Major Law Firms
[00:00:00] So today is about John, this is actually a pretty important presentation for people that want to work in large law firms, regardless of, the stage of your career that you're in. And this is also somewhat of a little bit of a controversial presentation as well.
Just because of the subject matter. And it actually says a lot of things that people don't want to hear. And and it's historical in nature because the things I'm talking about today have really always been true and larger law firms. And and I honestly haven't seen them change very much now.
Certainly people would like to change in terms of things that you need to be doing in order to work in a large law firm, but that they really haven't. And this has been my experience and over two decades of being in this and plus having worked in large law firms, so I will give the presentation.
And I think it's everyone that's here welcome. It's this is a kind of a fun presentation. And also, you, I think you'll learn a lot. And then after the presentation I will take a short break. We'll take a break for two or three minutes and then come back and do Q and a where you can answer questions about this [00:01:00] or any questions that you may have.
And this webinar what you're gonna learn and you're gonna learn the big thing. You'll learn the mistakes to avoid if you want to have a career with a large law firm. And you'll also learn how to build build a resume that grabs the attention of employers. And one thing I would say is at BCG, we place people from in, into large law firms and small law firms.
And it really for the most part we can place you in any type of law firm in place, almost all types of attorneys, but one of the things is we used to only do large law firm placements. And and so we became very good and I personally became very good at looking for attorneys that could work in large law firms.
So I would look at a hundred resumes and literally I would be able to w you would eliminate maybe 98 of them, or, 97 of them. And so it almost became like a game of trying to figure out what the large law firms won. And I did this for a long time and this is how most recruiters are.
So you're going to learn a lot today about how to structure your resume. I will go off topic probably a couple of times, [00:02:00] because this is so important. You'll learn about decisions that you make in your career and how they can, how they will impact how your resume's viewed. And and I've made thousands of placements in large law firms.
And so I understand what they're looking for and I can tell you how to position yourself in the mirror, the choices you need to make. And a lot of people believe that the right experience is enough, and it really isn't. Reviewing resumes has taught me that even the majority of people do not have resumes or backgrounds and they make career decisions that will make it very difficult for them to get a job in a large law firm.
And there's so many roadblocks, it's a wonder that people get them at all. And just to, go off course for as tech can. People ask what's so important about a large law firm, and honestly, there's nothing that important about a large law firm. The, but the biggest things are of course, is that the compensation tends to be higher.
The opportunities are greater if you do well there, and you typically are going to be working on more sophisticated work and and that's really the main thing and you'll get very good experience, very good [00:03:00] training. And most of the training that an attorney receives is not in law school at all.
Everybody learns the same thing in law school, regardless of whether or not you go to an unaccredited or an accredited law school where you get the most training is with with a law firm. And and then the better the law firm. You, you're trained at the higher many times and most times the expectations.
There's just a lot of reasons for wanting to work in a large law firm. And so some of the reasons are it's prestigious. So once you get a very prestigious law firm on your resume that carries weight I know people that are in their seventies and say, actually when they're in their eighties and say, when I worked at Skadden and they were like, fricking paralegal and I was like, what the hell?
Like, why, who cares? You worked there, but it's a good firm and the people get a lot of identity from it. It's going to an Ivy league law school or something, if you get into the right or not really college, if you're getting to the right from people feel very strongly about it and they remember it and and they, and it's a big deal and it's very competitive to get into most large law firms as an associate or as a counsel or partner, especially the [00:04:00] most prestigious ones.
So that's one of the reasons and and frankly prestige you should be happy. I would just say, this is a lesson. This is again going off topic, but you should be happy with who you are regardless of what firm you work in. But so many people define themselves based on approval by other groups and so forth.
This is something that's important to a lot of people and. And it does have a different, it does mean something from the perspective that that prestige will get you access to more opportunities later now with better opportunities and so far. So that's one of the reasons that's important. The largest firms also have much more sophisticated work the largest companies with when they have the biggest problems they go to typically the most sophisticated firms that are the hardest to get jobs with because they assume that there's going to be a better quality of work.
So that's, obviously that, and you will get exposed to that and becoming a better attorney. So that's a big deal. You typically are going to be working with clients who pay their bills. When you're working with smaller and mid-sized firms, it's very hard for the, those law firms to get [00:05:00] paid.
So they, they sometimes they just refer to themselves as billing and collection organizations, the smaller they get. And so the large firms certainly do have problems collecting sometimes, but for the most part, they're working for large corporations that really couldn't care too much about paying belts.
They paid them. They may negotiate them to some extent, but they pay their bills. The other thing is your salaries are obviously going to be higher. The benefits are better at larger firms and and those salaries can be a profoundly different. It does make a difference and it makes a difference.
If you rise, you'll also get better benefits many times. There's to some extent there's more stability. That stability comes from the fact that large law firms, especially in the hardest ones to get jobs with do not like laying people off. They do. But I can still remember certain law firms out there that, I'd never thought would laid people off big New York firms who were very prestigious.
It started laying people off in 2000 and their brands. Honestly, some of them never been the same. So you get a lot of stability at a large law firm, comparatively to smaller ones. They're more public in [00:06:00] nature. So if they screw up and let a lot of people go, that's a problem. They care about what the associates, there's just a lot of more stability for the most part.
The training's better one of the things in the largest law firms and the most prestigious law firms is you typically will, there'll be lots of levels that the work will go through. An associate will work on very simple work at a low level, but become very proficient. And as they get better and better, they'll get more and more responsibility.
And so everybody that's touching things is typically has other people looking at what they're doing. The training's better there, there tends to be formal training, but the on the job training is often better and it's often more it's often much more and it's nature.
