NYC to 180k

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thesealocust
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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby thesealocust » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:44 am

The big firms with 3-digit summer class sizes don't fire people, they lose people. One reason is because as the "best" firms their associates also have the best exit options. Many even leave for other jobs before they start at the firm.

I've had extensive conversations with people working and summering at such firms, and the consensus is that for at least the first several years you'd have to do something seriously fucked up to get fired. Even if you manage to miss the signals that you don't have a future with the firm, you tend to be told gently & far in advance and are given assistance in finding another job.

The "clock to your head" is just the fact that these firms are pressure cookers which demand far too much time of their lawyers and put them under far too much stress. Many if not most look for the exits pretty quickly after they start.

Big Law, much like methamphetamine, isn't really all that bad on its own - its the sleep deprivation and horrible lifestyle many maintain while abusing meth or working at a big law firm which winds up really doing the damage.

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NinerFan
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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby NinerFan » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:09 pm

thesealocust wrote:The big firms with 3-digit summer class sizes don't fire people, they lose people. One reason is because as the "best" firms their associates also have the best exit options. Many even leave for other jobs before they start at the firm.

I've had extensive conversations with people working and summering at such firms, and the consensus is that for at least the first several years you'd have to do something seriously fucked up to get fired. Even if you manage to miss the signals that you don't have a future with the firm, you tend to be told gently & far in advance and are given assistance in finding another job.

The "clock to your head" is just the fact that these firms are pressure cookers which demand far too much time of their lawyers and put them under far too much stress. Many if not most look for the exits pretty quickly after they start.

Big Law, much like methamphetamine, isn't really all that bad on its own - its the sleep deprivation and horrible lifestyle many maintain while abusing meth or working at a big law firm which winds up really doing the damage.


If you've talked with a bunch of people, I guess you'd know better than me, but this sounds like pre-ITE

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thesealocust
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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby thesealocust » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:30 pm

Nope, very current info.

During the worst of ITE people stopped leaving firms. Some big firms did stealth layoffs, but given the whole point (making them stealthy) it's hard to get concrete info. And no matter how stealth layoffs were conducted, it still wasn't pruning first and second years. Many big / good firms either didn't stealth or did it to a small enough scale that it can plausibly be said they didn't do it.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby sunynp » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:53 pm

thesealocust wrote:Nope, very current info.

During the worst of ITE people stopped leaving firms. Some big firms did stealth layoffs, but given the whole point (making them stealthy) it's hard to get concrete info. And no matter how stealth layoffs were conducted, it still wasn't pruning first and second years. Many big / good firms either didn't stealth or did it to a small enough scale that it can plausibly be said they didn't do it.


So the stealth layoffs were not announced. And the Lathaming of 1and 2 year associates didnt happen? I'm not sure what you are saying. A number of 1st and 2nd years were cut, people were no offfered or had offers revoked or were ar the minimum deferred for a year at reduced salary.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby thesealocust » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:19 pm

The problem is that you're talking about "law firms" and I'm talking about "top law firms in NYC that had - and have returned to - gargantuan class sizes" a/k/a V10-15 firms based in NYC, with some obvious exceptions.

My comments were in response to Fresh Prince who was talking about firms like STB and Cleary. Definitely not generally applicable.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby TatteredDignity » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:32 pm

thesealocust wrote:The problem is that you're talking about "law firms" and I'm talking about "top law firms in NYC that had - and have returned to - gargantuan class sizes" a/k/a V10-15 firms based in NYC, with some obvious exceptions.


Who?

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby NinerFan » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:53 pm

TatteredDignity wrote:
thesealocust wrote:The problem is that you're talking about "law firms" and I'm talking about "top law firms in NYC that had - and have returned to - gargantuan class sizes" a/k/a V10-15 firms based in NYC, with some obvious exceptions.


Who?


