Each came to ApprenticeRamp via a different path: Zach because he took a 1L course on “reinventing the legal profession,” Shanique because she’d worked for the Fed before law school and thus had an interest in banking, and Stephanie because she’d always been interested in contract drafting but the contracts courses in law school “felt like it was in a box” and wasn’t practical.
What’s a “typical” day?
First, understanding what the client is looking for in contract analysis, then learning how to become expert at what you’re asked to do. Many days also involve a dose of “rounds”—modeled after the medical student/hospital residency custom, where students learn from senior experts, and/or meetings with potential and current clients.
You get to meet with clients? Really?
Yes, starting just six to eight weeks into the program, Stephanie was joining pitches to customers, which she notes drily “is probably not what the typical new associate gets.” And: “I feel as though I’ve learned so much in just 5 to 6 months; I’ve had opportunities other people haven’t.”
What do you want people to know about the experience? In no particular order, but as they responded:
- How quickly you learn about contracts; you get constant feedback through the system.
- The available resources “amazing; I felt like I learned more about contracts in my first two weeks at OnRamp than in all my past internships put together.”
- Metrics are terrific; you can see your performance and track it in real time. “In other positions you wouldn’t get such rigorous feedback all the time.”
- The organization seems “extremely forward-looking, not just in use of technology, but the way it goes about its business.” It’s a very flat structure; people are encouraged to find their own talent and then nurture it, which is “foreign to law firms, where you’re expected to do a certain type of work until maybe somebody realizes you have another skill.”
- “Law firms engage in very short-term thinking [in terms of their business model] but OnRamp is trying to be creative and open to solving problems to meet client needs using any tools and means they can come up with.”
- “One thing you don’t learn in law school but is really important in this role is knowing more about the business of law. [This was music to my ears.] You also learn things at OnRamp like project management: Creating a project plan, creating and sequencing tasks for a project, assigning resources to achieve those tasks. It’s not just substantive law.”
- Zach stresses how “dense the learning environment is,” as compared to law school where “you get essentially no feedback until maybe the end of the semester.” This adds up: “Find me a law firm that’s invested enough in their associates to put them in front of the deputy GC of a major bank.”
Talk about attrition among the apprentices: Do you see people drop out? Has anyone said, “this just isn’t for me?”
(They have to think about this.) Finally, “somebody left within two months because they got their dream job offer elsewhere.” Then they qualify it: “I think; not sure. But nobody has ever said, ‘this isn’t for me.'”
[Let’s pause, shall we, and compare that with the reactions of three typical junior associates in law firms. No need to tarry on this thought lest it interfere with your digestion.—Bruce]
What’s the reaction of your peers? Of your law schools? (On this they are extremely voluble.)