Question & Answer
January 08, 2013
I am an eighth-year associate who graduated from a law school ranked around 25th. I am currently trying to get a job at one of the high-paying firms in Manhattan. I am frustrated because I have friends working at these firms who either a) went to schools of lower caliber or b) had grades equal to or worse than mine. (I have over a 3.0.) I have excellent credentials as a writer and was published in a law journal.
Incidentially, I called your recruiting office, and they would not even accept my resume.
What can I do to increase my chances of getting into a good firm and how do other, less-qualified people manage it . . .
In ordinary times and in an ordinary profession you wouldn't be writing to me. You would be sought after by many employers and would be fending off multiple job offers. However, you are not living in ordinary times and you certainly are not working in an ordinary profession.
About four and a half years ago you would have been offered jobs at all of those "top, top-paying" firms where your friends are currently working. As I have written previously, I was placing people in those firms at that time that I couldn't believe were being hired. You would have been snapped up by any firm that asked you in for an interview.
But, that was then and this is now.
I suspect your friends who are working at these firms who have grades equal to or worse than yours or went to schools that are ranked lower than yours have been working at their firms for a number of years already. More than likely they were hired before September of 2008.
Aside from the tough job market that exists today, I need to point out some of the tough reality that also is standing in your way from getting a job with those firms where you want to work. First of all, as I have explained many times, coming from a law school ranked around number 25 means that you need to have more that a 3.0 GPA. That just isn't going to cut it in today's job market with the New York BigLaw firms.
But what is really standing in your way is that you are an eighth year associate now. The firms simply are not going to bring on someone who is going to be competing for a partnership slot with other senior associates who have been with the firm for a significant period of time already. It would be a devastating blow to the morale of their own senior associates who have no idea if they are going to make partner or be asked to leave the firm. Unless you can bring a significant book of portable business along with you, these firms are not interested in hiring yet another senior associate. They are concerned enough about the ones they already have.
As far as my firm not even accepting your resume when you called, I hope the recruiter you spoke with explained why h/she was taking this position. Quite frankly, we don't want to give you false hope that we are able to do something for you. We honestly believe that someone in your position an eighth year associate from a number 25 ranked law school with a 3.0 grade point in today's job market most likely would be hurt rather than helped by a search firm. It would be so very unfair and dishonest - for us to tell you that we could place you in a BigLaw firm when we know that our clients are not going to pay us a fee for you. Our recruiters are expected to explain this to you and to tell you that you would be better off to conduct your job search on your own without a fee attached to your candidacy.
We are not in the business to take on the resumes of people when we know we cannot help them. We do not tell people we will see what we can do for them when we know that our clients are going to reject their candidacy. We are in the business of being honest and suggesting other methods of job searching if we are unable to be of assistance to you. I hope you understand our position and I certainly hope that the recruiter you spoke with in our office explained all of this to you thoroughly and professionally.
I suggest at this time that you set your sights on mid-size and smaller boutiques that might be able to take some senior level associates as well as looking as in-house opportunities where, as an eighth year attorney you are now a prime candidate. Of course, if you do have friends in these BigLaw firms, it can't hurt for them to pass your resume on to their partners. Again, as I always advise, network, network, network. Best wishes!
Ann M. Israel