Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

(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: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:24 pm

Obviously a niche area, but if you've got interest in the Michigan market or are weighing different firms, I'd be happy to share any insights. I'm somewhere in my first three years, summered with my current firm after multiple offers in the market, and have friends at most of the similar firms. I'll start with a few things:

Business is generally better than you might expect. Although summer class size is down compared to 5 years ago, it appears almost everyone is getting offers and class size will be up next year.

The firms are extremely focused on Michigan ties, much more so than I realized when I was going through the OCI process. That doesn't just mean going to school here, it means having some roots beyond that. The area is obviously not as economically attractive as NY or Chicago and they want to do everything they can to avoid losing you as a lateral 3-5 years in.

All the largest firms except 1 or 2 pay $100k or $105k to start, so your focus should be on fit and practice area more than anything else.

If you're thinking transactional, Honigman, Dickinson, Miller-Canfield and Bodman are probably a good cut above anyone else.

User avatar
ndirish2010
Posts: 2950
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:41 pm

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby ndirish2010 » Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:52 pm

Seeing the firms you listed, I'm guessing you're in Detroit. What do you think about the Grand Rapids market in general if you know anything about it?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:05 pm

ndirish2010 wrote:Seeing the firms you listed, I'm guessing you're in Detroit. What do you think about the Grand Rapids market in general if you know anything about it?


I'm genuinely interested in settling in the Michigan market (either Grand Rapids or Detroit), but I don't feel like my ties are that strong. I'm originally from the east coast but have got family out in the midwest and just like the area better than the east coast where I'm from. That said, I'm afraid a lot of Michigan firms won't take me seriously when they see that the vast majority of my resume is east coast centric, even though I go to Michigan for LS and my 1L summer clerkship was in Michigan.

Is there anything i can do to emphasize my desire to be in Michigan during OCI?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:14 pm

OP here.

I interviewed with Grand Rapids firms and had strong interest in Varnum. Excellent firm, really nice people, great facility. There are few enough others that I'm sure you know them. The top three GR firms are all good firms. They would compete in in any market in their size categories. The Grand Rapids firms put an even higher premium on local ties than the Southeast Michigan firms. You need to have grown up there, have a spouse who grow up there and/or have parents or sibling now living in the area to get a serious look.

The economy is obviously more stable. It hasn't felt the recession as hard as Southeast Michigan. But, conversely, when the economy heats up, the Southeast Michigan firms will do better. The top SE firms will generally have a more varied and sophisticated level of work - there just isn't the industrial and business base on the west side of the state to bring the types of work and the varieties of work you will see in SE Michigan. Varnum is the only firm that might be the exception in some areas.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:Seeing the firms you listed, I'm guessing you're in Detroit. What do you think about the Grand Rapids market in general if you know anything about it?


I'm genuinely interested in settling in the Michigan market (either Grand Rapids or Detroit), but I don't feel like my ties are that strong. I'm originally from the east coast but have got family out in the midwest and just like the area better than the east coast where I'm from. That said, I'm afraid a lot of Michigan firms won't take me seriously when they see that the vast majority of my resume is east coast centric, even though I go to Michigan for LS and my 1L summer clerkship was in Michigan.

Is there anything i can do to emphasize my desire to be in Michigan during OCI?


Where was your clerkship? If it was in federal court or the Michigan supreme court, that will give you a boost. If your judge will go to bat for you by calling a firm after a callback, that would be a significant boost (better be your top choice, because even the friendliest judge won't do it very often).

You'll need to sell your story in interviews. Tell them what you posted above - that you love the Midwest and want to settle here. Do you have a BF/GF who is from here? That could be a card to play. Tell them your BF/GF is from here and you want to settle in the area. Are you only interviewing in Michigan? That would be dangerous, but if so, tell them that.

Anything else I could offer isn't rocket science: You will have to overcome the lack of ties with other areas of excellence. You will have a better chance if you're at Michigan or ND. You will have a better chance if you're top of your class and law review, etc.

OP

NotMyRealName09
Posts: 1394
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:50 pm

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:39 pm

Varnum has a billables requirement of only 1700!!!! And they pay the same as the major Detroit firms.....but you essentially have to be "culturally" from Grand Rapids to be seriously considered, meaning born and raised.

