Dallas Firms

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby 005618502 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This is a very difficult analysis for Dallas, imo. Unlike Houston where, imo, 5 big firms are tops for work quality (VE, AK, BG, and BB for corp, FJ for lit) with very few other strong offices (with the exception of Latham and all of the lit boutiques), Dallas is very, very different.

Dallas has a large number of firms in the 100-200 lawyer range, and very few strong Dallas-based firms in the mix (with the exception of HB, TK, and LL). However, contrary to most of the other people in this thread, I think there is a HUGE difference when it comes to working for a satellite office of a BigTex firm versus the home office. Not career debilitating-huge, but still very important. Personally, I would never work at BB, VE, and BG Dallas - sure, they draw great students, but they are afterthoughts to both firm's strategies. Both firms see Houston, NY, and International as growth areas with Dallas and Austin as markets they simply need a presence in. There are also very significant cultural differences between the Dallas and Houston offices of each of those firms (VE, in particular, is a stark contrast - VE Houston is extroverted and social while VE Dallas is like a smaller version of BB Houston).

If you aren't overly concerned about making partner, you should absolutely try to work for Weil, Gibson or Jones Day. You may work a little harder, but you will get compensated for it after the first couple of years as compared to working for Texas firms.

However, if partnership is a factor, I would only really consider HB or TK for corporate work or LL (and lit boutiques) for litigation. If you decide you don't want to make partner, you can always lateral from HB to a national satellite office - the turnover is so high at those places, they are always looking for new associates. However, the reverse isn’t true – HB and TK almost never take laterals from within Dallas after the first couple years of practice. They hire big classes and focus on retention for a reason. And if it turns out when you get to be an 8th year at HB or TK that partnership isn’t in your future, your options will be the same as they would be at VE or BB – you can go in house or you can make partner at Gardere or Winstead.

With all of that said, if you want to do corporate/m&a/capital markets/private equity work, HB is by far the largest group in town and they are known for having a manageable work life balance and friendly people. If it doesn’t work out, there will be no shortage of exit opportunities, but the upside could be huge.


I have worked in a law firm in TX for a while now, and this seems about right. The only question I have is, do you really think it is easier to make partner at Locke Lord than at F&J if you are interested in litigation primarily?

Also, you mention litigation bouriques, are there any good ones in Dallas worth mentioning? (Good pay, good work, decent partner prospects?)

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:interesting. I didn't realize HB was so strong. This is somewhat of a tangent, but does anyone know if I'm limiting my career by not working for a big 3 in Houston? I'm not from the state so I don't know very much about either city. I've been to each city once and I thought dallas seemed a bit nicer, but would it be better in the long term to work in houston?


HB isn't strong in everything - but if (a) you want to be in Dallas, (b) you want a shot at partner and (c) you want to do Corporate/Real Estate/Appellate/White Collar, you should strongly consider HB. The key is to really figure out what practice you want and which firms are strong in that practice in the city you want to be in (if that is that firm's home office, that is also a serious consideration)

There is no question that the best transactional work in Texas (at a Texas-based firm) is at VE Houston, but there are plenty of other good firms where you can get great experience and have great prospects other than VE Houston. If you want to be in Houston, and you want to do transactional work, try to work for VE (and if you can't or you prefer a different firm culture, look at AK or BG - BB is increasingly becoming an IP powerhouse and not as dominant in corporate as it used to be - plus the Houston BB office has a miserable firm culture imo). But you should by no means rule out Dallas - it is a great place to live.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:39 pm

AssumptionRequired wrote:I have worked in a law firm in TX for a while now, and this seems about right. The only question I have is, do you really think it is easier to make partner at Locke Lord than at F&J if you are interested in litigation primarily?

Also, you mention litigation bouriques, are there any good ones in Dallas worth mentioning? (Good pay, good work, decent partner prospects?)


I would imagine it would be easier to make partner at LL than FJ - especially in the Dallas offices of both, but I don't know how much easier. I would also strongly consider TK and HB for litigation at a big Dallas firm - especially if you want to do a specialty. As for boutiques, I really have no idea other than that Susman is obviously very strong.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:51 pm

Any insight on Tax practices at Dallas firms?

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any insight on Tax practices at Dallas firms?


