Up and Out question: re student loans

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ExAnt3
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Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby ExAnt3 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:35 pm

Hey TLSers,

I have a question regarding the "up and out" policy at law firms. I am a 2L who accepted an SA position at a v30 firm in NYC. The firm has an 8-12 year partnership track (not too sure how this works exactly). I am trying to get an idea of how long it would take me to repay my student loans from UG and LS (probably about 220k total) and a large part of my calculus depends on how long I can rely on the biglaw salary before my firm kicks me out if i''m not on the partnership track.

Basically, I'm looking for any advice on how to interpret the policy of partnership. Do I have 8-12 years at the firm before they would let me go if im not making partner (assuming no economic calamities, other cause for firing).

Sorry for the long post. Thanks for the help!

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:39 pm

ExAnt3 wrote:Hey TLSers,

I have a question regarding the "up and out" policy at law firms. I am a 2L who accepted an SA position at a v30 firm in NYC. The firm has an 8-12 year partnership track (not too sure how this works exactly). I am trying to get an idea of how long it would take me to repay my student loans from UG and LS (probably about 220k total) and a large part of my calculus depends on how long I can rely on the biglaw salary before my firm kicks me out if i''m not on the partnership track.

Basically, I'm looking for any advice on how to interpret the policy of partnership. Do I have 8-12 years at the firm before they would let me go if im not making partner (assuming no economic calamities, other cause for firing).

Sorry for the long post. Thanks for the help!


ITE you should work on paying off your loans as quickly as possible. barring any economic calamity, though, most firms will give you about 5 years or so before giving you the "we think you'd be happier elsewhere" spiel. if you live frugally you should be able to pay off most, if not all, of your loans well before you hit that mark.

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ExAnt3
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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby ExAnt3 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:42 pm

even if the partnership track is 8-12 years? there is info on vault and abovethelaw careers about 7-8 yr associate salary. not too sure what to make of that. i was hoping to have 8 yrs so i can bank some of that cash instead of having it quickly leave my bank account =(

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Cavalier
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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby Cavalier » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:43 pm

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Last edited by Cavalier on Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ExAnt3
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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby ExAnt3 » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:47 pm

thanks cavlier, that's pretty helpful. i've heard that the market for midlevels is great now, but i'm not sure how much that helps, since i'll be a midlevel in about 4-5 years and firms seems to be increasing hiring (meaning more midlvls). isnt the mkt for midlvls great now bc there are so few of them, which wont per se be the case in 4-5 years?

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby mrloblaw » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:57 pm

ExAnt3 wrote:even if the partnership track is 8-12 years? there is info on vault and abovethelaw careers about 7-8 yr associate salary. not too sure what to make of that. i was hoping to have 8 yrs so i can bank some of that cash instead of having it quickly leave my bank account =(


Around three-quarters of lawyers will leave (voluntary or otherwise) before they reach partnership consideration. As long as the firm's healthy, you should probably be able to stick around the 5-6 years in which you could reasonably pay that off. If we hit double-dip-land, though, all bets are off.

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby Rock Chalk » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:40 pm

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Last edited by Rock Chalk on Thu May 24, 2012 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rayiner
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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby rayiner » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:07 am

Cavalier wrote:Entirely depends on the firm and the economy. I could be wrong, but generally speaking, I think you can typically last three or so years without worry, and then around year four or five you start getting hints about your partnership prospects and whether you should start seeking other employment. But again, firms operate differently, and if the economy goes south, your firm might lay you off as a first or second year.


Kirkland is pretty aggressive with the bottom 10% of every class year. Meanwhile, some NYC firms will let you hang on until partnership as long as you do good work. I generally agree with your conclusion with one proviso: our viewpoints are somewhat tainted by ITE. Over the last several years firms have been trying to nudge out mid-levels because market demand has shifted between the time those folks were originally hired and now. Generally speaking, firms have the opposite problem -- hanging on to 4th/5th years, who are the most profitable associates at the firm. Yeah they're somewhat more expensive than juniors, but ~$280k in salary+bonus is not much when they're bringing in $1 million in revenue. Firms have very little incentive to push these folks out as long as they're doing work that is passing muster.

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:02 am

Anyone know more specifically about the policies of Simpson or Debevoise in NYC?

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buckilaw
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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby buckilaw » Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:22 am

rayiner wrote:
Cavalier wrote:Entirely depends on the firm and the economy. I could be wrong, but generally speaking, I think you can typically last three or so years without worry, and then around year four or five you start getting hints about your partnership prospects and whether you should start seeking other employment. But again, firms operate differently, and if the economy goes south, your firm might lay you off as a first or second year.


