Simpson v. DPW

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Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:44 pm

I'm interested in corporate and wanted to know if anyone who summered at either DPW or STB has any insight into the general culture/feel of the different corporate groups and the exit options. Not sure which groups I am specifically interested in--probably M&A, Credit, or some type of private equity/hedge fund work. Thanks!

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:06 pm

simpson is supposedly less frat like than the other law firms - still a very courteous and friendly place but as one partner said to me its not the place like skadden where everyone goes out drinking all the time together. for PE simpson is really the place to be.

DPW is supposedly a pretty laid back place as well and known to be a more sane working environment than some of the other v5. however i have heard many people label this atmosphere as just being passive aggressive as opposed to an actually nicer place to work. they are the place to be for capital markets.

for exit options i really doubt there is a huge difference. at that level you can probably exit to whereever you want to, its gonna come down more to your individual network and area of expertise rather than the name of the firm.

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:23 pm

Damn near identical, go where you like people better / click more easily. I work at DPW and it's a great place, but Simpson is extremely similar and hardly inferior (don't let the fact that people say V5 persuade you that there's a meaningful difference between the V5 and places like STB, Cleary, etc.).

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:59 pm

Chose between these. They are extremely similar right down to size, NYC location, and satellite office locations.

The only notable distinctions as far as their corporate practices:

DPW is better at bank regulatory work (was all over Dodd-Frank). W/r/t M&A, DPW is more focused on strategic.

STB is better at PE M&A, maybe M&A generally. Probably better at credit/finance.

Both firms are top notch at capital markets.

No idea about litigation.

If you are interested in corporate work, I'd just go with the firm whose attorneys I got along with better.

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:22 pm

Broadly speaking, Simpson is better at M&A and DPW is better at capital markets. DPW has some really strong smaller groups (bankruptcy, financial regulation). I'm going to go against the grain and say Cleary is a step behind both in terms of the number of top-rated practice groups, although their M&A practice has been doing great the last couple of years which might close the gap.

Culturally, I can only speak for DPW, but I think it's as pleasant as NYC big law is going to get. It's not a "lifestyle" firm, it's a big Wall Street law firm where you'll be in the office 60-70 hours a week. With that understood, it's also a place where people say "please" and "thank you" and other things your mother taught you to do. Now, whether you like that or not is a personality call. Some people perceive these things as extraneous social gestures. To them the culture will come across as "fake." Others consider these gestures signs of proper socialization. To them the culture will come across as "civil."

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:11 pm

How do these two firms stack up against S & C?

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How do these two firms stack up against S & C?


In terms of business fundamentals I think Sullivan is the best corporate firm in NYC outside of Wachtell. Awesome PPP, awesome RPL, dominating the M&A league tables. For associates? Who knows. Culturally, it's definitely more intense and direct than DPW and STB, but that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on your personality. The 2-year "unassigned associate" thing is definitely a consideration versus DPW which forces you to specialize earlier. In terms of exit options, I'm not sure there is a difference, but who knows. All these firms have similar client bases and do similar work, and at least between S&C and DPW, have similar historical prestige.

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:59 pm

Anyone have thoughts on whether the fact that Simpson lets you do 3 rotations through its 3 corp groups is preferable to DPW's letting you do only 2 rotations?
Also do you think Simpson attorneys in the Funds group have better exit options to PE firms/hedge funds than associates in DPW's Investment Management Group?

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How do these two firms stack up against S & C?


In terms of business fundamentals I think Sullivan is the best corporate firm in NYC outside of Wachtell. Awesome PPP, awesome RPL, dominating the M&A league tables. For associates? Who knows. Culturally, it's definitely more intense and direct than DPW and STB, but that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on your personality. The 2-year "unassigned associate" thing is definitely a consideration versus DPW which forces you to specialize earlier. In terms of exit options, I'm not sure there is a difference, but who knows. All these firms have similar client bases and do similar work, and at least between S&C and DPW, have similar historical prestige.


Would you be able to speak about Sullivan vs CSM? or even a little bit about Sullivan vs Wachtell?

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby vamedic03 » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How do these two firms stack up against S & C?


In terms of business fundamentals I think Sullivan is the best corporate firm in NYC outside of Wachtell. Awesome PPP, awesome RPL, dominating the M&A league tables. For associates? Who knows. Culturally, it's definitely more intense and direct than DPW and STB, but that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on your personality. The 2-year "unassigned associate" thing is definitely a consideration versus DPW which forces you to specialize earlier. In terms of exit options, I'm not sure there is a difference, but who knows. All these firms have similar client bases and do similar work, and at least between S&C and DPW, have similar historical prestige.


