I wonder how closely partners are scrutinizing this year’s crop of summer clerks for their ability to generate revenue rather than fighting other firms for over what was once perceived as a limited pool of talent.
I suspect that prior years’ rush-type recruiting seasons are gone for ever more and that this year’s young legal eaglets are competing with one another for diminishing spots.
Just a few years ago, many of us stood back in disbelief as we watched new lawyer salaries peak at $160K a year. I, for one, was horrified because I remember how wet behind the ears I was the first day I stood before a judge in a court room full of onlookers. I just wanted to fall into a hole. Forget getting paid. I simply just wanted to disappear.
I tell ya, kids today . . . I had to walk through ten miles of mud up hill–oh, wait, that’s another story. Sorry, got side-tracked.
What I am trying to say is that sometimes the ones left behind are just as hungry and just desperate enough to risk it all.
Because I am convinced that people that do well in law school are good at being in school; they have always done well in school and love being in school. We all know those kids and how they do in real life. Yeah, they may be the next brilliant geek that will brew up a million dollars in his or her garage. But the rest of us lawyers had our first real taste of losing our wits.
And from that experience, the rest of the class learned to cope with fighting and losing over and over again. Because, as any good wrestler knows, as long as you are still standing you cannot be beat.
So invoke my principle when reviewing resumes. Check that they are graduates of an accredited law school. Set aside any resume that indicates a steady work history and solid scholastic achievement. It is a given that my “interview” pile indicates the characteristics of a lawyer: positions of leadership, civic pride and community activities. It is assumed that all of these kids are bright–they have all passed the LSAT and were all admitted into law school.
So when I interview, I interview for character. I seek to find the character of a man or a woman that makes a great lawyer: an innate drive to fight for justice, a need to to help others and the ability to lead a battle. These types of individuals are the sorts that we need now: men and women of character.
So don’t be so quick to judge a feisty kid from a lesser known school and so-so grades–they just might have the drive and the ambition to be everything you wished you could be. Let them in and show them around. You just may be introducing one of the next greatest lawyer of our times.