Kirkland is pretty aggressive with the bottom 10% of every class year. Meanwhile, some NYC firms will let you hang on until partnership as long as you do good work. I generally agree with your conclusion with one proviso: our viewpoints are somewhat tainted by ITE. Over the last several years firms have been trying to nudge out mid-levels because market demand has shifted between the time those folks were originally hired and now. Generally speaking, firms have the opposite problem -- hanging on to 4th/5th years, who are the most profitable associates at the firm. Yeah they're somewhat more expensive than juniors, but ~$280k in salary+bonus is not much when they're bringing in $1 million in revenue. Firms have very little incentive to push these folks out as long as they're doing work that is passing muster.


Can you please elaborate about Kirkland's up and out policy? Does it vary office to office, is it uniform? How is bottom 10% determined, billable hours, quality of work, a blend of the two? By aggressive do you mean they lay the bottom 10% off, or tell them to look elsewhere you have till x, or does it mean something else entirely?

Thanks.

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby rayiner » Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:15 am

buckilaw wrote:
rayiner wrote:
Cavalier wrote:Entirely depends on the firm and the economy. I could be wrong, but generally speaking, I think you can typically last three or so years without worry, and then around year four or five you start getting hints about your partnership prospects and whether you should start seeking other employment. But again, firms operate differently, and if the economy goes south, your firm might lay you off as a first or second year.


Kirkland is pretty aggressive with the bottom 10% of every class year. Meanwhile, some NYC firms will let you hang on until partnership as long as you do good work. I generally agree with your conclusion with one proviso: our viewpoints are somewhat tainted by ITE. Over the last several years firms have been trying to nudge out mid-levels because market demand has shifted between the time those folks were originally hired and now. Generally speaking, firms have the opposite problem -- hanging on to 4th/5th years, who are the most profitable associates at the firm. Yeah they're somewhat more expensive than juniors, but ~$280k in salary+bonus is not much when they're bringing in $1 million in revenue. Firms have very little incentive to push these folks out as long as they're doing work that is passing muster.


Can you please elaborate about Kirkland's up and out policy? Does it vary office to office, is it uniform? How is bottom 10% determined, billable hours, quality of work, a blend of the two? By aggressive do you mean they lay the bottom 10% off, or tell them to look elsewhere you have till x, or does it mean something else entirely?


I don't know much more about it. Everyone has yearly performance reviews. After the reviews, they receive a "above class," "with class," and "below class." The latter is apparently a very small %-age of the associates. I don't think they're immediately laid off, but receiving a "below class" rating can affect your bonus and is probably a warning re: how much time you've got left.

A bit more information is here: http://abovethelaw.com/2008/12/associat ... d-ellis-2/

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby anongoodnurse » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:20 pm

My experience with a V15 firm (pre-ITE) is this:

First year: No one gets involuntarily canned. A few years before I was at the firm there was one person who figured out s/he didn't want to be a lawyer and basically stopped working and was let go around his/her first anniversary, but this is the only one I know about.

Second year: This is where people who are a really bad fit (both personality-wise and work product-wise, and usually a good bit of both) get the "we think you'll be happier elsewhere" spiel. This is really reserved for the people who it's obvious don't have the intellectual firepower (which at the second year associate stage, isn't much) and/or really don't want to be there. At this point, it was maybe the bottom 10% of the class.

Third year: This is when the stuff really starts to hit the fan for the underperformers. Now, the hatchet comes for more than just the egregious outliers. If you underbill and don't have a record of making your target the first two years, you may be in trouble. Ditto any performance issues that can't be explained as a one-off deal. I got the vibe that they really used this year to weed out the people that maybe should have been let go the first two.

Fourth year: There was actually kind of a lull this year -- though maybe it just seemed that way because of the third year bloodletting. Also, there's probably something to the idea that by now, most of the remaining associates (probably 60% of the class) have shown that they're competent and sufficiently hard-working, yet this is early enough that partner considerations don't play much of a role.

Fifth year: Similar. A bit of a lull, though seemingly voluntary departures do pick up a bit -- it's hard to tell which are voluntary vs. which are "suggested."

Sixth year: The lull stops, probably because partnership is now only a couple of years off, and firms generally hate refusing partnership to people when they're officially up for it. A ton of people leave -- some, like me, may do so really voluntarily (we relocated to a new city for my wife's career), but it's hard to believe that this is true for everyone or even most people. By this point, I'm guessing that maybe 20% of the original class remains, maybe even less.

