Anonymous User wrote:Can you discuss Dallas?
That was a very helpful discussion.
Here we go.
First, I want to note that this analysis relates solely to transactional work. Litigation is an entirely different ballgame - if you would like to see that analysis, I can do a cursory one, but it won't be nearly as informed. Also, I think the analysis of transactional work in Dallas is easiest when grouped into three categories (National Satellites, Houston Satellites, and Dallas-based Firms), so that's what I've done. Not everyone is the same, so every person's analysis should be different, especially when it comes to culture decisions - rumor on the street is that some people actually like BB Houston's culture.
1. National Satellites:
Weil – great work, top of the market pay, some difficult personalities, no partnership chances, long hours (but I’ve heard that the hours are actually a little better than JD), has maintained its size over the past few years, the best national name recognition
Jones Day – great work, pay is no better than BigTex firms, some very difficult partners (in the capital markets group, not the m&a group), no partnership chances, very very long hours, the biggest corporate group among the national satellites (but the office as a whole has shed about 50 lawyers (or 25%) in 4 years), great name recognition if you aren’t sure about staying in Dallas long-term
Gibson Dunn – good work, top of the market pay, hours aren’t bad, mostly good people (with one notable exception among the corporate partners), no partnership chances
K&L Gates – very slow, slightly below market pay, some nice people but not overly outgoing
Akin Gump – yes, I know it started in Dallas, but this office is a shell of its former self (just like the Houston office) and way smaller than the NYC or DC offices so imo this is a satellite office, pay is in line with BigTex firms, very little partnership chance as this office is not a priority for the firm, has good investment fund work but little other transactional work
Patton Boggs – don’t know much other than they have a lot of finance/bank work (less m&a work) and the pay is in line with BigTex firms
Baker McKenzie – small and not growing but people stay relatively busy, pay is in line with BigTex firms
Hunton & Williams – small corporate group, but has a few heavy hitters leftover from when it acquired the remaining Jenkins & Gilchrist lawyers, pay is probably a little worse than the BigTex firms
2. Houston Satellites:
Top Tier (the largest of the BigTex firms):
Vinson & Elkins – the biggest corporate group of the Houston satellites by far, at the top of the BigTex firms when it comes to pay, very stuffy/introverted office culture (esp when compared to the Houston office), very small (and random) partnership chance, the best exit ops of the Houston satellites (due to both its reputation and group size), has maintained a relatively consistent size over the past few years
Baker Botts – this office has been shrinking dramatically (from almost 200 lawyers 4 years ago to around 120 today), very small corporate group (IP and lit are the focus of this office – and every BB office other than Houston), not very busy, more laid back and friendly firm culture (especially when compared to BB Houston), pay is in line with BigTex firms but no better (and bonuses are notoriously late – up to 4 months late)
Fulbright – friendly (if overly fratty) office culture, very small corporate group (the partners are mostly ex-Winstead), pretty slow right now, pay is in line with BigTex firms, has maintained a relatively consistent size over the past few years (VE, BB, and Fulbright are all in the 120-135 range now, I believe)
Lower Tier (still BigTex – as a whole, these firms are very similar to the top tier of the Dallas-based firms below in terms of size/prestige/etc.):
Andrews Kurth – small corporate group (but probably the same as BB and Fulbright) but growing, fairly busy, pay is in line with BigTex firms, friendly office culture (but not nearly as social/fratty as AK Houston), slim partnership chance
Bracewell – very very small group, doesn’t really make a dent in the Dallas market
One thing to note about the Houston satellites is that these offices seem to be more of an afterthought than the top national satellites – each of the Houston firms ranks Dallas pretty low on their list of priorities (they’re all focused on Houston, NYC and international work because that is what feeds their energy work)
3. Dallas-based Firms:
Top Tier (the remaining three BigTex firms):
Haynes Boone – the largest corporate group in town (with JD second), very outgoing (some say too outgoing/fratty) firm culture, busy (but not totally swamped as they hire the largest incoming classes in Dallas), pay matches the BigTex firms (HB matches but never leads the way on pay increases), probably the best (but still far from a guarantee) partnership chances of any place in town, hours can be bad when you’re busy but generally a low facetime requirement, the only Dallas-based firm other than Locke to actively expand into new markets such as NYC (has probably the largest NYC office now of any BigTex firm) and CA but is behind the Houston 3 when it comes to international expansion, firm hasn’t shrunk or grown much over the past 4 years
Thompson & Knight – small corporate group (they’re more known for oil&gas, tax, and real estate work), friendly firm culture, decent partnership chances, firm is actively looking to merge and isn’t very successful outside of the Dallas market (the non-Dallas offices have like 4-1 partner to associate ratios), they’re shrunk quite a bit over the past 4 years (by about 20%) in Dallas and have lost almost all of their international lawyers (most to Mayer Brown)
Locke Lord – small corporate group (they’re mostly known for litigation), friendly but quirky firm culture, good partnership chances (they are partner heavy), the merger seems to have worked out pretty well, and they are ahead of the other Dallas firms when it comes to expansion in London, the Dallas office has shrunk by about 20% over the past 4 years
Gardere – still has some good work but the corporate group is smaller, friendly people but didn’t do much for their popularity when they no offered an entire summer class (in Dallas and Houston – about 25 people) in 2009, pay below the BigTex firms
Winstead – used to be a much bigger player in Dallas (there are a lot of former Winstead corporate lawyers in the big shops in town), still has a good real estate group, friendly people, corporate group is pretty busy, pay significantly below the BigTex firms
Jackson Walker – small corporate group, friendly firm culture, seems intent on staying a Texas-only regional firm, moderately busy, pay similar to Winstead
Strasburger – like Jackson Walker but in worse financial shape (with crazy partner to associate ratios – something like 6 partners to each associate), not very busy and probably the worst pay of any firm listed here
If anyone has any further questions, let me know and I’ll pm you. Hope this helps!