Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ranking; other points of view

Hey folks, on the ranking, I would go with "no layoffs" but the problem is you wouldn't necessarily know about the stealth ones.  I would look at where my best chances are -   do they usually hire multiple candidates from my school, would my grades and other credentials normally make the cut, etc.   What area do I want to do, and do they have a substantial practice in that area (assuming I know).   As I said, shoot wide because it is going to be extremely difficult to get a summer 2L gig AND after that, even if you've done a solid job, no offer  may follow.  

I've been meaning to reach out to our practicing lawyer and recruiter readers.  I am guessing you have some great ideas to contribute here.  Folks, what have you seen this summer or during last year's interviews that candidates should know they should do differently?  What really "saved" a candidate.  HP has a lot of experience, but mine is only one person's and I would welcome your thoughts....and I bet our readers would as well.

Separate note:  I sent an email to someone recently.  I think the guy is out on vacation.  Odd out of office message specifically indicating he is not checking messages and you may wish to call when he gets back because your message might get lost in all his emails that have come in while he was out. I thought this was an odd message. I mean I got the point, but if I were a client, I might think he was saying my matter wasn't particularly important and he's just so busy with other stuff he might forget about my matter.  I just think there's ways to convey these types of messages in ways that make clients and others confident that their matters are or can be covered and that they are important.  Even though clients know we have other clients, they also like to know that they are a top priority.  A better way would be to say "I will be in an area with limited Internet access, but in my absence you can contact my colleagues xyz and abc, who have been briefed on outstanding matters and should be in a position to assist you [and will know how to reach me].  I've often found that most things do wait till after vacation or other absences, but putting a confident message out really helps.  

Hope the week goes well. 


Anonymous said...

A little bit more on the subject of OCI rankings...

Anonymous said...

Here's some helpful advice on OCI strategy.

1. First and foremost, understand your school's system. You need to game it as best you can to maximize the number of interviews you have this year

2. Second, be realistic about the firms you'll have a shot at and while you should have some reaches, focus on those more in your range.

This, of course, requires knowing where you stand relative to your classmates and the rest of the law school world.

It also requires understanding regions (e.g. if you have no connections to places like SF and DC that are already tough to crack even with connections to those places then don't focus on those regions).

3. Third, once you have that range if you have an area of law you think you might be interested in then make sure at least the top 10 you hope to interview with actually have that practice. Every firm website makes it sound like they practice in every area and every firm has people that, on their bios, claim they practice in a myriad of areas. Neither are true. Use chambers and partners and other sources to find out whether a firm really has a solid practice area in whatever area you're interested in.

4. If you're looking in a specific region, other than NY, and you're looking for some practice area more specific than, say, litigation or corporate, then at this point you might actually have to take a step back and broaden your selection.

If you don't care much about where you work and/or the practice area (probably true of most law students who are smart enough to realize that, especially if they went straight from undergrad to law school, they haven't a clue what practice area they will like) then you want to focus now on the HQ of a firm and make sure you're in a firm and office of the firm that has lots of practice areas to choose from.

5. Now, at this point, you should whittle down based on the economy. Here, I think the obvious candidates to avoid, if possible, are the largest firms. It is those firms that are the largest that, not surprisingly, have had the most layoffs. And those that are large and haven't had significant layoffs probably had many stealth layoffs and, worse, you could be a casualty of such a firm that's still be trying to avoid layoffs. These firms hinged their PPP on massive leverage and they're the ones hurting the most. They're also the ones where you're less of a person and more of a statistic.

Then, even if you like transactional work, focus on firms that have a good mix of practice groups. Unless the firm is named Wachtell run the other way if they don't have a substantial bankruptcy, regulatory, or some other recession resistant/counter-cyclical practice. (yes, that means I'd honestly avoid Cravath and Sullivan though I have no doubt others will disagree).

You do all that then outside of what's the most important, but at this point beyond your control (law school, gpa, law review), you'll have done everything you can, save for networking of course.

f-3 said...

Anon 4:36 - Excellent advice!

