But What Does The Firm Really Do?
You may have run across a law firm which lists, in its practice areas, something you’re very interested in. That fact led you to reach out to that firm, bid for them during OCI or simply include the firm on your list of potential targets for employment. But what if the firm doesn’t really do that type of work? How could that happen? Should you have known? Let’s discuss it.\par \par We encourage all of you to do as much research on potential employers as possible. This is so you can spend time pursuing those you would really want to work for, and also to assist you in presenting well both on paper (e.g. in a cover letter) and in an interview. Let’s say you’re doing that. You’ve gone out to a firm’s website and found that they have about 50 lawyers, and list labor and employment as a practice area. You are fascinated with labor and employment and are excited to make this discovery. So what next? Apply? Bid? Perhaps, but not so fast.\par \par See, sometimes a firm will have an attorney or two who can handle labor and employment matters, but it really isn’t the type of case they generally do or pursue. Therefore when they look to hire, they won’t see a good fit with someone who primarily wants to work in that area. \par \par Another way this can happen is if a firm handled a labor and employment matter several years ago, but hasn’t had one since. They may reference the practice area on their promotional materials but really don’t have any work of that type to justify bringing on a new lawyer.\par \par Finally, some firms are merely trying to break into a particular practice area, and list it in their materials to drive new business. Similar to the previous example, they will likely not have work to give a new associate in that practice area.\par \par How are you supposed to know these things? Most of the time, doing a little deeper research will confirm whether the current lawyers at the firm are actually doing work in the practice area you’re interested in. Check for announcements or news clips on their website or the web generally, which link the firm to the practice area. Go into each attorney’s biography and see how many list your practice area. Within that group, see how many of their biographies are weighted toward your practice area. Several attorneys who are board certified in your practice area would be a good sign. You can also check to see if the firm you’re curious about is one I have visited, and come by to see what notes I may have on them.\par \par If after all that you’re unable to connect the firm to your desired practice area, it is likely they aren’t doing it enough to bring someone on. Having said that, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply, bid or reach out. It simply means you are now well informed and well prepared to discuss your desires and intentions with them, assuming you decide to keep the firm on your list. \par \par Let’s talk through how you might handle one of the prior examples. What if a firm only has one attorney doing the type of law you’re really interested in (A), but is also doing other types of law (B) you could see yourself doing as well? In that case, you could convey how much you would like to work for the firm, have interest in practice area (B), and also would love the chance to help out when appropriate in (A).\par \par You can play out the other examples based off of that one I think. The important point here is to go a bit deeper in your research before writing a cover letter, and for sure before an interview. You don’t want to go all in with a practice area the firm doesn’t have or do much of. And you can really stand out if you are able to show you’ve done your homework and know how your interest and their needs line up. \par \par Connect with Daniel at Daniel_Hare@Baylor.edu and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.\par \par Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: Law Clerks with the Office of the Attorney General – Consumer Protection Division in Dallas (1L, 2L, 3L, law clerk) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply. \par ]]>\par