"Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

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"Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:39 pm

I have seen and answered enough inquiries on 3L hiring and "trading up" that I think it is time to consolidate it all into one thread. I successfully "traded up" from NYC V50 to NYC V5. I'm CCN, median as a 1L, top 15% as a 2L, e-board of secondary journal and note chosen for publication, involved in lots of extracurriculars, some other good college/high school softs that would out me if I put them here. I changed firms not for the preftige but because the new firm was stronger in my desired practice area.

One thing to keep in mind is that generally it is hard to predict a year in advance which firms will be hiring and whether there will be lots of hiring or not much (my year was nothing compared to the year before - literally I only know two 3Ls from my school that got CBs from OCI; I'm sure there were a couple more, but it was anemic as hell compared to the year before.) Some firms hire at least a couple every year (eg, Cravath and Skadden). But generally if 3L OCI is several months away, you can't really target a particular firm; you should go ahead and apply when the time comes but don't expect anything.

I will add tips to this thread when I have more time, but for now anyone can go ahead and ask questions. Other 3Ls who have successfully traded up should feel free to add their experiences.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:14 pm

When did you start looking to trade up, and how did you get your interviews? How many interviews did you get?

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:19 pm

What was your timeline of mass mailing applications (if you did)?
Did you only target NYC? If you know anything about the LA market, please speak to it
Any other tips on how to maximize chances of trading up?
Thanks a lot!

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:What was your timeline of mass mailing applications (if you did)?
Did you only target NYC? If you know anything about the LA market, please speak to it
Any other tips on how to maximize chances of trading up?
Thanks a lot!


I'm interested in the first and second part - it seems like it might be awkward mass mailing if you have a 2L SA but no offer yet. And is trading up mostly an NYC phenomenon?

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:31 am

1) how do you think the V5 decided to offer? i.e. what were the important factors the V5 weighed?
[*] 2L grades
[*] being on the e-board
[*] note to be published
[*] V25 SA
[*] your stellar personality
[*] V5's business is booming: great demand for more entry level
[*] your network and connections to the V5
[*] Cravath and Skadden are taking all their SAs

2) i understand a SA position to be a 10 week long try-out session before they drop a $160K offer. it seems risky for a firm to take in someone they have met for only 4 interviews (say you did a screener and callback 2L and then again 3L)

3) finally, what advice do you offer for someone trying to trade up generally?

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:30 pm

- Is it possible to do this without alienating your 2L summer firm? Most NY V100s offer at the end of the summer, right? So are you necessarily going to leave them waiting for a while, while most of your fellow SAs accept their offer on the spot? Could this impact your future at the firm if you end up not being able to trade up? Or is this something that's common enough that firms don't get too offended by it?

- V50 to V5 is very impressive. But is it also possible to go from a V100 to V50 or V25 (or higher)? Any anecdotes to this effect?

- Do firms generally look for specific departments or practice areas when hiring 3Ls, or is it still a general, you get to choose where you work kind of thing?

- Like the above anon, interested to know how much of a role grades seem to play: People with my grades at my school usually have a shot at V10, but I struck out with those firms due to a weak resume/weak interviewing/other reasons. Does already being in a good position gradewise help out?

- Maybe NY firms see this as self-evident, but what are good/bad answers to "why do you want to leave firm X for us?"

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:When did you start looking to trade up, and how did you get your interviews? How many interviews did you get?


OP here

The idea of trading up was in my mind pretty much all of 2L year because I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted to do (corporate work) and my firm was good in corporate work, but I really wanted to go to a firm where corporate was its premier department. So I knew I would be doing 3L OCI all along. To that end, I went about bulking up my resume by raising my grades a lot so that I got honors, getting chosen for publication, etc. My intuition is that the raised grades helped. It would have been even better if I had gotten an internship that demonstrated my interest in corporate even more....it is very important to have a narrative as to why you are doing 3L OCI.

