Picking a V100 over a V10

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Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:13 pm

Considering picking a substantially lower ranked firm due to quality of life/culture reasons. Is anyone else considering this? Am I crazy? Not sure I want to make partner some day, so scared of exit option ramifications, but have been told that it is more about the work you do rather than the firm where you come from when going to a litigation boutique or government.

I would love some help!

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Considering picking a substantially lower ranked firm due to quality of life/culture reasons. Is anyone else considering this? Am I crazy? Not sure I want to make partner some day, so scared of exit option ramifications, but have been told that it is more about the work you do rather than the firm where you come from when going to a litigation boutique or government.

I would love some help!


Depends on the firms in question and the market. If both in NYC, QoL benefits at the lower V100 are probably fictional.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:14 pm

Not NY, but other larger market (LA/CHI)

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby kaiser » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:15 pm

I made a post awhile back addressing this point, so I will essentially just copy and paste it here:

Its important to remember that the firm you pick is the "end of the line" in a sense. Every step up until this point in our law school journey has just been a means to an end, and had to serve a purpose in order to push us toward our next goal. But picking a firm isn't like picking a school, where the rankings and prestige play a huge part in determining your future. This is the step at which we can finally divorce ourselves from the "prize" mindset that is so prevalent amongst law students (i.e. we let someone else determine what the prize is, and then we blindly chase it, regardless of whether we actually want this prize).

And here you are, having done excellent in law school, but at a fork in the road, because now you have to sit down and determine what the prize really is. If the prize to you is comfort and QOL, being with people you like, and being in a working environment that is tolerable and sustainable, then your "prize" is there for the taking. And if that truly is your "prize", then there isn't a better choice, whether it be the V10 or any other brand name firm. Again, this isn't like picking a school, where there are "worse" schools and "better" ones. It is a divergent change from the mindset that law school fosters, but at this point, it is all about what is right for you.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Sup Kid » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:21 pm

kaiser wrote:I made a post awhile back addressing this point, so I will essentially just copy and paste it here:

Its important to remember that the firm you pick is the "end of the line" in a sense. Every step up until this point in our law school journey has just been a means to an end, and had to serve a purpose in order to push us toward our next goal. But picking a firm isn't like picking a school, where the rankings and prestige play a huge part in determining your future. This is the step at which we can finally divorce ourselves from the "prize" mindset that is so prevalent amongst law students (i.e. we let someone else determine what the prize is, and then we blindly chase it, regardless of whether we actually want this prize).

And here you are, having done excellent in law school, but at a fork in the road, because now you have to sit down and determine what the prize really is. If the prize to you is comfort and QOL, being with people you like, and being in a working environment that is tolerable and sustainable, then your "prize" is there for the taking. And if that truly is your "prize", then there isn't a better choice, whether it be the V10 or any other brand name firm. Again, this isn't like picking a school, where there are "worse" schools and "better" ones. It is a divergent change from the mindset that law school fosters, but at this point, it is all about what is right for you.

This is all accurate, but I would add that you need to look at the compensation differences between the firms (and not only whether they both start at $160k, but if the salary increases are lockstep at market and if the firm pays market bonuses). If not, you could potentially be leaving upwards of $100,000 on the table over the next 5 years, so it's definitely worth considering. Regardless, good problem to have, and congrats on your offers.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Not NY, but other larger market (LA/CHI)


So Kirkland versus another Chicago firm?

Legitimate QoL differences there, Kirkland will work you like an NYC firm. Exit options will be different though---Kirkland and Sidley are the gold standard in Chicago.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby kaiser » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:23 pm

My post was sort of assuming that both firms were the standard lockstep salary, or something close (i.e. many firms that claim to have "discretionary" compensation often pay almost exactly market)

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:24 pm

kaiser wrote:I made a post awhile back addressing this point, so I will essentially just copy and paste it here:

Its important to remember that the firm you pick is the "end of the line" in a sense. Every step up until this point in our law school journey has just been a means to an end, and had to serve a purpose in order to push us toward our next goal. But picking a firm isn't like picking a school, where the rankings and prestige play a huge part in determining your future. This is the step at which we can finally divorce ourselves from the "prize" mindset that is so prevalent amongst law students (i.e. we let someone else determine what the prize is, and then we blindly chase it, regardless of whether we actually want this prize).


I will disagree on this point. For many career trajectories your first firm is just a training program. It's like doing a 3-5 year LLM where you get paid. You're judged by the quality of your training program, just as you're judged by the quality of your law school. If your goal is end up as a GC in a corporation, the V10 pedigree is going to matter.

