1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

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mt2165
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1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby mt2165 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:30 pm

Hey guys, so just curious, I am not near this part of my life to say the least, not even in LS yet, but what are the requirements for getting hired at a top plaintiff firm? Like near top of class at top school? Clerkships? Previous experience essential? I ask because I have significantly more interest in plaintiff side work than corporate defense side work. I know a lot of people say that it's smarter to do a few years of defense "big law" work and then transfer over, but it all honesty I'd rather skip the few year burn out procedure that seems to be pretty descriptive of the typical big law associate experience. Thanks,

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:35 pm

mt2165 wrote:Hey guys, so just curious, I am not near this part of my life to say the least, not even in LS yet, but what are the requirements for getting hired at a top plaintiff firm? Like near top of class at top school? Clerkships? Previous experience essential? I ask because I have significantly more interest in plaintiff side work than corporate defense side work. I know a lot of people say that it's smarter to do a few years of defense "big law" work and then transfer over, but it all honesty I'd rather skip the few year burn out procedure that seems to be pretty descriptive of the typical big law associate experience. Thanks,


who says that? The answers to your questions depend on the type of "plaintiff firm" you're talking about. Are you referring to the top boutiques like Susman, Bartlitt Beck, Gibb & Bruns, etc...? They have small summer classes, so even if you're at the top of your class, you may not get it. You may get a second bite at the apple after a good clerkship.

Edit: You should also note that you'll work just as much, if not more, at a top plaintiff firm. The work will probably be more interesting, but the hours aren't any better (if that's something you care about).

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby abl » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:45 pm

I thought Bartlitt Beck was mostly defense?

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:50 pm

abl wrote:I thought Bartlitt Beck was mostly defense?


Really? I thought they were 50-50. Ok scratch them off.

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby abl » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:00 pm

I'm not positive. In any event, BB is arguably the most competitive firm in the country.

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:48 pm

abl wrote:I'm not positive. In any event, BB is arguably the most competitive firm in the country.


Yea that was my point in asking what category of firms he was referencing. "top plaintiff" doesn't tell us all that much. If he's trying to work for a place like Susman, he'll have to go to a T-14 (or UT) and be close to the top of the class. That's just to have a shot; after that it's about personality.

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby mt2165 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:43 pm

Sorry about the confusion. I was mostly referring to plaintiff only firms like Lieff and Milburg but I suppose 50/50 firms work just as well as long as I am primarily doing plaintiff work. In regards to the second poster, not sure really but I have seen that from many lawyers who actually work in plaintiff only firms, seemingly because it's hard to get hired at them straight from law school, and it makes sense to earn the top dollar early on and gain some financial security. If I went to a top three to top five LS (yale-nyu) where would I have to graduate rank wise in order to contend for these positions?

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:16 pm

mt2165 wrote:Sorry about the confusion. I was mostly referring to plaintiff only firms like Lieff and Milburg but I suppose 50/50 firms work just as well as long as I am primarily doing plaintiff work. In regards to the second poster, not sure really but I have seen that from many lawyers who actually work in plaintiff only firms, seemingly because it's hard to get hired at them straight from law school, and it makes sense to earn the top dollar early on and gain some financial security. If I went to a top three to top five LS (yale-nyu) where would I have to graduate rank wise in order to contend for these positions?


I only have direct knowledge regarding one of the three firms I mentioned. Personality is such a factor that it's really hard to predict what grades are needed. My rough guess would be top 1/3rd or top 1/4 from HYS to have a shot. It's probably pretty similar to whatever you would need to get a good circuit clerkship from the particular school. And again, personality will be the deciding factor at the CB stage.

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby mt2165 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:05 pm

So is that to say that it's as hard to get into these firms as big law? Or harder considering there's a lot fewer openings?

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Elston Gunn
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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby Elston Gunn » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:20 pm

mt2165 wrote:So is that to say that it's as hard to get into these firms as big law? Or harder considering there's a lot fewer openings?

My impression is its quite a bit harder to get a job at a place like Lieff or Cohen Milstein than a Vault firm + they pay a lot less + raises are a lot smaller + no PSLF. It's something I'd really like to do long term too, but it just doesn't seem like a fruitful plan for entry level work, especially if you have big debt.

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby mt2165 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:58 pm

But I mean the pay isn't so inordinately low. 80k seems to be often tossed around figure for entry level associates. Supposedly you have a greater chance at making partner as well. Not sure just reporting what I've seen. I'm just really interested in that line of work because I have a slight disdain for corporations, probably due to socio-economic factors.

