Picking a V100 over a V10

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
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.


So another person expresses concerns for Kirkland this year...I wonder what the particular aversion to it is.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
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.


So another person expresses concerns for Kirkland this year...I wonder what the particular aversion to it is.


In Chicago, everyone has a friend that worked at Kirkland and hated it.

Truth is, you can say that for pretty much any firm, Kirkland just takes a lot of heat because: 1) it has a ton of work for associates to do and other firms don't; 2) it's clearly the leader in the market.

Most law students are just completely unprepared for practice at a big firm. They come from coddled upper middle class upbringings, go to liberal arts colleges where they get A's for shit work, and then go to law school where they spend 3 years contemplating their navels. It's no surprise they hate the long hours and constant demands of working at a big firm.

This is not to say that some firms aren't more or less enjoyable than others. This is to say that you should listen carefully to the reasons people say they hate working at certain firms. Some firms actively cultivate a cut-throat, disrespectful environment. Kirkland is not one of those places. It's competitive, but because the firm has so much work it's not cut-throat. Nobody has to undermine their colleagues to get ahead. It has an hours-based culture, with hours-based bonuses and performance reviews, but again that's not unique to Kirkland.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:19 pm

+1 on post above. Kirkland is a kill what you eat kind of place, and a lot of people really, really struggle with that. But the flip side is that having a lot of type A people together can actually be really fun if you gel with the culture.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby quakeroats » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote: 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.


You made the right call.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:38 pm

OP here..

Thanks again for the responses..I'm struggling.

1) I worked before law school..i'm not naive enough to not know what "hard work" is..In fact, I worked pretty long hours, so I know what's expected. I just want some semblance of a life outside of work. I know I won't be leaving at 5 every day no matter where I work.
2) Kirkland has negative stereotypes, but I've honestly liked every person I've met there. It's hard for me to separate the competitive/cut throat/sweatshop reputation from the attorneys there that claim they do have a life and love it at the firm.
3) The free market system appeals to me versus this mid size firm where you get assigned to a group.
4) Like I said, I want a life outside of work, and I just don't know if that is possible at Kirkland.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
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 :-)


I don't know which Vault rankings you guys are looking at, but both Quinn and Boies are within the V30 and very much ranked (underranked, to be sure, but ranked).

There are legitimate reasons to choose a less highly ranked firm, but these stem mostly from practice area or regional strength. If you're choosing based on "fit", remember that there really is little environmental difference between firms, even between a V10 and a V100--and there almost certainly is a V10 that fits your personality type as well as the V100 you're considering. And, of course, exit options both in the biglaw world and outside are highly dependent on which firm you're working at.

Despite what an earlier poster said, your first firm is, in most cases, as much of a "prize" as your law school or undergrad--it can open or close doors for your future. The vast majority of graduating law students who start at a biglaw firm won't be at that same firm in six to eight years, and where you will be in six to eight years depends significantly on which firm you chose to start out. There isn't a big difference in this between, say a V5 and a V10, or a V30 and a V50, but if you're choosing between a firm ranked in the 80s and a V10, it's a huge difference.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby nealric » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:42 pm

I think that law students, who have been scrutinizing rankings for much of their lives, too often over-rely on the vault rankings for making their choices. I've filled out the vault survey as an associate. Basically, they give you a list of 150 or so firms (half you've never heard of) and ask you to rate the firm's "prestige" on a scale of 1-10. It's not exactly scientific.

None of that takes into account practice area specialties, different work in different offices, or whether the firm is leveraged 10 associates to the partner.

As for exit ops, my impression that they really only vary dramatically on the margins. Yes, you are going to need WLRK on your resume to have a good shot at getting into a PE shop, but the random F500 interviewing for its legal department mostly just cares that you did some kind of biglaw and have developed some skills during your time there. The firm's clients will certainly have an impact, as many firms try to place good associates who are not really partner-track with clients when they can. But most biglaw firms have at least some A-list clients.

