Data Security And Your Lateral Job Search

LinkedIn, Facebook, text messages, emails, smartphones, laptops and more, have made attorneys more accessible than ever. For recruiters, easy access facilitates quicker communication. For law firms, all these innovations are sources of potential data leaks.

Thirty years ago, confidential files were physical, and you would have to break into a secure site to steal its contents. Today, most confidential information is stored electronically and many firms have adopted cloak-and-dagger protocols to monitor employee communication, whereabouts, and behavior to prevent data leaks by identifying risky or clandestine behavior. Reportedly, 80% of Am Law 100 firms have experienced a data breach. These breaches span from stolen phones to phishing scams to firewalls breaches.

Law firms are popular targets for data thieves, as a secondary source of information to gather confidential documents on their major corporate clients. Law firms are often slower to adapt to modern technology. In the past, firms have modest security protocols compared to corporations and thus offer an easier avenue of access. The growth of data privacy practices indicates that law firms are starting to take the risks more seriously.

To combat these breaches, law firms have several contingencies and programs in place. Among the oldest and most widely used is email monitoring. Nothing that you type from your work email is truly 100% confidential. Law firms can access your emails at any time. So should you be wary of your firm discovering your emailed plans for making a lateral move?

According to a former high-level IT employee at two Am Law 200 firms, the answer is, not really. According to them, email inspection is not passive. To review an attorney’s emails, the firm would have to go through HR and would only do so when there was ample evidence of a crime or wrongdoing.

Does this mean that your inbox is 100% completely safe from prying eyes? In short, no. The former employee mused that a firm that was hemorrhaging laterals and was in danger of collapsing might forego their established policy to try to stem the flow of lateral movement. Other instances that have upended standard protocol are internal leaks — such as memo leaks to Above The Law — in which case the IT department would sift through all employees’ emails to find the culprit(s). Every printer also embeds a hidden tracking code onto the pages you are printing, making any publicly shared printout, possibly identifiable.

It is important to note that these policies vary by firm. Some have more laissez-faire policies while others have adopted more totalitarian measures.

Additionally, the proliferation of employee monitoring software has made it easier for firms to identify suspicious activity. The caveat here is the same tools that can detect potential data security threats, can also be used to monitor an employee’s likelihood of leaving. New employee monitoring tools can monitor everything you do on your computer. If you’re not responding to your coworker’s IM’s, or are taking longer than usual, this (in tandem with other key indicators) may tip them off that you’re looking to move. Other indicators can include things like regularly updating your LinkedIn profile.

There are many missteps that attorneys make that tips off their firm to an impending lateral move. The most common mistake attorneys make has nothing to do with emailing or web browsing. According to the former IT employee, many firms use programs to monitor several things including library checkouts.

The most telling pattern of behavior is when attorneys check out an unusually large amount of documents (usually in excess of 50) in one day that were marked as read-only, with no edits. In this case, the firm is painfully aware that the attorney is copying their library in preparation for a lateral move.

While firms have all these tools available for monitoring and detection, if you feel apprehensive about conducting a lateral search while at work, your fears are exaggerated. Not all law firm policies are made equal, but most are used to address suspicious activity, not lateral defections. Firms very rarely retaliate against an impending lateral move. As attorney mobility increases year after year and the idea of the lifer attorney is largely lost, firms see lateral attrition as a cost of doing business rather than a personal affront.

In general, use common sense when conducting a lateral search. It’s never good to tip your hand before you play your cards. Use personal accounts and devices to answer emails and calls when possible, but an initial email back to a recruiter providing your personal email is not likely to be flagged as suspicious. That being said, the safest way to start a conversation is to go old school and use your phone.

Job of the Week (In-House): Venture Startup Consulting Company in New York

Firm

Confidential – Register here to find out.

Location

New York, USA

Job Description

We are working with the venture startup advisory arm of a global management consulting company (“consulting company”) advising Fortune 500 corporate clients on ideating, founding, operating, and growing startup companies to disrupt and/or compete in important markets.

The hire for this position will serve as an operational and legal consultant on behalf of consulting company to various venture startups. The hire may also be involved in ideating and pitching concepts for new startup ventures to consulting company’s Fortune 500 clients.

Requirements

  1. JD degree.
  2. Significant experience at a startup such that you are able to advise fledgling companies on common legal and operational problems.
  3. Outstanding team working and communication skills.
  4. A desire and aptitude for business consulting.
  5. Law firm experience serving startups a plus.
  6. A grasp of corporate law pertinent to startups.
  7. AGC or GC experience at a startup, a strong plus.
  8. Management level experience at a startup, a strong plus.