If you want to work for a Texas-based firm, work for TK - not even a close call. That said, if you would consider Houston, I would consider VE and, if you are OK with BB Houston's office culture, BB as well.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby VY10 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
AssumptionRequired wrote:I have worked in a law firm in TX for a while now, and this seems about right. The only question I have is, do you really think it is easier to make partner at Locke Lord than at F&J if you are interested in litigation primarily?

Also, you mention litigation bouriques, are there any good ones in Dallas worth mentioning? (Good pay, good work, decent partner prospects?)


I would imagine it would be easier to make partner at LL than FJ - especially in the Dallas offices of both, but I don't know how much easier. I would also strongly consider TK and HB for litigation at a big Dallas firm - especially if you want to do a specialty. As for boutiques, I really have no idea other than that Susman is obviously very strong.


Interesting. It would seem to me that one's ability to bring in business is the driving factor to make partner. Location does have an impact on one's ability to bring in business (there is more business in Dallas v. Austin), but it seems to me you're saying location is a much larger factor in the partner analysis than I had previously thought.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:18 pm

I can offer some insight into LL Dallas (not FJ though) because I did a summer there (first half only in the Dallas office). Since Dallas is the firm's HQ office there seems to be a good mix of everything: corporate, real estate, litigation (with a separate department that focuses on business litigation). If you are unsure about what to pursue you can try out several departments and re-evaluate as the summer progresses. There are about 180 attorneys in the office so it is a good size. As far as the partner track goes, if you want to become partner you most likely can (at least from the impression I got). The firm hires everyone with the intention of becoming partner (obviously for different reasons that does not always happen- don't meet hour requirements, take less hours because you want to spend more time with family, decide to become counsel instead, etc...) but for almost all attorneys at the firm that I met that had been there for 8 years or more (the amount of time it takes to become partner) they were partners (and many of the older partners had been with the firm since graduating in the 70s and 80s). Like I said I have no idea what the partner track at FJ is like.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:31 pm

VY10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
AssumptionRequired wrote:I have worked in a law firm in TX for a while now, and this seems about right. The only question I have is, do you really think it is easier to make partner at Locke Lord than at F&J if you are interested in litigation primarily?

Also, you mention litigation bouriques, are there any good ones in Dallas worth mentioning? (Good pay, good work, decent partner prospects?)


I would imagine it would be easier to make partner at LL than FJ - especially in the Dallas offices of both, but I don't know how much easier. I would also strongly consider TK and HB for litigation at a big Dallas firm - especially if you want to do a specialty. As for boutiques, I really have no idea other than that Susman is obviously very strong.


Interesting. It would seem to me that one's ability to bring in business is the driving factor to make partner. Location does have an impact on one's ability to bring in business (there is more business in Dallas v. Austin), but it seems to me you're saying location is a much larger factor in the partner analysis than I had previously thought.


Much, much larger. Also - the size of the firm in that respective market helps. If you work at a 250 person firm in Dallas that has been around for a while, you have that many more resources and connections with which to develop business. It also helps being at a large firm for exit ops since the larger firm likely has many more local relationships. As to the person that said you often see laterals from lower Vault ranked firms in Dallas to national satellite offices, that is 100% true. Usually it is in the midlevel and it is for associates that don't plan on making partner but want higher bonuses for a few years. However, you almost never see associates from national satellite offices lateral to BigTex firms (unless they're lateraling from out of state).

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby 005618502 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I can offer some insight into LL Dallas (not FJ though) because I did a summer there (first half only in the Dallas office). Since Dallas is the firm's HQ office there seems to be a good mix of everything: corporate, real estate, litigation (with a separate department that focuses on business litigation). If you are unsure about what to pursue you can try out several departments and re-evaluate as the summer progresses. There are about 180 attorneys in the office so it is a good size. As far as the partner track goes, if you want to become partner you most likely can (at least from the impression I got). The firm hires everyone with the intention of becoming partner (obviously for different reasons that does not always happen- don't meet hour requirements, take less hours because you want to spend more time with family, decide to become counsel instead, etc...) but for almost all attorneys at the firm that I met that had been there for 8 years or more (the amount of time it takes to become partner) they were partners (and many of the older partners had been with the firm since graduating in the 70s and 80s). Like I said I have no idea what the partner track at FJ is like.