Would you be able to speak about Sullivan vs CSM? or even a little bit about Sullivan vs Wachtell?


General corp: CSM = SullCrom
Lit: CSM probably has a slight edge on SullCrom

General Corp: SullCrom has a significant edge on Wachtell

M&A is the only place where Wachtell trumps anyone else.

Edit to say: If you're facing choices between these 3 firms, you can't go wrong. Pick whatever is the best fit. Each has its own strengths and all 3 are tremendous NYC powerhouses.

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:19 pm

vamedic03 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How do these two firms stack up against S & C?


In terms of business fundamentals I think Sullivan is the best corporate firm in NYC outside of Wachtell. Awesome PPP, awesome RPL, dominating the M&A league tables. For associates? Who knows. Culturally, it's definitely more intense and direct than DPW and STB, but that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on your personality. The 2-year "unassigned associate" thing is definitely a consideration versus DPW which forces you to specialize earlier. In terms of exit options, I'm not sure there is a difference, but who knows. All these firms have similar client bases and do similar work, and at least between S&C and DPW, have similar historical prestige.


Would you be able to speak about Sullivan vs CSM? or even a little bit about Sullivan vs Wachtell?


General corp: CSM = SullCrom
Lit: CSM probably has a slight edge on SullCrom

General Corp: SullCrom has a significant edge on Wachtell

M&A is the only place where Wachtell trumps anyone else.

Edit to say: If you're facing choices between these 3 firms, you can't go wrong. Pick whatever is the best fit. Each has its own strengths and all 3 are tremendous NYC powerhouses.


How does SullCrom's culture compare with Cravath's?

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:20 pm

vamedic03 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Would you be able to speak about Sullivan vs CSM? or even a little bit about Sullivan vs Wachtell?


General corp: CSM = SullCrom
Lit: CSM probably has a slight edge on SullCrom

General Corp: SullCrom has a significant edge on Wachtell

M&A is the only place where Wachtell trumps anyone else.

Edit to say: If you're facing choices between these 3 firms, you can't go wrong. Pick whatever is the best fit. Each has its own strengths and all 3 are tremendous NYC powerhouses.


Thanks - this is helpful... Definitely more interested in corporate than litigation, but am hesitant to focus exclusively on M&A.

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:26 pm

Re: Cravath and Sullivan, the latter has better corporate group, the former a better litigation group. Sullivan has been dominating particularly in M&A lately. Very well run firm.

From an associates POV, I'd probably pick Cravath though. Both have a level of polite intensity, though you could describe Cravath has being somewhat colder. I think both have an undeserved reputation for assholeishness. I think there are legitimate training benefits to the rotation system. It's not the rotation per se, but rather extensive work with just 3-5 partners for a year and a half. If you can deal with the culture I think it's worth it.

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby rayiner » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:26 pm

Turning down wlrk is retarded. M&A has he best exit options anyway.

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How do these two firms stack up against S & C?


In terms of business fundamentals I think Sullivan is the best corporate firm in NYC outside of Wachtell. Awesome PPP, awesome RPL, dominating the M&A league tables. For associates? Who knows. Culturally, it's definitely more intense and direct than DPW and STB, but that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on your personality. The 2-year "unassigned associate" thing is definitely a consideration versus DPW which forces you to specialize earlier. In terms of exit options, I'm not sure there is a difference, but who knows. All these firms have similar client bases and do similar work, and at least between S&C and DPW, have similar historical prestige.


Would you be able to speak about Sullivan vs CSM? or even a little bit about Sullivan vs Wachtell?


(different anon):

Wachtell is well liked by many, but the trade offs you make there are staggering and obvious. If you have a real reason to know you want to do M&A, they're an amazing place to be, and the benefits (not just larger pay/bonus) from working there are real. They even do substantially less pro bono work as a result of their ethic, a fact that does not go unnoticed by other lawyers in the city. Note that the money is good but the hours really are horrific, and every year many people turn them down to work at other leviathan NYC firms where they feel like they'll be happier and/or healthier even with slightly smaller pay checks at the end of the day. Sitting at the top of a chart is going to make law students take notice, but in the legal world they're seen as excellent specialists and not as "the best law firm."

