What is a "boutique firm?"

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alexonfyre
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What is a "boutique firm?"

Postby alexonfyre » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:38 pm

I have heard this term thrown around a lot, and most people talk about them as very difficult to become a part of.
What exactly is a "boutique firm," and why are they hard to get into?

alumniguy
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Re: What is a "boutique firm?"

Postby alumniguy » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:48 pm

A lot of law students equate boutique firms with being very selective firms, i.e., the firms recruit exclusively from the t-14 and they only take the very top students within the t-14. I'd imagine that people are talking about the Irells, Mungers and W&Cs of the legal world.

To a practicing attorney, boutique means a specialized firm that focuses it practice on one area of law - e.g., you'll have the real estate boutiques, the employment boutiques, the IP boutiques. Generally these are small firms and their business models are not so pyramid focused as traditional biglaw firms. The partner/associate ratio may be 1:1 or even 2:1.

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Re: What is a "boutique firm?"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:42 pm

I wouldn't consider Irell and etc. to be a boutique. Those are bigfirms. Boutiques are smaller and only have a few attorneys, and high-end ones often specialize in a certain area.

I had two offers from boutiques, but ended up going biglaw out of fear of job security. One firm had 4 attorneys, the other had 5. Both were patent lit boutiques, and both started at 190k. I found it was more about who I knew than my grades.

alumniguy
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Re: What is a "boutique firm?"

Postby alumniguy » Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:36 pm

Trying to figure out what anyone means by a "boutique firm" is naturally going to lead to different interpretations. I agree that the "true" definition is what you've set out regarding small, specialized firms. However, my experience on these boards (and autoadmit) is that "boutique" is more often than not used to describe the uber-selective smaller big-law firms. I don't agree that this is the right use of the term, but the reality is that many, many law students (probably a higher percentage of 0Ls and 1Ls who have not started interviewing or even researching firms) equate "boutique" with highly selective. But yes, they are wrong.

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drylo
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Re: What is a "boutique firm?"

Postby drylo » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:06 pm

alumniguy wrote:Trying to figure out what anyone means by a "boutique firm" is naturally going to lead to different interpretations. I agree that the "true" definition is what you've set out regarding small, specialized firms. However, my experience on these boards (and autoadmit) is that "boutique" is more often than not used to describe the uber-selective smaller big-law firms. I don't agree that this is the right use of the term, but the reality is that many, many law students (probably a higher percentage of 0Ls and 1Ls who have not started interviewing or even researching firms) equate "boutique" with highly selective. But yes, they are wrong.


Yeah, this may all be true. When I say boutique, I mean generally a firm of less than 50 lawyers that has a primary (but not necessarily exclusive) niche practice area.

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alexonfyre
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Re: What is a "boutique firm?"

Postby alexonfyre » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:27 pm

My innate understanding of the term "boutique" means small and specialized, but that doesn't really jive with uber-selective or high desirability. I was curious if this is actually a legitimate way to describe a firm, or if it was just a meaningless buzzword.

alumniguy
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Re: What is a "boutique firm?"

Postby alumniguy » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:31 pm

drylo wrote:Yeah, this may all be true. When I say boutique, I mean generally a firm of less than 50 lawyers that has a primary (but not necessarily exclusive) niche practice area.


Agreed.

alexonfyre wrote:My innate understanding of the term "boutique" means small and specialized, but that doesn't really jive with uber-selective or high desirability. I was curious if this is actually a legitimate way to describe a firm, or if it was just a meaningless buzzword.


Also agreed. This is a marketing buzzword in my opinion. It is 100% meaningless (other than to clue you in on the fact that the firm is likely a firm dedicated to one particular practice area).

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reasonable_man
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Re: What is a "boutique firm?"

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:40 pm

Here is a clue... if a firm fancies itself as a "boutique firm" it is usually a shitlaw mill.




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