So the focus, the training and the work he may be, you may learn something very deep about a practice area where you wouldn't do that in a more in a less prestigious firm. You obviously have more lateral career opportunities. So if somebody is coming out of a very prestigious law firm and they want to lateral into another law firm or an in-house job typically the better firm they're coming from, it will make it much more, it'll make it much easier for them to get a [00:07:00] much better job w when they lateral.
There's certain law firms in big cities that only want to look at people from certain firms because they trust the training that comes out of those firms when they trust the product. And then you can get better clients when you come out of a large law firm. When you're, or when you're in a large law firm, certain law firm, certain clients will only work with the largest law firms and the most proceeded as law firms.
They want the name, so that's important. And then you're typically going to be working with better credentialed attorneys those better credentialed attorneys while you shouldn't care too much about other people's credentials, those are also going to be people that are similarly motivated to you.
So they're going to be very motivated. They're going to be people that want to get ahead. And are often very smart and top of the class and so forth. So their work habits and ways of thinking about cases and things will rub off on you and you will become in turn a better attorney.
And then if it's important to you, you're certainly going to probably have nicer offices, not always, but that, you spend a lot of time there. So that can be a nice thing. And then the support is often better. Not always, but you'll have a more [00:08:00] different types of support people.
And the support people tend to be better paid, so they're happy but not always and all sorts of different departments and people that can help you w whether it's with deadlines or whatever you need and that sort of support is also something that people like as well. The idea of the reasons you do want to work in a large law firm, or just that you're probably going to have a different career director and trajectory then if you do it in a small one and if you start in a smaller law firm and and so because of the pluses of what a large law firm offers, people try very hard to get jobs with them.
And and so you really need to know the mistakes that you would, you're going to be making in terms of, from where you go to law school and you do there to other things that will prevent you from getting a job in one of these law firms, if you want. And one of the final things that I will say is I've encountered lots and lots of people.
So it could be people that are, like 70 or 80 years old that are still trying to get into large law firms. And if you call them about any job, they don't respond, but if you called them about [00:09:00] certain major firms, they will. And so people are very interested in working in a large law firms, many times throughout their careers.
Now a lot of people say it's not for them right away. And there's nothing in certainly you may be one of those people, but there are people that that make it a major priority and really want to work in a large law firm, when they right away and they do it they want to be in a large law firm, their entire career.
So it's very important to them. So the first thing that can prevent you from getting a job in a large law firm is probably the most obvious, but the first one is just going to a poorly ranked law school and not doing very well there. It's, for many people, it's an insurmountable roadblock.
If they're seeking a position in a large law firm if he didn't go to a good law school. And when I say a good law school, it doesn't have to even be a top 25 or top 50, and sometimes even a top 100, it's just but you ha you have to you have to have something that that maybe.
Stick out if you didn't go to the best law school. It could be you could have a very where skill it could be, having a PhD and some sort of engineering thing that, it's very hard to find. It could be. If you went to one of the lowest ranked [00:10:00] law schools, meaning, the lowest of the lowest having law firms may often want you to be first nurse, in your class or something along those lines, or at least, very done very well.
And I would say mid-level schools meaning I don't know what those numbers would be, but or a very good regional school, you can always, have the shot at getting a job with a large law firm. I'm a city of where the school is located by being in the top five to 10% of your class.
And but it's still rare now, some examples that I want to just make sure that everyone here understands, cause I look at resumes all day and I don't want you to get discouraged. So if you go to, if you're like in Los Angeles has all these law schools, it has like Southwestern has Loyola.
It has a USC, it has UCLA who knows. And then it has other things like Abraham Lincoln school law in Glendale, which is a unaccredited law school. So there's just lots of law schools the Los Angeles area, and then there's things in San Diego, like university of San Diego, there's law schools in orange county.
There used to be Whittier. There's all these law schools. And the [00:11:00] majority of them are not the caliber of UA you UCLA or USC. If you go to a school like Lola, which is a very good school, if you're at like it, cause it's in Los Angeles, if you're in like the top five to 10% of your class, you can probably get a job with a good firm.
It's not maybe the top 5% or 10% if you go to Southwestern, which isn't as highly ranked as Loyola, I don't even know what the ranking is. You might be, you might have to be one of the top, 10, or there's also Pepperdine. There's another law school in Los Angeles.
You might have to be one of the top I dunno 10 students or something in your class. I don't know how big their class has, but it's not huge. And they have night programs and things. So what the law firms, but your odds of getting a job outside of Los Angeles are going to be much tougher.
You, those are local law schools and if you want to take a degree from Southwestern and get a job in New York city, that's probably going to be pretty fricking tough with a large law firm. I don't think it's impossible, but even ranked number one, it's going to be hard.
Whereas if you're ranked number one, you could probably get a job with a very good. In LA Andrew like an [00:12:00] excellent one, like top 10 from but th it's just different. It depends if the local versus same thing with New York law school. So I'm just trying to get you guys to, you can understand a little bit about how it works, and this is just coming right out of law school.
I'm going to talk more about when you're out longer, but that's coming right out of law school. But if you're in one of these positions, you're unlikely to get a position with a large law firm and and especially as, as a summer associate and and it can become very difficult to ever get a job with a large law firm again if you're coming out with those kinds of qualifications and but the thing is even if you do manage to get a job with a large law firm and you don't go to the best law school, you can still have a hard time moving to a similar procedures, similar prestigious firm, but it's not impossible.
And the, but the point is, I think that if you don't go to a great law school it can create problems and it can make it very difficult to get a position at largest and most prestigious firms. And there's a lot of ways around that and people and I'm not gonna, talk too much [00:13:00] about it today.
Being in a practice area that's highly in demand which means to you somehow are able to, get into a certain really good practice area. And then the practice area becomes very popular. You can many times move from a smaller law firm to a major one, if even if you didn't go to a good law school and there's all sorts of ways to do it, but for the most prestigious firms that it is very difficult and that she did very well there.
