Litigation Firm Cultures

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Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:04 am

Seems like a lot of litigation firms are renowned for being home to a lot of agressive, Type-A personalities (Quinn, Boies, etc).

Is this a personality trait that someone just has to cultivate to be a successful litigator/get along well in a firm like this, or are there other firms on the level of a Quinn or Boies that are perhaps less "in your face"?


If it's the former, I'll put in the work to be where I need to be; just wondering if there's a have your cake and eat it too here.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:31 am

Williams & Connolly

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:41 am

This is an interesting question. I'll be at one of the firms mentioned in this thread this summer so I guess I'll be finding out the deal soon.

In my interview, the partner was just friendly and kind of nerdy; same with the associates he brought. I don't think you would need to change your personality (is that possible?) to get a job at one of these places...

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:41 pm

might be unlikely but if you remember this thread when you get there I'd love ot hear your opinions.


And I am targeting Williams and Connolly, but just don't want to put all eggs in one basket

LawIdiot86
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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby LawIdiot86 » Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:48 pm

I know a guy who started at Boies/Quinn recently, top 10% at T14, great oralist/communication and the nicest guy I've ever met. Charming, self-deprecating, humble, relatable, and maybe even a bit effeminate. Also couldn't give a shit about BigLaw prestige whoring. One of the least type-As I've met in law school. Guess he snuck in or something.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:36 am

Interesting. Good to hear, perhaps the "Type A" thing is just overblown TLS overreactions

LawIdiot86
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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby LawIdiot86 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:Interesting. Good to hear, perhaps the "Type A" thing is just overblown TLS overreactions

The other guy I knew from that duo of firms was a second or third year, also very down to earth and humble, sort of frumpy. Super smart and admitted the hours and culture were as bad as advertised. I always wrote off his specific personality as being the result of having the ego and life beaten out of him by the firm. Again, maybe he snuck in. My other friend did admit they gave him the choice of billing six 12 hour days or five 14 hour days, which he saw as an indicator the rumors of poor lifestyle were false

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:08 am

I know a guy starting at Boies. Really bright and nice guy. Funny too! I would love to work with him.

I don't think these reputations are true...

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:06 pm

It really depends on the firm. Some firms are notorious for being "aggressive," meaning they play dirty pool and hide the ball. Other firms play fair, prefering to show you their hand then bash you in the face with it. I prefer to work for the firm with integrity than the underhanded firm, but that all depends on your personality.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:It really depends on the firm. Some firms are notorious for being "aggressive," meaning they play dirty pool and hide the ball. Other firms play fair, prefering to show you their hand then bash you in the face with it. I prefer to work for the firm with integrity than the underhanded firm, but that all depends on your personality.


Being aggressive or a bulldog does not mean you play dirty. I think that litigators are competitive by nature. We want to win. And most clients want a lawyer who will do everything within the law for their case, regardless of how much they toe the lines of ethic/professionalism. Whether this necessarily equates to poor or a particular firm culture is a separate question.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby LawIdiot86 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:It really depends on the firm. Some firms are notorious for being "aggressive," meaning they play dirty pool and hide the ball. Other firms play fair, prefering to show you their hand then bash you in the face with it. I prefer to work for the firm with integrity than the underhanded firm, but that all depends on your personality.


Being aggressive or a bulldog does not mean you play dirty. I think that litigators are competitive by nature. We want to win. And most clients want a lawyer who will do everything within the law for their case, regardless of how much they toe the lines of ethic/professionalism. Whether this necessarily equates to poor or a particular firm culture is a separate question.


Part of the problem is defining what is "playing dirty." Deciding to include an extra 100,000 documents you're pretty sure aren't relevant in a 300k document production will almost never get you sanctioned as long as they blend in with the production. But they will cause the other firm to waste a ton of time and money reviewing them. Playing dirty? Sure. Not even close to an ethical line though.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:It really depends on the firm. Some firms are notorious for being "aggressive," meaning they play dirty pool and hide the ball. Other firms play fair, prefering to show you their hand then bash you in the face with it. I prefer to work for the firm with integrity than the underhanded firm, but that all depends on your personality.


