Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

(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.

Which to choose?

Kirkland & Ellis
9
20%
Davis Polk
36
80%
 
Total votes: 45

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:16 pm

I want to do transactional work (not really much of an idea of which type) or bankruptcy. Is there an obvious choice here?

-I enjoyed my callback with K&E much more than my callback with DPW. Got a bit of a cold vibe from DPW and a much friendlier one from K&E.
-Got the strong impression that the corporate department at K&E is of the alpha-male boys club variety (I am female).
-I'm a reserved/shy person so while many aspects of K&E's free market system appeal to me, I'm worried if I get started on the wrong foot with building relationships I may have trouble getting work. But perhaps K&E would push me outside my comfort zone and help me strengthen my relationship-building skills.
-I prefer DPW's lockstep compensation to K&E's oblique bonus system.
-I'm scared of K&E's sweatship reputation and I'm under the impression that it has a higher than average assocaite turnover ratio
-I like that DPW has a set 4 weeks of vacation time, whereas K&E seems to do a "take whatever time off you feel is appopriate while still meeting your billables" policy that may make me feel pressured into taking less time off.
-On the more trivial side, I loved K&E's offices but was underwhelmed by DPW's

I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts to help me hash this out. Anything else I need to take into consideration here?

luthersloan
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 6:43 pm

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby luthersloan » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:20 pm

At least on the vacation weeks side it would be worth looking into how many weeks/days people at DPW actually use, as at most firms that number is much lower than the amount allotted.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:26 pm

Davis Polk and not even close.

(1) DPW is Elite - Band 1 for corporate work on Chambers. Kirkland is Band 3.
(2) If you're more a reserved/shy person, DPW is so much a better choice. Yeah, maybe the Kirkland system will force you to work on your "weaknesses" (it sounds like you're just introverted—not really a weakness in my book), but is fighting against your natural tendencies something you're going to want to do as a junior associate?

This seems like a case of (1) the fit at DPW being better and (2) DPW doing a higher level of transactional work in general. This seems like such an easy choice to me.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:29 pm

luthersloan wrote:At least on the vacation weeks side it would be worth looking into how many weeks/days people at DPW actually use, as at most firms that number is much lower than the amount allotted.


<----- Somebody who is heading to DPW for a summer job.

I have talked to literally dozens of associates. They are one of the most vacation-protective firms out there. People cover for each other and almost everybody takes every vacation day. See http://careers.abovethelaw.com/firm_snapshots?id=3 ("Davis Polk offers associates four weeks of annual vacation, five weeks after the fifth year, and Lateral Link Members report that associates usually take all of their allotted vacation time. . . . [T]he firm is 'respectful of associates' vacation time and encourages associates' to take advantage of it.").

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:33 pm

I have anecdotally heard that K&E has particularly bad issues WRT gender equity and representation of women in the partnership, and that even though they are getting better there is some residual sexism and old-boys-club shenanigans going on. Worth asking your OCS about, or asking someone at K&E if they can put you in touch with female partners and associates in the corporate department.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I want to do transactional work (not really much of an idea of which type) or bankruptcy. Is there an obvious choice here?

-I enjoyed my callback with K&E much more than my callback with DPW. Got a bit of a cold vibe from DPW and a much friendlier one from K&E.
-Got the strong impression that the corporate department at K&E is of the alpha-male boys club variety (I am female).
-I'm a reserved/shy person so while many aspects of K&E's free market system appeal to me, I'm worried if I get started on the wrong foot with building relationships I may have trouble getting work. But perhaps K&E would push me outside my comfort zone and help me strengthen my relationship-building skills.
-I prefer DPW's lockstep compensation to K&E's oblique bonus system.
-I'm scared of K&E's sweatship reputation and I'm under the impression that it has a higher than average assocaite turnover ratio
-I like that DPW has a set 4 weeks of vacation time, whereas K&E seems to do a "take whatever time off you feel is appopriate while still meeting your billables" policy that may make me feel pressured into taking less time off.
-On the more trivial side, I loved K&E's offices but was underwhelmed by DPW's

I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts to help me hash this out. Anything else I need to take into consideration here?

