Friday, September 18, 2009

"You Just Kinda' Wasted My Precious Time, but Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"

Pop quiz: what’s the appropriate number of times to think about a lover who has just walked out your door?

Correct Answer: ONCE.

But Dylan's advice has a corollary: If you know you're leaving, then the time to go is now. See, e.g., "It Ain't Me, Babe." Above the Law reported today that when Sullivan & Cromwell attepted to strong-arm 2L's into accepting their offers within two weeks, the Dean of Harvard's career services told Sullivan that unless it backed off, it could kiss its invitation to recruit at Harvard goodbye. NYU and Yale sent similar messages. Above the Law also suggested a while back that law students should collect and accept their offers -- all of them -- as soon as possible so as to have a full hand of options before making decisions.

Harvard's Dean impressed me, and ATL's advice disgusts me. Boalties: don't hoard offers. If you have more than one opportunity at your door, it's time to start making decisions, because the earlier you decline an offer the more likely it will redound to one of your peers. The same goes for callbacks. If you have fifteen callbacks this year, or even five, start thinking about whether you can do away with some or most of them. This will benefit you (nobody really wants to do that many callbacks), it will benefit the firm (no firm really wants you to jerk them around), and it will benefit your peers (believe me, there are plenty of people who would gladly take any of your callbacks off your hands).

I know that advice can be hard to follow. Law students hate risk, and they hate making decisions, just like law firms. That's why Sullivan tried to clamp down on the timeline. But just because you can get away with something doesn't mean you need to; the temptation to follow ATL's advice is strong, but like most temptation it's worth resisting. To hold six offers open, to attend fifteen callbacks, or to delay your decisions until the last moment NALP allows is to flirt with greed and self-indulgence. Not only that, but it will make you feel bad -- it eats at you to have these decisions hanging over your head, and I promise you that when you do pull the trigger and put OCIP completely behind you, you will feel a thousand times lighter.

Just like a timely breakup.

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38 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick,

I agree with almost everything you said. Except for the part where you seemed to advise people to cancel callbacks if they had around five. If I misunderstood please ignore the rest.

This year many firms are being very slow about making offers, and are also being much more conservative on who they make an offer to. So I would say that going on 10 callbacks is not absurd. That way hopefully a few (half?) will work out, and you will be able to make a decision among them.

I will say that as your offer count starts going above two or three, its probably time to start deciding where you don't want to be and letting those firms know.

9/18/2009 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:21 here again.

Apparently I am not going to end up anywhere because I can't tell the difference between its and it's.

:(

9/18/2009 8:23 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

8:21, hang in there, it's okay - I made exactly the same mistake in the original post, and only just now caught it.

9/18/2009 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with 8:21. The odds of getting an offer following a callback are much slimmer than they've been in the past. Firms are hiring smaller summer classes, but we're competing with the same number of highly qualified and impressive 2Ls (and probably more 3Ls). I agree wholeheartedly that, if the offers start rolling in, folks should be prepared to make fast decisions, cancel callbacks, decline other offers, and plug their fellow Boalties in the process. But this year is different than last year, and nothing is certain until you get an offer.

9/18/2009 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, but if you have offers from firms you know you're more excited about than two or three firms you're about to go to for callbacks, you should cancel those callbacks and *only* go to the ones that you know can compete with your current offers.

I know for a fact some Boalties out there are doing this -- continuing callback visits to firms they prefer less than ones they already have offers from. Not surprisingly, it is the people who have 10+ callbacks.

9/18/2009 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ideally, we want some choice among offers. This year, people with five callbacks may be lucky to get any offers. Two of the firms I interviewed with said they'll give out 25 callbacks and make 4-6 offers. Even if you're lucky and have five callbacks, you could not end up having a job given these ratios. Unlikely, yes; but nobody should be giving up callbacks if they haven't got any offers and have around 8 CB's. I wouldn't expect another Boaltie to do the same for me.