Contact

Ata Farhadi

 

Job of the Week: General Counsel for Tech Company in Silicon Valley

Company

Confidential – Register here to find out.

Location

Silicon Valley

Job Description

We are working with a Silicon Valley technology company on a search for a General Counsel level position. The ideal candidate will have a range of experience with a technology transactions background.

Compensation ($$$): Very competitive compensation package that includes top of the market base pay and RSUs!

About the Company

  • This company is focused on SAAS and product lifestyle management in the fashion, luxury goods and consumer goods space.

Requirements

  • 10-25 years experience, including in-house technology transactions experience.
  • Preferred experience includes dealing with corporate governance, insurance and subsidiaries.

Contact

Sarah Morris: 

 

How to Prepare for a Lateral Interview as an Associate: Looking to Improve Your Chances of Receiving an Offer?

These are Some Effective Preparation Methods to Ensure a Successful Interview.

As we begin 2020, we enter the busiest time of year for lateral attorney hiring.  Law firms are less focused on on-campus interviewing and concertedly devote more attention to hiring laterals for busy and growing practice groups.  Also, more lateral attorney candidates begin their job searches following annual reviews, bonus distributions, and promotion decisions.  With this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to share our insight and some the most useful preparation activities and strategies for lateral associate interviews.  Research is conclusive, more interview preparation significantly increases the probability of succeeding in the process.

Macro Interview Advice and Typical Law Firm Interview Structure.

As a preliminary matter, as intuitive as it sounds, know that it is important to be relaxed and yourself at the interview.  The sooner you are cognizant and mindful of this, the more likely you are to avoid being overly anxious.  It is common to be nervous before an interview, though when overtaken by anxiety, it can affect our memory and ability to appear confident and knowledgeable.  Interview preparation and the assurance of having carefully thought-out responses for interview questions can help alleviate pre-interview nervousness.  While the interview does assess your relevant experience and legal acumen, it is also an acquainting (i.e. getting to know you) process and being able to carry a conversation exuding a calm and positive temperament will make a lasting favorable impression on your interviewers.

Also, know that you have all the requisite credentials for the position, and you would not have received an interview if you were unqualified.  Although interview preparation is key, meeting firms’ hiring criteria with good grades from a top-ranked law school and a peer-firm background are some of the greatest barriers to entry.  At the interview, the firm is primarily evaluating if you have exposure to and a genuine interest in the types of matters the practice group handles.  The firm is also assessing if your personality meshes with its culture (e.g. collegiality and being team-oriented).  Your objective at the interview is to clearly articulate your relevant experience and these qualities through conversations with your interviewers.  The content scope of law firm interviews mainly entails discussing transactions and matters you have handled and is less focused on hypothetical data-analysis questions common in investment banking and consulting interviews.

With respect to the format of law firm associate interviews.  Most firms have a two-round process.  The initial interview is typically with one or two practice group leaders followed by a second-round interview with four or five additional attorneys, including a mix of partners and associates.  Essentially, you are preparing for 30–45-minute micro-interviews with each person or group of people on your interview schedule.  Though each interviewer is unique, you can expect common themes and similar questions when meeting with most of the attorneys.

Where to Start: Study the Firm and Practice Group Inside and Out Using Key Resources.

One core interview question to expect is “why are you interested in this position and firm?” Having substantive familiarity with the firm and practice group you are interviewing with is critical.  Partners want to hire associates who are uniquely enthusiastic about their firm and practice and imparting your knowledge and understanding of the firm will convincingly demonstrate this.  Being able to reference specific transactions or matters in your answers to questions is impactful.  (e.g. “I am particularly interested in the M&A practice group at your firm because of the opportunity to apply my drafting and negotiating experience on PE buyouts within the healthcare sector”).

Beyond reviewing the firm’s and practice group’s website.  Key resources to study in your preparation checklist are Chambers and Partners (local practice group reviews), Vault, The Legal 500, The American Lawyer, and NALP firm profiles.  These materials delve deeper into the firm’s background, composition, client-base, matters handled, interview style, and recent news and strategic developments.  Make sure to obtain your interview schedule as early as possible and review the attorneys’ bios and, specifically, recent representative matters, news, and recognition or awards.  Also, the attorneys’ LinkedIn profiles are helpful to see if the attorneys have lateraled to the firm themselves.  We here at Lateral Link have a range of general and exclusive access resources allowing our candidates to leverage comprehensive market intelligence beyond what is in the public domain.  A reputable recruiter should be knowledgeable about the particular firm’s and practice group’s structure, culture, and work assignment system and should be able to provide insight and intel based on their strong relationships with the firms and from the experiences and feedback of past-placed attorneys and interviewees.

