Differences between DC and NYC?

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Differences between DC and NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:57 am

I know that NYC is more lit/corp and DC appellate/regulatory, but can someone tell me more about the different markets? Quality of life, exit options (what are they, how easy is it to make the move, what is the pay like? Also, any other info on market differences would be great. Thanks!

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Re: Differences between DC and NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:23 am

DC is known for having saner hours. A lot more family-oriented, too.

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Re: Differences between DC and NYC?

Postby 270910 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:I know that NYC is more lit/corp and DC appellate/regulatory, but can someone tell me more about the different markets? Quality of life, exit options (what are they, how easy is it to make the move, what is the pay like? Also, any other info on market differences would be great. Thanks!


. . .

OK, let's start with the basics: It's all but completely unheard of for a law firm to not have a litigation department, or for that litigation department to be small. Take a law firm with a hard-line specialty (Wachtell for M&A, Patton Boggs for lobbying, Weil for bankruptcy) and you'll find an enormous and (fairly) general litigation department in the same firm. Which is a long and short way of saying that almost every firm in every city is "lit." NYC definitely doesn't have a "reputation" for lit, at least not that contrasts strongly with DC (which has its fair share of solid litigators).

Appellate work is a tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny field that doesn't generate much business. There are small practice groups in DC firms that specialize in it, and it could be a fun area of law to practice. But you won't get it right out of law school to a meaningful degree (surprisingly, they like CoA/SCOTUS clerks in that field, who knew?) and even at the firms with "good appellate law practices" like GDC, Sidley, Jenner, whatever it's usually still a very small part of the practice. In short, calling DC "more appellate" is really buying into a law student / glossy brochure mentality. Outside of DC the idea of even having an "appellate" department can be seen as strange - it's not an identical skillset, to be sure, but shifting practice groups or even firms to handle an appeal isn't necessarily the most advisable or common business structure.

DC is definitely the place to go for regulatory work, on the other hand, and that's probably a very accurate view of the city. Lots of interface with agencies, from entire practice areas (antitrust) to focusing down on the regulatory needs of particular industries (Telecom, healthcare, insurance, etc.).

A big difference between the cities is that a lot of biglaw in NYC is bank and finance driven. Having bankers for clients means something - good or bad - distinct from having industries or politicians or trade associations as clients.

Another major difference is corporate work. It basically doesn't exist in DC, and to the extent it does (some firms like Hogan actually have large corporate practices in the city, and most firms have at least a few attorneys doing corporate work) the deals are likely of a different character than they are in NYC. Again, it's hard to quantify what this will mean for you as a summer or young associate - but it certainly means something in terms of exit options, since common exit paths for corporate attorneys can be in house while litigators are looking more at laterals to other firms, DoJ/AUSA in govt, or more limited corporate exits. Regulatory lawyers, on the other hand, often come from and exit into government agencies doing that regulation.

Government jobs have great hours and benefits as compared to big law, but much less pay. Still generous, though, and topping 6 figures (albeit not by a lot) isn't unheard of.

In house jobs very a lot by the "house" you're going "in" to. Salary is lower than big firms but usually higher than government, hours are more sane / corporate america based, and stock options and progression can make the career quite lucrative in ways a big government job likely never would be.

In terms of raising a family, nothing is worse than NYC big law. There are firms in DC with reputations for being as bad or worse than some NYC firms (W&C comes to mind) and I'm sure some of the NYC mentality bleeds over to the NYC branch offices in DC, but for the most part DC offices will have more "work life balance" than NYC. Any big law firm will be a huge time demand with often unpredictable hours though, so don't think that the contrasts is "good and bad" - it's more like "bad and worse" or "bad and intolerable."

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Re: Differences between DC and NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:57 am

Thanks so just to clarify...you are saying that the govt exit option is where you go from DC biglaw and inhouse is where you go from NYC biglaw?

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Re: Differences between DC and NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 05, 2010 12:18 pm

disco_barred wrote:. There are firms in DC with reputations for being as bad or worse than some NYC firms (W&C comes to mind) and I'm sure some of the NYC mentality bleeds over to the NYC branch offices in DC, but for the most part DC offices will have more "work life balance" than NYC.


I don't think I've EVER heard this about W&C. In fact, because of their pay structure/lack of bonuses, I've routinely heard the opposite, that it is more family friendly and provides a better work environment than many other firms.

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Re: Differences between DC and NYC?

Postby 270910 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 12:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
disco_barred wrote:. There are firms in DC with reputations for being as bad or worse than some NYC firms (W&C comes to mind) and I'm sure some of the NYC mentality bleeds over to the NYC branch offices in DC, but for the most part DC offices will have more "work life balance" than NYC.


I don't think I've EVER heard this about W&C. In fact, because of their pay structure/lack of bonuses, I've routinely heard the opposite, that it is more family friendly and provides a better work environment than many other firms.


Was referring primarily to hours, not to environment during those hours. W&C has a great reputation for a place to work, and that stands in contrast to many of the huge NYC firms. It also has a reputation for being a place with brutal hours, quite similar to the huge NYC firms.

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks so just to clarify...you are saying that the govt exit option is where you go from DC biglaw and inhouse is where you go from NYC biglaw?


Eh, it depends. People leave big NYC firms for government positions, people leave big DC firms for corporations. But probably the most common path to an "in house" position is via corporate work in NYC while the most common path to a "government" position is via some DC biglaw firm.




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