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8 Time Management Tips for Young Lawyers

As an associate, you often have limited control over your own schedule — but there are still some actions you can take to improve your use of time and cut out unnecessary stress.

If you’re an associate, you’re probably thinking, “What?! As if I have any control over my own schedule!” And you’re right, your ability to manage your time will never be perfect.

I understand. I was an associate myself for seven-plus years. But there are still some actions you can take to improve your use of time and cut out some of the unnecessary stress.

I understand. I was an associate myself for seven-plus years. But there are still some actions you can take to improve your use of time and cut out some of the unnecessary stress.

  1. When you are given a new assignment, always ask right away what the deadline is. I can’t tell you how many times as an associate I failed to ask this important question because I said to myself, “This will take no time at all, I can do it right away,” only to have a more urgent task land on my desk — and I wished I’d asked upfront instead of begging for more time later on.
  2. Many of us lawyers are Type A personalities, and we love that feeling of completing a task and checking it off the “to do” list. But I find the easiest way to prevent procrastinating about the next task is to start it right away. Just get three minutes in, then you can take that coffee or bathroom break. When I’m jumping back into an established rhythm instead of getting my mind around a new project, it’s much easier to get back to work.
  3. Believe that there is no such thing as a huge, daunting project. Everything can be broken down into smaller, bite-sized morsels. Take on one mini-project at a time.
  4. Put everything on your calendar. I assume I won’t remember anything. I include project deadlines and my to-do list items as 30-minute calendar entries. I have repeating calendar reminders to pay my credit card bills, renew my dog’s license annually… there is nothing in my life not on my calendar because the last thing I want to be stressed about is that I may have forgotten something I need to be stressed about!
  5. I also block time for work (and personal) projects on my calendar. Even if I end up changing the start and end times multiple times, it helps me to be able to eyeball my projects for the day, estimate how long they will take, and plan accordingly.
  6. Find ways to use your down time productively. What down time? Even law firm associates have down time. Mine often came at 1 a.m. as I was waiting on a senior lawyer to send me the next mark-up. But I was determined to reclaim this time for myself. So what did I do? I started a travel blog. It was a creative outlet I could turn to even at my desk in the middle of the night. So those late nights in the office were not a complete waste in terms of my personal life. I also made a point of having dinner with a work friend almost every night, even if it was for 10 minutes at their desk or mine. If you’re not inclined to start a blog or write a novel or screenplay, use your scarce breaks to update your resume and deal sheet, work on a business plan, keep in touch with contacts (build relationships!). Or research for your next vacation! Have a plan for how you’ll use your free time so it doesn’t go to waste.
  7. Whatever your goal may be — hitting the gym a few times a week, putting together a business plan, catching up with one law school classmate each day — establish an accountability partner. It could be a friend, a colleague or even a journal. Keeping track will help keep you honest!
  8. If you’re truly feeling underwater, ask for help. Firms are investing more and more into associate life and associate development resources. Even if you’re not comfortable talking with a partner, there is likely someone you can talk with. And you can always reach out to a trusted recruiter to learn what your realistic options might be for a new job offering a better work-life balance.

Making small changes to your daily routines may buy you only a few extra minutes each day at this stage in your career, but these actions will help you build good habits for when you do gradually take on more control of your schedule. I’d love to hear what time management tricks have worked for you!

How Did Biglaw Firms Fare Financially In 2020?

Pretty, pretty well, in terms of both revenue and profit.

Color me surprised — or even shocked. I’ve been following the American Lawyer’s early reporting on Am Law 200 law firm financials for 2020, and the numbers so far are good, even great.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and recession that made life so miserable for millions last year, law firms did very well for themselves. Check out this table, showing the firms that Am Law has covered so far and the year-over-year change in their revenue per lawyer (RPL) and profit per equity partner (PPEP):

(If you like, you can access this spreadsheet as a Google Doc here, which also allows you to sort the firms by the change in their RPL and PPEP.)