In the end, I only got one interview, which was through a resume drop. I signed up for my school's OCI, but there were only, like, three firms I was interested in, and two of them cancelled their schedules as OCI drew near, so the only interview I had was with Cravath, which I ultimately cancelled because I heard Cravath calls your summer firm early in the process to make sure you really got an offer (oh yeah, one crucial tip: be sure to get an offer from your summer firm!), and I did not want to risk Cravath calling my summer firm at the screener stage and then not giving me an offer in the end because I thought it would damage my relationship with my summer firm. I went back and forth for awhile, adding and deleting the Cravath interview but ultimately deleted it. A few days later, the V5 posted a request for resumes on Symplicity, and I submitted my resume.

As soon as I got an offer from my summer firm, I updated m resume to reflect the offer and sent mass mails to the firms I wanted to work for more than my summer firm, regardless of whether they had indicated they were hiring 3Ls. Nothing came of this other than a smattering of rejections and lots of silence, but I did not make a big push to follow up, which in retrospect I should have. I should have called the firms I really wanted and reiterated my interest and given my narrative about switching firms. Instead, once I had the V5 CB, I kind of hung my hat on getting that offer, which was an unwise gamble that happened to pay off.

I guess it comes down to the fact that I did really want to switch, but I didn't always act like it (eg, cancelling the Cravath interview, not following up with the mass mails, etc). The other crucial thing I did not do was get my shit together to apply for federal clerkships (this needs to be started 2L spring or even earlier by seeking references, seeing if they will make calls, identifying and polishing writing sample, etc). Although I personally wanted corporate, I should have applied to clerkships to keep options open in case I really did not like my summer firm or whatever. If you want hardcore to trade up, you absolutely should be applying to clerkships because they give you another bite at the apple so to speak.

Thus, after all that blathering, keeping in mind that your overarching concern throughout is to develop a strong narrative for why you want to change firms (everyone will ask you this and want to hear a coherent response - not PREFTIGE LOL, my crucial tips to 3L hiring are:
-raise your grades as much as you can
-get internship or clinic that strengthens narrative
-get published (in some journal) and on e-board
-get references and writing sample ready for clerkship apps
-get an offer from summer firm
-bid on every firm at OCI you would take over your firm
-mass mail after receiving offer (put offer on resume) and then follow up by phone call
-since you have fewer CBs, practice for them like crazy (same for any clerkship interviews)
-pray....srsly 3L hiring is really f'in random

Good luck!

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:50 pm

OP here.....I will get to the rest of your questions, but writing the above response took awhile, and I am pretty busy right now, but I will definitely be back to answer the other questions in the next few days....I hope some of the above response is helpful in the mean time

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby zomginternets » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:When did you start looking to trade up, and how did you get your interviews? How many interviews did you get?



As soon as I got an offer from my summer firm, I updated m resume to reflect the offer and sent mass mails to the firms I wanted to work for more than my summer firm, regardless of whether they had indicated they were hiring 3Ls. Nothing came of this other than a smattering of rejections and lots of silence, but I did not make a big push to follow up, which in retrospect I should have. I should have called the firms I really wanted and reiterated my interest and given my narrative about switching firms. Instead, once I had the V5 CB, I kind of hung my hat on getting that offer, which was an unwise gamble that happened to pay off.


Do you really think this (bolded) would have made an appreciable difference? My impression from both 2L and 3L mass mailing (to biglaw at least) is that you're offered interviews based solely your school's rank an your rank (and maybe some really interesting WE).

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:48 am

I went from a V5 firm, which is a top-ten firm in the area of law I want to practice in, to a V10 that is (disputably) #1 in that area. Didn't really realize that I wanted this practice area before my summer biglaw experience. I'll be able to answer some questions as well, even though I technically "traded down" when it comes to general Vault firm rankings—although I did "trade up" when it comes to practice groups.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:What was your timeline of mass mailing applications (if you did)?
Did you only target NYC? If you know anything about the LA market, please speak to it
Any other tips on how to maximize chances of trading up?
Thanks a lot!