Weil comes to mind. They definitely had deferments and layoffs.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby thesealocust » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:50 pm

Also I said 'NYC based' which technically would disqualify Latham, but it was seen as one of the big dogs before the crash and everybody knows how well that worked out for them. Skadden and Cravath both had their programs gummed up (deferrals, massive summer class size reductions, etc.) if I recall correctly, though neither did (public) layoffs. Other firms (DPW, S&C, Cleary, Debevoise, Paul Weiss, STB and a few others) weathered 'ITE' remarkably well by all public metrics (summer class size, timely start dates, PPP, etc.) and are the ones that I thought Fresh Prince was mentioning with respect to large / increasingly large summer class sizes.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby NinerFan » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:07 pm

thesealocust wrote:Also I said 'NYC based' which technically would disqualify Latham, but it was seen as one of the big dogs before the crash and everybody knows how well that worked out for them. Skadden and Cravath both had their programs gummed up (deferrals, massive summer class size reductions, etc.) if I recall correctly, though neither did (public) layoffs. Other firms (DPW, S&C, Cleary, Debevoise, Paul Weiss, STB and a few others) weathered 'ITE' remarkably well by all public metrics (summer class size, timely start dates, PPP, etc.) and are the ones that I thought Fresh Prince was mentioning with respect to large / increasingly large summer class sizes.


I don't have access to NLJ numbers from past years, but I would be surprised if there was no reduction in headcount at these V15 firms you cite. The top firms as rated by Vault might have, for the most part, avoided public layoffs, but it seems like every firm probably did some stealth pruning.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby Renzo » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:37 pm

NinerFan wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Also I said 'NYC based' which technically would disqualify Latham, but it was seen as one of the big dogs before the crash and everybody knows how well that worked out for them. Skadden and Cravath both had their programs gummed up (deferrals, massive summer class size reductions, etc.) if I recall correctly, though neither did (public) layoffs. Other firms (DPW, S&C, Cleary, Debevoise, Paul Weiss, STB and a few others) weathered 'ITE' remarkably well by all public metrics (summer class size, timely start dates, PPP, etc.) and are the ones that I thought Fresh Prince was mentioning with respect to large / increasingly large summer class sizes.


I don't have access to NLJ numbers from past years, but I would be surprised if there was no reduction in headcount at these V15 firms you cite. The top firms as rated by Vault might have, for the most part, avoided public layoffs, but it seems like every firm probably did some stealth pruning.



You are right, but here's how a 'stealth layoff' works:

You get an annual performance review that essentially says you are OK, but not great, and probably not on partnership track. Partners stop giving you the choicest work, and you notice you aren't don't really get invited to client meetings. After a few months of this, you get the message, and start accepting headhunters' phone calls occasionally. A few more months, and you notice that there are one or two partners who just don't give you any work anymore, so your hours are a little low. A year of this goes by, and you get another mediocre review, in part based on your low billables, so you start actively shopping your resume around to recruiters. A few months later, you hear through one of your counterparts in a clients' GC's office that they are hiring. You make the move; the firm sends out a big congratulatory email, and all the partners that have shunned you for 18 months play up what a tragedy it is to lose you, and how happy they are to see you going to a longtime client, and what good work you'll do for them, etc.

The "stealth" part comes in because although you are, in fact, being pushed out, it's done so that no one knows it was anything but a voluntary decision you made to take another position.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby wiseowl » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:24 pm

Renzo wrote:
NinerFan wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Also I said 'NYC based' which technically would disqualify Latham, but it was seen as one of the big dogs before the crash and everybody knows how well that worked out for them. Skadden and Cravath both had their programs gummed up (deferrals, massive summer class size reductions, etc.) if I recall correctly, though neither did (public) layoffs. Other firms (DPW, S&C, Cleary, Debevoise, Paul Weiss, STB and a few others) weathered 'ITE' remarkably well by all public metrics (summer class size, timely start dates, PPP, etc.) and are the ones that I thought Fresh Prince was mentioning with respect to large / increasingly large summer class sizes.


I don't have access to NLJ numbers from past years, but I would be surprised if there was no reduction in headcount at these V15 firms you cite. The top firms as rated by Vault might have, for the most part, avoided public layoffs, but it seems like every firm probably did some stealth pruning.





You are right, but here's how a 'stealth layoff' works:

You get an annual performance review that essentially says you are OK, but not great, and probably not on partnership track. Partners stop giving you the choicest work, and you notice you aren't don't really get invited to client meetings. After a few months of this, you get the message, and start accepting headhunters' phone calls occasionally. A few more months, and you notice that there are one or two partners who just don't give you any work anymore, so your hours are a little low. A year of this goes by, and you get another mediocre review, in part based on your low billables, so you start actively shopping your resume around to recruiters. A few months later, you hear through one of your counterparts in a clients' GC's office that they are hiring. You make the move; the firm sends out a big congratulatory email, and all the partners that have shunned you for 18 months play up what a tragedy it is to lose you, and how happy they are to see you going to a longtime client, and what good work you'll do for them, etc.

