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March 24, 2004

Comments

UCL

I'm afraid you hit the nail on the head with this one. I'm one biglaw associate who actually cut my teeth during my first few years for a small firm. When I began interviewing to join a big firm as a 3rd year (a move most biglaw associates would say is impossible), a comment I heard more than once was, "With your experience and understanding of litigation, I consider you the equivalent of a 5th year rather than a 3rd year."

This wasn't the case at the firm I ended up joining, where junior associates get heavy trial experience early on. But it is the case with most of our competitors, where associates are lucky if they've done a single deposition in their first 3 years.

Only a few days ago I was stunned to see this phenomenon in play. I showed up by myself to oral argument at an MSJ involving several parties, no partner to accompany me. Another firm also showed up, both partner and 2nd year associate. When the judge asked us to announce ourselves for the record, we all did, "John Smith here for defendant XYZ", etc. When the court reporter looked toward the junior associate, he said quietly, "I'm not present."

I knew this associate had researched and written all the briefs for that particular party. Yet he didn't even have the privilege of being reflected as "present" in the transcript of that hearing. That's sad.

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