Monday, October 04, 2004

I got an e-mail today from a 3L we didn't give a callback to, wanting to know what he could have done differently. "Not be a 3L" is my honest answer. We have hundreds and hundreds of 2Ls who want to come work for us. All else being equal, why would we take a 3L? To me, if you're re-interviewing as a 3L, after spending your 2L summer at a firm, it means you made some sort of mistake in the process. It means either you made a bad choice because of some factor you didn't think about, like what practice groups the firm has, or firm size, or location, or, more commonly, you didn't get along with the people at your firm, and, even if you got an offer, you don't want to go back. Because no one would subject themselves to the recruiting process for a second year unless they really had a bad time. The problem is that if you didn't get along with the people at one firm, I have no reason to believe we'll find you any more palatable here. After all, despite our marketing pitches, we know we're all basically the same. And if you're a jackass at one firm, you're going to be a jackass here, and we don't need any more jackasses. Alternatively, if you made a bad choice in terms of firm size, or what kind of law you want to practice, or location, it tells me that you're not good at making decisions. Everyone knows that 2L year you're supposed to make choices about your post-graduation firm. 90% of the 2Ls who work at firms go back without a problem. So if you're one of the 10% with a problem, you're tainted. For whatever reason, you couldn't do what 90% of your classmates did, and make a choice you're going to be content with. Why should I believe you're making a better choice now? And why would I want one of the 10% who have issues when I could have a 90% chance with a 2L. If you didn't like it at the firm down the street, I have no reason to believe you're going to like it here, and you'll probably bring everyone else down with you. You may think it was the wrong firm, but maybe it's the wrong industry. Maybe you just can't hack it. Maybe you should go work at Disneyland. Stupid 3Ls think they're entitled to callbacks just because they got an offer at their 2L firm. Everyone gets an offer. If you didn't get an offer you're probably not even equipped to sit in a chair for twenty minutes without falling out. If you're a 3L, something went wrong. And I don't want you.

The one exception is people whose grades have taken a leap and they want a chance at a better firm than where they were before. Those people can sometimes get offers, if I'm convinced that whatever kept them from getting good grades to begin with isn't going to resurface as a problem once they get here. But it's a much tougher standard than for a 2L. 2Ls are fresh meat. It's better that way.

You are dumb. I did my 2L summer at the DOJ, knowing full well they don't normally give offers. Guess what? No offer. I interviewed as a 3L with large firms, and am now a first year associate at a top Vault firm.

Guess what else? I'm already thinking about getting back into government, because quite frankly, money is not as important as life. I don't want to end up like you.
Um, poster above, didn't you just prove AL's point?
I think the poster above was saying that he or she was no less marketable as a 3L, contrary to AL's intimation.
I fixed that by getting a circuit clerkship.

The fun part is that I didn't get an offer from my firm because I'm a total raving asshole, which should tell you something considering the company I keep, and firms that don't know any better will be trying to recruit me in a year.

AL, what if the 3L just doesn't want to live in the city where his 2L offer is? That is my situation. Unfortunately he describes the situation I am in accurately, I am having a far harder time than before, not a single call back so far despite being from a top school. I do feel tainted and , now I know what's its like to be a minority.

Well, even if it means that I have to work a lower-prestige firm, it is still worth getting out of Atlanta.

I wonder, however, why AL just won't hire a promising 3L and fire him if he turns out bad. And why the worry about him leaving early? If he stays a year and bills 2000 hours that is 700,000 in revenue for you, hardly a loss.
Above poster who worked for the DOJ, what does it take to get a job at someplace like the DOJ? I too don't think money is as important as simply having a life, and so wonder how you got to work for the government? I hear it's as difficult as getting a job at a major law firm, you need solid grades from a top school, etc. But at this point I would much prefer working for the government and having a good life than making $125K and not. I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions you might have. Thanks!
Guess what? You can have your cake and eat it to. $125k plus good benefits plus good retirement (not just 401k) plus every other Friday off, plus a 40 hour week, plus 3 weeks vacation a year, plus 9 holidays, plus get out early lots of days, plus can easy move to big bucks at a private firm (lots do) plus doing real work that has an immediate impact, plus etc. etc. etc. Where? It's a government agency but I'm not telling which one. They are not all the same. Those who know, know.
Laterals are worse than 3Ls looking for jobs, and are totally revolting to boot. These are people who have actually been at a firm, taken up office space and been paid a salary. Sometimes partners have even taken the time to learn their names. And despite all that, they STILL think they can just switch jobs like changing underwear.

