Being a POC in Big Law

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Re: Being a POC in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:16 pm

Great insight above, which mirrors things I've been told as a junior/midlevel POC (I hate that term but whatever)

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Re: Being a POC in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:31 pm

OP here: these have been great comments, and I thank you all for speaking out! I'm trying to make the networks and find mentors, but I'm hoping to have more opportunities this summer.

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Re: Being a POC in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:21 am

are there some areas of law that are better for POC attorneys? i noticed healthcare law firms tend to have lawyers who are predominantly white. not saying this is true all the time, but generally speaking.


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Re: Being a POC in Big Law

Postby FlapJackJim » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:are there some areas of law that are better for POC attorneys? i noticed healthcare law firms tend to have lawyers who are predominantly white. not saying this is true all the time, but generally speaking.

What a stupid question. Are there some sports that are better for POC people?! Hockey? but it's dominated by white people. Baseball? dominated by hispanics. Basketball? well that's dominated by black people. DOES THAT MAKE BASKETBALL THE BEST SPORT FOR POC? HELL NO. Quit generalizing. The best sport for YOU is the one you (a) are good at and (b) enjoy.

Now let's apply that to areas of law: There is no "area of law better for POC attorneys" there are only areas of law that YOU may like or dislike, find interesting or not interesting. Black white or purple the analysis of what practice area to take is no different, so stop trying to make it so.

Finally, you're stupid if you think you can generalize to say "healthcare law firms are mostly white." First, most law firms are mostly white. Second, the color of the skin of the people you work with shouldn't factor in to what you want to do. Third, every single group in every single law firm has some sort of variation in how it is constituted, so you simply cannot generalize how you are trying to. Does it matter if they are predominantly white? Doesn't it just matter that they are good people?

Figure out what you want in your life and then go get it, regardless of whether the area is overrepresented or underrepresented by POC. That shouldn't factor in. If it's underrepresented, consider yourself a trailblazer. Stop being scared to stray from the pack to chase your own goals.


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Re: Being a POC in Big Law

Postby jd20132013 » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:28 am

thank you for registering to impart that wisdom, flapjack Jim

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Re: Being a POC in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:While there are POC (or URM) that can break into Big Law, most do not stay. A firm in NY is going to be different than one in TX, but the legal profession is mostly white, and in the sought-after Big Law positions, it is even greater. *Minorities in other senses are definitely included in this (aka coming from at most a middle-class family, non-Christian, sexual orientation, immigration status, etc.), but there seems to be a lot of focus, and yet not much change, on bettering ethnic and racial diversity.

This is going to be a laundry list of questions, but hopefully this thread won't be labeled just strictly a "URM" thread that is irrelevant to legal employment.

For POC attorneys on TLS:
- What advice do you have for summer associates in evaluating a law firm and getting positive attention from partners? (aka invitations to partner dinners that isn't organized within the summer program)
- What do you think of criticism that summer associates and junior associates do great work, but don't "fit"?
- How do you respond to out-right racist comments (e.g. racial slurs) or, at the very least, problematic ones (e.g. saying a black woman's hair looks "messy")?
- Do you have any advice on assimilating to these spaces while juggling the stress and work of being a junior associate?
- How do you recommend finding mentorship opportunities within your firm and outside of it? *I realize that many programs assign mentors to summer associates and later junior associates, but formalized mentoring programs may not be useful.
- Despite firm differences, how do you recommend finding resources to help you get work as a junior associate?
- Do you think it is essential, if you want to stay at a firm long-term, to have a mentor who is a white man in a position of power?

1a. Try you best to do good work. To be sure, your work doesn't need to be "perfect": You're a summer associate, not a practicing lawyer. However, your work product needs to be free of errors that are totally under your control (e.g., spelling errors, punctuation errors, Bluebook errors, etc.) Before starting as a summer associate/clerk/mid-level, I read Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" cover to cover just to ensure that I was solid on my grammar. It's really a short book (very cheap, tiny, and much less than 100 pages IIRC). I would do that. I also recommend "Plain English for Lawyers." Anyway, to sum up, your work product needs to be to the very best of your ability, as inherent bias means that your work will likely be scrutinized more harshly than others, leading to more errors being found. That's just a fact.

1b. I don't know what it means to get "positive attention" from partners. I would reach out to partners in practice areas that are interesting to you and just introduce yourself. Over time, they'll either invite you to things or they wont. I worked at a litigation boutique (or maybe it's "biglaw"--I don't know) and our summer program was highly decentralized. Partner usually invited 1-3 summers (and SOs) + 1-3 associates (and SOs) over for dinner, with the exception of 2-3 dinner parties that were open to our entire summer class. I think being invited to dinner had a lot to do with (a) where your office was, since you're more likely to know the partners near your office; (b) where you attended school, because partners from your law school just have more in common/things to talk about with you; and (c) your background--which includes race, ethnicity, hometown, etc (since people are just more coming talking to people who are similar to them). Either a partner will invite you to dinner or (s)he won't. Either way, I don't know how big of a deal that is as a summer associate.

2. In my experience, usually the "great work but doesn't fit" is pretext for "shitty work but don't want to tell him" or "made too many faux pas." Because BL clients are starting to 'demand' (in the abstract, at least) diversity from their law firms, I don't think a person would be no-offered simply for being a POC--if that's what this question is insinuating. You just wouldn't have been hired in the first place. Sometimes a firm is just not a good fit for you and you are not a good fit for the firm. I didn't return to the firm I summered at during 1L because the firm was not a good fit for me.

3. If I heard an outright racist comment from a summer or junior, I'd tell a partner I trusted, along with some other mid-levels/seniors. If this comment came from a partner, I'd tell the partner I trusted (i.e., my mentor/sponsor) just so they know and in the hopes that they'd handle it without throwing me under the bus/blowing my cover. But it's a much touchier subject when it comes to comments by partners and adverse consequences, as many non-POC partners are able to let racially charged comments slide if it means that another rainmaker isn't shown the door (which affects their pockets). Sometimes, you do have to "roll with the punches" or just go to another place where partners aren't empowered to make such comments. But if it's another associate, I'm definitely snitching.

4. Advice on assimilating: you always have a choice. Just get in, do your work, and try to get out each day while keeping your sanity and politeness. I have great friends in my office and some really great co-workers, but no one needs to know what I did over the weekend/who I was with/or even my politics, really.

5. The best mentorship opportunities for me came in the form of alums from my law school's BLSA. Obviously, they don't work at my firm, but they're a few years "older" in terms of experience and have given me great advice on how to navigate this culture.

6. I don't really know how to answer that question.

7. As someone said above, I think it's essential to have a "sponsor." It definitely does not have to be, but usually the most influential "sponsors" will be white and male unless you're working for like Ted Wells, Kathleen Sullivan, or Eric Holder/Ronald Machen, or Faiza Saeed.

Also, if you're not a POC you should probably fuck off from posting in this thread

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