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:29 am

mt2165 wrote:But I mean the pay isn't so inordinately low. 80k seems to be often tossed around figure for entry level associates. Supposedly you have a greater chance at making partner as well. Not sure just reporting what I've seen. I'm just really interested in that line of work because I have a slight disdain for corporations, probably due to socio-economic factors.

No, it's not inordinately low. Lieff is more like $100k. Which is great if you have $100K debt but pretty hard to justify when youve got $200K plus. The other issue is these firms' summer programs are small, so I would guess its a lot harder to gauge your chance at an offer. And getting no-offered is the kiss of death.

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby wisdom » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:42 am

Look at their attorney bios and you get a sense of how well you have to do (and also what doesn't matter). For instance, most of Leiff's associates are not from the top 5 or 6 law schools (in NYC I saw one from Yale, one from Michigan, but also Case Western, USC, Fordham, etc.). So it's not the law school that's the key. A lot of them clerked, usually for district judges. But not all of them did that, either.

Overall I would recommend doing something very similar to what the people who want to work at the ACLU or the Brennan Center do. Demonstrate a commitment to public interest work from day one in law school. Do clinics. Do summers at non-profits/public interest organizations/plaintiffs firms rather than at any big corporate law firm (although Leiff's associates do seem to lateral over from corporate firms). In this sort of field, passion and interest in the type of work matters so much more than prestige of school.

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mt2165
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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby mt2165 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:07 am

Right right, fortunately I'm an AA Male with pretty good stats so I'm hoping for some money at whatever law school I end up attending. I've always had a substantial interest in public policy, and was hoping to go into govt at some point, does an mpp look good to a plaintiff term, or is it as arbitrary if not detracting as it is to a big law firm?

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby El Principe » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:24 pm

nonprofit-prophet wrote:
abl wrote:I'm not positive. In any event, BB is arguably the most competitive firm in the country.


Yea that was my point in asking what category of firms he was referencing. "top plaintiff" doesn't tell us all that much. If he's trying to work for a place like Susman, he'll have to go to a T-14 (or UT) and be close to the top of the class. That's just to have a shot; after that it's about personality.


I think they require clerkships too... don't quote me on that though...

but you're spot on about them selecting the cream of the crop from T-15.

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:28 pm

El Principe wrote:
nonprofit-prophet wrote:
abl wrote:I'm not positive. In any event, BB is arguably the most competitive firm in the country.


Yea that was my point in asking what category of firms he was referencing. "top plaintiff" doesn't tell us all that much. If he's trying to work for a place like Susman, he'll have to go to a T-14 (or UT) and be close to the top of the class. That's just to have a shot; after that it's about personality.


I think they require clerkships too... don't quote me on that though...

but you're spot on about them selecting the cream of the crop from T-15.

Really depends on what you're talking about. The places that mostly represent corporate plaintiffs (e.g. Susman, Quinn, Boies, whatever), this is true. But the OP is more asking about ones who do primarily class actions (e.g. Lieff Cabraser, Cohen Milstein, Milberg, Labaton Sucharow), and I don't think it's clear what they look for, but you can bet genuine interest is more important than school for most.

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby El Principe » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:34 pm

Elston Gunn wrote:
El Principe wrote:
nonprofit-prophet wrote:
abl wrote:I'm not positive. In any event, BB is arguably the most competitive firm in the country.


Yea that was my point in asking what category of firms he was referencing. "top plaintiff" doesn't tell us all that much. If he's trying to work for a place like Susman, he'll have to go to a T-14 (or UT) and be close to the top of the class. That's just to have a shot; after that it's about personality.


I think they require clerkships too... don't quote me on that though...

but you're spot on about them selecting the cream of the crop from T-15.

Really depends on what you're talking about. The places that mostly represent corporate plaintiffs (e.g. Susman, Quinn, Boies, whatever), this is true. But the OP is more asking about ones who do primarily class actions (e.g. Lieff Cabraser, Cohen Milstein, Milberg, Labaton Sucharow), and I don't think it's clear what they look for, but you can bet genuine interest is more important than school for most.


Oh yeah, sorry I didn't clarify... I was specifically referring to Susman

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Re: 1st year hiring at top plaintiff firms?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:51 pm

El Principe wrote:
Oh yeah, sorry I didn't clarify... I was specifically referring to Susman


You need an AIII clerkship to get hired, but theoretically if you summer with them, you can get a permanent offer in the fall of 3L before you get your clerkship.




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