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How do firms actually decide on the winner candidates for 2L summer jobs?

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Do they just sit in a big room and discuss the candidates 1 by 1? or they have a list of people by schools? anyone have insight into this? (talking about larger/mid size Bay St firms)

Also - who makes the decisions? associates? partners? the actual recruiters?

Edited by GreysAnatomy

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They sit in a room (not necessarily that big, it can be quite crowded!) and discuss them one by one. There's a list of people everyone agrees is getting an offer, a list of people everyone agrees isn't, and then you hash out the remaining ones one by one until you have consensus. We always went by consensus at my firm - no one was getting an offer unless everyone in the room agreed.

(Which didn't necessarily mean everyone agreed the best candidate was getting the offer, but everyone agreed that the room was decided and we were ready to accept the decision.)

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The room was our recruiting person, and a mix of partners and associates, roughly half and half, but a few more associates most years. The partners naturally had more weight when they spoke, but no one would disregard what the associates had to say by any means.

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Yeah, from what my BF said, they had a meeting and went through the list name by name. I know they were at it for quite a while because I was waiting for him to call me. People went to bat for the candidates they liked and had to get a consensus on them and it got quite heated. He also said it was a mix of associates and partners. They tried to figure out which department/areas people would fit into and the people working in the area where they thought the candidate would likely end up were given greater weight as to what they said.  

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Are the people who are in this room only the people on the hiring committee? Or are the other lawyers that the students met with involved in this process? 

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At my firm, lawyers who met with students provided feedback to the people going into the room.

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We have a hiring committee consisting of partners that review the short reports written up by the associates that candidates met with as well as the mini-report prepared by recruitment on grades/resume. The partners you met with were either on the hiring committee or join the committee to review you. You probably met an associate who works very closely with the most senior partner you met. They will talk among themselves and that most senior partner can definitely get you not-hired, and has a lot of sway to get you hired. 

 

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14 hours ago, Jaggers said:

They sit in a room (not necessarily that big, it can be quite crowded!) and discuss them one by one. There's a list of people everyone agrees is getting an offer, a list of people everyone agrees isn't, and then you hash out the remaining ones one by one until you have consensus. We always went by consensus at my firm - no one was getting an offer unless everyone in the room agreed.

(Which didn't necessarily mean everyone agreed the best candidate was getting the offer, but everyone agreed that the room was decided and we were ready to accept the decision.)

What are some of the most common factors that determine whether someone who is on the fence is or isn't getting an offer? 

What puts someone on the "isn't getting an offer" list right away?

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Usual caveat that my experience with this is in the context of the articling recruit (which, I understand, is comparable to in-firms).

15 hours ago, tuquoque said:

Are the people who are in this room only the people on the hiring committee? Or are the other lawyers that the students met with involved in this process? 

We don't have a hiring committee - for us, the people in the room are those who conducted interviews. The exception to this is the meeting after our reception, which is open to any lawyers who attended the reception. Our meetings are the same as others have described above, though - discussing individual candidates, figuring out  definite yeses/nos, arguing for or against certain people, eventually reaching some sort of consensus. Certain partners tend to have a bit more sway in the discussion, but everyone there is heard out and everyone's opinion has value.

2 hours ago, drankcoffee said:

What are some of the most common factors that determine whether someone who is on the fence is or isn't getting an offer? 

What puts someone on the "isn't getting an offer" list right away?

It's pretty varied. Maybe someone is very obviously (to us) more interested in social justice or government work than private practice. Maybe someone talked about their deep involvement in controversial or radical ideological groups to everyone they met. Maybe someone somehow made no impression on anyone / no one could remember them.

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21 hours ago, Jaggers said:

The room was our recruiting person, and a mix of partners and associates, roughly half and half, but a few more associates most years. The partners naturally had more weight when they spoke, but no one would disregard what the associates had to say by any means.

How do they decide what associates get to be in the room?

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You start off doing some interviews, then get more and more involved in the process until you get voluntold to be at the meeting.

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On 11/12/2017 at 12:07 AM, Jaggers said:

The room was our recruiting person, and a mix of partners and associates, roughly half and half, but a few more associates most years. The partners naturally had more weight when they spoke, but no one would disregard what the associates had to say by any means.

Just going to further elaborate.  (That should be my family motto.)

Partners are given more weight not only because of their comparative heft in the firm, but because they're privy to financial information that associates are not.  The associates might all be beaming that we have the perfect person for the competition law group, but the partners secretly know that Judy has been struggling in her practice and has nowhere near enough work to support an articling student.  They're also, obviously, the people whose personal funds we are spending to hire these kids, so if they don't like someone we can't really force them to part with their cash.

On that note, though, I often find students that are peeved to meet, or are otherwise dismissive of, associates in their interviews.  Those students need to shut up and do their interviews.  You literally don't know who you're dealing with. 

Yes, perhaps it is the case that the associate you're meeting with is a nobody.  But it's also completely possible that she's a superstar being given the leeway to hire her own future staff.  And it's definitely possible that the associate you're meeting with is the junior to a VIP, and that VIP trusts the associate implicitly and completely defers to her judgment.  Winning Becky might be the same as winning Robert.  And it's almost certain that the associates you're meeting with are considered strong partnership candidates themselves, and are therefore considered good judges of character.  (Whether or not that's an accurate assumption is addressed in a recent Globe & Mail piece that actually could have been much more aggressive than it was.)

Overall, associates are closer to your age group and have more free time than partners.  They also give about 60% more of a crap about you and your future and your feelings.  They're much more likely to stand up for you and to argue against you being considered disposable over a single mistake.  There are lots of good reasons why we include them in the process and why you shouldn't dismiss them as often as you apparently do.