9/18/2009 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er... you could end up not having a job*

9/18/2009 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People are missing the point of this post. If you already offers you know you'd take over callbacks you haven't gone to yet, don't go to those callbacks and give someone else a chance.

9/18/2009 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a year like this one, once you have two offers you owe it to your classmates to decline one of them unless you really, really can't make up your mind, and once you have three offers you owe it to your classmates to decline one of them no matter what. This isn't personal -- I'm a 3L with a job. But luxuriating in a number of offers would be obnoxious given what all is going on these days.

9/18/2009 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like everyone is finding different ways of saying the same thing. Everyone should take callbacks from every firm at which they would seriously consider working (and no, 10-15 is not too many in this market). Once you have options, cancel the remainder of your callbacks unless you have one or two left that you want more than the offers you have. Then pick a firm fast and spare your less fortunate friends the continuing torment of OCIP.

9/18/2009 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, I wish I had enough callbacks that I could even consider turning some down.

And even if I had offers and more callbacks, I wouldn't turn down those callbacks. We don't know what firms are really like until we go to on the callback. We only have a perception of what that firm is like based on what we've read and what others have told us.

For me, some firms were completely different than I had expected. I would have kicked myself if I accepted an offer over those firms based on what I thought I knew about them.

It is stupid to ask students to make such uninformed decisions regarding their careers. We should be making decisions based on our actual experiences with the firms, not just on what we've read or the judgments of others.

Unless a student has said "All my life I've wanted to work for X" and then gets an offer from X, no student should forego the opportunity to go on callbacks and learn more about the firm.

While you can dispense your advice all you want, I think the advice in this post is completely irresponsible.

9/18/2009 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, 1 CB (no follow-up yet) and tons of dings here. Nonetheless, I agree with the person just above me: no fellow student owes me their "excess" CBs. I sure would love to have some of those CBs, but by no means should they be pressured into making decisions about their careers because of that. If you have mutliple offers and you know you don't want one or more of them, then for the employer's and your own sake you should decline. Same goes for callbacks if you know that you really don't want to go to a certain firm (eg, tax law doesn't sound so exciting now that you have other options). But the communal good is no reason to sabotage your own career options.

9/18/2009 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is also resting on the assumption that firms will give more callbacks/offers once people decline. I don't think that's the case for many, if not most, firms. Firms expect people to decline callbacks and offers. Unfortunately, declining does not automatically open up a spot for someone else.

9/18/2009 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most people with more than a couple of offers have canceled a TON of their callbacks. Callbacks are exhausting, and I don't know anyone who is going to interviews at firms they aren't legitimately interested in.

9/18/2009 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a new 1L at Boalt, and someone who occasionally reads this blog, can I just say I'm fucking bored? Is this what all my classmates are going to be stressing about in a year?

It's almost like real issues - like half the janitorial staff losing their jobs, the war criminal on the 3rd floor of the North Addition - don't exist at all...

9/18/2009 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey new 1L, I have some advice for you: start your own fucking blog if you don't like it.

9/18/2009 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey new 1L, when it's your future career at stake, then I want to see how much you car about Yoo and the janitors.

9/18/2009 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa.

I'm a 2L, worried and stressed about jobs, had 24 interviews and only 1 callback, yet still, I think our school is better than this. Snarky comments from a new Boaltie who is bored about stuff that he or she shouldn't even worry about makes sense . . . kind of. But no matter how rude the first comment is we should not be answering as a 2L class that way.

We are all stressed and I think need to remember that this is the time it's most important to treat our classmates like they are part of the Boalt community. We do all go to that school together, and now is when a lot of us are struggling because of OCIP and could use friendly, supportive comments from our peers.

Let's stop comments like these. And when one does occasionally pop up, it doesn't need to be answered with the same heat. Professors, employers and many, many non-Boalties read this blog and I'd like them to think we are better than this. Because, well, I think we are.

