What else is out there apart from biglaw?

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yjj209
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What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby yjj209 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:35 am

Say I enter Fordham Law in Fall 2011. (Yes, I did get an offer..)
Judging from some of the recent posts and especially ITE, I know it is unrealistic to expect biglaw out of a lower T30 school as such.
I also happen to know that the expectation of ranking beyond the median during 1L is unrealistic, especially given the fact that it's been a few years since I had graduated college, and thus lost touch with the academia for some time--although I will of course give it my best.

Also, I'm very determined about staying in NYC upon graduation.
Fortunately, I do not have to worry about financing my education, but what are some of the alternative options I have out of Fordham Law apart from BigLaw? And what are the salary levels in those respective alternatives?

Ah..almost forgot.. here's the catch. I'm not a US citizen..so I should be looking solely into private practice.

SpiteFence
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby SpiteFence » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:57 am

You should have a decent chance at NYC biglaw firms by the time OCI comes around at Fordham. With no debt, you can go work for a medium/small firm or throw up your own shingle (eventually) and lead a pretty comfortable life. Salary based on firm, region, prestige, etc, but what was the biggest factor for myself choosing Biglaw over the regionals was the salary increases. I saw across the board raises of 10K-20K each year as an associate, whereas at the regionals I usually found 3K a year. Plus, Biglaw generally opens up doors further down the line than other paths do, such as going in house.

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patrickd139
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby patrickd139 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:26 am

SpiteFence wrote:You should have a decent chance at NYC biglaw firms by the time OCI comes around at Fordham. Depends on how you define "decent chance." I think right now Fordham is placing around 30% biglaw. With no debt, you can go work for a medium/small firm (almost as hard to get in NYC as biglaw, plus they pay less and still work you the same hours) or throw up your own shingle (eventually) In NYC?! You're joking, right? and lead a pretty comfortable life. Again, OP is talking about NYC: land of 3 levels of income tax, inflated cost of living and a do-or-die, cutthroat legal community. Salary based on firm, region, prestige, etc, but what was the biggest factor for myself choosing Biglaw over the regionals was the salary increases. I saw across the board raises of 10K-20K each year as an associate, whereas at the regionals I usually found 3K a year. Plus, Biglaw generally opens up doors further down the line than other paths do, such as going in house. Statistically, OP is not going to make biglaw. Plus, the title of the post is "What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Also, IBOS.

SpiteFence
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby SpiteFence » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:29 am

patrickd139 wrote:
SpiteFence wrote:You should have a decent chance at NYC biglaw firms by the time OCI comes around at Fordham. Depends on how you define "decent chance." I think right now Fordham is placing around 30% biglaw. With no debt, you can go work for a medium/small firm (almost as hard to get in NYC as biglaw, plus they pay less and still work you the same hours) or throw up your own shingle (eventually) In NYC?! You're joking, right? and lead a pretty comfortable life. Again, OP is talking about NYC: land of 3 levels of income tax, inflated cost of living and a do-or-die, cutthroat legal community. Salary based on firm, region, prestige, etc, but what was the biggest factor for myself choosing Biglaw over the regionals was the salary increases. I saw across the board raises of 10K-20K each year as an associate, whereas at the regionals I usually found 3K a year. Plus, Biglaw generally opens up doors further down the line than other paths do, such as going in house. Statistically, OP is not going to make biglaw. Plus, the title of the post is "What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Also, IBOS.


Wow. Just. Wow.

Instead of going Rambo with the red, the following would have worked: "these statements are more applicable to other markets than NYC."

But your way works too. I bet it felt pretty good using that strike through feature.

yjj209
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby yjj209 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:51 am

pretty much an answer I had anticipated.
Also, would it be unreasonable to go to Fordham despite an offer from GW (w/ no $)?

Just so you know, I'd like to stay in NY for a few reasons..
Despite my alien status, I am emotionally attached to New York (where I was brought up for the better part of my life), and cannot imagine living elsewhere..
Also, I wouldn't think another city would be more receptive of foreigners as myself..

My only concern is the salary level if I get a job apart from BigLaw.. considering the living expenses in the city..

Ah.. and would my humble job experience before law school help any in securing a job? (I am currently a junior research analyst at a domestic firm in the Far East.. covering equities)... or the fact that I'm fully trilingual(English, Korean and Chinese), and a former regional boxing champ?

I guess what I wanted to ask was... in a nutshell, do the "softs" count at all in legal employment?

* And I don't mind working long hours..ha I'm pretty much used to working 100 hours a week..getting paid somewhere around $40K (Again, Far East, I said.. and in a country where there is a constant threat of war..so ...I guess.. adjust it by the difference in costs of living bw New York and here..and then add a risk premium to that... which amounts to ..uh..not that much).. and I'm used to a high-stress, competitive environment.. The finance sector, especially in NE Asia, isn't exactly any less cutthroat.

