BigLaw Recruiter Roundtable

Finding your first legal job an be an intimidating experience. To put you at ease, recruiters from Morgan Lewis,Thompson & Knight, and Wilson Sonsini have volunteered their time to answer law students’ most commonly asked questions.

Roundtable Panelists

Experts From Across the Country

Jennifer Carriòn (Boston, MA)

Diversity Recruiting Manager

Jennifer Carrión is the Firmwide Diversity Recruiting Manager at Morgan Lewis. In her role, she is responsible for the overall planning, management, and administration of diverse law student and lateral non-partner attorney recruiting, integration and development. Jennifer has worked in the legal industry for several years at a number of firms overseeing both entry-level, associate and partner recruiting in several regions, including managing summer programs, on-campus recruiting and patent professional hiring. Jennifer is passionate about working with law schools, connecting with diverse students and diversifying the legal industry.

Kelly Morgan (Dallas, TX)

Director of Attorney Recruiting 

Kelly Mixon Morgan is the Director of Attorney Recruiting at Thompson & Knight and leads the efficient and effective operations of the firm’s legal recruiting department, determines the strategic direction and objectives of the department’s hiring programs, and supports the firm’s growth, while maintaining and improving its culture, diversity, and quality standards. Ms. Morgan collaborates with firm management to develop and implement talent acquisition strategies with a heightened focus on lateral recruiting, integration, and retention.

Elizabeth Pond (Palo Alto, CA)

Law School Recruiting Manager

Elizabeth Pond is the Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager for Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she leads the firm’s law school recruiting efforts. She has 14 years of legal recruitment experience working at a number of top ranked law firms. Her experience includes lateral attorney hiring, law school on-campus recruiting, attorney onboarding, summer program management, and professional development/mentoring. She has a passion for helping others and has served on many committees throughout her career, ranging from the Palo Alto Lawyers Softball League Committee to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) Regional Resource Council.

Advice For On-Campus Interviews (OCI)

“Typos. Typos. Typos.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“Make your resume easy to read! And, if possible, try to stick to one page. We come across so many resumes and have to review them all in such a short period of time. We want to see the highlights easily and quickly.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“Don’t forget to include your contact information (especially email address) and make sure it’s accurate. Ask at least two other people to review your resume for typos and spelling errors. You don’t want to submit resumes or cover letters with typos.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“It’s totally fine for 1L summer law firm internships (or other 1L summer work experience) to be the focus of the cover letter and resume. However, law firms are also interested in seeing what other experiences you’ve had that may have shaped your interest in the law and may bring a diversity of thought to the profession. What sets you apart from other law students? Highlight this!

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

Certainly include your involvement in activities, both in law school and undergrad.  Noting your 1L work experience is important, but firms want to also see how well-rounded you are, and will most likely want to discuss your hobbies and interests.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

You should definitely include your 1L internship experience, especially if you found it particularly valuable. You should also not be shy about including other experiences you’ve had that have shaped your desire to practice law, even if those experiences are not necessarily legal positions/activities.

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“As long as your 1L job is in the legal field, you are fine.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“It always looks good when a student has previous work experience, particularly between your 1L year and 2L year. We understand firms have smaller 1L Programs, so not everyone is able to intern with a law firm. Employers want to know you are proactively looking for opportunity and putting your law school knowledge to real-world experience. The more experience you can get, the better idea you will have of what it is you’d like to do after you graduate.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“It’s good to show that you did something during your 1L summer, even if it wasn’t at a law firm. You should definitely come prepared with examples of the work you did over the summer and tie it to how you think it relates to the work you would be doing with the potential employer. Be honest about what you’re hoping for in terms of geographic location and practice. Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Demonstrated interest in the firm, leadership/involvement in student groups, and some connection to the city in which the office your interviewing is located, is ideal and preferred. Prior work experience is always a plus.

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

Solid undergraduate grades, advanced degrees, and an obvious connection to the city in which you are applying.  Having solid work experience is also a plus. Lastly, utilize your network!

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

Students who are involved in on campus activities (i.e. students groups, affinity groups, etc.), have prior work experience in a professional capacity, and have demonstrated interest in our client base and practice areas.

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“Consider this a first look. While not an official interview, the interviewer does develop an impression and may want to consider you for future opportunities. Do your research on the person you are meeting with (undergrad, law school, graduation year, practice area, at minimum). In addition to asking good questions, this is also your opportunity to determine if this is a place you’d be interested in formally interviewing with and, ultimately, a place where you’d be interested in starting your career.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“Prepare just as you would a real interview for a paid position. Make sure to do your due diligence on what exactly the position is, so you can ask the most informed questions.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“You should treat this like an informal interview, which means you should be on time, come prepared with questions, research the attorneys you will be meeting with in advance, look presentable (you don’t have to wear a suit, but you shouldn’t come in sweatpants). You always want to make a positive impression. Informational interviews have the potential to lead to callback interviews.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Genuine interest in the firm. Ask questions that show you did your homework. And be yourself!