S&C has by far the worst reputation as a place to work. Everyone works long hours, but there's something about Sullivan that produces a well-documented negative response (see: the blogger on above the law who used to work there, the newspaper articles about their staggering attrition rates & efforts to be "nicer," the dirty laundry aired in the law suits about harassment in the work place, etc.). Of course, I know people who work there and like it. It's also got a long list of prestigious clients and high-profile matters, often leads the pack on associate compensation, actually owns its own building (hooray useless trivia!), etc. S&C has a reputation for displays of wealth and generous benefits to its summers & attorneys.

Cravath is definitely a hive of the very most type-A and workaholic types, but they're also very professional and probably don't have the same "asshole" reputation that Cravath has. Cravth didn't take on government work during the crisis the way some other firms (notably S&C and DPW) did and as a consequence had a much tougher couple of years and have had issues with greatly reduced summer class sizes and deferals in NYC. They were also nailed by a terrible lease signed right before the real estate bubble collapsed (office space isn't cheap, you'd be shocked how much this stuff gets talked about / matters to the firms). They're excellent at what they do (M&A, high yield in particular in the capital markets space, banking and finance, etc.) and have a VERY strong and VERY unique culture within the firm. The rotation system should be the primary focus of anybody considering an offer here, because it will definte your experience. You cannot specialize - you provide input that may or may not be listened to and then you get assigned to a partner for a year or so before moving to a totally different set of matters. They'll tell you this breeds generalists and there must be something to it, but it will come at the expense of your ability to truly develop expertise.

DPW has a reputation for being cheap, which was especially obvious during boom times when their summer program was just a little leaner, they may have been just a little more reluctant to cut those huge bonus checks, etc. They also have a reputation for being "nice" or "polite" or "passive aggressive" or "genteel" or something. I've actually never heard the term passive aggressive from the lawyers I know there - I think that comes from the game of telephone that gets played with respect to firm reputations. What is true and constantly referred to is that the firm is anything but blunt, and feedback can be muted or white washed. The method behind the madness is to foster an extremely team-focused mentality - there is an understanding that you should be motivated and work hard but almost no external pressure much less competition. It's very different from the 1L / law school experience in that regard, which attracts many. DPW is a real front runner in financial institution work, though S&C and Cleary and a few other firms are substantively similar DPW probably hits the most press in the field (and while its M&A group is not as well known as some other firms, it has been heavily involved in a lot of recent financial institution M&A). DPW has a more conservative reputation in a lot of respects (not politically) but has remained extremely consistent in difficult financial times as a result.

Skadden is fratty, there's no way around it. Just like "nice" or "passive aggressive" or "buttoned up" doesn't perfectly describe DPW, fratty doesn't perfectly describe Skadden, but it's a real and noticeable phenomena regardless. They get a bad rap for being so big (McSkadden, anyone?) but they're a market leading firm (who here was around for the "Skadden" vs. "Half-Skadden" bonus announcement season?) and in M&A might only be rivaled by Wachtell. Because they do so many other things and have so many other offices (and don't offer so much more money) they don't develop the same mistique in the minds of prestige-obsessed law students, and occasionally even look for lower credentials than other major firms due to their size and reputation, but the actual work they do is still terrific. People report it can be hard to slot into the group you want given how much is going on (their NYC office is probably the largest private legal office in America, and quite possibly in the world).

STB seems a bit harder to pigeon hole culturally than the other firms, and the people I know there don't fit a neat category the way the people I know in other firms do (I could tell you with a lot of confidence what makes a person with otherwise weak preferences choose Cravath, or Cleary, or DPW, or Skadden - I'm less sure there's one single factor at STB). That doesn't mean it's not a terrific firm (it's as white shoe as they get) but my guess is the people drawn to it are either looking for its particular strengths (private equity / buy out is both a huge part of the wall street scene these days and a huge focus of the firm) or find that they fit in well with its culture, even if it can't be distilled into a single word. If you want to talk financials, never forget that the entire big law world followed Simpson's lead in raising starting salaries for dumb fuck first year associates to $160,000. I'm sure the partnership of every other firm in America has never forgiven them.

Cleary gets a reputation for being "quirky" and "international" - both of which are echoed as constantly as any other firm stereotype. They're great in capital markets and M&A and corporate in general, but they're not as well regarded in litigation. In New York, it's the V6 (Wachtell, Cravath, Skadden, S&C, DPW, STB) plus Paul Weiss (which has an impressive but noticeably less preeminent corporate department) that get the 'band 1' designation from Chambers and that's definitely reflected in culture. It hurts the firms general standing a little bit because they're masters of the universe on the transactional side but only mostly masters of the universe on the litigation side. But the firms general standing is utterly meaningless, as you'll always be doing litigation or corporate work and only law students obsess over this stuff. The international focus may be particularly important going forward.

