It's no secret that getting hired can often boil down to who you know, and if anyone you know matters. And whether someone you know "matters" generally translates to whether you're well enough connected to that person that they will send umpteen billion billable hours worth of work to the law firm.
In a recent filing in the Greg Craig criminal case, it was revealed that Paul Manafort's daughter was hired by Craig's former firm, Skadden, pretty much because they believed hiring her would result in Manafort sending millions worth of billable work to the firm. Sadly ( or not actually) the new billables never showed up, even after the hiring.
In the legal profession, it may not be too uncommon to hear about strategic hires by law firms looking to please certain clients, nor is nepotism a thing of the past. For many young lawyers looking to enter the market without any relatives that can help them navigate their way into an established firm, it can be frustrating and difficult. Finding a mentor can be helpful, but few mentors will be able to find you a job, or have the sort of sway needed to move you to the top of a candidate list (like someone's father who might be dangling future business in front of a firm’s hunger for billable hours).
If you've got no in, then you're going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: work really hard, get top grades, and distinguish yourself. You might still need to be ready for disappointment when despite all your hard work, an under-achiever gets hired over you because of their connections. But, that doesn’t mean it's not possible to break into BigLaw from any position in your career, but it's not as easy as it evidently is with the right connections.