The "stealth" part comes in because although you are, in fact, being pushed out, it's done so that no one knows it was anything but a voluntary decision you made to take another position.


If this is a stealth layoff, then every big firm does dozens of them a year. What you're describing is just natural attrition as 98% of associates inevitably discover they aren't making partner at their current firm.

It would be more of a stealth layoff if at one of those bad reviews you were told something like "I think you should start considering other options" but aren't explicitly told "you're out in two months."
Last edited by wiseowl on Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby Old Gregg » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:56 pm

The big firms with 3-digit summer class sizes don't fire people, they lose people.


:lol:

(DPW, S&C, Cleary, Debevoise, Paul Weiss, STB and a few others) weathered 'ITE' remarkably well by all public metrics (summer class size, timely start dates, PPP, etc.)


One of those is unlike the others in this regard.



I really don't care nor have the time to debate this. Your views will change as you experience it. In the meanwhile, I'll withhold the "I told you so," mostly because it's really crass and insensitive to be so glib and peoples' careers are on the line. In any, always beautiful to watch the TLS echo chamber in action. Also beautiful to watch people rush to defend the V5s and V10s that they summered at or will summer at. I'm at a V[edited]. While I like where I work and enjoy what I do, I always think a good dose of reality is never in too much supply.

FYI: STB did defer their class for a year :wink:

And I don't mean to trash these firms. I think they're great places. Just don't walk in thinking that all of your summer class will still be at the firm by year 2, and definitely don't think that all departures, or even most, were voluntary. That's just painfully naive.
Last edited by Old Gregg on Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:27 pm

Fresh Prince wrote:
The big firms with 3-digit summer class sizes don't fire people, they lose people.


:lol:

(DPW, S&C, Cleary, Debevoise, Paul Weiss, STB and a few others) weathered 'ITE' remarkably well by all public metrics (summer class size, timely start dates, PPP, etc.)


One of those is unlike the others in this regard.



I really don't care nor have the time to debate this. Your views will change as you experience it. In the meanwhile, I'll withhold the "I told you so," mostly because it's really crass and insensitive to be so glib and peoples' careers are on the line. In any, always beautiful to watch the TLS echo chamber in action. Also beautiful to watch people rush to defend the V5s and V10s that they summered at or will summer at. I'm at a V10. While I like where I work and enjoy what I do, I always think a good dose of reality is never in too much supply.

FYI: STB did defer their class for a year :wink:

And I don't mean to trash these firms. I think they're great places. Just don't walk in thinking that all of your summer class will still be at the firm by year 2, and definitely don't think that all departures, or even most, were voluntary. That's just painfully naive.


FYI I'm currently at STB and they didn't defer anyone. They had a deferral program for current associates to take a year and do PI (some of whom admittedly didn't come back) but they didn't mess with incoming people other than having smaller SA classes in 09/10.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby Old Gregg » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:45 pm

They had a deferral program for current associates to take a year and do PI (some of whom admittedly didn't come back) but they didn't mess with incoming people other than having smaller SA classes in 09/10.


I'm counting optional deferrals here.

Let me be clear again that I mean no ill will toward any of these firms. They're clearly great places to start your career, and the training I've received has been invaluable. I simply wouldn't get it anywhere else. All of this ultimately just goes toward my point that salaries aren't going up for big firms any time soon.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:14 pm

Fresh Prince wrote:
They had a deferral program for current associates to take a year and do PI (some of whom admittedly didn't come back) but they didn't mess with incoming people other than having smaller SA classes in 09/10.


I'm counting optional deferrals here.

Let me be clear again that I mean no ill will toward any of these firms. They're clearly great places to start your career, and the training I've received has been invaluable. I simply wouldn't get it anywhere else. All of this ultimately just goes toward my point that salaries aren't going up for big firms any time soon.


Same anony from above. I honestly couldn't care less if you say bad things about my firm, I'm not a stakeholder and every firm has some things that suck about it (there's a reason the half-life of a junior associate in biglaw is about only 2~2.5 years). But just for the sake of accuracy, the deferrals were optional, few in number and weren't offered to incoming associates. They were basically extended severance packages for people who would have left anyway but didn't have anywhere to go since the lateral/in house market was dead, some who took the deferral did come back as well fwiw.