Being aggressive or a bulldog does not mean you play dirty. I think that litigators are competitive by nature. We want to win. And most clients want a lawyer who will do everything within the law for their case, regardless of how much they toe the lines of ethic/professionalism. Whether this necessarily equates to poor or a particular firm culture is a separate question.


I'm talking about firms destroying documents or filing bad faith objections, representing two parties with actual conflicts of interest without having obtained a waiver (profitting off of a closing when an actual conflict existed between the parties at the time of drafting), and other such actions. I'm talking about unethical conduct, documented. A firm with integrity can over-produce if their opponent didn't craft their requests carefully. There is aggressive then "aggressive," and I don't want to be affiliated with an "aggressive," over-the-line firm.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby LawIdiot86 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:It really depends on the firm. Some firms are notorious for being "aggressive," meaning they play dirty pool and hide the ball. Other firms play fair, prefering to show you their hand then bash you in the face with it. I prefer to work for the firm with integrity than the underhanded firm, but that all depends on your personality.


Being aggressive or a bulldog does not mean you play dirty. I think that litigators are competitive by nature. We want to win. And most clients want a lawyer who will do everything within the law for their case, regardless of how much they toe the lines of ethic/professionalism. Whether this necessarily equates to poor or a particular firm culture is a separate question.


I'm talking about firms destroying documents or filing bad faith objections, representing two parties with actual conflicts of interest without having obtained a waiver (profitting off of a closing when an actual conflict existed between the parties at the time of drafting), and other such actions. I'm talking about unethical conduct, documented. A firm with integrity can over-produce if their opponent didn't craft their requests carefully. There is aggressive then "aggressive," and I don't want to be affiliated with an "aggressive," over-the-line firm.


I have a hard time squaring integrity with ideal firm behavior. I remember interviewing at a plaintiffs' firm dealing with product liability and I asked how they handled the ethical burden of learning about things in products via discovery and not being able to broadcast it because of the needs of the case. They told me not to worry because all of their cases were just based on companies failing to file the right paperwork and no one was really getting injured; they just reused the same pool of name plaintiffs. They'd been doing this for 20+ years, were one of the top firms in their sector and considered this entirely normal for their industry. Obviously aggressive, obviously legal or one of these huge defendants would have beaten the crap out of them, but I doubt I would say they were acting with integrity.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:35 pm

By aggression I meant more interpersonally rather than tactically, but this is informative as well.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:By aggression I meant more interpersonally rather than tactically, but this is informative as well.


Well, thats just an asshole. Just avoid them, they aren't fun to be around and will blacken your soul. My original post above, about avoiding nonintegrous firms, applies here as well - join an "aggressive" firm and hate the people you work with / for, go home feeling dirty and unclean, and jepordize your license to practice. No one wants that. Consider that currency is naturally dirty - think of the hands it's gone through - and is of no use in cleansing the soul.

LawIdiot86 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:It really depends on the firm. Some firms are notorious for being "aggressive," meaning they play dirty pool and hide the ball. Other firms play fair, prefering to show you their hand then bash you in the face with it. I prefer to work for the firm with integrity than the underhanded firm, but that all depends on your personality.


Being aggressive or a bulldog does not mean you play dirty. I think that litigators are competitive by nature. We want to win. And most clients want a lawyer who will do everything within the law for their case, regardless of how much they toe the lines of ethic/professionalism. Whether this necessarily equates to poor or a particular firm culture is a separate question.


I'm talking about firms destroying documents or filing bad faith objections, representing two parties with actual conflicts of interest without having obtained a waiver (profitting off of a closing when an actual conflict existed between the parties at the time of drafting), and other such actions. I'm talking about unethical conduct, documented. A firm with integrity can over-produce if their opponent didn't craft their requests carefully. There is aggressive then "aggressive," and I don't want to be affiliated with an "aggressive," over-the-line firm.


I have a hard time squaring integrity with ideal firm behavior. I remember interviewing at a plaintiffs' firm dealing with product liability and I asked how they handled the ethical burden of learning about things in products via discovery and not being able to broadcast it because of the needs of the case. They told me not to worry because all of their cases were just based on companies failing to file the right paperwork and no one was really getting injured; they just reused the same pool of name plaintiffs. They'd been doing this for 20+ years, were one of the top firms in their sector and considered this entirely normal for their industry. Obviously aggressive, obviously legal or one of these huge defendants would have beaten the crap out of them, but I doubt I would say they were acting with integrity.