This is interesting to hear. I know you were only there for a half summer, but you didnt hear/get the impression that people were forced out after a certain time period? Or just straight up told they were on partnership track and to start looking elsewhere?
It is rare you hear of a firm of that size not being rediculously hard to make partner

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Usually it is in the midlevel and it is for associates that don't plan on making partner but want higher bonuses for a few years. However, you almost never see associates from national satellite offices lateral to BigTex firms (unless they're lateraling from out of state).


As a summer associate at two national "satellites" I find this a bit concerning. Does it matter if the national firm has a larger presence in the city than some TX based firms?

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Usually it is in the midlevel and it is for associates that don't plan on making partner but want higher bonuses for a few years. However, you almost never see associates from national satellite offices lateral to BigTex firms (unless they're lateraling from out of state).


As a summer associate at two national "satellites" I find this a bit concerning. Does it matter if the national firm has a larger presence in the city than some TX based firms?


Absolutely, and there will always be exceptions to every rule. Notice I'm not including a lot of discussion about Jackson Walker, Winstead and Strasburger - all Dallas-based firms that have, to varying degrees, hit harder times and have shrunk to the extent that they are now similarly sized or smaller than firms like JD, BB, VE and FJ. Plus, if you start at one of those "satellites" you will likely have the advantage over someone who laterals over - another reason why laterals are mostly lateraling for the bonus and not for partnership prospects.

However, if you find after a year or so that you aren't pleased with your experience at the "satellite", consider lateraling to a local firm asap. Its a much easier story to tell if you're a first year associate why you're lateraling than if you're a 5th year.

Also, people need to remember that there are plenty of reasons why you would want to work somewhere other than the partnership track.....
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any insight on Tax practices at Dallas firms?


If you want to work for a Texas-based firm, work for TK - not even a close call. That said, if you would consider Houston, I would consider VE and, if you are OK with BB Houston's office culture, BB as well.

Thanks! I guess I knew TK was the top. What about other Dallas offices (if you know anything about that)? Again, thanks. This thread has become very informative.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby 005618502 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Usually it is in the midlevel and it is for associates that don't plan on making partner but want higher bonuses for a few years. However, you almost never see associates from national satellite offices lateral to BigTex firms (unless they're lateraling from out of state).


As a summer associate at two national "satellites" I find this a bit concerning. Does it matter if the national firm has a larger presence in the city than some TX based firms?


Absolutely, and there will always be exceptions to every rule. Notice I'm not including a lot of discussion about Jackson Walker, Winstead and Strasburger - all Dallas-based firms that have, to varying degrees, hit harder times and have shrunk to the extent that they are now similarly sized or smaller than firms like JD, BB, VE and FJ. Plus, if you start at one of those "satellites" you will likely have the advantage over someone who laterals over - another reason why laterals are mostly lateraling for the bonus and not for partnership prospects.

However, if you find after a year or so that you aren't pleased with your experience at the "satellite", consider lateraling to a local firm asap. Its a much easier story to tell if you're a first year associate why you're lateraling than if you're a 5th year.

Also, people need to remember that there are plenty of reasons why you would want to work somewhere other than the partnership track.....


There are reasons, sure. The problem is never not being on partnership track though. It is hard, for those that do want to make partner, to get on and continue on that track. Thats why its reassuring to hear that some places dont make it impossible to get to that level.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any insight on Tax practices at Dallas firms?


If you want to work for a Texas-based firm, work for TK - not even a close call. That said, if you would consider Houston, I would consider VE and, if you are OK with BB Houston's office culture, BB as well.

Thanks! I guess I knew TK was the top. What about other Dallas offices (if you know anything about that)? Again, thanks. This thread has become very informative.


HB has a very small tax practice. It is lumped in with the business planning group - which is more similar to dealwork/corporate work. Which may be a pro or a con. I know that VE has a decent Tax group in Dallas but not huge and not that busy from what I understand. I also believe almost all of BB's tax lawyers are in Houston. I have no idea about JD or FJ tax groups.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:49 pm

This is interesting to hear. I know you were only there for a half summer, but you didnt hear/get the impression that people were forced out after a certain time period? Or just straight up told they were on partnership track and to start looking elsewhere?
It is rare you hear of a firm of that size not being rediculously hard to make partner[/quote]

