Page 1 of 1

Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 3:57 am
by Anonymous User
I work at a mid-size firm in LA and during my first year reviews I received a few really good reviews, a few ok review, and one really bad review. The bad review was from someone who is known to be a tough person to work with, but this wasn't acknowledged during the review, and now I'm going to get a check in review in 6 months to see how things are going with the new people I am working with. I'm worried that my fate is sealed no matter how hard I work so I'm planning on trying to lateral, but I'm wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:01 am
by rpupkin
Does your firm typically (or at least often) do mid-year check ins? And what is the status of the partner who gave you the bad review? Do they bring in a fair amount of business? Or are they a junior partner or a service partner?

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:36 am
by hdivschool
IME, people know who is tough to work with and who gives harsh reviews and they discount those reviews accordingly. So you might not have much to worry about.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:56 am
by EliotAlderson
rpupkin wrote:Does your firm typically (or at least often) do mid-year check ins? And what is the status of the partner who gave you the bad review? Do they bring in a fair amount of business? Or are they a junior partner or a service partner?


This. If mid-year check in is normal, I wouldn’t worry. In my experience, some partners are notoriously tough on reviews, some particularly on juniors as the partners wonder why you don’t yet know what they know. If the criticism was something that can be rectified, do so. Being responsive to those partner types complaints is how you get on their good side. They will still complain about something, but note how you improved on items they previously mentioned.

Caveat — some people/partners are simply pricks.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:10 pm
by Anonymous User
EliotAlderson wrote:
rpupkin wrote:Does your firm typically (or at least often) do mid-year check ins? And what is the status of the partner who gave you the bad review? Do they bring in a fair amount of business? Or are they a junior partner or a service partner?


This. If mid-year check in is normal, I wouldn’t worry. In my experience, some partners are notoriously tough on reviews, some particularly on juniors as the partners wonder why you don’t yet know what they know. If the criticism was something that can be rectified, do so. Being responsive to those partner types complaints is how you get on their good side. They will still complain about something, but note how you improved on items they previously mentioned.

Caveat — some people/partners are simply pricks.


"How could you not know X when you have been doing this for 2 months" (implies someone with years of exp). How easily can people forget what is like to know nothing

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:32 pm
by Anonymous User
Honestly, if the prick partner is a money-maker or well-respected, start looking for another job asap. My friend had the same thing happen to him. My view is that this is not uncommon. Also, don't trust lower ranked attorneys at your firm if they say "oh don't worry he's hard on everyone."

Unless a higher ranked attorney (someone on the same level of prick attorney, or higher) explicitly says they have your back, I'd start looking for another job.

Granted my friend was at biglaw, but I think this is more true in midlaw where you interact with people more.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:41 pm
by Anonymous User
OP: The second review is not something they normally do. Its to check in to make sure things are going better and I've improved. Does this change anyone's advice?

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:49 pm
by Anonymous User
Anonymous User wrote:OP: The second review is not something they normally do. Its to check in to make sure things are going better and I've improved. Does this change anyone's advice?


Anon from the above right before yours. No, it doesn't change my advice. More than likely, this is them dotting their i's/crossing their t's before they fire you so they can say they gave you a chance to improve and you didn't.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:50 pm
by rpupkin
Anonymous User wrote:OP: The second review is not something they normally do. Its to check in to make sure things are going better and I've improved. Does this change anyone's advice?

I think you have reason to be concerned. I don't know if "your fate is sealed," but I'd at least try to lateral.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:58 pm
by trebekismyhero
Definitely start looking.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:40 pm
by Anonymous User
Definitely start looking now. Things might work out, but better not to take the chance.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:37 am
by ATXBiglaw
I was in the same situation a couple of years ago, but the review came after my second year. I would echo suggestions that you begin looking at other options. Here is why: when you get on the firm's radar like this, it's very, very difficult to shed the reputation that you've developed for yourself, whether it's warranted or not. Partners talk, and eventually your habits that became an issue with that "one partner" become apparent to the other partners - whether it's typos, poor analysis, missed deadlines, etc. You have to show real improvement to avoid what I'm describing, which is to say you have to virtually eliminate the mistake(s) you're making. That is hard, but not impossible. You're obviously doing good work for some partners, but that won't cut it. You have to be consistent across the board.

Don't panic; you need to stay focused on doing good work. But develop a plan and get a feel for other firms' needs in your area. Evaluate how things are going in January, at which point you can decide whether you want to make a larger push to find a new job.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:12 am
by Anonymous User
ATXBiglaw wrote:I was in the same situation a couple of years ago, but the review came after my second year. I would echo suggestions that you begin looking at other options. Here is why: when you get on the firm's radar like this, it's very, very difficult to shed the reputation that you've developed for yourself, whether it's warranted or not. Partners talk, and eventually your habits that became an issue with that "one partner" become apparent to the other partners - whether it's typos, poor analysis, missed deadlines, etc. You have to show real improvement to avoid what I'm describing, which is to say you have to virtually eliminate the mistake(s) you're making. That is hard, but not impossible. You're obviously doing good work for some partners, but that won't cut it. You have to be consistent across the board.

Don't panic; you need to stay focused on doing good work. But develop a plan and get a feel for other firms' needs in your area. Evaluate how things are going in January, at which point you can decide whether you want to make a larger push to find a new job.


Starting fresh at new firm is the right call. It's easier to make a good first impression than to undo a bad first impression. Worse the reputation spreads before you even get a first chance to make a real impression. It colors people's expectations. You say you have to virtually eliminate any errors, but its worse. People will find problems where none even exists.

I've had it happen to me. And I've seen it happen to a junior under me. I even felt myself doing it when I was "warned" about a junior.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:27 am
by mvp99
Sounds like the decision has been made. Hope you find something. People leave firms all the time and move on to something else. You'll be fine.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:29 pm
by Anonymous User
Can some people here elaborate on what they've heard when they get "warned" about juniors? Specifically interested in what bad reputational things are for corporate associates.

How does one even know they have a bad reputation? On some deals I feel like the people just never reach out to work with me again.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:40 pm
by unlicensedpotato
You can't really fix it because 99.9% of juniors (including me) are idiots who constantly make mistakes. Unfortunately this means that the perception of your performance is way more important than your actual performance because you, like all other juniors, will continue to make mistakes.

Re: Bad first year review

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:23 pm
by Anonymous User
Yeah this actually happens a lot (in biglaw, at least.) Unfortunately it does seem like the partner placed you in the shithouse. You can still dig yourself out, but you’re at a disadvantage now and every additional mistake you make will be placed in this context. So I would keep trying, but also have your eye out for an exit.