Much 'below' Cleary in the rankings and the firms are less obviously places you can go, learn what you want, and wind up being at the top of the field in whatever you choose. Weil, Debevoise, Paul Weiss, and tons of other firms with various specialties are all terrific firms but they don't merit quite the same universal acclimation the firms I've discussed above have. You'd be dumb to go to one of the above over Debevoise if you liked Debevoise and its attorneys / training system better, but I had to stop writing at some point.

ALL of these firms will give you unbelievably strong exit options, but so much will depend on who you know, what you do at the firm, and when you want to leave. Broadly speaking M&A will open doors at a larger number of employers since it's seen as a proxy for general corporate knowledge, but as these firms are bound by their financial / wall street practices the narrower practice areas may yield to more desirable exits. People leave for banks, funds, government positions, etc. from everywhere, and market conditions matter so much that you could never answer a question like "is STB or DPW better for working at a hedge fund later" with any degree of specificity. Likewise, a lot of the groups with the best exit options are also those groups which tend not to make the radars of people looking into firms (as a very narrow example, there's an enormous demand for lawyers who work in the derivatives / structured product space at many banks and hedge funds, while there is relatively less demand inhouse for the people doing the fund formation and regulatory work that happens in groups which actually pick up the name "hedge fund group" or "investment management group" or whatever). Exit options are always shadowy and never well discussed or understood, so while it's smart to think about that it should never be a deciding factor as you can't control it that much beyond deciding to start at a well respected firm.

A word of warning: The PPP and RPL numbers everyone loves to quote are largely horse shit. Firms don't release that info, and so the trade publications make a lot of educated guesses to arrive at substantially incorrect results. Broadly speaking they might correctly identify trends (Cravath definitely took more of a hit in the downturn than S&C or DPW) but they're not gospel and are hardly suited to granular analysis.

Other big factors: Where are your fellow law students going (surprisingly telling... follow your friends and avoid the people you don't get along with), midtown vs. downtown offices (pros and cons to both, one being easier to make fun of while also being much more practical / economical), who gives you an offer (minor factor), etc.

Also, when people try to tell you X group is better than Y group, check what they're saying against chambers and if chambers says different, ask yourself whether you trust a message board or a well respected legal publication more. Never forget that there are two sides to every deal: Wachtell has never run a transaction alone.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Nom Sawyer » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:36 pm

rayiner wrote:Turning down wlrk is retarded. M&A has he best exit options anyway.


I fail to see how turning down 3000 hours a year can clearly be classified as retarded...

If you were only choosing between Cravath and WLRK maybe, just maybe your comment makes sense

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How do these two firms stack up against S & C?


In terms of business fundamentals I think Sullivan is the best corporate firm in NYC outside of Wachtell. Awesome PPP, awesome RPL, dominating the M&A league tables. For associates? Who knows. Culturally, it's definitely more intense and direct than DPW and STB, but that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on your personality. The 2-year "unassigned associate" thing is definitely a consideration versus DPW which forces you to specialize earlier. In terms of exit options, I'm not sure there is a difference, but who knows. All these firms have similar client bases and do similar work, and at least between S&C and DPW, have similar historical prestige.


Would you be able to speak about Sullivan vs CSM? or even a little bit about Sullivan vs Wachtell?


(different anon):

Wachtell is well liked by many, but the trade offs you make there are staggering and obvious. If you have a real reason to know you want to do M&A, they're an amazing place to be, and the benefits (not just larger pay/bonus) from working there are real. They even do substantially less pro bono work as a result of their ethic, a fact that does not go unnoticed by other lawyers in the city. Note that the money is good but the hours really are horrific, and every year many people turn them down to work at other leviathan NYC firms where they feel like they'll be happier and/or healthier even with slightly smaller pay checks at the end of the day. Sitting at the top of a chart is going to make law students take notice, but in the legal world they're seen as excellent specialists and not as "the best law firm."

S&C has by far the worst reputation as a place to work. Everyone works long hours, but there's something about Sullivan that produces a well-documented negative response (see: the blogger on above the law who used to work there, the newspaper articles about their staggering attrition rates & efforts to be "nicer," the dirty laundry aired in the law suits about harassment in the work place, etc.). Of course, I know people who work there and like it. It's also got a long list of prestigious clients and high-profile matters, often leads the pack on associate compensation, actually owns its own building (hooray useless trivia!), etc. S&C has a reputation for displays of wealth and generous benefits to its summers & attorneys.