Of the 29 firms listed above, all posted increases in profit per partner, many of them well into the double digits. The highest figure so far, a 46.6 percent increase, was reported by Crowell & Moring (which led me to declare Crowell my Law Firm of the Week last week). But the firm had plenty of company, with eight other firms posting PPEP increases of 20 percent or more.

Now, the increases in profit per partner might be somewhat understandable, given how the pandemic and working remotely led to dramatic drops in many firms’ expenses, such as rent (in some cases), utilities, travel, and entertainment. And yes, some firms did engage in layoffs last year as well.

But revenue per lawyer, which industry observers generally regard as the better metric of law firm financial health (since it’s less subject to manipulation than PPEP), also increased for almost all firms — not as dramatically as PPEP, but still significantly. In recent years, RPL growth in the low single digits has been quite common in Biglaw; but last year, if these early numbers are representative of the whole, perhaps half of Am Law 200 firms enjoyed RPL growth of 5 percent or more in 2020.

In light of these robust revenues and profits, one can understand why law firms paid out “COVID bonuses.” Take Cooley, which kicked off the trend by announcing “appreciation bonuses” in September 2020. The firm posted PPEP growth of a whopping 25.4 percent in 2020. Had Cooley not paid out special bonuses, then reported PPEP growth in excess of 25 percent, it would have had a lot of unhappy campers among its associates and staff.

Congratulations to these firms on their strong performances in 2020. People like to say that lawyers are not good businesspeople, but clearly lawyers are doing something right. The ability of the legal sector to do so well during a period of great difficulty for many other industries is a testament not just to the talent and hard work of Biglaw lawyers and staff, but also to firm leadership. So the next time you encounter one of your firm’s leaders, perhaps in a Zoom town hall rather than in a hallway or conference room, thank them for successfully shepherding your firm through some very dark days.

What do these strong numbers mean for lawyers interested in lateral moves? They indicate that now is a safe time to transition to a new opportunity. Last spring, when the pandemic was at its peak, the economy was in a recession, and law firms were very worried about how they’d fare, it was a risky time to move; candidates feared moving to firms that might hit rough patches after their arrival, threatening their job security as associates or their practices as partners. But now that the economy is on the mend and law firms are not just surviving but thriving, it’s a good time to move to a firm where you’d be more fulfilled.

If you’re thinking about a possible move, please feel free to reach out to me or any of my colleagues to discuss possible opportunities. We look forward to hearing from you.

To Clerk, Or Not To Clerk?

Whether you should do a clerkship depends on a number of factors, as this handy flowchart by Abby Gordon explains.

An important question for law students and recently barred lawyers is whether or not to apply for a clerkship. My advice? It depends. Here are some questions you can answer to help you decide.

If you’d like to discuss your specific circumstances and whether or not it makes sense for you to apply to or accept an offer to clerk, feel free to reach out to me or any of my Lateral Link colleagues.

5 Hot Practice Areas In A Biden Administration

The replacement of the Trump Administration by the Biden Administration will bring changes to countless areas of American life, including the legal sector. Here are a few practice areas that we at Lateral Link expect to heat up over the next few years. (Thanks to my colleague Gloria Sandrino, who previously shared her thoughts on this topic with Law360, for her help in putting this list together.)

1. White-collar, investigations, and enforcement work. White-collar prosecutions fell to a record low under President Donald Trump. Over the past two years, I’ve spoken to numerous white-collar and investigations lawyers who have had to turn to civil and commercial litigation to keep themselves busy. Law firm hiring out of government also slowed significantly; with firms struggling to keep their current white-collar lawyers busy, their appetite for former prosecutors dropped significantly.

Many industry observers expect this to change under the Biden Administration. We’ve been meeting with firms right now to discuss their talent needs for the year, and many of them expect a significant increase in SEC, DOJ, and congressional investigations. Widely reported fraud related to the Paycheck Protection Program and other pandemic relief efforts is already starting to generate work, and with the change to a Democratic administration, also look for an increase in traditional white-collar work, such as Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations and prosecutions.