OP here

I waited to mass mail until after I got an offer from my summer firm, which happened in Early August. Generally 3L hiring is not a priority for firms during August because their focus is on 2Ls. It took me almost two weeks to get a CB from the V5, which gave CBs to 2Ls in 24 hours. Since it is not a priority, I don't think you gain a huge advantage mass mailing early although I think you should get them out in August and then follow up. Ideally you wait to mass mail until you have offer from your summer firm in hand because you don't want them to think you are seeking a job because you got no offered. I will note, though, that the firm I ended up with did not seem terribly concerned with whether I got an offer although perhaps that is because they saw it on my resume. They were concerned with why I wanted to switch, though.

I did only target NYC for personal reasons (although if I did not have those personal reasons, I would have liked to look elsewhere because NYC has little appeal for me and is sooooo expensive, ugh). My guess is that most 3L spots are in NYC, but I have seen ones posted on Symplicity this year for LA (Kirkland and PH). Often postings looking for 3Ls will specify a practice group, so you may have to be flexible with that.

My other tips are posted at the end of my second post in that bullet point time line. You don't have to hit all of them. The most important, I think, are to raise grades as much as possible, beef up resume, and get an offer from summer firm. Good luck!

Anonymous User wrote:I'm interested in the first and second part - it seems like it might be awkward mass mailing if you have a 2L SA but no offer yet. And is trading up mostly an NYC phenomenon?


I pretty much answered your questions in the first and second paragraph above. Basically I think it is ideal to mass mail once you have an offer, which you put on your resume next to the title of your job ('permanent offer extended' or whatever), to distinguish yourself from people who have been no offered and are job seeking. However, if your firm hasn't given you an answer by, like, late August, you should go ahead and mass mail and you can update them when you find out. If you have not heard by late August, I would be mass mailing like a mofo anyway because I'd be worried although I think for no-offered folks a lot of the firm hiring will happen much later (after the November 1 deadline). I am not sure how much "trading up" goes on outside NYC. Simply because there are so many more positions here, I expect that there is more opportunity, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't happen elsewhere. Hopefully some others who are more aware can chime in.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:37 am

zomginternets wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:When did you start looking to trade up, and how did you get your interviews? How many interviews did you get?



As soon as I got an offer from my summer firm, I updated m resume to reflect the offer and sent mass mails to the firms I wanted to work for more than my summer firm, regardless of whether they had indicated they were hiring 3Ls. Nothing came of this other than a smattering of rejections and lots of silence, but I did not make a big push to follow up, which in retrospect I should have. I should have called the firms I really wanted and reiterated my interest and given my narrative about switching firms. Instead, once I had the V5 CB, I kind of hung my hat on getting that offer, which was an unwise gamble that happened to pay off.


Do you really think this (bolded) would have made an appreciable difference? My impression from both 2L and 3L mass mailing (to biglaw at least) is that you're offered interviews based solely your school's rank an your rank (and maybe some really interesting WE).


OP here....I know I am skipping some questions above which I will answer later, but this is a quicky

I agree with you that it probably would not make an appreciable difference. Still, I think it helps to follow up and draw attention to your application especially if you are within their ball park as far as school and grades go. I only sent maybe 10 mass mails, so it wouldn't have taken much time. I also think doing it by phone is important even though it is awkward. It is too easy for emails to get buried, especially during hiring season. Plus, the phone gives you an opportunity to try to start a conversation.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:32 am

The other crucial thing I did not do was get my shit together to apply for federal clerkships (this needs to be started 2L spring or even earlier by seeking references, seeing if they will make calls, identifying and polishing writing sample, etc). Although I personally wanted corporate, I should have applied to clerkships to keep options open in case I really did not like my summer firm or whatever. If you want hardcore to trade up, you absolutely should be applying to clerkships because they give you another bite at the apple so to speak.