Summered at a KE office (not NYC) but can weigh in on a few KE things :)

Re: Free market system
I was a little worried about it too since I'm not crazy aggressive but I found it to be really nice over the summer. For summers they have the assignment database but we also were able to go outside of that and ask certain people/groups for work we were interested in trying. Because of that, I was able to find the group I wanted to work in even though they didn't post anything on the assignment database. I'll also note that when things are put through a coordinator or database, its usually associates who have something they don't really want to do. Its probably not going to be fun work. If you want to do something, you get to go ask which lets you shape your experiences and relationships, especially as a less aggressive person.

Re: Bonus
I haven't been an insider to the individualized bonus system, but I haven't heard of people getting the shaft (associates were pretty up front). As long as you're working and not slacking on hours you shouldn't be disappointed when bonuses come around. If you're doing amazing you'll be making more than people at other firms which I think is a nice draw and a bit of motivation to put in all those hours. I don't want to bill 2400 and then have the guy down the hall who hit 1901 get the same reward... where is the motivation in that? (though if you want to be the 1901 guy, lockstep obviously makes more sense) (and I'm not implying there's a cutoff for bonuses, just using numbers to make a point)

Re: Vacation
Vacations happen when you make time for them and put everyone on notice. I know someone who took 3 weeks off for their honeymoon. I know another who took off almost a month after a trial. People take their vacations and they do better work because of it. If you bill a ton of hours on something and are ahead of your target, its nice to know that you can take some time off and not worry about reaching your "maximum" vacation allotment.

Also, I'm a female going into the corporate side of things (despite the summer KITA experience which really was great, even though I loathe litigation things) so you won't be the only one out there :)

Good luck in your decision and I hope someone can weigh in on the Davis Polk side for you!

Disclaimer: I drink the kool-aid... can't help it :D

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:40 pm

K&E NY is a fine firm, but it just can't line up with Davis Polk NY. K&E Chi vs. DPW NY might be a little bit more of an interesting question, but K&E NY vs. DPW NY for an introvert who likes the idea of a lockstep system? No way.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Davis Polk and not even close.

(1) DPW is Elite - Band 1 for corporate work on Chambers. Kirkland is Band 3.
(2) If you're more a reserved/shy person, DPW is so much a better choice. Yeah, maybe the Kirkland system will force you to work on your "weaknesses" (it sounds like you're just introverted—not really a weakness in my book), but is fighting against your natural tendencies something you're going to want to do as a junior associate?

This seems like a case of (1) the fit at DPW being better and (2) DPW doing a higher level of transactional work in general. This seems like such an easy choice to me.


OP here. On paper I agree that DPW seems to be a better fit for me. But the DPW callback left me with lukewarm feelings towards the firm, whereas I felt great about my whole experience at K&E. Based on gut reaction alone, I'd go with K&E. My rational side, however, screams DPW. This is basically the crux of my indecision.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Davis Polk and not even close.

(1) DPW is Elite - Band 1 for corporate work on Chambers. Kirkland is Band 3.
(2) If you're more a reserved/shy person, DPW is so much a better choice. Yeah, maybe the Kirkland system will force you to work on your "weaknesses" (it sounds like you're just introverted—not really a weakness in my book), but is fighting against your natural tendencies something you're going to want to do as a junior associate?

This seems like a case of (1) the fit at DPW being better and (2) DPW doing a higher level of transactional work in general. This seems like such an easy choice to me.


OP here. On paper I agree that DPW seems to be a better fit for me. But the DPW callback left me with lukewarm feelings towards the firm, whereas I felt great about my whole experience at K&E. Based on gut reaction alone, I'd go with K&E. My rational side, however, screams DPW. This is basically the crux of my indecision.


