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Throwaway28

What now? [not hired back]

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I'm not getting hired back.

They told me yesterday, in a pretty tactless manner. There was no heads up you're finding out X day e-mail or meeting set up; they just came by my office in the middle of the afternoon and sprung it on me with the door open while I was on hold with the clerk's office.

I'm heartbroken; I really tried my best and I thought I did a good job. I never had any complaints about my work and I thought people liked me. 

Obviously I am also extremely bitter, both about not getting hired back and about how long they took to let me know/ what an uncouth way they went about it. I'd really, really like to tell someone off and then 'work from home' for the rest of the articling period, but I won't. I'll be graceful about it.  

I know the next step is to ask for letters from the people I think liked me, but after that I'm at a loss. Should I make sure I get a letter from a partner? Should I get more than one? Should I ask my letter writers if they know of anyone hiring? Should I start cold calling other firms? Other than the OR and the OBA website, where do firms advertise for associate positions? Where do public employers advertise? Should I contact one of those recruiters? How do people look for jobs after articling? When do people usually hire? How long will it take me to find something? What is the market like for fresh calls? 

I should say that I articled at a Bay Street lit boutique. We They also do a lot of  coverage work. I would like to stay in litigation or find something in administrative or employment law.

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I think this week/last week is pretty standard for when hireback is communicated, and the manner in which it was communicated seems to be standard to. I think your anger at those facts may be misplaced. 

The benefit to that is that you’re not behind the 8-ball on finding a new position, if you act quickly. I know students who opted out or weren’t hired back who already have interviews at big firms in their desired practice groups. 

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Thanks BQ.

That surprises me. All of my friends, across firm sizes and practice areas, heard back weeks ago and knew ahead of schedule when they would find out. I don't mean to wallow or justify feeling hard done by, but this was not the experience of the students I know.  

How did the students you know who didn't get hired back find interviews?

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10 minutes ago, Throwaway28 said:

 Should I make sure I get a letter from a partner? Should I get more than one? Should I ask my letter writers if they know of anyone hiring? Should I start cold calling other firms? Other than the OR and the OBA website, where do firms advertise for associate positions? Where do public employers advertise? Should I contact one of those recruiters? How do people look for jobs after articling? When do people usually hire? How long will it take me to find something? What is the market like for fresh calls? 

Yes, and ask them to call their friends. Yes. Yes. Yes. Sometimes their websites, sometimes through recruiters. Sometimes through their websites, sometimes through public websites, sometimes through recruiters. Yes. Same way that non-law people and the people who didn't get a job through the recruits - calling, asking, applying, repeat. At any time, but spring and fall are generally good times. That depends on you - how much you network, how picky you are, and how good your application is (I saw people take 4 weeks, and others take 18 months. Most found one before the end of the year). The market is never kind to new calls - there are many of you, and your experience is limited - but the market is pretty hot right now, and people are hiring at all levels. 

 

Try hard - do the cold calling, tell your friends, colleagues, peers, teachers, school administration and total strangers that you're looking so that they can think of opportunities too. Lots of people don't get hired back, and the majority of those people get law jobs before the end of the year. Do the legwork, and keep an open mind. 

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I wouldn't say that the manner in which OP was informed is quite the norm among big firms. Usually there's a set day for it and the firm is tactful enough to let all other lawyers know that it's coming up, warning them to be mindful about causing any additional anxiety. Some firms even go out of their way to make sure your schedule is cleared for the rest of the day so you can reflect on the results...it's not good for anyone for you to continue working and dealing with clients if you're an emotional mess.

It's pretty rare that when they tell you comes as a complete surprise (although at one Bay Street law firm, all the articling students were summoned to a surprise meeting where champagne was brought out - all of them were hired back)

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18 months! How do people survive being unemployed that long? I only have enough squirrelled away to last three months with rent and loan payments. :/

 

Network how? Like, go to Advocate's Society events? I'd really rather not call up everyone I know and tell them how half a dozen people I spent 10 months killing myself for decided they're just not that into me, but I guess that will wear of with a few months being unemployed...

