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FROM THE JOB FRONT

FROM THE JOB FRONT is EmplawyerNet's monthly newsletter covering the latest developments in the area of legal employment -- and a few other things. FROM THE JOB FRONT is published as a service of EmplawyerNet, the online interactive legal employment network.

August 2000

NEWS FROM THE JOB FRONT

Partnership Less of a Priority for Associates

Silicon Valley Firms Charging a Premium

Public Interest Lawyers Harder to Find

Interviewee Hall of Shame Candidates Announced

OTHER FEATURES
Job Tips: Think Quickly - Why Do You Want to Be a Lawyer?

Legal Trivia

Quote, UnQuote

One More Thing Before You Go


PARTNERSHIP LESS OF A PRIORITY FOR ASSOCIATES

A recent report issued by the National Association for Law Placement finds that partnership is becoming less of a priority for law firm associates. When asked about their expectations of making partner, many associates indicated that this is no longer a top career goal. Only 56 percent of the law firm associates who were interviewed for the study said that partnership was an incentive for them. To deal with this issue and the related issue of associate attrition, NALP suggests that law firms take the following steps: (1) increase communication with associates about their career goals, (2) provide multiple career paths within the firm, (3) pay attention to quality of life issues and (4) maintain an active mentoring program.

IOMA Report

SILICON VALLEY FIRMS CHARGING A PREMIUM

San Francisco Bay Area technology law firms are in such high demand these days that they are charging clients a premium ­ and getting it. Firms such as Wilson Sonsini and the Venture Law Group are asking for flat fees or premiums above the hourly rates they usually charge. Such billing practices are most common for IPO and M&A work. In these areas, some firms feel like they are providing strategic advice, much like investment bankers ­ and they want to be paid like investment bankers. There is also the feeling among some firms that they have been undercharging for their IPO services, when compared to New York and Los Angeles firms. Bay Area firms collect an average of $420,000 per IPO while New York firms get $818,000 and Los Angeles firms average $663,000.

The Recorder

PUBLIC INTEREST LAWYERS HARDER TO FIND

While some lawyers in the San Francisco Bay Area contemplate premium billing, others concern themselves with serving the poor and needy. That's getting harder to do these days with the high cost of living and the relatively small salaries offered by public interest groups. Applications for positions at Bay Area Legal Aid, for instance, are way down with only five applicants applying for each position. Five percent of Bay Area law school graduates take public interest positions. Some can only afford to do so by taking advantage of public interest graduate loan reimbursement programs through their law schools. Approximately one-third of American law schools offer such programs, the most generous of which are at Stanford, NYU, Columbia, Harvard and Yale. These law schools offer close to 100 percent reimbursement.

Cal Law

INTERVIEWEE HALL OF SHAME CANDIDATES ANNOUNCED

Several New Jersey firms have nominated candidates for a legal newspaper's Interviewee Hall of Shame. Among this year's candidates are a lawyer who, while driving to an interview at a Hackensack firm, was cut off by another driver. The lawyer responded by giving the finger to the driver who, it turns out, was a senior partner at the firm. (He got the job.) Another candidate misspelled Phi Beta Kappa on his resume. The third is a law student who wore very long hair and ripped jeans to his interview. The student's father was a good friend of the firm's hiring partner. The father asked his friend to offer the son a job on condition that he cut his hair and buy some new clothes. The offer was accepted, the candidate went on to become a partner at the firm and is now a New Jersey judge.

New Jersey Lawyer

JOB TIPS: THINK QUICKLY - WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE A LAWYER?

The most inane, annoying, and common question posed to law students during interviews is, "Why do you want to be a lawyer?"

Generally, this question is just a way to break the ice and permit the questioner to observe your personality, demeanor, verbal skills, etc. But beware that the ice is thin and you should tread lightly in this area.

The danger is that you will say something sounding, well, stupid to the interviewer. You may not have a very compelling reason for going to law school. Perhaps you went to law school because you could not find anything better to do. Maybe a relative is a lawyer and you want to follow in his tracks. Possibly you are motivated by social justice concerns.

Because it is so general, the question represents a trap. An acceptable response won't really score big points for you. But an ill-considered reply may doom your prospects with a firm. So let's look at some of the possible responses to this ubiquitous question.

Response: "I don't know." If you don't know, think about it some more. And if you still can't think of a reason, consider another profession.

Response: "To make money." Now this is an interesting answer. It might be just what the interviewer wants to here, or it might blow up in your face. Some firms and lawyers are open about their pursuit of wealth. Others take a more cultured view and do not openly admit economic aspirations. If in doubt, maybe it is best to stifle this response.

Response: "Because I want interesting and challenging work." A lot of the work lawyers do is dull and repetitive. But most don't like to admit it. The response is reasonably safe, but be prepared for a follow up question concerning your willingness to work in the trenches on less than thrilling work.

Response: "Because I want to work for social justice." For some firms, this may be fine, but most are in the business of making money. If this is your response, try to explain why it is in the firm's interest to hire you. You will have to work on this one yourself.

Response: "Because I am not qualified for anything else." Give this response high marks for honesty. But it is hardly a job clinching answer. Give it more thought, and work on a better reply.

Response: "I don't really want to be a lawyer, and I don't intend to practice for more than a few years." This is a kiss of death with those firms that confuse hiring decisions with marriage proposals and assume that you should be making a life-long commitment to their firms. Happily, not all firms are this way. Some are satisfied if they get a few good years out of you; others assume that you will want to stick around after you see the rewards of law practice.

LEGAL TRIVIA

As far as lawyers go, what was unusual about the 1994 Super Bowl-winning San Francisco 49ers?

(Answer at the end of the newsletter)

QUOTE

"I don't know if I want a lawyer to tell me what I cannot do. I hire him to tell me how to do what I want to do."

    -- J.P. Morgan

UNQUOTE

ONE MORE THING BEFORE YOU GO...

A Pennsylvania woman sued the pharmacy where she purchased a tube of contraceptive jelly. Her claim was based on the fact that, despite eating the jelly, the woman still became pregnant.

  • Trivia Answer:

    The 49ers center and lawyer Bart Oates snapped the ball to lawyer quarterback Steve Young.


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