First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:09 pm

Great (but not gospel) resource on exit options/markets from that website: http://www.bcgsearch.com/article/61708/ ... Fall-2012/

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:34 pm

I know you have said that exit options depend largely on practice area and individual connections. If we hold practice area constant (i.e. assume M&A) and also assume that the person is fairly sociable, is there any difference in the quality of exit options for that person if s/he started at the NYC office of a firm like Cravath/Sullcrom/DPW vs. Weil/Kirkland/Latham? Thanks.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby hume85 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:54 pm

I am interested in doing transactional work in a major market. I know making partner is a long shot, but for the "lucky" few that do make partner, do the number of hours worked go down when you get to the senior level? Thank you in advance.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby MapsMapsMaps » Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:14 pm

Thanks for this.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Great (but not gospel) resource on exit options/markets from that website: http://www.bcgsearch.com/article/61708/ ... Fall-2012/


When you look at many of these cities and talking about laterals, they often say that having strong credentials and deal experience is important. Does this signify the idea of "going to the best firm possible?"

Also, they talk about a portable book of business being big for many partnership prospects. If you are at a V10, isn't it unlikely that you will have this since most clients will be institutional clients? Doesn't this also mean that it would be harder to lateral from a NYC top firm to a different firm in another market since you wont be bringing clients/have the connections that attorneys in that city will?

Seems like the two points (strong credentials and book of business) would be hard to do both unless you just aimed for a top firm in the market you wanted to end up in.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:43 pm

OP here:

Anonymous User wrote:When you look at many of these cities and talking about laterals, they often say that having strong credentials and deal experience is important. Does this signify the idea of "going to the best firm possible?"


No shit?

Anonymous User wrote:Also, they talk about a portable book of business being big for many partnership prospects. If you are at a V10, isn't it unlikely that you will have this since most clients will be institutional clients? Doesn't this also mean that it would be harder to lateral from a NYC top firm to a different firm in another market since you wont be bringing clients/have the connections that attorneys in that city will?

Seems like the two points (strong credentials and book of business) would be hard to do both unless you just aimed for a top firm in the market you wanted to end up in.


Very few associates realistically develop a book of business on their own even outside of NYC. Portable business, almost without exception, is the province of partners.

Connections aren't though. Think about this: the biggest deals almost always run through NYC, but tend to also have counsel for whatever businesses are involved locally. The pro to starting your career in NYC is building connections - not a portable book of business - with the law firms and banks that will take part in any major transaction.

Example: I worked on a debt offering for a major company in Ohio. We represented the underwriter, but a major Ohio firm represented the issuer. In a universe where I lateraled to that Ohio firm, my experience in NYC would be valuable because situations like that would be common. The biggest deals almost always have a connection to NYC.

hume85 wrote:I am interested in doing transactional work in a major market. I know making partner is a long shot, but for the "lucky" few that do make partner, do the number of hours worked go down when you get to the senior level? Thank you in advance.


Generally, the highest conceivable hours come from seniors gunning for partner. Junior partners likewise tend to have to work like dogs. You do get more control over your schedule and workflow though. Caveat is obviously I'm just a first year relaying stories/anecdotes I've picked up.

Anonymous User wrote:I know you have said that exit options depend largely on practice area and individual connections. If we hold practice area constant (i.e. assume M&A) and also assume that the person is fairly sociable, is there any difference in the quality of exit options for that person if s/he started at the NYC office of a firm like Cravath/Sullcrom/DPW vs. Weil/Kirkland/Latham? Thanks.


There is probably a difference. Define holding practice area constant though, because it really depends - DPW has an awesome BK group, but it's creditor focused. Weil probably has the best debtor BK group by a landslide. For M&A, the first two but really all three have better reputations than the other three, and so would probably mean a bit better opportunities (but only a bit). But you can't go to Cravath and do M&A, you're going to rotate and probably touch M&A, their fantastic high-yield debt practice, etc. And you would have a shitty derivatives career at Cravath, because they don't really do derivatives.

Holding practice area constant is well and good, but the firms have strengths and weaknesses across practice areas.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby thelibear » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:37 pm

I'm thinking of adopting a dog this summer. I'm a 2L with a V25 SA position. Obviously I'm hoping to get an offer. If I do get an offer, I'm worried about whether or not I'll truly have time to care for my dog if I'm a first year associate. Do you know of any first year associates who had pets? Do you have any pets? Do you think it's possible to be a good dog owner while working big law?