Laterals defy the natural order: your career is set by your first-year grades. For the reasons AL articulates, firms don't look at your second-year grades. And once you're hired, there's simply no reason (or real opportunity, for that matter) to switch jobs. You are locked in, for better (in my case) or worse (in your case).* But once you've made any kind of career move other than being hired by BIGLAW, you're invisible, forgotten, irrelevant and discarded. You may as well turn in your JD, actually. Laterals personally disgust me -- they're like rats trying swim from their own sinking ship onto my own. Get off, you fucking vermin! The fact that you didn't know what you wanted to do as a 2L or didn't get the chance means that you're a personal and professional failure! So keep your failure out of my office -- I sometimes have nightmares about catching their failure from the drinking fountains they use. Like AIDS, you know? I'll wake up in a start, all panicked, but then I look at my own law degree I keep in my bedroom, and I can relax. That will keep me safe.

*Of course, BIGLAW slowly weeds out the attorneys that can't hack it. They are relegated to corporate counsel positions (where they can hire us to do the hard work they can't do for them) or the boutique firms (where the scrubs work).
The problem with the big law firms monoculture is here in magnificent display... "there is only one way." Keep telling yourself that! It'll make you feel better about the way you got stuck.

First, I did interviews 3L and got three offers after I transferred to a different state. It can be done.

See... the mentality is you go to law school because it's a well-defined next step. While all your friends are lost in post-college wasteland, you're out there going on the well-groomed path. Then you interview 2L, do the summer, etc. etc.

Next thing you know you're like this guy who should be in his own version of American Beauty.

AL, you spent all summer talking about how damn stupid the summer program was, now it's totally necessary? You don't know if they're going to get along with anyone. You just know whether they prefer chardonnay or sauvignon blanc with their shrimp cocktail. You don't know shit about their work product, because the writing sample you got was massaged by their career services office.

One day, someone in Fortune 500 firms is going to realize that they can do just as well and pay half the billing rates 95% of the time. And then, the days of this charade are over with.
Awww c'mon 9:23 AM, at least give us a clue......
Yes please give us a hint! Government jobs sound like the way to go now.
I am guessing FTC, the antitrust division. But maybe that's because I am an economist. Or maybe it is the antitrust division of DOJ. I know lot of economists make good money there, and have easy time transferring to the private sector to do litigation support. So, the lawyers must fare well too when they leave one of those two. Which means government must pony up the dollars to keep them.
Im guessing the poster was talking about the IRS. The IRS is possibly the best place to work in world as a lawyer. They practically force you to leave by 4:30 everyday. If for some reason you have to work over 8 hours in a day, you bank anything over 8 and can take those hours off whenever you want.

To the poster asking about the DOJ,
You can get in from a lower ranked school, but you need top grades, law review and moot court, and should also be published.

In general, the DOJ Honors Program is actually harder to get hired into than biglaw. Statistically its more competitive. But you have nothing to lose by applying, even if you dont get a spot!
Government laterals are still laterals.
Why even take on a 3L as a summer associate if you are so against giving one an offer? That seems like a waste of everyone's time.
As to 9:23's comments above, he's probably not talking about a legal position at all.

I bet he's referring to the military. Specifically, aircraft pilots (both Army and Air Force) get major bonuses above the pay scale for flight duty. 125K is very possible, depending on what you fly. Plus, there are limits on how often they can fly, so frequent days off are a given. Finally, it's very easy for military pilots to secure well-paid private sector jobs in the airline industry.

All you need is super-human eyesight and a willingness to put your life on the line. Enrolling at the Air Force Academy wouldn't hurt either.
The lateral basher doesn't know what he's talking about. A quick browse at lawyer biographies at major law firms will reveal large number of people who came in from other firms or the government.
The lateral basher is a clueless first or second year, that's for sure. People lateral for all sorts of reasons. One common reason is the old firm was a biglaw firm full of loser personality disorders (often OCD or social anxiety disorder, and often meglomaniac) forever trapped in biglaw because they are not good enough to go to a small to midsize firm and actually practice law in a setting where they have to get and keep clients. Those who are good enough to leave biglaw, do.
Its not the SEC, you dumb-ass tool. Since when has the SEC offered those benefits?

I think the above poster is correct about the IRS.

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