And I'm going to talk more about law schools and a little bit, and the next one is going to a law school. That's not in the top 10 and and doing average to poorly there. It's very difficult. And this is, in, in the average economy, but it's very difficult for most law students to get a job and major law firms, if they didn't right out of school, if they didn't can get a job with they didn't go to a great loss, a good loss, top 10 law school and do very well there.
And one of the reasons is that the largest law firms really don't have a lot of ways to distinguish attorneys when they come out and except by the quality of their law schools and grades. So you have to remember that one of the things is when you come out of law school, what's happening is you're when you're in law school, you're competing [00:14:00] with lots of other law students for the same job.
And so those law schools are our basic or those law firms are basically analyzing you compared to other people that are in a similar situation. And that's one of the things that. It makes it difficult. So if you look really good on paper compared to other people then then that's good, but if you don't then that's not, then that's obviously gonna going to hurt you.
And and if you do then the law firm is going to assume that they can hire better people and they will. And that's just, and they have a limited number of spaces. And most law students that don't get jobs with large law firms while they're in school typically never work in large law firms.
And there's a lot of exceptions to that, but that's pretty much the rule. So if you don't, if you're unable, when you're a law student, it can be very difficult to get a job in a large law firm. Again, now that's not always the case. And I hope people will ask questions about that after this, because there's millions of exceptions or not millions, but lots of exceptions.
One of the other things that can make it very difficult to get a job in a large law firm is if you don't get a summer associate job in a large law firm, this [00:15:00] traditionally has been something that's very difficult. But it can many times be the kiss of death. Especially if you go to a really good law school, but it, it doesn't always matter my opinion, but it makes it much more difficult that the law firms will assume if you didn't get a job at a major law firm, when you're in school as a summer associate that you're either not interested in these type of jobs or there's just.
Ron, that kind of disqualified you from this, so you weren't hungry enough for something along those lines. And and it becomes very difficult to get a job in a large law firm, if you didn't if you weren't a summer associate in a large law firm. And I almost hate saying this because I really I've seen a lot of exceptions to this depending on the person.
But it, it's very harsh, but, I'm talking about like the top law firms. It's not always that way. And there's lots of exceptions but if you don't get a job with a large law firm, it can send the wrong message because virtually every attorney in a large law firm was a summer associate in the largest law firms at another large law firm.
And so they expected of you, and if you don't have it it makes them a little nervous. And again if you don't make this [00:16:00] basic requirement, it's going to be very difficult. For you to get a job with we're positioned with a large law firm. And one of the things I just want to add, and I want to, again, digress from this because I don't like this conclusion it's mine, but I don't like it.
People get positions that are in from small loft. Don't get jobs in large law firms all the time when they're law students and then they get them later on. And there's so many factors that determine your six tests. One of them is a drive. One of them is your ability to keep applying places that have openings.
One of them is your practice area. One of them is distinguishing yourself in some sort of way another one's bringing in business. So there's all sorts of ways to get around this others to get to impress people and inside of large law firms somehow to network. So there's lots of ways to do this.
I'm just telling, talking here in terms of major generalities and you certainly do not have to fall into one of these generalities. You can be an exception to the rule, but that's know it's just something that, it is a generality. And again, I'm, you can tell I'm a little uncomfortable [00:17:00] saying this cause I don't like it.
But it's, these are the two generalities. The other one is not getting offers to summer associates. This can limit your chances of getting a job an offer from a large law firm when you graduate. It's really not as fatal. It's not working as a summer, but large law firms will always ask you if you received an offer, they typically want to ask your firm lots of people lie.
But if they ask you, you obviously want to tell the truth and and in law firms will always ask and sometimes they'll check if you received an offer and and it can be fatal if you don't receive one. They, the summer associate position when you're working in a law firm and I don't want to talk, need to talk too much about it, but one of the main things they're doing there is they're assessing whether a law student is suitable for working in a law firm.
And I, I can remember when I was a summer associate what really, what they're doing is they're observing you for your work ethic, your social skills, your behavior around others. And and they're just trying to determine whether it would be a good fit. So I'll just talk real briefly about work ethic.
When I was a summer associate I figured out very quickly that the most important thing that they expected of me was to [00:18:00] work a lot of hours. My first review, I hadn't worked a lot of hours when I got this horrible review and I didn't know what the hell I was doing wrong, even though my work was God.
And then an extra view. I, I talked to another girl who was going to my law school and and I, and she had gotten an incredible review and and all she had done was another associate there and told her to build the most hours. And I did the same thing and got a great review there.
They're interested in that social skills or things. Not making bad jokes, not getting drunk, not not just behave, behaving properly, not ordering the most expensive thing on the menu when you go out. Just things along, not, and when I was in New York, there was a guy that took a car service every night.
They'd hit him like that. They got rid of him. So it's just, you just, those are the things and then just behavior around others. And they just wanted to determine if you're a fit and then your work quality too. So if you don't do those things that, that can that can be very harmful.
Not working hard do doing social things that are wrong and behaving properly is really what it's about. They're [00:19:00] evaluating people for that. So if you don't get a job it's a warning sign that you're probably going to be, or you may be in trouble at your neck, your next employer.
And so law firms believe that you'll probably be a liability and it's not, again, it's not always the case. I see plenty of people that don't get offers as the summer associates. And then they just go out and they kill it by even in their senior year, am I just getting another job in interfering in a lot of place and then places, and there's all sorts of things you can do is triaged for your career which should probably be a really, it would be a good presentation, but there's nothing really to worry about if you don't get an offer.
I think it's overcomeable. It's just going to be much more difficult for you to get a job in a large law firm. A big one is coming out of school at the wrong time, which right now we're in an economy, that's very good. But at the same time timing can be everything for our attorneys.