During OCI, we had one small plaintiff's / personal injury firm interview, and I went just because I got the offer and wanted to see everything available. I asked the guy, what makes a good plaintiff's attorney? He told me you have to get used to not trusting your client, knowing they are bullshitting you. I don't do personal injury plaintiff's work, (I defend against them on occassion), but I think I may have seen enough that I could make money doing plaintiff's work. You simply file a large volume of claims - discovery may show your client's case to be meritless, but guess what? This isn't a secret, but a $20,000 claim quickly becomes a settlement imperative for a corporate client cognizant of the mounting legal bills and the fact that driving the case to a decision on the merits will simply cost more than the settlement value. Maybe the one thing that sucks about my job is settling meritless claims because it is cheaper than defending. Goddamn do I hate seeing some sleazeball plaintiff completely full of shit (or really stupid) obtain a settlement simply because they were either (1) willing to straight lie to the court or (2) too stupid (brilliant?) to accept an earlier, cheaper settlement because they don't understand how little legal merit their case may have had. I mean, I came busting out of law school, a top notch legal researcher who finds joy in digging through caselaw until I find the obscure and completely on-point precedent applicable to our case, but it doesn't matter - the client wants to settle. I prefer the more commercial case, between two busniesses both run by assholes - at least when everyone's hands are a little bit dirty, the parties are willing to drive a case to decision on merit despite the mounting legal costs, because it is about fucking your competitor or getting revenge or sticking it to a suddenly deadbeat supplier / vendor / customer. In business, everyone comes to the table knowing they are gambling. In plaintiff's work, it pays to cheat, as the plaintiff has zero concern for reputation and losing exposes plaintiff (personally) to no risk. His attorneys may look bad, but that impact is lessened when you're running 10 cases through the motion call per day - if you dig deep enough, you find shit, and it eventually sticks, and despite what the Supreme Court says, companies are not people - they don't feel, and they are more willing to pay when they've fucked up than the private individual, as again, companies know they are gambling, but for the individual, it's personal. And the unscrupulous individual? That person knows not to flinch 'till they see the dollas.

I would do what I do for free if someone paid me well to do it.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby johndhi » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:26 am

Anonymous User wrote:
During OCI, we had one small plaintiff's / personal injury firm interview, and I went just because I got the offer and wanted to see everything available. I asked the guy, what makes a good plaintiff's attorney? He told me you have to get used to not trusting your client, knowing they are bullshitting you. I don't do personal injury plaintiff's work, (I defend against them on occassion), but I think I may have seen enough that I could make money doing plaintiff's work. You simply file a large volume of claims - discovery may show your client's case to be meritless, but guess what? This isn't a secret, but a $20,000 claim quickly becomes a settlement imperative for a corporate client cognizant of the mounting legal bills and the fact that driving the case to a decision on the merits will simply cost more than the settlement value. Maybe the one thing that sucks about my job is settling meritless claims because it is cheaper than defending. Goddamn do I hate seeing some sleazeball plaintiff completely full of shit (or really stupid) obtain a settlement simply because they were either (1) willing to straight lie to the court or (2) too stupid (brilliant?) to accept an earlier, cheaper settlement because they don't understand how little legal merit their case may have had. I mean, I came busting out of law school, a top notch legal researcher who finds joy in digging through caselaw until I find the obscure and completely on-point precedent applicable to our case, but it doesn't matter - the client wants to settle. I prefer the more commercial case, between two busniesses both run by assholes - at least when everyone's hands are a little bit dirty, the parties are willing to drive a case to decision on merit despite the mounting legal costs, because it is about fucking your competitor or getting revenge or sticking it to a suddenly deadbeat supplier / vendor / customer. In business, everyone comes to the table knowing they are gambling. In plaintiff's work, it pays to cheat, as the plaintiff has zero concern for reputation and losing exposes plaintiff (personally) to no risk. His attorneys may look bad, but that impact is lessened when you're running 10 cases through the motion call per day - if you dig deep enough, you find shit, and it eventually sticks, and despite what the Supreme Court says, companies are not people - they don't feel, and they are more willing to pay when they've fucked up than the private individual, as again, companies know they are gambling, but for the individual, it's personal. And the unscrupulous individual? That person knows not to flinch 'till they see the dollas.