I don't want to take away from your main message though, your advice that incoming associates/summers should come in aware that it's a tough environment where nothing is given to you (other than a few lunches during the summer) is great advice that should be taken seriously. You didn't win the race by getting an offer from biglaw, it's more like qualifying to start near the front in a marathon.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby TatteredDignity » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:it's more like qualifying to start near the front in a marathon.


And that's what they said after getting a good LSAT score, getting into a law school, and getting good grades. Starting to see a theme in this law game.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby legends159 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:25 pm

TatteredDignity wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:it's more like qualifying to start near the front in a marathon.


And that's what they said after getting a good LSAT score, getting into a law school, and getting good grades. Starting to see a theme in this law game.


I think that's the theme of life. You can't solely rely on past laurels.

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sunynp
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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby sunynp » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:41 pm

I found this old ATL article that mentioned some deferral programs: http://abovethelaw.com/2009/05/dewey-le ... w=comments

but I found it only because I know of this guy:
http://abovethelaw.com/2010/07/a-genius ... rral-time/

His site-- rap genius-- has been growing fast.

This one from the summer talked about people finally getting to work after being deferred:
--LinkRemoved--

Also anyone wanting an overview of layoffs past and present might take a look at law shucks. I haven't spent much time at the site, but the information from just a couple of years ago puts things in perspective. I'm mentioning this because it is wrong to assume that layoffs are over and things are completely back to normal. Which is why the idea that salaries are going up seems absurd to me.

And I realize I've probably been trolled by this thread But maybe someone will appreciate this info - if nothing else and you're bored read about Mahbood and his rap site.

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Old Gregg
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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby Old Gregg » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fresh Prince wrote:
They had a deferral program for current associates to take a year and do PI (some of whom admittedly didn't come back) but they didn't mess with incoming people other than having smaller SA classes in 09/10.


I'm counting optional deferrals here.

Let me be clear again that I mean no ill will toward any of these firms. They're clearly great places to start your career, and the training I've received has been invaluable. I simply wouldn't get it anywhere else. All of this ultimately just goes toward my point that salaries aren't going up for big firms any time soon.


Same anony from above. I honestly couldn't care less if you say bad things about my firm, I'm not a stakeholder and every firm has some things that suck about it (there's a reason the half-life of a junior associate in biglaw is about only 2~2.5 years). But just for the sake of accuracy, the deferrals were optional, few in number and weren't offered to incoming associates. They were basically extended severance packages for people who would have left anyway but didn't have anywhere to go since the lateral/in house market was dead, some who took the deferral did come back as well fwiw.

I don't want to take away from your main message though, your advice that incoming associates/summers should come in aware that it's a tough environment where nothing is given to you (other than a few lunches during the summer) is great advice that should be taken seriously. You didn't win the race by getting an offer from biglaw, it's more like qualifying to start near the front in a marathon.



Cool. Glad we're on the same page.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby rayiner » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:09 am

r6_philly wrote:
concurrent fork wrote:Questionable reporting by ATL on this one. I really doubt the big firms see any retention threat from an IP boutique moving to 180K. I also fail to see how this will "trickle down through recruiting" since 99% of law students don't have an EE degree.

I'm hopeful, but realistic.


So new IP associates to 180k? :mrgreen:


Quite possibly. Kirkland, Irell, Quinn, and now Desmaris are all IP-heavy firms that pay above-market.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby rayiner » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:34 am

thesealocust wrote:
Renzo wrote: And in biglaw, retention isn't about where are people going to go and make more, it's a matter of "are we paying these miserable fucks enough to keep them from quitting to go work sane hours at half the salary."


This. People leave big law to earn less and also feel less suicidal, not to earn more. The point about retention is that when the market heats up (and it is) more opportunities for less shitty (and likely less well remunerated) jobs open up and firms start losing attorneys. They mess with salary and bonus to try and lose fewer attorneys.

As for base salary vs. bonuses vs. the supply of law students vs. the quality of those students vs. any number of other factors, it's all black magic figured out by the firms. A global base salary increase doesn't seem likely, but it's hardly out of the question just because there are more law students than big firm jobs. That's always been (extremely) true. At the height of the contraction we were looking at maybe 50K law students / year for maybe 4K big firm jobs; at the height of the boom it wasn't likely any more than 45K students / 6K big firm jobs. Salaries went up then even though the supply was super-saturated. The fact that it's more super-saturated now can't be terribly relevant, per Renzo's reasoning.


