20220817 The Only Six Factors Prestigious Law Firms Care About When Hiring Lateral Attorneys
[00:00:00] All right, so we will get started. So today's webinar is what I consider one of the, probably the most important webinar that you may ever see related to your job search, because it talks about things that are important for your your resume talks about your attitude. And it really covers all the things that end up hurting people and preventing them from getting positions with different size firms.
And I would also say that this doesn't just apply to prestigious firms and really applies to every single firm you apply to and may be interested in working with very few exceptions.
Over the past few decades of doing this and having placed thousands, if not tens of thousands of attorneys, what I've realized in our companies is that there's a lot of people that can go into any type of interview that they apply to.
And when you look at their resume, we'll get practically every position that they get an interview for. And at the same time, there's a lot of people out there that run into trouble and they may go out and have several interviews and never convert that into a job [00:01:00] offer.
They may have a very difficult time getting interviews and there's reasons for that.
The way that law firms typically evaluate people is based on about six issues that I'm gonna cover.
And these are really the most important .
The first one is, can we market you to our clients?
The second one is, can you do the job the way we want it done?
The third one is, do you want the job?
The fourth one is, will you fit in?
The then fifth one is can we manage you?
And the sixth one is, will you stay long term?
There's certainly other questions that you could ask in addition to these but I believe that these are the most important ones. Especially for the most prestigious firms.
So the first one is, can we market to our clients? This is a basic one. But it's also very important. The best firms really have clients that are, wanna pay quite a bit of money for attorneys and they're willing to pay for the best attorneys and firms charge a lot of money for those attorneys.
And typically the very largest firms and the the most prestigious firms will have general counsels and other sorts of people that are [00:02:00] reviewing who's working on their matters. And those people want to be able to review your resume and your background, and be very pleased with it and think that the law firm that they've hired is doing a very good job hiring people and law firms, and that they have the best people working on it.
And law firms essentially are in the business of hiring people, which is what we help with. And and then running out the people that they hire to people to, to outside companies essentially, and the more prestigious the law firm and the higher the billing rates the more important it is that your background and so forth looks good to the firm's.
This is why for top firms things like top law schools that you went to, and it doesn't have to be a top law school, if you did very well at a lower level law school, but law schools are important. Things like having done well in law school being in order, the co is important various clerkships and so forth can be very important.
Being a Validictorian of your college or law schools. Obviously another big deal being on law review or is, can be important. [00:03:00] And other credentials that look very attractive to firms are things that they look for because the the more of those credentials you have the more special the law firm looks in the eyes of its clients, and then the higher, the billing rates they can charge and the more clients you're willing to trust and whether it matters.
The other thing of course, would be you're the, obviously the type of firm that you're coming from. And if it's a peer firm, if you're hired later, whether they can say you worked at that firm before but the better experience the firm's lawyers have, whether it's leadership roles and articles that they've written that have been in prestigious law reviews important trials, they want the better the firm looks to its clients, the larger, the transactions, and so forth.
And the better the law firm looks to its clients. The more money they can charge, and the more competent the market will have 'em firm in his attorneys. And also the better attorneys that the law firm hires will tend to attract other attorneys because what attorneys do when they wanna work somewhere is they'll look at the qualifications of the other attorneys that they may be working with.
And if those attorneys look like they have very good qualifications on their law firm looks much better in their eyes. Most major [00:04:00] law firms work for in-house counsel. In fact, almost all of them do. The in-house council are very aware of the quality of attorneys that are working on their matters.
And when law firms pitch matters to in-house council, typically what they do is they'll include the biographies many times with the people that would be staffed on the matters. Sometimes we'll just put the partner that would be working on it. But other times they'll tell you the experts that they have in the field and they'll list those various people on.
When they present the list of whom to be working on a different matter that they're pitching and law firms are all competing to be hired by clients. And the quality of their staffing is important to them to win new business. So you can imagine the very best law firms going out and showing all these great people that they have, that gives a lot of confidence to the general council or the in-house council that's reviewing it.
That makes them think that the work will be very well done that the in-house council will be hiring the right person and not making a mistake. They go to the the leadership of the company and explain this, and then the leadership hires based on that recommendation. And the [00:05:00] typically, and this isn't always the case, but the larger, more prestigious the law firm, the better the paper qualifications, the attorneys who have that are working on the firm's matters.
And there's lots of very prestigious law firms that have a lot of very talented people working there. That look very good on paper, but they don't always need to hire from the very best law schools. Sometimes the people that they hire from schools may not be the best but will typically be at the top of their class in terms of their qualifications.
And and again sometimes they may hire people that are capable of doing the work, but may not have great academic qualifications, but may have have things that stick out that could be for example, top, former college athletes and so forth. And so just how it works when you wanna work in a lot large law firm especially when you're laterally, but also when you're coming from in law schools it's almost like how to get into a very competitive college it's if you go to Cal tech or MIT as a college, that the person's probably test off the chart in math and science and and [00:06:00] you just there's really no doubt about it.
And someone that goes to Harvard may be off the charts in math or science, but more than likely than not they're off the charts and a lot of things, and also have very good extracurricular or other types of qualifications and make them very unique. You just can't walk into, Wal to schools like this, and it's the same thing.
When you look at people from other types of schools, there's nothing wrong with the university of Nebraska or Cal state Chico, but people obviously will reach conclusions about that. And the same thing with law firms. So the very best law firms, people will always know that there is something very unique and special about their attorneys that they're likely to have very good qualifications to get in the door.
And there's special things about them. And and it just, they will know that, and the law firms are status conscious because they're essentially in the business of running people out. Someone that works there is considered to be a certain level of skill, and they can only do that of their attorneys to appear, to be very good products on paper.
