Boston firm culture

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Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:01 pm

1L at BC/BU trying to figure out where I want to apply this December. I know nothing about Boston firms except that WilmerHale, Ropes and Goodwin are top rung, and firms like Goulston, Sullivan Worcester and Choate are not so high up. But what I'd like to know is, apart from the Big Three, which firms are big hitters in Boston? Which ones are making money and hiring summers, which are dying or losing ranking? What is their culture like - or maybe I should say, what are the popular stereotypes of their people and office atmosphere?

Think this would be helpful for 2Ls and 3Ls too.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1L at BC/BU trying to figure out where I want to apply this December. I know nothing about Boston firms except that WilmerHale, Ropes and Goodwin are top rung, and firms like Goulston, Sullivan Worcester and Choate are not so high up. But what I'd like to know is, apart from the Big Three, which firms are big hitters in Boston? Which ones are making money and hiring summers, which are dying or losing ranking? What is their culture like - or maybe I should say, what are the popular stereotypes of their people and office atmosphere?

Think this would be helpful for 2Ls and 3Ls too.


For the record, I know of about 1 or 2 1L's who secured firm positions for their 1L summer out of about 270 1L's at BU. You will have precious little time to dedicate toward 1L summer job applications. Given the VERY slim chance of a 1L securing such a position, I don't think thats how to best allocate your time. I would advise you to apply to public interest organizations, federal judges, perhaps some small firms, etc. Firms are VERY reluctant to hire 1L's, and the few that do may take only 1 or 2, and almost never out of BU. Every single person I know who wasted time in late-November/early December applying to big firms was left disappointed, and without time to apply to jobs that they had a realistic shot at (and would have been invaluable experiences, such as working for a judge, etc.)

Edit: Oh, and I should add that, in the year before mine, only 1 single 1L secured a position with a large firm, and that person had a family connection.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:1L at BC/BU trying to figure out where I want to apply this December. I know nothing about Boston firms except that WilmerHale, Ropes and Goodwin are top rung, and firms like Goulston, Sullivan Worcester and Choate are not so high up. But what I'd like to know is, apart from the Big Three, which firms are big hitters in Boston? Which ones are making money and hiring summers, which are dying or losing ranking? What is their culture like - or maybe I should say, what are the popular stereotypes of their people and office atmosphere?

Think this would be helpful for 2Ls and 3Ls too.


For the record, I know of about 1 or 2 1L's who secured firm positions for their 1L summer out of about 270 1L's at BU. You will have precious little time to dedicate toward 1L summer job applications. Given the VERY slim chance of a 1L securing such a position, I don't think thats how to best allocate your time. I would advise you to apply to public interest organizations, federal judges, perhaps some small firms, etc. Firms are VERY reluctant to hire 1L's, and the few that do may take only 1 or 2, and almost never out of BU. Every single person I know who wasted time in late-November/early December applying to big firms was left disappointed, and without time to apply to jobs that they had a realistic shot at (and would have been invaluable experiences, such as working for a judge, etc.)

Edit: Oh, and I should add that, in the year before mine, only 1 single 1L secured a position with a large firm, and that person had a family connection.


OP here. Is it seriously that bad? I'm studying like crazy...what if I get great grades?

Anyway, I'd still appreciate some insight into Boston firms, if nothing else to keep that in mind and start networking for 2L summer.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:1L at BC/BU trying to figure out where I want to apply this December. I know nothing about Boston firms except that WilmerHale, Ropes and Goodwin are top rung, and firms like Goulston, Sullivan Worcester and Choate are not so high up. But what I'd like to know is, apart from the Big Three, which firms are big hitters in Boston? Which ones are making money and hiring summers, which are dying or losing ranking? What is their culture like - or maybe I should say, what are the popular stereotypes of their people and office atmosphere?

Think this would be helpful for 2Ls and 3Ls too.


For the record, I know of about 1 or 2 1L's who secured firm positions for their 1L summer out of about 270 1L's at BU. You will have precious little time to dedicate toward 1L summer job applications. Given the VERY slim chance of a 1L securing such a position, I don't think thats how to best allocate your time. I would advise you to apply to public interest organizations, federal judges, perhaps some small firms, etc. Firms are VERY reluctant to hire 1L's, and the few that do may take only 1 or 2, and almost never out of BU. Every single person I know who wasted time in late-November/early December applying to big firms was left disappointed, and without time to apply to jobs that they had a realistic shot at (and would have been invaluable experiences, such as working for a judge, etc.)