2. Banking and financial regulation. Related to the anticipated uptick in white-collar expect, expect an increase in banking and financial regulatory work as well. In particular, look for the new administration to reinvigorate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — and create work for lawyers and law firms that specialize in consumer finance regulatory matters.

3. Environmental. Even though he has been in office for just a few weeks, President Biden has already made clear that protecting the environment will be a priority for his administration, with an especially strong focus on addressing the climate change crisis. According to this overview from Hogan Lovells, look for the Biden Administration to “seek to undo many of the deregulatory actions of the Trump administration… [and] to strengthen environmental protections by adopting new standards, revising existing standards, and increasing enforcement.” The upshot: more work for environmental lawyers, especially those who advise companies trying to keep up with the new standards and to respond to investigations and enforcement actions.

4. Labor and employment. As noted in this analysis by Littler Mendelson, the close divide in the House of Representatives will limit President Biden’s ability to enact much of his agenda. But we can still expect significant changes, including changes that can be made through administrative action.

If it’s passed by Congress, President Biden’s proposed COVID-19 stimulus plan includes a number of L&E-related provisions, including extension of unemployment insurance benefits, renewal of emergency paid sick and family medical leave mandates from prior coronavirus relief packages, authorization of OSHA to develop a national COVID-19 protection standard, and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 nationwide. Companies will need legal help to respond to any number of these changes.

5. Private equity and venture capital. On the transactional side, private equity and venture capital should continue to be active areas, but with a shift in emphasis to focus on the healthcare and environmental sectors. Investment in the healthcare and life sciences space should remain robust, as the nation continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its after effects, and investment in the environmental space could see a boost from President Biden’s plan to invest $2 trillion in clean energy and sustainable infrastructure, which would be a boon for the cleantech startup ecosystem. This will also generate lots of work for project finance lawyers, especially those who focus on cleantech and renewable energy.

These are just some of the sectors that could see significant growth over the next few years. Others include state attorneys general, antitrust, and healthcare practices. A change in administration often means changes in the law, and changes in the law are good news for lawyers and law firms.

If you’re thinking about what you can do with your career to take advantage of these developments, please feel free to reach out to me or any of my colleagues to explore your options. This is an exciting time — not just for the country, but for lawyers and the legal profession — and you don’t want to miss out on any opportunities.

Tips For Finding Your First Legal Job

Legal recruiters don’t work with entry-level candidates; what steps can you take on your own to find a great first legal job?

Are you looking for your first legal job? First legal job in the U.S.? First legal job in a new practice area? Have you been out of the workforce or in a non-legal role for a number of years now and are looking to get back in? Have you been working outside the U.S. for some time?

Legal recruiters do not work with entry-level candidates for the simple reason that most firms have their own procedures for hiring at the entry level that do not involve recruiters. What steps can you take on your own?

  • Make a list of your concrete skills. Think about which roles your concrete skills best lend themselves to. Remember firms/companies may not be in a position to train you on the basics.
  • NETWORKING. NETWORKING. You have a much better shot at landing your next job through personal connections. And keep up the networking once you land your next job. Networking should be authentic and ongoing, not just something you do during a job search.
  • LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn. Connect with people, but be sure they are meaningful connections. And be sure your LinkedIn profile is in tip-top shape before starting your reach-outs.
  • Work your alumni networks — undergrad, law school, and former law firm colleagues. Ask for warm intros to others in their networks.
  • Remember that Career Services isn’t just for current students. Call your law school Career Services office anytime! Again, ask for warm intros.
  • More and more law firms are creating alumni affairs offices. Call your former firm!
  • Consider joining a city or state bar association and getting involved with one of the committees.
  • Team up with a more senior lawyer to write an article or engage in a business development–type activity. Even if you’re unemployed, you can still be working towards your career and resume-building.
  • Set up online alerts for job openings. Ask me for a list of online in-house job search resources.
  • Start by requesting informational interviews, especially of those with whom you already have some connection. Do your homework before making the request and certainly before the interview. Structure the conversation to be sure you’re not wasting the other person’s time. Specify the time frame and offer to email questions in advance. Be sure to offer something in return (sharing an article with them they may find interesting, etc.) and show appreciation for the person’s time.
  • Keep an open mind. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but put yourself in the employer’s shoes. They are taking a big chance on you. You know you’re awesome, but they don’t know that yet. Be hesitant to pass up a good opportunity just because it isn’t perfect. You don’t have to stay at this next job forever. Especially if you’re looking to move geographically, it may be best to land a job that checks two-thirds of the boxes; think of it as an 18- to 24-month stop with feet on the ground, and aim to be in your true dream job within a couple of years.
  • Consider enlisting a third party’s help. Reach out to me directly and I’ll be happy to share some recommendations for career coaches with experience in the legal field.
  • If you’re looking to re-enter the workforce after time outside the workforce, you may want to consider PE funds, consulting firms, or other employers who tend to value “smarts” over specific experience. They often prefer to mold someone to the job. The catch: many of them will not even consider candidates from below the Top 6 law schools. You could also look at banks and some other larger employers who may have specific workforce re-entry programs (e.g., JPMorgan Chase).