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4 minutes ago, Avocadough said:

I wouldn't say that the manner in which OP was informed is quite the norm among big firms. Usually there's a set day for it and the firm is tactful enough to let all other lawyers know that it's coming up, warning them to be mindful about causing any additional anxiety. Some firms even go out of their way to make sure your schedule is cleared for the rest of the day so you can reflect on the results...it's not good for anyone for you to continue working and dealing with clients if you're an emotional mess.

It's pretty rare that when they tell you comes as a complete surprise (although at one Bay Street law firm, all the articling students were summoned to a surprise meeting where champagne was brought out - all of them were hired back)

Thank you.

I left early to go home and cry about it. I would have really appreciated hearing at the end of the day or on a Friday so it wasn't  super obvious to everyone what was happening. 

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Don’t wait that long. 

Look, this is intensely personal and feels personal and it’s thrown you pretty hard. Take some time to absorb it, but detach your brain from your emotions and get moving. Time is currently on your side but won’t be for long. 

Imagine if this happened to your best friend. What would you tell him or her? Get the resume up to date, get a reference from some one you worked with well, approach who ever was mentoring you and ask for help finding another position. Call your friends who work at places you want to work - ask if there’s room and if they say maybe, follow up with that place formally. Take a look at your top five dream places, get your transcripts and CV together, work hard on your cover letter, apply. 

This happens every year to a lot of people. You are not alone. How you act now will matter. Be professional, even if you just want to curl up into a ball or throw things. It’s your first hurdle. You can clear it. 

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13 minutes ago, Hegdis said:

Don’t wait that long. 

Look, this is intensely personal and feels personal and it’s thrown you pretty hard. Take some time to absorb it, but detach your brain from your emotions and get moving. Time is currently on your side but won’t be for long. 

Imagine if this happened to your best friend. What would you tell him or her? Get the resume up to date, get a reference from some one you worked with well, approach who ever was mentoring you and ask for help finding another position. Call your friends who work at places you want to work - ask if there’s room and if they say maybe, follow up with that place formally. Take a look at your top five dream places, get your transcripts and CV together, work hard on your cover letter, apply. 

This happens every year to a lot of people. You are not alone. How you act now will matter. Be professional, even if you just want to curl up into a ball or throw things. It’s your first hurdle. You can clear it. 

Thank you, this is good advice. It does feel personal, and I am pretty fucked up about it. 

What do you mean by 'time is on my side'?

 

 

 

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Well, right now a number of people are not getting hired back, but some of them still don’t know it. Your competition pool is smaller as of this moment. 

Also, much easier to find a job when already working. Harder to account for three - six - twelve months spent not working on the old resume. But “am finishing articles, looking to move on to other things” is a perfectly normal and benign basis for a job search. 

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9 minutes ago, Throwaway28 said:

Thank you, this is good advice. It does feel personal, and I am pretty fucked up about it. 

What do you mean by 'time is on my side'?

First of all, they broke the news to you in a silly way. If that happened to me, I'd be pissed off too. I know of friends at other firms who were given a heads up and told in a respectful manner. But you have to move forward.

 Go around your office and ask for leads. Don't just ask if they know of people hiring. Ask them about firms or lawyers that are particularly busy. Those firms may be thinking about getting extra hands and you can capitalize on that by sliding in your application. Applying to formally advertised positions is a shitshow because of the sheer number of applications the firm is receiving.

Update your resume, get your references and network like crazy. You're at a litigation boutique, so I assume that you're sent to court often. Talk to the lawyers there. Get to know them and see if they have any leads.

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29 minutes ago, Throwaway28 said:

18 months! How do people survive being unemployed that long? I only have enough squirrelled away to last three months with rent and loan payments. :/

 

Network how? Like, go to Advocate's Society events? I'd really rather not call up everyone I know and tell them how half a dozen people I spent 10 months killing myself for decided they're just not that into me, but I guess that will wear of with a few months being unemployed...

I have no idea. Debt, family, lottery winnings? I'm not sure.

In any case, apply for EI ASAP, since it takes a while before they pay you.