Maybe do second looks. It's tough because you're trying to evaluate a gigantic firms based on your meeting with maybe 5-6 people from the firm. Also, what is "on paper" matters a lot. I really like all the people I know from Kirkland, I just don't think I could thrive in a firm structured like Kirkland. The structural differences between the two firms (and they are gigantic) is going to go a long way in coloring your experience.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:02 pm

What I've gathered from the poll: One person who is waiting to hear back from DPW post-CB voted.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:15 pm

Spent my summer at DPW. Some points:

I felt DPW was warmer over the summer than during my callback. It's a polite place---that can come across as a bit cold before you really get to know people.

People at DPW are quite willing to "pay it forward" and cover for each other's vacations.

If you're a woman, DPW is about as friendly as it gets in NYC big law. There's a critical mass of female partners, and the general "polite" culture tends to strongly discourage fratty behavior.

If you're a bit shy/reserved, your time as a junior associate is not the time to build your rainmaking skills. Participate in organizations to help yourself be more extroverted, don't pin your work performance to it.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:59 pm

-I'm scared of K&E's sweatship reputation and I'm under the impression that it has a higher than average assocaite turnover ratio


K&E is no more of a "sweatshop" than Davis Polk is, and if you bill at K&E what you would otherwise bill at Davis Polk, you will make more money. Depending on how much you bill, it could be a lot more.

-I like that DPW has a set 4 weeks of vacation time, whereas K&E seems to do a "take whatever time off you feel is appopriate while still meeting your billables" policy that may make me feel pressured into taking less time off.


You would think that, but that isn't the case. You are encouraged to take a vacation insofar as you keep people informed and as you are on track to meet overall billable expectations. Those expectations aren't high, and are in line with peer firms.

-I prefer DPW's lockstep compensation to K&E's oblique bonus system.


The bonus system is not oblique, though it definitely isn't straight-forward, either. Many firms switched to merit-based bonus and compensation systems in order to under-pay associates. Not Kirkland. K&E has been doing merit-based bonuses for a long while, and the consensus seems to be that, at least for the past two years, billing 2,000 hours will let you beat the market. At the upper-end of the hours spectrum, you could beat the market bonus by up to quadruple the amount. Your bonus is tied to the quantity of hours billed, quality, as well as other factors. But, you can be assured that if you bill 2,000 hours, you will make somewhere above the market rate.

-I'm a reserved/shy person so while many aspects of K&E's free market system appeal to me, I'm worried if I get started on the wrong foot with building relationships I may have trouble getting work. But perhaps K&E would push me outside my comfort zone and help me strengthen my relationship-building skills.


The good news is that the summer program has an assignment system in place that lets you build relationships. The bad news is that when you start as an associate, that system is gone. It's not really going to be an issue if there's a lot of work to go around, as partners will simply approach you for work in that case. But when there isn't as much work, you might have to go hunting. With the economy the way it is, that's something worth thinking about. And if you're truly worried about it, raise it on the follow-up. I'm sure some corporate partners would be happy to chime in.

-Got the strong impression that the corporate department at K&E is of the alpha-male boys club variety (I am female).


Your impression is correct insofar as the group seems more "fratty." But "fratty" and "alpha-male boys club" doesn't imply that the partnership is unintentionally disrespectful to women. It's a very respectful environment, and there are multiple female partners who wield a great deal of power in the firm. In other words, I'd say that the atmosphere is fratty, but they draw the line at the right place.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273043
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Kirkland & Ellis NY vs. Davis Polk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:25 pm

A senior associate at K&E said that vacation time was actively discouraged and that associates seemed to take far less vacation time than peer firms. If you aren't concerned with sticking around more than a few years, that shouldn't be a problem. However, it's worth considering. Also, from what I've heard from senior associate friends, DPW is considered a much friendlier environment overall, and a better place for women in particular.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.