More generally speaking, this isn't 1950 anymore. We're in a post job-security era. Nobody starts a job out of school and then stays there for decades. People change jobs on average every 5 years or something like that. In such situations pedigree becomes even more important than it used to be, because of its signaling effects.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:27 pm

I chose a V50 over a V15 and have never looked back (okay, I looked back once right after accepting...but then got the TLS-craziness out of my head). I am substantially happier than I think I would have been otherwise. I picked a firm known for being quirky and full of people who are down to earth and fun to be around, which is super, super important in this line of work--who you are trapped in a conference room until 4am with can make or break the entire experience. Find a firm that is a good fit, that has the work you want, and is filled with people who are pleasant to be around and who you could see yourself enjoying spending time with. Forget about the vault rankings. As others have said, they're a great metric for deciding where to apply, but beyond that, they shouldn't be considered. Your own personal experiences and encounters with the firm on callbacks, at lunches, at cocktail receptions, etc. are more important. And honestly - no one cares about rankings so much once they start working. It may seem important now, but it's not as important later down the line. Go with what makes you happy.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I chose a V50 over a V15 and have never looked back (okay, I looked back once right after accepting...but then got the TLS-craziness out of my head). I am substantially happier than I think I would have been otherwise. I picked a firm known for being quirky and full of people who are down to earth and fun to be around, which is super, super important in this line of work--who you are trapped in a conference room until 4am with can make or break the entire experience. Find a firm that is a good fit, that has the work you want, and is filled with people who are pleasant to be around and who you could see yourself enjoying spending time with. Forget about the vault rankings. As others have said, they're a great metric for deciding where to apply, but beyond that, they shouldn't be considered. Your own personal experiences and encounters with the firm on callbacks, at lunches, at cocktail receptions, etc. are more important. And honestly - no one cares about rankings so much once they start working. It may seem important now, but it's not as important later down the line. Go with what makes you happy.


I've seen partners at a V10 firm twittering about the latest Chambers ranking of their practice group. My friend met a partner that knew exactly the latest 2011 ranking of the local T100 and brought it up during his interview. It doesn't go away.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby kaiser » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:33 pm

On TLS, we get threads in which people say "I picked a T2 school over a T14, and ended up doing fine". Those threads are rare, and the author is usually breathing a sigh of relief due to the gamble he took (despite the positive results). Yet you notice how we don't have that same reaction when someone says, "I picked a V50 over a V15"? That is because either can lead you to an awesome career. At this point, you have already "won" the game, if biglaw is your goal. And as I said before, you just have to choose your prize. There is no gamble here, no bet, no hold-your-breath-and-hope-for-the-best moment. Just pick where you will be more comfortable. Unless you have some elusive and far down the road aspiration that absolutely necessitates some artificial Vault cutoff as a prerequisite, there is no reason to go with anything other than your gut and heart.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:41 pm

kaiser wrote:On TLS, we get threads in which people say "I picked a T2 school over a T14, and ended up doing fine". Those threads are rare, and the author is usually breathing a sigh of relief due to the gamble he took (despite the positive results). Yet you notice how we don't have that same reaction when someone says, "I picked a V50 over a V15"? That is because either can lead you to an awesome career. At this point, you have already "won" the game, if biglaw is your goal. And as I said before, you just have to choose your prize. There is no gamble here, no bet, no hold-your-breath-and-hope-for-the-best moment. Just pick where you will be more comfortable. Unless you have some elusive and far down the road aspiration that absolutely necessitates some artificial Vault cutoff as a prerequisite, there is no reason to go with anything other than your gut and heart.


Most V50s are just as leveraged and push people out just as fast as V15s. What do you do after? To the extent that people are making gut decisions based on a 3 hour callback instead of brain decisions based on Chambers rankings and the like, it's not the course I'd recommend.

There are legit reasons to take V50s over V15s. I almost chose an unranked firm over a V5 because of their strength in a particular practice area. But "I bought all the marketing BS I got sold at my CB" isn't one of those reasons.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:45 pm

Thanks for all of the replies; I really appreciate it! I tend to agree with the previous post distinguishing law school prestige from firm prestige. The only concern I have is if I want to leave in 3-5 years and go to a smaller market, a lit boutique, or government, without having the big name on my resume.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:47 pm

Took a v15 over skadden. Don't regret my decision at all. Once you are at that level exit options are basically interchangeable except at the very top of the spectrum.

