St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

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St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:40 am

I've been getting a lot of questions about the St. Louis legal market and about biglaw lifestyles in the city and thought it might be good to start a thread to help those of you preparing for interviews. A few people at my firm said they might come on and take some, too. I know people at every major firm in the city: Bryan Cave, Thompson Coburn, Husch Blackwell, Polsinelli Shughart, Greensfelder, Lewis Rice, and Armstrong Teasdale.

I am not from St. Louis and don't go to school here (which puts me in the minority!) but I've talked with other summers at my firm and others from a variety of schools including almost all of the T14, WashU, SLU, Illinois, Missouri and a few others so I have a decent impression of grades and etc. required to break into the market at a variety of firms.

I'm happy to take questions about specific firms, the market generally, or whatever you want. I consider myself an expert on the market and on my firm, and I'm pretty well qualified to answer questions about the other firms in the market. If I don't know an answer, I'll talk to people at those firms and figure it out. That being said, I'm just one person with some friends--nothing I say should be taken as gospel and ymmv.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Birdnals » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:53 am

Thanks for this. How many 1L SA’s do you think in total there will be next summer? Do any come from WashU or are they all from T14 schools? I know it takes connections and such, but a general number would be awesome. I did an internship in the in-house department of a very large St. Louis business, so I know I can get a 1L summer job there, just seeing what odds I will be going against.

What grades would you say would be required for a St. Louis native at WashU with a little over a year clerking experience?

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:14 am

Birdnals wrote:Thanks for this. How many 1L SA’s do you think in total there will be next summer? Do any come from WashU or are they all from T14 schools? I know it takes connections and such, but a general number would be awesome. I did an internship in the in-house department of a very large St. Louis business, so I know I can get a 1L summer job there, just seeing what odds I will be going against.

What grades would you say would be required for a St. Louis native at WashU with a little over a year clerking experience?



No problem. I can't speak for hiring next year, but I can tell you what I know about this summer. There are a fair number of 1Ls at the firms that I mentioned in my original post. Mostly from the T14 or WashU/SLU. Most of the firms I listed in my first post are big into hiring 1Ls and keeping them for two summers, but they have to have excellent grades. My firm does not hire many 1Ls: They make up a very small part of our class and are about 50% WashU, 50% Harvard. All of the 1Ls I know from WashU have the grades to transfer to the T6 and most are minorities.

Do you have specific St. Louis firms you're interested in? I'd be happy to tell you whether they traditionally hire lots of 1Ls or not...

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Birdnals » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:39 am

I believe I know how many 1L’s are taken on at the two firms I will be gunning for from previous work connections. I was just wondering what # of total 1L spots there are for people blanketing STL Big Law.

When you say grades, do you mean UG grades or 1st semester grades?

Did you have other options when you were choosing where to do you wanted to do your SA? If so, what made you choose St. Louis?

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Tom Joad » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:47 am

Since you aren't from STL or WUSTL how did you try to sell yourself? Just a desire to be in STL and stellar grades? Do you have any kind of ties?

Also any info on the offer rates of the top STL firms?

Appreciate it.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:59 am

Tom Joad wrote:Since you aren't from STL or WUSTL how did you try to sell yourself? Just a desire to be in STL and stellar grades? Do you have any kind of ties?

Also any info on the offer rates of the top STL firms?

Appreciate it.


Also related to my interests. I am not from STL. I go to a T30 in the Midwest and had spectacular grades Fall semester. I interviewed with one of the firms you have mentioned for a 1L SA, and did not receive an offer. I believe that much of the difficulty was in making a convincing argument that I want to live in STL (I genuinely do, but it is hard to demonstrate this when there is nothing on my resume demonstrating STL, and have nothing to say other than "I have several good friends here and I fucking love it here" - not in those words obviously).

What can someone with no ties do to break into this market for a 2L SA? Contact alumni? Be more forceful and clear on my intentions to stay in the area? STL is an extremely insular market and it seems nearly impossible to break in without ties.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:05 am

Birdnals wrote:I believe I know how many 1L’s are taken on at the two firms I will be gunning for from previous work connections. I was just wondering what # of total 1L spots there are for people blanketing STL Big Law.

When you say grades, do you mean UG grades or 1st semester grades?

Did you have other options when you were choosing where to do you wanted to do your SA? If so, what made you choose St. Louis?