Renzo
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby Renzo » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:36 am

Your last post makes it sound like you have emerging market finance experience. If this is true, your employability in NYC specifically will be higher than without it, and you should feel slightly better about Fordham. I would not pick GW over Fordham in your shoes; Fordham gets better treatment than all non T-14 schools by firms/lawyers in NYC, and given that you want to stay there, that is worth a lot.

Edit: ok, you must've edited your above post. Or else I can't read. Yes, your experience will help come job search time-paticularly in NYC where financial work is king.

yjj209
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby yjj209 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:46 am

thanks :) makes me feel a lot better!
btw, I meant subtract the added (perceived) country risk premium for adjustment.
excuse my obsessive compulsive self.

yjj209
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby yjj209 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:17 am

then again, I never got my response to inquiries regarding salary levels of biglaw alternatives (presumably mid/small firms)
Anyone?

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OperaSoprano
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby OperaSoprano » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:33 pm

OP, your language ability and finance experience will certainly give you a leg up in legal hiring, whether at OCI or for a smaller firm. As for our biglaw placement, my class has no statistics yet, but informal data gathering, also known as idle gossip, suggests 30% might be on the mark. Many of my friends knew they wanted PI and so never participated in OCI at all. Renzo is correct that we place better than any other non T14 in NYC (though you could possibly make a similar argument for Vandy). Even ITE, Fordham's location made it incredibly cost effective for firms to recruit here.

While I would estimate a lot of competition for anyone trying to throw up a shingle here, there are myriad small firms and many of them actually do provide reasonable work life balance. However, we are talking about truly small firms (under ten people) and you might be making $40k to start. Also, many of these firms don’t have the resources to train new grads, so they generally bring in people with experience. The bimodal salary in the legal profession suggests that if you do not do biglaw, you will likely start out making $40-60k, and shorter hours are not guaranteed. The good news is that Fordham students generally get jobs, if not always fancy ones. If you do well, you have a better than normal shot at biglaw because of your background. Employers do care, and I have seen people get V5 jobs here without law review grades because of something else they had to offer.

Now, I will likely go in house (yes, it does happen on occasion) or to a small firm if I don’t get a nonprofit job. Biglaw was not for me and I don’t mind the more modest salary. It is possible to get an off the beaten track position, though you will have to do more of the footwork yourself. These jobs are often unadvertised. Fordham puts you in a great position to intern during the school year and meet people, and I remain very happy with my decision to attend.

Renzo
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby Renzo » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:39 pm

yjj209 wrote:then again, I never got my response to inquiries regarding salary levels of biglaw alternatives (presumably mid/small firms)
Anyone?

With your background, in-house at a hedge fund, a non-bulge bracket bank, or some other similar shop might be a possibility as well.

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nealric
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby nealric » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:54 pm

Image

I'm kidding. Kind of :?

yjj209
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby yjj209 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:56 pm

Ah.. and would my humble job experience before law school help any in securing a job? (I am currently a junior research analyst at a domestic firm in the Far East.. covering equities)... or the fact that I'm fully trilingual(English, Korean and Chinese), and a former regional boxing champ?

+ and oh i forgot. I was in the korean special ops under the intelligence command

As to the threat,
I'm kidding too.. Yeah kind of :)

yjj209
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby yjj209 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:06 pm

Btw, thanks os! Renzo! :)
Hope i could get a mentor like that while in law school
Heh

Snooker
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby Snooker » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:59 pm

I would be concerned about going to law school in NYC/DC. NYC has a really high cost of living and legal salaries there are on par with the rest of the nation, so if you have tons of debt and are working there for 60-90k, you won't be doing so well off once debt is factored. DC is also high cost of living, but it is ultra-saturated with attorneys. The story of the Georgetown "doc review" graduate is incessant.

Try looking at some other areas. I am not so familiar with other cities outside Texas, but I think Atlanta has a pretty decent non-biglaw market as do many other cities. I picked Texas because of the low tuition here, and that there are numerous non-biglaw opportunities here in addition to a great offer rate for biglaw. The 160k biglaw rate prevails in Texas, and there are smaller firms offering 140k / 120k / 90k salaries as well (which I believe mostly do not exist in the NYC/DC markets). Try to find a market not so heavily saturated with lawyers as DC/NYC.

Snooker
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby Snooker » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:20 am

Oh an language doesn't help that much for getting into biglaw. These firms are mostly run by white dudes who can't speak foreign languages. Recently a V10 - so say insiders - blew a major deal involving Korea and China because counsel could not speak Chinese. In another case, the corporate board in China doing an acquisition into the USA decided to hold the entire negotiations in broken English (their e-mails sure were) because the lawyer representing them couldn't speak Chinese, it was discovered. In a case covered in our PR class, a law firm did "due diligence" on an investment banking deal by listening to a German banker talk about the deal over the phone -- but he didn't understand German!

Granted, some firms really are interested in second language, like Allen & Overy, but most firms can't handle diversity adequately much less other cultures or languages. Chinese M&A lawyers seem to be especially eager to get out of biglaw.