Cravath is definitely a hive of the very most type-A and workaholic types, but they're also very professional and probably don't have the same "asshole" reputation that Cravath has. Cravth didn't take on government work during the crisis the way some other firms (notably S&C and DPW) did and as a consequence had a much tougher couple of years and have had issues with greatly reduced summer class sizes and deferals in NYC. They were also nailed by a terrible lease signed right before the real estate bubble collapsed (office space isn't cheap, you'd be shocked how much this stuff gets talked about / matters to the firms). They're excellent at what they do (M&A, high yield in particular in the capital markets space, banking and finance, etc.) and have a VERY strong and VERY unique culture within the firm. The rotation system should be the primary focus of anybody considering an offer here, because it will definte your experience. You cannot specialize - you provide input that may or may not be listened to and then you get assigned to a partner for a year or so before moving to a totally different set of matters. They'll tell you this breeds generalists and there must be something to it, but it will come at the expense of your ability to truly develop expertise.

DPW has a reputation for being cheap, which was especially obvious during boom times when their summer program was just a little leaner, they may have been just a little more reluctant to cut those huge bonus checks, etc. They also have a reputation for being "nice" or "polite" or "passive aggressive" or "genteel" or something. I've actually never heard the term passive aggressive from the lawyers I know there - I think that comes from the game of telephone that gets played with respect to firm reputations. What is true and constantly referred to is that the firm is anything but blunt, and feedback can be muted or white washed. The method behind the madness is to foster an extremely team-focused mentality - there is an understanding that you should be motivated and work hard but almost no external pressure much less competition. It's very different from the 1L / law school experience in that regard, which attracts many. DPW is a real front runner in financial institution work, though S&C and Cleary and a few other firms are substantively similar DPW probably hits the most press in the field (and while its M&A group is not as well known as some other firms, it has been heavily involved in a lot of recent financial institution M&A). DPW has a more conservative reputation in a lot of respects (not politically) but has remained extremely consistent in difficult financial times as a result.

Skadden is fratty, there's no way around it. Just like "nice" or "passive aggressive" or "buttoned up" doesn't perfectly describe DPW, fratty doesn't perfectly describe Skadden, but it's a real and noticeable phenomena regardless. They get a bad rap for being so big (McSkadden, anyone?) but they're a market leading firm (who here was around for the "Skadden" vs. "Half-Skadden" bonus announcement season?) and in M&A might only be rivaled by Wachtell. Because they do so many other things and have so many other offices (and don't offer so much more money) they don't develop the same mistique in the minds of prestige-obsessed law students, and occasionally even look for lower credentials than other major firms due to their size and reputation, but the actual work they do is still terrific. People report it can be hard to slot into the group you want given how much is going on (their NYC office is probably the largest private legal office in America, and quite possibly in the world).

STB seems a bit harder to pigeon hole culturally than the other firms, and the people I know there don't fit a neat category the way the people I know in other firms do (I could tell you with a lot of confidence what makes a person with otherwise weak preferences choose Cravath, or Cleary, or DPW, or Skadden - I'm less sure there's one single factor at STB). That doesn't mean it's not a terrific firm (it's as white shoe as they get) but my guess is the people drawn to it are either looking for its particular strengths (private equity / buy out is both a huge part of the wall street scene these days and a huge focus of the firm) or find that they fit in well with its culture, even if it can't be distilled into a single word. If you want to talk financials, never forget that the entire big law world followed Simpson's lead in raising starting salaries for dumb fuck first year associates to $160,000. I'm sure the partnership of every other firm in America has never forgiven them.

Cleary gets a reputation for being "quirky" and "international" - both of which are echoed as constantly as any other firm stereotype. They're great in capital markets and M&A and corporate in general, but they're not as well regarded in litigation. In New York, it's the V6 (Wachtell, Cravath, Skadden, S&C, DPW, STB) plus Paul Weiss (which has an impressive but noticeably less preeminent corporate department) that get the 'band 1' designation from Chambers and that's definitely reflected in culture. It hurts the firms general standing a little bit because they're masters of the universe on the transactional side but only mostly masters of the universe on the litigation side. But the firms general standing is utterly meaningless, as you'll always be doing litigation or corporate work and only law students obsess over this stuff. The international focus may be particularly important going forward.

Much 'below' Cleary in the rankings and the firms are less obviously places you can go, learn what you want, and wind up being at the top of the field in whatever you choose. Weil, Debevoise, Paul Weiss, and tons of other firms with various specialties are all terrific firms but they don't merit quite the same universal acclimation the firms I've discussed above have. You'd be dumb to go to one of the above over Debevoise if you liked Debevoise and its attorneys / training system better, but I had to stop writing at some point.