Of course, feel free to reach out to me or any of my colleagues at Lateral Link if you aren’t sure if a recruiter might be able to assist. We can always help point you in the right direction.

 

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. This post is by Abby Gordon, Senior Director at Lateral Link, who works with attorney candidates on law firm and in-house searches, primarily in Boston, New York, and Europe. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Abby spent seven years as a corporate associate with Cleary Gottlieb, focusing on capital markets transactions for Latin American clients in New York and for the last five years for European clients in Paris. A native of Boston, Abby holds a J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in government and romance languages, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College. Abby also worked with the International Rescue Committee as a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain. She is a member of the New York, Massachusetts and Maine Bars and is fluent in French and Spanish (and dabbles in Portuguese and Italian). You can view additional articles by Abby here.

The Importance Of Authentic Networking

You should always have a reason to connect with someone beyond ‘What can they do for me?’

I was recently asked to share my “#1 career tip” with a group of young lawyers. Here is what I told them.

Everyone talks about networking…about starting early, and the importance of networking when looking for a new job.

But the real key is to practice authentic networking.

What does this mean?

It means networking to learn from others and to open your horizons, not just to advance your career.

It means that you should not be looking to build a network of superficial connections. Do not just connect with people you think can help you. Connect with people you think you can help as well.

You should always have a reason to connect with someone beyond “What can they do for me?”

You don’t need a deep relationship with everyone in your network, but it must be a relationship of give and take, a two-way street.

Perhaps you can’t offer a lot. But perhaps you can forward an article you think would interest them. Perhaps you can offer the chance to reminisce about your time at your shared alma mater. Perhaps as a younger alum, you can give an older alum a glimpse into what the school community is like today.

What does authentic networking mean in a time when we cannot meet people in person?

Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date. Connect systematically and in a timely manner with people you engage with virtually.

And remember connecting with someone in an authentic way is not a one-off. Use that time when you would have been at in-person networking events to keep up existing relationships. Check in with your contacts from time to time—because you care about them as human beings, not just when you are looking for a job.

Another lawyer suggested to me recently that by dropping the buzzword “networking” altogether and replacing it with “relationship building,” we will put ourselves in the right mindset. Perhaps she is right.

Remember that developing authentic relationships also means you don’t just look for the people at the top. It’s great if you can network with law firm partners and company executives, but you should also look for connections with peer lawyers, with administrative staff and janitorial staff. And with people outside the legal industry altogether.

Treat everyone with equal respect and positivity, and you’ll do well — in your career, and in your life.

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. This post is by Abby Gordon, Senior Director at Lateral Link, who works with attorney candidates on law firm and in-house searches, primarily in Boston, New York, and Europe. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Abby spent seven years as a corporate associate with Cleary Gottlieb, focusing on capital markets transactions for Latin American clients in New York and for the last five years for European clients in Paris. A native of Boston, Abby holds a J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in government and romance languages, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College. Abby also worked with the International Rescue Committee as a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain. She is a member of the New York, Massachusetts and Maine Bars and is fluent in French and Spanish (and dabbles in Portuguese and Italian). You can view additional articles by Abby here.

