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Another Success Story in the Bay Area


A. Harrison Barnes
“THE BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF SUCCESS”

“Another corporate attorney comes through in the Bay Area”

Phil*, a graduate of a top law school, had little more than a year of experience as a corporate attorney with a major Silicon Valley firm. Phil was in a particularly dire circumstance because (1) he was a corporate attorney, and (2) had failed the California Bar Exam not once—but twice. Like most major law firms in California, Phil’s was no exception: If you failed the bar exam more than once you were out. Nevertheless, the week the California Bar Exam results came out many of the other corporate associates at Phil’s class year were also being let go.

Like many of the other corporate attorneys who were laid off, Phil tried numerous methods for getting a position. Phil scanned online job boards, contacted recruiters and asked his law school for recommendations of alumni he should contact. Phil did all of these things and conducted his job search for a few hours every day. By December, Phil had not received a single interview. After contacting several recruiting firms, one recruiting firm rejected him and in the rejection recommended he contact Legal Authority.

Phil was fortunate because he did pass the bar on his third attempt. Phil also had performed well in all school and graduated in approximately the top 60 percent of his class. In addition, Phil was not entirely committed to doing corporate work. In fact, Phil had become so disillusioned with the practice of law after his series of unfortunate events, that he was not sure he even wanted to practice law at all. Nevertheless, Phil believed he owed it to himself to push forward. With almost $100,000 in student loans from law school, Phil felt a need to continue working. In addition, although he did not have children, Phil was married and felt an obligation to provide for his family.

Phil was initially skeptical about the use of a service like Legal Authority. According to his Legal Authority Employment Advocate at Legal Authority. His Employment Advocate needed to spend a great deal of time with Phil educating him about Legal Authority and the process of locating a position.

“Phil’s search was complicated by the fact that I really sensed he wanted to change practice areas and he was conducting his search in one of the worst areas of the United States from an employment perspective. Phil believed that if a firm does not advertise a position or hire a recruiter to track down a candidate for an opening that they are worth contacting.” His Employment Advocate also knew that Phil’s search was not going to be an easy one: “Here, in Phil, was a super candidate who had both found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and had not passed the bar after two attempts. He was also in the virtual epicenter of what was wrong with the economy. He was a junior corporate associate and had not worked in over six months. I knew that Legal Authority could help Phil; however, the prognosis was not good.”

Phil and his Employment Advocate spent approximately two hours on the phone strategizing options. Phil, for one, was eager to move out of corporate law and into something he felt would be more stable, like litigation. As a summer associate at both a major New York and San Francisco law firm, Phil had been exposed to litigation work. In addition, Phil spent one year as a paralegal prior to enrolling in law school. During his year as a paralegal Phil had enjoyed the litigation side of his work.

“When I was a second and third year in law school, all anyone was talking about was corporate, corporate, corporate,” Phil told Legal Authority. “Everyone knew that being a corporate associate could be a ticket to a super in-house position and stock options. When I was a corporate associate I gradually came to realize that being a litigator was probably more suited to my personality.”

Phil and his Employment Advocate spoke about the best methods for Phil to conduct his search and Phil believed that he would be best off if he followed his heart and tried to get a litigation position. In the San Francisco legal market, like most legal markets, there are far more firms that do litigation work than corporate work. In addition, the corporate market at the time was, as Phil and his Employment Advocate knew, in poor shape. Phil and his Employment Advocate ultimately decided that the best course would be for Phil to approach approximately 450 large and medium-sized law firms in an effort to secure a position as a litigator.

Phil and resume specialist worked over several versions of a resume and cover letter. According to the Resume Specialist, the largest challenge with Phil’s cover letter was dealing with the fact that Phil would basically take any position offered.

“Phil did not want to put all his marbles in one basket. Essentially, he was hoping that there was a possibility that a corporate position would open up for him if all else failed. This is the type of position I deal with all the time and Phil and I handled this quite well.”

Because Phil had done litigation work during his time as a summer associate at the firm he was let go from, he was able to describe this experience in addition to the small amount of corporate work he had done as an associate while waiting his bar results. Phil’s final cover letter and resume reflected that he had done both types of work. In addition, the cover letter was geared more heavily towards Phil’s interest in litigation but also described his corporate experience in enough detail that it would stick out to employers.

Phil received his package from Legal Authority on a Saturday. On Sunday he signed his cover letters and mailed them out on Monday. What happened next surprised Chris. By Wednesday he had already received 5 interviews. While 4 of the 5 interviews were with medium sized firms, the fifth interview was with the San Francisco office of a major New York City based law firm. By Friday, Chris had received over 10 interviews and by the middle of the following week he had received over 15 interviews.

Chris called his Employment Advocate immediately the day he received his first interviews. Two weeks later, he called his Employment Advocate again to tell her he had accepted a litigation position with a mid-sized San Francisco firm at a salary that was identical to what he was formerly making with the major San Francisco firm. And about the major New York law firm?

Phil was quite clear: “I do not think I am ever going to want to work for a big firm again. I expect to be a partner in five years at my present firm. If there is anything I would recommend to attorneys searching for a job it is this: Don’t use Legal Authority as a last resort. I could have been employed more than four months ago if I had used it as my first resort.”

*Names have been changed to maintain our level of inviolable secrecy, but this is a 100% true success story.

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