And, as a first year associate in one of the largest Detroit firms, I can confirm that you will not be considered for an offer if you are not actually from the Detroit / Michigan area. Nobody moves to Detroit unless they grew up around it, and seeing as summer associates and new attorneys are net money losers, they will not invest in you unless they know you plan to settle down here and raise your family.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:Seeing the firms you listed, I'm guessing you're in Detroit. What do you think about the Grand Rapids market in general if you know anything about it?


I'm genuinely interested in settling in the Michigan market (either Grand Rapids or Detroit), but I don't feel like my ties are that strong. I'm originally from the east coast but have got family out in the midwest and just like the area better than the east coast where I'm from. That said, I'm afraid a lot of Michigan firms won't take me seriously when they see that the vast majority of my resume is east coast centric, even though I go to Michigan for LS and my 1L summer clerkship was in Michigan.

Is there anything i can do to emphasize my desire to be in Michigan during OCI?


Where was your clerkship? If it was in federal court or the Michigan supreme court, that will give you a boost. If your judge will go to bat for you by calling a firm after a callback, that would be a significant boost (better be your top choice, because even the friendliest judge won't do it very often).

You'll need to sell your story in interviews. Tell them what you posted above - that you love the Midwest and want to settle here. Do you have a BF/GF who is from here? That could be a card to play. Tell them your BF/GF is from here and you want to settle in the area. Are you only interviewing in Michigan? That would be dangerous, but if so, tell them that.

Anything else I could offer isn't rocket science: You will have to overcome the lack of ties with other areas of excellence. You will have a better chance if you're at Michigan or ND. You will have a better chance if you're top of your class and law review, etc.

OP


thanks for the advice (same poster). i actually do have a long-term GF who grew up (and still lives) in West Michigan, which is another reason for my wanting to settle in the state. Unfortunately i didn't clerk for a judge this summer, so I don't have the option of their phoning anything in for me. Further disclosure, I go to Michigan, but transferred from another T25 school in the midwest. Do you think using the fact that I transferred to Michigan to establish stronger Michigan ties help in convincing them I really want to be in the state?

Thanks again.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do you think using the fact that I transferred to Michigan to establish stronger Michigan ties help in convincing them I really want to be in the state?

Thanks again.


You're welcome, and yes, I'd play that transfer storyline hard. I would tell them "The No. 1 reason I transferred is so I could work in Michigan," assuming that's true or close to true.

OP

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:55 pm

Thanks for doing this!

Do you feel that there's a different culture or "vibe" at the Michigan firms as compared to what you've heard from associates who work for other firms in the Midwest (mainly Chicago)?

SpiteFence
Posts: 131
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:26 pm

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby SpiteFence » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:06 pm

I went through the process of choosing between Chicago and Michigan firms last year (I am a SE MI native), eventually landing in Chicago. I interviewed/got offers from a lot of great firms like Varnum. I could rationalize the difference in starting pay because of cost of living adjustments, but the annual salary increases were just not comparable. If I had to make the same choice again, what would you say to me to encourage me towards Michigan firms?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for doing this!

Do you feel that there's a different culture or "vibe" at the Michigan firms as compared to what you've heard from associates who work for other firms in the Midwest (mainly Chicago)?


No problem - people here answered questions for me. I'm glad to have something to contribute.

The biggest cultural difference is work-life balance. The majority of folks in my firm work 9, 9.5 hour days, 10 at the most. In at 8:30 and out at 6 or 6:30 is the norm. My office is dead at 6:30. This obviously isn't how things are done at top firms in Chicago (or even Cleveland, based on conversations with friends). I know Grand Rapids has a similar culture.

Cincy, Toledo and Indy seem to skew a little more toward shorter hours too from what I've heard.

The tradeoff, as discussed in the post above, is you tend to get smaller salary increases as an associate.

OP

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:45 am

SpiteFence wrote:I went through the process of choosing between Chicago and Michigan firms last year (I am a SE MI native), eventually landing in Chicago. I interviewed/got offers from a lot of great firms like Varnum. I could rationalize the difference in starting pay because of cost of living adjustments, but the annual salary increases were just not comparable. If I had to make the same choice again, what would you say to me to encourage me towards Michigan firms?


You know, I probably wouldn't encourage you toward Michigan. I have a good friend at Sidley in Chicago and he loves it. If you interviewed in both places and felt more pull toward Chicago, Chicago was the right choice. You'll definitely make more money there (but also pay the higher cost of living, of course). You can probably come back to Michigan if you want - Detroit and Grand Rapids get a lot of laterals out of Chicago. They typically move back for lower hours culture that I referenced in the post above.

The main disadvantage to lateraling back is the main disadvantage to lateraling to any market -- you get a slower start on developing connections which would generate business and connections with the people who'll eventually be voting on you as a partner/member.

OP

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
SpiteFence wrote:I went through the process of choosing between Chicago and Michigan firms last year (I am a SE MI native), eventually landing in Chicago. I interviewed/got offers from a lot of great firms like Varnum. I could rationalize the difference in starting pay because of cost of living adjustments, but the annual salary increases were just not comparable. If I had to make the same choice again, what would you say to me to encourage me towards Michigan firms?


You know, I probably wouldn't encourage you toward Michigan. I have a good friend at Sidley in Chicago and he loves it. If you interviewed in both places and felt more pull toward Chicago, Chicago was the right choice. You'll definitely make more money there (but also pay the higher cost of living, of course). You can probably come back to Michigan if you want - Detroit and Grand Rapids get a lot of laterals out of Chicago. They typically move back for lower hours culture that I referenced in the post above.

The main disadvantage to lateraling back is the main disadvantage to lateraling to any market -- you get a slower start on developing connections which would generate business and connections with the people who'll eventually be voting on you as a partner/member.

OP



I have a callback coming with one of the 5 listed firms above. Are the callback- offer rates pretty high?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:11 pm

Transferred from a Midwest T4 to a non-michigan T14. Born and raised just north of Grand Rapids. I would like to work in Grand Rapids and have gotten a lot of prompt feed back from Michigan recruiters. Any advice for the off chance I do get a callback with one of these firms? Specifically, would I have to justify not transferring to Michigan over my current T14?

gemma232
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:52 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby gemma232 » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:14 pm

Do any of the big Michigan firms take on 3Ls for summer associates? How strong do your ties to Michigan have to be? I have family in both Milwaukee and in Indianapolis and am casting my net wide across the midwest (been all over Michigan, really like it there, just never lived there per se or have family there).

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:06 pm

How's the financial health of the Michigan firms? Anyone in trouble in general that if I was given an offer, I should be concerned about deferral or no-offers?

I.e. - Butzel Long had a bad couple of years. They cut their summer program one year, no-offered everyone in '08. The interactions I've had with the attorneys there are positive, but are they really back?

I'm super interested in Dickinson, in general, and it sounds like things have been pretty good there, but any red flags would make me curious.

I'm a 2L at WSU, and I'm competitive for all of these firms GPA/LR wise - and I'm hoping I hit it off well enough with at least one of them to get a full time offer, but if I end up with multiple offers, I'd like to choose a firm that isn't likely to have issues in the next year or two. Particularly true with concerns about a double dip.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How's the financial health of the Michigan firms? Anyone in trouble in general that if I was given an offer, I should be concerned about deferral or no-offers?

I.e. - Butzel Long had a bad couple of years. They cut their summer program one year, no-offered everyone in '08. The interactions I've had with the attorneys there are positive, but are they really back?

I'm super interested in Dickinson, in general, and it sounds like things have been pretty good there, but any red flags would make me curious.

I'm a 2L at WSU, and I'm competitive for all of these firms GPA/LR wise - and I'm hoping I hit it off well enough with at least one of them to get a full time offer, but if I end up with multiple offers, I'd like to choose a firm that isn't likely to have issues in the next year or two. Particularly true with concerns about a double dip.


*Not OP, but works in Detroit large firm*

Dickinson laid off associates during the recession. Honigman dropped starting salary from $125 to $110 during recession and laid off associates. Butzel no-offered many summer associates in 2009 as well. Clark Hill expanded during the recession and generally gives 100% offer rates. I don't know about Bodman. Miller Canfield also hires non-partner track associates at lower salaries than the typical summer associate / associate / partner type lawyer, which may become a trend, especially with insurance work, which is high-volume / low rate work.

Fiscal health will likely depend upon how diversified the client base is.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:45 pm

gemma232 wrote:Do any of the big Michigan firms take on 3Ls for summer associates? How strong do your ties to Michigan have to be? I have family in both Milwaukee and in Indianapolis and am casting my net wide across the midwest (been all over Michigan, really like it there, just never lived there per se or have family there).


You won't get a serious look, because - especially if interviewing with Detroit-based firms - they know nobody moves to the Detroit area without established ties. I'm not trying to by cynical, but you won't get a second look, probably. If you aren't from Michigan, you are leaving Michigan the second another offer pops up somewhere else, or if the economy generally improves.

Also, while I cannot speak for all firms, my sense is generally most of the larger Michigan firms do not take 3L summers. But, if someone knows otherwise I'll stand corrected.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:02 pm

WSU 2L here.

Another question/thought: I'm curious how serious of a look your (or other big firms you've heard of) are taking at WSU 2Ls... I've heard some big game coming from some firms (namely Honigman, which is "re-emphasizing" Wayne this year), but will wait until I see actual summer offers before I buy too much into the hype. Firms that have hired from Wayne recently I'll actually buy, but I'm curious if there is anything to actually back up what I've been hearing.

The OCI list is decent, every major firm in Michigan is coming (though our OCI just started today). But it doesn't do us any good if they don't hire anyone from our school.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:WSU 2L here.

Another question/thought: I'm curious how serious of a look your (or other big firms you've heard of) are taking at WSU 2Ls... I've heard some big game coming from some firms (namely Honigman, which is "re-emphasizing" Wayne this year), but will wait until I see actual summer offers before I buy too much into the hype. Firms that have hired from Wayne recently I'll actually buy, but I'm curious if there is anything to actually back up what I've been hearing.

The OCI list is decent, every major firm in Michigan is coming (though our OCI just started today). But it doesn't do us any good if they don't hire anyone from our school.


I'm a lower-level associate at a large Detroit law firm without any say in hiring, but I can say this. With the glut of law students and the dearth of legal jobs, it has become a buyer's market for law firms. The entire point of OCI is to hire the best student you can find. And when NY and DC jobs aren't materializing, you get T1 (and T14) students with roots in Michigan realizing that 100k in Michigan and advancement potential is better than contract work in NY (cost of living in Michigan is relatively low, a not insignificant lifestyle factor). So now you have UofM students who actually won't be running off to NY, and you want to hire that student so next year you can tell more UofM students that your firm hires UofM students. My firm has been able to recruit from higher ranked law schools of late for this very reason.

As for Honigman "re-emphasizing" Wayne, that's probably because while they can hire Virginia law grads all day, when they run off to Chicago two years in, well, you'd have been better off hiring a top 5% grad from Wayne, MSU, or UofD.

And lastly, every Michigan firm will keep up a presence at OCI, even if they know they won't hire anyone, because they don't want to foreclose any OCI opportunities down the road. You've got to keep career services happy or else your competition will get first dibs on the top grads.

Good luck.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:29 pm

How would a top 5 Michigan Firm view someone from Northeast Ohio that goes to UofM? I know that these firms generally want associates that lived in Michigan prior to school, but, I grew up relatively close by and am close to family, and I've become fond of the area. Would I be able to sell this as a "tie"?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How would a top 5 Michigan Firm view someone from Northeast Ohio that goes to UofM? I know that these firms generally want associates that lived in Michigan prior to school, but, I grew up relatively close by and am close to family, and I've become fond of the area. Would I be able to sell this as a "tie"?


Not OP Detroit associate here:

It's not bad, actually. At least you're regional. Not a tie, per se, but its better than being from Texas or California. Going to UofM sort of counts as a tie - those people are like a cult. :roll:

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:36 pm

to the associates:

What are the callback- offer ratios like at the biglaw firms in Detroit?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:41 am

I have a callback coming with one of the 5 listed firms above. Are the callback- offer rates pretty high?


I can only speak for my own firm and here, it for us I would say the offer rate is not high. Rather than having one or two people make the call at OCI, we seem to use OCI as an initial screen and bring a lot of people in, where they are then exposed to multiple people. We roll offers, though, and in theory if we loved the first 5-7 people who come in the door, they could all get offers.

OP

Anonymous User
Posts: 273170
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Associate at top 5 Michigan firm taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:Transferred from a Midwest T4 to a non-michigan T14. Born and raised just north of Grand Rapids. I would like to work in Grand Rapids and have gotten a lot of prompt feed back from Michigan recruiters. Any advice for the off chance I do get a callback with one of these firms? Specifically, would I have to justify not transferring to Michigan over my current T14?


I think you need to be ready to address it. Have a reason and explain it. It could be as simple as saying you knew you wanted to spend the rest of your life in GR, so you wanted to taste something different for LS before you came back.

As I said above, the GR firms are very, very focused on local ties and seemingly very fearful of losing someone laterally out of the market. You really will need to sell them on your desire to be there. It's tough because there simply aren't a lot of SA spots in that market.

OP




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.