If you're speaking, you get a job in a large law firm there's recessions that come along. And thankfully we haven't had one in a while, but they come along and when they come along entire classes are told they can't start. It's, it can be very bad, even people that went to many the top five law school.
For most people if you do very well [00:20:00] at a great law school and you have a good personality and so forth you'll probably always get an offer at affirm and be okay, but just not always. And if you come out at the wrong time I've seen people that have had offers revoked they get hired and they're laid off only months into their first year.
Or they may get a job may not get a job at all. I had a funny, I had a roommate in my first firm, not a roommate, but a, an office, not even an office mate. He was my next door neighbor. And he he had an offer from a big firm when he was coming out of law school and a couple of weeks before he was going to start, he opened the mail and there was a check.
And this is in the nineties when he, and there was a check for, I don't know, $35,000 until you can keep this, if you don't, if you agree not to start with us. And he thought that was the greatest thing in the world. That was a lot of money that was probably, that's probably equivalent to, I don't know, a hundred thousand dollars today.
So he was very excited and so he took the check and and then the law firm he didn't get to start. And then the only job he could get was an insurance defense firms. So it took him about seven years before he was actually able [00:21:00] to get a job with a large law firm and and he got it because he was up against them in a trial.
So that's how he became my office mate, but it can be difficult. So if you don't start your career in a large law firm, that can be difficult, if not impossible, to get a position to one. And in most instances the first firm you joined out of law school will often be the largest one you're ever going to work with.
And if it's not a great firm, it's just going to raise questions about what you were doing about. And it may serve as may suggest that there's some red flags and and many law firms may avoid your in the future. Again, I don't like these conclusions. Th they are what they are and but coming out of school at the wrong time can be very harmful depending on the length of the recession.
There's been longer recessions and shorter resections, but depending on the recession the next one is if you're if you don't have your first job out of law school, if it's not with a major firm or doing a federal clerkship, or you hadn't been a summer associate in a law, a large law firm, that can also be difficult.
One of these things you should be able to, if you first get a job, if you're able to do these things, but if your first [00:22:00] job out of law school was not as a clerk for a federal district court appellate court, or as an associate in a major law firm, it's often very difficult to get a job in a major law firm.
So some examples would be a lot of times people will graduate and they'll decide they want to take a job with a nonprofit, or they want to take a job in house. So they want to do something along those lines. So those are bad moves. You're really expected to work. If you're not doing a federal clerkship you're really expected to start with a law firm.
Th LA large law firms train people in a certain way. And and they know the product. And if you're not starting one of those same thing with federal judges but if you're not starting with one of those things then the future employers are going to be very nervous.
And they're going to assume you have bad habits that you might've picked up working with another employer. And they're just not going to like it. And they're going to assume your name retraining. And that's not always the case. I'd take people and I positioned them all the time that it started with solo practitioners and all sorts of things to help them.
But at the same time you really need you do need to have you need to, people need to be, you need to have [00:23:00] training in a large law firm in most cases to get hired by another large law firm. The other big one is being a general practitioner as opposed to a specialist. When I review resumes now at BCG, I can work with most people that apply.
The only people I can't really work with are people that are kind of Jack of all trades, meaning they're they have a lot of experience. So that would mean you're doing corporate and litigation or IP and real estate. You really have to be a large law firms, charge clients a lot of money because they have specialists.
And you have to really be doing one thing. And if you're not, then your resume needs to read in a way that, that you are. Most employers are seeking law firms, unless they're in a small town and that sort of thing. They're seeking people that are specialists and that's really that, that for me I'm not concerned about someone's seniority level or their their law school.
I'm more concerned about if the, if they're if they have experience in one practice area or, fairly, fairly significant focused experience. And large law firms are not interested in, and people that [00:24:00] have experienced doing a lot of different things.
And a lot of times especially young attorneys, they think, and even older attorneys, they think that they're really doing a great thing by listing all of this experience that they have and all these different things they've done as if that having worked on different sorts of things makes you more marketable.
And actually it's the opposite. So if you're trying to get a job as a as a a real estate attorney, and you've also done corporate and litigation and all these different sorts of things, and those are on your resume, and you're trying to work in a large law firm, that's freaked them out and they're probably gonna say no.
Whereas if you just were listing your real estate experience for a real estate job, even if you didn't go to a great law school and you're working at like a 10 person firm, you still have a shop. So the point is that you really have to have a look like a specialist for most large law firms. And and then the larger the law firm the more they break things up.
So they'll have, sub specialties and capital markets and, all these different practice areas. And and they become very specialized. When I remember when I was in when I was a summer associate in a big New York firm, I couldn't believe like how, what, how [00:25:00] much you get specialized.
He was a corporate attorney and they had people that were specialists in in paragraphs of contracts. I remember there was a person in my friend that was a specialist in different types of corporate contracts. And that's all they did was, worked on these basically four or five paragraphs of the, of of a contract that was common in the power industry or something I don't remember, but there's different types of people that, there's different specialists.
So the more the larger the firm, the more specialized many people are often. And if you become a generalist then the law firms it's not as attractive to large law firms. It may be attractive to smaller law firms, but large law firms are not interested in generalist. And you just don't fit them off.
And so your resume really needs to be specialized. And so an example would be like, large law firms will have openings for, they may have an opening for a labor law attorney, labor laws, a subset of labor and employment, or they may have an opening for a a employment attorney but they want the employment attorney to be working on class actions.
And so not just employment. So that's the being a a specialist is [00:26:00] important and it's okay to be a general employment attorney. You can still get a job in a large law firm, but for the most part, they like specialists. They don't like, they don't want a corporate attorney that does every type of corporate they want typically an M and a corporate attorney.