And law firms are running out their attorneys. You have to think about that. So you have [00:07:00] to keep in mind that when they, because they're renting them out, it's no different than renting out a car or something. What, I'm just giving you a funny example, but, there's different types of cars, there's sports cars and luxury cars and so forth.
But if someone wants to charge a lot of money for a car, they have to have what is a very good car to charge a lot of money to rent it out. It's the same thing with attorneys. So the law firm is gonna be concerned about the way the attorneys you know, look, sound and act and meaning how they are at the, and how they think and how they fit into their culture.
And if they're like other people there, and if they have certain types of skills socially and so forth, and and some law firms, frankly, they have certain types of clients and they tend to hire attorneys that will get along with those types of clients. So a very A well respected entertainment firm is going to law.
Firm is going to have a certain type of person working there. A very well respected corporate firm is gonna have a certain type of person working there. A firm that works on cutting edge, public interest. They're all different types of people that work in different types of firms.
And but you just have to realize that [00:08:00] anytime a firm is hiring a prestigious firm is hiring someone that you really need to look sellable to that firm's clients. And and that's really one reason why the law firms care so much about your background, at least the most prestigious funds, because that they're very concerned about how you're going to look to, to their clients.
And and and people are just very snobbish about this. They will look at your law school and many times they won't hire you. But sometimes they'll look at your your background and they'll see things they don't like there, they will indicate how you may act and they will there's all sorts of things.
But you have to be very aware that the way you present yourself when you're going out to affirm and getting into the most prestigious firms, even if the firm likes you and thinks you can do the work they're always asking themselves if they think they can sell your background to clients.
And that's unfortunate. What happens is different firms develop a reputation in the market for only hiring certain types of people from certain with certain educational pedigrees, with certain personalities, with certain types of backgrounds. And and they typically will stick to that [00:09:00] because it's important to their how they sell their services to their clients.
And it's really the, one of the most important functions. And it's something that a lot of people don't understand. And I bring it up because you have to realize that that if your background does not look sellable to one of the firm's clients, even though you may be able to do the work and so forth, that's not necessarily something that they're going to be interested in.
And I talk a lot about this in other different types of things and articles and so forth that I've written, but you have to keep in mind that what's on your resume really has to make it look like you'll have no problem working for whatever type of client and and that you'll be able to be marketed to that client.
This is actually a very important one as well. I've written a lot of articles about this particular question but this is, can you do the job the way we want it done and doing the job means if you have certain types of skills in a D in a certain type of practice areas, you have to be able to do the job the way that the law firm wants it done.
If you're inviting in for an interview in almost all cases[00:10:00] the law firm believes you can do the job. They're not sure, but they're pretty sure they've read your resume. They've read where you work. They've looked at your academics and they believe if they bring you in that you can do the work.
And they're reaching that conclusion based on a high number of factors that. I'm not gonna get too far into, but if you are a corporate mergers and acquisition attorney, and you're working at a mid-size law firm and you apply to a large law firm to law firm even though you're working, moving to a large law firm from mid-size law firm, if you have experience doing similar types of work, they're probably gonna believe that you can do the job.
They're gonna ask you some questions about that. They may reject you saying that, we spoke to you and didn't think you can do the job, but usually or don't have the right experience. Usually it's another reason. Law firms will bring in people all the time that don't have the exact type of experience that they need and believe that they can be trained.
And if they believe you can do the job your resume almost always will say what you've done before. And in most instances, especially with prestigious law [00:11:00] firms whatever law firm you're coming from, you'll be a, you will have been a, will be a competitor sorts to the law firm.
We're working with. It may be in another region. That's not necessarily directly competitive, but it's competitor and that law firm they'll and they'll look at your experience and they'll pretty much have a good understanding that you can do the sort of work that they do. One thing I did wanna just bring up very briefly if you are one of my candidates I sent out an article yesterday talking about this, but if you're working if your resume talks about the fact that you're doing three or four different things even though you may be an M and a attorney, you decide you wanna put on there, that you worked on some litigation cases and did a trademark or two that's not going to help you.
You have to look. You wanna do the job and anytime you're applying for a job doing something specific. And if you list other things that you have experienced and that actually works against you. So it's just an important component to understand most law firms you're interviewing with will be very familiar [00:12:00] with the sort of work that you've been doing based on your resume and reasonably confident from a technical standpoint that you can do the work.
They're not always sure, but they're usually reasonably confident that you can. The reason they can't be sure is because they don't know exactly why you're looking for a position. It's very interesting. One of the things that happens when attorneys are wor looking at firms laterally, or looking in other parts of the country and so forth, that where they may not be from is if you're looking for a position in the market where you're currently working, law firms are actually very suspicious.
You're much less likely to get interviews in your home market many times than if you were moving to a market where you grew up or where you went to school or where you have contacts. Because anytime you're looking in the, in a certain market where you're currently working, there's a presumption and it's not always correct.
And as a matter of fact, I would say a good portion of the time it's false, but the presumption is. You're looking for a job because you're having problems doing the work where you're at and [00:13:00] your work is not being well received. That's not always the case, of course, but that's presumption when you're looking in other markets and you're saying, I want to go home to be closer to my parents or my spouse's parents, or I then then that presumption doesn't necessarily exist and you're much, actually much more likely to get interviews.
But law firms are always suspicious when you're looking laterally. You can have excellent paper qualifications, but you may not have an aptitude for practicing law. There's all sorts of people each year. What happens is all these people come out of these top 10 law schools. And at every top, from every top 10 law school, it doesn't really matter which one it is.
There's always a handful of people that, that last less than six months. And typically it's because they're having problems adapting to a work environment, doing the work. And some people will last longer than others, but a lot of times people will jump around for years as they're not doing good work or they have, sometimes it's a work ethic issue.
