How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

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Anonymous User
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How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:50 pm

Serious question. I want to do corporate law in California, but I know it's a very tough market to get into without ties. I have none. Will it be a crapshoot still or will I be in a comfortable position? I don't want to waste bids on long shots.

Alternatively, how hard would it be to lateral from a top NY firm to either its Cali office or to another top Cali firm?

edit: NorCal transactional in particular.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:54 pm

CA cares about ties, but I think firms make exceptions for those with really good grades. Keep in mind that most of the work in California is LITIGATION, not transactional work, with a few exceptions (i.e. Wilson Sonsini Palo Alto). You never know what practice groups firms are hiring for, so you should keep an open mind to litigation if you are dead set on California.

If I were you, I'd probably split my bids between the East Coast and CA.

Arelikefoxes
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Re: How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby Arelikefoxes » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:CA cares about ties, but I think firms make exceptions for those with really good grades.


+1

[quote="Anonymous User"
Keep in mind that most of the work in California is LITIGATION, not transactional work, with a few exceptions[/quote]

That is inaccurate. There are large litigation practices, but a significant portion of CA offices for V100 firms have equally large corporate practices.

Sup Kid
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Re: How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby Sup Kid » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:CA cares about ties, but I think firms make exceptions for those with really good grades. Keep in mind that most of the work in California is LITIGATION, not transactional work, with a few exceptions (i.e. Wilson Sonsini Palo Alto). You never know what practice groups firms are hiring for, so you should keep an open mind to litigation if you are dead set on California.

If I were you, I'd probably split my bids between the East Coast and CA.

Agreed that you should split bids (NY especially for transactional, as much as you may not want to work there). However, there are plenty of California firms with decent-sized transactional practices (think Latham, Paul Hastings, OMM) that'll definitely look at a top-10% HLS student.

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Re: How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:24 pm

It's quite doable assuming you can come up with a good story about why you definitely want to be in cali (even if you don't have ties) and can seems sincere. There were top-third CLS kids who got offers at good CA firms without ties. I'm sure you can do it.

As a side note, LA will be easier to pull this off in than SF/SV generally speaking.

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Re: How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby RVP11 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:32 pm

You should have a pretty easy time with the most elite firms, especially if you're going for LA. Look at Munger, SullCrom, Gibson Dunn, Skadden, Latham and OMM - those firms seem to care more about credentials than ties. And they all have good corporate practices. Irell would be a great option if you were lit focused.
Last edited by RVP11 on Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby RVP11 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:34 pm

Sup Kid wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:CA cares about ties, but I think firms make exceptions for those with really good grades. Keep in mind that most of the work in California is LITIGATION, not transactional work, with a few exceptions (i.e. Wilson Sonsini Palo Alto). You never know what practice groups firms are hiring for, so you should keep an open mind to litigation if you are dead set on California.

If I were you, I'd probably split my bids between the East Coast and CA.

Agreed that you should split bids (NY especially for transactional, as much as you may not want to work there). However, there are plenty of California firms with decent-sized transactional practices (think Latham, Paul Hastings, OMM) that'll definitely look at a top-10% HLS student.


No top 10% HLS kid should ever be caught working at Paul Hastings straight out of law school...yikes. You'd have to be a terrible interviewer to have to settle for PH with OP's credentials.

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Re: How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:43 pm

Are you trying to get into NorCal or SoCal? Why do you want to be in CA?

I was in your situation in law school - similar grades, type of school, etc. I struggled in 2L OCI in NorCal, but did fine on the East Coast. I took the sole offer I got from NorCal to get California on my resume. After getting that (well-regarded) firm on my resume, taking the bar, and doing a CA clerkship - I got offers from all the other Bay Area firms I was interested (who had rejected me as a 2L, likely for geographic reasons), and I got to pick my top choice. Even in that second round of firm interviewing, I got grilled on "Why California?" - but less critically. Now, as a diehard adopted Bay Arean, I wish it wasn't so hard for East Coasters to get into this market. It's an *amazing* place to live and work.

For someone like you, who clearly has the credentials to be hired, they'll be listening for two things:
- Are you serious about being in CA this summer? Or, are you looking for a free trip over flyout week? Will you take a CA offer over a NY/DC/BOS offer?
- Are you serious about relocating to CA for good? Or, are you planning to come out for a couple years before "settling down" on the East Coast, "needing to be closer to family" (or whatever it is East Coast defectors from CA do... :P)

So, tips:
- Have a solid "Why California?" narrative; run it by CA friends beforehand if possible. Sound enthusiastic about CA, absolutely committed to the idea of working there indefinitely, and non-defensive but firm that you're secure in your decision to move.
- Emphasize if you're into a type of work that's disproportionately in CA - e.g. patent-related
- Consider mentioning any "unofficial" ties to the area that will cause the interviewer to be able to picture you wanting to stay long-term. Do you have a bunch of LS friends relocating, too? Are you into any hobbies or sport(s teams) specific to that area of CA? If your explanation is ONLY about the work, they sometimes wonder if that'll be enough to keep you in the area when things like "missing family, and all my friends are back East" arise.
- If you choose ONLY to interview in a CA market, mention that as an indicator of commitment. If they ask you if you're interviewing in other markets, make clear that CA is your first choice. (And if it's not, skip the CA interviews; they're difficult to get if you don't have ties, and you'll make it that much harder for future East Coasters if interviewers get burned by you.)

