Help me pick a firm in D.C.

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For litigation I should go to...

Poll ended at Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:58 pm

Kirkland & Ellis
3
15%
Arnold & Porter
6
30%
Sidley Austin
3
15%
Gibson Dunn
2
10%
Hogan Lovells
0
No votes
Covington
6
30%
 
Total votes: 20

Anonymous User
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Help me pick a firm in D.C.

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:58 pm

Hi there.

So I kind of had my heart set on W&C, but it's looking like that's no longer in the cards. I was fortunate enough to have a pretty good run of things at the other D.C. shops, so while I'm not complaining, with W&C no longer in the mix my decision feels like it got much tougher.

I have no particular affinity to any one subject matter, nor do I have any strong desire to clerk.

I was trying to be so positive and energetic through my callbacks that I didn't really look for flaws during the interviews. Now that I have to start eliminating firms, I don't even know where to begin because I brainwashed myself into believing I would be happy working at any of these firms. So I guess now I'm looking to borrow anecdotal experiences, opinions, and collected wisdom of TLSers in order to help narrow the field.

TIA.

Anonymous User
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Re: Help me pick a firm in D.C.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:08 am

Anonymous User wrote:Hi there.

So I kind of had my heart set on W&C, but it's looking like that's no longer in the cards. I was fortunate enough to have a pretty good run of things at the other D.C. shops, so while I'm not complaining, with W&C no longer in the mix my decision feels like it got much tougher.

I have no particular affinity to any one subject matter, nor do I have any strong desire to clerk.

I was trying to be so positive and energetic through my callbacks that I didn't really look for flaws during the interviews. Now that I have to start eliminating firms, I don't even know where to begin because I brainwashed myself into believing I would be happy working at any of these firms. So I guess now I'm looking to borrow anecdotal experiences, opinions, and collected wisdom of TLSers in order to help narrow the field.

TIA.


If you have no clue what you want to do and don't have want to clerk, I would suggest Covington or A&P. Both have large, diverse practices with relatively significant traditional DC regulatory practices. But, if you really had your heart set on W&C then that means: (a) you were oriented only on prestige or (b) really want to litigate. If (b) is the case, strongly consider Kirkland or Hogan.

henry flower
Posts: 125
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Re: Help me pick a firm in D.C.

Postby henry flower » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:09 am

What sort of personality do you have?

If you are really type-A, I would do Gibson.
If you are a nerd or want to do white-collar, do Covington.
If you are more laid-back, maybe go with A&P?

Anonymous User
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Re: Help me pick a firm in D.C.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:55 am

I am in a similar situation with a very similar list of firms in DC.

I suspect people are semi-blindly voting for Covington because of the Vault rankings. They are certainly a great firm, but they are more of a classic regulatory firm -- that's why they were founded, according to their website at least -- and only Band 3 for litigation in DC according to Chambers. As someone else said, if you are focused on litigation, Kirkland or Hogan could be better options, and Gibson, Sidley, and A&P are at least equally good. See http://www.chambersandpartners.com/USA/Editorial/70687. (I'm actually a little surprised that Gibson only gets Band 3 for lit in DC, especially given the back-to-back awards for best litigation department in the country from American Lawyer or whoever it was.)

Covington also gets knocked on the Vault firm profile page for having a narrower litigation portfolio in terms of subject areas/industries.

The Kirkland folks I talked to emphasized the extent to which people there get to be litigation generalists, even many years into their career, which could be a plus.

Kirkland also has the advantage of being significantly more profitable than Covington in terms of revenue per lawyer; see http://www.americanlawyer.com/PubArticl ... Per_Lawyer. I have also heard that Kirkland's bonuses are better than most, whereas people at Covington supposedly grumble about mediocre bonuses. That said, Covington didn't lay off anyone during the recession, while Kirkland was reported to have made some layoffs (though nothing like Latham). Sidley also made some big, public layoffs.

If you're interested in appellate litigation, Gibson and Sidley are Band 1 nationwide, whereas Kirkland and Covington are Band 3, and Hogan is Band 4; A&P doesn't even make the list, although supposedly they're trying to grow their appellate practice.

There's also politics (although I personally am trying to figure out how much that actually matters). Kirkland and Gibson seem pretty conservative in the DC offices. A&P leans somewhat to the left. Not sure about the others.

Anonymous User
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Re: Help me pick a firm in D.C.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:51 am

Not the OP --- but just wondering why we should give more stock to the Chambers bands than to Vault (or to any ranking, for that matter). Do practitioners actually think that the bands are representative?

Anonymous User
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Re: Help me pick a firm in D.C.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:
If you have no clue what you want to do and don't have want to clerk, I would suggest Covington or A&P. Both have large, diverse practices with relatively significant traditional DC regulatory practices. But, if you really had your heart set on W&C then that means: (a) you were oriented only on prestige or (b) really want to litigate. If (b) is the case, strongly consider Kirkland or Hogan.


Thanks for the comment, but prestige and type of work had relatively little to do with my fixation on W&C. I badly wanted to work there because of the people and the size of the firm mostly. A lot of firms say they're collegial and close-knit, but then when they get up to walk you to your next interview they have no idea where that person is or what they do. W&C was nothing like that and I truly felt that the attorneys generally knew each other and that was an appealing aspect of the the culture. It's pretty rare to be able to work in BigLaw where the entire firm is smaller than the class I'll graduate with at law school.

Also, the money.

Anonymous User
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Re: Help me pick a firm in D.C.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 11:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:Not the OP --- but just wondering why we should give more stock to the Chambers bands than to Vault (or to any ranking, for that matter). Do practitioners actually think that the bands are representative?


I certainly agree about the skepticism of rankings in general. I think practitioners actually do use the Chambers rankings, though. A former Big Law partner encouraged me to look at practice area strengths and Chambers bands as one factor when trying to choose a firm, although he also said to bear in mind that even a Band 4 ranking means that the firm is pretty strong in that area. As you probably know, the Chambers rankings are based on the opinions not only of lawyers but also of clients -- with a focus on "Who do I call when I have a problem with X?" -- whereas the Vault rankings are about "prestige" and only based on surveys of associates.

The Vault rankings are fun to look at and somewhat useful, but I am increasingly realizing that they amount to comparing apples and oranges (NY vs. DC, corporate vs. litigation, etc. -- how else does Williams & Connolly fall to 15th or whatever it is this year?). Then there's the question of which Vault ranking you should look at -- A&P, for example, is 20th or so in Vault, but top 3 in DC; Kirkland is top 10 in Vault but only top 10 in DC. Which should you give more weight to?




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