Other times it's an inability to understand technical details or think in a certain way. And when that happens people will [00:14:00] often jump around quite a bit. Some, a lot of people fix it and become excellent attorneys, other people don't. But as I said earlier law firms do like attorneys who are relocating to other markets often where they grew up or because they're less suspicious about why they're looking for new positions and it looks more like they can probably do the job, but there are a lot of attorneys That just aren't that great practicing law and the biggest way that they can tell that is if you're moving around to different jobs a lot, or looking to go to a firm that maybe not as good as where you're working and where they're not gonna be able to give you as much money or experience.
There's all sorts of ways that they're picking up on that. But if you're interviewing with firms the law firms are often gonna ask you a lot of questions to understand if you can do the job they'll probe for troublesome areas, many times that maybe reflect in your ability to do the work last questions like however you reviews Ben.
And typically everyone will say fine or good. And but they can tell based on how you react. Sometimes people like look shocked and scared other times they they they will say, talk about how great they [00:15:00] were and how they were the best or told this, and given the highest bonus or going the most hours.
And other times they, they will you know that anyway, this is one of the ways they do it. And if you come across as very confident, then they will be very happy. If you talk about how busy you are. That's a very good thing as well. So every law firm that I've ever worked in, there've been people.
That are always extremely busy that everybody's giving work to. And then there are people that are not busy and and you could be in a law firm where everyone's billing 2,500 hours a year, and there's people in there billing a thousand hours. And so the attorneys are the busiest typically are the ones given the most work.
Now there are law firms that get very slow and because of a bunch of cases settling at one time or because of the economy and corporate can get various partners, groups of partners leaving. But if a law firm doesn't believe you're that busy then they're not gonna like that. And law firms typically don't give work to people that aren't doing good work.
And if you do good work, people are gonna seek you out and ask you to do more work. [00:16:00] Even if it's non billable work. Many times they'll ask you to do different sorts of things. And if there you're problematic that will often be assigned by not being busy that you're not doing a good work.
And that may, that means that you can't do the job. So they're always filtering for that. They'll also ask. The type of work you're doing. If you're doing work above your class level, they can tell how well you're doing based on that. So if you talk about that you've been given a lot of very sophisticated work that you're working with the most important partners in the firm or the people that have the most business and so forth and working on the most important cases or being given responsibility very early in your career that's a very good sign and that's also a sign that you probably could do the work.
And one, one thing that I would say when you, when a law firm's asking these sorts of questions is one, it's very important to talk with a lot of enthusiasm. So when you show you have a lot of interest in the subject matter and the work that you're doing, and you talk with a lot of enthusiasm, the law firm likes that because that's exactly what clients want too.
And [00:17:00] what partners want a partner that's committed to a practice area and has been doing that their whole career loves it when younger people are, beneath of are coming up through the ranks and love what they do. And have a lot of enthusiasm and enthusiasm is majorly important.
And people that have that enthusiasm can all do the job. I remember every offer that I ever got, I was able to go in and be very interested in the work and. But why, I think there's a lot of these things that I've ever certainly done wrong, but being very interested in the work is huge.
Cuz a lot of people aren't. And then the other thing is are you hiding anything? A lot of times law firms can tell if you're nervous or hiding something. If you're not making eye contact, if you seem defensive about various questions, how you, how your body language ask some response to questions, your faces and so forth.
And they will look for that very closely. They'll also sometimes, listen or watch you to see if you're having it may. A lot of times people will, I've seen several people move firms cause of family problems or substance abuse issues, or [00:18:00] just difficulty getting along with different people.
And if you have those sorts of issues law firms will often be able to pick up on them. And so they wanna make sure that's the, not the case. I talk a lot about this, but I've seen a lot of people go out on interviews and then they meet for drinks and they always have too many drinks and law firms typically, if you have three, as opposed to, that can make a pretty big difference a lot of times.
And and the law firm may think that be a problem in the future. I've seen things fall through there. And then partners is just another one. And I don't want to talk too much about this, but partners move firms all the time. Most of the time they move because their business is not materializing and they're not getting as enough work.
And the law firm can't afford to pay them based on the amount of work that they're bringing in. So they move to a new firm and they try to get a better platform and hope that that the new firm will catch on. So a lot of times they're moving around every few years. It's not always the case. A lot of times partners will move around every few years just because the law firms, they go to aren't paying 'em enough money and they, or they agree to pay [00:19:00] them one thing and don't, but that's another thing that they're looking for many times you have to be very careful of giving away any sort of information that you may have been fired from the position or having trouble with the work or trouble with colleagues or something happened.
That now it's not to say that law firms won't realize that based on if you're unemployed or if there's if you seem overly eager to get into a firm or something along those lines, they will have an understanding of what's going on. But most law firms will find you very risky if that's going on.
So you have to. Either change the, not talk about it so directly, or figure out a way to change the subject in a way that doesn't look like you're changing the subject, or you have to be honest about maybe some problems in the firm that made it difficult for them to keep you on or something along those lines.
And if you're having problems in your existing job most firms will listen to your explanation. And a lot of them, if they like you, for other reasons will still [00:20:00] hire you, but keep in mind that anybody that has a this sort of risk in the background, it can hurt you. And most cases, they have a lot of applicants for the same position.
So they're really trying to hire people that aren't gonna be a problem as opposed to those that are. And but they do all the time. Law firms certainly make mistakes. But again, the most fundamental aspect is being able to do the job and law firms will find, will do all sorts of things to see if you can do the job now, the second part is, can you do the job the way we want it done?