My experience may be a little colored because a lot of the more recent associate classes that I interacted with were smaller due to the market downtown so maybe the firm was more eager to keep all of them, but I did not get the impression that people were forced out. (obviously people leave to take in house positions and other jobs because they don't particularly like big law). Also LL dallas is taking a conservative approach to hiring so despite their office size, the summer classes are still around 10 or so people including some 1Ls. I talked to several people that deliberately chose not to make partner for personal choices and they work reduced hours. I also talked to several partners that transfered in from highly competitive firms because it was almost impossible to make partner at those firms (to be fair they transferred from DC and NYC markets so I cannot comment about Dallas experiences). There is probably some behind the scenes stuff that goes on that the firm keeps from the SA, but as far as large firm partner tracks go I imagine LL has one of the most reasonable to attain.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:49 pm

AssumptionRequired wrote:There are reasons, sure. The problem is never not being on partnership track though. It is hard, for those that do want to make partner, to get on and continue on that track. Thats why its reassuring to hear that some places dont make it impossible to get to that level.


There absolutely are places that don't make it impossible, but the odds sounds so small (and random) at most national satellite offices in Dallas, and, to a slightly lesser degree, Dallas satellite offices of Houston firms, that I don't think people who actually want a path to partnership should consider these firms. (Likewise, I would never really consider TK or HB Houston if I wanted to make partner...)

However, its by no means a piece of cake to make partner or TK HB or LL - it takes some luck too. But that luck can be managed - which goes to another key point - MAKE SURE you know which practice groups are strong (and not partner heavy) at the firms you're considering. Try and figure out the last time someone made partner in that group and that might give you an idea how easy it is.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:06 pm

What does the Dallas market look like in terms of IP litigation? I know that Fish Richardson is one of the top IP firm in the country but their SA classes are generally pretty small. Is this mainly because they are a boutique firm or because they are on the rocks?
I hear that BB has made a strong push in the IP field. Can anyone speak to the general options in IP litigation in Dallas?

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby TXIPLitigator » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What does the Dallas market look like in terms of IP litigation? I know that Fish Richardson is one of the top IP firm in the country but their SA classes are generally pretty small. Is this mainly because they are a boutique firm or because they are on the rocks?
I hear that BB has made a strong push in the IP field. Can anyone speak to the general options in IP litigation in Dallas?


For IP lit in Dallas, you'd be hard pressed to do better than BB, Fish, or McKool. Chambers is pretty spot-on wrt IP in Texas (but note that BB does quite a bit of pros work, though, in addition to lit).

http://www.chambersandpartners.com/USA/Editorial/71293

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:08 pm

TXIPLitigator wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What does the Dallas market look like in terms of IP litigation? I know that Fish Richardson is one of the top IP firm in the country but their SA classes are generally pretty small. Is this mainly because they are a boutique firm or because they are on the rocks?
I hear that BB has made a strong push in the IP field. Can anyone speak to the general options in IP litigation in Dallas?


For IP lit in Dallas, you'd be hard pressed to do better than BB, Fish, or McKool. Chambers is pretty spot-on wrt IP in Texas (but note that BB does quite a bit of pros work, though, in addition to lit).

http://www.chambersandpartners.com/USA/Editorial/71293


I would agree. And also add that all of the Tier 2 players are strong as well. I would look at those top 8 or so firms and decide which one has the best personality fit and more aligns with your partnership opportunity v. salary preferences.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:00 am

I'm not saying H&B, T&K, or LL are bad firms, in fact, I liked all of them, but I'm not necessarily buying what this poster is selling, particularly when it comes to H&B.

Anonymous User wrote: I think there is a HUGE difference when it comes to working for a satellite office of a BigTex firm versus the home office. Not career debilitating-huge, but still very important. Personally, I would never work at BB, VE, and BG Dallas - sure, they draw great students, but they are afterthoughts to both firm's strategies.

There are also very significant cultural differences between the Dallas and Houston offices of each of those firms (VE, in particular, is a stark contrast - VE Houston is extroverted and social while VE Dallas is like a smaller version of BB Houston).


I don't think the second-largest office for any major firm is an "afterthought." I do agree that their can be and are cultural differences between the Houston and Dallas office of the BigTex 3.

However, if partnership is a factor, I would only really consider HB or TK for corporate work or LL (and lit boutiques) for litigation. If you decide you don't want to make partner, you can always lateral from HB to a national satellite office - the turnover is so high at those places, they are always looking for new associates. However, the reverse isn’t true – HB and TK almost never take laterals from within Dallas after the first couple years of practice. They hire big classes and focus on retention for a reason.


