Law: Seventh Grade Lunch

September 16, 2008

When I was in Middle School, every part of our life was micro managed.  From the minute I walked in the door until the minute I left, there was always someplace I was supposed to be and something I was supposed to be doing.  The most frustrating and important of these assignments was the lunch table. During the first day of school, after everybody sat down, a seating chart was passed around and the place you were sitting became the place you were required to sit for the rest of the year.
This was all well and good, except that over the course of the year, people you once liked really start to grate on you.  Worse yet, the whole “seating process” happens in four minutes, meaning that the first four minutes of lunch largely determine how much you will enjoy the rest of the year.

Why does this matter?  Well, when you walk into lunch that first day, all you really care about is getting a place to sit.  The better the people the happier you are.  Nothing is worse than being left at a table with the oddballs.  You know, the guy with the back brace, the girl that doesn’t shower, and the guy that picks his nose knuckle deep.  Thankfully, I was consistently able to dodge this fate however I will never forget the mad scramble:  Priority one, get a seat, priority two don’t sit with the weirdos, priority three, best seat possible to make the year go as well as you can, and hanging over your head during all of this is the likelihood that you won’t like whoever you find within a few months.

Those of you that have been reading this blog for a while know where this is going:  every day it becomes clearer and clearer to me that OCI is the first day of middle school lunch.  Here we all are, scurrying around campus in four weeks trying to find the best seat firm possible.  Just like cafeteria lunch, the first priority is getting a job.  Nothing is worse than being left standing (unemployed) when time (OCI) runs out.  After you know you will have a seat the priority is not being left with the weirdos.  In firm employment, the weirdos are the “semi-big law” firms.  I don’t mean boutiques or good midlaw firms, I mean the type of firms that are clearly second teir in a city:  you work the same hours for less pay, less prestige and worse exit opportunities.  Think Heller in CA, Locke Lord in IL, and anybody not in the Amlaw 50 in NY and DC.

After you avoid the outcasts, its just a matter of how high up the social ladder (Vault/AmLaw rankings) you can get.   If you have some good friends with the same lunch, you might gladly sit with them and say you didn’t want to be at the cool kids table (working for a lifestyle firm or s strong boutique that is still a notch below the big boys) but in the end, you will be judged based on where you work sit.

And of course, just like Middle School, no matter how fast you scramble or how well you consider your seat, after a few Middle School months (Law Firm Years) you will want nothing more than to leave your table and sit somewhere else, anywhere else (lateral).

At least the firms let us comparative shop during 1L and 2L year.

Law: Bidding

September 9, 2008

Yesterday I submitted my bids for OCI this comming year.  Thankfully our school doesn’t screen which means that we are in the somewhat fortunate position of being able to select who we want to have the chance to at least meet.  The drawback is, firms have to do a day of interviewing kids they had no say in interviewing.  Based on my job search goals and the number of bids we have (35) I allocated my bids according to the following formula. 

22 Bids: Every firm in the city I want to work in with the exception of the IP shops and the real estate only firm (I can’t even pretend to like real estate). 

3 Bids:  Las Vegas firms.  If I’ve got extra bids, I might as well use them.  At least here if I do manage a callback I get to spend a night in the most fun city on the planet.

2 Bids:  San Diego.  See Las Vegas and add the fact that its less clear that my interest in San Diego is fake compared to my “interest” in Vegas.

1 Bid:  A consulting company.  I want to see what a consulting interview is like, this seems like the chance.

Tonight was the first firm reception of the 2L season and I must say, the firm starting the year on a bad foot.  Tonight’s host was A&O,  “Magic Circle” firm with a HEAVY international slant.  If you didn’t know that going in, don’t worry, they mentioned it about 80 times in the 40 minutes I was there.  Before I go through the normal categories, I want to voice one general thought about these types of events:  NO TALKS!  Seriously.  Every once in a while a firm thinks they need to give a little speech (or usually a series of little speeches) to make these things worth it.  Not so.  Just have people hang out, drink, and eat.  It will be better for everybody.  I have yet to see a firm that said one useful thing in a speech.  They all follow the same path:  A partner tells you you can do whatever you want and that the firm is special, then a junior associate talks about all the early responsibility, somebody else promises cutting edge deals (usually with an example) and they conclude by talking about client contact and say you should think about them.  Wow, great job guys… oh wait….. no, boring.  Anyway, on to the normal categories:

Food:  Worst. Food. Ever.  There was table that looked like it was set up for by people that hate meat.  Sushi plus grilled veggies and hummus…. what selection.  Earth to firm, some people like meat. Later on they had a short tray pass, wild mushroom puffs (passable) and bacon wrapped scallops (very good, but should have been on the table). 

Booze:  Boarderline worst ever.  Wine and beer only, low end general stuff.  VERY CHEAP, not very fun.

Venue:  The only cool part about this reception.  The event was held at the Harvard Faculty Club, a neat little place with a lot of history that seemed pretty impressive.  The space was big and open, definately no crowding, but the fact that very few people came might be a part of that.

Attorney Contact:  NONE, this part was great, but then again, I was only there for 20-30 minutes.

Swag:  Gum and sharpies…… blah.  Actually…. super blah.  I may chew the gum, so it beats pens, but still….. lame.

Overall I give this reception a 1 out of 5, worst one yet.

Law: OCI Orientation

September 3, 2008

Today marked a turning point in my year in two ways.  First, it was the last day before classes begin at HLS, which means my summer is no officially over.  Sad day.  Additionally, today also marked the beginning of the job search season.   If you are Harvar Law School, how exactly do you signal the beginning of the job search season?  Simple.  By holding a MASSIVE Pep Ralley informational session in the school gym the Ames Courtroom to talk about how awsome your school is compared to everybody else explain the basics of how the job search works, what the rules are, and how to conduct a search in addition to also calming down students who realize the economy is in the crapper.

To sum up today’s meeting in a single sentence:  We are all on a first date eating fish on a train that cannot be stopped which is currently passing over a series of three year bridges, under which there is a stream connecting a big and small pond. 

Needless to say, the presentation was metaphore-tastic.  Anyway, instead of rehashing the job search details, which is boring as hell, I’m going to note the five things I will most remember from this program:

1.  Harvard Law students get jobs in bad economies, other schools not so much (according to OCS).

2.  The ability to use a computer to place bids and upload a resume is the single most important skill in job searching at HLS.

3. Its a lot easier to search for a job at a big firm and make 160K (or 120, 135, or 145K depending on the market) than it is to work for the government and make 45K.

4. If you don’t care about your search and go with the flow, you will end up in NY with both less free time and less money…. sad.

5. Even after 1L is over, people still cling to their section socially, awkward.