And so lots of people have the technical capability to do work. Litigators are often, there's lots of very good writers that are litigators. There's lots of very good. Attorneys that are good at going into court. There are lots of very good corporate attorneys. And and so a law firm certainly wants to know that you can do the work the way they want it done and that or do the work that they have, but they wanna know if you can do the work in the particular way they want it done and that's even more important.
Each law firm has a lot of different requirements for the way they want work done. Many people [00:21:00] move between firms a lot because they just don't have those disabilities. So one of the most important components is being able to work with people the way the firm needs 'em to.
I remember there was I don't know if they still do this, a excellent firm, Paul Hastings used to have this system where all the junior associates and mid-level and senior associates and council would all kind of work with one partner on that person's cases and and stick with them.
And I, I don't mean this is what they did when they, the group moved over to the firm I was at. But and I was told that was their system at the, at Paul hast, but they would work this way and and it was a good system for them and they would work together. They would eat dinner together.
And each night I used to work very late. I would see them all leave the office around 10:00 PM. When the woman partner went home, they would all follow her out and often leave at the same time, which was nice to watch. But at the same time they would also come in on Sundays and around noon and all work till seven.
And so they, this is how they worked together as a group. And that was Probably something they've been doing together for a long time, they had this [00:22:00] routine. And and I'm sure that that if someone, they were to hire someone new to work with them they would do the same thing. They would expect the other attorney to come in on Sundays at noon and work with them and then stay late at night during the week and work with 'em the same way.
And this is how the job was done. Other firms, of course don't want you to work remotely. They want you to be in the office or they want you to be in the office in certain days. So they expect you to do certain things. And and a lot of law firms require a lot of face time from their attorneys and they're not interested in the working from home.
That's the way they want the work done. And if you have issues with this the attorney may not be able to way work, work the way the law firm wants it done. Now, you don't know why that is. It doesn't have to concern you. You don't have to be concerned that they're bad people for having or expecting FaceTime.
That's just the way they want the work done and you have to do it. Other law firms will require an extraordinary level of commitment and a an unquestioned level of commitment. A lot of firms will when there's important matters will require superhuman hours. [00:23:00] And and this is the norm.
These aren't it's not okay to say I'm not gonna work on, Saturday during a case going to trial, even if everyone else and your team is working. I was at a firm once and I went in on the 4th of July. And almost the entire firm was there. I couldn't believe it. It was the 4th of July was during the week, but it was loony.
And then anyway, but that this is how some law firms are and and and you need to do your job in a certain way to succeed. And every law firm is different. Every law firm has different expectations for how they want you to work. I when I was clerking in a city, I remember all the attorneys and a couple local firms used to go out golfing every Wednesday.
And they would have local golf matches. That was the way they did the work. It's just, it just depends. Or they would do it on Tuesdays and Thursdays but different law firms want the work done different ways. Some law firms will overburden their attorneys with work. That seems completely unnecessary.
They it could be to increase the bills. It could just be because the client demands that level of thoroughness and is willing to pay for it. [00:24:00] But regardless, you don't have to agree with it. It's just how it works. And and you're still required to do the work that way. And the law firm wants, done that way.
Now, if you go into interviews and you start talking about things like I want, what is it what you ask about work, life balance, and there really isn't work life balance. They're gonna conclude very quickly that you don't, aren't gonna be able to do work the way they want it done. If you start questioning and talking about how your firm's giving you busy work and they give a lot of busy work, then they're not gonna like that.
You, that if you start talking about. That you like that you get more done at home because there's fear interruptions. And if they're the kind of firm they expect you to be in the office, they're not gonna like that. So all these things can hurt you a lot of a lot, and you need to be very careful in interviews of giving away clues that you may not be able to do the work they want it done.
Once you get an understanding of what they want and law firms have to be very risk averse. They're bringing in attorneys that if they don't work out will have complaints and be unhappy. They[00:25:00] they have huge clients that they're introducing you to the client is gonna pay money to get you up to speed and will often be billed for that.
The client's going to have wonder what happens if people are leaving the partners that the law firm is hiring you for are going to want certain type of people and frankly most law firms large law firms are hiring cautious, bookish types, pleasant personalities, who really aren't that aggressive.
Some of those people become, grow into being great partners that are aggressive later, but they want people to do the work. And that's just how it is. And and and they want people to do the work in a way that's painless for them. And in contrast some firms that are newer that are trying to make a name for themselves will behave in a different matter entirely.
These, they may hire different types of attorneys that are inclined to take risk for people that other firms wouldn't hire because of their personalities and demands and so forth. And that will happen often boutique and startup firms. And that may be how they want the work done.
A lot of attorneys will come from firms where they may have learned bad [00:26:00] habits. And then I can no longer do work the way the firm wants it done either. So most major law firms this is just a major rule in how law firms work when they hire people. Most of them will never hire people at least with a few exceptions out of the government or from in-house people that are coming from the government often do not work the same way.
They don't have the same demands for that you have in a, an, a billable hour environment and where there's a lot of it is just not the case. Same thing for a lot of in-house physicians, where many times the attorneys are actually experts in giving legal work to others, but not necessarily doing it themselves.
And solo practitioners that may learn back that habit. So small law firms and so forth. So what happens is law firms will always look at your background and they'll try to get a sense of, does this person have the will this person do the work we want it done. And that's one of the reasons why, if you go in house or you go into the government or you start your own firm, and you're gonna have a very hard time [00:27:00] ever getting into a major law firm.
And I, it's very rare that someone goes from in-house to a major law firm. It's very rare that someone moves from the government to a major law firm. And they may maybe as a us attorney getting a white collar job that they're well known on their market, but it's just certain ways of working.