ALL of these firms will give you unbelievably strong exit options, but so much will depend on who you know, what you do at the firm, and when you want to leave. Broadly speaking M&A will open doors at a larger number of employers since it's seen as a proxy for general corporate knowledge, but as these firms are bound by their financial / wall street practices the narrower practice areas may yield to more desirable exits. People leave for banks, funds, government positions, etc. from everywhere, and market conditions matter so much that you could never answer a question like "is STB or DPW better for working at a hedge fund later" with any degree of specificity. Likewise, a lot of the groups with the best exit options are also those groups which tend not to make the radars of people looking into firms (as a very narrow example, there's an enormous demand for lawyers who work in the derivatives / structured product space at many banks and hedge funds, while there is relatively less demand inhouse for the people doing the fund formation and regulatory work that happens in groups which actually pick up the name "hedge fund group" or "investment management group" or whatever). Exit options are always shadowy and never well discussed or understood, so while it's smart to think about that it should never be a deciding factor as you can't control it that much beyond deciding to start at a well respected firm.

A word of warning: The PPP and RPL numbers everyone loves to quote are largely horse shit. Firms don't release that info, and so the trade publications make a lot of educated guesses to arrive at substantially incorrect results. Broadly speaking they might correctly identify trends (Cravath definitely took more of a hit in the downturn than S&C or DPW) but they're not gospel and are hardly suited to granular analysis.

Other big factors: Where are your fellow law students going (surprisingly telling... follow your friends and avoid the people you don't get along with), midtown vs. downtown offices (pros and cons to both, one being easier to make fun of while also being much more practical / economical), who gives you an offer (minor factor), etc.

Also, when people try to tell you X group is better than Y group, check what they're saying against chambers and if chambers says different, ask yourself whether you trust a message board or a well respected legal publication more. Never forget that there are two sides to every deal: Wachtell has never run a transaction alone.


I think you hinted at this in your very useful post but which firm would be the best fit for someone who is quiet and an introvert?

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby logan » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How do these two firms stack up against S & C?


In terms of business fundamentals I think Sullivan is the best corporate firm in NYC outside of Wachtell. Awesome PPP, awesome RPL, dominating the M&A league tables. For associates? Who knows. Culturally, it's definitely more intense and direct than DPW and STB, but that's not necessarily a bad thing depending on your personality. The 2-year "unassigned associate" thing is definitely a consideration versus DPW which forces you to specialize earlier. In terms of exit options, I'm not sure there is a difference, but who knows. All these firms have similar client bases and do similar work, and at least between S&C and DPW, have similar historical prestige.


Would you be able to speak about Sullivan vs CSM? or even a little bit about Sullivan vs Wachtell?


(different anon):

Wachtell is well liked by many, but the trade offs you make there are staggering and obvious. If you have a real reason to know you want to do M&A, they're an amazing place to be, and the benefits (not just larger pay/bonus) from working there are real. They even do substantially less pro bono work as a result of their ethic, a fact that does not go unnoticed by other lawyers in the city. Note that the money is good but the hours really are horrific, and every year many people turn them down to work at other leviathan NYC firms where they feel like they'll be happier and/or healthier even with slightly smaller pay checks at the end of the day. Sitting at the top of a chart is going to make law students take notice, but in the legal world they're seen as excellent specialists and not as "the best law firm."

S&C has by far the worst reputation as a place to work. Everyone works long hours, but there's something about Sullivan that produces a well-documented negative response (see: the blogger on above the law who used to work there, the newspaper articles about their staggering attrition rates & efforts to be "nicer," the dirty laundry aired in the law suits about harassment in the work place, etc.). Of course, I know people who work there and like it. It's also got a long list of prestigious clients and high-profile matters, often leads the pack on associate compensation, actually owns its own building (hooray useless trivia!), etc. S&C has a reputation for displays of wealth and generous benefits to its summers & attorneys.

Cravath is definitely a hive of the very most type-A and workaholic types, but they're also very professional and probably don't have the same "asshole" reputation that Cravath has. Cravth didn't take on government work during the crisis the way some other firms (notably S&C and DPW) did and as a consequence had a much tougher couple of years and have had issues with greatly reduced summer class sizes and deferals in NYC. They were also nailed by a terrible lease signed right before the real estate bubble collapsed (office space isn't cheap, you'd be shocked how much this stuff gets talked about / matters to the firms). They're excellent at what they do (M&A, high yield in particular in the capital markets space, banking and finance, etc.) and have a VERY strong and VERY unique culture within the firm. The rotation system should be the primary focus of anybody considering an offer here, because it will definte your experience. You cannot specialize - you provide input that may or may not be listened to and then you get assigned to a partner for a year or so before moving to a totally different set of matters. They'll tell you this breeds generalists and there must be something to it, but it will come at the expense of your ability to truly develop expertise.