EC/VC And The Biglaw Tech Firm — An Overview By A Former Gunderson Associate

Tech-focused firms have extremely cool work, clients, and cultures, and the sector in which they operate has been experiencing tremendous and consistent growth.

If you’re a corporate associate with top credentials, you probably accepted an offer through on-campus interviewing from a prestigious, Chambers-ranked practice. It’s equally likely that nobody told you to take a serious look at elite Emerging Companies/Venture Capital (“EC/VC”) practices at Gunderson, Cooley, Fenwick, Goodwin, and the other top “Tech” firms.

While you may not have heard all of these names or the term “EC/VC” during law school, you almost certainly have now, and there’s a reason why. These growing Tech shops have extremely cool work, clients, and cultures, and the sector in which they operate has been experiencing tremendous and consistent growth. Take it from someone who practiced in Gunderson’s Corporate group and is constantly working with folks trying to enter into or pivot within the EC/VC space. (For a bit more on my background, check out this interview I did with my colleague David Lat.)

For those who want more information on these practices and firms, I strongly encourage you to reach out to me at . In the interim, here is a high-level rundown on substance, clients, development, culture, and how/when to get in the door:

Substance

  • The typical model of an EC/VC practice is to (1) serve as quasi-in-house counsel to startups and emerging companies throughout their life cycles and (2) advise top VC firms on their formation, operations, and investments.
  • In practice and on the corporate side of the house, this means forming the company, managing the capitalization table (“cap table”), staying on top of governance matters, leading venture financings through which these companies receive funding from institutional and private investors, negotiating commercial agreements, and generally working hand-in-hand with the business principals to steer the company toward an exit (e.g., an IPO or sale).

Clients

  • The client base ranges from a cool startup recently founded by young Harvard or Stanford grads to unicorns (i.e., privately held startups valued in excess of $1 billion) to public tech giants.
  • Compared to their colleagues in other practice areas, associates in EC/VC practices can have meaningful business development opportunities. For example, after less than a year at Gunderson, I was able to bring on a friend of a friend’s LA-based startup as a client, then took the lead on their Series Seed financing.

Development

  • These practices enable their associates to work directly with C-Suite executives and other major players on business teams.
  • This often takes the form of explaining material terms of a venture financing to the board and existing stockholders so that they understand their respective rights and obligations.
  • It also involves cluing in the founders on stuff they really care about, like the extent to which they’re being diluted by a financing or equity grants to new hires and highly-valued employees (remember the scene at the end of The Social Network when Eduardo Saverin smashes a laptop on Mark Zuckerberg’s desk?).
  • One of the key and purposeful byproducts of the nature of the work and extremely lean staffing is that associates can get an intimate look under the hood of their clients’ businesses from day one – something that not only makes a lawyer’s role more rewarding, but yields the best quality of work. Associates can witness the bigger picture firsthand and understand the practical implications of changes they’re making in documents.
  • Because EC/VC lawyers work closely with their clients and truly learn their clients’ businesses, they are often the first candidates the client will consider when starting or growing a legal department – so if you want to go in-house eventually, the EC/VC space is one of the best launching pads.

Culture

  • Based on my experience, the best way to describe the culture at the top Tech firms is that the vibe feels more like a startup than a law firm.
  • You’ll rarely see people in business formal attire, and both associates and partners actually use the common areas to hang out and have conversations that surpass “what are you working on?”

How/When to Get In

  • These practices have been extremely busy, and many are hiring now with 2020 and 2021 start dates.
  • At the same time, there is a ton of demand in the market for associate positions at the top Tech firms, so you’ll absolutely need to have a good firm and law school on your CV.
  • On timing, if you’re in a corporate group (ideally a deal lawyer) and do not have EC/VC experience, you’ll want to start seriously considering a pivot in the middle or end of your second year – largely because it’s ideal to retool sooner rather than later.
  • If you do have EC/VC experience, the main consideration is whether your firm is feeding you the right development opportunities and a wide enough range of work (e.g., make sure you’re getting some M&A and IPO experience and not just pure venture financings, and vice versa).