 

There is no single way to network. However, the primary ways would be as follows :

- a connection through an external event (we met in university, our spin class, volunteering);

- a connection at an event for networking (OBA, LSUC, Advocates society);

- a warm-call (your friend, teacher, parent, client, former boss says "I will connect you with someone"); and 

- a cold-call (the terrifying process of calling someone you've never met and who has no time and asking to meet them for coffee to "learn about their practice"). 

I put those in order of ease. It is most natural when you meet through your outside activities, and least natural when you call them up. However, the list is also in order of luck-dependence. You might run into the perfect contact at your weekly running group, but you have minimal control over that. You have total control over whether you can cold call people. 

Personally, I would start by asking my network to help me reach out to people, then make a list and start calling.

 

As for telling people... Sure. It sucks. But you need to take over this story, because you can't escape it. Hiding it won't change that, and no, you weren't fired. 

You got fantastic experience on your contract student position, but they didn't have capacity for another full time associate, so you're out looking with a smile on your face! You had such a great time, learned so much, and are passionate about JUSTICE/ADVOCACY/HUMAN RIGHTS/THE CONSTITUTION/MINING TRANSACTIONS!! You can talk the talk, walk the walk, and have rehearsed stories about your transferable skills!

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1 hour ago, Throwaway28 said:

I'm not getting hired back.

They told me yesterday, in a pretty tactless manner. There was no heads up you're finding out X day e-mail or meeting set up; they just came by my office in the middle of the afternoon and sprung it on me with the door open while I was on hold with the clerk's office.

I'm heartbroken; I really tried my best and I thought I did a good job. I never had any complaints about my work and I thought people liked me. 

Obviously I am also extremely bitter, both about not getting hired back and about how long they took to let me know/ what an uncouth way they went about it. I'd really, really like to tell someone off and then 'work from home' for the rest of the articling period, but I won't. I'll be graceful about it.  

I know the next step is to ask for letters from the people I think liked me, but after that I'm at a loss. Should I make sure I get a letter from a partner? Should I get more than one? Should I ask my letter writers if they know of anyone hiring? Should I start cold calling other firms? Other than the OR and the OBA website, where do firms advertise for associate positions? Where do public employers advertise? Should I contact one of those recruiters? How do people look for jobs after articling? When do people usually hire? How long will it take me to find something? What is the market like for fresh calls? 

I should say that I articled at a Bay Street lit boutique. We They also do a lot of  coverage work. I would like to stay in litigation or find something in administrative or employment law.

First of all, I’m sorry you’re feeling bad right now. I wouldn’t agree that that is the usual way to let a student know they aren’t being hired back. Most firms are a bit more sensitive about how they go about it. That being said, I wouldn’t assume they did it that way out of malice - they are probably just busy and were a bit thoughtless in getting this unpleasant task done as soon as possible. Also, I wouldn’t waste time dwelling on what has already happened - you have work to do!

I agree with the other posters - not getting hired back is not uncommon and is not necessarily a reflection on you. There are all kinds of reasons a firm can’t keep someone. However, I think it would benefit you to sit down with your bosses ASAP to discuss your performance during articles and what they see as your strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement, and ask if they have any leads for you and/or are prepared to be positive references.

It is important that you be professional in this meeting - no crying or complaining, come prepared with an agenda/questions figured out and be as brief as possible. 

Beyond that, everyone else gave you good advice about job hunting. Get your EI in place and treat looking like a full-time job because it is. Never be ashamed to tell anyone and everyone, law and non-law connections, that you are finishing articles and looking for a job. This is normal and people are unlikely to think badly of you. A lot of jobs are never formally posted and so you need to get the word out. Summer may be slow for hiring but the fall is busy so you should spend the summer polishing up your network. And enjoy a summer where you have at least some income (EI) and a job - job hunting - with reasonable hours that you control. That may not happen for a while so take some time to enjoy the outdoors, finish personal projects you may not have time later, spend time with loved ones, exercise etc. This will also control your stress levels. 

It doesn’t seem like it now, but statistics suggest you will be fine :) Good luck!

 

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Caveat: my relevant experience was long ago, and what those above have said is all good also.

OP, you just found out yesterday, this is a holiday weekend. Other than, don't do anything rash or rude and keep on top of your work, there's nothing you need to do right now! (subject to, you may be doing work on a deadline...).