I would do what I do for free if someone paid me well to do it.


Wow, this is quite a post. Some things to think about: yes, there are meritless cases, but there are also meritorious ones. Your mindset, which is shared by defendants and many judges, means that meritorious lawsuits are often settled for a fraction of real compensation - see, for example, Federal Rule 26, which basically encourages judges to broker settlements, which, by definition, underpay meritorious plaintiffs. I think you also look at risk aversion like it favors contingency fee plaintiffs, but you're at least slightly wrong and possibly looking in the wrong direction entirely: small-time plaintiffs are bullied into settling because $0 means the end of their life/family; although $500,000 means compensation, they will take $50,000 because it gets them through the year. Big companies can afford to play hardball. Finally, yes, companies end up paying out nuisance settlements, but perhaps that is a tax on doing business in an otherwise highly capitalist environment? In Europe large agency programs and social welfare deals with the same sorts of injuries that are only redressible in this country through the court system; there, companies pay this money in the form of higher taxes; here, it is paid to lawyers and litigants, some of which (unfortunately, but probably better than massive bureaocratic inefficiency) are meritless.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Renzo » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:24 pm

In general, lawyers are aggressive, assertive, extroverted types. This isn't just a litigation phenomenon. But, don't confuse that fact with the litigation firms' branding: it's a part of their image to sell themselves as ruthless and aggressive killers. But unless you are the kind of person who thinks drinking Gatorade will let you dunk like MJ, there's no reason for you to pick a firm based on this.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Napt » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:34 pm

Renzo wrote:In general, lawyers are aggressive, assertive, extroverted types.

That's not really true.

"In the general population, men and women show extraversion at the same rate, i.e., 75%. With lawyers, things are different in two ways. First, lawyers as a group are much more introverted than the general population. Richard pegged 57% of lawyers as introverts."
http://leavinglaw.wordpress.com/2010/12 ... rsonality/

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby imchuckbass58 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:40 pm

Most good litigators are aggressive/type-A/competitive/whatever you want to call it in the sense of wanting to win, advocating zealously, standing firm to tactics meant to intimidate them, exploiting others' mistakes/weaknesses, using aggressive tactics when the situation warrants, etc. This is probably a desirable trait in a litigator, though less so in a person.

The big difference is there seem to be some lawyers who are able to limit this behavior to their adversary, and are perfectly nice, friendly, caring people when it comes to their coworkers or their personal life. Then there are those who exhibit those traits in all aspects of their lives, and thus get branded (I think justifiably), as huge assholes. Being a dick to the junior associate working for you doesn't make you a better litigator.

Your experience may vary, but in my experience there are definitely firms (including some of the ones you mentioned) that have more of the latter type, and fewer of the former. Personally, I would avoid them.
Last edited by imchuckbass58 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:42 pm

OP here

any chance you can talk about which firms fall into which category?

I'm assuming W & C is one of the firms where the lawyers are able to limit that behavior

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby imchuckbass58 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here

any chance you can talk about which firms fall into which category?

I'm assuming W & C is one of the firms where the lawyers are able to limit that behavior


The stereotypes you hear are more true than many people make them out to be.

Before someone objects, yes, I am sure there are great, nice people at Quinn and I'm sure there are folks who are not so great at Cleary, but I'm talking overall culture/personality here, not a categorical, across the board statement about every individual.
Last edited by imchuckbass58 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:33 pm

For the firms that have multiple offices, are you generally talking about NY or is this firmwide?

I'm hoping to be in DC

imchuckbass58
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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby imchuckbass58 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:43 am

I am only familiar with NY

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:03 pm

interested to see other perspectives

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Re: Litigation Firm Cultures

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:11 pm

OP, bumping in hopes that Anon #3 sees this.




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