Starting at the top

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Starting at the top

Postby delusional » Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:38 am

I apologize if this question is too abstract for the legal employment thread.

I see a lot of threads about people weighing hometown vs. New York big firm. One thing that never seems to come up is the quality of practice. Is there something to be said for starting your career in a fast paced, high stress, perfectionist environment in terms of development as a practitioner? I could see where it might make sense, even if you want to end up in North Dakota, to do a couple years in a big market to develop stronger work habits and to skills under world class lawyers before settling into a long term career in a smaller market.

Valid/invalid rationale?

jdhonest
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:31 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby jdhonest » Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:18 pm

Don't apologize, just clarify: what kind of work?

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby delusional » Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:39 pm

jdhonest wrote:Don't apologize, just clarify: what kind of work?
Litigation. But the same question could apply to any practice area that has an analog in mid-size practice.

HeavenWood
Posts: 2915
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:42 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby HeavenWood » Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:50 pm

delusional wrote:I apologize if this question is too abstract for the legal employment thread.

I see a lot of threads about people weighing hometown vs. New York big firm. One thing that never seems to come up is the quality of practice. Is there something to be said for starting your career in a fast paced, high stress, perfectionist environment in terms of development as a practitioner? I could see where it might make sense, even if you want to end up in North Dakota, to do a couple years in a big market to develop stronger work habits and to skills under world class lawyers before settling into a long term career in a smaller market.

Valid/invalid rationale?

Mostly invalid, given that at most of the mega-firms, you aren't going to get to do much substantive work for the first few years anyway. Now if you can land the good fortune of snagging somewhere like Boies or Susman, that's another story entirely.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:59 pm

Agree that your post is mostly invalid. Many biglaw attorneys only work on a portion of a portion of a case during their first two years. This experience is not very valuable for small firms where one might be required to handle cases from bringing in clients to resolution of each legal or business matter.

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby delusional » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:05 pm

Wow, Heavenwood and Canadianwolf, that sounds like quite an indictment of big law. I understood that you're going to end up on some small part of the case, but you will be doing some research and writing memos with pretty exacting standards, no? You will be involved at least as an observer with cases that cover complex transactions with many different parts. Is that really no advantage at all in local practice?

HeavenWood
Posts: 2915
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:42 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby HeavenWood » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:11 pm

delusional wrote:Wow, Heavenwood and Canadianwolf, that sounds like quite an indictment of big law. I understood that you're going to end up on some small part of the case, but you will be doing some research and writing memos with pretty exacting standards, no? You will be involved at least as an observer with cases that cover complex transactions with many different parts. Is that really no advantage at all in local practice?

Posts like this (not to mention your posting history) point strongly to flame.

bdubs
Posts: 3729
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:23 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby bdubs » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:14 pm

delusional wrote:
jdhonest wrote:Don't apologize, just clarify: what kind of work?
Litigation. But the same question could apply to any practice area that has an analog in mid-size practice.


Lots of litigation in major markets doesn't necessarily have an analog in mid-sized practices. Securities, FCPA, and antitrust are pretty clearly reserved for the biglaw firms on the defense side. IP and appellate both have lots of small shops but there aren't really many mid-sized firms, more specialists that are almost always in major markets.

General commercial litigation is really just a label to call everything else, but it doesn't mean that the work is the same across big and mid-sized firms. Litigating a commercial dispute that has a few billion dollars on the line is going to be done very differently than a run of the mill business dispute where budgets are much smaller.

Small firms also tend to operate in areas that biglaw firms don't touch like labor & employment, insurance coverage, and many classes of state causes of action.

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby delusional » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:17 pm

HeavenWood wrote:
delusional wrote:Wow, Heavenwood and Canadianwolf, that sounds like quite an indictment of big law. I understood that you're going to end up on some small part of the case, but you will be doing some research and writing memos with pretty exacting standards, no? You will be involved at least as an observer with cases that cover complex transactions with many different parts. Is that really no advantage at all in local practice?

Posts like this (not to mention your posting history) point strongly to flame.
Looking back and re-reading, I guess I see why that might be. I don't mean it that way though. I am not a small firm troll, I have a NY SA position for next summer at a smaller big law firm. It's really surprising to me because I have always found that it's easier for me personally to do things well when the people above me know exactly what they are doing and demand a lot to that end from the people beneath them. I assumed that a large firm would be that way.
Also curious what in my history points to flame. I very rarely flame on purpose.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22806
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Starting at the top

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:22 pm

It kinda sounds like you're assuming no one in the smaller market has skills that might be valuable to learn - at least for that market. I know there's shitlaw, but decent regional mid law people presumably can be perfectionist and demanding and skilled and the things you're associating with NY Biglaw. It's not like once you get out of Biglaw, everyone else is incompetent.