They wanna someone that does mergers in the healthcare industry. I It's just, that's how specialized, they want it. So don't think that having more experiences better, it's better to be more focused. And this is another point too, is I see when you, when I'm talking about people moving from small law firms to large law firms, that didn't go to great law schools to moving to the, to moving to large law firms and almost all cases that those people are very specialized and now they have a special, they have a specialty that makes them very attractive.
And and you need to cast your, your background is, it looked like a specialist because the more you look like a specialist, it's also a good way to attract clients. I know. Some very successful young attorneys that have managed to build up large books of business by I becoming specialists.
I, I [00:27:00] was talking to one woman not too long ago that hadn't, I don't know. She had a a huge book of business I don't know, four or $5 million doing data privacy stuff. And she was an associate. And she had and I'm not saying that you should do data privacy. Cause this was a few years ago when it was a very popular practice area, more so than it is now.
But if you become a specialist and you write about things and you and you take all your work in that specialty and you then you just get better and better at it. This is all I do is, law firm related placements and work on in the placement legal placement industry.
And I, I learned stuff every single day. I'll probably learn a lot of stuff when people start asking questions later. But the point is that you become more effective as an attorney. You have more value to large law firms. You have more value to clients. When you're a specialist, a lot about something and law firms can charge more money for you.
And that's what large law firms are or groups of specialists. And the final thing is just, I don't, I hate to keep talking about this, but, if you had like brain cancer or some sort of serious health problem, you would find a doctor that has [00:28:00] experienced represent working with.
Brain's you and and doing whatever, and you would probably even want to find someone that worked on your specific type of brain tumor and and that's what you would do. And that's and you wouldn't want to go to a general surgeon that could just as, could probably do the operation.
And but probably not as well or just a general doctor, you wouldn't want to go see a doctor. He would find the most specialized person you could. That's what large law firms, that's what large companies do. And small companies do too. When they have a problem, they go see, the best person they possibly can.
And they want that person to look like a specialist. And if they believe you're a specialist, then they're not going to ask a lot more questions. They're just going to hire you. And that's what I do when I look for attorneys to work for me, that's what other people do as well. They they, they want to hire the most specialized people.
And so you just have to remember the more specialized you look the better off your careers can be having a lot of experience in a lot of different things is good. If you work in a small to mid-size town or something. And it's good in certain circumstances, but generally it's [00:29:00] not a good thing.
It's a liability and it will hurt you from getting clients so forth. So large law firms like that. And then the next one is another big one. That's gonna make it difficult for you to get jobs with most large law firms again, not always, and not all climates. If you have like more than 10 years of experience and not a lot of portable business.
And so what that means essentially is if you have more than 10 years of experience in our business, your odds of getting a position at a large law firm are severely diminished. When I'm working with someone that's, five, six or seven years out of law school LA law firms start asking, do they have any portable business?
And it's not to say that you have to you could be 20 years out. And if you are very specialized attorney in some aspect of corporate or something or IP, there are firms who will hire you even with that experience, but w without but for the most part you do need to have a business and if you don't have business you're generally gonna need to be in a very specialized practice area.
So that would be something like, tax like probably even a subspecialty of tax risks patent prosecution different forms of corporate real estate and so [00:30:00] forth in a market where there's just there's not a good supply of attorneys and there's a lot of demand.
And and so it becomes very difficult. And, just if you're a young attorney on this call, I think you understand this, but I'll just say it, that the trajectory that attorneys are supposed to follow in your careers is essentially you're supposed to, start out in a and in apprenticeship, meaning that the first couple of years, or three to four or five years, you're working for other people, you're learning how to be good at what you do.
That's invaluable. It shouldn't matter how much money you're getting paid. Getting that training is the most important thing as a young attorney. And then you're supposed to take your experience and figure out how to position yourself and go out into the world and get clients. And and no one's gonna help you do that.
In the most cases, you have to do that on your own. And and then you're supposed to develop a lot business and then you're supposed to have younger people help you with the work. And then the law firm realizing you as someone that's going out there and bringing in work. And and then we'll hire associates and secretaries and give you an office and take a percentage of your money.[00:31:00]
And and that's the secure directory. It's not, you get a job and work for someone else. It's like you get a business license, which is a lot degree. And then you take that experience and you, you become specialized and you get the best training you can, and then you go out and you figure out how to partition that experience into bringing in clients.
If you don't do that, then then then at some point the most large law firms not all, but most large law firms will you both will. Definitely all of them will hold you back in terms of your compensation, your title, and your prestige. And you will be dependent on others for work.
You need to learn how to bring in Burke. That's what a large law firms expect. In, in major law firms, it could be, they want millions of dollars in business. And I, these are things that you'll learn, but you need to become the kind of person that attracts business and, certain practice areas like litigation can be almost impossible to lateral many times.
Most attorneys are litigators. If you go into litigation, you need to learn very [00:32:00] quickly how to bring in business. If you're able to sell a judge and jury, then you should also be able to get radically sell people on using you to represent them. So you need to be you need to learn how to generate business.
And and most attorneys are, if you're doing anything other than transactional work, which is environmental labor and employment insurance litigation, you're going to have a lot of limited options unless you have portable business. I would say actually some of these like labor and employment, and ultimately there are times in history, one of them may now where you don't have to have a lot of business, even as a senior attorney to get a job and same thing with insurance coverage in some other areas.
But the point is that most, if you don't have business, it can be come very difficult to everything's stacked against you, especially in large law firms large law firms about hire people that have business. That's basically the, the people that are playing the game.
You need to get in it, you need to, start thinking about it right away. This was, just, I just cutting myself personally. Obviously I realized this very quickly when I was even a summer associate and when I was a third year [00:33:00] law student, I was reading about how to get business.
