Lifestyle Firms

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Slobberson
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Lifestyle Firms

Postby Slobberson » Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:11 pm

I was wondering if anyone had a take on the decision between a typical large law firm - huge, high stress, long hours, etc - in a primary city and a smaller NLJ250 firm in a secondary/tertiary city, like Denver or something.

I think there are huge tradeoffs to each career path. Has anyone made this choice and regretted it? Anyone happy with their choice? Anyone find the reduced "prestige" of the secondary/tertiary city to be well worth the increased quality of life? How does living in the less exciting, smaller city compare?

wisdom
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby wisdom » Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:21 pm

Keep in mind the tradeoffs aren't always so clear cut. Going to a smaller firm in a regional market doesn't mean you get better hours, better lifestyle, better work. It could mean you still work long hours (albeit not NYC hours) and the work may in fact be less substantively interesting (more doc review, for instance).

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jbiresq
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby jbiresq » Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:47 pm

I know Foley & Lardner in Milwaukee makes this pitch a lot (at least they did on my CB) and tries to attract people from T14s who would otherwise choose firms in NYC/Chicago/DC. Though like the above poster said, it's not that clear cut. People aren't working 40 hours a week, though they aren't working 70 either. You're also getting paid less in absolute terms because COL is not that much lower. I'd also disagree with the reduced prestige; not every Fortune 500 is headquartered in NYC or San Francisco.

Slobberson
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby Slobberson » Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:29 pm

jbiresq wrote:I know Foley & Lardner in Milwaukee makes this pitch a lot (at least they did on my CB) and tries to attract people from T14s who would otherwise choose firms in NYC/Chicago/DC. Though like the above poster said, it's not that clear cut. People aren't working 40 hours a week, though they aren't working 70 either. You're also getting paid less in absolute terms because COL is not that much lower. I'd also disagree with the reduced prestige; not every Fortune 500 is headquartered in NYC or San Francisco.


Yea, I just meant prestige within the profession across the nation, not within a city or region. And I should clarify that I think the notion that one must strive to work at the most prestigious firm possible is stupid unless you really love it, personally, given the sacrifices you have to make at the top level. Most all of the attorneys at really strong regional big law firms are extremely bright and talented, and could have worked in V100/50/20 firm or whatever, but chose not to for personal reasons... Or they did but left. It's very common to find people working at regional big law firms who spent a few years at Cravath or some place, before moving for lifestyle reasons. It's that type of choice I'm interested in hearing about.

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UnfrozenCaveman
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby UnfrozenCaveman » Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:46 pm

I don't think going for a top ranked firm is for prestige sake so much as it is keeping your options open. Working for the top dogs is impressive to other employers and can only enhance your marketability.

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jbiresq
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby jbiresq » Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:02 pm

Slobberson wrote:
jbiresq wrote:I know Foley & Lardner in Milwaukee makes this pitch a lot (at least they did on my CB) and tries to attract people from T14s who would otherwise choose firms in NYC/Chicago/DC. Though like the above poster said, it's not that clear cut. People aren't working 40 hours a week, though they aren't working 70 either. You're also getting paid less in absolute terms because COL is not that much lower. I'd also disagree with the reduced prestige; not every Fortune 500 is headquartered in NYC or San Francisco.


Yea, I just meant prestige within the profession across the nation, not within a city or region. And I should clarify that I think the notion that one must strive to work at the most prestigious firm possible is stupid unless you really love it, personally, given the sacrifices you have to make at the top level. Most all of the attorneys at really strong regional big law firms are extremely bright and talented, and could have worked in V100/50/20 firm or whatever, but chose not to for personal reasons... Or they did but left. It's very common to find people working at regional big law firms who spent a few years at Cravath or some place, before moving for lifestyle reasons. It's that type of choice I'm interested in hearing about.


Like I said I don't think it's as clear cut as you think. It also depends on what you term lifestyle. You won't be working Wachtell hours but you also won't be working in by 9 out by 6 either.

005618502
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby 005618502 » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:23 pm

UnfrozenCaveman wrote:I don't think going for a top ranked firm is for prestige sake so much as it is keeping your options open. Working for the top dogs is impressive to other employers and can only enhance your marketability.


I would assume this is it. Most people's time at their first big law firm is limited. It is a lot easier (from what I have seen & heard) to move from a big V15 firm in NYC to a V50 in another market than to move from one regional firm to another.

I noticed that many partners at big firms in Texas had previous experience at V10 firms before going to one of the Big 3 in Houston. But I almost never saw someone who started at another Texas firm, then moved to the Big 3 and made partner.

Dont know if that means anything...but it appears to

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jbiresq
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby jbiresq » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:55 am

AssumptionRequired wrote:
UnfrozenCaveman wrote:I don't think going for a top ranked firm is for prestige sake so much as it is keeping your options open. Working for the top dogs is impressive to other employers and can only enhance your marketability.


