NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

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reasonable_man
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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:57 am

beach_terror wrote:Kind of an odd question, but maybe you have some insight. 2L here and I missed the biglaw boat. Got an offer to do a summer in house, which should lead to an offer to stay after graduation. I still want to go into private practice at some point though. Do you ever see younger attorneys transferring from in house gigs to firm jobs (at your firms, or other firms)?


Conventional wisdom says its very difficult to move from in house to private practice at a firm. Conventional wisdom is correct in this case. Its not easy. At my first firm (while in college), I knew a contract associate that had been in-house at a medium sized company directly out of law school and left to go into private practice. He was, I believe, the company's general counsel by the time he left. He worked for about a year as a contract attorney and left again to go back in house. He had been offered a full time associate gig many times, but turned it down so as to retain his independence. Other than that, I've never actually seen it done.

The problem with going in house and never working at a firm is that you lose out on certain training and also, a certain mind-set that firm attorneys tend to have. Nothing is impossible, but its not going to be easy. That said, if you do well for your company and it can be expected that you would be able to rely on that company coming to you for legal advice in private practice, that alone might be a good enough enticement for a firm to take you on; assuming the company has enough work to make it worth while for the firm taking you in. As with anything, nothing is set in stone, but you should be prepared for a tough road when you do decide to switch to private practice.

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reasonable_man
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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:02 am

Grizz wrote:Any advice for those with summer firm offers who really want to get that permanent offer? ITE I don't want to take anything for granted.



You are going to a biglaw firm right?? (Size of firm changes the analysis of what it takes to do well and make sure you get hired)

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reasonable_man
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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:What are partner prospects for you? I have an offer for a small firm that pays similarly (adjusted for cost of living) to your gig to start, but the big draw is that they offer partner after just a few years. The result of that is that all of their attorneys except one are partners. Full partner is another handful of years after that, with sizable raises each year from first year partner to full partner. I was curious if this setup (guaranteed partnershi /, almost all the attorneys being partners) is common for small firms in NYC as well. It is definitely the biggest draw of the firm for me, along with the easy hours (the firm is a ghost town by 5:15 every evening).

Second, do they offer a 401k? The firm that offered me does not, which is kind of weird. They are looking into it, however.

Third, how do others in the legal profession view your firm? Do you have exit options? One of the partners at the firm that offered me recently became a judge, but everyone else just seems to stay there at the firm. On the one hand, that could be good, because it suggests that it's a decent place to work if nobody leaves. On the other hand, it might suggest that the attorneys simply have poor exit options. From what I can tell, the firm is well-respected in its geographical area, but I'm not sure it's the type of place that you leave to go in-house for a corporation or whatever. Then again, if I'm working ~50 hours a week and making partner money, why would I want to leave? So...what do you think would be most likely to cause you to want to leave in the future and where might you go?

Thanks a lot for the thread. It's obviously relevant to my interests! Good small law seems harder to find than biglaw.


1) 401k – My firm has it, with a poor match. My fiancée’s employer has an amazing match, so we contribute more to her and use my salary for living expenses.

2) Small firms of “all partners” many times are firms where a bunch of solos got together and joined forces (think captain planet). But what you are describing doesn’t sound like that. What you are describing sounds like a multi-tiered partnership track where most of the attorneys wind up making “partner.” I am assuming that the “junior partners” are still salaried employees and not actual equity partners. This is becoming more and more common in the legal profession, probably to compensate for the millennial generational need for everyone to win (you know, two teams play a soccer match, both teams “win” and everyone gets a trophy). It also helps the firm generate revenue because it can charge more for partner time. Some things to watch out for her are: a) many “junior” or “non-equity” partners and very few equity partners. What you will want to assess for yourself is how many people actually become “real” or equity partners at the firm. b) Also, do the junior partners have a voting right? Are they even invited to partnership meetings? Many times, the answer is a resounding ‘no’ on both counts. You need to familiarize yourself with the actual partnership structure (if you do have other and bigger options), and should do that before you make any real decisions. Moreover, I absolutely love my life, but I’m better off having had some larger firm experience. Each partner at my current small firm left a V50 firm to come here (with the exception of the founding partner who worked at an extremely well regarded mid-sized firm way back in the 60’s and 70s). The fact that I have a little bit of experience at a “bigger” firm (it was not biglaw), is a good thing and I’m glad I had it. I would never go back, nor could I imagine staying at my old firm – as my life is way too good now to consider leaving. That said, I’m glad I did it before coming to my current firm. I also have a standing job offer from my old firm to return and a close network of associates and partners that I actually socialize with on a regular basis from my prior firm. Those kinds of connections are invaluable. From sharing information to bouncing ideas off of former firm members, it really is great to have.

