Leveraging a scholarship

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Anonymous User
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Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:55 pm

Hi. So as many of you may be aware, there are several Vault range firms that offer scholarships to well-qualified URM candidates to attract them to join their summer class.
Examples: Milbank, (LinkRemoved) Sidley, (LinkRemoved) Weil.
I am fortunate enough to have been offered a scholarship similar to the examples above. Unfortunately, I've got my heart set on a peer firm that does not offer such a scholarship; at least not publicly. I do, however, have an offer from the peer firm.

Would it be advisable to try and leverage the scholarship offer in an attempt to get the peer firm to match it (or at least give me something)? I know the conventional wisdom is that firms do not negotiate with 2Ls, but this is not an insignificant amount of money for me to leave on the table.
Would a failed attempt leave the peer firm with a bad impression of me? Could it jeopardize my offer? Is it a bad idea to even try? Or would they just write it off as "business as usual"?

Thanks!

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ryanmot
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby ryanmot » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:23 pm

I wouldn't do it. I doubt they'll match the scholarship and it could leave a bad taste in their mouth. I know I would be put off by such a request. Make a pro/con list and decide whether the other firm is worth all the cash you'll leave behind. In what vault number range are the two firms?

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:06 pm

ryanmot wrote:I wouldn't do it. I doubt they'll match the scholarship and it could leave a bad taste in their mouth. I know I would be put off by such a request. Make a pro/con list and decide whether the other firm is worth all the cash you'll leave behind. In what vault number range are the two firms?


Both are between 5-20 on Vault. I've done the whole +/- list, but I'm finding it fairly hard to quantify "fit." I really liked the people at the peer firm and would love to work there and if I were making a gut call it'd certainly be them, but I cannot rationally convince myself that any amount of fuzzy feelings justify forgoing the prospect of knocking years of loan repayments out of the picture. I'm just looking for a way out that doesn't involve making the decision because of the money.

azntwice
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby azntwice » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:23 pm

perhaps you can do it without outright negotiating with the firm. call up HR, say you have an offer from another firm with a lot of $$s, and that you'd like to come in for a second look to make sure you really want this firm. this gives HR the opportunity to make an offer if they so desire.

i would say that it's unlikely that HR will love you enough to make you a special offer. they probably have dozens of students lined up to take your offer if you decide to turn it down. ultimately you should probably actually do a second look at each firm and see which one you like better.

fw8014
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby fw8014 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:26 pm

I'm sorry but it will not happen. It's not a seller's market, it's a buyer's. You may be an exceptional candidate with excellent softs, but chances are, the firm that made you the offer has equally exceptional candidates on their waitlist. They have little incentive to offer you 15k+ (or whatever your scholly's worth) when another candidate is just as qualified. I wouldn't even bring this up in case it rubs the firm the wrong way.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:51 pm

What looks like negotiation to you may look like a feeble attempt at extortion to them. In a lockstep compensation system, it's pretty unreasonable to expect a firm to make this kind of exception.

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:14 am

fw8014 wrote:I'm sorry but it will not happen. It's not a seller's market, it's a buyer's. You may be an exceptional candidate with excellent softs, but chances are, the firm that made you the offer has equally exceptional candidates on their waitlist. They have little incentive to offer you 15k+ (or whatever your scholly's worth) when another candidate is just as qualified. I wouldn't even bring this up in case it rubs the firm the wrong way.


Everything you say makes sense, but the problem is all of these reasons apply with equal force to the firms that do offer scholarships. They too must have a dozen qualified candidates lined up to take any given spot, should they be turned down. And yet they've come to the conclusion that offering well-qualified URMs additional money is a reasonable thing to do. Does this not indicate that, at the very least, that there's some potential value in it for the firms? Maybe improving retention? The PR?

Anyway, even if they say no, could it really offend a firm that deeply? I mean, I'm not saying that well-qualified URMs are as rare and/or as valuable as clerks, but I just read that these two particular firms are now among those throwing $280k SCOTUS clerkship bonuses around; isn't it fairly safe to assume the hiring partners aren't constitutionally opposed to engaging in bidding wars over associates?

