I have to say, at least this party showed that there are other types of firms out there. Whereas the other holiday parties were at the beginning of December, this one was at the end of January. Not quite sure what holiday they were celebrating, but again… free food is free food. It was also a bit earlier in the day, whereas before it was an evening soiree, this was starting around 5.
I show up at the party and I’m ushered into a small conference room. Apparently I was earlier than most because there are only 2 other people in the room, one of whom seems to be foreign with a limited command of english. Although this effectively destroyed any hope of conversation as we all just stood uncomfortably around, there was a saving grace. The large table in the middle of the room was graced with what I can only described as a 3 foot high pile of art created out of fruit and chocolate. Who cares if no one else shows up, this alone was worth it. Slowly more students trickle in and then the conference room doors are opened, and praise jesus, more food. There were still not really any attorneys around strangely so all of us law students were happily mingling with quite a bit of pretty good free food. At one point the receptionist came out to apologize and said that the attorneys would be around shortly.
A couple attorneys started filtering in. I talked with several trying vainly again to network and get my foot in the door for an internship. I found out for the first time what an Of-Counsel position means in a law firm setting. I was talking with 2 attorneys and one mentioned she was Of-Counsel. This was met with my blank stare, and she asked if I knew what that meant. I answered no, and before she could say anything the other attorney half-jokingly said it means she doesn’t work for her money. This was met with an incredibly sour look from her and shortly the other douchey attorney wandered off. She explained that Of-Counsel are attorneys that are generally offered a partner position and choose not to buy into the partnership and instead continue receiving a salary. The implication by the other attorney was that Of Counsel had no money in the game and even though they were roughly equal in seniority to a partner, they would never be equal in the firm.
At about 5:30 there started to be a steady stream of people leaving the firm through the front door. One attorney walking down the hallway spied the food and instantly started loading up a plate. He then took his food looked around and suddenly realized everyone was wearing a nametag and sorta froze, he literally sidestepped over to me and leaned in conspiratorially and asked what the food and nametags were for. Here was a man after my own heart. I ended up talking with him for quite awhile.
It turned out the firm had circulated an email no one had bothered reading that they wanted people to stop in and talk with the law students. To facilitate this, they placed the party in the main hallway leading to the front door and timed it so that when everyone bolted for the door at 5:30 they would have to wander through. Pretty smart actually. The main thing I took away from this however was that although the other firm’s parties paid lip service to working decent hours, they were still there at 8 at night. Here, it almost looked like a firedrill at 5:30.
Unlike the other party, I have to say, here were normal people. It was honest, and they didn’t try to feed you a line of bullshit. You didn’t need to hear about the hours people worked because you saw it. This party was probably the best impression I had of law firms through all of law school. The short take away is the obvious, some are good… some are not. (although I do still use the umbrella from that first party to this day.. hey, it’s a nice umbrella!)