And because you pick up many times bad habits and oftentimes it just doesn't work out. So it can be very difficult for attorneys from non-law firm environments to even get into the door. I've had in-house attorneys working in our company for years. And I hired years ago, a in-house attorney that had gone to a top law school and was one of the top two or three people in his class.
And and he had spent his career pretty much doing which wasn't a long career at that point. Just living in a regular, not a great area of Los Angeles in the valley but the doing litigation and other work and charging $500 for this matter and $1,100 15 for that matter and so forth.
And he practiced law this way because his small clients were willing to pay. Were unwilling to pay hourly rates for his work. [00:28:00] And because the way he learned to practice law, teaching himself, his objective came to cut corners, and this is what he taught himself and get everything done as quickly as possible.
And he was good at what he did, but he never learned to work on matters with any level of fairness, completeness that would demand to, by a firm of him. He would as I worked with him, he would say, this is stupid. Why would you write this brief? And why would you do this when you can just fill out this general form?
And and he, I learned he'd never have the ability to do the work in a way I wanted at to, and because he learned to practice way that relied in shortcuts and cutting corners. And it's not a bad thing that he learned that I'm not criticizing him. But that was how he had to learn to survive and make as much money when he was a solo practitioner doing work the way he was doing it.
So most of the issues regarding how work is done revolve around whether you're willing to follow directions, play by the rules of a given law firm and honestly suppress your ego for the benefit of the team. So anytime an attorney starts talking about their needs their [00:29:00] requirements salary competing firm the limits for what, the type of work they'll do, the the their requirements and so forth.
The law firm interviewing the attorney. Immediately will decide that this whether or not the sort of attitude benefits now, it can be good for the attorney to be calculating and caring about money. And and the law firm can use that to their advantage because it may make the person work harder.
And and but at the same time it often most often does. So law firms will look at it that way. They will really avoid people who are unwilling to work the way they want them to. They typically want things done a certain way. They will pay for that. And if you're unwilling to do that then you're gonna have a very hard time keeping a job there and getting hired.
Law firms will always talk to people and if they get a sense when they're talking to them, that the attorney is more focused on what the law firm can do for them, opposed to what they can do with the law, for the law firm it's sign that the attorney will probably not be able to do the work and the way they need it done.
And especially if they come from a different environment then that [00:30:00] person also needs to be able to convince the law firm. I was working with an attorney not too long ago that had incredible qualifications. She had PhD in electrical engineering, which is very rare for attorneys to have that.
And and she'd gone to a great law school. She'd gone to a Ivy league law school. It might have even at Stanford, I don't know if that's considered Ivy believe and she was practicing, it was probably one of the top two or three best law firms in the country. She was six years out of law school and wanted to join a competitive firm, but work at a reduced salary of only 1800 hours a year.
And every firm that she was interested in was extremely interested in her. There was every firm that she applied to definitely wanted to interview her and and pretty much hire her site and scene. But but she wanted she wanted to work reduced hours. So she wanted to work on the 1800 hours a year, which is not unusual for a patent attorney.
She wanted her weekends and time to go to the gym. And she said she wanted to watch Netflix at night. She had no desire to be partner and she told me that and she told very good firm that she was [00:31:00] interviewing with that and the law firm because they wanted her so badly and they needed someone like that for clients.
They had a bunch of special meetings and and internal discussions about it. And and they decided that the risk of hiring her outweighed the rewards because they just said they didn't wanna have anyone in their firm that didn't desire to get ahead and thought they were above the expectations of everyone else.
I said, it's not worth it. We want everyone at a level competing to be partner working hard, that she would've done more harm than good to the firm. And and what they were saying of course is that she wouldn't do the work and the way they wanted it done. Law firms are probing. They're asking questions.
They're trying to understand if if your personality and the way you do work is really going to be the way they want things done. The law firm is going to have certain standards and they may overwork their files. That's just how they operate. Other law firms made you the opposite.
The law firm will really wanna see if you're up to doing things that way. They'll try to see if you're malleable and if they believe that they can, you [00:32:00] will accept instruction, follow directions by their rules and do things the way that they want it done. That's just a cautionary tale.
A lot of people, very good attorneys do not get offers because they go into interviews and act like they won't do the work and the way they want it. There's other things that kind of come across many times on the resumes that give that impression. And I don't want to get too far into it, but anytime you have things on your resume that make you look very entrepreneurial, that can scare them, it can scare them when you put a bunch of it's very common these days.
And it's nice that people are so enthusiastic about this. I'm not criticizing it, but people will often do a lot of pro bono work and they'll have a whole introductory session section about their inter all the pro bono work they're doing at this major firm and then a few lines about whatever they've done.
That's not pro bono and which is odd because they're applying for jobs doing the work. That's not pro bono. So I but and that those [00:33:00] resumes Don't get interviews and the people that have them are often very angry. And the reason is that they're giving the impression to the law firms.
They're applying to that. They're not gonna do the job and the way they want it done. So you need to be very aware that anything you put on your resume needs to show that you have, that you're the kind of person that will be able to work in the law firm, the way they want the work done. This is one of my favorites.
Do you want the job? Most attorneys often only get one offer. I don't know why that is. I have candidates get multiple offers all the time, but most people only get one offer and then take that offer. They will often get lots of interviews, but only one offer. And the offers that they get are typically the jobs that they want the most.
And it's very interesting to me too. It's I used to take very active role with my candidates when I was when I do recruit full time. But when I was if I were talking to candidates every day and I would [00:34:00] always talk to them about certain firms that I thought should be their first choice and why they were good for them.
And and then if the candidates got offers at those firms, that would be the job that they wanted the most and they would almost always get it. And it's and it's a, it's a secret which I hope you remember what I just said. If you go into an interview and you psych yourself up and you want the job the odds are that you will have a much better shot of getting the job than anybody else.