One addition to your point #3 -- candidates should also pull up the firm's directory, and search by **office** to determine the areas of law practiced in the location to which they are applying. Firms will always claim they do everything from any office, but most firms still hire by office, not firm-wide. So, if you are interested in a particular practice, you should check to make sure there are partners who handle those matters in your preferred location. There are exceptions, but if you want to do IP in Chicago, but all of the firm's IP lawyers are in San Francisco, then applying to Chicago might hurt you.

Anonymous said...

This may not be a direct response for the request for other points of view but I thought it would be worth mentioning. I'm a biotech GC and I can tell you that biotech is booming, still. While it is true that we have lost our share of companies due to lack of cash, the survivors are doing well and are incredibly busy. Look for firms in biotech centers (San Fran, LA, Cambridge MA) with busy licensing or general biotech/pharma focused practices. If you have an interest in these areas, be vocal about and focus on any area of your background that has a legitimate connection to the industry. If you are a current summer associate, go find those crazy busy biotech partners, latch onto them, and don't let go. If they see that you want to help them, perhaps they'll be more likely to fight for you come offer decision time!

rt said...

Hi HP-

Question about resumes. I've always been told that hiring partners only want to see a one page resume--is that true? I'm a
3L who worked before law school and received my Masters. I've had an in-house position, currently a summer associate at a midsize firm, one research assistant position, and a judicial clerkship while in law school. The one page is getting tight--I've deleted all but my significant job after undergraduate (it was a position of over three years and always one that garners "interest" from interviewers). With my fall internship and OCI approaching, I'm worried about making the one page too crowded. Would it be acceptable for me to move two pages? Thanks!

f-3 said...

rt - I also had another career prior to law school (10 years of work, 3 different companies with multiple positions in each), and posed that question to three hiring attorneys who visited my school. Two said a two-page resume is fine (but definitely not three), the other one said he will only have time to look at the first page. My school's career services folks said it must be one page with no exceptions. So it's a toss-up. I finally took the low-risk approach and put everything on one page - which of course meant a significant amount of editing.

It sounds to me you're already taking the right approach by talking about your in-house job, SA, RA, and judicial internship primarily, and then focusing on one meaningful pre-law job. The only thing I can share with you is that I talked about all of my pre-law jobs, but kept them to no more than 2 bullet points each. Even though I knew the attorneys won't fully understand my prior jobs, I didn't rehash my job descriptions; I focused on the top 1-2 things that showed my responsibilities mattered and had impact.

I really recommend including as much of your prior work experiences as possible, especially in this economy. During my interviews and callbacks, my interviewers and I had much more substantive conversations about my work style and experiences, which led to a higher yield of callbacks and offers than my grades would have warranted. Experience is always a far more reliable selling point than wondering whether your interviewer actually cares about your backpacking trip in South America, or whether you share the same passion for the Phillies.

I often get into "laundry-list" mode when putting together my resume, which is not helpful. For editing, I asked myself the following two questions: (1) How does this set me apart in the eyes of a law firm? and (2) Am I showing the impact / results I achieved? Those two questions helped me get rid of a lot of stuff that did nothing to sell my candidacy.

Hope this helps. Good luck with upcoming OCI.

rt said...

thanks, f-3! that's great advice. i really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

With the summer programs beginning to close down, it'd be nice to get some final insight from HP..

s said...

HP is gone.

Anonymous said...


Could you tell us about how you evaluate the summers? I know you look at evaluations, but what do these look like? Do you simply review the evaluations? Do you talk about other factors? If so please share. There is no insight provided to us by our firms, and while I realize it will vary firm to firm, there must be reasonable consistency in practices.


Anonymous said...

On the long resume - I keep a base resume of everything I've ever done, then I shorten by what type of firm I'm applying to. But for a general blast like OCI, I put omitted positions in the cover letter, and in case the cover letter is tossed, I talk about my omitted job(s) in the interview. More than 1 page looks pompous unless you realize initially that the person had lots of time between undergrad & law school, which I harried hiring partner might miss.