3) Partnership prospects. I was on a fast track to partner at my old firm. I came here knowing that there are no certainties. But the managing partner has had many conversations with me about my “future” and how “bright” it is here. I never like to count on anything until it happens, but I believe I have a good shot.

4) Exit options. People tend to die working here (of old age). It’s a really nice place to work. I had a serious inquiry from a great market-rate mid-law and didn’t really look into it at all, because honestly, I don’t want to work those hours or for those type of people anymore. I’m happy where I am and cannot imagine leaving. I’m arguing my first appeal in about 6 months. I will start questioning witnesses at federal court trials in the next few years and I’ve handled many cases through and successfully argued probably 10 summary judgment motions. I see no good reason to leave. However, one partner did leave a while back, on very good terms, and took a job at a major company for a shit-ton of money.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby TheZoid » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:35 am

RM thanks for answering all these questions bro. Your insight is much appreciated.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:44 am

TheZoid wrote:RM thanks for answering all these questions bro. Your insight is much appreciated.



No problem Brah, I'll keep answering as long as people have questions. And everyone should feel free to ask questions that are not typically "proper" to ask. In the world of legal employment, there is more than enough speculation and false data available, but very little actual real information. I hope to serve as a source of real information.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby ggibelli » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:45 am

reasonable_man wrote:
TheZoid wrote:RM thanks for answering all these questions bro. Your insight is much appreciated.



No problem Brah, I'll keep answering as long as people have questions. And everyone should feel free to ask questions that are not typically "proper" to ask. In the world of legal employment, there is more than enough speculation and false data available, but very little actual real information. I hope to serve as a source of real information.


drink of choice?

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:53 am

ggibelli wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:
TheZoid wrote:RM thanks for answering all these questions bro. Your insight is much appreciated.



No problem Brah, I'll keep answering as long as people have questions. And everyone should feel free to ask questions that are not typically "proper" to ask. In the world of legal employment, there is more than enough speculation and false data available, but very little actual real information. I hope to serve as a source of real information.


drink of choice?


Depends on the setting. Out with friend at the bar - Bombay Safire and Tonic. Out at a steak house or relaxing, a good red wine and/or Macallan Single Malt - 18years aged or better. Out pretending I'm still in college - Car bombs all night long.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:41 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:RM:

I'm 3L, top 40% at a NYC TT, journal e-board, 2 clinics, and I've been working at the same place (paid) for over a year. I just found from my boss that they're not hiring anyone until next year at the earliest. Thoughts on what my best course of action is? It seems like a little late in the game to be going for a new internship, but who the hell is going to hire me off the street at this point?


That is a tough situation (and is absolutely one of the down sides about interning with a small firm while in LS). I would probably ride out the internship (assuming you are getting good work experience), and start focusing on searching for permanent placements after LS. What are your goals? What type of law do you hope to practice?


PMing you.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby NoleinNY » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:51 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
ggibelli wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:
TheZoid wrote:RM thanks for answering all these questions bro. Your insight is much appreciated.



No problem Brah, I'll keep answering as long as people have questions. And everyone should feel free to ask questions that are not typically "proper" to ask. In the world of legal employment, there is more than enough speculation and false data available, but very little actual real information. I hope to serve as a source of real information.


drink of choice?