Just inserting the obligatory warning that while you should definitely do this, you also definitely shouldn't count on it working out either. The right-after-graduation AIII clerkship market is reeeeaallly tough these days. Coming from a CCN, it's going to be hit and miss if you are outside of the top 10%, and a big uphill climb if you're outside of the top quarter. Honestly, I think the thing that is making it even tougher is that so many of the district court judges want a year or two (and some even more) of practice experience now, which has effectively taken a lot of spots off the market that used to go to the CCN 3Ls with good-but-not-great grades (or HSY people with a-little-above-median grades, or MVP people with really-good-but-still-not-great grades, or whatever).

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:38 am

How do you figure out which practice areas are looking for 3Ls?

I know the obvious answer is your school's OCS site, but this database doesn't seem very comprehensive.

Also, I was just browsing through some threads and it seems like a bunch of previous 3Ls mass mailed in mid-late July and got CBs as early as the first week of August. Your timeline suggests waiting til you have an offer in hand, but do you think it might be better to just mass mail w/o the offer ahead of time then follow up with the info that I got an offer?

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:58 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
The other crucial thing I did not do was get my shit together to apply for federal clerkships (this needs to be started 2L spring or even earlier by seeking references, seeing if they will make calls, identifying and polishing writing sample, etc). Although I personally wanted corporate, I should have applied to clerkships to keep options open in case I really did not like my summer firm or whatever. If you want hardcore to trade up, you absolutely should be applying to clerkships because they give you another bite at the apple so to speak.


Just inserting the obligatory warning that while you should definitely do this, you also definitely shouldn't count on it working out either. The right-after-graduation AIII clerkship market is reeeeaallly tough these days. Coming from a CCN, it's going to be hit and miss if you are outside of the top 10%, and a big uphill climb if you're outside of the top quarter. Honestly, I think the thing that is making it even tougher is that so many of the district court judges want a year or two (and some even more) of practice experience now, which has effectively taken a lot of spots off the market that used to go to the CCN 3Ls with good-but-not-great grades (or HSY people with a-little-above-median grades, or MVP people with really-good-but-still-not-great grades, or whatever).


OP here...yeah I know getting a federal clerkship would've been hard; I will be published twice but my grades are only top 20-25%. However, getting a firm job was also very unlikely because so few places hire 3Ls. Thus, both clerking and getting a firm job as a 3L are shots in the dark for lots of people, but if you want to trade up, it increases your chances to both apply to firms as a 3L and apply to clerk, even if both probabilities are low.

ETA: I realized I forgot to address your other point, which is that the firm hiring market is harder exiting clerkships, which is another thing to consider definitely. I think that if the economy picks up in the next few years (a big if, admittedly), firms may be looking to pick up some more people to handle the business that their smaller summer classes from a few years before can't handle, especially at top firms (although these same firms seem to have bounced back and had bigger classes, so who knows). Ideally you would ask your summer firm to keep the offer open although I know some judges don't like that. I have a friend in this situation now (offer from V30, D.Ct. clerkship for next year, COA for the year after that), and she seems comfortable with letting the offer lapse if the firm does not let her keep it open.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1) how do you think the V5 decided to offer? i.e. what were the important factors the V5 weighed?
[*] 2L grades
[*] being on the e-board
[*] note to be published
[*] V25 SA
[*] your stellar personality
[*] V5's business is booming: great demand for more entry level
[*] your network and connections to the V5
[*] Cravath and Skadden are taking all their SAs

2) i understand a SA position to be a 10 week long try-out session before they drop a $160K offer. it seems risky for a firm to take in someone they have met for only 4 interviews (say you did a screener and callback 2L and then again 3L)

3) finally, what advice do you offer for someone trying to trade up generally?