As for hours, it depends as much on the department (and even the specific partner) as the firm. That said, some firms are a sure bet for long hours. You won't be coasting by with 1900 hours at Cravath. I wouldn't say that there is a guarantee that lower vault ranking = less hours, but the firms at the very top are much more likely to demand insane hours.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:50 pm

I am trying to determine what the real differences are here and where things start to matter.

Is one limiting exit options by choosing a vMayer Brown over a vSidley?

Or does it start when one chooses a vSchiff Hardin over a vKirkland?

When do the differences start to take hold?

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:08 am

What about choosing Quinn over Kirkland? both NY
is there expected drop in exit opportunities?

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:What about choosing Quinn over Kirkland? both NY
is there expected drop in exit opportunities?


Are you actually serious? They are both elite firms with excellent litigation practices. I don't think there would any difference at all in exit opportunities.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What about choosing Quinn over Kirkland? both NY
is there expected drop in exit opportunities?


Are you actually serious? They are both elite firms with excellent litigation practices. I don't think there would any difference at all in exit opportunities.

well i know they are both excellent firms.
Just wondering if I'm a TLS douche/prestige-whore for thinking V10 mega-firm may have better exit opportunity than a V16.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Old Gregg » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:17 am

V10 mega-firm may have better exit opportunity than a V16.


K&E might not have better options by virtue of being a V10. But, it might have better exit options in terms of the clients they keep and depending on what you want to exit into. There are a lot of factors.

And the whole V10 is more prestigious than V20 thing is so passe. The TLS prestige-whore thing to do now is to salivate over Susman and regard S&C as the ultimate TTT.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:00 am

Fresh Prince wrote:
V10 mega-firm may have better exit opportunity than a V16.


K&E might not have better options by virtue of being a V10. But, it might have better exit options in terms of the clients they keep and depending on what you want to exit into. There are a lot of factors.

And the whole V10 is more prestigious than V20 thing is so passe. The TLS prestige-whore thing to do now is to salivate over Susman and regard S&C as the ultimate TTT.

I do enjoy when people specify that they got a V5 offer. Unless it's a V1 offer, nobody should really care. There are several V20s I would choose in many situations over a V5/V10 offer.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:08 am

OP here..this is not a decision between KE vs. Sidley/Mayer/Winston..I have decided that if I want to be at a large firm in Chi, it will be KE. This is now a decision between KE vs. mid size, V50-100. Therefore, the prestige gap is much bigger than V10 v. V20, etc.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:
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.


I don't know man. I just don't know. If you really are just throwing darts at the board as far as picking between firms then you aren't doing your homework. Do your due diligence because culture is incredibly important because you are going to be working an obscene number of hours as a new biglaw associate and if you hate it there your life is going to be miserable even with that sweet prestige to keep you warm at night.

Also, let's keep in mind the fact that we are talking about "exit options" in some broad sense like they are the same across the board. Are we talking government? (fed, state, USAO, etc) Are we talking in-house? Are we talking outside of law? I would argue there are certain firms, cities and practice areas one should focus on if they are trying to exit into a particular area. Don't take Skadden NYC and do M&A for 4 years and think you can take your V5 cred down to the US attorneys office. Likewise, taking Quinn because of their great lit practice isn't going to get you very far if you try to go in-house (as the vast majority of in-house lawyers came from transactional practices). So, not all exit options are the same here.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Doritos » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:27 am

That above post was me BTW

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
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.


I don't know man. I just don't know. If you really are just throwing darts at the board as far as picking between firms then you aren't doing your homework. Do your due diligence because culture is incredibly important because you are going to be working an obscene number of hours as a new biglaw associate and if you hate it there your life is going to be miserable even with that sweet prestige to keep you warm at night.