DPW has a reputation for being cheap, which was especially obvious during boom times when their summer program was just a little leaner, they may have been just a little more reluctant to cut those huge bonus checks, etc. They also have a reputation for being "nice" or "polite" or "passive aggressive" or "genteel" or something. I've actually never heard the term passive aggressive from the lawyers I know there - I think that comes from the game of telephone that gets played with respect to firm reputations. What is true and constantly referred to is that the firm is anything but blunt, and feedback can be muted or white washed. The method behind the madness is to foster an extremely team-focused mentality - there is an understanding that you should be motivated and work hard but almost no external pressure much less competition. It's very different from the 1L / law school experience in that regard, which attracts many. DPW is a real front runner in financial institution work, though S&C and Cleary and a few other firms are substantively similar DPW probably hits the most press in the field (and while its M&A group is not as well known as some other firms, it has been heavily involved in a lot of recent financial institution M&A). DPW has a more conservative reputation in a lot of respects (not politically) but has remained extremely consistent in difficult financial times as a result.

Skadden is fratty, there's no way around it. Just like "nice" or "passive aggressive" or "buttoned up" doesn't perfectly describe DPW, fratty doesn't perfectly describe Skadden, but it's a real and noticeable phenomena regardless. They get a bad rap for being so big (McSkadden, anyone?) but they're a market leading firm (who here was around for the "Skadden" vs. "Half-Skadden" bonus announcement season?) and in M&A might only be rivaled by Wachtell. Because they do so many other things and have so many other offices (and don't offer so much more money) they don't develop the same mistique in the minds of prestige-obsessed law students, and occasionally even look for lower credentials than other major firms due to their size and reputation, but the actual work they do is still terrific. People report it can be hard to slot into the group you want given how much is going on (their NYC office is probably the largest private legal office in America, and quite possibly in the world).

STB seems a bit harder to pigeon hole culturally than the other firms, and the people I know there don't fit a neat category the way the people I know in other firms do (I could tell you with a lot of confidence what makes a person with otherwise weak preferences choose Cravath, or Cleary, or DPW, or Skadden - I'm less sure there's one single factor at STB). That doesn't mean it's not a terrific firm (it's as white shoe as they get) but my guess is the people drawn to it are either looking for its particular strengths (private equity / buy out is both a huge part of the wall street scene these days and a huge focus of the firm) or find that they fit in well with its culture, even if it can't be distilled into a single word. If you want to talk financials, never forget that the entire big law world followed Simpson's lead in raising starting salaries for dumb fuck first year associates to $160,000. I'm sure the partnership of every other firm in America has never forgiven them.

Cleary gets a reputation for being "quirky" and "international" - both of which are echoed as constantly as any other firm stereotype. They're great in capital markets and M&A and corporate in general, but they're not as well regarded in litigation. In New York, it's the V6 (Wachtell, Cravath, Skadden, S&C, DPW, STB) plus Paul Weiss (which has an impressive but noticeably less preeminent corporate department) that get the 'band 1' designation from Chambers and that's definitely reflected in culture. It hurts the firms general standing a little bit because they're masters of the universe on the transactional side but only mostly masters of the universe on the litigation side. But the firms general standing is utterly meaningless, as you'll always be doing litigation or corporate work and only law students obsess over this stuff. The international focus may be particularly important going forward.

Much 'below' Cleary in the rankings and the firms are less obviously places you can go, learn what you want, and wind up being at the top of the field in whatever you choose. Weil, Debevoise, Paul Weiss, and tons of other firms with various specialties are all terrific firms but they don't merit quite the same universal acclimation the firms I've discussed above have. You'd be dumb to go to one of the above over Debevoise if you liked Debevoise and its attorneys / training system better, but I had to stop writing at some point.