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ExAnt3
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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby ExAnt3 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:38 pm

thanks for the reply anon. could you give a little insight in the lateral market? after getting the "we think you'd be better off elsewhere" bit, if you wanted to stay in biglaw what happens when you lateral to a different firm? do you only do this if they think you're on a partnership track? or can you lateral over and stay in limbo?

I guess the best strategy for me would be to try and knock out around 180k of my loans over the first 4 years and then spread the rest around once i figure out what's going on. just obsessing over it now anyway.

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:39 pm

anongoodnurse wrote:My experience with a V15 firm (pre-ITE) is this:

First year: No one gets involuntarily canned. A few years before I was at the firm there was one person who figured out s/he didn't want to be a lawyer and basically stopped working and was let go around his/her first anniversary, but this is the only one I know about.

Second year: This is where people who are a really bad fit (both personality-wise and work product-wise, and usually a good bit of both) get the "we think you'll be happier elsewhere" spiel. This is really reserved for the people who it's obvious don't have the intellectual firepower (which at the second year associate stage, isn't much) and/or really don't want to be there. At this point, it was maybe the bottom 10% of the class.

Third year: This is when the stuff really starts to hit the fan for the underperformers. Now, the hatchet comes for more than just the egregious outliers. If you underbill and don't have a record of making your target the first two years, you may be in trouble. Ditto any performance issues that can't be explained as a one-off deal. I got the vibe that they really used this year to weed out the people that maybe should have been let go the first two.

Fourth year: There was actually kind of a lull this year -- though maybe it just seemed that way because of the third year bloodletting. Also, there's probably something to the idea that by now, most of the remaining associates (probably 60% of the class) have shown that they're competent and sufficiently hard-working, yet this is early enough that partner considerations don't play much of a role.

Fifth year: Similar. A bit of a lull, though seemingly voluntary departures do pick up a bit -- it's hard to tell which are voluntary vs. which are "suggested."

Sixth year: The lull stops, probably because partnership is now only a couple of years off, and firms generally hate refusing partnership to people when they're officially up for it. A ton of people leave -- some, like me, may do so really voluntarily (we relocated to a new city for my wife's career), but it's hard to believe that this is true for everyone or even most people. By this point, I'm guessing that maybe 20% of the original class remains, maybe even less.


I’m not the OP, but wow, this is really helpful. Thanks! I know this may be hard to answer, but do you have any idea for lit associates who clerk for a year, whether they are evaluated based on the number of years actually working at the firm, or what year they are formally on for compensation/partnership track? So if, as you say, non-clerks basically get until sometime into the third year unless they are one of the most egregious outliers, could a clerk be in dangerous territory in only their second year at the firm (although they’d be considered a third-year) if they are seen as underbilling, etc?

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby anongoodnurse » Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:28 pm

I know this may be hard to answer, but do you have any idea for lit associates who clerk for a year, whether they are evaluated based on the number of years actually working at the firm, or what year they are formally on for compensation/partnership track? So if, as you say, non-clerks basically get until sometime into the third year unless they are one of the most egregious outliers, could a clerk be in dangerous territory in only their second year at the firm (although they’d be considered a third-year) if they are seen as underbilling, etc?


I just have my personal experience on this one. At my firm, the clerks I knew were all high performers, at least in my work with them. So I find it hard to believe that they were shown the door, so to speak. That said, they seemed to have a pretty high departure rate within the first 3-4 years at the firm. But the jobs they typically went to -- USAO, SEC, university GC office, etc., were sufficiently prestigious that it's hard to believe that they were pushed out.

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby anongoodnurse » Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:37 pm

could you give a little insight in the lateral market? after getting the "we think you'd be better off elsewhere" bit, if you wanted to stay in biglaw what happens when you lateral to a different firm? do you only do this if they think you're on a partnership track? or can you lateral over and stay in limbo?


My experience was pre-ITE, but in general, the people I know/suspect were given the "talk" lateraled to firms that were a notch or two below where they started. So like V15 to V100. In general they did only OK at their new firms, but I strongly suspect this is a matter of correlation and not causation -- whatever caused them to be unsuccessful at Firm #1 also caused them to be unsuccessful at Firm #2. I definitely know of several attorneys that were successful (i.e., partner, stable of counsel job, etc.) at the second place. Though all of these attorneys generally were at the first firm for several years, oftentimes right up to the partnership decision.

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Re: Up and Out question: re student loans

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:57 pm

The latter is apparently a very small %-age of the associates


For the first two years, it's in the single-digits, in absolute numbers, firmwide. More often than not, for the first two years, no associates are rated below-class. It's very hard to attain that rating at K&E.




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