Do you think the local all stars from Emory/UGA/GSU/etc have a leg up on "outsiders?" ATL is pretty provincial from what I understand...
It depends... (haha). Emory & UGA probably get first spots. Outside, the firms you're talking about love the Top 14 (like everyone else), though it seems like especially UVA. Only a sprinkling of the other T14s, though my guess is that's as much because of region bias by the *students* as much as the firms... If you are T14, from the south, and show a commitment to being in ATL (you'll need to spin your true feelings, it sounds like!), then all these firms would love to have you. Vandy & UNC seem to place really well too (Managing Partner of Kilpatrick who was/is the hiring partner is a UNC grad). A guy who went to Tulane and worked in biglaw here told me that it probably placed in ATL only as well as Georgia State did—and at the time there was probably a 30+ differential in ranking.
I'm wondering if going into a corporate practice in ATL is a good idea, when everyone always talks about the "best" corporate work being in NYC.
No clue as compared to NYC. I'm from GA and never had any intention of working outside ATL. That said, we have our share of Fortune 500 companies and plenty of corp lawyers around here. I don't even know what "best" corporate work means. What is the "best" litigation work, for that matter? That all depends on what you're looking for. In the good ole days of the mid-2000s, there was plenty of corp work to go round. Now it's tighter and fewer slots, but the majority are still employed.
Do you think splitting your 2L summer there is a wise idea? The offer rates in ATL are lower than places like NYC where an offer is almost automatic.
I don't remember feeling like the offer rates were "low," even if they were not as close to 100% like they may be in NYC. I think the % may just be lower because if you have a class of 15 (instead of 80), and you don't offer 1-2 of those, it looks like a big chunk. The anecdotes I've heard in the last 3-4 years made it sound like any no-offer was because: (1) the person "acted like s/he didn't want the job," (2) legit screw up, or (3) economy bombed after summers already brought on. Last year, most all the firms had 100% offer rates.
That said, it does seem like splitting isn't as popular or common as it used to be. My friends that graduated in mid-2000s all split. Now, few do. Or if they do, it's 1 biglaw, 1 small law. Even at the firm I summered at, they said they "didn't allow splits" but they probably would if I'd pressed, though the recruiter was frank and said the "closer" the other firm is to us, the less likely they'd be okay with it. People I knew that "split" didn't really "split," because they did a "whole" summer of 8 weeks at the big firm and then did a "whole" 4-5 weeks at a small firm, sometimes in a different city/state. The big firms all insist on doing first half with them, and you can't do 2 first halves... Smaller class sizes in general (fewer needs for them => meaning fewer offers for you, probably) I think are as much of the reason. But again, I don't know if anyone that "has" to cull 3-5 from a summer class, because they're starting out smaller (again, except for Alston—and it remains to be seen what their offer rate will be. Have all their summers from 2009 even started yet???).