Lateraling - Failing at first firm

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Lateraling - Failing at first firm

Post by FirstYearGuest » Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:35 pm

I am a first year at a NY firm in a mid-size market. I am doing poorly at my current firm (some missed deadlines, no one lining up to work with me, almost definitely not making bonus, no real mentors) and am thinking about trying to lateral this fall/winter before I get told to do better or get out. My firm doesn't have a specific practice group that I think I am interested in so I can try to use that as an excuse for the lateral, but honestly I just want a second lease on life.

Is this a reasonable idea? What are firms looking for in junior laterals? Do firms assume that associates that lateral this early failed at their first firm?

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Re: Lateraling - Failing at first firm

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Mon Sep 30, 2019 2:12 am

Is this a reasonable idea? Yes, if you want to stay in biglaw. It sounds like you're not meshing well with your firm and the practice group you're in. Very reasonable to find another firm and another practice.

What are firms looking for? In a junior associate, someone who will do the work. At least from observing the dynamic at my own firm, when we need junior laterals, it's because there is a ton of work and not enough juniors. Your purpose is to help alleviate that problem.

Do firms assume you are a failure? Not necessarily. Depends on the story you tell them. Sounds like you should focus on your practice group turning out to not be a good fit in terms of the work.

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Re: Lateraling - Failing at first firm

Post by ggocat » Mon Sep 30, 2019 9:38 am

How long have you been at the firm? Like, you're about to finish up your first year, or you've been there only a few months?

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Re: Lateraling - Failing at first firm

Post by JohnnieSockran » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:43 am

^ Since OP is not making bonus and has already missed multiple deadlines, I'm sure they're finishing up first year, not just starting out.

OP, I agree lateraling seems like a smart move, you just have to spin your experience positively and that your only reason for moving is that you didn't get into your preferred practice group or something like that. I'd also try to work on fixing whatever the problem is that may be causing things within your control (like missed deadlines) so that you're ready to succeed once you find a new firm, and also in case the lateral process doesn't go as quickly as you hope and you're stuck at your firm for a bit longer. Depending on your market, the need for rising second years is typically not nearly as high as the need for rising 3rd/4th/5th years, but there should be some openings out there.

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