Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

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Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:23 pm

I am looking for any and all takes on Kirkland v. Sidley for the corporate side of the house.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:27 pm

The clientele for each firm is very different. Kirkland's roster is dominated by private equity firms. Sidley services more public corporations.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:46 pm

This is relevant to my interests...bump.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:13 pm

Kirkland is more stable and marginally more prestigious in Chicago. That being said, they are very different firms. Personally, I would go to which one I like/fit in more.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:33 pm

Is Kirkland really seen as more stable?

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:42 pm

Stability is a worthless metric here because both firms are incredibly stable and not even close to having problems which is more than can be said for other Chicago firms. Though Kirkland is growing at a fast clip, choosing Kirkland over Sidley based strictly on stability is crazy. Neither firm is going anywhere.

There are other reasons to choose one over the other, however. Kirkland is more prestigious and the clear #1 in Chicago though Sidley is right behind them. I think there is a widening gap between K&E, SA and the rest of the pack. You will work hard at both places but K&E will work you harder.

As for exit options, I am not sure there are exit options that K&E would give you that SA couldn't. K&E probably has better training, SA is probably a better place to work. I don't think the pay is any different, both are at the top of the Chicago food chain re: bonuses and such though someone should correct me if I am wrong.

Sidley seems to attract more intellectual types and K&E seems to attract more aggressive types but I have no idea if that translates to corporate as much as it does to litigation.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:49 pm

Does the type of clientele have an effect on the type of exit options available to you? For instance, would exits options from Kirkland be skewed towards private equity firms?

Also, when you say that Kirkland will work you harder, are we talking about a marginal difference?

Does Sidley really match or come close to Kirkland's bonuses?

Kirkland clearly has the advantage in their restructuring practice, but by how much over Sidley?

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote: I don't think the pay is any different, both are at the top of the Chicago food chain re: bonuses and such though someone should correct me if I am wrong.


Kirkland pays MARKET-SHATTERING BONUSES that are tied to your billables. SA does not.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:55 pm

Not the OP here, but Sidley is one of the firms that I'm strongly considering (but for litigation). FWIW, when I was there for my callback I discussed with a number of partners the "conservative" nature of Sidley's business plan--the firm carries no debt, doesn't try to jump quickly into hot legal areas, and doesn't pay big (above market, anyway-- let's have some context) bonuses. I find myself very attracted to that attitude, but it's clearly not for everyone. Kirkland does seem to be more aggressive, in personality and what it asks of its associates--but it's glad to pay bigger bonuses to compensate for that.

Maybe I'm not remembering this correctly, but I also think that Sidley is not a free market system like Kirkland.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:58 pm

Someone else with more expertise needs to chime in here but here is my understanding:

- Sidley does more work with big public companies, K&E is in a league of their own with PE. K&E might be able to place better in PE but Sidley probably could do the same if you get in the right practice group. A lot of this is going to come down to getting with the right people and that isn't going to be promised at either firm.

- Bonuses: Sidley matched Cravath in the Spring and Kirkland did the same. ATL says that Sidley gave bonuses to the class of 2010 and Kirkland didn't but whatever. K&E says they give "market shattering bonuses" and Sidley definitely doesn't say that but who knows what that actually means. I think K&E people make more money than Sidley people do but I would put Sidley at 2nd in Chicago.

No idea about restructuring.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Not the OP here, but Sidley is one of the firms that I'm strongly considering (but for litigation). FWIW, when I was there for my callback I discussed with a number of partners the "conservative" nature of Sidley's business plan--the firm carries no debt, doesn't try to jump quickly into hot legal areas, and doesn't pay big (above market, anyway-- let's have some context) bonuses. I find myself very attracted to that attitude, but it's clearly not for everyone. Kirkland does seem to be more aggressive, in personality and what it asks of its associates--but it's glad to pay bigger bonuses to compensate for that.

Maybe I'm not remembering this correctly, but I also think that Sidley is not a free market system like Kirkland.


The free market thing is true. You fit into a group at Sidley, more of a free agent at Kirkland. I think K&E gets this one right, free market systems are better, IMHO.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Someone else with more expertise needs to chime in here but here is my understanding:

- Sidley does more work with big public companies, K&E is in a league of their own with PE. K&E might be able to place better in PE but Sidley probably could do the same if you get in the right practice group. A lot of this is going to come down to getting with the right people and that isn't going to be promised at either firm.

- Bonuses: Sidley matched Cravath in the Spring and Kirkland did the same. ATL says that Sidley gave bonuses to the class of 2010 and Kirkland didn't but whatever. K&E says they give "market shattering bonuses" and Sidley definitely doesn't say that but who knows what that actually means. I think K&E people make more money than Sidley people do but I would put Sidley at 2nd in Chicago.