And by the time I was a first year associate, I was, taking courses in it. And by that time I was a second or third. So the point is that you need to learn how to get business, and it's very important. And and you, but your first couple of years, it is more about learning how to do what you're doing, but you also need to learn how to get business.
And as attorneys become more senior they tend to realize they've hit a wall. And they either will try to stick it out at the current firms are trying to find a smaller firm in house job, or other options will support them. And and lots of most law firms we'll welcome counsel, other senior attorneys without business.
Now, I want to be very clear about this point with business, because I really need you to understand it. What happens in, cause it's a very difficult thing. What happens to a lot of attorneys when they start out their careers and and it's very difficult the first year or two, because of the hours and stuff.
And then at some point they fallen into, third or fourth year, they get into a rhythm and everything's fine and they're happy. And they have, and at that point, a lot of people get married and and they [00:34:00] buy houses and and they start feeling happy in their careers.
And then, these are people that are committed to law firms as a career. And then they start getting into the seventh, eighth, ninth year thing where they, they start thinking about becoming a partner and they're trying to become a partner. So then they start working harder. And if you don't have business at this point it becomes very difficult.
So you may be made like a contract partner. You may be may, you may still be trying to make a partner and all of these things happen. And this is a point where I saw a lot of people that I knew. And I'm just talking now about men, but, divorces and all sorts of awful things because they just, didn't have the business and they had, they felt like they could only work for certain people.
And and it could become very difficult. So you just need to look, realize that it's, that you make a lot of money coming into school, but it's not it's very difficult and law firms will only open up to you with business and your value is about that. So it's something you can get think about very early on.
And and I hope you remember what I'm saying, cause I'm trying to help you because I've seen too many bad things Happen [00:35:00] to people that, that don't manage to get business. And don't learn about this early on, and that's not to say you won't find a place in big law firm that can use you without business, and lots of people do and you may be just fine, but to have the kind of upward mobility that you may want and to have the ability to move firms, you do need business.
This one, having too much diversity, I can't even believe this is listed, but I'm gonna talk about this. This is not something I'm comfortable with, but there's nothing wrong with being diverse especially now diversity is very highly valued by law firms. They need diversity.
And I don't know why it says too much, but I will talk about this. It's very highly valued. As a matter of fact a lot of law firms are having problems, retaining clients and getting clients because they don't have enough diversity. Law firms very much want diversity.
But there's a difference between diversity and not too much and too much diversity. So it just means that they don't want conflict. And and and so conflict means you, most law firms are pretty conservative institutions. So what that means is by [00:36:00] conservative, it doesn't mean that.
Problems with people of different races and sexual orientations and women versus men and so forth. It just means that they don't want a lot of they don't want negative attention drawn to them. Diversity would be, if you were wearing a, I don't know, neon suit to work every day, that probably wouldn't be a good idea or, or by dressing the part I've just, I'm thinking of I have a lot of examples of people that have dressed inappropriately and been fired.
I know one person that you know a male partner in a law firm in upstate New York with a great firm, he went to the firm and he had a a rip in his, he wore ripped jeans and there was a rip in his crotch and someone complained and and he got fired. So he may have thought he was looking cool.
I've seen people that that they don't like how they, their language and so you have to be, you have to fit in and you can't you just have to be careful. And and just remember that, large law firms are they're really they're serving wealthy companies and people for the most part.
And and they want people to, to come and look and act a certain way. So just think about. [00:37:00] If you had somebody working in your house around your kids or I don't, that's probably not a good example, but think about what you would expect to, if somebody was working for you and and how that would work and just think about, what would you be comfortable with if somebody was working directly for you.
And and so what all this means really is that you just have to be very careful you can't make people feel threatened by whatever by, by, by talking to you by all that sort of thing. And you just need to make them be comfortable around other people and they should make you feel comfortable too, but you just need to be careful.
And what do I mean by too much diversity? I don't and again, I'm, I'm, not probably the person that should be speaking about this, cause I'm, I'm obviously white, but I'm an, a male, but the point is that in order to, for people to get hired by law firms, like if I see a resume and the resume talks, nothing about nothing, but, it's littered with all these references to diversity related stuff.
Those people, a lot of times have a very difficult time getting hired. I don't know why that is. But I think it's because they're [00:38:00] leading with all this diversity stuff, I think. And I think, if they say I was, did this and this, and there's 15 references. Then law firms I think are uncomfortable and I don't know why they're uncomfortable.
But I think that I think, it can be an issue. So you just need to and I'm talking about if you mentioned something to do with diversity, like 20 times on your resume, like I had someone working for me that I hired that and he was he was gay and he, but he mentioned how he was gay, like 15 different times and on his resume.
And it was all it was really talking about. And and it didn't bother me when I hired him, but then he wanted to go work for a large law firm and we talked about it and he wasn't getting interviews. And when you change this, when he changed everything off, it took around and took off all these organizations and so forth everything.
He started getting interviews, whereas before he wasn't, he was an Ivy league law school graduate would experience a major law firms. So that's an issue of making too much out of diversity. Now it doesn't bother me. I actually personally think diversity, like a lot of diversity and I think it makes things much interesting.
And I think I liked the different point of view and it makes us a better company, [00:39:00] but at the same time when you make too much out of it, it does to some extent can can hurt you. And when I say it can hurt you, I don't know that it hurts you to, with HR. I think HR departments are very open to different types of people and that they actually want to promote it.
I think it can hurt you maybe with. Old guard type people inside of law firms. So just be careful as how my point, and you can read a lot about it. I've written books about it, or written a book about it, but you just need to be a little bit careful about that stuff sometimes. The next one is going in house going in house means you may have a highly high in a very difficult time getting a job in a large law firm again one of the things about the why going in house is so fatal is I do a lot of work in Silicon valley where there's always been during good economies, a huge demand for corporate attorneys, but once they see someone's gone in house, they're almost always written off.