We'd like people that like us. And if you really want something and you're psyched up for it, you behave differently. Your body language is different, your your the way you make everything's different. And and you're ready when you go into the interview and people are excited. I always have everyone that works in with our company, in-depth questionnaires to discuss your experience and long term aspirations.
A lot of attorneys have long term goals that say things like they want to go in house or work for the government start a business and things like that. But when attorneys write down that they have these sorts of goals that don't involve working in a law firm I know that the [00:35:00] attorney is often going to have issues, getting a job.
They may not they may get a job but they probably will not get the best job. And that's fine. You're welcome to wanna do other things. No, one's saying that a law firm is someplace where everyone should work forever, but if you are lateraling to other firms or trying to move to a better firm or trying to move to a peer firm most law firms are gonna hire the people that really want to work.
And and and almost very rarely do people are people able to get jobs that they don't want now? It is funny. I. There are some attorneys that are so sharp and such persua, so persuasive and so good in person that they're able to even when they don't wanna do a job, go in and get it.
They often are from New York which I think makes very strong interviewers for some reason. But but again, it's very rare. If you don't want, if you don't want the job, it's often gonna show it's just that relevant. But I guess when I was younger, my father was with CIA one time, he was complaining to his boss about how he would like somebody he was supposed to be befriending and just [00:36:00] complaining about his job.
And he said, the guy said to him don't think it, or you will show it. And if you don't want a job, then your mannerisms the way you answer questions and other verbal, and non-verbal fine, will give you away. People will not like you. And they will not hire you when they see those sorts of characteristics.
So you need do it in that, in those sort of response, you need to believe that you really want the job and you need to whatever it is you do. Sometimes even just saying to yourself, I really want this job. I really want this job. I really want this job before you go into an interview can be very helpful.
This is an attorney I was working with not too long ago, who was at went to a top three law school finished at the top of his class was a former college athlete. Very good practice area. Top New York firm has been there for three years. He wants to be a law professor going house. He's gotten about 15 interviews.
So you can imagine people love former college athletes that have gone to really good schools and worked to good firms. And he's done screen interviews but he hasn't even gotten a full round [00:37:00] of interviews. Every screening interview he's failed and people meaning he hasn't gotten asked back after a screen interview and he wants to do something else and and it comes across in the interviews.
He walks into the firms and he's just doesn't have the kind of enthusiasm that would be expected. And the extent he does it, it comes across as manufactured and law firms can pick that up. I've worked with lots of parents. Who've taken time off to raise their children. And and as they've then at some point they decide they wanna go back to work, which is perfectly fine, but they really don't wanna go back to work.
They wanna St stay with their children and they wanna and they're much happier. And then when they were practicing law, so they go out and interview, but they don't want the job, which I understand I'm not being critical of that. And and so then they have a hard time getting jobs.
They go out and interview and they often will interview numerous law firms and just not get the job. The law firms will pick up on it. And and because there's just not a level of enthusiasm for it. And law firms, by the way, AB absolutely wanna hire.
[00:38:00] Mothers and and all sorts of and they wanna give them a chance. And and when people are very enthusiastic like that, they typically do very well. But most of the time even after a couple rejections, a lot of times people will say that they just wanna stay home.
They wanted to they really didn't wanna work and it comes across in interviews. It's very common by the way for attorneys. Who've worked in very demanding law firm environments whether it's often it's New York city in the largest firms, they have experience there where they it can be very stressful.
But it could also be in any large city, whether it's Palo Alto which is a large legal market or Los Angeles or Chicago often they will after a period of unemployment or taking time off for whatever reason, or even while they're working, there will go out and interviews and not be able to impress interviewers.
They simply don't get the job because they're not interested in working in the law firm again. And despite applying to the job, they just they've had it. And and it comes across and their language and the way they they think and and the way they communicate and their and their body language.
So the firm doesn't like [00:39:00] the firm that they're interviewing with they think it's beneath them or not as prestigious. If they know that the salary's not that high they generally won't get the job. The attorney will not get the job because they don't want the job. And they they can't convince the law firm of something that's not true.
And so you need to come across as anytime you're interviewing, even if it's a law firm that you don't think you want the job at, you need to convince yourself that you want the job. Your goal is for any interview is to go out and to get the position first. And and then worry about all this stuff later.
A lot of times offers are negotiable partnership, track. It's often negotiable bonuses and all sorts of things can be negotiable. Ours even can be negotiable. Every you can negotiate a lot of stuff, especially at smaller firms in mid-size firms. But but the law firm, you just have to understand, needs to be under the impression that if you get an offer, you will take it.
We have this thing that we do at BCG. And it works where after an interview, we always follow up with a firm with a talking about how things went [00:40:00] and and how they liked you. And but one of the things we always ask, the people that are interviewing is if you got an offer there, would you take it?
And anytime we say, if the person gets an offer from you, we believe that they would take it. They're odds of getting the the job. Increased dramatically. They double, but maybe even quadruple. I don't, it's law firms wanna hire people that want them. And most law firms, a lot of 'em will hire, make offers, and the people will keep looking.
But if the law firm really feels like you want them, then they're often going to make you an offer. Even if they have better qualified candidates, because they know that people that really wanna work there are gonna be probably stay longer, do better work or harder be more committed, all sorts of things.
Would you rather hire someone who wanted the job or someone who isn't events about the job? That's just how you have to think about it. It's just, it's bad for business to, to try to hire someone who's not enthusiastic about the job. And if someone doesn't want the job, the odds are very good.
The person's going to leave and people want to be around and work with people who want their [00:41:00] job. Now, this is just another quick point. I wanna bring up. A lot of times people will get offers and they'll say, can I think about it? And then they'll think about it for a week or two weeks.