Also, people coming straight thru undergrad don't understand that 3-4 years at a place is a LONG LONG time. If you hate the people or the job, you are not going to be happy.

QOL should be a huge factor.

Unless you are a work-a-holic then by all means go for it.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Took a v15 over skadden. Don't regret my decision at all. Once you are at that level exit options are basically interchangeable except at the very top of the spectrum.

Also, people coming straight thru undergrad don't understand that 3-4 years at a place is a LONG LONG time. If you hate the people or the job, you are not going to be happy.

QOL should be a huge factor.

Unless you are a work-a-holic then by all means go for it.


The V15 is just as prestigious as Skadden. And QoL is likely to be the same, adjusting for market. This decision is more like Skadden versus Dewey.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby kaiser » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for all of the replies; I really appreciate it! I tend to agree with the previous post distinguishing law school prestige from firm prestige. The only concern I have is if I want to leave in 3-5 years and go to a smaller market, a lit boutique, or government, without having the big name on my resume.


Well, that is something you can look into. Call up some hiring partners or recruiting people in the small market you could see yourself in one day. They would be happy to chat with you and give you candid feedback of what they would prefer to see in a lateral candidate. And do the same for the boutique firms you could see yourself working for down the road (if you have any clue at this point), and see what they have to say. If the overarching consensus is that they want to see top firm pedigree, then I guess that would simplify your current bind.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:42 pm

I picked a v30 over a v15 and have somewhat regretted it.

What I would like to see is someone clearly articulate these "exit options" that are pretty much in the ether and nowhere else in my humble opinion. I honestly cannot see someone thinking less of someone because they are coming from Winston instead of Sidley or Kirkland. I think exit options will be entirely dependent on what you do when you get there and not so much the name on the resume (once you've met a certain threshold which I think you have met).

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:37 pm

I think the lot of you is kind of weird for adjudging V10 and V100 as necessarily being a different level of prestige or career options.

If you are interested in VC and emerging company work, Cooley or WSGR are hugely better than Skadden et al.

If you want tax, Steptoe or a boutique like Ivins is better than the ancillary-to-M&A groups that some V30s will have.

If you want capital markets, Magic Circle is better than V10.

If you want litigation, unraked Quinn is better than nearly all V100s.

TLS kids who care so much about Vault do so because they either 1) Really like M&A, 2) really like NYC or 3) Don't inform themselves.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I picked a v30 over a v15 and have somewhat regretted it.

What I would like to see is someone clearly articulate these "exit options" that are pretty much in the ether and nowhere else in my humble opinion. I honestly cannot see someone thinking less of someone because they are coming from Winston instead of Sidley or Kirkland. I think exit options will be entirely dependent on what you do when you get there and not so much the name on the resume (once you've met a certain threshold which I think you have met).


It's not really "oh he worked at Winston he must not be as good as the guy who worked at Kirkland." It's more like "these 10 resumes all look the same, but this guy worked at Kirkland let's call him in." It's about meeting someone who is in a position of influence and him knowing that you must've had top grades just by your mentioning where you work.

Firm prestige does *not* matter anywhere near as much as law school prestige does for getting that first job, where firms have different grade cut-offs at different schools. It probably does matter almost as much as law school prestige for subsequent jobs, where it differentiates your otherwise identical resume from the pack.

What you do during your first job almost certainly matters the most, but throughout the V100, with relatively few exceptions, you'll do more or less the same thing in any given practice area in the first few years. It's like the LSAT/GPA for the USNWR. It's weighted very heavily, but because the top schools have numbers within such a narrow range something like spending/student, which is weighted much less, tends to end up determining the rank order.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think the lot of you is kind of weird for adjudging V10 and V100 as necessarily being a different level of prestige or career options.

If you are interested in VC and emerging company work, Cooley or WSGR are hugely better than Skadden et al.

If you want tax, Steptoe or a boutique like Ivins is better than the ancillary-to-M&A groups that some V30s will have.

If you want capital markets, Magic Circle is better than V10.

If you want litigation, unraked Quinn is better than nearly all V100s.

TLS kids who care so much about Vault do so because they either 1) Really like M&A, 2) really like NYC or 3) Don't inform themselves.


V10 is better for capital markets in the US than the magic circle. Quinn is #16 on Vault and on the rise. Boies is at #17. Munger and Irell are still under-ranked, though.

People at TLS don't really know much beyond lit versus corp (if that). Most don't have any idea what VC corporate work involves and probably aren't interested in tax without the background. Given those nebulous preferences, Vault ranking isn't a bad way to go, within any given market.