Depends on the setting. Out with friend at the bar - Bombay Safire and Tonic. Out at a steak house or relaxing, a good red wine and/or Macallan Single Malt - 18years aged or better. Out pretending I'm still in college - Car bombs all night long.


Any of your classmates work BigLaw? If so, have you kept in touch with any of them and did you notice any changes in them? (Besides schedule, obviously)

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby AlanShore » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:43 pm

Thanks for answering questions, RM.

How does your firm (and other firms) view significant work experience (ie business, finance, etc)? Is there a decent boost for good we?

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby Grizz » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:50 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
Grizz wrote:Any advice for those with summer firm offers who really want to get that permanent offer? ITE I don't want to take anything for granted.



You are going to a biglaw firm right?? (Size of firm changes the analysis of what it takes to do well and make sure you get hired)

Split between a biglaw firm and a firm that is sorta "midlaw" by major market standards (not NLJ250) but definitely biglaw in the market (>100 attys).

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:20 pm

Grizz wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:
Grizz wrote:Any advice for those with summer firm offers who really want to get that permanent offer? ITE I don't want to take anything for granted.



You are going to a biglaw firm right?? (Size of firm changes the analysis of what it takes to do well and make sure you get hired)

Split between a biglaw firm and a firm that is sorta "midlaw" by major market standards (not NLJ250) but definitely biglaw in the market (>100 attys).



Nicely done. For the large firm, stick to the program and play the game. Do whatever "assignments" are given to you, but always be ready to go out with the group when the time comes to do so. Do EXACTLY what you are told on the assignments and stick very much to the game plan. Identify one 3rd year who seems like a true bro, and get a few pointers from him. If he offers to take a quick look at your assignment, absolutely let him do so. You are no competition to him, so he will be honest.

For the smaller firm, focus more on the work and look to take the initiative. The work counts much more in this setting, because they will want to use you as a real lawyer sooner in your career than a biglaw firm (i.e. you won't be a pricey-paralegal for the first few years of your career). Again, identifying a good bro-ally is key and always be available for work (but never over-promise). If you have one time sensitive project and a partner comes to you with another, you need to say to that partner ... "That sounds really interesting. I have an assignment from this other partner ____, and he did mention it was time sensitive. Is this assignment time sensitive as well, or can I finish up the other partner's assignment first?" Or something to that effect...


Do not forget to be a cool normal person and do not play into the hands of any gunner-dick heads. Do your thing and play your own game.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:24 pm

Any of your classmates work BigLaw? If so, have you kept in touch with any of them and did you notice any changes in them? (Besides schedule, obviously)


I didn't really run with the crowd of people in LS that made biglaw (and there were so few - like less than 10 at my school). So I don't really keep up with them. There really is nothing wrong with biglaw though. I'm not a hater. If you can get paid big bucks for long hours - go for it. Its not really for me, which is a good thing, because my choice in law school more or less assured I was never getting there. I've tangled with biglaw associates and partners. I have a very good decision in my favor on a very complicated case, where I authored and argued the 12(b)(6) motion (and obtained dismissal on most issues). There are great biglaw lawyers and there are lousy ones too (just like any firm). Its an entity like any other. And frankly, the only people in the profession that get super worked up over the rank of their firm are those already working in biglaw. Us commoners don't really pay much attention to that kind of stuff.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:27 pm

AlanShore wrote:Thanks for answering questions, RM.

How does your firm (and other firms) view significant work experience (ie business, finance, etc)? Is there a decent boost for good we?