OP here

(1) I think all of those played a role aside from great personality because although I don't think I have a bad personality, I am introverted and reserved and don't interview that well. I did practice for the interview in advance by saying out loud several times the answers I would give to certain questions, which did help, I think. I think the most important factors in that list in the firm's decision to hire me were: 2L grades; SA with offer (not sure how much the vault rank would matter), and business booming. Another factor that I think mattered a lot in my case was prestigious undergrad because one partner who interviewed me went there and really liked me based on my resume before I even interviewed, and I think he went to bat for me. It is hard to speculate, though, because I don't know what the rest of the pool looked like; that is, perhaps I was one of the best candidates and they would have hired me regardless of this partner's input.

(2) Yes, it is a risk on their part. I think that is why firms prefer to hire 3Ls who have been SAs and gotten offers - that way they know they have been vetted by anther firm and passed the test.

(3) My advice is covered in my first long post

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:- Is it possible to do this without alienating your 2L summer firm? Most NY V100s offer at the end of the summer, right? So are you necessarily going to leave them waiting for a while, while most of your fellow SAs accept their offer on the spot? Could this impact your future at the firm if you end up not being able to trade up? Or is this something that's common enough that firms don't get too offended by it?

- V50 to V5 is very impressive. But is it also possible to go from a V100 to V50 or V25 (or higher)? Any anecdotes to this effect?

- Do firms generally look for specific departments or practice areas when hiring 3Ls, or is it still a general, you get to choose where you work kind of thing?

- Like the above anon, interested to know how much of a role grades seem to play: People with my grades at my school usually have a shot at V10, but I struck out with those firms due to a weak resume/weak interviewing/other reasons. Does already being in a good position gradewise help out?

- Maybe NY firms see this as self-evident, but what are good/bad answers to "why do you want to leave firm X for us?"


OP here

I struggled a lot with the alienating the summer firm problem, not because the firm gave me any signs it felt that way but because I was worried about not getting an offer and then accepting theirs and them remembering that I did that when I actually started. People I consulted about this told me that generally people don't remember when you start a whole year later. I remained somewhat worried about it, but the one thing I will say is that if you do go to you summer firm but accepted in September/October rather than August, no one will care about your late acceptance if you are a very good associate. Thus, in the somewhat remote possibility that someone remembers, the negative feeling toward you can be at the very least substantially mitigated by good work. I did have a lot of anxiety during the waiting period, though. This was exacerbated by the fact that firms focus on 2L hiring first, which means that I had to wait even longer.

I think it is possible to move anywhere along the spectrum of Vault rankings. The reason moving to higher-ranking firms happens more, I think, is because these firms have a disproportionate # of associate positions. But I don't think you are foreclosed from making the umps you are describing. Having an SA, whether V25 or V100, will help a lot (although not if firms are not hiring 3Ls). People who really seem to struggle in the 3L firm hiring market are people without SAs although there are confounding variables; generally people with SAs are more highly qualified than those without although that is not always the case. But I don't think what the firms care about is SA=higher qualified; wht they care about is that SA+offer=another firm has vetted this person as a big law associate and found them acceptable.

The practice area thing varies from firm to firm. Some look for all practice areas while others will specify. Even if they are looking for all practice areas, they will usually expect you to know corp or lit (or reg, if they have that). Some may let you do rotations in corp and lit if they have rotations. But I think it is better to be committed to something. It is different than being an SA where you are trying things out.

Having good grades can only help, and I suspect a drop would be bad, so do attend to your grades. However, you should also expend effort his year trying to improve the other things that caused you to struggle this year. That will probably help substantially. Can you go into more specifics about what the problems are? Also, what is the school range and what rank? I get the sense at my school that generally people who had good grades as a 1L (top third or better) landed a firms they were happy with the first time around, so they were not in the mix for 3L hiring, which meant that if there was someone with good 1L grades (assuming they maintained good grades), s/he would stick out in a good way. So, yes, I think having good 1L grades will be a benefit to you if you can improve your weaknesses.

