I've Been Admitted to Law School. The Question is...Can I Survive?


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Tales from the Crypt

I believe I mentioned I worked in BIGLAW for a while, it was a great experience. There are a lot of asses, no doubt about it, but there are enough people who aren't asses and who hate the asses to make it an overall positive experience. I learned a ton of stuff though and hey, why not share a few things I gathered there and amuse myself while doing so - good memories.

Before I go on, let me just say that I'm by no means an expert, nor do I speak for any cross-section of law firms. These are just things I observed and learned from...or was amused by...at my particular, nameless law firm.

OK...here goes...

  • Never spam the law firms, don't send your resume every two months or send it to 10 different partners thinking that at least one's going to go through. In most cases the partners don't open their mail and their secretary automatically filters resumes and cover letters to the Human Resources Department. The HR Department in most cases has a database that they enter very single resume they've ever received so before the resume gets to the HR Manager/Recruiter or whoever sifts through the resumes they are entered into this database and if you've already sent your resume in your name'll pop up and more often that not it's automatically rejected. They figure, if we rejected him last week, more than likely we'll reject him this week. In some cases applying more than once won't really count against you, if you applied as a 1L and the firm doesn't accept 1Ls they may give your resume another look. Other than that, pending unsual circumstances, once you got rejected you're gonna keep getting rejected. Also if you've just been sending too many resumes and not getting the hint they'll slightly change the wording to something like..."thank you for your repeated interest in our firm...". It's not a coincidence fellows, by that time you've just annoyed the hell out of them.The same goes if you have 10 headhunters sending out resumes for you. More often than not they'll send to the same firm and you'll just be one of those loser spammers. Also consider that this database is firm-wide so if the New York office rejected you, the folks in LA will be able to see that when the input your data, you may have a still shot since different offices have different criteria.

  • Don't kid yourself, BIGLAW is mostly about the prestige. Sure you'll find some people who didn't go to highly ranked schools but more often than not they either proved themselves at another firm before transferring or have some absolutely amazing experience. Also, sending it to a partner who went to a low ranked school and thinking that'll give you a heads up...not gonna work. See above. That said it really does depend on the climate of the firm, mine was 90% about the prestige.

  • Nepotism - Ah, it's great if you can get it but in BIGLAW it's real hard. Here's why, most law firms have at least two rounds, a pre-screen and a full round interview. If you know Partner Joe and he's got enough clout to get you an interview (and don't kid yourself, you have to have good credentials in the first place or else Partner Joe'll probably just lose your resume in the pile of papers on his desk cause come hiring meeting he doesn't want to look like the moron who's just trying to get his wife's hairdresser's son a job just because he can), if you make it pass the pre-screen (you'll probably see two people - recruiting manager and hiring partner or some such combination) you've still got the full round (you interview with 4-6 people) and if you don't impress enough of them to tip the scales your way, you're out of luck. How this normally works is the lawyers who interview you will write their impressions down/or input in the database mentioned in my first point. These impressions get taken into the hiring meeting where all the folk with the real clout actually decide your fate. The recruiting manager and the hiring partner will be there so you probably want them to like you more than the rest...I'm not saying nepotism is out of the question all together, it's just that unless you know somebody real big like a managing partner, there's no point. Knowing any random partner won't help you, most of them have never done an interview, you've gotta know one that's plays an important role in the hiring process. All you know are associates/counsel/junior partners? I'd say the most they can guarantee is that your resume will be reviewed with a little bit more care, it's certainly not going to guarantee you an interview.

  • Don't ever call. Really. Don't do it. It's most definitely "a don't call us, we'll call you kind of thing." If you call to check up on your resume, sure your name will probably stick in their heads but you're "that dude who thinks we don't have anything to do, seriously does he not know how many resumes we get every single day??" If you must call I suggest you get your headhunter or something to do it for you, they're paid to be annoying, it won't really reflect on you.

  • Oh man, I've seen this a ton of times. Don't ever send your writing sample with your resume unsolicited. Straight up. Noone's going to even glance at it. I kid you not. You also look like a complete and total moron. That stuff probably won't even make it past the secretary much less to the recruiting manager. I've seen people send documents over 50 pages long. It does not give a positive impression. Trust. Lets face it your resume and cover letter get seconds of attention, noone's going to read whatever boring article you had to write for a class or a journal to see if they want to meet you.

  • Oh, this has been said all over the place but I still see people do it. Man, chill with the mail merge. I swear I can't even count the number of cover letters that came with the wrong name/address/company name, I remember one cat sent his resume in with all of the inter-changeable information in bold, another dude did it in italics. If you manage to actually pull off the mail merge properly, don't make it obvious that you did a mail merge dude...Automatic rejection letter. Oh yeah, speaking of rejection letter, if they tell you how great your credentials were and how they regret not having a chance to meet with you, believe they told it to everybody. It's not an invitation to apply next week. They can use mail merge. And they do. Do you know how many resumes they get every single day??

  • Also, everything I just said, forget all of it if you've got fantastic credentials. If you were Editor in Chief of the law review, had a 4.0, Order of the Coif and clerked for the Supreme Court, seriously you've got to be a total ass to get rejected. No matter how bad your cover letter is and how much of a jerk you seem they'll still interview you because your record shows that you're brilliant and while they may not like you, there's tons of rainmakers at the firm that they don't like but who are brilliant and absolutely fantastic at their jobs. You've gotta pretend to at least respect them though - at least in the beginning interview, if they think you're too arrogant off the bat, it's not going to go well for you.

OK...I'm done typing now...next week, if I remember, post-interview comments made by interviewers.