Achieving Success. Then and Now Young Lawyers in Big Law

Four Sherman Sterling partners discuss the success dynamic between new lawyers and Big Law “back in the day” and post September 2008 published in a New York Law Journal article on August 18th, 2014.
“Back in the day”, you had a a relatively small group of firms viewed as “elite” and each with a known client base usually not infringed upon. The AML rankings were not needed. Everyone knew each other and there was sufficient work. Clients paid the billable hour model. Law students from the top law schools experienced decent job security with the elite firms.
Success was defined as a capable junior lawyer who worked hard at the tasks provided. Law firms and lawyers were happy and productive.

What has changed? (Post-September 2008)

 1) The numerous Elite

The “elite” now come in all shapes and sizes from boutiques to mega-firms of 4,000 lawyers.

2) The versatile JD

Law jobs outside private private practice has grown in number and rewarding. This also means lawyers are wanting more options in their legal career and may move between law firms, companies and governments.

3) The Competition

Law firms are the only players in the legal service game.

4) The Technology

Efficiencies and productivity from technology has reduced required man power.

The result: Success is being redefined.

For law firms, it’s narrowing their search to an attorney that is more committed to the law firm long-term while also exhibiting leadership, management and success in the business of law. Yet it also means training lawyers who are with them for only a stint in their law careers.
For lawyers, it may be knowing what they want, communicating it and getting a well-rounded experience to take to their couple stops in their legal career.

On Campus Interviews and Summer Associate Programs

Its that time. Law firms all over the United States are meeting with second years considering summer programs and summer associates entering their third year. What’s this all about? Students getting a job and law firms scoping out their best fit and talent.

Tips for Law Students:

It’s not a game.

The interview process is year-round. The summer associate program does not guarantee you a job with a firm.

Interviewing Must Knows

Have a stellar polished resume. When meeting with a firm, do your homework. Know the key partners, practice areas, recent big matters, firm clients, etc. Understand the lawyer’s uniform. Don’t be late to interviews. Arrive early. Be direct with answers. Make sure you communicate what you want and not be flippant. Be respectful, confident and friendly.

On Site

Never forget that you are always being interviewed whether onsite at the firm or out and about. Don’t forget the dress code. Be on time always whether for projects or meetings. Be a voracious note taker. Be mindful of expenses to are occurred under you. A law firm is still a business. Be as sociable as your schedule permits.

Lawyer Sales Tip

According to one professional development coach, “the factor that [separates] the top, mind-boggling successful lawyers from the rest is their ability to – network and develop important long-term relationships.”

Practical networking tips for law students to veteran law professionals

1) Practice your networking

Talk to strangers and learn how to ask good questions. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Find ways to add value to new relationships.

2) Set goals

Focus on the key objectives whether developing a relationship with the law school dean, approaching the newly appointed general counsel of a Fortune 500, identify and approach the managing partner of 5 key law firms in your city to get a summer associate position or begin shadowing, etc.

3) Create and manage a database of relationships

There’s numerous CRMs but start with one. Import your business cards and e-mail address books. Add your notes from conversations and their personal contact information. Start now and start somewhere.

4) Create a calendar system to follow up with people

Get in the habit of reconnecting. Create a system of reconnecting at some frequency depending on the goals you are wanting to accomplish. New relationships should have a shorter follow up period of like 48 hours whereas existing relationships could be every month or quarter.

5) Get connected on LinkedIn

(My personal addition to the subject) LinkedIn is by far the most powerful social media network. Use it to professional brand yourself. Schedule 30 days of relevant content (through Hootsuite) to stay in front of your connections. I call this the bill board effect. More on LinkedIn click here.

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