No idea about restructuring.


K&E past 2200 or so significantly surpasses any other Chi firm in terms of compensation. It's not just tied to your billables; there are a variety of variables that go into the computation.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 19, 2011 4:44 pm

Anyone else?

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Someone else with more expertise needs to chime in here but here is my understanding:

- Sidley does more work with big public companies, K&E is in a league of their own with PE. K&E might be able to place better in PE but Sidley probably could do the same if you get in the right practice group. A lot of this is going to come down to getting with the right people and that isn't going to be promised at either firm.

- Bonuses: Sidley matched Cravath in the Spring and Kirkland did the same. ATL says that Sidley gave bonuses to the class of 2010 and Kirkland didn't but whatever. K&E says they give "market shattering bonuses" and Sidley definitely doesn't say that but who knows what that actually means. I think K&E people make more money than Sidley people do but I would put Sidley at 2nd in Chicago.

No idea about restructuring.

Re: Bolded
KE still gives bar study stipends ($10k) instead of giving you a salary advance which means KE first years in their stub year make 10k more than associates at firms giving the advance. No idea what Sidley does, but I'm pretty sure thats why KE doesn't do bonuses for those first years.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:20 pm

I used to work at Sidley in Chicago (support staff, not associate), and the firm calculates bonuses for both staff and attorneys based on the number of hours worked. This can result in above-market bonuses, but you'd have to bill hours significantly above the 2000-hr threshold in order to make a big bonus. I've heard that Kirkland associates make more in bonuses, but based on knowing staff and associates who have worked at both firms (including some who have lateraled between the two), Sidley is much better in terms of working environment.

Kirkland is better for litigation, but as above posters have already pointed out, for corporate I think it depends on the type of work you want to do. The firms are much closer in quality for corporate work than they are for than litigation work.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Not the OP here, but Sidley is one of the firms that I'm strongly considering (but for litigation). FWIW, when I was there for my callback I discussed with a number of partners the "conservative" nature of Sidley's business plan--the firm carries no debt, doesn't try to jump quickly into hot legal areas, and doesn't pay big (above market, anyway-- let's have some context) bonuses. I find myself very attracted to that attitude, but it's clearly not for everyone. Kirkland does seem to be more aggressive, in personality and what it asks of its associates--but it's glad to pay bigger bonuses to compensate for that.

Maybe I'm not remembering this correctly, but I also think that Sidley is not a free market system like Kirkland.


The free market thing is true. You fit into a group at Sidley, more of a free agent at Kirkland. I think K&E gets this one right, free market systems are better, IMHO.


I actually had a conversation with Sidley associates about the "free market system" during an offer reception. Takeaway: pretty much every large firm uses some form of the "free market system," save those that follow the Cravath approach. Sidley is no exception. That said, there is the opportunity to be more of a generalist at K&E for the first few years of your career, if you're interested in that.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:23 pm

Where's Rayiner? He was pretty convincing in some other threads that for people wanting to do corporate in Chicago right now: Kirkland>>>any other firm.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Where's Rayiner? He was pretty convincing in some other threads that for people wanting to do corporate in Chicago right now: Kirkland>>>any other firm.


That's arguably true if $$$ are your bottom line. If they're not, I don't think it's that simple.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I actually had a conversation with Sidley associates about the "free market system" during an offer reception. Takeaway: pretty much every large firm uses some form of the "free market system," save those that follow the Cravath approach. Sidley is no exception. That said, there is the opportunity to be more of a generalist at K&E for the first few years of your career, if you're interested in that.


Quite a few NYC firms (typically the largest, including most V10s) have an assignment coordination system where a junior partner or more often a non-attorney assigns work to associates based on availability charts. There is no free market to this system at all, but the gist is that associates work-levels are managed and spread out (although with the unpredictability of the work itself, this still is only marginally helpful).

Free market should not be confused with specialization. At K&E, you do not specialize right off the bat. You can both be a generalist, AND seek out your own work (hence free market). At Sidley, you start in a group, but within the groups, each one has its own style of assigning work. Some groups are free market, some have formal assignment systems.

Most people think free market causes more pressure because you are responsible for the number of hours you bill and the number of projects you get. I know many associates who love having assignment coordinators because when they are not busy, they do not feel like they have to aggressive knock on partners' doors seeking assignments. If you are aggressive, free market is better for you.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I actually had a conversation with Sidley associates about the "free market system" during an offer reception. Takeaway: pretty much every large firm uses some form of the "free market system," save those that follow the Cravath approach. Sidley is no exception. That said, there is the opportunity to be more of a generalist at K&E for the first few years of your career, if you're interested in that.