If you can’t already tell, I’m a huge advocate for the Tech industry and the top EC/VC practices. In a world where a lateral move on its face may seem like a riskier proposition than usual, it’s smart to think about whether staying the course is in reality a greater risk than pursuing a role in an extremely active and growing space.

If you’re a Biglaw corporate associate with superb credentials and an interest in EC/VC work, please drop me a line at . I’d be happy to expand on this overview and give you more specifics, provide you with a market overview and tell you which Tech firms are hiring, and explore specific opportunities with you if you’re interested. Thanks!

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. This post is by Stephen Damato, a Director based in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in placing attorneys into law firms across the United States. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Stephen practiced law as a corporate associate in Gunderson Dettmer’s Boston office and an M&A and private equity associate in Jones Day’s New York office. Stephen holds a J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania. He is an avid D.C. sports fan (Washington Capitals above the rest) and is forever working on his golf game.

Just Do Your Damn LPQ — The Dreaded Lateral Partner Questionnaire

Is it really too much to ask? Too much work to fill out a form that will take one hour of your time so you can leave a firm you’re not happy with?

In the mid 1990s, the great former New York Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson was frustrated with his lack of touches, knowing full well he was the star of the team. So one day he unloaded to the media and declared, “Just Give Me the Damn Ball.” He knew that his lack of touches was the bottleneck in the whole operation. If they could just get him the ball and let him do the rest, the team would dominate.

In lateral partner recruiting, I feel that way about the LPQ — the lateral partner questionnaire. It’s the proverbial ball we need filled out by the partner candidates because we cannot win without it.

We all know the scenario: You’re interviewing with multiple firms and you’ve narrowed it down to a few, or maybe you already decided on the one. After months of the dance, you know who can pay and who was just window shopping. You know whose bill rates will never be low enough for your clients and which firms grind their partners into mulch. You know which firm’s practice will legitimately help you cross-sell and which ones are more siloed than Trump’s tax returns. You’re excited and on the verge of getting an offer from your dream firm. You feel a big number coming. But wait… they want you to fill out an LPQ?!

For the uninitiated: what is an LPQ? After preliminary meetings to establish that you might actually fit in with the target firm both culturally and from a business standpoint, most law firms will ask you to complete a lateral partner questionnaire (LPQ) to facilitate that process. Due diligence is an essential part of the lateral partner hiring decision. Law firms must verify your book of business, avoid client conflicts, and manage risks as much as possible. Factors taken into account include your reputation, revenue, originations, client relationships, and business portability. The data included is biographical and economic — a three- to five-year year history of originations, collections, billings, client date, realization rates, and projections for your future, etc. Yes, we concede it’s a bit annoying.

So your inner voice takes over: “Why? We were getting along so well! They need to actually verify my business is what I say it is? Isn’t my word good enough to close a potentially seven-figure deal between lawyers? Shockingly, it isn’t? Oh God, just forget it. Just forget the whole thing. It’s too much work.” Step back and ask yourself: is this me?

Look, we get it. Maybe some of you are just lookie loos, and that’s okay, now is the time to gracefully bow out/ghost us completely. But a lot of you have expressed a deep unhappiness and a strong desire to move to a better platform, and we believe you want to do something about it. So ask yourself: does it really make sense to put up such a stink over the LPQ?

Is it really too much to ask? Too much work? Too much work to fill out a form that will take one hour of your time versus the last 10 or 20 thousand hours you’ve burned at a firm you’re not happy with. You already have all the information. You literally just have to type it into a short document. Sort of like what you do every day. Except you get paid much less for that. Literally typing your information into an LPQ may be the most valuable time you ever spend in your career. That one hour that you keep pushing off is an hour some other partner just spent drinking your milkshake and taking that dream job from you. I’ve seen it happen so many times, but during the pandemic it’s especially egregious to delude yourself into thinking you just don’t have the time.