Longer-term (for the remaining time) continue to do good work, as you note you will speak to lawyers you've done work for at the firm to see about their willingness to act as a reference or if they have any suggestions for you, as it's a boutique it's not like you have lots of people to choose from. Speak to your mentor/principal, even if you're upset at them be pleasant, and get feedback as well as advice. Worst they can do is be unhelpful. I assume you've already passed the bar exams, if not obviously you have that to prepare for!

Depending upon your financial situation (and, at the time, EI was fine with not looking for work for a few months not collecting EI without losing eligibility for when I resumed looking, I do NOT know what it's like now), if you can afford it, is there anything personal or professional development-wise you want to do before starting your job search? I mean, agreeing with the above, but given as noted the summer is slow for hiring, is there anything specific you want to do? I wasn't hired back and when my articles ended within 2 months I'd taken a NY bar exam course, written the NY bar, spent a few days after the exam vacationing in NYC, and then attended a major legal conference (more for interest's sake and professional development, not networking purposes). Then I had bar ads (at the time, different from now). Someone else I knew had really wanted to do an academic LL.M. and did so after articling. I'm not saying you should do any of these things, I'm just saying that if there's something you want to do or that might be useful to you in the future (NOT saying an LL.M. or foreign call would be useful to you!), now might be a good time? Again, assuming affordability.

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Yeah, it sounds like it was handled poorly, but don't dwell on that - lawyers aren't HR experts, it almost certainly wasn't done out of malice.   I can understand where you're coming from, but being bitter or telling someone off, no matter how satisfying, isn't going to help you going forward.

Don't take it personally or as a reflection on you.  I've seen lots of good students not get hired back, and lots of good people leave firms.  Maybe they just didn't need an associate, maybe you weren't a good "fit" for them, whatever, that doesn't mean someone else won't snaffle you up or that you won't be a star somewhere else - I can think of a number of people who my firm let go or didn't hire back, who are considered stars elsewhere. 

Maintain a good relationship with your firm and the lawyers, they're going to be your best allies in terms of getting hired somewhere else.  Whether it's as references, or for leads on who's hiring, they're a valuable resource - when a future potential employer reaches out to them to ask about you (and they might), you don't want their last memory of you being you sulking at home.  Talk to your mentor, talk to lawyers you enjoyed working with or who gave you positive reviews, thank them for the opportunity they gave you.  Be a consummate professional. SO's suggestion of how to handle it with your friends and others is how you handle it with your firm as well.  And, recall, it's a small bar, you will work with them again.  

Providence's advice to get feedback on strengths and weaknesses - if that wasn't already provided - is sound, for your own edification if nothing else.   Nothing will be more valuable to your career that embracing criticism, that's the only way you learn.  

I'll defer to others on job seeking advice, but would just say apply broadly to jobs you're interested in.  If a firm's looking for a 2nd year litigation, apply there  - you may not be what they're looking for, but you may be what they get.  Reach out to friends, update your profile on linked in. If you wrote or co-authored any bulletins or articles while at the firm, get those up there.  While you're still at the firm, when you still have your dockets and emails accessible, make a list of all the types of matters you worked on (at a general level, obviously, nothing confidential or with client information) and what you did on them, and the sorts of skills you demonstrated - if you're sitting in an interview 6 months from now, they maybe harder to remember.  

Above all else, don't let this get you down.  "Failure" (understood as failure to achieve what you wanted) is a part of being human, how you respond to it is a test of your character.  This is a hard time for many law students, because not getting hired back is often the first time in their lives that they've failed to achieve what they've set their minds to you.  Maybe that's you, maybe it isn't, but in any event, you if you've made it this far, you obviously have "something" going for you.  You may not feel like it today, but your self-image going forward should be that you are god's gift to the legal profession and if your current firm didn't recognize that, well, that's their loss, all the better for someone else. 

 

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I am going to pin this as it’s full of good advice and it’s a common query. 

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Thanks guys.

I can't really afford to do anything cool like write the NY bar just to do it. I don't have a lot of savings or (any) family support. 