Have a great week off, everyone -- we all deserve the break.

9/18/2009 6:12 PM  
Blogger Boomtime said...

Hey 4:00 1L:

You're right. I'm also getting bored with the callback brouhaha. But please keep in mind that this blog has hashed and rehashed John Yoo before. The only thing MORE boring than callback talk would be more John Yoo circlejerking.

Your classmates are concerned about their ability to pay their loans and feed themselves. Some are wondering if it was even a good idea to come to law school in the first place. Cut them some slack.

Love,
2L

9/19/2009 12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first 1L is right. This blog is, overall, way more informative than entertaining.

Also, anyone who uses "future career" in casual conversation is someone I never hope to meet.

Biglaw slavery isn't all there is to law or law school, but N&B seems pretty damn focused on it. It's like a mini-ATL.

9/19/2009 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are looking for entertaining blogs, stick to Perez Hilton and thesuperficial.

And two recent threads about OCIP hardly counts as focusing on Biglaw. Sure, they are the largest threads, but no matter how much every student claims they care about public interest, most students go on to Biglaw.

9/19/2009 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

neither law schools nor biglaw firms have an incentive to provide certain factual information about hiring. so when a blog like this does, it's not being boring or obsessive; it's being useful.

thanks for the dylan references, which led me to spending an hour listening to him on youtube. it's a wonder we can even feed ourselves.

9/19/2009 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calm down, little ones. Once OCIP passes, N&B will spend the next 10 months being entertaining, random, and mostly non-career-related.

9/19/2009 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who care, Order of the Coif has now posted to the transcripts of '09 Alums.

9/20/2009 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Patrick. Your stupid post ended up on ATL, and now you've made us all look stupid.

I bet you weren't thinking about your peers when you posted this shit.

9/21/2009 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:39, how does Patrick's opinion reflect on you? He signed his name to it, which is ballsier than either of us and makes clear that it's his opinion. If you're so worried about people thinking you're stupid, why don't you write something intelligent using your own name?

9/21/2009 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, no. He didn't make anyone look stupid. He suggested we follow the NALP rules and not make the un-ethical moves ATL is espousing. Your comment actually kind of makes it look like you're commenting without reading either post.

9/21/2009 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why 3:39 thinks that Patrick's post in any way makes his peers look bad.

Patrick's post, in quick summary, says, "Follow the rules and accept early. It's good for you and it's good for your classmates."

Above the law's post, in the same quick summary is, "We said that last year. But this year, we understand why some students might want to hold out longer for more information."

Both are reasonable posts. Neither makes their source look stupid. Getting on AboveTheLaw is not *always* a bad thing, and I think in this case, it makes Boalties look like reasonable folks who are looking out for their peers.

Vent your frustration somewhere else, 3:39.

9/21/2009 4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in between "turn down callbacks and decide among offers earlier than you might otherwise in order to help your peers" and "accept multiple offers and deal with them later" is the CORRECT way to approach the situation, but I will say that Patrick came a lot closer to nailing it than ATL did...whoever tried to crap all over him just b/c ATL quoted him doesn't understand logic, the internet, and/or sarcastic humor

9/21/2009 7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:39 I don't know what your problem with Patrick is but the only reason he posted this is *because* he cares about the school, his peers, and the venerable and endangered tradition that is Boalt Hall. He's a 3L. WTF other dog does he have in this fight? 4:44 is absolutely correct about how this post reflects on Boalt. I would add that *you* are the person making us look bad. Knock it off, here, and at ATL.

