Downside to working in a satellite office?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273084
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Downside to working in a satellite office?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:36 pm

I'm currently deciding between four firms: two flagship offices and two "satellite" offices (about 100 attorneys in each) in DC. Various attorneys have told me to be wary of working in a satellite office, but they never go into detail about why I should avoid them. I realize that the firm's headquarters probably attracts bigger-name clients and has the big-name attorneys/partners, but what are the downsides to working in a satellite office in a major market?

Also, most of the DC firms I interviewed with during OCI and callbacks had smaller offices, ranging from 80-130 attorneys (with the exception of Latham DC, which was just massive). I got the impression that it's normal for DC offices to be smaller, so are they less likely to suffer from whatever negative side effects come with working in a satellite office?

MrAnon
Posts: 1615
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:08 pm

Re: Downside to working in a satellite office?

Postby MrAnon » Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:57 pm

There is no downside. You should work wherever you feel most comfortable. This wariness that many attorneys tell you to have is simple fear and apprehension on their part or they are trying to make themselves feel better about their firm and situation or they are middling associates who always get farmed out to work for main office. The information that there are bigger partners in the main office or that the main office attracts bigger clients simply is by and large untrue. More typically, firms have institutional clients who have been with the firm since the prehistoric era. Billing rates aside, the client does not care if a DC or NY attorney works on his matter and partnership responsibility is never clear for these clients. It is rare that you will ever been on a major case with national significance that is not partially staffed by someone from an office that is not yours so you need to get used to working in situations like that. It is not unheard of for partners in one office to run cases that are more or less fully staffed by another office. Will working for partners in another office limit your partnership opportunities? If you are superstar who was destined to be partner, then no. If partners in your office like you they will make sure you are working for them and will give you opportunities.

spondee
Posts: 462
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:53 pm

Re: Downside to working in a satellite office?

Postby spondee » Sat Oct 02, 2010 2:15 pm

I think it's a valid question that's answered on a per-firm basis. I asked professors, friends, attorneys, etc., for ways to weigh this. Here's some of what I've been told:

Look at the reputation of the satellite office. If it's highly ranked on Chambers in its practice areas and comparably ranked overall to its home office, that's good, but if the firm's much better ranked in its home market, be wary.

Look at layoffs. If it's a firm that had layoffs, were those layoffs concentrated in the satellite office? That's a problem.

Look at transferring options. If your wife/husband gets a job in the home city, how easily can you transfer from a DC satellite to the home office? Could provide insight into how the firm views the relative quality of attorneys in both offices.

Look at benefits and other perks. Are attorneys in the home office given better health insurance plans and other benefits? They shouldn't be.

Look at inter-office work. Really get into day-to-day details with jr associates about working on a project under a local vs. a home-office partner.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273084
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Downside to working in a satellite office?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:22 pm

I've heard / gotten the impression that it's better to avoid offices that

1. don't generate most of their work on their own
2. send most of their work to other offices
3. are set up so that a few partners can have shorter commutes or be able to live in a particular city
4. wouldn't hire in what you want to do even if the firm as a whole is strong in it (i.e. if the firm has lost partners in an area or doesn't have anyone now "but is looking to expand")

MrAnon
Posts: 1615
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:08 pm

Re: Downside to working in a satellite office?

Postby MrAnon » Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:28 pm

I think it's a valid question that's answered on a per-firm basis. I asked professors, friends, attorneys, etc., for ways to weigh this. Here's some of what I've been told:

Look at the reputation of the satellite office. If it's highly ranked on Chambers in its practice areas and comparably ranked overall to its home office, that's good, but if the firm's much better ranked in its home market, be wary.

Look at layoffs. If it's a firm that had layoffs, were those layoffs concentrated in the satellite office? That's a problem.

Look at transferring options. If your wife/husband gets a job in the home city, how easily can you transfer from a DC satellite to the home office? Could provide insight into how the firm views the relative quality of attorneys in both offices.

Look at benefits and other perks. Are attorneys in the home office given better health insurance plans and other benefits? They shouldn't be.

Look at inter-office work. Really get into day-to-day details with jr associates about working on a project under a local vs. a home-office partner.


If the firm is worth a grain of salt its not worth examining. Chambers is just a public relations tool like U.S. news. You are going to start asking about layoffs in interviews? Not a smart move. Fat chance you find anybody who will tell you "We do not permit associates to transfer within offices for family reasons" and "we do not view our associates in the NY or DC as highly as the associates in _______" or "our partners in NY don't know how to make it rain". Insurance and benefits do not vary except that NY gets cost of living differences on things like meals. When you are working with a partner in your office you work by email, phone call and personally interfacing. When you work with a partner in the satellite office it is limited to email and phone call.

spondee
Posts: 462
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:53 pm

Re: Downside to working in a satellite office?

Postby spondee » Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:48 pm

MrAnon wrote:Chambers is just a public relations tool like U.S. news.


Neither is. Both approximate relative strength.

MrAnon wrote:You are going to start asking about layoffs in interviews? Not a smart move.


After acceptance, you should absolutely be looking into this information. There are delicate ways to ask. And there are other sources.

MrAnon wrote:Fat chance you find anybody who will tell you "We do not permit associates to transfer within offices for family reasons" and "we do not view our associates in the NY or DC as highly as the associates in _______" or "our partners in NY don't know how to make it rain".


If you're dumb enough to ask the question directly, yeah, they'll tell you some bullshit line. But if you ask obliquely for more details, you can draw your own conclusions on questions like this.

MrAnon wrote:Insurance and benefits do not vary except that NY gets cost of living differences on things like meals.


I've heard stories that directly contradict this.

MrAnon wrote:When you are working with a partner in your office you work by email, phone call and personally interfacing. When you work with a partner in the satellite office it is limited to email and phone call.


Obviously. If that's the only difference, no problem. But if you ask jr associates for detailed information about what the project was, what their role was, what parts of the larger project they sat in on, etc., and a contrast comes through, that could signal a problem.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.