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IAFG
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby IAFG » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:Everything you say makes sense, but the problem is all of these reasons apply with equal force to the firms that do offer scholarships. They too must have a dozen qualified candidates lined up to take any given spot, should they be turned down. And yet they've come to the conclusion that offering well-qualified URMs additional money is a reasonable thing to do. Does this not indicate that, at the very least, that there's some potential value in it for the firms? Maybe improving retention? The PR?

Eh... who wants to be the firm that eliminated their diversity scholarship? That's slightly different than establishing one.

And you, sir, are no SCOTUS clerk, so let's not indulge in silly analogies.

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:26 am

I don't see the harm in asking the HR person about whether the firm will match the award. Law firms are a business, if they won't match, they'll just say no. I can't imagine someone getting their feelings hurt because you asked.

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:41 am

IAFG wrote:Eh... who wants to be the firm that eliminated their diversity scholarship? That's slightly different than establishing one.

And you, sir, are no SCOTUS clerk, so let's not indulge in silly analogies.


I'm not analogizing my resume to that of a SCOTUS clerk, I'm saying that BigLaw compensation seems to be very much a "me too." system. From ATL:

How did the bonus reach $280,000, after years of lingering at $250,000? The leap actually took place last year, though it took full hold this year – and has even gone to $285,000 at some firms. The story circulating among Supreme Court advocates is that Sidley Austin’s Chicago office offered a $280,000 hiring bonus to a promising former clerk last summer. Word of the higher amount quickly spread, and other firms, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, boosted their hiring bonuses to meet the market.

Asked about the story, Sidley’s Supreme Court veteran Carter Phillips said it was only partly true. The unnamed clerk in question told a Sidley recruiter that another firm had offered him $280,000, and Sidley agreed to match it. “So Sidley did not initiate the increase, but we caused it to apply everywhere,” Phillips said.


So yeah, while I'm not a SCOTUS clerk (yet!), after reading that I don't think hiring partners are going to be offended by me telling them the truth about what a peer firm is offering. If they don't care, oh well.

Thanks for the feedback on my crazy scheme, everyone.

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IAFG
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby IAFG » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:43 am

Well, diversity scholarships aren't some new thing you're bringing to the firm's attention, nor are they globally set at some level (as clerkship bonuses are) so that's rather different.

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clintonius
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby clintonius » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm not analogizing my resume to that of a SCOTUS clerk, I'm saying that BigLaw compensation seems to be very much a "me too." system. From ATL:

How did the bonus reach $280,000, after years of lingering at $250,000? The leap actually took place last year, though it took full hold this year – and has even gone to $285,000 at some firms. The story circulating among Supreme Court advocates is that Sidley Austin’s Chicago office offered a $280,000 hiring bonus to a promising former clerk last summer. Word of the higher amount quickly spread, and other firms, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, boosted their hiring bonuses to meet the market.

Asked about the story, Sidley’s Supreme Court veteran Carter Phillips said it was only partly true. The unnamed clerk in question told a Sidley recruiter that another firm had offered him $280,000, and Sidley agreed to match it. “So Sidley did not initiate the increase, but we caused it to apply everywhere,” Phillips said.

Did... did you just use an article on SCOTUS clerk compensation to show that you're not analogizing your situation to that of a SCOTUS clerk?

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:32 am

IAFG wrote:Well, diversity scholarships aren't some new thing you're bringing to the firm's attention, nor are they globally set at some level (as clerkship bonuses are) so that's rather different.


Clerkship bonuses aren't new either, they just changed. I'm fairly sure Kirkland going to 25k and Milbank to 50k with their respective diversity scholarships were changes for 2012 as well. Also, the quoted material did specifically state that even now clerkship bonuses are not uniform (several firms paying $285k.)

Anyway, I'm just going to be ballsy and try it. It's a lot of money to me and a pittance to them; I can't see them thinking poorly of me because of it.

spets
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby spets » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:39 am

Just wondering, what were you looking to get from this thread? Everyone suggested against it, but you seemed to have up made your mind up from the get-go. Were you just looking for validation?

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:58 am

While I think it's very unlikely that a firm would match, I don't think it's absurd to ask (though you do risk giving a bad impression to people at the firm if they don't match and you end up going there for the summer).

If you do decide to ask, I would do it over the phone (you don't want the email forwarded around the office) and I would try to frame it in the best possible way, i.e. Mention how you are currently deciding between their firm and X firm, and part of the consideration for you right now is this scholarship, since it would allow you to pay off some of your law school debt immediately. Mention how you know long-term fit at a firm matters most, it's just a consideration point for you. Then ask if they would consider matching it.

Seems like a pretty awkward conversation to have. You might want to go to one of the "ask an associate" threads and see what their impression would be if a potential SA asked this. If they think it's a bad idea (and they think it would leave a very negative impression), I wouldn't do it, unless you already know you will be choosing the other firm if the non-scholarship firm doesn't match.

fw8014
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby fw8014 » Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:Everything you say makes sense, but the problem is all of these reasons apply with equal force to the firms that do offer scholarships. They too must have a dozen qualified candidates lined up to take any given spot, should they be turned down. And yet they've come to the conclusion that offering well-qualified URMs additional money is a reasonable thing to do. Does this not indicate that, at the very least, that there's some potential value in it for the firms? Maybe improving retention? The PR?

Anyway, even if they say no, could it really offend a firm that deeply? I mean, I'm not saying that well-qualified URMs are as rare and/or as valuable as clerks, but I just read that these two particular firms are now among those throwing $280k SCOTUS clerkship bonuses around; isn't it fairly safe to assume the hiring partners aren't constitutionally opposed to engaging in bidding wars over associates?


I had an URM scholly as a 1L. It's all for the PR. We're not special snowflakes like SCOTUS clerks, who have the prestige and the work products to backup why they're worth the extra $$ as long-term investments. Chances are, the firm has 1 SCOTUS clerk, while 10-20% of the SA class will be URMs. The firm probably doesn't have SCOTUS clerks on their waitlist, but there are probably excellent URM candidates. I personally treat URM schollys as extra money that I was lucky to get, not as something I am entitled to or deserve more than other candidates.

But you seem to have made up your mind already. Let us know how the firm responds.

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somewhatwayward
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby somewhatwayward » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:51 am

No....just no. I think you run the risk of having the firm react negatively. They are already paying you more more than you are worth. The one situation it would make sense in is if you know you will take the firm that offers the scholarship if the firm that does not says no. Then I guess you have nothing to lose.

But yeah I think it says something about your ego that you are comparing yourself to SCOTUS clerks. I will eat my words if you become one LOL

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Byakuya769
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Byakuya769 » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:01 pm

fw8014 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Everything you say makes sense, but the problem is all of these reasons apply with equal force to the firms that do offer scholarships. They too must have a dozen qualified candidates lined up to take any given spot, should they be turned down. And yet they've come to the conclusion that offering well-qualified URMs additional money is a reasonable thing to do. Does this not indicate that, at the very least, that there's some potential value in it for the firms? Maybe improving retention? The PR?

Anyway, even if they say no, could it really offend a firm that deeply? I mean, I'm not saying that well-qualified URMs are as rare and/or as valuable as clerks, but I just read that these two particular firms are now among those throwing $280k SCOTUS clerkship bonuses around; isn't it fairly safe to assume the hiring partners aren't constitutionally opposed to engaging in bidding wars over associates?


I had an URM scholly as a 1L. It's all for the PR. We're not special snowflakes like SCOTUS clerks, who have the prestige and the work products to backup why they're worth the extra $$ as long-term investments. Chances are, the firm has 1 SCOTUS clerk, while 10-20% of the SA class will be URMs. The firm probably doesn't have SCOTUS clerks on their waitlist, but there are probably excellent URM candidates. I personally treat URM schollys as extra money that I was lucky to get, not as something I am entitled to or deserve more than other candidates.

But you seem to have made up your mind already. Let us know how the firm responds.


Pretty much this. The # of applicants versus SA slots pretty much guarantees there is someone else who is ready and willing to fill your spot. I wouldn't want to be the URM that came into the firm trying to negotiate special treatment, either.

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:39 pm

spets wrote:Just wondering, what were you looking to get from this thread? Everyone suggested against it, but you seemed to have up made your mind up from the get-go. Were you just looking for validation?


I was looking to be convinced that it was a bad idea. Or maybe anecdotes of it blowing up in someone's face. Something to give me pause. I just didn't find enough of it.

So just to update those who are curious, I took it to the issue to recruiting manager this morning. She told me she'd take it to the hiring partner and get back to me shortly. About 2 hours later she called back to say that they're going to discuss it the next time the full hiring committee meets and asked how long I have to decide with the other firm. I told her they gave me a week on the scholarship (which they did) and she asked me to forward the offer in writing, which I also just did.