9/21/2009 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We talk a lot about the culture at Boalt being less competitive than other schools. I'm not sure that's true, because everyone thinks their own school is "different."
When 160K jobs were falling out of the sky, there was enough to go around for everybody and everyone was happy. But now those days are gone, and the tension has increased. But isn't this ok?
While its important we learn to be congenial, it's equally important we learn about the business side of the law, develop thick skin, and face some adversity.
I have 2 callbacks. I've already been rejected by the other firms I OCIPed with, so I don't think they're calling me back if Joey Goldenchild turns them down. And even if they did, firms are businesses, and they are entitled to offer or no-offer who they want. I really doubt that that a firm is going to interview another Boaltie because Joey Goldenchild says "No thanks, but call this guy from my Admin Law class."
Everyone should be respectful towards each other. Competition should not include underhanded tactics. But when it comes to people's money, everyone is entitled to take care of themself first. Nothing wrong with that.
And Patrick has the right to post whatever he wants. He certainly makes some good points. And while some people probably don't like him at Boalt, most people at Boalt do like him, and I'd guess that more peopole have no idea or he is or have no opinion. But we all love our Nuts and Boalts. Even the haters.
Getting off soapbox....

9/21/2009 9:20 PM  
Anonymous BigBadBobbo said...

"I promise you that when you do pull the trigger and put OCIP completely behind you, you will feel a thousand times lighter."

How will you feel when that offer gets revoked 4 months before you're supposed to start?

9/22/2009 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes you should accept all offers. You must look out for yourself. Firms and other law students will stab you in the back without notice….it’s a dog-eat-dog world right now to get an offer.

As for Baolties advice, I don’t think he will be offering to help you pay your $1500 a month loan payment when you have no Biglaw job will he?

9/22/2009 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt any Boaltie would be foolish enough to follow ATL & the above commenter's advice to accept all offers... but just in case: do not follow ATL's advice! If you get caught, it could be very very bad for you. And, just as importantly, it would be bad for the school's rep. Keep in mind that ATL thrives off of the kind of drama that would result from someone accepting multiple offers and then getting caught. Hell, I want to read that story. But not about a Boaltie!

I think there is some middle ground between ATL's advice and the Nuts & Boalt's post. Don't hoard everything you get, but don't also just "pull the trigger" -- unless you know where you're aiming. Few choices are obvious. This is a huge decision, and if you're deciding between very different kinds of firms (e.g., between practice areas or geo. locations), you want to make the right one. Anyway, rejecting an offer will only potentially benefit some other student out there (I kind of doubt this because I suspect that firms make X number of offers under the expectation of a Y% yield and don't make offers on a rolling basis, at least not until very late in the cycle).

That said, if you have an offer in hand, you should cancel callbacks & offers from places that you would almost certainly never take. If you are keeping more than 3 offers open, you need to start thinking harder about what you want...

9/23/2009 2:01 AM  
Anonymous Class of 09 said...

Does anybody from the recently graduated class of 2009 have any idea when diplomas get sent out?

9/23/2009 7:55 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

The response to this post has been startling - some of it enlightening, some of it frightening, and some of it, well, some of it seems like a poorly executed hit job.

The point I was trying to make is stated much more clearly in the past paragraph of 2:01's comment - don't hoard for the sake of hoarding. If you have a few offers in hand, you also have enough information to begin making decisions. You should do so.

9/23/2009 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I asked the registrar before graduation and she said we must order diplomas. They don't just come. There's a form online. Here: http://registrar.berkeley.edu/elecforms/DiplomaRequest.pdf (PDF Warning). It costs $12. Weird. I thought that $150,000 Sallie Mae sent them would cover that piece of paper.

The diploma site is not really up to date (Class of 2009 isn't considered alumni yet), but there are some other details (including the fact that they'll be available 3.5 months after graduation--which should mean they're ready now) http://registrar.berkeley.edu/Records/diplomas.html

Also, I think somebody said that the diploma frames sold on campus don't fit, so maybe save yourself the headache and get it framed elsewhere.

9/23/2009 9:56 AM  
Blogger PG said...

If you're not in too much of a hurry, wait until you get admitted to a state bar and you can get that paper and your law school diploma framed together. One document saying you learned law, and one that actually entitles you to practice it.

9/25/2009 1:52 PM  

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