Quite a few NYC firms (typically the largest, including most V10s) have an assignment coordination system where a junior partner or more often a non-attorney assigns work to associates based on availability charts. There is no free market to this system at all, but the gist is that associates work-levels are managed and spread out (although with the unpredictability of the work itself, this still is only marginally helpful).

Free market should not be confused with specialization. At K&E, you do not specialize right off the bat. You can both be a generalist, AND seek out your own work (hence free market). At Sidley, you start in a group, but within the groups, each one has its own style of assigning work. Some groups are free market, some have formal assignment systems.

Most people think free market causes more pressure because you are responsible for the number of hours you bill and the number of projects you get. I know many associates who love having assignment coordinators because when they are not busy, they do not feel like they have to aggressive knock on partners' doors seeking assignments. If you are aggressive, free market is better for you.


I wasn't intending to blur the difference between specialization and work assignment systems, but thanks for clearing that up if I confused anyone. In talking to multiple associates at "V10s," it's my impression that assigning partners/staffers and some "free market" dynamics aren't mutually exclusive.

(I'm the anon above)

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:16 am

Does anyone have an idea about what an income partner makes at KE?

Also, it was suggested to me that equity partner at Sidley is a more realistic aspiration then at KE. Thoughts?

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby bjsesq » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:1. Does anyone have an idea about what an income partner makes at KE?

2. Also, it was suggested to me that equity partner at Sidley is a more realistic aspiration then at KE. Thoughts?


Not sure. I know amlaw has the ppp stuff, but not so sure about actual partner take home.

2. What is the exchange rate of leprechauns to unicorns?

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:29 pm

FWIW, the Sidley NY office keeps summer classes smaller and people at all levels have stated that they expect anyone who doesn't leave for personal reasons to have a very realistic shot at partner. There are like 900 reasons to take this with a grain of salt (e.g., what is the difference between leaving for personal reasons and leaving bc you know you can't make partner), but at the very least it says something about the way the firm views associates. I'd imagine this culture extends to the Chicago management.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:26 pm

Sidley people tell you that their corporate dept is right there w/ Kirkland, & they do a lot of work that Kirkland doesn't do (e.g. hedge fund work). Kirkland people will say that their corporate dept is way better & stronger than Sidley's. Kirkland will openly tell you that they pay more than virtually any other law firm, but they also work harder & are more aggressive than just about anyone else.

In the course of my NY interviews, I can tell you that elite NY firms respect Kirkland's corporate practice (centered on private equity), but they do not really respect any other Chicago law firm's corporate department (including Sidley, even though it has a big office in NY).

On the culture difference, Kirkland's system is designed to separate the best associates from the laggards. The best partners & work flow to the best associates. This breeds one of the most competitive atmospheres in BigLaw. But the elite folks at Kirkland are rockstars in the legal industry. So Kirkland is more in the mold of a "high risk, high reward" type of firm culture for associates.

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Re: Sidley v. Kirkland for Corporate in Chicago

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Sidley people tell you that their corporate dept is right there w/ Kirkland, & they do a lot of work that Kirkland doesn't do (e.g. hedge fund work). Kirkland people will say that their corporate dept is way better & stronger than Sidley's. Kirkland will openly tell you that they pay more than virtually any other law firm, but they also work harder & are more aggressive than just about anyone else.

In the course of my NY interviews, I can tell you that elite NY firms respect Kirkland's corporate practice (centered on private equity), but they do not really respect any other Chicago law firm's corporate department (including Sidley, even though it has a big office in NY).

On the culture difference, Kirkland's system is designed to separate the best associates from the laggards. The best partners & work flow to the best associates. This breeds one of the most competitive atmospheres in BigLaw. But the elite folks at Kirkland are rockstars in the legal industry. So Kirkland is more in the mold of a "high risk, high reward" type of firm culture for associates.


So did you like, ask partners what they thought of Chicago law firms' corporate departments during your NY interviews?

Remember that anecdotes (including Vault's) are not particularly useful in choosing between firms. Ask about a firm's clients, look at its Chambers rankings, and do your best to discern which group of people you would rather spend your time working with. We can throw anecdotes at each other all day, but the fact of the matter is that outside of the few elite of the elite firms - and I don't think anyone is arguing that either Sidley or Kirkland = Wachtell et al - you're going to have the chance to work on high-level matters with very smart lawyers at any of the big firms. The differences between, for example, Kirkland and Sidley in Chicago is minute when it really comes down to it, and your exit opportunities are going to depend on you and the work you do, not where you do it (at this level).

In the end, Sidley and Kirkland both excel in different practice areas. Make your decision based on this and on their respective cultures and compensation models. Don't make it based on vault rankings or what anonymous people on this board think is the more "prestigious" firm.




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