In my line of work, its not really very important. However, I do no of a good example. A good friend of mine (brilliant non-traditional student), who was a past CFO of a company was hired out of LS to work at a very strong plaintiff's side securities firm based largely on his prior experience and certainly not on his LS credentials (he attended LS with me). It really will depend on the firm. A good small firm that focuses on securities, etc., would be insane to not value such work experience. Bigger firms, I'm not really sure about how they would view it, but I would tend to think that it cannot possibly hurt your application. Sorry for the brief answer, but this is one area I know very little about because my background is pretty limited to legal-employment.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:05 pm

reasonable_man wrote:2) Small firms of “all partners” many times are firms where a bunch of solos got together and joined forces (think captain planet). But what you are describing doesn’t sound like that. What you are describing sounds like a multi-tiered partnership track where most of the attorneys wind up making “partner.” I am assuming that the “junior partners” are still salaried employees and not actual equity partners. This is becoming more and more common in the legal profession, probably to compensate for the millennial generational need for everyone to win (you know, two teams play a soccer match, both teams “win” and everyone gets a trophy). It also helps the firm generate revenue because it can charge more for partner time. Some things to watch out for her are: a) many “junior” or “non-equity” partners and very few equity partners. What you will want to assess for yourself is how many people actually become “real” or equity partners at the firm. b) Also, do the junior partners have a voting right? Are they even invited to partnership meetings? Many times, the answer is a resounding ‘no’ on both counts. You need to familiarize yourself with the actual partnership structure (if you do have other and bigger options), and should do that before you make any real decisions. Moreover, I absolutely love my life, but I’m better off having had some larger firm experience. Each partner at my current small firm left a V50 firm to come here (with the exception of the founding partner who worked at an extremely well regarded mid-sized firm way back in the 60’s and 70s). The fact that I have a little bit of experience at a “bigger” firm (it was not biglaw), is a good thing and I’m glad I had it. I would never go back, nor could I imagine staying at my old firm – as my life is way too good now to consider leaving. That said, I’m glad I did it before coming to my current firm. I also have a standing job offer from my old firm to return and a close network of associates and partners that I actually socialize with on a regular basis from my prior firm. Those kinds of connections are invaluable. From sharing information to bouncing ideas off of former firm members, it really is great to have.


That would be lame. The firm I'm talking about has a direct linear partner structure. X years to [junior] partner, then X more years to full partner. The raise each year is a function calculated by your share of partner pay. So first year partners get 50% of a full partner's share, then each year thereafter that goes up by about 10% (so a $20k-something raise each year) until you hit full in your 6th year as partner. This is all part of the partnership agreement you enter into when getting [junior] partner, so partner definitely isn't some partner-in-name-only associate arrangement. All partners have access to all of the firm's financial records, but I'm guessing that only the full partners have final say on strategic decisions. I'm not sure about that, though. The firm DOES have a history of practitioners merging. There have been four firms merged into it to date.

Anyway, thanks for all the info. I'd be interested if you think of more ways to discuss your firm's reputation among peers and others in the legal industry in general. I won't have big firm experience, so I'm a bit interested in whether I will be non-competitive for every other legal job during my career. I do know one of the partners led one of the state bar's committees, so I figure there is some level of reputation there, but other than that I have no idea how even a legit small firm job is viewed in the industry.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby NoleinNY » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:51 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
Any of your classmates work BigLaw? If so, have you kept in touch with any of them and did you notice any changes in them? (Besides schedule, obviously)


I didn't really run with the crowd of people in LS that made biglaw (and there were so few - like less than 10 at my school). So I don't really keep up with them. There really is nothing wrong with biglaw though. I'm not a hater. If you can get paid big bucks for long hours - go for it. Its not really for me, which is a good thing, because my choice in law school more or less assured I was never getting there. I've tangled with biglaw associates and partners. I have a very good decision in my favor on a very complicated case, where I authored and argued the 12(b)(6) motion (and obtained dismissal on most issues). There are great biglaw lawyers and there are lousy ones too (just like any firm). Its an entity like any other. And frankly, the only people in the profession that get super worked up over the rank of their firm are those already working in biglaw. Us commoners don't really pay much attention to that kind of stuff.