Sure..I'd guess there are around 15ish 1L spots at the firms I mentioned in my first post, with most of them at places like Lewis Rice and Husch Blackwell that really prioritize 1L hiring. They might have 4-5 each while the other firms have 1-2, if any.

Grade-wise-- I mean 1L grades. Unless they're being hired for an IP position, I doubt the firms saw the undergrad grades of 1L applicants.

I had a few options in St. Louis and a few options in Chicago. I had some connections to St. Louis and I really liked a specific firm. My first choice firm was in St. Louis and my second and third were in Chicago: I just happened to get my first choice, which made my selection easier. I was also told by connections at firms in other markets that my St. Louis firm was a great choice for a good work/life/money balance.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:12 am

Tom Joad wrote:Since you aren't from STL or WUSTL how did you try to sell yourself? Just a desire to be in STL and stellar grades? Do you have any kind of ties?

Also any info on the offer rates of the top STL firms?

Appreciate it.


Anonymous User wrote:
Tom Joad wrote:Since you aren't from STL or WUSTL how did you try to sell yourself? Just a desire to be in STL and stellar grades? Do you have any kind of ties?

Also any info on the offer rates of the top STL firms?

Appreciate it.


Also related to my interests. I am not from STL. I go to a T30 in the Midwest and had spectacular grades Fall semester. I interviewed with one of the firms you have mentioned for a 1L SA, and did not receive an offer. I believe that much of the difficulty was in making a convincing argument that I want to live in STL (I genuinely do, but it is hard to demonstrate this when there is nothing on my resume demonstrating STL, and have nothing to say other than "I have several good friends here and I fucking love it here" - not in those words obviously).

What can someone with no ties do to break into this market for a 2L SA? Contact alumni? Be more forceful and clear on my intentions to stay in the area? STL is an extremely insular market and it seems nearly impossible to break in without ties.


I do have some ties, but nothing huge. I played them up, though. I also did a ton of research on the city and was able to talk about specific neighborhoods and etc. that I was interested in living in. Luckily, only some firms really hit-hard about the ties and they often turned me off for doing so. I think being articulate about why you're interested in St. Louis is extremely important: You don't want to sound like you're hedging or like you're not really informed. Having good friends here is good: Just make it clear that you've spent a lot of time here and really like it. Tell them you're "focusing your efforts on St. Louis" if they ask where else you're interviewing and then bring the subject back around to how much you like the city. Know why you want the specific firm, too, because most of them are pretty regional (I think there's only one truly national firm in St. Louis).

Offer rates: They're coming back and should be near 100% for all firms. My firm, for whatever it's worth, has made it clear that they hired summers conservatively and have a spot for all of us so long as our work is decent and we're not social pariahs. I know that's not the case at some other firms (at least one is a "you need to convince us you deserve a spot" kind of environment). Since class sizes are so small, percentages are less meaningful so I'd say that most firms sound like they're planning on hiring everyone and, if they don't, it'll probably be just one person who misses the cut. They want to attract top students and the top students won't go to firms with consistently low offer rates.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Tom Joad » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:39 am

Thanks guys. I appreciate it. If I think of anything else I will let you know.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:13 pm

What are the class sizes this summer?

What are the grade cutoffs?

What is the general pay scale?

What kind of competition - if you know (i.e., how many applicants per the positions)?

Always heard that St. Louis is insular, not only at the big firms but the other mid sized firms. I also heard that lots of WUSTL and SLU students had a tought time finding SA positions.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby ConfidenceMan2 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:27 pm

Very interested in this thread, thanks for doing it. I'll be a 1L at NU in the fall, but my ties are strongest to STL followed by KC. What kind of grades does it take, assuming strong ties (grew up there, all family there), from a school like NU to land an SA (2L)? How (in)flexible are they about grades, for that matter? Interview/fit deemed more important from T14s or are grades still high importance?

If your expertise extends this far I'd be very curious to know which firms particularly are harder and easier to get into w/r/t grades.

Also, I'd be very curious to hear about KC if you know much about that market - similar to STL (I think it is in terms of the size of the market?) in terms of hiring standards, etc?

And, lastly, I'd love to hear about the type of work it's generally easiest to break into the market to do. No idea what the STL firms are strongest on - hunch would be lit but I'm a 0L so I'm pretty clueless.