If you told someone that they would start work at a randomly-chosen firm, but they could choose whether it was V25 or V75-100. What do you think they would pick? Why?

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think the lot of you is kind of weird for adjudging V10 and V100 as necessarily being a different level of prestige or career options.

If you are interested in VC and emerging company work, Cooley or WSGR are hugely better than Skadden et al.

If you want tax, Steptoe or a boutique like Ivins is better than the ancillary-to-M&A groups that some V30s will have.

If you want capital markets, Magic Circle is better than V10.

If you want litigation, unraked BOIES is better than nearly all V100s.

TLS kids who care so much about Vault do so because they either 1) Really like M&A, 2) really like NYC or 3) Don't inform themselves.


Fixed :-)

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:24 pm

Having spent a summer in-house and talking to the people who do the hiring it's not a huge deal. As long as its a big firm they've heard of you pass the first test. They did admit that having Cravath or Simpson or Davis would impress them but is far far from the end of it. They care more about what you have done, the deals you worked on, your competency in the practice area, demonstrated interest in the role they are looking to fill, etc. So on the margins taking a V10 or something over a V50 certainly isn't going to hurt your exit options (at least in-house at this big company) but I think its a bit overblown to think your trajectory is going to be radically different depending on the V10 or the V50. I also know an associate at a big firm in DC (like V50 or something) who routinely gets calls to lateral from much higher vault ranked firms.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Eco » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:32 pm

Gotta agree, nobody but law students gives a fuck if its a V50 or a V100 lol. They're all great firms paying market and all have lots of clients and shit.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:48 pm

You're certainly not crazy, but make sure you know what you're doing.

With regard to "quality of life," big law requires a lot of hours regardless of where you work. It's not as though a lower-ranked firm can offer you a 9 to 5 schedule. That said, there are two things that can make a huge difference. First, facetime. At some firms, you'll be expected to stay at the office until late into the evening. At other firms, the office will be completely dead by 6 pm, and you're free to work from home and set your own schedule. Second, "culture." Some firms have much friendlier environments than others, which may or may not be important to you.

Compensation is also important. Even if a firm pays $160K, its raises may look like $165K, $170K, $180K, whereas the market salaries are $170K, $185K, $210K (I think). That, combined with bonuses (which are presumably higher at a firm that pays market), can add up to tens of thousands of dollars by your fourth year. But you also have to consider that a higher-ranked firm may push you out earlier than a lower-ranked firm, especially if the lower-ranked firm isn't as leveraged. Also look at economic health. For the most part, the V25 firms are doing relatively better than the rest of the V100.

As far as exit options go, I wouldn't worry too much. Firm "prestige" matters most for corporate attorneys in New York hoping to go in-house, from what I understand. It matters less so for litigation associates looking to go to smaller firms. Just make sure you'll get good experience wherever you go.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Having spent a summer in-house and talking to the people who do the hiring it's not a huge deal. As long as its a big firm they've heard of you pass the first test. They did admit that having Cravath or Simpson or Davis would impress them but is far far from the end of it. They care more about what you have done, the deals you worked on, your competency in the practice area, demonstrated interest in the role they are looking to fill, etc.


Of course. The work you do matters the most, no doubt. If you're a superstar you're going to do well no matter what firm you go to.

But what about the median guy? The guy who flames out after three years, and sends in a resume that's indistinguishable from the resumes of all the other median guys except for one worked at Sullivan and the other worked at Reed Smith NY?

I've sat on the hiring side at a (non-law) field. Trust me, all the resumes look the same, and the ones that really stand out for their work are candidates that everyone else wants too and you can never get. And when looking at all the median candidates, all the bullet points start to blur together. For better or worse, I used to rely heavily on pedigree. I figured: well these two folks look like they did exactly the same work, but this one went to Duke so he must be a pretty smart kid, let's call him in.

Again, this is not an argument for going to Sullivan over an unranked firm that's got a top notch practice in an area you have a strong interest and pre-LS WE in. It's an argument for not disregarding the rankings just because you liked the carpet better at one NY V100 over the carpet in one NY V10. It's an argument for taking the "lifestyle" marketing BS firms sell you with a grain of salt. Lifestyle is largely miserable throughout the V100, adjusting for market. Culture is definitely not fungible, but culture is not negatively correlated with Vault rank. There are some V10's with great cultures, and lots of V100s with terrible cultures.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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