How Reviews Work
[00:00:00] I'm a recent lateral to Kirkland Ellis and was recently notified that the mid-year review coming up. It looks like a form email and says that I'll be getting the review because I'm a recent lateral, but I wasn't aware that this process existed. Is this normal? Should I worry about getting frozen out? I'm still getting work and think that the partners have been generally been happy with me.
Yeah, reviews are scary. And I think they're very scary because it depends on your class level. The purpose of a review is to get you to improve if there are issues, make you feel secure, or get you to improve or get you to feel secure If everything's okay.
There are a couple of things I just wanted to say about reviews. So people are getting reviews right now. Kirkland and most large law firms, especially if you're a recent lateral they need people at the moment cause it's more employers, it's better for job seekers and those employers.
If you're at that good of a firm I would think that they're going to be more interested in giving you a good review than a bad one. But, that's not always the case. If you think you're doing a good job, you're probably not doing things that are completely aligned with their culture or [00:01:00] their work style.
when you may be doing everything right. That's a very good firm they're very well managed. And so I would say that they will probably give you a good review and everything should be fine. I don't know what level you're at, but assume that everything would be okay. But there's a couple of points that I just wanted to make everyone aware of with reviews, especially if you're a young attorney or you're, an older attorney.
So you have junior attorneys and you have mid-level, then, you have senior and then you have counsel, and then you have a partner.
I'll just go through how those reviews work. Most well-run firms will do reviews. The work product and, frankly partners don't like doing reviews. Most people don't like getting reviews. It's just not fun.
Junior attorneys are typically given a lot of feedback. Typically a lot of feedback has come up. And what happens reviews are typically based on the economy. During a good economy, they're less harsh. During a bad economy, very harsh, if they want you to leave..
They will often want everybody to leave during a bad economy. Depending on the firm they don't want people to [00:02:00] leave. If they need the work, they don't want to have to hire them. And they know that if they give you a bad review, you're going to leave.
But the other problem is when you're in a one to four, one to three years out, or one to two years out you have no idea what you're doing and you're likely to make mistakes what you were doing. Regardless, likely to make lots of mistakes and because of.
They also have to write off a lot of your time and they're training you. If they give you a bad review, they know you may leave, but at the same time, they need to make you a good attorney. And some law firms are based on the idea that free spirits and everyone is expected to rise to the level.
And others are very regimented and believe that people need to be forced to work a certain way, but when you're a junior attorney and you're not profitable and you don't know what you're doing, you can expect a lot of feedback and you can expect lots of nitpicking and stuff, depending on the firm you're with.
It can feel horrible if you're a young attorney. My first firm, I never got reviewed and then I went to work at a firm called at the time, Dewey Ballantine, and it was very funny. , the review started.
And these guys were [00:03:00] from our New York office and I was working in Los Angeles and they brought up people from New York to do the reviews. And they walked into my office and they started giving me this just horrible review. It was like, no one likes you and you're doing horrible work and, it would make sense for you to start looking for something.
I was like, what the hell is going on? And they looked at each other and then they looked and they said you're in your eighth year.
And I said, no, I'm, you've got the wrong guy. I or - . And they said, oh, we're sorry, we have the wrong person. or second year. And they said, oh, we're sorry, we have the wrong person. And because I didn't know they just walked into my office and they thought I was someone else. Which was very funny. I know I knew who they were talking about after a little bit, cause there was only another eighth year there, but the point is that I never got reviewed, but I talked a lot about reviews in this and they're scary.
I was very scared when that happened. I almost fainted. But typically when you're junior, you're going to get a lot of feedback and you're going to get bad reviews. You're not going to be happy with them. We do reviews and not always now in a good economy like it is right now.
You're probably not going to get very bad reviews. [00:04:00] And if you do, I would be concerned. But you're going to get a lot of feedback and it's very difficult because you're almost like a race, horse being broken in and so forth. Mid-levels are typically good. If the firm has. Because you're profitable now.
If the firm that you're profitable and when you're profitable, the law firm is more than happy to give you and they will say very nice things to you say, you're on the right track, meaning you're going to be a partner and all that sort of stuff. And they'll get, they'll say positive things and will be very nice to you.
Then when you get senior, which could be, depending on the firm could be, seven to 10 years they'll start saying things like either if they don't have work they'll start reminding you of stuff they'll nitpick and do the same thing they did when you're a junior associate. And we'll do that. And not be as nice to you and say whore and, and say things to surprise you. But if they do have work they may, it may say things like w we're going to see what happens, it will start being less, we'll see what happens and, things along those lines
That would be less definite with you and [00:05:00] if they don't have work and then as you get, if you're a counselor partner, most counseling partners know what they need to do. So, counsel and partners, you have income versus nine. So you know, typically the discussions around your business, your originations and that sort of thing, or they won't even be reviewed at all.
You'll just have a meeting where you go over your, what you're going to make and what your percentages are, and so forth for an income partner.
It is important to realize that, if you're in a large law firm, that has a lot of confidence they're going to give bad reviews to junior associates.
it's a matter of course, but you're expected to take everything that they say and learn from it. Most mid-level attorneys. If the market's good is going to get they're making a lot of money from you as a mid-level and then a senior person will often do fine.
If there's a lot of work, it gets harder to get work when you're senior because you're suddenly competitive with partners. So the reviews will get bad again. And that's the pattern that happens at law firms with reviews.