Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

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Where would you go?

Cravath
19
26%
Davis Polk
33
46%
Simpson Thacher
20
28%
 
Total votes: 72

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Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:00 am

Interested in corporate, but not exactly sure what practice area. All perspectives welcome. Thanks!

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:39 am

Isn't the common wisdom just go where you like the people the best?

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:Isn't the common wisdom just go where you like the people the best?


Not sure it is that simple, but everyone has been really pleasant, so it's a hard metric to use.

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:56 am

These three are all great firms, and you can't really go wrong with your decision.

I summered at Davis Polk this summer and absolutely loved it. I was deciding between these firms as well and ultimately my return visits helped immensely.

You're going to be working long hours at all of these firms, so the people really do make the difference. I felt like I really fit in with the people at Davis Polk and that impression was confirmed this past summer.

There are practice area differences between these firms. DPW has a great FIG group, which neither Cravath nor STB really have. Simpson has a great PE practice. Cravath's rotation system can be great (and bad).

One thing to consider is compensation systems-- DPW and Cravath have a lockstep system, which IMO is really important. STB's system is "modified lockstep," which I felt was a little more black box.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about Davis Polk in particular. Good luck in making your decision!

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:59 am

I'd go to Simpson for the private equity work. I like boiling legal concepts down to business-people terms, and I like faster moving deals and getting to know younger people. I don't like the bureaucracy of in house.

If you want public m&a, go for Cravath.

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby quakeroats » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:02 am

The answer is likely Davis Polk. Simpson is a good second (particularly if you have any interest in private equity) and Cravath is a distant third. Cravath does a few things very well, but is usually regarded as a terrible place to work. Davis Polk's M&A practice might be a little worse, but they have many world-class transactional practices Cravath doesn't have or has but doesn't do well. Add to that how nice their office is (compare with Cravath who is paying more than almost anyone else because they re-upped at a bad time for an ok space), how nice almost everyone who works there is, and how developed their international platform is (compared with Cravath's dated fortress-New York strategy and their one tiny London office). Plus, if you go to Cravath, you'll have to put up with the Cravath system, which will keep you behind your peers at other firms.

Do not go to Cravath. Every year students look at the Vault rankings and decide to go to Cravath based almost entirely on "prestige." In most firm comparisons, there's at least an argument to be made for both firms. Unlike what some here will say, there is definitely a wrong choice. Here, unless some dated notion of "prestige" or a very specific interest in Cravath-style M&A compels you, do not go to Cravath.

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Loose Seal » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:25 am

Go DPW. A lockstep compensation has huge effects for associate collegiality and morale, and on top of that I have heard horror stories about the rotation system. (One of the senior associates at my firm came from Cravath after she was rotated into the service of an absolutely boorish and horrible partner with whom she simply could not work.)

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby ph14 » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:28 am

I voted DPW.

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:52 pm

Thanks a lot for all the tips folks. I will go for second-looks at each of them and make a decision.

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:14 pm

Almost everybody in my class who had at least all three of these options chose either DPW or STB. DPW was picked substantially more than STB. Honestly, once you get to a certain level of firm strength (e.g. Cravath/SullCrom/DPW/STB/Cleary), you have to start looking at other things—such as the collegiality of associates, rotation systems, and compensation methods. In my mind, DPW wins on that front, although you can't really go wrong choosing any of these firms.

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby thesealocust » Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:17 pm

DPW is popular/hot, but don't pick it unless you actually clicked with the people and want to work there. STB and Cravath are both terrific and might be the right environment or practice area mix depending on your preferences.

This thread's hashed out most of the non-personal factors. But really you can't go wrong.

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:07 pm

Not OP but am also choosing between DPW and Cravath too. I liked people at both, might have clicked with DPW a little better but not sure so am going back for second looks. I'm wondering if it's worth it to go to Cravath for a few years to get the training and then just lateral to a place like DPW (since making partner is impossible at Cravath anyway).

Things I'd like to hear from people who have experience: the rotation system at Cravath and whether it really does make you more marketable after a few years; whether anyone has gotten completely screwed with a rotation at Cravath and how they dealt with it; and whether there is really a difference in the amount you would work at these 2 places. I've heard that Cravath is more straight to the point and DPW is fake nice, is this true?

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:29 pm

I summered at DPW, so take my advice with the appropriate grain of salt...

First, realize that these three firms are largely fungible, and that everyone realizes that. I encountered partners at both DPW and Cravath who joked about how they ended up there versus the other place.

Second, the choice between Cravath and DPW/STB can be boiled down to one thing: rotation system. You either like the rotation system concept or you dislike it. This permeates to everything: e.g. Cravath uses a rotation-like thingy for summers while DPW/STB have assignment coordinators give you a grab-bag of whatever work you're interested in. Let that like or dislike guide your choice.

Third, as between STB and DPW, flip a coin. They're probably the two most similar firms in NYC.

Fourth, the culture really is different, in subtle but noticeable ways. Cravath's office has an intensity that permeates it all the way down to the dark carpet and wood paneling. DPW has a sunnier personality reflected in the light carpet and light wood paneling. I didn't perceive the Cravath folks as unpleasant but rather very focused on work. I didn't perceive the DPW folks as "fake nice" but rather willing to engage in socially-expected pleasantries. I'm sure STB has its own angle, though I didn't do any callbacks there so I don't know.

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Re: Cravath vs. Davis Polk vs. Simpson

Postby thesealocust » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm wondering if it's worth it to go to Cravath for a few years to get the training and then just lateral to a place like DPW (since making partner is impossible at Cravath anyway).


This is a seriously warped perspective. Neither firm takes many laterals at all, though Cravath is slightly more adamant about basically taking none. Still, you don't just automatically "lateral to a place like DPW" from Cravath. Your generic/non-client exit options are going to be nearly identical at both firms, and will include peer firms (or firms lower on the "totem pole") who need associates in the field you have experience in.

As far as training, Cravath beats its chest about the training you get under the Cravath system. While it's probably true to an extent, don't let the marketing fool you into thinking other firms don't have an interest in training their associates quickly and effectively.




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