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Objection » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:43 pm

thelibear wrote:I'm thinking of adopting a dog this summer. I'm a 2L with a V25 SA position. Obviously I'm hoping to get an offer. If I do get an offer, I'm worried about whether or not I'll truly have time to care for my dog if I'm a first year associate. Do you know of any first year associates who had pets? Do you have any pets? Do you think it's possible to be a good dog owner while working big law?


I believe he/she may have answered this when he/she said being a first year associate gets in the way of a normal human existence and he/she can't imagine doing this with a family or SO.

Dogs are pretty needy, especially if you're in NYC without a yard.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby thelibear » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:03 pm

Objection wrote:
thelibear wrote:I'm thinking of adopting a dog this summer. I'm a 2L with a V25 SA position. Obviously I'm hoping to get an offer. If I do get an offer, I'm worried about whether or not I'll truly have time to care for my dog if I'm a first year associate. Do you know of any first year associates who had pets? Do you have any pets? Do you think it's possible to be a good dog owner while working big law?


I believe he/she may have answered this when he/she said being a first year associate gets in the way of a normal human existence and he/she can't imagine doing this with a family or SO.

Dogs are pretty needy, especially if you're in NYC without a yard.


Sorry for the repeat question. I saw that post but was hoping s/he would have specific anecdotes on pet ownership. I'm lucky that I could drop off the dog at my family's house during the day so he wouldn't be totally alone, but the lack of time definitely worries me. Just trying to make as informed a decision as possible!

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Shooter » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:11 pm

How would you say your performance in law school has carried over to your performance in your current job? It seems like the traditional law school skills (brief writing, interpreting case law, etc.) aren't that relevant to transactional work. What should future transactional lawyers focus on while in school?

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby NYstate » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:16 pm

thelibear wrote:
Objection wrote:
thelibear wrote:I'm thinking of adopting a dog this summer. I'm a 2L with a V25 SA position. Obviously I'm hoping to get an offer. If I do get an offer, I'm worried about whether or not I'll truly have time to care for my dog if I'm a first year associate. Do you know of any first year associates who had pets? Do you have any pets? Do you think it's possible to be a good dog owner while working big law?


I believe he/she may have answered this when he/she said being a first year associate gets in the way of a normal human existence and he/she can't imagine doing this with a family or SO.

Dogs are pretty needy, especially if you're in NYC without a yard.


Sorry for the repeat question. I saw that post but was hoping s/he would have specific anecdotes on pet ownership. I'm lucky that I could drop off the dog at my family's house during the day so he wouldn't be totally alone, but the lack of time definitely worries me. Just trying to make as informed a decision as possible!


Here is an anecdote though I am not the OP. A junior associate had a dog and expected a more senior attorney to wait for her to go home around dinner time and walk the dog. The senior associate told her in no uncertain terms to hire a dog walker or get rid of the dog. That was a very angry discussion. ( And that junior associate lived very close to the office so getting home and getting out to the park wouldn't take that long. If you are commuting it will be even more difficult.)

Finding an apartment with a dog will be a problem. Does your family own a place you can stay? My neighbor watched her ex-husbands dog for a few days and got served with a five day notice on the second day. Landlords tend to strongly enforce their anti-dog policies. Maybe you've already found a place so this isn't a concern for you.

If your family can keep the dog for you for extended periods of time, maybe it could be a family pet instead of just yours. You will not have time to take care of the dog on your own. What will you do if you work all night or close to all night?

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Objection » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:21 pm

thelibear wrote:
Objection wrote:
thelibear wrote:I'm thinking of adopting a dog this summer. I'm a 2L with a V25 SA position. Obviously I'm hoping to get an offer. If I do get an offer, I'm worried about whether or not I'll truly have time to care for my dog if I'm a first year associate. Do you know of any first year associates who had pets? Do you have any pets? Do you think it's possible to be a good dog owner while working big law?


I believe he/she may have answered this when he/she said being a first year associate gets in the way of a normal human existence and he/she can't imagine doing this with a family or SO.

Dogs are pretty needy, especially if you're in NYC without a yard.


Sorry for the repeat question. I saw that post but was hoping s/he would have specific anecdotes on pet ownership. I'm lucky that I could drop off the dog at my family's house during the day so he wouldn't be totally alone, but the lack of time definitely worries me. Just trying to make as informed a decision as possible!


I actually worked big law for a little bit (I was asking questions to see if OPs experience mirrored my own and that at my old firm), so I can answer this a bit: I would not have had a dog while working big law, unless I lived with someone who also wanted a dog and was working normal hours.

Big law hours are inconsistent. Some days you'll work 10 hours, others 18. What then?

Getting a dog just to unload it on your family the majority of the time is a pretty dick move.

Getting a dog when you won't actually be able to care for it or give it any sort of attention for more than a few hours a day is unfair.

Your dog, your job, and sleep will be the 3 most time consuming things in your life were you to get a dog. Sacrificing either of the latter two is likely to cause problems. Sacrifice the former, and why get one in the first place?

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby thelibear » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:23 pm

Objection wrote:
thelibear wrote:
Objection wrote:
thelibear wrote:I'm thinking of adopting a dog this summer. I'm a 2L with a V25 SA position. Obviously I'm hoping to get an offer. If I do get an offer, I'm worried about whether or not I'll truly have time to care for my dog if I'm a first year associate. Do you know of any first year associates who had pets? Do you have any pets? Do you think it's possible to be a good dog owner while working big law?


I believe he/she may have answered this when he/she said being a first year associate gets in the way of a normal human existence and he/she can't imagine doing this with a family or SO.

Dogs are pretty needy, especially if you're in NYC without a yard.


Sorry for the repeat question. I saw that post but was hoping s/he would have specific anecdotes on pet ownership. I'm lucky that I could drop off the dog at my family's house during the day so he wouldn't be totally alone, but the lack of time definitely worries me. Just trying to make as informed a decision as possible!


I actually worked big law for a little bit (I was asking questions to see if OPs experience mirrored my own and that at my old firm), so I can answer this a bit: I would not have had a dog while working big law, unless I lived with someone who also wanted a dog and was working normal hours.

Big law hours are inconsistent. Some days you'll work 10 hours, others 18. What then?

Getting a dog just to unload it on your family the majority of the time is a pretty dick move.

Getting a dog when you won't actually be able to care for it or give it any sort of attention for more than a few hours a day is unfair.

Your dog, your job, and sleep will be the 3 most time consuming things in your life were you to get a dog. Sacrificing either of the latter two is likely to cause problems. Sacrifice the former, and why get one in the first place?


Thanks to both of the above posters. This definitely confirms my suspicions that I shouldn't be getting a dog.
Last edited by thelibear on Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:32 pm

thelibear wrote:I'm thinking of adopting a dog this summer. I'm a 2L with a V25 SA position. Obviously I'm hoping to get an offer. If I do get an offer, I'm worried about whether or not I'll truly have time to care for my dog if I'm a first year associate. Do you know of any first year associates who had pets? Do you have any pets? Do you think it's possible to be a good dog owner while working big law?


OP here. I know a few associates at my and other firm with pets; SOs/family/hired dog walkers are necessary, not helpful. Simply impossible otherwise.

Shooter wrote:How would you say your performance in law school has carried over to your performance in your current job? It seems like the traditional law school skills (brief writing, interpreting case law, etc.) aren't that relevant to transactional work. What should future transactional lawyers focus on while in school?


While in school, focus on drinking and hanging out.

As for skills, being smart and quick is helpful, and law school isn't awful training at those. You will have to analyze and interpret laws and make persuasive arguments. While your daily tasks will be removed from that as a junior, it will still come up, and it's a reason why firms care about grades and school quality.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:v10 first year here.

ive seen several departure emails over my ~5 months here. none have been anything noteworthy. Majority go to other firms. Most on the vault scale but a decent number that are not (and one wachtell). second most often i would say in-house at some fortune500. its not clear how good the in house jobs are because they always have some weird title. like "VP legal counsel in north america division" or something like that. other people have left to just travel (these are always single people). thats pretty much it for exit options. haven't seen anything crazy or out of the ordinary like people moving into business or something else non-law.


The person that went to Wachtell - what was his deal? I've heard it's impossible to lateral period.

Note: from v10 (being vague as to whether V3, V5, V10) too, so this isn't a totally ridiculous question hopefully.


Pretty well known that WLRK is looking for laterals right now.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:45 am

Pretty well known that WLRK is looking for laterals right now.


In general, my sense is that the lateral market for midlevel and senior associates is fairly brisk right now. I'm currently doing a mid-career AIII clerkship after a few years working for the government (non-federal but roughly comparable -- think like state SG or big city appellate). I was terrified that I'd have problems moving back to private practice, so I accelerated my plans to start looking from this summer to now. No jobs yet, but I'm now worried that I moved too soon. I'm getting a lot of positive responses -- in a few weeks, I've lined up several interviews, and other places have said that they're interested but aren't hiring laterals to start in the fall this far out.

I was talking to a friend who was a big firm recruiter, and she said that what's happening at a lot of firms is that the bloodletting from 2008-2010 is coming back to bite firms. The junior associates who were Lathamed back then would be in the 5-8 year range at firms now -- so right at the point that they were running bigger cases or deals for partners. That hole puts firms in a bad situation, because the junior associates aren't able to run those matters, and the partners are too expensive (plus they often don't want to or even can't get down and dirty and write briefs or put together deal docs).

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby v20lawyer » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:46 am

Also a first year. Married + kid + incoming kid + dogs. Sometimes things are fine, sometimes things are terrible. Happy to answer anyones specific questions and will provide some more insight later but don't have time at the moment.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:54 pm

v20lawyer wrote:Also a first year. Married + kid + incoming kid + dogs. Sometimes things are fine, sometimes things are terrible. Happy to answer anyones specific questions and will provide some more insight later but don't have time at the moment.

I'm expecting to be in a very similar position. What do you do to manage the terrible times?
Also, does anyone know or seem to care that you have a family, unlike many single law grads?
(I got a few raised eyebrows whenever it came up in interviews, which I didn't really enjoy.)

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby philosoraptor » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I learned everything I now know about finance through the wall street journal, wikipedia, and a smattering of books (A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Barbarians at the Gate, and a few about the financial crisis). That amount of knowledge puts me ahead of the curve in a general sense, but realistically the job of a junior associate is far enough divorced from the economics of the transactions that a complete lack of financial literacy won't hurt you. You'll want to brush up on accounting basics so that financial statements don't make your head spin, but even for that the firm will all but certainly offer training sessions on when you start.
Great thread. I've enjoyed reading financial books before I start work this fall, but does anyone have any tips about the bolded? I don't recall anyone at my firm mentioning an accounting training session, and financial statements definitely make my liberal-arts-educated head spin. Should I read "Accounting for Dummies" or the "Accounting and Finance for Lawyers" nutshell or something? (Or would this be like useless 0L prep?) Thanks.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Samara » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
v20lawyer wrote:Also a first year. Married + kid + incoming kid + dogs. Sometimes things are fine, sometimes things are terrible. Happy to answer anyones specific questions and will provide some more insight later but don't have time at the moment.

I'm expecting to be in a very similar position. What do you do to manage the terrible times?
Also, does anyone know or seem to care that you have a family, unlike many single law grads?
(I got a few raised eyebrows whenever it came up in interviews, which I didn't really enjoy.)

Also, what is "fine" and what is "terrible?" Are you able flex your schedule to much degree, i.e. work late from home, here and there as it fits on weekends, work ahead when you have downtime, etc.?

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:42 pm

To those 1st years with SOs - how do you manage expectations? Particularly, if your SO is not in the legal field or in a field that has long hours (presume he/she works 9-5), how did you/how would you suggest preparing the SO for your law firm schedule?

Also, as a note to those who inquired about lateraling/partner prospects - I talked with a partner at a large firm who had lateraled from V10. He mentioned that if you wanted to make partner at the firm you are lateraling to, it's important to consider the subjective criteria that goes into making partner. That is to say, he encouraged lateraling at the 4-5 year mark and not much later than that because it is important to have time to make strong connections at the subsequent firm prior to the typical partnership nomination period (8-10 years)

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby J90 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:49 pm

Thanks for all the help thus far!

What advice do you have for someone starting as a summer associate? Without worrying too much about being no-offered, what can students do in that position to learn as much as they can about the practice areas and position themselves for later on (to an extent)?

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby sfhaze » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I was talking to a friend who was a big firm recruiter, and she said that what's happening at a lot of firms is that the bloodletting from 2008-2010 is coming back to bite firms. The junior associates who were Lathamed back then would be in the 5-8 year range at firms now -- so right at the point that they were running bigger cases or deals for partners. That hole puts firms in a bad situation, because the junior associates aren't able to run those matters, and the partners are too expensive (plus they often don't want to or even can't get down and dirty and write briefs or put together deal docs).

I've heard this as well. Is this bound to lead to more law student/junior level hiring as well?

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:58 pm

I've heard this as well. Is this bound to lead to more law student/junior level hiring as well?


I think the answer is going to be firm-dependent, and it's really going to depend on whether firms can meet their midlevel/senior associate (or counsel or non-equity partner at the firms that use those models) staffing needs with (1) current reduced entry-level hiring or (2) lateral hiring. Both have their drawbacks. With respect to the former, that means a lot lower attrition, which means keeping a lot more not-great associates.

With respect to the latter, there's a huge risk in hiring nonpartners with 5-10 years of experience. MOST of the time, people looking to move to a firm at that seniority level are doing so because they're getting canned, or at the very least told that they won't make partner at the firm they're at. Firms don't want to hire those people, because often there is a reason for the adverse employment decision. I've heard a couple of people suggest that one way to address this is to hire the 5-10 year lawyers you need, but to look outside of firm applicants -- for example, DOJ/AUSA lawyers, or in house people. The only problem is that you have to pay those people well to get them to move from those gigs.

Anyway, the short answer to your original question is going to be that some firms will figure out how to fill staffing requirements by keeping their entry-level hires around longer or by hiring laterals. Some won't, and they'll be forced to hire more law students or junior associates unless the partners want to spend a lot less time on the phone or at dinner with clients, and a lot more time writing thirty page briefs or managing a due diligence room.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:30 pm

philosoraptor wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I learned everything I now know about finance through the wall street journal, wikipedia, and a smattering of books (A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Barbarians at the Gate, and a few about the financial crisis). That amount of knowledge puts me ahead of the curve in a general sense, but realistically the job of a junior associate is far enough divorced from the economics of the transactions that a complete lack of financial literacy won't hurt you. You'll want to brush up on accounting basics so that financial statements don't make your head spin, but even for that the firm will all but certainly offer training sessions on when you start.
Great thread. I've enjoyed reading financial books before I start work this fall, but does anyone have any tips about the bolded? I don't recall anyone at my firm mentioning an accounting training session, and financial statements definitely make my liberal-arts-educated head spin. Should I read "Accounting for Dummies" or the "Accounting and Finance for Lawyers" nutshell or something? (Or would this be like useless 0L prep?) Thanks.

I used this book (http://www.amazon.com/Introductory-Acco ... 0314912606) for a Law & Accounting-type course when I was in law school and found it pretty straight-forward and easy to follow. Good examples and problems as well. You obviously don't need to read the whole thing, but the first 6 chapters or so would be perfect for what you're looking for.

Anonymous User wrote:I was talking to a friend who was a big firm recruiter, and she said that what's happening at a lot of firms is that the bloodletting from 2008-2010 is coming back to bite firms. The junior associates who were Lathamed back then would be in the 5-8 year range at firms now -- so right at the point that they were running bigger cases or deals for partners. That hole puts firms in a bad situation, because the junior associates aren't able to run those matters, and the partners are too expensive (plus they often don't want to or even can't get down and dirty and write briefs or put together deal docs).

sfhaze wrote:I've heard this as well. Is this bound to lead to more law student/junior level hiring as well?

At my firm, they are trying to hire laterals like everyone else, but until we get fully staffed they're having the midlevels we have run the deals but giving juniors lots more responsibility (ie, I've been marking up loan/collateral documents against comps and drafting closing documents rather than just doing signature pages and closing sets). It's been great for me in terms of getting some great experience early on, but I don't think they'll necessarily be hiring more juniors now to compensate (since they don't really need more juniors).




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