Ah. Thanks. I'm personally not going into BigLaw, either, (don't have the class rank for it even if I wanted to) but a few of my close friends here happened to get picked for SAs. I was asking less in terms of what your opinion of big law and more in terms of whether it affected your relationship with them; of course, that appears moot, given your answer.

Much less work related question: what part of NYC is your office in and what is (or was, since you're on a diet for your wedding [congrats again, btw]) your favorite pizza place in the general area?

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:43 pm

Is an NYC biglaw firm going to give a shit if I don't cut my jewfro for my SA? I'd obviously cut my hair before I start, but I'd like to keep my long hair as long as possible.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby MrPapagiorgio » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is an NYC biglaw firm going to give a shit if I don't cut my jewfro for my SA? I'd obviously cut my hair before I start, but I'd like to keep my long hair as long as possible.

Consider your priorities.

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby Eric_Arthur_Blair » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:26 pm

I've read this thread and I have a lot of similar interests and I go to school in NYC as well, so I could use any advice you've got. Generally; interested in litigation, specifically criminal defense; not interested in salary as much as independence and good fit.

Currently a 2L interning at a Public Defenders office, worked at a labor union's General Counsel last summer. I go to CUNY so there's no ranking but my grades are good. Applying mostly for Defenders offices in the area, but would be open to interning at a small firm this summer but not quite sure where to begin. Suggestions?

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:08 pm

thanks, RM, you are really cool :)

do you know how to gauge a small firm's readiness to take on one more attorney?

I've seen firms that seem to be "flexible" about it - of course I don't know the whole story and I just observed....it seems that a few upperclassment just continue to intern with their small firms and finally they become permanent.

I am working at a small firm that does a lot of pro-bono work - but also a lot of "big" cases.

I am helping a younger associate on it - it seems that they do have sort of a 'blacklog' of cases. a lot of these cases are complex civil/criminal types and it takes a seasoned attorney a few days to research every tiny issue.

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reasonable_man
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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:13 pm

NoleinNY wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:
Any of your classmates work BigLaw? If so, have you kept in touch with any of them and did you notice any changes in them? (Besides schedule, obviously)


I didn't really run with the crowd of people in LS that made biglaw (and there were so few - like less than 10 at my school). So I don't really keep up with them. There really is nothing wrong with biglaw though. I'm not a hater. If you can get paid big bucks for long hours - go for it. Its not really for me, which is a good thing, because my choice in law school more or less assured I was never getting there. I've tangled with biglaw associates and partners. I have a very good decision in my favor on a very complicated case, where I authored and argued the 12(b)(6) motion (and obtained dismissal on most issues). There are great biglaw lawyers and there are lousy ones too (just like any firm). Its an entity like any other. And frankly, the only people in the profession that get super worked up over the rank of their firm are those already working in biglaw. Us commoners don't really pay much attention to that kind of stuff.


Ah. Thanks. I'm personally not going into BigLaw, either, (don't have the class rank for it even if I wanted to) but a few of my close friends here happened to get picked for SAs. I was asking less in terms of what your opinion of big law and more in terms of whether it affected your relationship with them; of course, that appears moot, given your answer.

Much less work related question: what part of NYC is your office in and what is (or was, since you're on a diet for your wedding [congrats again, btw]) your favorite pizza place in the general area?


My office is insanely nice. I'm at the top of one of the most historic buildings in the financial district. The window in my office looks directly out into the water.. A huge perk. Pizza down by me just plain sucks (I was born in brooklyn - I'm very picky with Pizza).

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Re: NYC Small firm lawyer taking questions for a few hours

Postby reasonable_man » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:16 pm

MrPapagiorgio wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is an NYC biglaw firm going to give a shit if I don't cut my jewfro for my SA? I'd obviously cut my hair before I start, but I'd like to keep my long hair as long as possible.

Consider your priorities.



I'd tend to agree. Biglaw is a machine and they like when all the young cogs look alike. They finally started letting in Jews, women and people with brown skin (to say nothing for catholics). So I'd say - cut the hair and fall in line.




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