Our associate hiring process goes like this.
We place an ad for an associate position with 50 law schools and with approximately a dozen minority bar associations.
All resumes go through two rounds of preliminary vetting, where we are looking at two very basic things. First, we weed out people who should not have applied for the job because their credentials do not meet the basic criteria that we advertised for. A good example of this would be when someone still in law school applies to an ad that states that applicants must have sat for the New York State Bar exam. Second, we weed out people who did not apply properly. Reading and following simple directions is a big part of any job.
Those that remain after the preliminary vetting are subjected to a detailed analysis using a standardized point system across twelve different categories that gives credit for: overall presentation; law school ranking in US News; strength of the cover letter; academic honors; journal or law review experience; moot court participation and victories; participation on arbitration or mediation teams; work and clinical experience during law school; work and/or volunteer experience after law school; bar admissions; and other factors. It’s a good system. Someone from a lower ranked law school with excellent grades, a lot of clinical experience, a published journal article, participation on an arbitration team, and who has stayed busy since graduation is going to rack up as many points as someone from a higher ranked law school without the same consistent achievements.
Next, we ask the top ranked individuals for at least two writing samples. We interview your writing before we interview you. Before we read the samples we redact the names from the writing samples. Then we rate them using a standardized point system that gives credit for: communication, complexity, persuasiveness, brevity, clarity, organization, topic sentences, format, etc. You have to be able to write well to work here. Thus, we put this step in front of the interview process.
After rating the writing samples, we ask the top writers to come in for an interview where they meet with our managing partner, Michelle Itkowitz. She has prepared a list of a super-psychological-scientific interview questions to ask the candidates. Honestly, the questions are straightforward, and most are simply designed to get you to talk. If you have made it to this point in the process, you are qualified for the position. Michelle's task at the interview is simply to determine who is likely to be the best fit for the job. Thus, there are no correct or incorrect answers to the questions.
On the second interview the candidate meets all the lawyers. Therefore, if you come back, you will meet everyone that you would be working with. You will have as long as you like to ask the associates frank questions outside of the presence of the partners.
One of the final, and perhaps most innovative steps, in our process is that all the lawyers rank the candidates they have seen on second interviews. Then the scores are added up. Thus, the candidate with the best score gets the job. Michelle Itkowitz reserves veto power, but has actually never exercised it. Thus, the firm decides who is right for the firm.
If we are going to offer you the job we will ask for your references and speak with them. We also ask for a copy of your law school transcript.
It is a grueling process - for the firm - not for the candidate. But there is nothing more important to this firm than hiring the best people, so it is well worth the trouble. As we look back on the list of 20 associates who have been through here in 8 years, as we think about what working with them was like, and as we watch their careers since they have left here (see FAQ 19) – we are reminded that the effort has been worth it.