Good luck. I think we need all the relocated East Coasters we can get out here to help diminish the parochialism of the market. (When I've interviewed East Coast transplants without connections, I've obviously been much more sympathetic to them than many of my native Californian colleagues.)

NB This advice applies mainly to NorCal, as I agree with everyone who said that LA is much easier from the East Coast.

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Re: How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby Sup Kid » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:44 pm

RVP11 wrote:
Sup Kid wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:CA cares about ties, but I think firms make exceptions for those with really good grades. Keep in mind that most of the work in California is LITIGATION, not transactional work, with a few exceptions (i.e. Wilson Sonsini Palo Alto). You never know what practice groups firms are hiring for, so you should keep an open mind to litigation if you are dead set on California.

If I were you, I'd probably split my bids between the East Coast and CA.

Agreed that you should split bids (NY especially for transactional, as much as you may not want to work there). However, there are plenty of California firms with decent-sized transactional practices (think Latham, Paul Hastings, OMM) that'll definitely look at a top-10% HLS student.


No top 10% HLS kid should ever be caught working at Paul Hastings straight out of law school...yikes. You'd have to be a terrible interviewer to have to settle for PH with OP's credentials.

Was just pointing out some of the largest Biglaw firms in LA with transactional practices to prove that they existed (other than Wilson Sonsini). The OP can certainly have his pick of any number of firms.

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Re: How hard to break into Cali. with top 10% HLS but no ties?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Are you trying to get into NorCal or SoCal? Why do you want to be in CA?

I was in your situation in law school - similar grades, type of school, etc. I struggled in 2L OCI in NorCal, but did fine on the East Coast. I took the sole offer I got from NorCal to get California on my resume. After getting that (well-regarded) firm on my resume, taking the bar, and doing a CA clerkship - I got offers from all the other Bay Area firms I was interested (who had rejected me as a 2L, likely for geographic reasons), and I got to pick my top choice. Even in that second round of firm interviewing, I got grilled on "Why California?" - but less critically. Now, as a diehard adopted Bay Arean, I wish it wasn't so hard for East Coasters to get into this market. It's an *amazing* place to live and work.

For someone like you, who clearly has the credentials to be hired, they'll be listening for two things:
- Are you serious about being in CA this summer? Or, are you looking for a free trip over flyout week? Will you take a CA offer over a NY/DC/BOS offer?
- Are you serious about relocating to CA for good? Or, are you planning to come out for a couple years before "settling down" on the East Coast, "needing to be closer to family" (or whatever it is East Coast defectors from CA do... :P)

So, tips:
- Have a solid "Why California?" narrative; run it by CA friends beforehand if possible. Sound enthusiastic about CA, absolutely committed to the idea of working there indefinitely, and non-defensive but firm that you're secure in your decision to move.
- Emphasize if you're into a type of work that's disproportionately in CA - e.g. patent-related
- Consider mentioning any "unofficial" ties to the area that will cause the interviewer to be able to picture you wanting to stay long-term. Do you have a bunch of LS friends relocating, too? Are you into any hobbies or sport(s teams) specific to that area of CA? If your explanation is ONLY about the work, they sometimes wonder if that'll be enough to keep you in the area when things like "missing family, and all my friends are back East" arise.
- If you choose ONLY to interview in a CA market, mention that as an indicator of commitment. If they ask you if you're interviewing in other markets, make clear that CA is your first choice. (And if it's not, skip the CA interviews; they're difficult to get if you don't have ties, and you'll make it that much harder for future East Coasters if interviewers get burned by you.)

Good luck. I think we need all the relocated East Coasters we can get out here to help diminish the parochialism of the market. (When I've interviewed East Coast transplants without connections, I've obviously been much more sympathetic to them than many of my native Californian colleagues.)

NB This advice applies mainly to NorCal, as I agree with everyone who said that LA is much easier from the East Coast.


Excellent advice. Also curious of your thoughts on lateraling from a V5 NY firm to a NorCal firm down the road. And, yes, I only want NorCal transactional. Sounds like a tough road, but I'm sure I can perfect a strong narrative.

BTW, what firms are in NorCal and have a good transactional practice?




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