No more BS. You have the time. S**t or get off the pot. We recruiters work hard to try to put our partner candidates in a position to improve their prospects. We cannot do that if you stubbornly refuse to do the most important part. So I implore you, on behalf of all recruiters, and on behalf of all the firms that really want to hire you and welcome you to a better life: In the words of the great Keyshan Johnson, “Just Do your Damn LPQ.”

Or if your football references are all from Jerry Maguire, then let me just scream, “Help ME help YOU!”

A Message For Harvard Law School Alumni

And a warm welcome to Lateral Link’s newest team member — Amanda Mindlin, HLS class of 2014.

Harvard Law School and Lateral Link have a special relationship. Our founder and CEO, Michael Allen, is a proud and active HLS alumnus. The head of our partner practice, Gloria Sandrino, also graduated from Harvard Law. We believe we have worked with more Harvard Law alumni as candidates than practically any other recruiting firm.

Why? One reason so many HLS alums work with us is that by doing so, they are effectively giving back to their alma mater.

In 2015, Mike Allen established the Lateral Link Scholarship Fund at Harvard Law School, with an initial commitment of $250,000. Whenever Lateral Link makes a placement of an HLS alum into a law firm or other legal employer, 10 percent of the placement fee goes into the Fund, which supports financial aid at the Law School.

The ties between HLS and Lateral Link have deepened further with our latest recruiter hire: Amanda Mindlin, HLS class of 2014. She works with lawyers, law firms, and in-house legal departments throughout the East Coast, helping candidates find great wonderful new opportunities and helping employers find superb new talent.

Earlier this week, I spoke by phone with Amanda about her legal career, her move into recruiting, and why she decided to join Lateral Link.

DL: Hello, Amanda, and welcome to Lateral Link! You never know where anyone is working from these days – where am I catching you right now?

AM: Right now, my husband and I are in Babcock Ranch, Florida – America’s first solar-powered town – but we’re moving to Sarasota soon.

DL: And you’re a longtime Floridian, as I recall?

AM: Yes. I grew up in Sarasota, went to the University of Florida for college, and am a lifelong Florida Gators fan. Although I studied abroad a few times, I only lived in another state while I was at HLS.

DL: What led you to trade the Florida sunshine for three years in cold and snowy Cambridge?

AM: I never planned on going to law school. I majored in political science, which I loved, and wanted to pursue a Ph.D. to become a professor. But around the time of my graduation in 2010, a number of my professors were getting laid off because of recession-related budget cuts, so they advised me against that.

My roommate at the time was preparing to take the LSAT, so I signed up for a prep class with her and ended up doing surprisingly well. With my grades and LSAT score, going to law school was the path of least resistance.

DL: How did you like law school?

AM: I loved it! It was so much fun. I took great classes and met so many incredibly interesting people. I sang opera growing up, so I participated in Parody, the law school musical, which was a blast. And I saw snow for the first time.

DL: Did you always plan on returning to Florida?

AM: Actually, I considered staying in Boston. I spent my 1L summer working in-house at MassMutual, which was great, and I spent my 2L summer in Boston at Bingham McCutchen.

Bingham was having issues at the time – it ultimately went under in 2014, the year I graduated – so early in my 3L year, I applied for federal clerkships.

Luckily, even though I applied late in the cycle, I got an interview with Judge Middlebrooks of the Southern District of Florida. The interview couldn’t have gone better – we spent much of it chatting about Gator football – and he made me an offer on the spot, which I immediately accepted.

It wound up being an amazing year. I couldn’t have clerked for a better judge. For law students interested in litigation, a federal clerkship is a wonderful experience if you can get it.

DL: And then how did you find your first job post-clerkship?

AM: I met my now-husband during my clerkship. He was based in Miami but was eager to get out and encouraged me to look for opportunities up in West Palm, where I was clerking. There are only so many firms in West Palm, so I interviewed with most of them, including Shutts & Bowen.

The firm has an excellent reputation, and my judge spoke very highly of them. They had a patent trial before my judge at the time (which I was recused from), and I was impressed with them in the courtroom.

