We keep hearing the same stories about the changes happening in law firms – the alleged shift away from the billable hour and the shrinking numbers of associates, summer class size and offer letters.
And so far the greatest impact is felt by recent grads and law students.
The American Lawyer answers it’s own question — Has the Recession Forever Changed Large Law Firms? — with a resounding yes. But replete throughout the longer piece are nuggets of advice for young attorneys and would-be attorneys.
- In interviews, be prepared for more “behavioural” questions. Have a story about overcoming a setback, your best “teamwork” story or an example of your decision-making process.
- Consider a joint degree or gaining non-legal work experience. Firms are desperate for people in practice areas like financial regulation and energy law. If you already have this relevant experience, latch yourself to this wave.
- Be patient – firms that did not hire in August may circle back to campus later in fall or spring. (“Speed is not necessarily anyone’s friend in this recovery cycle,” Vinson & Elkins hiring partner Thomas Leatherbury told Am Law.)
- Be prepared for a switch to merit-based, rather than lock-step, salary. And get ahead by asking exactly what merit-based means, both before and after you arrive.
- Play well with others.
The last tip seems obvious, but apparently it’s not as easy to find people with that quality as one would think. “During the boom years, firms just needed bodies,” the dean of Northwestern Law School said. “Now they’re looking for students who not only can draft briefs and review documents but can also work well with clients and other lawyers.”
That may be the biggest take away from the changing face of firms. Being nothing more than a suit just doesn’t work anymore. Make sure you aren’t one.
Read the entire American Lawyer article here.
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