It is not self-evident to firms or interviewers why you are interviewing as a 3L if you have an offer from your summer firm, so you do need to have a good convincing answer to this question. But IME this answer does not have to be super creative as long as it resonates. Mine was basically 'V50 summer firm's premier department was X. Going into my SA, I was interested in X and Y, so I did a mix of both, but I preferred Y because [insert reason]. Thus, I wanted to go to a firm with an excellent Y department, and V5 fit that bill.' I know that reason was good. It would have been great to bolster it by having a relevant internship or writing a relevant note or something else to demonstrate interest in Y. I don't know what other reasons people gave, but I think it is good to give some real thought to why do you want to switch firms? Rather than trying to cook up the best-sounding response, it should be based on what your real reason is, and if you have trouble thinking of one you can say to interviewers, that may be a red flag....although 'exit option' isn't really something you can tell interviewers but is always on the list of reasons.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How do you figure out which practice areas are looking for 3Ls?

I know the obvious answer is your school's OCS site, but this database doesn't seem very comprehensive.

Also, I was just browsing through some threads and it seems like a bunch of previous 3Ls mass mailed in mid-late July and got CBs as early as the first week of August. Your timeline suggests waiting til you have an offer in hand, but do you think it might be better to just mass mail w/o the offer ahead of time then follow up with the info that I got an offer?


V5->V10 here.

I did some sniffing around before I had my V5 offer in hand, and it turned out that one of the firms was hiring specifically for the practice area I wanted. I did wait until I had an offer in hand. I don't want to get too specific, but my callback was in mid-September/the first week of October. I was kind of nervous about looking around before I had an offer. Thankfully, my summer firm gave offers out around the same time the summer ended, so I was able to send things out with the reassurance that I had an offer in hand. I don't really think anything would have happened if my summer firm found out that I was looking around at other firms before getting an offer, but I'm paranoid. I got the sense that 3L hiring was on a later time schedule than 2L hiring; I didn't really feel like I was at a disadvantage because of the way I did it.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1) how do you think the V5 decided to offer? i.e. what were the important factors the V5 weighed?
[*] 2L grades
[*] being on the e-board
[*] note to be published
[*] V25 SA
[*] your stellar personality
[*] V5's business is booming: great demand for more entry level
[*] your network and connections to the V5
[*] Cravath and Skadden are taking all their SAs

2) i understand a SA position to be a 10 week long try-out session before they drop a $160K offer. it seems risky for a firm to take in someone they have met for only 4 interviews (say you did a screener and callback 2L and then again 3L)

3) finally, what advice do you offer for someone trying to trade up generally?


To be honest, I don't think there are enough people getting 3L jobs to answer these questions with any type of authority. Those of us who succeeded can share our experiences, but it isn't likely that we really understand how 3L hiring works. Take me, for example:

I traded up from a V-40 to a V-5 off of a mass mail. Oddly enough, except for a really high GPA at a T-20ish school (3.9), none of the above factors apply to me. I was a transfer student, did not make law review at all, did not network with the firm before or after the screening interview, my 2L SA was not V25 and, while I have a good personality, I am a lousy interview. Also, the offer from my 2L firm did not come in until after the offer from the V-5 firm (I was honest with the firm I interviewed with about this). The best part was before the screening interview they asked my practice area preference. When I answered they said those weren't available and gave me a second chance to choose from the ones that were open. Almost everything went against me, but I got the job. I honestly felt like this was just supposed to happen for me.

And I think that is the bottom line. Frankly, from a financial perspective you won't go wrong with any big firm paying close to market. Unless you expect to make partner (and no one can really know about that while still in law school) there is no significant financial advantage to "lower" ranked firms. Also, exit options are probably somewhat exaggerated. Unless you are a lousy associate I imagine that most firms will provide you with plenty of exit options that will keep you going the rest of your life.

For that reason, I think that there is nothing more important than finding a place you like. Before you went to law school you probably had no idea who Wachtell was. If someone told you then that you would be making 145K+ after graduation you would have been absolutely stoked. The law school experience absolutely warps our view of the universe.