11 minutes ago, maximumbob said:

I'll defer to others on job seeking advice, but would just say apply broadly to jobs you're interested in.  If a firm's looking for a 2nd year litigation, apply there  - you may not be what they're looking for, but you may be what they get.  Reach out to friends, update your profile on linked in. If you wrote or co-authored any bulletins or articles while at the firm, get those up there.  While you're still at the firm, when you still have your dockets and emails accessible, make a list of all the types of matters you worked on (at a general level, obviously, nothing confidential or with client information) and what you did on them, and the sorts of skills you demonstrated - if you're sitting in an interview 6 months from now, they maybe harder to remember.  

This is great advice, and I'll take it. 

 

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In addition to the above advice, since this has turned more into a general discussion about not being hired back, I'd like to add the following thought that may help.

You wrote "I'd really rather not call up everyone I know and tell them how half a dozen people I spent 10 months killing myself for decided they're just not that into me...." Now I'm not trying to pick out words or find fault with how you've expressed yourself, but there's a fallacy at the centre of this statement that students fall into all the time. It's not necessarily about you at all. If there are ten articling students and nine got hired back then yeah, it's hard to escape the conclusion that whatever separated you from the ones who were kept is probably a real thing. But it sounds like you're in a  small shop and without getting too specific about numbers, it's just wrong to internalize this decision and assume there's anything wrong with you or with the job you did.

Students are conditioned by school and by the forms of competition you've engaged in to this point to imagine that grades, admissions, awards etc are all about your merit as a candidate. Jobs are often not about that at all. If your current employer just doesn't have work for another associate, they aren't going to hire you back regardless. Your salary comes out of their bottom line. No one gets a job in this industry because people like having them around - and quite honestly, people rarely lose jobs only because they are unlikable, if their continued presence is making money for the firm. So while it sounds like the information was conveyed badly, the decision itself may even be one that they regret. It's entirely possible they sat in a room at one point and said "hey, we'd keep this person in a different year, but right now it just doesn't make sense."

Obviously it's not always black and white. If there were two articling students and one got hired back while you didn't, it becomes a question of perspective. Is it really about you that one person performed better than you did? Your ego wants to believe that you're in control of that, and you should be able to beat out someone else for the job that you want. But that other student's ego is saying the same thing. And you can't both be right. If you're in control of beating out that other person, then if they lose out on the job you've just agreed it wasn't in their control but rather in yours. It's a waste of time to dwell on this in nuance. The point is, even if there was some hire back and you didn't make the cut, it still isn't unavoidably a knock against your performance. It just means someone else was even better. Talk to the guy who gets drafted 22nd into the NBA about that. He's one of the best in the world. Does he take it personally each of the 21 times someone else gets drafted above him? Well, yeah, maybe. Some people are just that competitive. But it's not particularly rational to feel that way.

Hope that helps at least a little. The sooner you can accept that you're not always going to win at everything, succeed at everything, and get everything you want, the sooner you can move on from this and take it with some grace, which will be important to what you need to do next. The biggest problem with law students is that most of us have succeeded so damn much in life that we lack coping skills when we finally don't get something we wanted. I'm not saying you should learn to like it. But consider the alternative a bit as a way of putting things in perspective. My clients basically take failure in life for granted. I wouldn't want to change places with them, even on my worst day.

Good luck.

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1 hour ago, Throwaway28 said:

Thanks guys.

I can't really afford to do anything cool like write the NY bar just to do it. I don't have a lot of savings or (any) family support. 

This is great advice, and I'll take it. 

 

I think you can translate @epeeist ‘s advice into more affordable things, though, which was what I was getting at with my point about doing things you have the time to now. You can write the paper you were meaning to and submit it, take CPD through the law society, read for pleasure and professionally, etc. 

When you say you don’t have family support, do you mean financially, or financially and emotionally? If the latter, the law society has resources for confidential counselling that may be helpful. 

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1.  Life takes many twists and turns.  There's a very strong possibility that 5 years from now you'll be very happy where you are, and realize that not getting hired back was a blessing.

2.  Not getting hired back, in many cases, is not a reflection of performance.

3.  Don't burn any bridges.  The lawyers at your current office are one of the best sources you have right now at finding new employment.  

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