Ok, lastly-er, work/life balance better at which firms? What range of billables tend to be acceptable? Thoughts on exit options?

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What are the class sizes this summer?

What are the grade cutoffs?

What is the general pay scale?

What kind of competition - if you know (i.e., how many applicants per the positions)?

Always heard that St. Louis is insular, not only at the big firms but the other mid sized firms. I also heard that lots of WUSTL and SLU students had a tought time finding SA positions.


Class sizes range from 1 or 2 (at Greensfelder/Armstrong Teasdale) to 15 (at Bryan Cave). I'd say the other firms are probably all right around ~10 for this summer.

Grade cutoffs vary by firm, but are pretty high across all of them. They can be selective. They do try to hire from a variety of schools, though, and the cutoffs will be different at each one. Obviously, they might have to go deeper into a class at a T14.

Pay scales: I think all firms pay the weekly equivalent of a first-year salary. At Lewis Rice and Bryan Cave that's 125k, so about 2400/week. At the other firms it's between 100k and 115k, so between 1900 and 2200 weekly.

Competition: In this economy especially, the competition is pretty tough. Lots of applications for relatively few spots. I don't, unfortunately, know specifics! At my firm, CB to offer ratio was ~3:1.

The WashU summers at my firm all blame WashU's St. Louis placement problems on their OCS. I don't know how accurate it is, but they say that the school doesn't do much to help them and schedules their on campus interviews later than peer schools, so there are fewer jobs to go around. Obviously you need to be top of the class at SLU to get biglaw, but most firms that hire more than 1 or 2 summers reserve a spot or two for SLU students: They've got active alumni in the market!

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Gecko of Doom » Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:06 pm

As someone interested in the Kansas City offices of many of these firms, I would also like to know what (if any) sense you've gotten about attrition and exit options.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby juicyj » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:19 pm

@OP. Comments on Mizzou and Biglaw?

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:14 pm

ConfidenceMan2 wrote:Very interested in this thread, thanks for doing it. I'll be a 1L at NU in the fall, but my ties are strongest to STL followed by KC. What kind of grades does it take, assuming strong ties (grew up there, all family there), from a school like NU to land an SA (2L)? How (in)flexible are they about grades, for that matter? Interview/fit deemed more important from T14s or are grades still high importance?

If your expertise extends this far I'd be very curious to know which firms particularly are harder and easier to get into w/r/t grades.

Also, I'd be very curious to hear about KC if you know much about that market - similar to STL (I think it is in terms of the size of the market?) in terms of hiring standards, etc?

And, lastly, I'd love to hear about the type of work it's generally easiest to break into the market to do. No idea what the STL firms are strongest on - hunch would be lit but I'm a 0L so I'm pretty clueless.

Ok, lastly-er, work/life balance better at which firms? What range of billables tend to be acceptable? Thoughts on exit options?


Firms and Grades: It's a really tough question to answer in a way that will make you happy, unfortunately, because the firms that are a little less stringent are the ones that have the smallest class. So Greensfelder, for instance, may take people who are closer to top quarter/third/half but since they only take 2 people, they might still be pretty hard to snag. Bryan Cave has the biggest class, but they're probably the most grade-selective. Thompson Coburn is fairly grade selective and Husch is a little less so. Polsinelli is more of a "fit" firm (but, again, ITE people generally have good grades there, too...). Coming from a T14, your grades don't need to put you in the top 10% (but it'd be huge if they did!); you just need to convince them that you're a good fit.

The firms do a variety of things. There are a surprising number of corporate headquarters in St. Louis so there is ample corporate work to go around. You're probably right, though, that GENERALLY litigation departments are pretty sizable. The firm that does the most corporate work, I think, is probably Bryan Cave because it's the only national firm in the market and they draw significant and substantial clients from outside the region, too. Locally, Armstrong Teasdale is highly regarded for their corporate work (at least according to the St. Louis Business Journal). All of these firms do a variety of things, though, and none of them require you to choose what you want to do before you start. Just have a general idea of corp or lit and you'll be fine in an interview and then once you get there, you can explore. None of them do JUST corporate or JUST litigation, so you can't go wrong if you like one more than the other.

