Sunday, July 20, 2008

How is Summer Going -- Assessment/Finish Strong

Hello Summer Associates.  How is your summer going?   Hiring Partner isn't asking if you have had a nice time and attended fun and perhaps swanky events.  Rather, I'm asking, how have your substantive work assignments and interaction with the firm's attorneys and other personnel fared?  At this point in the summer (assuming you have a few weeks left), it is a good time to make an assessment.

If you have had a mid-summer evaluation/assessment, you should have some sense of how you have been doing.  If you have not yet had an assessment, you may want to ask for one.  It is important to know how the attorneys have viewed your work product and your interaction in the law firm.  This is also a good time to ask the assigning attorneys for projects in areas in which you have an interest.  

If you received an evaluation with some constructive criticism, hopefully you have taken it to heart and tried to remedy any issues within your control.  For example, I once knew a summer associate from a top law school.  He was not, however, a very good proofreader. His analysis was sound, his research thorough. However, he did not take the committee's mid-summer advice to print out and carefully proof his documents.  This failure to incorporate advice became a problem.  

[NOTE:  a few comments have noted that some of these seem obvious.  The point is that some of them are obvious -- that is the problem.  You would be amazed at some of the things we HPs see -- it is not just me.  Remember, HP has friends who are HPs and recruiting committee members.  The crux of the blog is that there's some basic common sense and courtesies missing sometimes.  Yes, several of this items are basic, but apparently that is what's needed: some basic advice.]

In an effort to render short words of wisdom, here are my top 10 things you should/should not do to finish the summer strong:

10. Do not cry in your mid-summer evaluation.  There is no crying in baseball, or in law firms.  

9. Do not allow your helicopter parent to call Hiring Partner or Recruiting Coordinator to ask about your work, evaluation, or offer potential.  PEOPLE:  We are sure your parents are nice, but we don't need them involved in our decision-making.  Parental involvement at your age (i.e,. over 22) is only appropriate if your mom or dad is the CEO or GC of a Fortune 500 company, thank you very much.  I'm kidding here, of course.  Please leave your parents at home.  

8. Do not take criticism poorly.  Most of us Hiring Partners and recruiting committee members want you to do well.  We want to make offers (well, I do).  We are giving you advice in an effort to help you develop as a summer associate and a lawyer.  Take it to heart.  You may ask questions seeking further guidance , but try not do so defensively.   

7. Do not get toasted at end of summer events.  This would seem to be an obvious point but it does happen.  Remember the previous advice: do not seek romance or miscellaneous encounters at firm events.  FOCUS. 

6. Do not assume everything you tell your paired associate/lawyer advisor is "privileged." At some firms, the paired associates participate in the evaluations and would share how you cried every afternoon at 3 p.m. 

5. Do say yes to opportunities to participate in observation events with partners, associates, and other attorneys.  Attendance at a deposition is a great learning opportunity. Moreover, you will often get some good one on one time with the attorneys since there's often travel involved.

4. Do continue to be courteous to attorneys and staff.  Yes, this is a repeat but VERY important.  Staff often give input to the recruiting committee/hiring partner, and "it's nice to be nice."  

3. Do wrap up your open projects, making sure you do a great job even in the very last sentence of your last memorandum.  Be helpful --for example,  include copies of cases in the event the attorneys have questions about the cases after you have left. 

2. Do thank the Hiring Partner, the recruiting committee and staff, your assistant, the office manager and your advisor at the end of the summer for making your clerkship great.  It is generally acceptable to ask for final feedback from the recruiting committee, even if they are not in a position to issue an offer on your last day.

1. Do not send an All Firm email.  I'm torn on all office emails or all attorneys in office emails.  Ask your advisor or the recruiting staff if it would be appropriate.  If yes, make it VERY SHORT and SWEET:  "Today is the last day of my time as a summer associate with XYZ Firm.  I wanted to take an opportunity to thank you all for a terrific summer.  I have enjoyed working with all of you.  I return to law school with great things to say about XYZ Firm. " [Note: this is just an example folks, please do not copy and paste in two weeks!]

Btw, work and other commitments permitting, Hiring Partner will field questions from time to time, so feel free to comment (nicely!)  


Anonymous said...

I enjoy your posts so far. Can you do a post on 3L hiring?

MJN said...

Yeah, I would say either a post on 3L hiring or just-out-of-law-school/entry-level hiring would be great!

Unknown said...

I don't know about this. It's really like trading cattle in the recruiting committees. Trust me, I've been in them.

and yes, it does help if your daddy calls. If you don't get an offer, they will just give you one secretly after everyone else gets theirs so nobody will think it was because of your daddy.

It's true. but are you really surprised?

for the real truth on BigLaw associates, there is this blog:

It makes me angry

Anonymous said...

Hiring Partner,
Do you really *have* to go to firm events?
My thought I'm there to work and, while we're being honest, I really hate my Ayn Rand toting douchebag asshole coworkers.
I mean, biglaw people aren't normal people. How long can I hand around them personally without eventually blurting out my true feelings?
Seriously let's cut the bullshit. We're not here because we're friends. I could get let go at any moment, as could any other associate or partner. So why the ruse? Why not just say we're here to work and bill hours, so that we don't have to carry the burden of phoniness on our backs with all the other burdens of work?
Any way. If you're real let me know what you think of my perspective. And please don't act like I'm the only one who feels this way.

Boss Lady said...

Yes, you have to go to the firm events. No one, not the partners, the associates, the summers enjoys them. But they are a test to see whether or not you can smile and make nice (and remain some what sober in the process). Whether or not you pass this test determines whether or not you are a good fit for the firm.

Anonymous said...

It makes sense when you put it that way.

Hiring Partner said...

Hello everyone. thank you for your comments. I would ask that you please keep your language reasonably clean and appropriate (whguy, that was your issue). Remember, we are trying to teach people how to properly behave in the workplace. Foul language is generally not appreciated. And, I agree with Boss Lady that you should show up for firm events. It is part of being a good firm citizen and makes you look like a team player. Be pleasant, be positive. Most events don't last too long. If spouses/partners invited, yours should join and be pleasant and charming too.

Anonymous said...

Up to when does one have to show up for firm events?

Suppose you make sure you show up to firm events during 2L summer, behave nicely, do your work properly, and you end up getting an offer, which you accept. When you come back as a first-year associate, still doing your work properly, are you still sort-of obliged to attend firm events?

Anonymous said...

Hiring Partner,

Could you post an email address? I'd like to submit a question, and include some details specific to my situation. I realize, of course, that you promise no direct response, but perhaps it will inspire a blog post.

Enjoy your site. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

the funny thing of it all is, according to Boss Lady, is that you have to go and smile and play nice to show that you are a "good fit" but what are you trying to fit in with? At least as far as BigLaw is concerned, we're not a group of associates and partners who smile and play nice. We're not happy people who give each other back rubs sitting in a story circle. So, the fact that you show up and can play nice may, actually, mean you aren't a good fit for the firm (unless it means you are a good two-faced little monkey, in which case, you're fulfilling your destiny working for The Man). You will then probably leave after 1-3 years miserable and wonder why everyone was so nasty to each other and work for some probono NGO, where, nice smiling people are really accepted.

Do you really think we pay you $160,000 to smile? or to even feel feelings? pshaw.

Anonymous said...

Good post.