User avatar
Borg
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:08 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby Borg » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:24 pm

It's a good move to start at a large firm in a large city, but the reasons to do so are typically (1) pay off loans and (2) get a name on your resume as a signaling mechanism.

Other posters are correct that you are going to only be responsible for small elements of cases for the first couple of years, and this will not give you what you need to run a whole case from beginning to end. You will be working with talented lawyers, however, and that experience can be somewhat helpful in practice. Yet these points aren't all that meaningful, as most second year lawyers aren't capable of handling everything regardless of where they start. If you've gone through a well known firm in a big city, your resume signals that you have at least passed through an academic and social filter that people might be familiar with. If you're at a smaller firm in a smaller city, people are going to be less familiar with it and the signaling mechanism isn't as strong. That isn't to say you can't succeed and there are tons of mid-sized firms with extraordinarily talented lawyers, but it just can be helpful to have some employment history that people recognize as it makes future employment conversations easier. It's never a bad thing to get paid well and set yourself up for the next step.

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby delusional » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:27 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:It kinda sounds like you're assuming no one in the smaller market has skills that might be valuable to learn - at least for that market. I know there's shitlaw, but decent regional mid law people presumably can be perfectionist and demanding and skilled and the things you're associating with NY Biglaw. It's not like once you get out of Biglaw, everyone else is incompetent.
Yeah, I didn't want to come across as elitist, but just to borrow Scalia's line, the big firm players are predominantly people from top schools or top students from other schools who lasted longer than even their peers did. You can't make a sow's ear from a silk purse.
In other places and practices, it just seems likely that the process and the makeup of the attorneys is more eclectic. I don't know that it matters; I'm just speculating. I do know that I noticed a strong contrast between the big law lawyers I've come across and the random other lawyers I've come across.

rad lulz
Posts: 9844
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:53 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby rad lulz » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:32 pm

delusional wrote:I apologize if this question is too abstract for the legal employment thread.

I see a lot of threads about people weighing hometown vs. New York big firm. One thing that never seems to come up is the quality of practice. Is there something to be said for starting your career in a fast paced, high stress, perfectionist environment in terms of development as a practitioner? I could see where it might make sense, even if you want to end up in North Dakota, to do a couple years in a big market to develop stronger work habits and to skills under world class lawyers before settling into a long term career in a smaller market.

Valid/invalid rationale?

What makes you think hometown "midsize" firms are and less perfectionist.

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby delusional » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:35 pm

rad lulz wrote:
delusional wrote:I apologize if this question is too abstract for the legal employment thread.

I see a lot of threads about people weighing hometown vs. New York big firm. One thing that never seems to come up is the quality of practice. Is there something to be said for starting your career in a fast paced, high stress, perfectionist environment in terms of development as a practitioner? I could see where it might make sense, even if you want to end up in North Dakota, to do a couple years in a big market to develop stronger work habits and to skills under world class lawyers before settling into a long term career in a smaller market.

Valid/invalid rationale?

What makes you think hometown "midsize" firms are and less perfectionist.
I was aiming for a combination of talented lawyers and demanding supervisors. Also, the more money that's involved, the higher the quality tends to be.

User avatar
Borg
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:08 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby Borg » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:48 pm

rad lulz wrote:
delusional wrote:I apologize if this question is too abstract for the legal employment thread.

I see a lot of threads about people weighing hometown vs. New York big firm. One thing that never seems to come up is the quality of practice. Is there something to be said for starting your career in a fast paced, high stress, perfectionist environment in terms of development as a practitioner? I could see where it might make sense, even if you want to end up in North Dakota, to do a couple years in a big market to develop stronger work habits and to skills under world class lawyers before settling into a long term career in a smaller market.

Valid/invalid rationale?

What makes you think hometown "midsize" firms are and less perfectionist.


Well, if you're working at one then the above sentence is a pretty good indication of the level of perfection we can expect.

rad lulz
Posts: 9844
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:53 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby rad lulz » Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:23 pm

Borg wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
delusional wrote:I apologize if this question is too abstract for the legal employment thread.

I see a lot of threads about people weighing hometown vs. New York big firm. One thing that never seems to come up is the quality of practice. Is there something to be said for starting your career in a fast paced, high stress, perfectionist environment in terms of development as a practitioner? I could see where it might make sense, even if you want to end up in North Dakota, to do a couple years in a big market to develop stronger work habits and to skills under world class lawyers before settling into a long term career in a smaller market.

Valid/invalid rationale?

What makes you think hometown "midsize" firms are and less perfectionist.


Well, if you're working at one then the above sentence is a pretty good indication of the level of perfection we can expect.

lol?

User avatar
Sheffield
Posts: 411
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:07 am

Re: Starting at the top

Postby Sheffield » Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:39 pm

FWIW: It is not uncommon for mid-law or smaller-big-law firms to crush BL in court.