Finally, I suspect that big law 3L hiring is about to shut down for the year. At this point you are unlikely to get anything before you have to make a decision on your 2L firm. I say you should just relax, enjoy taking it easy your for the 3L year and be happy that you have done better than 90 percent of law school students nationwide. You will probably keep getting good grades because everybody else is spending time on their job searches. Anybody out there with a biglaw offer after a 2L summer should just feel grateful that they won the law school lottery.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:18 am

Great topic guys, it was a long time coming. Here are some questions I had after not getting the location I wanted during OCI, and also not getting a couple dream firms. The questions are not specifically for OP - in fact, his/her experience is not relevant to some of them.
1. Is it generally worthwhile to switch from a firm that you worked at to another firm for more "general" opportunity? I.e., from a firm that specializes in finance to a firm that does more different things at a high level? Or are you expected to be aiming for a specific specialty at that point?
2. Is it reasonable to re-apply to firms that rejected you the previous year? Does it make a difference if your grades have improved or there has been a different significant change (like, idunno, your ties got better)?
3. I assume it's tacky to apply to firms in the same city as your summer firm before you have worked much at your summer firm. Is that right?

NOTE: the questions are somewhat hypothetical. Outside of location, I think I'll be happy with my summer firm. But I do want to be mentally prepared waaaay in advance because that's how I roll.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:56 pm

question for OP or any 3L: is it harder to trade up from a non-vault firm to a vault firm?

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:question for OP or any 3L: is it harder to trade up from a non-vault firm to a vault firm?


V5->V10 poster here.

I don't think it matters whether or not the firm is in the V100 or not. Obviously, there is some correlation between how well-respected your summer employer is and how highly the firm is ranked on Vault (although a very-far-from-perfect correlation), but that doesn't mean there is causation. That is, if a potential employer is unimpressed with your summer employer, it's not because it just barely missed the V100; and on the flip side, a #99 Vault ranking is not going to change anybody's mind. The Vault 100 rankings is not a mystical list with membership bestowing sacred rights.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Great topic guys, it was a long time coming. Here are some questions I had after not getting the location I wanted during OCI, and also not getting a couple dream firms. The questions are not specifically for OP - in fact, his/her experience is not relevant to some of them.
1. Is it generally worthwhile to switch from a firm that you worked at to another firm for more "general" opportunity? I.e., from a firm that specializes in finance to a firm that does more different things at a high level? Or are you expected to be aiming for a specific specialty at that point?
2. Is it reasonable to re-apply to firms that rejected you the previous year? Does it make a difference if your grades have improved or there has been a different significant change (like, idunno, your ties got better)?
3. I assume it's tacky to apply to firms in the same city as your summer firm before you have worked much at your summer firm. Is that right?

NOTE: the questions are somewhat hypothetical. Outside of location, I think I'll be happy with my summer firm. But I do want to be mentally prepared waaaay in advance because that's how I roll.


OP here....since you said you wanted other opinions, I hope some other posters will chime in, too, but I will advise you to the extent I can

1) The answer to this depends on your goals. If you are certain about finance and know that you want to do something related to finance after the firm, then I would probably stick with the summer firm, assuming the summer firm is not only finance-focused but also well-regarded and attracting high quality business. An example of this would be going to SRZ because you are sure you want to do hedge fund stuff. SRZ gets really good hedge fund business despite being middling on the Vault rankings. You also need to take into consideration the difficulty of landing a particular practice group; when a particular group is more highly-regarded than the firm in general, there will be increased competition to get into that group. During the summer, you should start to get a sense of the likelihood of landing that group although many firms won't tell you until much after you accepted their offer. Plus, after a summer of doing the work in a group you thought you wanted, you may decide you really don't like it, which would make "trading up" (or trading, period) much more attractive.

Also, at a certain point in reputation disparity, I would probably start recommending the higher ranked firm assuming their practice group that interests you is also strong because there is a benefit you get just for putting the high-ranked firm's name on your resume to think about also. In short, I guess I am saying there are a lot of factors unknown here that make it hard to answer the question. So I guess the answer is, it depends....but some of the uncertainty will be clearer once you have been at your summer firm for several weeks (do you like the practice group, how hard is it to get in, etc).