Practice Describing the Matters You Have Handled and Keep it Conversational.

Another standard behavioral question genre to expect is “tell me about your experience” or “tell me about a case or deal you enjoyed handling recently.”  Perhaps one of the most useful interview preparation activities is to think of 4–5 matters you have recently worked on and be able to describe them in two minutes or less.  Choose transactions or cases that are similar to the interviewers’ and firm’s representative matters.  Remember interviews work best when they flow as an ordinary two-way conversation and are not merely you explaining why you are qualified for the position.  This can lose the interviewer’s attention and present as overly-confident or arrogant.  Instead, you want to subtly sell yourself through conversation.  Detailing tangible examples of transactions or cases that are comparable or complimentary to the firm’s practice most effectively conveys that your experience aligns well with the position.  For example, if you are interviewing with an asset-based lending focused finance practice group, you can describe a recent syndicated secured credit-facility transaction you worked on either in response to a question or as a logical follow-up to a matter the interviewer discussed.  Having these examples in your back pocket to use throughout the interview process is invaluable and will allow you to illustrate the skills you have developed and how you would positively contribute to the practice group.

As you formulate your recent matter descriptions, organize them succinctly.  Legal fact patterns and transactions can be laborious, and you will want to summarize the matters by focusing on the key parties involved, transaction type or cause of action, and your role in the particular matter.  For example, an M&A associate could use:

We recently represented a PE sponsor in the acquisition of a financial services technology company where I had the opportunity to take the first cut of drafting the asset-purchase-agreement.  There were significant representations and warranties and provisions structured into the deal to mitigate risk to our client regarding a pending IP litigation matter.  With many moving pieces and interests, I carefully crafted a hold-back provision that sufficiently covered potential litigation costs and incorporated the valuation of losing the patented technology.  Ultimately, the acquisition was successful, and our client was able to considerably expand their presence in the financial services sector.  They were also contractually protected from any potential litigation drain on profitability.

In organizing matter descriptions, some of our candidates prefer to use the STAR (Situation, Task Action, Result) or SOAR (Situation, Obstacle, Action, Result) formats to concisely detail their relevant experience.  Finally, you should practice your matter descriptions out-loud in front of a mirror or through a mock-interview with your recruiter (this also applies to all other question responses).

Answering “Why are You Looking for a New Position?”

Answering the question of “why are you looking to leave your current firm?” is a two-step approach.  The first step is to make sure to not say anything negative about your current firm and focus on your experience gained.  Speaking negatively about your current firm is unprofessional and, even if you are unhappy at your current firm, emphasize the value of the substantive experience you have received and how you will utilize those foundational skills as an associate with the prospective firm.

The second step in answering this question is to transition into discussing why you are particularly interested in the firm you are interviewing with.  This is another opportunity to exhibit your knowledge about the firm and discuss how joining the firm would be a good fit from a practice perspective.  For example, a litigator potentially joining a top securities litigation practice group, may emphasize being intrigued by the chance to be part of a robust nationally recognized securities class action practice.  They can then discuss specific cases of interest.  Also, if you are relocating to another market you should highlight ties to the city you are interviewing in, such as family and friends in the area or your experience growing up there.  If you are waiving into the bar or taking an upcoming exam in the jurisdiction, you should discuss the steps you have taken to become licensed to further evidence your commitment to the market.

Answering “What is a Weakness that You Have?” or “Tell Me About a Time You Wish You Had Done Something Differently?”

This is probably one of the trickier questions that arises in a law firm interview.  In asking this question, the firm is looking for introspection and the ability to adapt and learn.  In responding, you should use a weakness example that is fair and honest and discuss how you addressed the weakness and improved from it.  For example, a products liability litigation associate could discuss adapting and improving their deposition questions for depositions of CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) employee witnesses regarding product recalls: “I adapted and drafted better deposition outlines by learning the fundamental regulatory question framework.  I read through many deposition transcripts of similar CPSC employees while drafting my deposition outlines.  By implementing this method, I was better able to structure questions to obtain favorable summary judgment testimony.”

In terms of what to avoid with this question, be sure to not use a weakness that will interfere with your ability to perform as an associate, such as weaknesses related to analytical deficits (e.g. missing key issues in matters or fact patterns), meeting tight deadlines, organization, and working in teams.  Also, do not use artificial qualities in your answer, such as “I am an overachiever” or “I work too much.”  Additionally, avoid discussing continuing weaknesses that are unresolved and only use weaknesses you have corrected.  Finally, only discuss weaknesses related to your work experience as the firm is looking for something in the context of your experience as an attorney.

Preparing Questions to Ask the Interviewers.