ALL of these firms will give you unbelievably strong exit options, but so much will depend on who you know, what you do at the firm, and when you want to leave. Broadly speaking M&A will open doors at a larger number of employers since it's seen as a proxy for general corporate knowledge, but as these firms are bound by their financial / wall street practices the narrower practice areas may yield to more desirable exits. People leave for banks, funds, government positions, etc. from everywhere, and market conditions matter so much that you could never answer a question like "is STB or DPW better for working at a hedge fund later" with any degree of specificity. Likewise, a lot of the groups with the best exit options are also those groups which tend not to make the radars of people looking into firms (as a very narrow example, there's an enormous demand for lawyers who work in the derivatives / structured product space at many banks and hedge funds, while there is relatively less demand inhouse for the people doing the fund formation and regulatory work that happens in groups which actually pick up the name "hedge fund group" or "investment management group" or whatever). Exit options are always shadowy and never well discussed or understood, so while it's smart to think about that it should never be a deciding factor as you can't control it that much beyond deciding to start at a well respected firm.

A word of warning: The PPP and RPL numbers everyone loves to quote are largely horse shit. Firms don't release that info, and so the trade publications make a lot of educated guesses to arrive at substantially incorrect results. Broadly speaking they might correctly identify trends (Cravath definitely took more of a hit in the downturn than S&C or DPW) but they're not gospel and are hardly suited to granular analysis.

Other big factors: Where are your fellow law students going (surprisingly telling... follow your friends and avoid the people you don't get along with), midtown vs. downtown offices (pros and cons to both, one being easier to make fun of while also being much more practical / economical), who gives you an offer (minor factor), etc.

Also, when people try to tell you X group is better than Y group, check what they're saying against chambers and if chambers says different, ask yourself whether you trust a message board or a well respected legal publication more. Never forget that there are two sides to every deal: Wachtell has never run a transaction alone.


Can anyone else confirm this about S&C? I hadn't heard such bad things about them before.

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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:38 pm

logan wrote:Can anyone else confirm this about S&C? I hadn't heard such bad things about them before.


Homework you can do for yourself: Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1169599 ... jie/6month, anything ever written by Will Meyerhofer.

Anecdote I can provide: When speaking to people at non-S&C firms and asking about other NYC firms / personalities, you'd be amazed at how frequently S&C gets thrown under the bus. Likewise you'd be amazed at how much more miserable the people I know working at S&C can be than the people I know working at other major NYC firms.

I'd like to stress that if you fit in there, or if you work in the right group, or any number of other variables, it could work out great. Outside looking in reputations mean so little compared to how you actually respond to the work environment. One of the warmest, funniest, most extroverted people I know is a 3rd year at S&C. Broad strokes never do firms justice. These distinctions aren't black and white, but they are worth keeping in mind as you do research and frame the impressions you get at firms.

anonymous wrote:I think you hinted at this in your very useful post but which firm would be the best fit for someone who is quiet and an introvert?


I'd be more suspicious of firms that get described as 'fratty' and more eager to speak with people at 'nice' or 'polite' or 'professional' firms, but there are introverts at fratty offices and crazy extroverts in the most restrained firms. Also whether it's fair or not tax groups and firms seem to be a magnet for quieter people, and M&A seems to be more like the high school locker room.

Anonymous User
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Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
logan wrote:Can anyone else confirm this about S&C? I hadn't heard such bad things about them before.


Homework you can do for yourself: Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1169599 ... jie/6month, anything ever written by Will Meyerhofer.

Anecdote I can provide: When speaking to people at non-S&C firms and asking about other NYC firms / personalities, you'd be amazed at how frequently S&C gets thrown under the bus. Likewise you'd be amazed at how much more miserable the people I know working at S&C can be than the people I know working at other major NYC firms.

I'd like to stress that if you fit in there, or if you work in the right group, or any number of other variables, it could work out great. Outside looking in reputations mean so little compared to how you actually respond to the work environment. One of the warmest, funniest, most extroverted people I know is a 3rd year at S&C. Broad strokes never do firms justice. These distinctions aren't black and white, but they are worth keeping in mind as you do research and frame the impressions you get at firms.

anonymous wrote:I think you hinted at this in your very useful post but which firm would be the best fit for someone who is quiet and an introvert?


I'd be more suspicious of firms that get described as 'fratty' and more eager to speak with people at 'nice' or 'polite' or 'professional' firms, but there are introverts at fratty offices and crazy extroverts in the most restrained firms. Also whether it's fair or not tax groups and firms seem to be a magnet for quieter people, and M&A seems to be more like the high school locker room.


Can't read that WSJ article. Do you have another link?

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

Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Can't read that WSJ article. Do you have another link?


This may work:

http://www.infirmation.com/bboard/clubs ... _id=0036DV

Anonymous User
Posts: 273470
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Simpson v. DPW

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:09 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Can't read that WSJ article. Do you have another link?


This may work:

http://www.infirmation.com/bboard/clubs ... _id=0036DV


Thank you!




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