2) I would say definitely reapply to firms that rejected you the year before. I mass-mailed one that rejected me (I barely interviewed with any firms in the V20 the first time around because I didn't think I could get most of the firms, which was definitely a mistake I realized after as I watched many of my median friends land V5 and V10 SAs). I never heard back from that firm, but I highly doubt it is because I was rejected last year. I think they will take another look. There is really no downside.

3) I don't think it is tacky assuming it is a major market (and maybe even not tacky in smaller markets as long as all the recruiters don't know each other). The main concern from my perspective with this question is that I believe that you should not mass mail that early. I think it generally makes sense to wait until you have an offer from your summer firm unless the summer firm is waiting until late August or later to tell you. I don't think there is much point to mass-mailing in June or July, notwithstanding one person who mentioned getting a CB from mass-mailing in July. As someone else also mentioned, 3L hiring generally occurs after 2L hiring or, at the very least, recruiters are primarily focused on 2L hiring in July/August.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:question for OP or any 3L: is it harder to trade up from a non-vault firm to a vault firm?


OP here....I agree with V5->V10 regarding the fact that there is not a bright line between the 100th-ranked Vault firm and whatever would constitute the 101st firm if Vault ranked it. However, I think the value of having an SA and getting an offer goes down if your firm is not familiar to recruiters and the hiring committee. The SA-with-offer bump is greatest if the hiring firm knows the summer firm and that it works like theirs does and that you have been vetted and found to be capable of being a big law associate by a firm that operates similarly to the hiring firm. That said, working at pretty much any non-"shitlaw" firm is still a good resume line and gives you some private sector experience that other people might not have.

Generally I think what drives 3L hiring much more than qualifications is need for moar bodiez. If a firm has underhired and needs people, it may be amenable to hiring people with non-Vault SAs or no SAs. If does not need more people, it will not interview anyone, no matter how great their credentials (well, maybe there are a few exceptions but as a general principle). It is honestly so random that it is very hard to predict ahead of time. My V5 hired a couple last year but is hiring more than that this year. I don't know if I would have been hired if I was one class ahead even if my qualifications were the same. That is what I mean by random and hard to predict. This year 3L hiring was actually worse than last year, so I got lucky. One thing that could help 2Ls out, though, is that multiple firms cut class sizes this year, so maybe there will be demand for people next year if the economy improves.

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Re: "Traded up" as a 3L - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:question for OP or any 3L: is it harder to trade up from a non-vault firm to a vault firm?


OP here....I agree with V5->V10 regarding the fact that there is not a bright line between the 100th-ranked Vault firm and whatever would constitute the 101st firm if Vault ranked it. However, I think the value of having an SA and getting an offer goes down if your firm is not familiar to recruiters and the hiring committee. The SA-with-offer bump is greatest if the hiring firm knows the summer firm and that it works like theirs does and that you have been vetted and found to be capable of being a big law associate by a firm that operates similarly to the hiring firm.


V5->V10 poster here.

Absolutely agree. I know that some people from "lower" summer firms contacted my V10, asking if they're doing 3L hiring, only to receive an answer in the negative. While I was at the V10 for the callback, a couple partners mentioned something to the effect of, "We will always seriously consider candidates who have experience at [V5 firm] or a similar firm." There is definitely a signaling value to getting an offer from a firm that people from other firms know well, i.e., a prestigious firm put a lot of time and money on the line because they believed you would contribute to their firm. It's like seeing a guy who appears to be a 6/10 dating a 9/10 girl. Even if the 6/10 guy doesn't look like anything too special, there is the notion that maybe you're missing something since the 9/10 girl already put her stamp of approval on him.

That being said, it doesn't mean that it's impossible to "trade up" if you didn't work at a somewhat-prestigious firm during 2L summer, it just might make it easier.




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