HeavenWood
Posts: 2915
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:42 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby HeavenWood » Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:51 pm

tl;dr stick with NYC if one or more of the following applies to your situation: (1) you're unsure where you want to ultimately end up and/or whether you want to stick with law for the long-term; (2) your COL-factored take-home pay post-loan payment will be appreciably higher; or (3) you want to try out the NYC experience.

The big law senior associates/partners you've come across probably are exceptional because they've been able to handle having an intense workload while having to wait a good while before doing any truly substantive legal work. Your typical post-lawl skool biglaw career track person who burns out after 3-5 years is not.

BeenDidThat
Posts: 704
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:18 am

Re: Starting at the top

Postby BeenDidThat » Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:59 pm

Borg wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
delusional wrote:I apologize if this question is too abstract for the legal employment thread.

I see a lot of threads about people weighing hometown vs. New York big firm. One thing that never seems to come up is the quality of practice. Is there something to be said for starting your career in a fast paced, high stress, perfectionist environment in terms of development as a practitioner? I could see where it might make sense, even if you want to end up in North Dakota, to do a couple years in a big market to develop stronger work habits and to skills under world class lawyers before settling into a long term career in a smaller market.

Valid/invalid rationale?

What makes you think hometown "midsize" firms are and less perfectionist.


Well, if you're working at one then the above sentence is a pretty good indication of the level of perfection we can expect.


You forgot a comma, bro.

User avatar
Borg
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:08 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby Borg » Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:42 pm

BeenDidThat wrote:
Borg wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
delusional wrote:I apologize if this question is too abstract for the legal employment thread.

I see a lot of threads about people weighing hometown vs. New York big firm. One thing that never seems to come up is the quality of practice. Is there something to be said for starting your career in a fast paced, high stress, perfectionist environment in terms of development as a practitioner? I could see where it might make sense, even if you want to end up in North Dakota, to do a couple years in a big market to develop stronger work habits and to skills under world class lawyers before settling into a long term career in a smaller market.

Valid/invalid rationale?

What makes you think hometown "midsize" firms are and less perfectionist.


Well, if you're working at one then the above sentence is a pretty good indication of the level of perfection we can expect.


You forgot a comma, bro.


No I didn't.

HeavenWood
Posts: 2915
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:42 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby HeavenWood » Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:52 pm

Borg wrote:
BeenDidThat wrote:
Borg wrote:
rad lulz wrote:What makes you think hometown "midsize" firms are and less perfectionist.


Well, if you're working at one then the above sentence is a pretty good indication of the level of perfection we can expect.


You forgot a comma, bro.


No I didn't.

Today, I learned that biglawl training comes with a syntax, grammar, and punctuation handbook. You'd better believe they do sentence diagramming over at Skadden.

User avatar
Borg
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:08 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby Borg » Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:08 pm

HeavenWood wrote:
Borg wrote:
BeenDidThat wrote:
Borg wrote:
Well, if you're working at one then the above sentence is a pretty good indication of the level of perfection we can expect.


You forgot a comma, bro.


No I didn't.

Today, I learned that biglawl training comes with a syntax, grammar, and punctuation handbook. You'd better believe they do sentence diagramming over at Skadden.


No, they just don't hire idiots like Rad Lulz. No training necessary.

BeenDidThat
Posts: 704
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:18 am

Re: Starting at the top

Postby BeenDidThat » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:33 pm

Borg wrote:
BeenDidThat wrote:
Borg wrote:
rad lulz wrote:What makes you think hometown "midsize" firms are and less perfectionist.


Well, if you're working at one then the above sentence is a pretty good indication of the level of perfection we can expect.


You forgot a comma, bro.


No I didn't.


Yes, you did.

(This is fun.)

User avatar
thesealocust
Posts: 8442
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: Starting at the top

Postby thesealocust » Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:02 pm

This gets debated all the time. People love to go to bat for the Substance and Early Responsibility you get as a junior at a smaller firm, but it's not like big firms are paying their associates 6-figure salaries over the course of several years out of the kindness of their heart and love for unsophisticated menial tasks being performed by highly educated and obscenely compensated attorneys.

Bigger projects and bigger stakes often mean more delegation. It's hardly unique to law. You see people going to bat for boutique banks over buldge bracket banks with identical talking points.

Cravath was a good enough place for David Boies and John Quinn to start their careers. Maybe shoot them an email and ask if the lack of substance as a junior associate hampered their development as litigators?

They're different experiences and if you try to paint one as objectively Better than the other there will always be valid counter-arguments. One thing that's a verifiable trend in the legal industry is an outflow of attorneys from major NYC law firms to legal jobs around the country. An obscene percentage of law school graduates who get a big firm job of any variety start in NYC, and it's trivial to find examples of more advanced lawyers in other localities who began working in NYC. That doesn't mean it's the only way to go, intrinsically superior, or impossible to do in reverse - it's just the only readily available data.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.