Edit: Oh, and I should add that, in the year before mine, only 1 single 1L secured a position with a large firm, and that person had a family connection.


OP here. Is it seriously that bad? I'm studying like crazy...what if I get great grades?

Anyway, I'd still appreciate some insight into Boston firms, if nothing else to keep that in mind and start networking for 2L summer.


1. You would be applying before you have your grades, and even if your grades are good, it won't make a difference honestly. I know people who had straight A's first semester who were completely shut out of large firms since those firms simply don't hire 1L's or do so in incredibly limited numbers
2. Most firms are done hiring for their summer programs by December. Sure, some firms specifically hold open a select few spots for the random Harvard or Columbia 1L they wish to take on, but it is a REALLY narrow prospect at any level
3. Unrelated to the above points, just keep in mind that amount of studying has little to do with actual performance on exams. I know a bunch of people who studied like mad and most ended up around median. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that the harder you work, the better you will do. Instead, its the smarter you work, the better you do.
4. Networking in anticipation of the 2L summer job search is certainly a good idea, as long as it doesn't take time away from your studying. I would recommend doing this over winter break, or right after you begin your 1L summer. Get in touch with some people, have some nice chats, maybe set up some lunches, etc. When you ultimately interview during OCI, it will show a lot of initiative, and the contact could actually help you out a bit by putting in a good word. So I think this is a very useful idea, but its a long-term process

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby JusticeHarlan » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:1L at BC/BU trying to figure out where I want to apply this December. I know nothing about Boston firms except that WilmerHale, Ropes and Goodwin are top rung, and firms like Goulston, Sullivan Worcester and Choate are not so high up. But what I'd like to know is, apart from the Big Three, which firms are big hitters in Boston? Which ones are making money and hiring summers, which are dying or losing ranking? What is their culture like - or maybe I should say, what are the popular stereotypes of their people and office atmosphere?

Think this would be helpful for 2Ls and 3Ls too.


For the record, I know of about 1 or 2 1L's who secured firm positions for their 1L summer out of about 270 1L's at BU. You will have precious little time to dedicate toward 1L summer job applications. Given the VERY slim chance of a 1L securing such a position, I don't think thats how to best allocate your time. I would advise you to apply to public interest organizations, federal judges, perhaps some small firms, etc. Firms are VERY reluctant to hire 1L's, and the few that do may take only 1 or 2, and almost never out of BU. Every single person I know who wasted time in late-November/early December applying to big firms was left disappointed, and without time to apply to jobs that they had a realistic shot at (and would have been invaluable experiences, such as working for a judge, etc.)

I'll ditto this from the BC side of things; while 1L SA gigs aren't unheard of, they're very rare. Focusing on something like gov, PI, judges, or smaller firms for 1L summer is probably a better use of your time (though certainly apply, won't cost anything, just don't expect much).

2L summer is mainly where firm hiring takes place (such as it does ITE).

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:34 pm

Yeah, three 1L's landed SA's. And not to be that guy, but: Black, Hispanic, Father is a partner.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Yeah, three 1L's landed SA's. And not to be that guy, but: Black, Hispanic, Father is a partner.


Hey, no shame in being honest. In fact, if OP is a minority, then he should certainly seek out minority fellowships offered to 1L's at big firms (which would greatly increase the chances of a 1L SA).

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:41 pm

Use the BLG.

Also, fuck the BLG.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:06 pm

I go to BU/BC. Most Boston firms don't take 1Ls and those that do usually just take one. The odds of someone landing one are miniscule and firms outside of Boston that take 1Ls usually do so through a diversity program. So, I would concentrate your efforts elsewhere i.e. judges, public interest organizations. Also, if you have some free time try to go to some networking events throughout the school year. The 2 people that I know of that got a firm gig did it through networking. Also, making contacts helps tremendously for next year when you go through OCI.

Also the BLG is amazing and a great resource.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby minnbills » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote: I know a bunch of people who studied like mad and most ended up around median.


Who typically ends up at the bottom of the class? Bottom 25%?

I know there's probably not an archetypal bottom 25% student, and that obviously somebody has to be in that position no matter what, but do you find that there are people who slack off, who don't have the disposition for law school etc. etc. who typically end up in that position?

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:27 pm

minnbills wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: I know a bunch of people who studied like mad and most ended up around median.


Who typically ends up at the bottom of the class? Bottom 25%?

