Saturday, July 5, 2008

Online tools for researching law firms

Many of you may already know about these. But I am still putting these things together as a guide for myself as well.

1. The firm's own website. What it will tell you and what you should know: the total number of attorneys. From that list, unless the firm is huge, find out who does what you want to do. Who were there clients? What cases have they recently been a part of? Then find out about the clients and what the firm has helped them with. This goes back to the spreadsheet...put most of this info in the spreadsheet. Also, check out the firm's mission or vision. Sometimes that can tell you a lot about what that firm is like. For instance, if it says something like we pride ourselves in our customers knowing that they can always depend on us, you know damn well you are going to be working every time a client says jump (nights, weekends, the wee hours of the morning). Also look at the newsletters if they have any. This gives a sense of how long it takes to get to partner. It also can tell you how many laterals they take.

2. Martindale Hubbell (www.martindale.com) lists firm information. However, this is a service firms pay for, so many small and mid-sized firms may not have any information on the site. It's okay, but don't expect more than educational background and their rating system.

3. Google, directed search. I have found that by using Google I can often find cases that the attorneys have worked on, briefs they have written and other things of interest. It's kind of scary how much I can find on a person, really. The firms often get written up in the local newspapers, which also helps in putting together a firm profile. For instance, I found one of the firms I was interested in had a huge partner exodus about 5 years ago. Using all other resources, I would not know that. I know I can't ask about that in an interview, but I plan to ask around it when meeting with other attorneys. Lexis and Westlaw can also give you a lot of information about the firms, either cases or news articles. Some attorneys also continue to write articles for law reviews.

4. Legal news magazines, like the ABA Journal, are great sources. Do not overlook the local chapters. They will have more information on local law firms.

5. If your career services office sucks (i.e. is basically for those fortunate few) you have to start as soon as possible developing your own "career services" portfolio. Become familiar with all of the online tools you can use. Then use them!

NEXT TIME: Connecting, networking, getting your face out there.

2 comments:

The Legal Optimist said...

Thanks for the tips on researching firms, especially for the info on martindale.com. It's amazing how much time and effort goes into finding a good position!

Why do you think career services is only helpful for the "fortunate few?"

Eliza said...

Honestly, I have no idea. And I don't believe all career service centers are bad. But there seems to be an awful lot out there that are. For instance, I used mine on multiple occasions to attempt to get introduced to attorneys in the area. I was never given one name, not one. Instead I was told to "network," "get out there" and other platitudes that were essentially useless. Or the fact that the career office didn't ask the students which career fairs they were interested in (schools have to register for some of them for students to be able to attend). Which meant I missed out on being able to go to 2 this year. I was told that the same firms would be at others. That was complete bullshit.

The reason career services is only helpful for the a few people is that it's easy to help someone that is going to have numerous offers. It's much harder and much more time consuming to spend time with each of the 75% that aren't in the top 25%. Part of that is that people don't go to the office, they think that their grades will keep them from good jobs. But a large part is that the office simply doesn't help, either through laziness or incompetence. I would have thought, since part of a school's reputation is built on getting student's into careers that reflect well on the school, the schools would be bending over backwards to connect students from day one. Sure, our school had meet and greets. But guess what, a meet and greet does very little for the person that is in the lower rankings.

I can think of numerous changes that should be implemented. Some may not be workable, but some are rather easy.