The biglaw model is not particularly good at developing international practices. In general, the goal of the program is to get rid of 97% of the people that become first-year associates, by burning them out or sending them in-house. There's very little incentive to recruit a fresh law student who speaks a foreign language, no matter how important, if there's only a 3% chance he will stay around long enough to bring in clients. And there are astonishingly few Chinese-fluent partners in biglaw. I am not talking about those guys who took 2 years of Chinese in college and call them fluent. I mean people who can use it on the job. I did some research and found that despite 70% of China M&A (Outbound) being in natural resources, the entire state of Texas had only a SINGLE fluent (Level 4 on federal roundtable) partner in the past 20 years. He was a partner at Haynes & Boone; now he's the GC at Taiwan Semiconductor. Another guy came close (there's a newspaper article on him). He did all of the top-line CNPC, Sinopec etc. mergers and burned out of biglaw after 6 years and started his own firm, so he only had a 2-year run at it. And half of the people at his firm had no idea he was doing these Chinese mergers!

In general, the average big law firm is not really poised to develop any sort of inbound international practice. Outbound international stuff is kind of shitlaw, and I wouldn't go there. (it's where they send disciplined lawyers as a sort of purgatory)

yjj209
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby yjj209 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:57 am

Thanks for the concern.
I really appreciate it.
However, I would prefer not to live in Texas or GA.
I'd rather stay in my current abode in Seoul over those states..
Well, that's just me, and I do not seek to offend any of the residents in those states.
It ain't all about the high COL for me.
Quite frankly, an Asian dude from New York(pretty much) like myself would have an extremely hard time adjusting to Texas.
Last time I visited, I was referred to as "that Cha-neez guy" or "chink" more than once(plus, I'm not Chinese), which was very unpleasant...
Now, unlike most New Yorkers, I do admit that there are some pretty ignorant, racist New Yorkers out there. And I do admit that I should not make a representative sample out of the few ignorant people I had encountered in Texas... but still..
would you? honestly, if you were in my shoes?

Oh yeah, and btw, I had written in my original post that I have the capacity to finance my own education. I will have no debt coming out of law school.

And uh.. quick question.
what if I weren't just some Chinese or Korean guy that comes from another culture to form a part of the diversity that most law firms do not tolerate--according to your post?
What if I were a guy who's pretty much American in demeanor, but happens to understand both worlds? (I was brought up in three different continents)
Would they still ding me for my Korean passport?
Just curious.
Last edited by yjj209 on Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Grizz
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby Grizz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:16 am

Snooker wrote:I think Atlanta has a pretty decent non-biglaw market as do many other cities.


ATL is the pits right now. And they are quite ties-sensitive.

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FunkyJD
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby FunkyJD » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:09 pm

OP, while understanding your great desire to remain in NY, I would strongly urge you to consider Houston. It is a lot more diverse city than outsiders realize, and that includes a relatively large Asian population. While Texas is often (sometimes correctly, sometimes not) stereotyped as a intolerant place -- as if NYC isn't; no offense to New Yorkers, but it is what it is -- note that President Obama won the area handily, and the current Mayor of Houston is a lesbian woman. Hardly a bastion of intolerance.

You may feel that Texas isn't for you, and I understand, but I think you should give Houston a look. It may surprise you. Call it due diligence; if you still feel the same way, you've lost nothing. :wink: For what it's worth, true story, I once had a blonde roommate from Houston who can be best described as ... impressively statuesque ... and she had a firm rule that she only dated Asian men. So who knows, you may really be missing out!

yjj209
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby yjj209 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:20 pm

she only dates Asian men??!!!
what?? that's racist!:)

well.. I'm married.. and not particularly fond of blondes..

but I see your point.

What are your thoughts on Florida though?

Somehow still quite intimidated by the lone star state..

had to punch out a dude last time and almost got a bullet stuck in my ass.. (or at least he threatened me he would)

but yeah I should definitely consider a trip down south for due diligence

COL ain't a thing granted the cushion that I got, but I def. love the weather down South.

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FunkyJD
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby FunkyJD » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:39 pm

Heh, well if that's racist, if it were applied to my ethnicity, I would be down with it.

Can't help you w/ Florida; never been there.

yjj209
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby yjj209 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:50 pm

FunkyJD wrote:Heh, well if that's racist, if it were applied to my ethnicity, I would be down with it.

Can't help you w/ Florida; never been there.


Don't get me wrong, I would be too..hahahahaha (if she were brunette and statuesque, and if I weren't married..)
That kinda racism is some o' that good shit!

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Grizz
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Re: What else is out there apart from biglaw?

Postby Grizz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:57 pm

yjj209 wrote:What are your thoughts on Florida though?


I'm from FL. Legal market is the pits, thanks to the collapse of the real-state market. Can be ties-sensitive, and the markets are small. Tampa/Jacksonville probably have 20-25 positions each that pay enough to service a large $100k+ debt. Miami has more, but the economy again is a problem. FL has 11 law schools it is saturated to the brim.

FL is in general not racist. PS I'm half-azn.




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