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

Do your homework on the firm. Ask questions.

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

Show interest. Come with thoughtful questions. Make a connection.

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“Expect to be asked questions about your interests and experience. Answers should show that you are a problem solver, team player and are a hard worker. How to prepare? Do your research on the firm and your interviewers. If you’re really interested in a particular firm, set up Google alerts a few weeks before the interview, so you know what’s going at the firm and read any firm blogs in your particular area of interest.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“You should expect to hear from a recruiter, via phone call or e-mail, to set up a callback interview. Most often, they would like to see you as soon as your schedule will allow, so they can continue to move quickly with the decision making process. Our first suggestion would be to take a look at your schedule over the next several weeks and block out specific times for callback interviews, this way you can give a prompt response to your recruiter.

Getting closer to your interview date, you will receive a final interview schedule with the attorneys you will be meeting with that day. Take some time to review your schedule and research those that you will be meeting with. That way, you can ask informative questions about their practice, experience, etc. – that always goes over well with the attorneys! And, lastly, do your best to research the firm. Make notes of specific things you find interesting and be sure to ask about them!”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“You will most likely be greeted by someone from the recruiting team. Be respectful and appreciative of their time (they spend a lot of time getting your schedule together and making sure your visit goes well). You should arrive at least 5 minutes early – this allows the recruiting team to notify the first interviewer that you have arrived and get them ready. Try not to arrive more than 15 minutes early. It puts the recruiters in a difficult position because they will feel the need to cater to you while you wait. It’s better to just walk around the block if you’re early. Read each attorney’s bio who is listed on your schedule. Know what practice they are in, what deals/cases they have worked on, what law school they went to and anything else you can find that could present common ground (i.e. undergrad degree, school, hobbies, etc.). Come prepared with questions that you truly want information about. Canned questions don’t go over well and interviewers can see right through them. Don’t ask something because someone told you to ask it. Think of questions that are important to you. Always thank the people who meet with you for their time.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“The answers to: Can I see myself being successful and happy here? Will I get good training? Do they have the kind of work I’d like to do?”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“1. All expectations and requirements related to the role you are interviewing for. (ex: projected start and end dates, type of work you should expect to see, etc)

2. Did I get all the questions I wanted to know answered? If not, I would suggest scheduling a follow up phone call, lunch, or coffee with someone you maybe didn’t get to meet or someone you’d like to ask more informal questions to.

3. Any next steps needed to complete your application or the timing of when you should expect to hear from them regarding the status of your application.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“1. Why people decided to work there.

2. What has kept them at the firm.

3. How work is allocated (how much freedom will you have in choosing different types of work).”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“Blue suit. Black suit.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“Business professional! And, yes, keep it simple! You don’t want your interview outfit to be a topic of conversation. When in doubt, lean towards something conservative.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“You should be presentable, but comfortable in what you’re wearing. Suits are recommended.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“YES. Don’t. This is still a professional setting and considered part of the interview. Even if others drink, do not feel obligated to drink.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“Yes! This is still a job interview. You don’t want to be in a situation that would impair your judgment or ability to think on your feet.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“Yes, it matters. The interview lunch is still an interview and you’re being evaluated. Do not order alcohol, even if the attorneys say it’s ok. Always be polite to the servers and don’t order the most expensive item on the menu.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“Is it nice? Yes. Is it mandatory? No.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“A thank you note is always a nice touch and shows your continued interest in the firm. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a handwritten note, either. We would actually suggest an e-mail, since that’s probably the fastest way for an attorney or recruiter to see it.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“Yes, you should follow up with thank you notes. It’s perfectly fine to send emails. You need to acknowledge that people took time out of their day to meet with you and show your appreciation. Plus, it helps them remember you.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“Compare practice areas and type of work, firm size, location, and firm culture.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“So many of you will have multiple offers and making a decision is a big deal- so I get how tough this can be! If you’re not sure of what that is just yet, then find a firm that is looking to invest in you and can help develop you as a lawyer. Comparing firms of similar platform to each other (i.e. large firm/mid-size/boutique) is also important as each will have a different type of culture. When comparing them, consider: Do I want a degree on anonymity (Large firm)? Do I want to know everyone and to have everyone know me (mid-size)? Do I like smaller teams (Boutique). Also, learn the “word on the street” regarding the culture of a firm and be sure to take that into consideration in determining what best suits you and your professional and personal goals.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“Ask the same questions at each firm you visit so you can provide a clear comparison. If you have more questions after you leave, don’t be shy about following up to ask about talking to more attorneys. You need to make sure you have all the information you need so you can make the best decision for you.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Typically overseas experience in the 1L summer is not looked at as a negative, so long as the student shows a genuine commitment to practice in the US for the foreseeable future. When asked about the overseas experience, students should be prepared to answer why they elected to work overseas.