On 11/12/2017 at 1:30 AM, tuquoque said:

Are the people who are in this room only the people on the hiring committee? Or are the other lawyers that the students met with involved in this process? 

Only hiring committee.  We submit our interview reports.  Lawyers are chosen to do interviews for all kinds of reasons --- personality fit, similar backgrounds, practice area, student request, great ambassador, impressive resume, etc. --- but one of those factors is the ability to write a good review.  The lawyers that write, "Not a fan" or "Friendly, I approve" don't last long because they don't provide enough information for the committee to deliberate on.

I think that's a good chunk of why I keep getting asked to do interviews but don't end up on the student committee (and why I agree with that decision).  I'm not young and bubbly and fun, and I'm also not a partner; but I can get straight-up Sherlock on y'all and pass along a lot of detail to help in a close decision.

19 hours ago, drankcoffee said:

What are some of the most common factors that determine whether someone who is on the fence is or isn't getting an offer? 

What puts someone on the "isn't getting an offer" list right away?

CLMs.

Does anyone even use that phrase anymore?  It was ironic in usage when I first heard it a decade ago.  Anyway.  A significant "career-limiting move" will obviously tank you.  I've had students disrespect partners in the interview, start cursing and demonstrating a temper, make sexist and anti-Semitic comments, etc.  This year I gave an interview with a second-year associate, and the candidate was very polite and deferential to me, but would consistently talk over her like she didn't exist.  That's a hard "no".   

Other obvious "no"s are students that couldn't make a professional presentation.  Usually it's no one thing that does it, but we'll have guys rolling in here with their shirts half-untucked, tie mangled into an angry neckfist, jacket with more wrinkles than a Shar Pei, sweating and bubbling over with vocal fry, giving robotic, one-liner answers and looking relieved every time he can stop talking.  If ten people have that same experience with the candidate, it's hard to prefer him to people that come in looking sharp in their cheap suit and answering questions genuinely. 

Also, depending on the firm, overly gregarious or overly dull students --- people that just clearly don't fit the culture of the firm --- are easy to weed out.  It's not a good thing at my firm if I write "Firm X (who has a totally different business model, culture and client base) will fall all over themselves for this guy."

Finally, on the other side, you have to count out the monster-truck, pyrotechnic-slam-dunk students that we would all pitch in our personal money to hire, but that clearly have other plans.  Once we get a whiff that we're #4 or 5 on your list, we have better things to do with our time in a buyer's market.

 

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13 hours ago, Starling said:

How do they decide what associates get to be in the room?

 

12 hours ago, Jaggers said:

You start off doing some interviews, then get more and more involved in the process until you get voluntold to be at the meeting.

It depends on needs, too.  You need some representation from each group within the firm, each law school, you need to have a good mix from a diversity standpoint, and you typically want the best ambassadors for your brand.  (Some firms, of course, do a vastly better job of this than others.)

So someone like me, a WASP who really enjoys mentorship but has a wife and a kid and whose idea of a fun Saturday night is a bottle of Cabernet and the new Gillian Sze collection, is maybe not the best candidate.  I'd love to be on the committee, but I'd be the first to point out that we've got 40 people that would do a better job of it.

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2 hours ago, Uriel said:

Just going to further elaborate.  (That should be my family motto.)

House Finch, ultra modum accurate conficere

2 hours ago, Uriel said:

On that note, though, I often find students that are peeved to meet, or are otherwise dismissive of, associates in their interviews.  Those students need to shut up and do their interviews.  You literally don't know who you're dealing with. 

I find it ridiculous that this is even a thing. I feel like, as a candidate for an interview, you should be grateful for being given the opportunity in the first place and not care who you get put in front of. If, for any reason, because there’s no way you’re going to look good trying to “right that wrong”.  But also because, as you said, you have no idea why you’re being put in front of the person on the first place, and how arrogant would you have to be to assume you know something about how the process works at the firm. And also how narcissistic do you have to be to assume only senior partners are worthy of interviewing you?

Some people’s kids. 

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3 hours ago, Uriel said:

On that note, though, I often find students that are peeved to meet, or are otherwise dismissive of, associates in their interviews.  Those students need to shut up and do their interviews.  You literally don't know who you're dealing with. 

Seeing this quoted makes me realize the tone is way off from what was intended.  It sounds power-trippy rather than sounding like the blunt, straightforward advice that was intended.  Let me try that again.

I would strongly advise these students not complain to their interviewers/articling students/recruiters about any disappointment they might have in "only" being assigned an interview with associates, because those students do not and cannot know who those associates are, or why they were chosen.  They should just go forward with the interview.

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2 minutes ago, Rearden said:

Huh. I thought firms just picked names out of a hat.

TBH, there are usually people on the bubble where deciding whether they end up on the inside or on the outside is pretty much as random as that.

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1 hour ago, Uriel said:

Seeing this quoted makes me realize the tone is way off from what was intended.  It sounds power-trippy rather than sounding like the blunt, straightforward advice that was intended.  Let me try that again.

I would strongly advise these students not complain to their interviewers/articling students/recruiters about any disappointment they might have in "only" being assigned an interview with associates, because those students do not and cannot know who those associates are, or why they were chosen.  They should just go forward with the interview.

On a tangent, I'm curious whether this is still a thing anyplace. I knew one firm years ago that made it a point to ask the receptionist about whether any of the interviewees they'd just seen stood out as being particularly pleasant versus unpleasant, etc., a variant of the waiter rule.

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I'd like to see that.

Nearest thing I have for you is that time a student thought a fourth-year associate on the hiring committee was a waitress and upbraided her for not refilling the salad.

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