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September 18, 2010

Running Firms: In job candidates, why not require extreme relentless unbridled off-the-wall burning ambition?

He's saying he didn't want to be President of the United States so he could stay home and be "Daddy"? Give me a f***ing break. --Billy Bob Thornton's Carville-like character in Primary Colors

Yes, start there. Bonus pointer: if a job reference tells you that a job-seeker "doesn't have one mean bone" in his/her body, then hire him, her or it as your wife's hairdresser or to decorate your toddler's bedroom. Business orientation, grades, editorships, legal smarts, people skills, writing ability, global outlook? Those are very tough to find in one human--still, demand those. Absolutely.

Law schools and their professors do not pay students to learn. Why should you? But hey, all the foregoing is not enough. You need more. You need "it". Big energy and daunting ambitions. It's not there compellingly and unmistakably? Next, please. Don't waste your time with 95% of the possible candidates. That remaining 5% group presents enough bodies and talent for difficult work. You have to look harder. And pay them, of course--but only those worth investing in.


If they are to some degree less than what your and your clients deserve, a suggestion: make the associates pay ($) your firm to learn how to be lawyers for 2 years or so. Do not bill out their hours. (It's at best a breach of fiduciary duties and, at worst, fraud.) It is no secret that law professors and law schools are too wimpy/lazy/out-to-lunch/greedy to teach them anything, and loyalty to commercial institutions is at an all time low. If marginal or even very good hires get the greatest benefit in the first 2 to 3 years from the firm-associate relationship--and they almost always do--don't be chumps. Pay only a few of them; let the rest pay your firm. Law school professors do not pay students to learn. Why should you?

Last year, recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa wrote "What Law Firms Want in New Recruits" in Law.com. Great article if you seek generic barely-adequate rank and file employees. Or maybe new kinds of houseplants. MLA, you are a great firm. Maybe get a great standard?

Posted by JD Hull at September 18, 2010 12:00 AM


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