They would rather, relocate someone from New York city and pay all their art, pay all their moving expenses and pay for them to study for the bar and let them fail the bar once and then take it again. And honestly then hire someone from in-house. And [00:40:00] I think that the idea is that once you've gone in house law firms believe that you're not going to be able to, that you're going to have a very difficult time getting a job with them, again you're gonna, you're going to go back in house again because what you're doing when you go in house is you're basically sending the message that I'm not the sort of person that wants to go out and develop business.
I'm not the sort of person that wants to specialize in this sort of way and do all the things that you need. From T in order to work in a large law firm, because in a large law firm, your whole idea is you get an apprenticeship and then you start learning how to build business and be part of this team.
And so it's just a different team you're playing on. If you go in house and attorneys make the mistake all the time, and they think they can go back to a law firm after they go on house, but that's not true. It's like saying, I can dump my I can divorce my spouse and and go off and date other people.
And if I, and marry someone else, and if I don't like that other person go back to my spouse, it just doesn't work that way. It's that difficult. Once you go and how, what you're doing is you're really demonstrating to a large law firms. You're not interested in [00:41:00] playing their game and and then you're likely to leave again.
And so that is very important to remember that you just going into the house is basically playing a different game. And and I've written a lot about going in house, but it's very dangerous. It's, there's a lot less stability. Your cost center, your there's all sorts of problems.
But no law firm has any incentive to introduce you to their clients and bring you back to train you, to bond with you and make you part of their ecosystem because they think you're going to leave again. And they're right. Most people that that do that that go back to law firms after going in house very rarely last more than a year.
I've certainly seen it happen and I've seen very good in-house attorneys go into law firms with the most part. Once you leave out a law firm is pretty, pretty clear that you're not going to come back. And and so they, there's no reason for them to hire you and you need to be a hundred percent committed to this model.
And and so that's why it's such a big deal. It's, think about everything that we've talked about so far, we've talked about the law school, you go to becoming a summer associate doing well in law school not [00:42:00] making all these career mistakes, and then you suddenly go in house and thinking, come back after you've gone this far, it's just not a good idea.
And so law firms, especially the large ones, they don't want to show people, any, they don't want to show you to the clients. They don't want it. They don't want any of this. And it's just not, it's not a smart thing for you to do I hope. I take this warning cause I've seen so many people do it.
The other problem going in houses, I've seen lots of divorces and stuff because of that too. So what happens a lot of times is people may move. So they may be working in a big firm in Chicago and then they get a job at I don't know, say Colorado or New Mexico or something had a big company.
And then the big company goes out of business or they bring in a new CEO and then they, the CEO brings in his own legal department or her own legal department. And so it's just very difficult for you to to, to get back into a law firm. And then those people are stuck in many times, small towns they bought or your smaller markets, they bought houses and everything, and it's just, it can lead to a lot of problems.
So just be careful. And and just remember that [00:43:00] the law firm game, I've spoken a lot about why I liked the law firm game. And I think that the law firm game is something that, you should try to learn how to play, but the other one is quitting your job without having another job lined up or looking like you quit your job without having another job lined up.
People do this all the time. They decide they're going to show them I don't know how you can possibly show a 1500 person law firm, anything by quitting because you're just a.in the, in the seat. They, people will quit jobs without anything lined up. Sometimes it's just because of the stress.
And and in, in your ma you may not like someone there who knows, but but once you do that especially without having another job then future employers are going to know that you're likely to do the same thing. They're also going to believe, because this is such a rare thing.
People do it all the time. Again, I see it, but walking away from a job, that's paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year without something else lined up is a big risk. And so if you do that you've suddenly sent a message to future employers that, you're not going to persevere.
You can't figure out solutions to problems. And and you may not, and [00:44:00] the job may or may not be important to you now. I've heard people quit jobs for all sorts of very good reasons. And and frankly, I might've, I'm not blaming you, but if you do that, it can be very difficult that it's, people, there's so many people with resumes that would otherwise be exceptional.
I can, I always see, I see it all the time, but I've see resumes like from people that went to NYU, and then they went to a big law firm for in New York, or they went to Stanford and went to a big law firm in LA or something, and then they decide they're going to quit.
And And then, and then they just don't get hired again. They can't, no one's hiring the big law firms that they start hiring them. Th the reason that it's so difficult to get a job is that these large law firms have lots of people that they can hire. In addition to you.
So there's no reason for them to hire you if you quit without another job lined up, because because it's too risky for them. Th there's always a lot of people that are employed that are looking for the same jobs. So if you're looking for a job in a large law firm, let's just say you're competing with a hundred other applicants or 500 other applicants.
[00:45:00] They're going to, want to hire the person that's employed and working, not the person. That's not, because once you're not employed, you can say I was I've left on my own. You can, but, but that's not always the case. You may have been fired, who knows. And they don't know.
And the law firms not going to say you were fired in most cases, no, one's gonna risk getting sued. And you, your odds of getting hired with a large law firm, if you've put a job currently are unemployed, really. Aren't very good. And so you need to be very careful about that. And if you believe you're going to get fired or you need to quit, and you should always try to find something in advance.
And I just, in New York city, for example and some of these other major markets, if you've, there's so much, many people competing for the same job. If you don't have a job when you're applying. I've had candidates that are perfect on paper. Columbia law school, like major law firm, practice here, and they walk into an interview and they and they tell someone that they're, they're there for a full day of interviews. Cause the law firm has decided they need someone like them and they're bringing them in. And whoever the HR has decided they're going to [00:46:00] bring the person in.