Exit options are definitely good, but better at the firms that do more corporate or are more senior (i.e. the national counsel rather than the local counsel), which probably means Bryan Cave and maybe Thompson Coburn and/or Armstrong Teasdale. I know a lot of people from my firm who are now at institutional clients of the firm, sometimes while still employed by the firm (they're "seconded" by the firm to large clients): It's good for the firm because it strengthens connections with the client and it's good for the associate because they get experience and invaluable networking. Win-win.

Gecko of Doom wrote:As someone interested in the Kansas City offices of many of these firms, I would also like to know what (if any) sense you've gotten about attrition and exit options.


I don't know much about KC, unfortunately.

juicyj wrote:@OP. Comments on Mizzou and Biglaw?


Not a huge or active alumni presence in St. Louis that I've seen, but I know there are some summers around from Mizzou. The SLU alumni, for example, are more active than those from Mizzou. I suspect grades are pretty important.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Gecko of Doom » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I don't know much about KC, unfortunately.

Oh, I wasn't asking about KC specifically, but about the firms generally. Sorry to be unclear. But you just answered that, so thanks.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:39 pm

Gecko of Doom wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I don't know much about KC, unfortunately.

Oh, I wasn't asking about KC specifically, but about the firms generally. Sorry to be unclear. But you just answered that, so thanks.


yeah--I figured I'd answer the exit options question about St. Louis because I know a little about it--but yeah, I can't help much in KC. I know Shook is big there, as is Bryan Cave. I suspect exit options from either of those are similar to what I described above about St. Louis.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:43 pm

Wow, that is a small class for Greensfelder. I wonder if they had any stealth layoffs as some of the others did.

Doesn't Stinson have a sizeable office in St. Louis and Lathrop too?

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:43 pm

What about Illinois firms across the river?

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Wow, that is a small class for Greensfelder. I wonder if they had any stealth layoffs as some of the others did.

Doesn't Stinson have a sizeable office in St. Louis and Lathrop too?



I don't know about any stealths at Greensfelder, but it's possible.

Stinson pays 110, which is average market but they only have 48 attorneys in that office and you just never hear the name mentioned with the other big firms. They're also one of the more regional firms in the city: I think they've got offices in StL, KC, Omaha, etc...

Lathrop only has around 20 attorneys in it's St. Louis office and is mentioned even less than Stinson as being biglaw.

That's not to say that either are bad places: They're both pretty good firms. It's just that neither really count as St. Louis Biglaw, I think.

Anonymous User wrote:What about Illinois firms across the river?


I know a few summers who worked at Illinois firms during their 1L summers. Definitely not St. Louis biglaw: Just some pretty small shops.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby redbullvodka » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've been getting a lot of questions about the St. Louis legal market and about biglaw lifestyles in the city and thought it might be good to start a thread to help those of you preparing for interviews. A few people at my firm said they might come on and take some, too. I know people at every major firm in the city: Bryan Cave, Thompson Coburn, Husch Blackwell, Polsinelli Shughart, Greensfelder, Lewis Rice, and Armstrong Teasdale.

I am not from St. Louis and don't go to school here (which puts me in the minority!) but I've talked with other summers at my firm and others from a variety of schools including almost all of the T14, WashU, SLU, Illinois, Missouri and a few others so I have a decent impression of grades and etc. required to break into the market at a variety of firms.

I'm happy to take questions about specific firms, the market generally, or whatever you want. I consider myself an expert on the market and on my firm, and I'm pretty well qualified to answer questions about the other firms in the market. If I don't know an answer, I'll talk to people at those firms and figure it out. That being said, I'm just one person with some friends--nothing I say should be taken as gospel and ymmv.


School/rank?

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:35 pm

redbullvodka wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I've been getting a lot of questions about the St. Louis legal market and about biglaw lifestyles in the city and thought it might be good to start a thread to help those of you preparing for interviews. A few people at my firm said they might come on and take some, too. I know people at every major firm in the city: Bryan Cave, Thompson Coburn, Husch Blackwell, Polsinelli Shughart, Greensfelder, Lewis Rice, and Armstrong Teasdale.

I am not from St. Louis and don't go to school here (which puts me in the minority!) but I've talked with other summers at my firm and others from a variety of schools including almost all of the T14, WashU, SLU, Illinois, Missouri and a few others so I have a decent impression of grades and etc. required to break into the market at a variety of firms.