I’d long been interested in pursuing IP litigation. Shutts was really the only major firm in West Palm with an IP group, so it was a pretty easy decision!

DL: How did you like your time at Shutts & Bowen?

AM: I couldn’t have been at a better firm. I loved my group – my husband and I still hang out with the partner I worked with most closely. And they really gave me the freedom to pursue the work I was most interested in.

My issue was that I’m a pretty social person, and I found the practice of law to be extremely isolating. Writing is probably my greatest strength, so I wound up doing a lot of brief writing – which by its nature involves spending a lot of time by yourself researching and writing.

It quickly became obvious that I needed a job with more social interaction. My sister-in-law, a successful executive recruiter, suggested I pursue legal recruiting, which sounded like it would be a perfect fit for me.

DL: And has it been?

AM: Absolutely! As a recruiter, I’m constantly talking to other people – associates, partners, recruiting coordinators, colleagues – and I’m constantly meeting interesting people from different backgrounds.

There’s so much diversity in the job; it doesn’t get boring. Every candidate is different, and every search is different. I work across different practice areas and cities – New York, Boston, D.C., Florida – so I’m constantly learning about different fields of law and legal markets.

DL: What do you enjoy the most about recruiting?

AM: The matchmaking aspect. I really get to know my candidates – to the point where sometimes I know what they’re looking for better than they do. For example, sometimes a candidate will tell me that they only want to apply to Biglaw firms, but I suggest that they consider this one boutique – and then they end up going to that boutique over several Biglaw firms, and loving it there.

My candidates have been very happy at the firms I’ve placed them at, which is extremely rewarding. Some of them were miserable and thinking about leaving law before we started working together, but as it turned out, they just weren’t at the right firms.

DL: You came to Lateral Link as an experienced recruiter, having worked at another legal search firm before this. What drew you to Lateral Link?

AM: First, Lateral Link’s excellent reputation within the legal profession. When I was thinking about switching recruiting firms, I spoke to many different people – contacts from my HLS network, lawyers and recruiting professionals at law firms, people at other recruiting firms – and everyone spoke highly of Lateral Link. I wanted to be at a firm with a strong reputation, which makes it easier to connect with candidates and with law firms.

Second, Lateral Link is a welcoming place to recruiters coming from other recruiting shops. I was struck by how many of my colleagues here used to work at other top search firms.

Finally, I was drawn to Lateral Link’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. So many of Lateral Link’s recruiters, especially its leaders, are women and/or diverse, and as a result, many of Lateral Link’s candidates are women and/or diverse as well. I’m very proud to be part of this team.

DL: And we are very proud to have you – a Harvard Law School graduate, former federal law clerk, and former associate at an Am Law 200 law firm – joining us. Welcome again to Lateral Link, Amanda!

Cadence Corner: Working With Flexible Or Interim Counsel

What can a general counsel or other in-house lawyer do in order to work most successfully with flexible counsel aka contract attorneys?

Welcome to the latest installment of Cadence Corner. In this occasional series of informal conversations, I speak with Monique Burt Williams — CEO of Cadence Counsel, the in-house division of the Lateral Link consortium of legal recruitment firms — about timely topics in the world of legal hiring and recruiting. Today’s topic: working with flexible, interim, or ad hoc counsel — also known as “contract attorneys,” but as Monique discusses in our conversation, there has been a rebranding in the space. The rebranding reflects the impressive credentials and experience frequently possessed by interim counsel, many of whom graduated from top law schools and practiced at leading law firms or in-house legal departments before opting for more flexible work arrangements. At Cadence Counsel, Monique connects in-house legal departments with flexible counsel — and she has been very busy these days. During a challenging time for many companies, when many corporate counsels are forced to do more with less, turning to interim counsel has proved to be a superb solution for many. What can a general counsel or other in-house lawyer do in order to work most successfully with flexible counsel aka contract attorneys? Check out these excellent tips from Monique Burt Williams, CEO of Cadence Counsel, in the latest edition of Cadence Corner: