Anonymous User wrote:1) You've spoken about how SE Michigan offers a better bang for your buck with the market rate 110-100k base pay for new associates after factoring in COL/income tax rates for associates in bigger markets like NYC/Chi. Do you think this continues to be the case moving forward in one's career when comparing lockstep pay increases between a GR/Detroit and Chicago/NYC associate?
The Big Law attrition rate makes this a difficult question to answer. There are scenarios where someone who is very successful in Big Law is going do much better financially than someone with the same success in a market such as Detroit (let along Grand Rapids). NY/Chicago has higher upside, there's no question about that. But along the way to that success the majority of people who started as associates at those firm either self-select out at some point (or are culled for various reasons). At top Detroit firms, by comparison, the majority of associates will make junior partner if they want to make junior partner, so fewer of them self-select out.
There's no black-and-white answer to your question. If you're confident you'll be a superstar associate and you genuinely want to be, and believe you can be, a NY/Chicago Big Law partner, maybe you're selling yourself short in Detroit. If you believe you would enjoy the work and life in both places and want to maximize your odds of a 10+ year career at the same firm, Detroit is a better bet.
Anonymous User wrote:2) How much does non-legal work experience factor into interviews? Would someone with a few years of public policy experience in Michigan state government be a more attractive candidate?
Anything outside of K-through-JD is a very significant advantage IMO. The experience you describe would likely be looked at as a strong positive by my firm.
Anonymous User wrote:3) You've talked a little bit about SA 1L spots; can you speak to how rare is a paid 1L SA position in Detroit? What's the best way to get one if you can't join the Wolverine Bar Association, and do you think someone should take a paid 1L position over a fed court internship?
Non-Wolverine Bar 1L SA spots are non-existent at most large Detroit firms and extremely rare at the few that have them from time to time. If you can get one, I'd take it. But a paying position at a small- or mid-sized plaintiff's firm would not be more attractive than a federal court externship IMO.