Also, let's keep in mind the fact that we are talking about "exit options" in some broad sense like they are the same across the board. Are we talking government? (fed, state, USAO, etc) Are we talking in-house? Are we talking outside of law? I would argue there are certain firms, cities and practice areas one should focus on if they are trying to exit into a particular area. Don't take Skadden NYC and do M&A for 4 hours and think you can take your V5 cred down to the US attorneys office. Likewise, taking Quinn because of their great lit practice isn't going to get you very far if you try to go in-house (as the vast majority of in-house lawyers came from transactional practices). So, not all exit options are the same here.


I'm a 3L so I get plenty of these questions. Nobody says "well I really want to do lit but should I do Skadden M&A for the V5 prestige?" People aren't retarded. I do get: "I heard from a friend of a friend that Kirkland is full of assholes, I'm thinking of taking Katten Muchin for corp instead because I really liked the people at my CB." That's the situation the "Vault means nothing" folks need to address. Are exit options so similar across the board that this is reasonable? If the person liked Kirkland okay but really liked one of his CB interviewers at Katten?

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:04 am

jesus christ there's so much hate for the firm it's given me serious concerns about my accepting their offer. cant undo it but still.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:48 am

Partner at Boston biglaw told me he left partnership at Kirkland (Chi) because of the hours. Said you pretty had had to choose the firm over everything else, and it was time for him to choose his family.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:56 am

there is something badass about a guy that has the chance to go to the top place and decides to go somewhere else that is a better fit.

that person is going to be successful no matter what he does.

if you think you are going to be a star at the "lesser" firm, then go there. at the end of the day, clients choose firms because of people. you can build yourself up and become a star faster at the lesser firm, that's better than being an average person at the biggest firm every day of the week.

also, take a look at Chambers which reflects a different Chicago outlook than Vault. Maybe your "lesser" firm fares better there than it does on Vault. That would matter to me more than a Vault rankings.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:17 am

I think it also depends on the firm.

What are we talking about here? Schiff? Vedder Price? Neal Gerber??

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Doritos » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
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.


I don't know man. I just don't know. If you really are just throwing darts at the board as far as picking between firms then you aren't doing your homework. Do your due diligence because culture is incredibly important because you are going to be working an obscene number of hours as a new biglaw associate and if you hate it there your life is going to be miserable even with that sweet prestige to keep you warm at night.

Also, let's keep in mind the fact that we are talking about "exit options" in some broad sense like they are the same across the board. Are we talking government? (fed, state, USAO, etc) Are we talking in-house? Are we talking outside of law? I would argue there are certain firms, cities and practice areas one should focus on if they are trying to exit into a particular area. Don't take Skadden NYC and do M&A for 4 hours and think you can take your V5 cred down to the US attorneys office. Likewise, taking Quinn because of their great lit practice isn't going to get you very far if you try to go in-house (as the vast majority of in-house lawyers came from transactional practices). So, not all exit options are the same here.


I'm a 3L so I get plenty of these questions. Nobody says "well I really want to do lit but should I do Skadden M&A for the V5 prestige?" People aren't retarded. I do get: "I heard from a friend of a friend that Kirkland is full of assholes, I'm thinking of taking Katten Muchin for corp instead because I really liked the people at my CB." That's the situation the "Vault means nothing" folks need to address. Are exit options so similar across the board that this is reasonable? If the person liked Kirkland okay but really liked one of his CB interviewers at Katten?


The reasonableness of taking Katten over Kirkland depends on the individual I'd argue. People who are set on private practice and firm life really need to put a premium on things like culture and fit. The guy/gal who knows they want to leave in a few years after their loans are paid off are going to be in a different situation. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. I do not know the small firm/midlaw scene so I'll defer to someone to answer if a market paying firm in say, Cincinnati, will care about the Katten/Kirkland distinction.

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:28 pm

Doritos wrote:The reasonableness of taking Katten over Kirkland depends on the individual I'd argue. People who are set on private practice and firm life really need to put a premium on things like culture and fit. The guy/gal who knows they want to leave in a few years after their loans are paid off are going to be in a different situation. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. I do not know the small firm/midlaw scene so I'll defer to someone to answer if a market paying firm in say, Cincinnati, will care about the Katten/Kirkland distinction.