Dallas-office Laterals in 2010:

H&B - 7
BB - 2
V&E -3
F&J - 1

Dallas-office Laterals in 2011:

H&B - 4
BB - 3
V&E -4
F&J - 6

I know this data doesn't specifically contradict your claim, but I don't see H&B being different from the BigTex 3 when it comes hiring laterals. LL and TK info not available in NALP.

HB and TK almost never take laterals from within Dallas after the first couple years of practice. They hire big classes and focus on retention for a reason.


I'm not sure I would classify H&B as taking "big classes." H&B took 19 first-years in 2010, 12 in 2011, and 16 in 2012. H&B's offer rate, however, is worrisome. H&B had an offer rate of 75% for its 2011 summer associates. If I recall correctly, this is typical for H&B. This compares unfavorably with the BigTex 3 who consistently have an offer rate over 90%.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:04 am

As for laterals, what matters is where they lateral from. HB takes many laterals, but they are usually very young associates from in town due to a lack of hiring in a certain group, partners from either in Dallas or partners looking to move from out of state, or of counsels from various jobs/places. My point is simply that they rarely take midlevels from other big firms in Dallas. Maybe my experience is not representative, but nearly every big player in town (other than HB and TK) is looking for in-town mid-level lateral corporate associates right now, and they don't really care what firm you're at as long as you're at one of the 10 or so we've discussed here.

As for the offer rate, I used to be worried about that, too, but if you have a personality and do good work, I wouldn't be worried. I clerked at places with above-90% offer rates, and, trust me, you could easily find 10-20% of the class you would like to see not get an offer so that you don't have to work with them in the future. You'd be shocked at how many absurd things people do. VE Dallas is notorious for giving offers to people that don't deserve them, leaving them out to dry for 2 years so that they don't get any experience and then firing them. There isn't that much difference between 80 and 90%...

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby unlicensedpotato » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:10 am

Thank you everyone for the Dallas/Houston info. Sometimes it's hard to find stuff on Texas firms. When weighing TX based firms vs. satellites in Texas, does it basically come down to more cash now (NY pay scale) vs. better partnership prospects down the road?

Also, if you want to do Tax, is it a concern that T&K has offer rates of 70-80% vs. VE and BB at 90%+? I would rather be in Dallas than Houston though.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:16 am

unlicensedpotato wrote:Thank you everyone for the Dallas/Houston info. Sometimes it's hard to find stuff on Texas firms. When weighing TX based firms vs. satellites in Texas, does it basically come down to more cash now (NY pay scale) vs. better partnership prospects down the road?

Also, if you want to do Tax, is it a concern that T&K has offer rates of 70-80% vs. VE and BB at 90%+? I would rather be in Dallas than Houston though.


Re more cash now v. partner: yes. (Although the more cash doesn't really kick in in a substantial way until 3rd and 4th year - also, there is very little difference between Dallas and Houston firms in this regard. The difference is between Texas and national firms - which is why you see so many VE associates going to Latham in Houston)

Re tax: That should not be a concern at all. Trust me. I know the people over there - and I don't want to disparage anyone that got no-offered there, but if you do good work, you're socially competent, and we're not in the middle of a recession, you'll be absolutely fine.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm not sure I would classify H&B as taking "big classes." H&B took 19 first-years in 2010, 12 in 2011, and 16 in 2012. H&B's offer rate, however, is worrisome. H&B had an offer rate of 75% for its 2011 summer associates. If I recall correctly, this is typical for H&B. This compares unfavorably with the BigTex 3 who consistently have an offer rate over 90%.


One thing to consider - HB publishes a firm-wide offer rate, so the 75% figure includes offices like San Antonio and Austin which can throw things off. I believe HB has had an offer rate in the Dallas office of between 80-90% for at least the past 5 years or so (with the possible exception of 2009 when it might have been slightly lower). Let's also remember that plenty of BigTex firms had disastrous offer rates in 2009: 50% at BB Dallas, 55% at BG Houston, approx 65% at TK Dallas. It was a bad year for alot of firms.

So, yes, HB's typical offer rate is slightly lower than the other BigTex firms which average about 90% (not counting recession years) - but this difference is fairly small.

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Re: Dallas Firms

Postby unlicensedpotato » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:22 pm

Thanks that is a big help. Ya, by year 4 I think one would generally be looking at 200k (TX Scale) vs. 270k (NY Scale).




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