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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What are the best predictors of Big Law success?

A recent study conducted at a top 25 law firm found that law school rank and grade point average are not the best predictors of success at large law firms. In an article in the ABA Journal, one of the study's authors, Ron Paquette, notes, "The Harvard attorneys do not perform any better than those at the 30th-ranked law school."

So, what are better predictors of success? Participation in extra-curricular activities and collegiate-level athletics were among the 12 factors identified as better predictors for big firm success with success being defined as "longer tenure at the firm, higher productivity, and being a good cultural fit, based on an evaluation by a human resources staffer." All of the factors could be categorized as attributes connected to leadership.

"Based on his experience in corporate America, [Paquette] believes attributes such as an ability to adapt and get along with people contribute to success more than technical expertise. 'When you look at people skills, it really comes down to working well on a team,' he says, 'In reality, the best performing teams are the ones that learn to get along and leverage each other's skills.'"

It should be noted that this study only examined lawyers who were already "the cream of the crop." However, the results do indicate that those with the top grades from the top law schools aren't any more likely to succeed in an large firm environment than those from other schools with simply good grades.

Click here to read the entire article in addition to a lively discussion in the ABA Journal's comments section!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More on the Economy and the Post-Graduate Job Search

There are a number of articles out there addressing the issue of the current economy and the legal employment market for upcoming graduates.

The Boston Business Journal covers the issue of the legal market in Boston in particular:
"Elizabeth Armour, director of employer relations at Suffolk University Law School, acknowledges that summer associates are no longer guaranteed job offers at the end of the summer, as large law firms - facing an uncertain economic future - grow increasingly reluctant to load up on young associates who collect $160,000 first-year paychecks. [...]
James Leipold, executive director at the National Association for Law Placement in Washington, D.C. said that while his organization does not have data yet on offer percentages, he has anecdotal evidence that points to lower offer rates in Boston this year, which hit 97.9 percent in 2007, according to NALP. [...] 'All bets are off because this situation continues to change, ' said Leipold. 'The economic situation is so fluid. We've certainly heard that some firms are not making offers to everyone.'"

How does this news affect your job search? Both the New York Lawyer and the National Law Journal provide articles with practical tips.

Cameron Stracher, a professor at New York Law School, writes in the New York Lawyer (via The American Lawyer), "The wise job-hunter will cast a deeper net, focusing on firms with niche practices that have not been hit by the downturn or groups within firms that have not been popular. [...] Take lots of meetings. Networking is more important than ever, which means talking to everyone you know, and even people you don't. "

However, the National Law Journal disagrees with Stracher's advice to postpone your job search by entering into an LL.M. program.
"'I've got students coming in asking if they should go for an LL.M.,' said Carole Montgomery, director of career development at George Washington University Law School in Washington. If students want to pursue the advanced law degree to avoid looking for a job, Montgomery advises against it. 'I tell them, 'you need to make a good-faith effort to get yourself a job,' ' she said."

While it is still unclear how today's economic events will affect the legal employment market six months from now, one thing everyone can agree on is that the post-graduate job search will take longer than it has in the past and now is the time to start!
"The delays in start dates and the slowdown in hiring will leave many people unemployed late into the year or even after graduation. 'Make a mental (and financial) plan that the job hunting process will take six to eight months,' says Meg Reuter, Assistant Dean for Career Planning at New York law School." (New York Lawyer)

Adds Gail E. Cutter, Senior Managing Director of SLJ Attorney Search, in her NYL article, ,"It takes discipline to take charge of your career when so many people are freaking out. Panic won't help, but neither will maintaining the status quo while the legal world morphs all around you." (New York Lawyer)

Thoughts or questions on this article? Post them in our comments section!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Beyond Fall Recruitment

This time of year our office often meets with students who are worried because they did not find summer employment through the Fall Recruitment Program (FRP). Do not worry!

Only 10% of legal employers hire through FRP. Medium and small firms, and most other legal employers, do not hire on a specific schedule. They hire people when they have a need. Often, these employer hire part-time law clerks and interns during the school year and those positions continue into the summer. There are also many employers who offer their part-time law clerks permanent employment after graduation.

There are many ways to find positions at these firms and organizations. Many post summer and academic year positions on our Recruitment & Programming Center (RPC) JobNet. Students should also use other on-line job resources including Craigslist, PSLawNet, the Government Honors & Internship Handbook and other sites listed on our on-line job resources handout available in the CSO. In addition to applying to the jobs that are posted, students should also contact employers directly using the Martindale directory, Lexis or Westlaw. Most importantly, every job search should include networking.

At least half of all positions are obtained by informal means. Over half of the 229 students who completed our 2008 Summer Survey found their positions through networking or a referral by a friend, family member, or colleague. This does not mean a student needs to come from a family of lawyers in order to find a job. There are a variety of opportunities for law students to meet and network with attorneys, including informational interviews, bar association events, conferences and seminars, CSO panels and programs, and using the New England Law alumni network.

the Fall Recruitment Program may be the most visible hiring program for summer legal positions, however most students obtain summer positions through our job postings, contacting employers on their own, networking, or through their part-time school year positions. By following the above recommendations, it is highly likely that you will be able to secure employment throughout law school and beyond.

Need to discuss your job search? Call the Career Services Office at 617-422-7228 to make an appointment with a career counselor today!

Questions or comments? Post them in our comments section.