Saturday, July 4, 2009


Someone asked about how to rank firms for fall OCI -- in summary, whether firms that have laid off might be better prospects since they have shed "extra weight," or whether lay offs are a sign of a firm's instability and in essence, mean the firm really has no need for further people.   In a normal law firm world, I would say to regard firms that have done lay offs very cautiously.  But, nothing about the current state of the legal market is normal.  

Hence, my answer to "how do you rank is?"..... are you crazy?  I would rank the firms by "where the hell might I get a job?"  This is not a law student/associate market.  Did you miss that?  I'm sorry, but those days are over.  Hopefully, the firms going on campus in fact have slots to fill and hopefully they are being very careful with their numbers.  I know hiring partners and recruiting staff who have already called law schools (yes, even top 25 law schools) and indicated they are not coming on campus this fall.  So, if you've got firms coming on campus, I presume they have some slots to fill. And, at the end of the day, if you wind up with multiple offers, then great for you.  At that point (when you have offers), I would start the "ranking" process -- where do I feel comfortable, what is the firm's reputation in the area (for possible movement later, for instance), what do legal and other news say about the firm?  This is when we would consider lay offs.  For me, if it is a choice between a lay-off firm and one that hasn't done layoffs, I think I would lean toward the non-layoff firms, but you need to do some homework - how are the departments staffed, do they seem overstaffed?  How did the associates seem, did morale seem good?  Perhaps you can talk to someone who spent the summer there this past summer.  Do your homework.  But that is when you have an offer.  

At this point, before you have an offer, go fishing.  Throw that net out far and wide.  The days of the law firm world as your oyster are over.  Ranking will be for after the offer.  Take the interviews you get and go in with a positive attitude to all - even if maybe it's not your first choice -- it may be your only choice.  Sorry to be harsh, but that is the way of the law firm market today.  

Happy 4th.  



e. said...

HP, I think you misinterpreted the question. "Ranking" firms is what you do when you sign up for interviews. Many (most?) schools give their students 20 or 30 or 50 bids for interview slots, which are then assigned either by lottery or by the firms' selection or a combination. So it's *before* interviewing that you have to rank your firms in order of preference: which ones do you absolutely want to interview with (these go to the top of your list), which ones do you care less about (bottom of your list), and which ones do you choose not to interview with at all (not on the list).

So when you say "I would rank the firms by "where the hell might I get a job?" " that is exactly what upcoming 2Ls are trying to do. It would be helpful if you could weigh in on "where the hell might I get a job?" Even though fewer firms do on-campus interviews this year, at many schools there are still too many firms to allow interviewing with every single one of them. How to decide which ones have the best chances of handing out job offers?

Anonymous said...

I think rankings are unnecessary. They perpetuate an elitism that pervades the legal industry. Lawyers already seem like uncaring superficial people and concern over rank just makes it worst. It's rare to see an article like this about lawyers: . The image of lawyers is slowly changing, but obsession with elitist ranks just slows the progress down.

f-3 said...

Anonymous 1:13 - I think you might have misunderstood the rankings discussion. "e." correctly interpreted and redirected the question in his / her comment above -- it has more to do with students who are trying to be strategic about "ranking" bid allocations, and to land interviews with firms that are more likely to give out offers. In other words, should they allocate more bid points to firms that have conducted layoffs versus those that have not?

Anonymous said...

Does no one else think it is mind-boggling that this guy could actually be a HP at any remotely decent firm and not be familiar with the fact that students interviewing law firms "rank" firms for purposes of interviews?

I mean if he is a real HP and he is at any decent firm then how the heck could he not know that?