DC Biglaw vs. top regulatory boutique

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Which firm?

Poll ended at Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:38 am

Biglaw
6
43%
Boutique
8
57%
 
Total votes: 14

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

DC Biglaw vs. top regulatory boutique

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:38 am

Getting towards decision time, and I'm incredibly lucky to have to make a tough call. I came into OCI with a clear focus on a particular regulatory practice, and I've received a few DC biglaw offers from firms that do this sort of work. However, I also have an offer at a great regulatory boutique in this practice as well. Trying to weigh these options carefully, and it's going to be a tough call. Pros, cons, and unknowns below.

FIRM STABILITY:
Biglaw - Some layoffs during 2009 (hardly unique), but supposedly more stable now.
Boutique - Regulatory work is pretty cycle-resistant, and as far as I know the firm is on pretty sound footing. But then again, it's not like small-firm financial woes make it to ATL, so I have no way of being certain.

OFFER RATES:
Biglaw - 100% for last two years. If economy tanks again, firm would probably be able to defer to keep rates up.
Boutique - Supposedly 100% as well, but tiny summer class. If economy tanks, no idea what could happen to offers.

HOURS:
Biglaw - 2000 (or so they say... I suspect there's a soft expectation higher than that)
Boutique - 1800 (seems like a real 1800)

PAY:
Biglaw - Market base, market lockstep, market bonuses.
Boutique - Objectively decent, but not DC market (between $110 and $145k, depending on bonuses). Not a ton of information on whether raises are lockstep or merit-based or what.

REPUTATION:
Biglaw - Firm is well known, albeit not one of the most prestigious DC firms (not Hogan, Wilmer, A&P, etc). The practice group's reputation is very solid according to the regulatory attorneys I've talked to.
Boutique - Firm has zero prestige outside of its niche, but the practice group is considered one of the absolute best in the country.

PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES:
Biglaw - The practice group is fairly stable, has roughly a 1:1 partner-to-associate ratio, and doesn't seem to force people out. However, the wider firm is a typical biglaw pyramid - so maybe working in this regulatory practice would help my odds to stick around, but hardly a sure thing.
Boutique - Firm has a lot of partners who started as associates. Tiny summer class = no pyramid = no up-or-out mentality.

EXIT OPPS:
Impossible question to answer, but an important one all the same. Would a Biglaw name + a solid regulatory group get me access to gov't/in-house opportunities down the road? Or (given that I'll be looking in a defined field) would a boutique's name get me just as far?



Whew. Useful for me to write all that down. I'm interested to hear thoughts on this, esp. if there are other 2Ls making this call, or 3Ls who had to decide last year.

TL;DR:
BIGLAW - More $, more prestige, and (possibly very slightly) better odds of an offer, vs.
BOUTIQUE - Stronger practice group, better QOL & more likely to stick around for the long run.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
I.P. Daly
Posts: 920
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:27 pm

Re: DC Biglaw vs. top regulatory boutique

Postby I.P. Daly » Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:42 am

It depends.

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

Re: DC Biglaw vs. top regulatory boutique

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:58 pm

OP, shamelessly bumping this one. I can't be the only 2L making this kind of call.

User avatar
Cavalier
Posts: 1994
Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:13 pm

Re: DC Biglaw vs. top regulatory boutique

Postby Cavalier » Sat Oct 01, 2011 1:16 pm

...
Last edited by Cavalier on Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DC Biglaw vs. top regulatory boutique

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:09 pm

I made a somewhat similar choice. I'm interested in patent prosecution and chose to go to a ~40 lawyer boutique over larger firms. The pay is a bit less, but the hours are much less.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DC Biglaw vs. top regulatory boutique

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I made a somewhat similar choice. I'm interested in patent prosecution and chose to go to a ~40 lawyer boutique over larger firms. The pay is a bit less, but the hours are much less.


I made the same decision in patent law. Compensation tends to be fairer (many places make associates eligible for cuts of profit based on billables) and the QOL is better. Too easy.




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