Make sure to have questions prepared for the portion of the interview, when the attorney interviewer asks, “what questions do you have for me?”  In this segment of the interview, you will want to have meaningful questions beyond asking about readily ascertainable firm facts.  These questions should continue to demonstrate your specific interest in the firm and intellectual curiosity about the practice.  More probing questions can include: “Are there particular aspects of the firm and practice group that you have enjoyed most?” (this is especially relevant if the attorney has practiced with other firms); “The team’s role in the merger of two pharmaceutical companies is intriguing, can you tell me more about your experience being part of that transaction?”; and “Where do you see the direction of the practice group heading over the next five years?”  Other questions that demonstrate, drive and initiative are: “Is there a particular type of associate who thrives in the practice group?” or “What are the matters you are currently handling that you are most interested in?”

Remember, in the interview phase, firms are interested in the value you will bring to the firm and therefore your line of questions should not focus on the benefits or opportunities the firm will provide to you.  Thus, avoid asking questions about what training is available, billable hours, and, of course, compensation.  Firms can interpret these questions as having concern about the amount you will work or showing a lack of self-sufficiency or experience.  While these are valid job search considerations, we recommend waiting until the offer stage to address them when you have more leverage.  Also, a trusted recruiter should be able to answer many of these questions and can advise on how to innocuously approach these topics.

In the lateral process, interview preparation is essential to your success.  Taking the time to review key materials and market intelligence and practicing responses to question genres will substantially distinguish you from other applicants and improve your odds of receiving an offer.  Our renown team of dedicated expert recruiters at Lateral Link thoroughly prepares our associate and partner candidates for their interviews giving them an edge.  If you or someone you know is interested in making a lateral move, feel free to connect with a member of our team and we are happy to assist.

 

 

The Decade Wrapped

As we enter the roaring twenties, we look back on how the landscape of Biglaw has changed over the last ten years – from the height of the recession in 2010 to the recent bullish market. Here are some of the significant trends in from the last decade.

1) No Longer Swiping Left On Law.


Undergraduate students are once again taking the LSAT after the test taking rate dropped to a near nadir in 2015. Though there have been rumblings of a recession – which we have yet to realize – we predict this trend will continue into the new decade if firm expansion and growth continues, providing more landing spots for incoming attorneys.

2) California Dreaming.


Firms extended their reach across the U.S., as the second wave of manifest destiny also…manifested itself. Gone are the days where a California office was seen as a luxury, a sentiment mirrored by 41 Am Law 200 firms that opened offices in Los Angeles in the last decade and another 27 and 25 firms opened office in San Francisco and Palo Alto, respectively. Texas saw firms pour in, especially towards the second half of the decade. We predict smaller markets will continue to burgeon as firms look to take advantage of the relative cost-savings compared to the expensive New York, Los Angeles and D.C. markets, and the propagation of sophisticated clients to what was previously thought of as tertiary markets continues as technology erases physical barriers.

3) Feed Me Seymour.


Lewis Brisbois rounded out the decade as the most popular lateral destination of any Am Law 200 firm, lateralling in 1,914 attorneys, or to put it in more topical terms, the same number of people who went to see Cats during its opening weekend. Their overall headcount grew a healthy 150%. Unsurprisingly, lateral movement correlated strongly with firm size, but some firms take a page from the Lakers and rely much more on lateral movement than entry level hiring.

4) Growth Is Good.

Polsinelli has “glowed up” over the last decade, increasing their headcount a whopping 2200%. In an increasingly competitive landscape, firms are bifurcating largely into two groups – the firms seeking high margin work with a lean staffing model, and a lower margin model that offsets smaller margins with higher volume. What we’ve seen over the last decade is the chasm between these two groups has risen and the middle ground that used to be well populated has become increasingly sparse. We predict as time goes on, this trend will only continue.

5)  PPP For Me.

PPP rose 33% over the course of the decade, and partner compensation rose in tandem. Associate salaries also rose to record highs, but these gains are offset by inflation and rising costs of living. Barring another recession, we predict this trend will continue into the next decade, though the pace of growth may slow.

6) To Everything, Merge, Merge, Merge.

Ten years ago, Sonneschein Nath Rosenthal and Denton Wilde Sapte combined into what would become SNR Denton, a healthy firm with a little over 1,000 attorneys. Ten years later, Dentons is a powerhouse with over 10,000 attorneys after consummating an additional 10 more mergers or acquisitions with firms with over 100 attorneys, the largest of which saw them bring on Dacheng’s 3,000+ attorneys in China. With offices spanning 78 countries, there may soon be a day where there are more countries that have a Denton’s office than those that don’t.