I'm happy to take questions about specific firms, the market generally, or whatever you want. I consider myself an expert on the market and on my firm, and I'm pretty well qualified to answer questions about the other firms in the market. If I don't know an answer, I'll talk to people at those firms and figure it out. That being said, I'm just one person with some friends--nothing I say should be taken as gospel and ymmv.


School/rank?


Not a Missouri school. Not a T14.

Top 10%

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby ConfidenceMan2 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:58 am

Can you talk more about the work/life/money balance you refer to? What kind of hours are associates generally working?

Firm culture... I expect more "lifestyle" firms from a market like St Louis but I don't know how accurate that expectation is. Are the firms homogeneous in terms of personality, as people sometimes seem to describe V10/V25s? Nerdier/frattier/"white-shoe" or whatever? Any particular firms have a sort of high society vibe or is it cool to be a pretty regular dude (assuming of course competence/intelligence) at these firms?

Obviously you don't have to answer everything specifically - I'd like to hear your general thoughts on firm culture at the big firms.

(And thanks for your thorough answer to my previous Q's btw)

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby beachbum » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:27 am

Thanks for doing this, OP. Very helpful to those of us aiming for STL.

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Re: St. Louis Biglaw Summer Associate Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:39 pm

ConfidenceMan2 wrote:Can you talk more about the work/life/money balance you refer to? What kind of hours are associates generally working?

Firm culture... I expect more "lifestyle" firms from a market like St Louis but I don't know how accurate that expectation is. Are the firms homogeneous in terms of personality, as people sometimes seem to describe V10/V25s? Nerdier/frattier/"white-shoe" or whatever? Any particular firms have a sort of high society vibe or is it cool to be a pretty regular dude (assuming of course competence/intelligence) at these firms?

Obviously you don't have to answer everything specifically - I'd like to hear your general thoughts on firm culture at the big firms.

(And thanks for your thorough answer to my previous Q's btw)


Sure. I think I should start with a very short anecdote (short to avoid outing myself): When I was deciding between firms, I had opportunities at my first choice firm, in St. Louis, and another higher ranked firm in a major market. One of my family friends is a partner at that firm and (s)he told me to take the St. Louis offer. In the partner's words, "Everyone I know who works at [St. Louis Firm] is just as wealthy as I am, and they actually have time to enjoy it consistently."

So I went with St. Louis.

Sure, the money for associates is not as good as the major markets: Top of the market is 125 for first years. Salaries go up by between 5-10k a year, depending on the firm. Bonuses can be above market: They're generally tiered and are 3-6k per tier and are hours and quality dependent. For whatever it's worth, the parking lot at my firm looks like a BMW dealership and everyone seems pretty content with their salary. The money is extremely good for St. Louis: cost of living here is pretty cheap. That being said, I'd be frugal in a major market and the extra cash would be amazing....I still think, for me, the tradeoff is worth it.

Associates and partners are pretty spread out over the city. Young associates really seem to like the downtown area, Lafeyette Square, Tower Grove, and the CWE type areas whereas partners often migrate to the inner-ring suburbs of Clayton, Ladue, Kirkwood, and Webster Groves.

There are stereotypes about how hard people work at each firm. Those stereotypes are often wrong: I work at a firm known for having Chicago-like hours and I can say, unequivocally, that people come in around 9 and leave around 6. Some groups come and go earlier/later than others and, of course, if something big is going on people will work longer hours. No one is staying until 11 (or even 8 ) consistently. I know a number of associates with kids who take them to school and are home to have dinner with them (and then work from home a bit at night). St. Louis biglaw is not a 40 hour/week job, but it's not soul-crushing, either. Most firms have a 1900 billable requirement, with bonuses starting at 1950 and going up in tiers.

There are also firms known for being more stuffy (LRF) and some known for being more work-hard/play hard (BC). I think it really is people dependent: There are groups of friends at my firm who are stuffy and groups who play hard. Anywhere you go you'll find people on all ends of the spectrum so picking a firm for "feel" is pretty hard unless there are firm-wide policies that indicate a certain culture (for instance, Lewis Rice is still business formal, for some reason). At my firm, I've met a lot of cool, regular dudes and I've met some white-shoe pretentious people. The cool thing, as you've alluded to, is that all (well, most...) of these people are fantastically bright and good at their jobs.

Are there specific firms you're interested in hearing more about? How are you guys ranking the firms for your OCIs?

We are happy to answer anything...




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