A: I would first urge you to take a step back to re-evaluate your situation and the firm for which you are working. The annals of private practice are replete with stories of summer associates, and permanent associates for that matter, who had a negative experience with one lawyer and still managed to have a successful career in that very firm.
You should not extrapolate from one experience, unless it is truly devastating, to conclude that a firm is not for you. Now if there should be multiple experiences, or if you generally do not like the firm, and have given it a true chance, then my answer would differ. Most firms assign mentors and/or have program coordinators with whom you can discuss this situation.
I have worked with a number of lawyers who, in a parallel situation, asked the mentor or coordinator for the opportunity to work with that partner again. In each one of those cases, the result, and experience, was very different and changed the lawyer’s views as to the firm. If you were to pull out, you also put yourself in a compromised position in the fall, as you will be on the defensive in having to explain why you did not get an offer. This is not fatal, as, again, many a law student have overcome that obstacle. However, in the very competitive market that exists today, you do not need to throw a hurdle in front of you.
I thus recommend that you buckle down and give the firm, and perhaps that partner, another chance. If you can foresee that you might want to ultimately work in the firm, stay in the hunt to get an offer. If you honestly believe, at the end of the summer, that the firm is not for you, so be it. You should let the coordinator know that, so that you do not get an offer that could have gone to someone else. You will then have to be very active in the fall. Good luck.
Q: I am not a golfer by nature, but typically have to play a few rounds each year with clients or prospects. Many of my peers play golf and know the game much better than I. Any advice on how I can endure these rounds? How do I approach this from a business development perspective?
A: This is the third such question that was sent to me, so you are not alone in this regard. It is too bad that you feel that you have to “endure” a round of golf, as it is a great sport and, due to its many challenges, many of which are mental, is tailor-made for lawyers. Maybe you will change your tune someday.
In the interim, I highly recommend that you learn the essentials of golf etiquette and the basic rules of the game. One book you could purchase that covers both topics is Golf Rules and Etiquette Crystal Clear, by Yves Ton-That, Artigo Publishing International. Lawyers, especially, are expected to be prepared and to understand the environment they are in, so this will be time well spent.
A few general quick tips are in order. First, be positive, cheerful and a good sport. No one wants to play with someone who complains and laments every bad shot. Tiger Woods sometimes hits one out of bounds, so why should any one else expect perfection? Second, keep up the pace of play. Most golfers would prefer to play with others who are not laggards, even if they are not highly skilled. As such, keep practice swings to a minimum and don’t treat every lost ball search as if you’re on an archaeological dig.
Finally, remember that silence is golden when someone is getting ready to hit or putt. That is not the time to utter that joke that you’re dying to tell, to rifle through your pockets looking for change, or even to stretch a bit � be quiet and still. Also, try to remember that you are on a course with many other people. So when you hit that great shot, stifle the blood curdling exclamation of glee and dance that would put you on SportsCenter, as it will lead to embarrassment for you in your group and will annoy others on nearby holes.
As to the business-development angle, a four- to six-hour round is a long time to spend with someone. If this is someone you are meeting for the first time, eschew all that hackneyed advice as to how you have to “ask for the business.” Rather, be cool and spend the time hopefully bonding with your prospective client. An opportunity should present itself at the end of the round to discuss following up in some manner � whether that is another round, lunch, or perhaps sending the person some information about your practice and your firm.
If, on the other hand, you are playing with someone you know fairly well, but who is not yet a client, you should have many chances to casually approach the topic. You may want to arrange things such that you ride together in a cart or can talk after the round over a drink or dinner. �
Frank M. D’Amore is the founder of Attorney Career Catalysts, www.attycareers.com, a Pennsylvania-based legal recruiting, consulting and training firm. He is a former partner in an AmLaw 200 firm, general counsel in privately held and publicly traded companies, and vice president of business development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.