Seems like they're at least considering it, which is really all I could ask for. Just the fact that they're even toying with the notion really sold me on the firm and how much they actually care about who they hire. I anticipate going there regardless of their decision.

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:48 pm

i can't imagine a worse way to begin my career at a firm, especially as a fellow URM.

here's a reality: I promise you that there are people at that firm (probably partners on the hiring committee) who already feel like URMs get special treatment. I think that it runs the risk, fairly or not, of creating a perception of you as entitled

Perhaps you just have bigger balls than I do. I wish you the best

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby somewhatwayward » Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:56 pm

^
+1 At first I thought this might be an elaborate flame to incite AA furor. Hopefully it is.

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:21 pm

Byakuya769 wrote:
fw8014 wrote:
I had an URM scholly as a 1L. It's all for the PR. We're not special snowflakes like SCOTUS clerks, who have the prestige and the work products to backup why they're worth the extra $$ as long-term investments. Chances are, the firm has 1 SCOTUS clerk, while 10-20% of the SA class will be URMs. The firm probably doesn't have SCOTUS clerks on their waitlist, but there are probably excellent URM candidates. I personally treat URM schollys as extra money that I was lucky to get, not as something I am entitled to or deserve more than other candidates.

But you seem to have made up your mind already. Let us know how the firm responds.


Pretty much this. The # of applicants versus SA slots pretty much guarantees there is someone else who is ready and willing to fill your spot. I wouldn't want to be the URM that came into the firm trying to negotiate special treatment, either.


Yeesh. It's like somehow you have all forgotten that in probably 98% of private sector jobs, salary negotiations are expected. How is it acting "entitled" to seek out the employer that values you the most?

The lock-step compensation followed by BigLaw is not because they believe that all associates are equal; it's to simplify things. You may not think that you're no better or worse than your peers, but I can pretty much guarantee you that the partners evaluating your work will have no problem ranking you relative to the rest of your class. Furthermore, come bonus time, merit will probably factor in as well. And let's not forget that should you defy the odds and make partner, at the vast majority of firms, the lockstep system is abandoned entirely.

If you want to chalk all of your success up to dumb luck and being handed things, that's your prerogative, but I choose to believe that my success thus far is the product of hard work, determination, and taking the initiative. If that makes me an egomaniac, so be it.

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somewhatwayward
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby somewhatwayward » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:33 pm

This is not the same as giving different bonuses based on merit. There is no reason to think OP has any special skills or will be a better performer than the rest of the class. OP may be more valuable to the firm in that some clients insist that a minority atty be on their deals or whatever. Fine. But don't compare it to people who get a higher bonus for being an unusually good associate or having been a SCOTUS clerk. That is where the ego comes in.

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sunynp
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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby sunynp » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:40 pm

Sounds like you have your mind made up. I guess there is no harm in asking if they will create a scholarship just for you. But I think firms that have these scholarships fund them from a specific source that was created for that purpose possibly for tax benefits. Not sure.

Please let us know how it works out. Other people may benefit from your example.

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Re: Leveraging a scholarship

Postby KidStuddi » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:i can't imagine a worse way to begin my career at a firm, especially as a fellow URM.

here's a reality: I promise you that there are people at that firm (probably partners on the hiring committee) who already feel like URMs get special treatment. I think that it runs the risk, fairly or not, of creating a perception of you as entitled

Perhaps you just have bigger balls than I do. I wish you the best


Really? You think it's worse to discuss compensation with a potential employer than it is to say, I don't know, start your career by botching an assignment or producing subpar work?

Respectfully disagree. Law firms are businesses. I'm seeking employment, not pledging myself to a frat. If they can't understand that this is about the money, then they're horribly out of touch with reality. If they think I'm willing to work 80 hours a week because of some misplaced sense of fealty, they're deluded. I'll be there to do a job and do it well.

If they don't think I'm worth the money, they won't offer it to me. If they think I'm worth it, then maybe they will. That's all there is to it. You guys are taking things way too personally.

How many of you guys are K-JD?

Do you really think employers get offended when their employees ask for a raise? Are they acting "entitled'? I feel like this is some elaborate Romney based troll that I'm falling for.




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