And the first partner, they talk to that realizes they're unemployed just said, this isn't gonna work. I'm sorry. And and escorts them out. It's that bad? So you just have to be very careful about quitting jobs and and realize that the stakes are really high. If you do that now those people can always get hired.
I've had people quit jobs and I got one woman in San Francisco that had quit a job because her, I think her boyfriend had died and and she was young and and I got her lots of jobs, but they weren't in San Francisco. They were in other parts of the country and they weren't with the same types of firms.
So it's just the point is you have to be realized that's a scary thing. The other one is getting fired or laid off from a job. This is what I don't like either. But law firms again, don't like attorneys that are unemployed or quit jobs. It just shows you not playing the game.
It may show that. It shows a lot of things, but or connotes a lot of things. But large law firms, very rarely hire people that are unemployed and quit jobs. It happens of course. But it's rare. It can be a very difficult and in the [00:47:00] largest legal markets to get hired if you've quit a job the reason is just because they don't know, they don't know why you've quit a job, or you were laid off when law firms lay people off.
Typically they'll lay off the people that aren't committing, aren't getting along the best or aren't doing the best or aren't providing the most value. And and so they typically have their pick of lots of people that want to work for them. And if you're unemployed, it's just sending the message that there's there's a reason you're unemployed probably related to your performance, your attitude, your reliability.
A lot of times people have a sense of entitlement. They may not need a paycheck. If it's or there may be other issues that are problematical. So those are things to think about. And and law firms often believe they can certainly do much better by hiring other people.
And that's what they do. You have to be careful. I've seen lots of people that are laid off and fired and and I don't like this either. It's just, it's it's almost like. You're ganged up on and and it's unfortunate and sometimes people get fired for the wrong reasons and laid off for the wrong reasons.
But you just need to be very careful if you feel like you're going to get fired or you feel like you're going to get [00:48:00] laid off. You'll typically see other people that are losing their jobs in your firm. And and if they're, and you just want to be ready and that's when you need to start doing a job search and that sort of thing.
The other thing is working as a contractor staff attorney can be very problematic if you're trying to get a job in a major law firm as an, as a, not as a contractor attorney here or a staff attorney it just sends the message that you don't believe that you're invaluable is valuable.
As attorneys working inside a major law firms, you may not want to work as hard that that you don't want to be accountable, that you want more better hours and the new, more flexibility and that sort of thing, and a large law firm that's doing work for major corporations and things needs people that are a hundred percent committed.
And so doing that sort of work and doing lower level work and not the highest level work can hurt you. And the same thing with sometimes, staff attorneys can transition into full-time roles with large law firms, but they they don't do that quite very often.
I can't and the history of my job over, two plus decades, I don't know that I've ever seen contract attorneys [00:49:00] someone that has been doing that for a long time hired by a major law firm unless the person was already at the law firm or had rare skills.
In some cases, people are contract attorneys for various reasons, and they may be a very highly paid contract attorney. But it's very rare for contract attorneys to get hired by major law firms. The next one is suing a former employer. I think that many people do Sue former employers and they have very good reasons for noon.
There's, certainly not, it's not something that I'm, saying, this is not justified in many cases, but law firms are risk averse and only want to hire people that haven't, excuse me, previously caused problems with past employers. If you've sued someone in the past just think about from the law firms point of view there's a lot of people that they can hire that won't be associated with these past issues and hire them instead.
And obviously, smart people will realize that law lawsuits often happen because there's someone has done something wrong, but many times there's two sides to this. And you just need to be careful. You just want to avoid any appearance that you might be a problem or a troublemaker.
And and [00:50:00] once I've seen, once law firms see a problem they they are they find out that you've done any type of lawsuit against a former employer. They typically aren't going to be interested in hiring you. So if you do have grievances against your former employer, you're being there.
You may want to hire an attorney, but once you file a lawsuit that typically becomes public record and can be harmful. The next one is going from a large law firm to a small law firm. This is one that I don't think is that big of a deal, but a lot of attorneys think that they can move from a large law firm to a smaller, much smaller one and go to a law and go back to a large law firm.
It rarely works out. If you move from a large law firm to a smaller one that many times, and I do think that this is a good career decision for a lot of people. I think it's one of the best career decisions. You can make many times if you're unhappy in a large law firm, but at the same time, if you want to go back to a large law firm it doesn't send us out of a message is going in house for example, but it does send a message that you may try something like that again.
And and smaller law firms typically will have Tolerance levels in terms of what's what required of Canada [00:51:00] over the what's required to their attorneys. And and they don't always know the quality of the work that the smaller law firm does now. There's a lot of very good boutiques out there.
So there's places where they understand that. But most law maternity's when they move from large law firms, the smaller one to do that because they want and less pressure, they feel they can advance better there or would they couldn't get a job in a large law firm when they were interested in moving.
Or they want less pressure. So that law firms who believe that the same things apply, if you want to move from a large law firm to a small one, and you've done that. And so they will prefer to hire people coming from other large law firms then smaller law firms. And there's just a lot of people in the market that are coming from large law firms, that they can hire instead of you.
So there's something to think about you can't, and you can certainly, the other thing is, are certain practice areas where that can be fine. It could be fine and patent, it can be fine and know different, some types of litigation. It can be fine. And certain practice areas, but overall it's a big risk.
The next one is job hopping. So this is moving [00:52:00] firms a lot like, three or more times in less than five years, or just having a lot of moves on your own. The reason that moving a lot is not is not a good thing is if you're doing it several times in a short period then other law firms are going to believe that you're going to move again with them as well.
So people will typically move when they, when they're either not doing a good job when they they, they they like moving. Some people think it's fun. I don't know they may need, I think they need a lot of coddling but more often than not what happens is you'll have people that move a lot.
They tend to often have issues with things like reliability that work products and consistent. They th they are caught lying