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

I think working overseas can be of benefit when focusing your search in the US.  I suggest being clear on what your purpose was in seeking the experience, what you learned, and how it has helped you to advance your career.  Also, make your long-term goals clear in terms of where you want to be.

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

As long as you clearly communicate your interest in being at a US firm, your overseas experience should not come across as negative. If anything, it would be viewed as positive for the broad exposure and experience you were able to get through that 1L position.

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“No. If you truly aren’t interested in the firm, pull yourself out of the process to allow for other students who are interested in the firm.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“Sometimes a firm would like to bring you back for an additional lunch, dinner or coffee meeting for you to meet additional lawyers. It really is a way for us to let you know we are strongly considering you and want to put our best foot forward. If you are strongly considering the firm and trying to weigh your offer with another, then yes, I’d suggest making the trip! We want to treat you and we want you to get every opportunity to meet as many people as you can. However, if you know this is ultimately not where you see yourself, then we would advise against it and respect the firms time and money.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“No, do not spend your time flying to a firm just for another free lunch. For one thing, not all firms accommodate second visits and those that do don’t always cover the cost. Only reserve second looks for the firms you are seriously considering.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Advice For Summer Associates

“Do good work, be social and proactive. Interested in a particular practice group? Schedule coffee with the practice group leader.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“First and foremost, ensure you are producing good, quality work. We want to know you have what it takes as a first-year associate. We know you are still learning, but my advice would be to take every opportunity to learn as much as you can! The Summer Associates that stand out the most are the ones that initiate with the partners and associates – whether it be volunteering yourself for an additional work assignment or asking them to lunch to learn more about their particular practice. Also, make sure to get to know the other Summer Associates well. They could very well end up being the people you work with in the future. And, always remember, this is still a 10-week job interview.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“Be present. Attend events/trainings and be engaged while you’re there. Be proactive about meeting people. Everyone appreciates being asked out to lunch or coffee (even if they can’t make it). Show you’re interested by asking questions. Do a good job on the assignments you are given. Show that you are reliable and can complete a task.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“1. Ask when it’s due and how much time you should spend on it.

2. Send the assigning attorney a written summary confirming what you understood the assignment to be and how you plan to go about completing it.

3. Don’t go down a rabbit hole!!! If you are spending too much time on the assignment or hitting a wall, go back to the assigning attorney and ask for additional direction.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“1. Know your deadline – this is huge! If there is not a deadline given, please be sure to ask the assigning attorney when they would like to have it and respect that deadline. If you think you might need more time, please give the attorney plenty of notice, and ask for an extension.

2. Make sure you have all necessary documents and information needed to complete the assignment.

3. Even if you don’t have questions at first, be sure to follow-up with the assigning attorney regarding any questions that you may have (even if just to follow-up and ensure that you are on the right track). Doing so may ease your angst about the project, as well as demonstrate your confidence in asking questions.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“1. Ask for the deadline.

2. Ask any clarifying questions so you know exactly what your task is.

3. Show enthusiasm for the assignment.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“Rule of thumb: If you are questioning it, don’t wear it. Look at what most attorneys in the office wear and use that as a guide.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“Your orientation and first day packets, should lay out the dress code for you. If not, and you have questions, ask someone before you show up on your first day (and especially before a social event where the dress code is unclear). Always air on the side of caution! If you’re wondering whether or not it’s appropriate for “a work party”, the answer is probably no. Again, when in doubt, going with the more conservative option will be the safest choice.

I will never forget when a Summer Associate showed up on his first day without a tie. I think I had 5 Partners ask me that day ‘why is so-and-so not wearing a tie?‘. People do notice.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“Please don’t wear anything see-through, too tight, too short, or too low.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“Absolutely. In most places, the staff’s opinions matters and they are sometimes asked for their opinion. Ultimately, every firm is looking for someone who is going to be a team player and fit their culture. That starts with treating everyone with respect.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“Absolutely! We very much value our support staff and want to ensure they are being treated with the upmost respect. It also says a lot about your character.”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“This is super important. Support staff are the backbone of the firm and they can make or break you. Be respectful to everyone you encounter.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

“Is there alcohol at summer social events? Yes. Do you have to drink? No. If you do, drink responsibly.”

Jennifer Carriòn, Diversity Recruiting Manager, Morgan Lewis

“Similar to what is mentioned above, my biggest piece of advice is to stay true to your most conservative authentic self. If there is an event where alcohol is served, you are welcome to enjoy a drink, but most definitely not required. However, please use your best judgment. This is still a job interview!”

Kelly Morgan, Director of Attorney Recruiting, Thompson & Knight LLP

“Many firms are trying to de-emphasize alcohol during events; however, it will most likely still be present. Show good judgment by not over indulging. Know yourself; if you’re easily affected by alcohol, don’t drink it or limit yourself to one glass. Always make sure you have a safe ride home and watch out for your fellow summer associates.”

Elizabeth Pond, Firmwide Law School Recruiting Manager, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati