No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

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No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:24 am

I have no 2L big law SA. Looking to 3L hiring, how big is the bankruptcy market (3Lawl Big Law, small law, and gov)?

If I were to choose between taking a fluffer course to bump up my GPA (like comparative legal philosophy) this semester vs. bankruptcy (which is a hell of a lot of work), what should I be choosing? I'm currently around median.

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby LawIdiot86 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:I have no 2L big law SA. Looking to 3L hiring, how big is the bankruptcy market (3Lawl Big Law, small law, and gov)?

If I were to choose between taking a fluffer course to bump up my GPA (like comparative legal philosophy) this semester vs. bankruptcy (which is a hell of a lot of work), what should I be choosing? I'm currently around median.


It depends what school your at. Median at a T14 with bankruptcy coursework can be competitive for a bankruptcy clerkship. Outside of the US Trustees Office (and maybe something in the part of the Dept of Ed that I send my student loan payment to), I'm not sure what you mean by a government bankruptcy market.

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:51 am

OP here. I am median at T-14, but no journal.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:08 am

The 3L biglaw market is going to be very limited. That said, I do think 3L hiring usually concentrates on more specialty areas like bankruptcy or tax. But i doubt there will be more than a handful of biglaw firms interviewing 3Ls. Like the above poster mentioned, if you know you want to do bankruptcy then you should be considering applying to bankruptcy clerkships, which will give you another bite at biglaw bankruptcy. If you want to do that, I would say you should take bankruptcy now.

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:47 am

Agree with what has been said; focusing on bankruptcy is a decent strategy for you at this point. Estimating roughly here, but I'd say about 90 percent of law students who go on to biglaw do so through the traditional 2L OCI SA offer route. Maybe 1-2 percent get in through 3L OCI and the remainder through clerkships. With your grades, a traditional article 3 clerkship is probably out, but a BK clerkship is definitely within reach. There are BK judges in the good districts (DEL and SDNY) who favor t-14 students. Getting a BK clerkship probably represents your best shot at backdooring into biglaw now.

There is also a slight chance that a firm undersubscribed their bk/restructuring group and so going into 3L OCI with a specific interest and coursework in the area might make you standout.

If possible, to really help sell yourself for clerkships, take a seminar/paper/writing requirement class that you can write about bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is so ubiquitous in all industries that its not difficult to find a paper class where this works; for example I took an aviation law seminar and wrote about cyclical airline restructuring through chapter 11.

If you decide to take BK, get tight with your prof, (s)he is probably a practitioner and connected in the field and getting your bk prof to write for your clerkship apps is almost a necessity.

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have no 2L big law SA. Looking to 3L hiring, how big is the bankruptcy market (3Lawl Big Law, small law, and gov)?

If I were to choose between taking a fluffer course to bump up my GPA (like comparative legal philosophy) this semester vs. bankruptcy (which is a hell of a lot of work), what should I be choosing? I'm currently around median.


Do you like bankruptcy or interested in the field? I'd strongly advise against picking bankruptcy if you want to maximize your odds of getting hired for a couple reasons. First, bankruptcy is a very small field (roughly 3% of the legal market) and it requires a lot of time to get a grasp on. More important for you, bankruptcy practice is down 4% according to the Citi Law Group, down more than ANY other area of law. The primary reason why is that credit markets are so tight. Chapter 11s exist ONLY if the debtor can secure a debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan. No DIP loan means no liquidity to run a ch. 11. No ch. 11 means no huge fees and a fairly quick case ending in a sale of the debtor's assets.
Big Law: I've seen a total of one firm (Kirkland) looking for BK 3Ls.
small law: 7/13 shops aren't hiring til you pass a bar
Gov: lol
Clerkships: you can't walz into a bankruptcy clerkship just because you're at a T14. BK judges will grill you on whether you want to practice BK, your experience, any publications, and how you became interested in BK. The above posters are parroting TLS talking points that simply are not applicable anymore.

You might ask why you should take my perspective over the other posters. My answer would be that I actually know what I'm talking about. I've been heavily focused in the BK market, I worked for a biglaw firm doing bankruptcy work, I've met with the BK practice group heads for multiple V100 firms, I've applied and interviewed for BK clerkships, and I posted in just about every BK thread in the past two years. I know what I'm talking about.

If your primary interest is in private practice, I would suggest focusing on labor and employment. There are a number of L&E firms that hire later (Ogletree and a few other L&E firms tend to hire SAs in Jan/Feb) and L&E firms are more active in the 3L market.

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:14 pm

Good advice from previous anon, although I've heard that Ch 11 filings are also down because interest rates are so low, which reduces the lenders' incentive to force a filing. I also wonder where the previous poster got the 3% figure from.

I'm not sure if a T14 median student who has only taken a single bankruptcy course has a real shot at a bankruptcy clerkship in SDNY or D. Del. There are so many applicants who have a demonstrated interest in the field, top credentials from a lower ranked school, and/or large firm bankruptcy experience. That said, there's no harm in applying and you may find Bankr. C.D. Cal. or Bankr. N.D. Ill. or somewhere similar to be easier.

Also, I've met a number of non-bankruptcy practitioners who have had some exposure to bankruptcy practice, and they have found it incredibly dull. It's not for everyone.

- Bankr. D. Del./SDNY Clerk

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have no 2L big law SA. Looking to 3L hiring, how big is the bankruptcy market (3Lawl Big Law, small law, and gov)?

If I were to choose between taking a fluffer course to bump up my GPA (like comparative legal philosophy) this semester vs. bankruptcy (which is a hell of a lot of work), what should I be choosing? I'm currently around median.


Do you like bankruptcy or interested in the field? I'd strongly advise against picking bankruptcy if you want to maximize your odds of getting hired for a couple reasons. First, bankruptcy is a very small field (roughly 3% of the legal market) and it requires a lot of time to get a grasp on. More important for you, bankruptcy practice is down 4% according to the Citi Law Group, down more than ANY other area of law. The primary reason why is that credit markets are so tight. Chapter 11s exist ONLY if the debtor can secure a debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan. No DIP loan means no liquidity to run a ch. 11. No ch. 11 means no huge fees and a fairly quick case ending in a sale of the debtor's assets.
Big Law: I've seen a total of one firm (Kirkland) looking for BK 3Ls.
small law: 7/13 shops aren't hiring til you pass a bar
Gov: lol
Clerkships: you can't walz into a bankruptcy clerkship just because you're at a T14. BK judges will grill you on whether you want to practice BK, your experience, any publications, and how you became interested in BK. The above posters are parroting TLS talking points that simply are not applicable anymore.

You might ask why you should take my perspective over the other posters. My answer would be that I actually know what I'm talking about. I've been heavily focused in the BK market, I worked for a biglaw firm doing bankruptcy work, I've met with the BK practice group heads for multiple V100 firms, I've applied and interviewed for BK clerkships, and I posted in just about every BK thread in the past two years. I know what I'm talking about.

If your primary interest is in private practice, I would suggest focusing on labor and employment. There are a number of L&E firms that hire later (Ogletree and a few other L&E firms tend to hire SAs in Jan/Feb) and L&E firms are more active in the 3L market.


I don't think the advice ITT is that far apart. Of course OP shouldn't be gunning for bankruptcy clerkships or jobs if he's not actually interested in bankruptcy. And I didn't mean to suggest that Tax or bankruptcy people would mean that you have a good shot at 3L OCI--based on what I saw last semester, those are the two groups of 3Ls that had any sort of shot at biglaw.

As for clerkship stuff: OP isn't a shoe-in for a bankruptcy clerkship, but overall GPA does matter less for a lot of bankruptcy judges. If OP can build a compelling story through classes and other means about why he is a bankruptcy person (he could try to see if he could still snag a bankruptcy internship for his 2L summer, see if he can line up an internship for sometime his 3L year, try to get involved in Duberstein moot court next year, etc.), then he could have a shot at a bankruptcy clerkship, especially if he applied broadly. And many biglaw firms do hire bankruptcy clerks. OP's chances at a federal district court clerkship, on the other hand, are much, much worse.

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Good advice from previous anon, although I've heard that Ch 11 filings are also down because interest rates are so low, which reduces the lenders' incentive to force a filing. I also wonder where the previous poster got the 3% figure from.

I'm not sure if a T14 median student who has only taken a single bankruptcy course has a real shot at a bankruptcy clerkship in SDNY or D. Del. There are so many applicants who have a demonstrated interest in the field, top credentials from a lower ranked school, and/or large firm bankruptcy experience. That said, there's no harm in applying and you may find Bankr. C.D. Cal. or Bankr. N.D. Ill. or somewhere similar to be easier.

Also, I've met a number of non-bankruptcy practitioners who have had some exposure to bankruptcy practice, and they have found it incredibly dull. It's not for everyone.

- Bankr. D. Del./SDNY Clerk


Saying DIP lending is the only reason why BK filings are down is overly simplistic, but the Del. BK judge I interviewed with highlighted it as the main reason and I tend to agree with him.

The 3% figure is also from page 5 of the Citi law report located here: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/ ... visory.pdf

I still think ANY BK clerkship with a larger city would be tough to snag. Absent ties, a judge isn't going to be wowed by a T14 if the judge has been taking T50 law students with top grades for his entire career. I hope I haven't been overly harsh OP. I empathize with you and I think you're doing exactly what you should do by considering how you can make yourself more marketable. Good luck and I would echo the prior poster's advice to contact BK attorneys. They're generally very willing to meet up, especially if you focus on your desire to learn about BK rather than a "can i haz jerb" request.

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Good advice from previous anon, although I've heard that Ch 11 filings are also down because interest rates are so low, which reduces the lenders' incentive to force a filing. I also wonder where the previous poster got the 3% figure from.

I'm not sure if a T14 median student who has only taken a single bankruptcy course has a real shot at a bankruptcy clerkship in SDNY or D. Del. There are so many applicants who have a demonstrated interest in the field, top credentials from a lower ranked school, and/or large firm bankruptcy experience. That said, there's no harm in applying and you may find Bankr. C.D. Cal. or Bankr. N.D. Ill. or somewhere similar to be easier.

Also, I've met a number of non-bankruptcy practitioners who have had some exposure to bankruptcy practice, and they have found it incredibly dull. It's not for everyone.

- Bankr. D. Del./SDNY Clerk


Saying DIP lending is the only reason why BK filings are down is overly simplistic, but the Del. BK judge I interviewed with highlighted it as the main reason and I tend to agree with him.

The 3% figure is also from page 5 of the Citi law report located here: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/ ... visory.pdf

I still think ANY BK clerkship with a larger city would be tough to snag. Absent ties, a judge isn't going to be wowed by a T14 if the judge has been taking T50 law students with top grades for his entire career. I hope I haven't been overly harsh OP. I empathize with you and I think you're doing exactly what you should do by considering how you can make yourself more marketable. Good luck and I would echo the prior poster's advice to contact BK attorneys. They're generally very willing to meet up, especially if you focus on your desire to learn about BK rather than a "can i haz jerb" request.

I am a bankruptcy clerk for a well-regarded judge but in a less competitive district (i.e. big city but not SDNY/Del). I was top-20% at a decent but non-T14 school, but I absolutely rocked all of the bk-related coursework (bk class, corporate finance, contracts, etc.) I reviewed the resumes for my replacement and we ended up going with someone who was top-15% at a T20. There were numerous T14 applications, so unless you are at least top-third or from HYSCCN, it's not going to stand out much. Taking as many bankruptcy courses as you can (and doing well in them) is absolutely essential, but you might be able to fudge it if you did your SA in a bankruptcy practice group or externed in bankruptcy court as a law student. Demonstrated interest is the key here.

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:46 pm

OP here:

Okay, I have none of that stuff. I still don't know what I'm doing for the summer, but it may or may not be bankruptcy related (I did apply to work for a bankruptcy judge, but that's about it). We only have 1 bankruptcy class in our school. The curve looks very good, but I think a lot of people take it pass fail. Is bankruptcy a class that's hard to do well in? In any case, if I take bankruptcy, it'll be a pretty heavy courseload for this semester on top of trying to get summer work and hustling/networking for the 3L onslaught. Is it worth it? Labor and Employment are out because we have almost no labor courses this semester (aside from a WTO international labor thing and a low-wage workers labor class).

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Re: No SA 2L: How big is the bankruptcy legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here:

Okay, I have none of that stuff. I still don't know what I'm doing for the summer, but it may or may not be bankruptcy related (I did apply to work for a bankruptcy judge, but that's about it). We only have 1 bankruptcy class in our school. The curve looks very good, but I think a lot of people take it pass fail. Is bankruptcy a class that's hard to do well in? In any case, if I take bankruptcy, it'll be a pretty heavy courseload for this semester on top of trying to get summer work and hustling/networking for the 3L onslaught. Is it worth it? Labor and Employment are out because we have almost no labor courses this semester (aside from a WTO international labor thing and a low-wage workers labor class).


First, one class now will not signal interest in bankruptcy law. Second, most schools allow you to take only one bankruptcy course, but you signal your interest by taking related classes. Related classes include but not limited to: Fed Jur, Corporate Finance, Corporations, Tax, and most importantly UCC-9 aka Secured Transactions.
I am also going to echo other posters here and mention that ch11 market seems to be down in the last two years. At least that is what I was told by a partner who works on creditor-side bankruptcy. According to him, bankruptcy does well when economy goes down, or when it goes up... but when there is just plain uncertainty, it tends to be the worse time to enter the field.




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