I know there's probably not an archetypal bottom 25% student, and that obviously somebody has to be in that position no matter what, but do you find that there are people who slack off, who don't have the disposition for law school etc. etc. who typically end up in that position?


There are about 5% of students who aren't taking it seriously, and I mean like, never reading, or missing more than ten classes, and they uniformly finish low. I've also noticed that there are about 5% who, although very intelligent and hard working, know English as a second or third language, and they usually perform poorly. About 5% are extremely poor test takers either as a result of anxiety, or learning disabilities. And, as much as I hate to say it, 5% lucked out on the LSAT and are too dumb to run with the pack.

Keep in mind each of those 5%'s is only 2-3 students, the rest of it is all about how well you perform on the exam.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:28 pm

OP here again. With all due respect, although I greatly appreciate all of the helpful advice and will definitely keep all of this in mind, can we get this thread back on the topic of Boston law firms? I'd still like to know which firms, apart from the big three, have relationships with BU/BC, which firms are on the rise/declining, and a little bit about their office atmosphere. For example, people say Ropes is the blueblood of Boston law firms, or that Cravath is formal and stuffy, etc. Thanks!

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
what if I get great grades?

.

it's not exactly the same situation, but...i had a 4.0 first semester at ccn and did not land a firm job, though i applied pretty broadly.

straight, caucasian

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:45 pm

There just really isn't a reason to even want a firm job your 1L summer. Yes, you will get paid and that's pretty nice, but in terms of substantive experience you are probably better off working for a judge--and if you have grades that give you an outside shot at a 1l firm job, you definitely have the grades to work for a judge. That's what I did 1L summer, and I really loved it and feel like I learned a lot.

1L year, you need to allocate your energy towards things that you can realistically control, and that actually matter. A 1L firm job is neither.

FWIW, I'm a 2L with an offer from a great firm, just so you know this isn't sour grapes talking.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby HRJ » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:06 am

I am also interested in OP's original question

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:There just really isn't a reason to even want a firm job your 1L summer. Yes, you will get paid and that's pretty nice, but in terms of substantive experience you are probably better off working for a judge--and if you have grades that give you an outside shot at a 1l firm job, you definitely have the grades to work for a judge. That's what I did 1L summer, and I really loved it and feel like I learned a lot.

1L year, you need to allocate your energy towards things that you can realistically control, and that actually matter. A 1L firm job is neither.

FWIW, I'm a 2L with an offer from a great firm, just so you know this isn't sour grapes talking.


Disagree with this -- having a biglaw firm job 1L summer both (1) improves your chances at peer/better firms during 2L recruiting and (2) decreases your stress level significantly during EIP (and throughout 1L spring, frankly) because you'll most likely get a return offer after your 1L summer. It also genuinely gives you an opportunity to try out different practice areas, get a sense for firm culture, and go into EIP with more sophisticated thoughts about what type of practice + characteristics you're actually looking for in a firm. People I know who had 1L firm positions tend to have great grades/bgs and would have rocked EIP regardless, but most importantly they are making decisions and looking out for their own interests in a more informed way than most people just using vault rankings. I think that kind of insight if invaluable for someone looking to do biglaw for even a few years out of school.

My thoughts about Boston (currently wrapping up recruiting there) :

Ropes - Really nice/intelligent people, focus on larger clients, emphasizes the ability to move throughout the firm (useful if you want to switch locations down the line), a little bit snobby about their position in the Boston market, GREAT location-wise in Boston. They take a few 1Ls, but tend to recruit exclusively from Harvard, Columbia, NYU for those positions (for Bos/NY, respectively). Big summer classes, need to work a bit harder to find your niche at the firm given the size. Ropes also cares quite a bit about undergrad selectivity and performance (latin honors, etc.).

Wilmer - Better environment for lit than corporate (several recent exits by prominent corporate partners in Boston, some of whom interviewed me at other firms and expressed this concern), a bit more formal feeling than its peer firms, recently reduced their office space in their latest lease (might want to take that into consideration for firm outlook?), great for IP lit/gov't exit ops. I get the feeling that law review + clerkship are almost necessary things to have to advance at the firm. Also takes a few 1Ls in Boston, but the people they interview for these positions are invariably HYS, great pre-law school work experience, prestigious undergrad, PLUS IP.

Goodwin - I really liked the people throughout interviewing, but have heard not-so-nice things from former paralegals about the culture there. A lot of their senior associates and partners tend to be laterals -- where do their junior associates go?

Bingham - GORGEOUS offices, particular focus on work with financial institutions. Smaller summer class in recent years, but I got a great vibe from them actually.