Obviously, if you're thinking about a job taking an offer for a week or two you probably don't want the job, people that do that law firms know, and it's not proven, but it almost always happens that they end up going to that law firm and then leaving for something else better later on, I can think of all of the recruiters that I've ever hired, anybody that had to think about it, or wait almost always was doing that because they were interested in another practice setting, whether it was going in house or working as a career counselor for a law school or a law firm or something along those lines.
If people think, if you think about offers then then if you have to think about often you probably don't want the job. Now, you can certainly do that if you're expecting better offers, but you have to realize that law firms really want to hire people that want the job. I I was working I worked when I was I got on a job offer once from a [00:42:00] judge and he, and and he said if I call you and make you an offer, will you accept the job?
This was in the interview. And I said, yes. And then he called me a couple days later and asked me if I'd accept the job or told me he was making an offer, would I accept? And he said, if you don't accept, I'm gonna call someone else. So I accept it, of course. Anyway, it's a long story, but the the point is that if you really want the job people will will hire you.
And and the best people really want the job and you need to be able to convince the employer that you want the job. And and the law firm will be able to tell easily. There's a little story that my mom used to tell me When I was younger and it was we went to look at puppies or something.
I don't how old I was probably seven or eight. I dunno, young. And and the puppy that I chose was the one that ran up to me and was very nice. It was the run of the litter and the other ones I didn't choose. And she said, you always chose that you chose the puppy that liked the most. And so that's how employers are too, that someone really seems enthusiastic and really appreciates us and wants us, wants to work there.
We like them much better. The [00:43:00] next one is just, will you fit in? This is not all that important compared to the other two, but law firms do want people that will fit in. That doesn't mean that they don't like diversity. Diversity is part of fitting in. It doesn't mean that that that they are discriminate against different people of different for the most part don't.
But they want people that they feel that can be their friend and partners want people that they think they might be friends with, or that would be friends with the associates. So they're working with, and and people just, you need to be able to fit in. And they wanna hire people that are being able to get along with different types of people and so forth.
And and I think that diversity. Is important from the standpoint of building a, an environment where lots of different people are feel accepted in a group and and law firms are it doesn't really matter what your background is in terms of your diversity. I think that law firms are want people that are fitting in with their culture and that culture could be different types of things.
It could be a culture of athletes. It could be a culture of people that are bookish. [00:44:00] It could be a culture of people that are interested in social causes. There's just different types of categories. There's even law firms that seem to hire people that are very collegiate and come out of would be the types of people that would be in fraternities and sororities.
It's just it's typically that those major categories that are important. I was at one firm once where that I was very surprised to discover that every single partner in the firm and there were partners of different races and but they were Catholic. I didn't, it just seemed to be strange cuz I certainly just, and I don't know if that's just what they were and they went to church, they their kids went to Catholic schools and it was a very prestigious firm.
Now I don't know if this was coincidence or not. But a lot of the associates were as well. And that was interesting. I think that and maybe it was a coincidence, I don't know, but but it was very interesting. I other firms are composed of people that are of different religions and races and and again, that's how things work in some firms.
A lot of firms in the south are composed of, or midsize firms and are [00:45:00] composed people that are from the south. That's not, are not. From other areas of the country there's just different cultures and different parts of the country. And and a lot of times I think that the people that that when law firms get sued and when people Sue employers, a lot of times they're people that didn't fit in or felt like outsiders because that law firm's culture and and many times that what happens is people don't trust the attorney in this create problems.
Now I'll just tell you a quick example. I and just so you understand this is not necessarily along sexual orientation or racial outlet lines or anything. I was working with a woman not too long ago, that was working in a I don't a very well known, very prestigious firm in good firm in South Carolina.
And it was in a, a decent sized market there. And she was very upset because all of the, she realized when she got there, that pretty much everyone went to, had gone to the same high school and and all knew each other and lived in a certain part of the town where she didn't live. And and she was [00:46:00] single and and they were all marriage.
She felt like an outsider and no one ever included her. And I've been to school in the south and there's a, there is a different culture there. I will definitely commit, say that and she didn't fit in was very unhappy. And and and felt like an outsider now, she was the same I don't know.
That race doesn't matter, but she was not, there was nothing different about it, but she felt very alone. She felt very. Like she couldn't fit in. And and so you need to be able to fit in wherever you go. And and you need to be able to fit in because a law firm is your tribe and there's your tribe.
They need to feel like they can trust you that you'll take sides at an issue. And you'll all be United. And these cultures that law firms have, will attract, hire and retain a certain type of individual. Now I'm the first to admit that society there's a lot of divisiveness in society.
You have Democrats and Republicans and socialists and all sorts of different types of people. But you, you generally will realize that most law firms will favor and not all of them, but depending on what part of the country they're in [00:47:00] and all sorts of things will have different types of cultures.
And you need to be aware of that. And and aware that if you go into those law firms and are very opinionated about something that can hurt you. So law firms are really off often interviewing you to see if you might be the sort of person that they could be friends with.
And they don't want you to be threatening. They don't want to feel like you're going, they want to feel like you're gonna be on the same side as them, and able to take the sides of their client. And and so you need to be careful with that stuff. That, again, that's not, none of this is a critique of anything but it is a admission that different firms have different cultures.
I don't know. I certainly would have a very difficult time in lots of different law firm cultures. And and you're going to be happier when you are able to fit in with a culture and where you're able to identify with a culture. I there's firms, like I, I remember in and I tell the story a lot, but in in the recession of I think it was either 2001.
It was, I think it was in 2001 or 2008, but there was a huge recession. And there was one [00:48:00] corporate opening in the, and it was such a bad recession that there was really only one decent senior corporate opening at a major law firm in all of Colorado. And, but even then there were, there was hardly any in the whole country.