Supply/demand is the wrong way to analyze big law salaries. The market isn't an efficient market in that sense. Legal services are in some situations prestige goods, and the 50k law students aren't fungible. What's relevant is how the big firms that set the pace (S&C, STB, etc) are doing, and what alternatives the law students they hire (honors at CCN) have.

The thing that big law salaries are most tied to are housing prices in Manhattan: http://furmancenter.org/files/Trends_in ... iation.pdf (pp. 14-15). From 1989 to 2007, Cravath's starting salary increased from $82k to $160k (95%), while housing prices in Manhattan from 1989-2006 increased 94%.

Interestingly, total out of state tuition at Michigan for a C/O 1989 grad was about 38% of a Cravath first-year salary. For C/O 2007 it was 66% of a first-year's salary.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby Bronck » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:04 am

rayiner wrote:Supply/demand is the wrong way to analyze big law salaries. The market isn't an efficient market in that sense. Legal services are in some situations prestige goods, and the 50k law students aren't fungible. What's relevant is how the big firms that set the pace (S&C, STB, etc) are doing, and what alternatives the law students they hire (honors at CCN) have.

The thing that big law salaries are most tied to are housing prices in Manhattan: http://furmancenter.org/files/Trends_in ... iation.pdf (pp. 14-15). From 1989 to 2007, Cravath's starting salary increased from $82k to $160k (95%), while housing prices in Manhattan from 1989-2006 increased 94%.

Interestingly, total out of state tuition at Michigan for a C/O 1989 grad was about 38% of a Cravath first-year salary. For C/O 2007 it was 66% of a first-year's salary.


That's actually quite interesting. Median home prices in Manhattan have changed very little from 2006 to now. If we look at Douglas Elliman's Prudential reports (http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/06/real_es ... /index.htm) we get 880k in Q2 2006. The report for Q4 of 2011 is 855k (http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/04/real_es ... /index.htm), down from 911k in Q3.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby run26.2 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:59 am

rayiner wrote:
r6_philly wrote:
concurrent fork wrote:Questionable reporting by ATL on this one. I really doubt the big firms see any retention threat from an IP boutique moving to 180K. I also fail to see how this will "trickle down through recruiting" since 99% of law students don't have an EE degree.

I'm hopeful, but realistic.


So new IP associates to 180k? :mrgreen:


Quite possibly. Kirkland, Irell, Quinn, and now Desmaris are all IP-heavy firms that pay above-market.

Aside from Desmaris, the other firms only pay above market in that their bonuses are above the Cravath scale. I can see this distinction mattering in 2 ways:

1) You have to work more to get a higher bonus at K&E and Quinn
2) Having an above-market bonus is less of a win for an associate IMO because associates expect bonuses to fluctuate, but do not expect salaries to fluctuate, so having an above market comp based on bonus is a bit more transient

In any case, the total compensation at these firms is "above market."

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:34 am

1) You have to work more to get a higher bonus at K&E and Quinn


This is patently false, at least for Kirkland. Even billers in the low 2000s made more than Cravath last December. And if you billed what you would have billed at Cravath, you'd have been looking at triple to quadruple the market bonus. Even more if you were rated above-class or higher.

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Re: NYC to 180k

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:35 am

Bronck wrote:
rayiner wrote:Supply/demand is the wrong way to analyze big law salaries. The market isn't an efficient market in that sense. Legal services are in some situations prestige goods, and the 50k law students aren't fungible. What's relevant is how the big firms that set the pace (S&C, STB, etc) are doing, and what alternatives the law students they hire (honors at CCN) have.

The thing that big law salaries are most tied to are housing prices in Manhattan: http://furmancenter.org/files/Trends_in ... iation.pdf (pp. 14-15). From 1989 to 2007, Cravath's starting salary increased from $82k to $160k (95%), while housing prices in Manhattan from 1989-2006 increased 94%.

Interestingly, total out of state tuition at Michigan for a C/O 1989 grad was about 38% of a Cravath first-year salary. For C/O 2007 it was 66% of a first-year's salary.


That's actually quite interesting. Median home prices in Manhattan have changed very little from 2006 to now. If we look at Douglas Elliman's Prudential reports (http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/06/real_es ... /index.htm) we get 880k in Q2 2006. The report for Q4 of 2011 is 855k (http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/04/real_es ... /index.htm), down from 911k in Q3.


Median home prices aren't changing because no one's really buying, except at the super high end. Instead, rents are skyrocketing.




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