Mintz - Great in Boston, not as well known nationally. They take 1Ls, usually from Harvard

Choate - again, great in Boston, not as well known nationally. I think they're a bit quirky, think long and hard about how long you want to work in Boston if you want to come here, because they are fiercely dedicated to the local market and not much else.

Proskauer/Cooley/Weil/Skadden/Latham? - Small satellites, don't take many 2Ls, let alone 1Ls. Probably not a good fit unless you LOVE the particular practice area focus and/or want to move to that firm's stronger offices down the line.

Nutter - Very very nice people, less hours/pay than other firms, strong IP focus, really values fit and people who are looking specifically to be at a place like nutter

Anyways. Would be interested to hear what other people think, as well, as it is currently decision time for me.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:30 pm

The above post fits pretty exactly with my impression of places (also a 2L, though, so take with a grain of salt).

I'll go in depth about on Weil. It's a 40-something person office, and about 3/4 of the people are in corporate (M&A and especially PE are both highly ranked by Chambers for Boston). They make you pick corporate or lit for your summer, though apparently someone was able to switch this past summer. Their model is to work with Boston clients, doing the general M&A/PE work and outsourcing the more specialized work that comes up (IP or antitrust or bankruptcy, say) to lawyers from other other Weil offices. Because the office is so small, it does have a good feel to it: I saw partners and associates chatting casually in the halls, everyone's door was open, etc. Everyone I met was very friendly, and in an office of that size that's a decent proportion of the workforce. The space is also very nice. Seems like a good place to work, but you'll be pretty locked in for practice area selection. I don't think they hire 1Ls, and because they have a class of 4 or so, they can afford to be very selective for both qualification and fit.

Have a few callbacks still to go on, will try to write up my thoughts on more places next week if people are still interested.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
My thoughts about Boston (currently wrapping up recruiting there) :



Goodwin - I really liked the people throughout interviewing, but have heard not-so-nice things from former paralegals about the culture there. A lot of their senior associates and partners tend to be laterals -- where do their junior associates go?



Can you expand more on the not-so-nice things you've heard from former paralegals about the culture at Goodwin?

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
My thoughts about Boston (currently wrapping up recruiting there) :



Goodwin - I really liked the people throughout interviewing, but have heard not-so-nice things from former paralegals about the culture there. A lot of their senior associates and partners tend to be laterals -- where do their junior associates go?



Can you expand more on the not-so-nice things you've heard from former paralegals about the culture at Goodwin?


As a former paralegal at Goodwin I can say that they're no different than any other large law firm in term of culture. During the lay-offs in 2009 there was a lot of friction because...well...they were firing people. This might be what that person was referring to.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Proskauer/Cooley/Weil/Skadden/Latham? - Small satellites, don't take many 2Ls, let alone 1Ls. Probably not a good fit unless you LOVE the particular practice area focus and/or want to move to that firm's stronger offices down the line.

My two cents: the small offices offer some advantages over Ropes/Wilmer/Goodwin (and some disadvantages too - it's a trade off). Everyone is generally on a first-name basis and all the partners know who you are. Some people prefer this environment and choose these offices over the "big" Boston players. On the other hand, you don't have the diversity of practice areas to choose from - so for those with an interest in certain specialty practices (e.g. tax, IP) it's not ideal. Most of these offices, however, do have a mix of general corp (funds/M&A/governance) and lit work. AFAIK, the only one that is basically exclusive to a practice area is Weil (PE).

Also, in most cases these are not "weaker" offices. They develop regional business and work on plenty of high-profile matters. Compensation is the same across the board.

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:54 pm

Any thoughts on EAPD?

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Re: Boston firm culture

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:07 pm

Interesting thread.
Some thoughts:
First, I have heard some bad things about Ropes. They take a huge summer class, give them all offers, and most are gone within a couple of years (more true at Ropes than at most Boston firms). Hours are longer than in many other Boston firms. That said, exit options are great within NE.
Don't know anything about the culture of Wilmer and GP, though those are the other two of the big three.

My favorites during the interview season were Choate and Mintz Levin. Great people accross the board. Am not quite sure what the criticism is about being very local. Work for both firms is high level work. Perhaps some others with strong NY offices have better exit options outside New England, but legal people in New England all know and respect those firms (along with FH). Maybe that is what the other poster was saying. I would be interested in hearing what the above poster thinks makes Choate "quirky."

Agree with what above says about Nutter.




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