And and we had our company was, our firm was working on a search for major firm there. And they had hundreds of people from top firms all over the country. They could have chosen. And one guy just happened to have stuff on there that he liked to snowboard and was on some snowboard.
I don't know all the snowboarding stuff. And and the firm happened to have a lot of people that like, it was, I don't know, snowboarding or ski. I think it was snowboarding. A lot of people that were into that in the corporate department. And and that's who they hired. This is cultural. It's about, the same sport and so you just, all this stuff just is how things work.
And I've seen other firms where you look at the bio and everyone's wearing a bow tie. It's just it's very funny. Now I'm not a bow tie type of guy, but certain people are just different [00:49:00] cultures at different firms. And you have to understand that you really wanna figure out what that is and if you'll be comfortable there and you won't always be cult comfortable there, but that's what another thing that law firms are looking at.
Now, another thing they're asking themselves is if they can manage you, this is hugely important. It's something that sometimes people are manageable earlier in their career and then not manageable later. Sometimes people are not manageable earlier in their career manageable later, but in order to work for anyone else you need to be manageable.
You need to be you're working for someone else. If you're working in a law firm you need to be able to take instructions. You need to be able to do what they ask you to do. You need to be respectful of authority. You even need, you need to get along with a chain of command. You just need to be manageable.
I, it's very funny to me because I even see I see partners with make millions of dollars a year meeting with clients. And and they're yes, sir. This, yes, I even they're manageable. And as they go, if they're talking to senior attorneys and their firm, they're manageable and [00:50:00] people that above them.
So I'm manageable attorneys are very common. Law firms avoid them. They do not like unmanageable attorneys. They there's all sorts of clues when they're interviewing. I'll talk to about some of those that you may not be manageable, but law firms are businesses. They're just like a, they're like a they're like a army.
They, if you have people in the army that aren't marching, when they're told to, or going in different directions, or then you have problems. And and it's like that on law firms too. So it's very difficult for law firms to manage people too, by the way, because everyone needs to show up for work.
They need to work diligently. They need to not make waves. And an unmanageable attorney is going to weaken the herd and law firms will avoid hiring them. And they're avoided they law firms. If you go into an interview and you have stuff on your resume, for example or even when you're applying and it looks like you're not manageable, law firms are going to avoid you.
And there's all sorts of things that, that, that will give away, give that away. And I can talk about that in a few minutes, but but the point is the unmanageable [00:51:00] attorney will often question the assignments will do things the way they want to, not the way they're told we'll break rules will not do what they say they're going to do will not follow directions.
And and a law firm will often get a sense about your boundaries. And if you are, if you become defensive about certain questions that they ask these are the ways that people that are in manageable give themselves away. One of the first things they always do is they talk about the need for rapid advancement.
That it's very common that I always in the history of our company and we've always had people that will work and then, every few weeks or months, or six months they'll decide that they're they need a raise or they, or whatever, and they'll pull their, their people aside or they'll complain about their bonus.
And and they, this happens on law firms all the time, and it's very upsetting to management, but a lot of times People will show up in interviews and talk about their need for rapid advancement. And and and law firms do people being ambitious and there's nothing wrong with that.
But a lot of times [00:52:00] there are certain personality types and this is one of them for the most part that can never be satisfied that are always going to want more and ask for more. And regardless of what happens and law firms know that and they can pick it up. And and all the partners are trying to do when they're hiring associates are hire people that are willing to do the work.
And and all that are doing when they hire partners are hiring partners that are willing to do the work and can be managed. And and if people feel like they're not managed, then then they're not gonna be able to manage you. They're almost always not gonna hire you law firms do not like people that, that are like this.
And it's unfortunate that you can't necessarily stick up for yourself and say these things, you can do it in the right time. And there's a whole a bunch of other stuff I could talk to you about today, about when you're trying to make partner and having a lot more, much more value than they law firm could possibly get elsewhere by either my paying someone or whether your relation clients so that you, but you need to be manageable.
Even partners need to be manageable. A lot of times people will say they're looking because they [00:53:00] only wanna do a certain type of work. And they may complain that they're not giving, being given a certain type of work. And this doesn't go over well because the law firms know that that they may need to give you other types of work in order for them to pay their bills.
So if you are hired to be a I dunno to be a white collar litigator and a law firm doesn't have enough white collar litigation and wants to give you commercial litigation. That's their right to do. If they're paying you and you should not be saying you're that necessarily always complaining.
Now, if you're not getting any white collar work, then that's a problem. But at the same time they want team players and people that are willing to do certain types of things because the law firm just needs that. And they know that if they don't have this under work, that you really wanna do that you'll leave.
That means you're probably not manageable. So I've seen attorneys bounce around looking for the exact type of work they want for years. They'll go to one firm and they won't get everything. And then they'll go to another firm. And this is just another thing where you need to be extremely careful about that.
A lot of [00:54:00] times people will talk about something that's happened, that's unfair or supervisors. And and it's just nothing to, to that you can that you can you should be doing. The presumption is always going to be that it's your fault and regardless of what happened and that you can't be managed.
Anytime and it's unfortunate, it's not because there. A lot of very bad supervisors. There's a lot of very difficult attorneys to work with. There's a lot of people that are that are very troublesome to work with, and I'm not defending this, but if you go in and you talk about supervisors and problems you had with other attorneys, the law firm will assume that you just couldn't get along with 'em or you, and somehow contributed to the problem.
It's I don't like it anymore than you do, but that's just how it works. Many times attorneys will be defensive with the interview or if you're angry. Sometimes law firms will ask questions, like why aren't you employed? And they may be, they maybe touchy. They may ask why are you applying for this job?