Katten (#79 on Vault) isn't some tiny secondary market firm where everyone makes partner. It's a typical lower-V100 firm in that it's almost as leveraged as Sullivan & Cromwell (4.2 versus 4.5). It's got over 500 attorneys, and according to NALP the average annual attrition rate at firms of over 500 attorneys was 19% in 2006. To give a point of reference (http://books.google.com/books?id=zdcBuo ... ed&f=false) Sullivan & Cromwell's famous 30%+ attrition rate dropped to 22% after the firm implemented reforms.

So statistically speaking you're going to be out of the firm in 3-4 years anyhow. Maybe 3 if you had gone to K&E and 4 if you go to Katten. What happens then?

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Doritos » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Doritos wrote:The reasonableness of taking Katten over Kirkland depends on the individual I'd argue. People who are set on private practice and firm life really need to put a premium on things like culture and fit. The guy/gal who knows they want to leave in a few years after their loans are paid off are going to be in a different situation. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. I do not know the small firm/midlaw scene so I'll defer to someone to answer if a market paying firm in say, Cincinnati, will care about the Katten/Kirkland distinction.


Katten (#79 on Vault) isn't some tiny secondary market firm where everyone makes partner. It's a typical lower-V100 firm in that it's almost as leveraged as Sullivan & Cromwell (4.2 versus 4.5). It's got over 500 attorneys, and according to NALP the average annual attrition rate at firms of over 500 attorneys was 19% in 2006. To give a point of reference (http://books.google.com/books?id=zdcBuo ... ed&f=false) Sullivan & Cromwell's famous 30%+ attrition rate dropped to 22% after the firm implemented reforms.

So statistically speaking you're going to be out of the firm in 3-4 years anyhow. Maybe 3 if you had gone to K&E and 4 if you go to Katten. What happens then?


I didn't mean to say that they should take Katten over Kirkland if they wanted to be a firm long term, I just suggested that they should put a premium on culture and fit. Maybe BOTH firms have terrible culture and the individual does not fit in at either firm. From there, I'd look to things like how soon you get responsibility and which practice areas you are interested in. Also, keep in mind that there a lot of people who go into biglaw KNOWING they are going to leave in a few years so these stats may not have a lot to say about the individual who comes in wanting to stay longer term.

Are you looking for me to break down and say take Kirkland 100% of the time because they have a higher Vault rank?

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Re: Picking a V100 over a V10

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here..

Thanks again for the responses..I'm struggling.

1) I worked before law school..i'm not naive enough to not know what "hard work" is..In fact, I worked pretty long hours, so I know what's expected. I just want some semblance of a life outside of work. I know I won't be leaving at 5 every day no matter where I work.
2) Kirkland has negative stereotypes, but I've honestly liked every person I've met there. It's hard for me to separate the competitive/cut throat/sweatshop reputation from the attorneys there that claim they do have a life and love it at the firm.
3) The free market system appeals to me versus this mid size firm where you get assigned to a group.
4) Like I said, I want a life outside of work, and I just don't know if that is possible at Kirkland.


I'm facing a very similar choice between a V15 in a major market and a V50 which is not the home office but is one of the handful of top firms period in a somewhat nearby secondary market, my hometown. I too have worked before law school, and occasionally long hours. My V15 has a similar free market system and I really liked everyone I met there, plus there are a larger variety of practice areas than the V50. However, even though my V15 has less of a cut-throat kill-what-you-eat sweatshop reputation than Kirkland, I too am majorly concerned with quality of life issues, and frankly even with real estate and other cost of living issues in the major market versus my hometown, as well as an awful commute since my wife currently works in this secondary market and likes her job. Leverage is similar (and not ridiculously high) at both firms overall, but lower in my hometown V50 than the major market V15. It's a tough decision, and I'm still struggling with it.




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