Question/Discussion on Practice Areas and Office Locations

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PennBull
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Question/Discussion on Practice Areas and Office Locations

Postby PennBull » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:44 am

Say there is a biglaw firm that you think you would like, based on having the overall practice areas you think you want to do, etc. What if there is a specific group you're particularly interested in, but the group is mainly focused in a different city office than the one you want to work in?

For example, my current personal dilemma:

I want to be in sports someday, so I'm trying to find firms that have a sports group of some kind. Obviously this isn't a "practice area" per se, but being around the people in that group is still beneficial; hopefully I'd get some assignments and such in my practice areas that pertain to their sports group.

However, some of these firms' sports groups are in cities I don't want to be in/don't have any ties to. E.g. Foley Lardner in Milwaukee, O'Melveny in LA, and Bryan Cave in St. Louis. New York is my target market, and I have no ties anywhere else. All these firms are coming to OCI, and representing all their office locations.

Should I bid the locations where the sports group is? Or, should I just bid their NYC office? Or will their NYC office have zero contact with the sports group, making their firm pretty unattractive to me if I was in NYC?

Has anyone else been in a similar situation with specific practice groups they like being in cities they don't like/markets that are hard to enter?

TL;DR: I want to work for a biglaw firm X, but their specific practice groups I like are in Milwaukee. How should I approach this?

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Re: Question/Discussion on Practice Areas and Office Locations

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:00 pm

There are a lot of questions that you should be asking your interviewer that will probably help you choose the right firm.

First, not all firms operate the same. Some firms operate as one very large organization with work being dispensed between offices all over or perhaps with those in offices that are close (such as NYC and NJ) working closely. Some offices operate completely autonomously and there is little to no interaction between the offices and therefore certain practice groups would be completely cut off for you if you don't work in an office that has attorneys in that area.
You want to ask about this in the interview. Find out how much work flows between offices, whether attorneys that are in certain cities work in other cities, whether its common for associates to move from one city to another either temporarily (for a specific assignment) or permanently.

At my firm every office has a number of visiting attorney's offices and you can schedule yourself to be in any office any day of the week simply by going to the firm's online system and reserving the office. It's that easy. You can be in LA on monday and SF on Wed. Also, the work can be handled by associates across any firm because it's all computerized. If there is a big patent case being handled associates from any office that work in IP can do work for the case (obviously there is a lot more that will take precedence such as current work load, files, other obligations to your main office). But people are free to work with partners and associates from other cities on matters.

But here's a point you should probably realize as the most important: don't focus too much on sports law. As you mentioned it's not really a practice area. That's probably over simplifying it because there certainly are lawyers with booming sports law practices and my firm certainly has a number of attorneys that have sports law listed on their CV's. But, really it's just a type of transactional, or intellectual property that may involve some sports entities. What you really want to know is whether the sports law practice is mostly transactional or mostly litigation. And then decide, if you're hired, whether you can work in the transactional or litigation groups for a while to get experience and then look to move to sports. I can assure you there's a number of skills you're going to need to acquire first before you're handling some sports clients. Find out how to get that experience first. Perhaps after a few years at the firm you may find a boutique firm that only handles sports and then you may decide to go work there. Or you may leave the NYC firm and go work in-house for some sports team. But don't be too concerned with trying to get into the sport practice. And definitely don't shoot for an office location merely because it has a sports practice.

Hypothetically speaking: If you go to school in Boston, but you really want to work in the NYC office and you want to do sports, but the firm's sports practice is headed and run mainly out of Milwaukee the interviewer is probably going to take into consideration that you want to work in the NYC office, but will probably not give too much credence to the fact that you want to work in sport law. The reason is because most partners want you to be kind of open to lots of area of law. They want you to be broad first and then slowly narrow as your career progresses.They're not going to send you to the most limiting place the firm has as a SA or even as a first year because you think you want to do a certain type of law. In any event, if you say you want to work in NYC but then say you want to work in sports (knowing the sports practice is in Milwaukee) you're already giving conflicting information. Instead, phrase it like, "I want to work in X city, but I am really interested in gaining some experience in sports and would love the opportunity to meet with the co-chair or a partner in that dept., and if given the opportunity, to talk about what I need to do to get on the path to working in that practice area." This way you tell them where you want to be, what you're interested in without sounding like you've already limited yourself, and you're thinking about how you can network and meet attorneys in the firm to get advice on how to be a better all-around lawyer.

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Re: Question/Discussion on Practice Areas and Office Locations

Postby PennBull » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:But here's a point you should probably realize as the most important: don't focus too much on sports law. As you mentioned it's not really a practice area. That's probably over simplifying it because there certainly are lawyers with booming sports law practices and my firm certainly has a number of attorneys that have sports law listed on their CV's. But, really it's just a type of transactional, or intellectual property that may involve some sports entities. What you really want to know is whether the sports law practice is mostly transactional or mostly litigation. And then decide, if you're hired, whether you can work in the transactional or litigation groups for a while to get experience and then look to move to sports. I can assure you there's a number of skills you're going to need to acquire first before you're handling some sports clients. Find out how to get that experience first. Perhaps after a few years at the firm you may find a boutique firm that only handles sports and then you may decide to go work there. Or you may leave the NYC firm and go work in-house for some sports team. But don't be too concerned with trying to get into the sport practice. And definitely don't shoot for an office location merely because it has a sports practice.


This much I did know--currently trying to decide between transactional and litigation now. There's lots of different avenues to get there, and I am pretty much intent on simply finding the best one. The best one is going to maximize the combination of acquiring skills to make me a better lawyer/candidate for a transfer, and exposure to those in the sports industry. What I was mainly concerned about was what you answered next:

Hypothetically speaking: If you go to school in Boston, but you really want to work in the NYC office and you want to do sports, but the firm's sports practice is headed and run mainly out of Milwaukee the interviewer is probably going to take into consideration that you want to work in the NYC office, but will probably not give too much credence to the fact that you want to work in sport law. The reason is because most partners want you to be kind of open to lots of area of law. They want you to be broad first and then slowly narrow as your career progresses.They're not going to send you to the most limiting place the firm has as a SA or even as a first year because you think you want to do a certain type of law. In any event, if you say you want to work in NYC but then say you want to work in sports (knowing the sports practice is in Milwaukee) you're already giving conflicting information. Instead, phrase it like, "I want to work in X city, but I am really interested in gaining some experience in sports and would love the opportunity to meet with the co-chair or a partner in that dept., and if given the opportunity, to talk about what I need to do to get on the path to working in that practice area." This way you tell them where you want to be, what you're interested in without sounding like you've already limited yourself, and you're thinking about how you can network and meet attorneys in the firm to get advice on how to be a better all-around lawyer.


This makes sense. Since sports is all about networking anyways, is it better just to work where I want to work (NYC), and try to network (remotely) with the folks in the hypothetical Milwaukee office?




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