanks again for the great posts!

f-3 said...

9:39am - I had the same situation come up a number of times during my internships. To me, the important thing was to have some strong support to explain / justify why there was nothing to show. So here's what I did:

1) Jotted down my search paths and sources, so that people would know what I had tried / not tried, and most importantly, could give me pointers if I missed anything obvious;

2) Picked up the phone and called Lexis / West customer service for additional suggestions;

3) Took my assignment and my results from #1 and #2 to the firm's research librarians, and asked for their feedback. Frequently, the librarians would jump in to make sure I didn't miss anything.

As you said, there's still the tiny, miniscule chance that the correct result will evade you, but at least when you walk into the attorney's office with "I couldn't find anything," they will see that you have covered your bases, and s/he doesn't have to wonder whether it's simply due to lack of research skills.

The larger point is that you don't have to be the sole judge of whether you're being thorough enough before you hand in your assignment. There are other resources available to validate your work, and their job is to help you be as thorough as can be, before you have to report back. So budget in that extra time - just like you would budget in extra time for proofreading a memo - and you will feel a lot better.

Those assignments are always a bit nerve-wrecking, so hang in there, and good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I was hoping you could address part-time law students, particularly those that continue to work full-time and are changing careers. Thanks.