I would assume this is it. Most people's time at their first big law firm is limited. It is a lot easier (from what I have seen & heard) to move from a big V15 firm in NYC to a V50 in another market than to move from one regional firm to another.

I noticed that many partners at big firms in Texas had previous experience at V10 firms before going to one of the Big 3 in Houston. But I almost never saw someone who started at another Texas firm, then moved to the Big 3 and made partner.

Dont know if that means anything...but it appears to


Totally. If you want lifestyle kill yourself for a few years at Wachtell and go in-house.

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thelawyler
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby thelawyler » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:41 am

jbiresq wrote:
AssumptionRequired wrote:
UnfrozenCaveman wrote:I don't think going for a top ranked firm is for prestige sake so much as it is keeping your options open. Working for the top dogs is impressive to other employers and can only enhance your marketability.


I would assume this is it. Most people's time at their first big law firm is limited. It is a lot easier (from what I have seen & heard) to move from a big V15 firm in NYC to a V50 in another market than to move from one regional firm to another.

I noticed that many partners at big firms in Texas had previous experience at V10 firms before going to one of the Big 3 in Houston. But I almost never saw someone who started at another Texas firm, then moved to the Big 3 and made partner.

Dont know if that means anything...but it appears to


Totally. If you want lifestyle kill yourself for a few years at Wachtell and go in-house.


TCR is SCOTUS, then Wachtell.

Slobberson
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby Slobberson » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:50 am

Okay, so with all that being said, what I'd be interested in hearing about is the differences people point out between their time at the V5 in NYC and their time at the regional biglaw firm that they move to after three years.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby Old Gregg » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:36 pm

You don't go from V10 to making partner at V&E in Houston automatically. Talk of such moves like it's transferring from Yale Law School to the South Texas College of Law is moronic.

Making partner at any big law firm is going to be extremely difficult. It doesn't matter if it's Wachtell or Ice Miller. Unless you're carrying a big book (which you're probably not, because you wouldn't be moving if you did), it'll come down to your ability to do the work and to a lot of other factors outside of your control (i.e., the economy, firm politics, etc.).

And trust me, the amount of work you have to do, even at a "lifestyle firm," to make partner at that firm will pretty much be comparable to the work you have to do as an associate at any top big law firm.

Now, there is a certain sense in which it is easier to make partner at Fulbright & Jaworski than Cravath. But that's like saying it's easier to get into Harvard Law School than Yale Law School. While it's technically true, it's a trivial distinction because getting into HLS is still really difficult.

Any move you plan to make to another firm should not be based on the assumption that you will make equity partner at your next stop (unless, of course, the firm is guaranteeing you that, which happens). You have to account for all the variables, including where associates exit to if they don't make partner, because odds are more likely that you will be taking that path than getting the proverbial brass ring.

Anonymous User
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:13 pm

Fresh Prince wrote:You don't go from V10 to making partner at V&E in Houston automatically. Talk of such moves like it's transferring from Yale Law School to the South Texas College of Law is moronic.

Making partner at any big law firm is going to be extremely difficult. It doesn't matter if it's Wachtell or Ice Miller. Unless you're carrying a big book (which you're probably not, because you wouldn't be moving if you did), it'll come down to your ability to do the work and to a lot of other factors outside of your control (i.e., the economy, firm politics, etc.).

And trust me, the amount of work you have to do, even at a "lifestyle firm," to make partner at that firm will pretty much be comparable to the work you have to do as an associate at any top big law firm.

Now, there is a certain sense in which it is easier to make partner at Fulbright & Jaworski than Cravath. But that's like saying it's easier to get into Harvard Law School than Yale Law School. While it's technically true, it's a trivial distinction because getting into HLS is still really difficult.

Any move you plan to make to another firm should not be based on the assumption that you will make equity partner at your next stop (unless, of course, the firm is guaranteeing you that, which happens). You have to account for all the variables, including where associates exit to if they don't make partner, because odds are more likely that you will be taking that path than getting the proverbial brass ring.


since ice miller is mentioned here....anyone know what working at ice miller is like?

Anonymous User
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:20 pm

This has been dragging on a bit, but I had to make a similar decision to this. I did my SA for a V50 (not quite your V10, but whatever) with a reputation for making its associates bill ~2500 hours/year. After a lot of thought and discussion with my SO, I elected to start interviewing at other places. I ended up receiving a couple of offers, accepting an offer to work for a national firm that is immensely well respected in my home state, but will only have to bill 1950 hours/year.

Factors that influenced my decision were obviously the hours, the firm's actual commitment to bar involvement, and the training programs they have for their associates. I spoke to many associates at both firms. I kept hearing my V50 associates say that they were there for the short term. The NLJ 250 firm associates kept saying they were planning on sticking around for the long haul. When considering these statements and the impression I got from both firms, I had to go with the NLJ 250 firm. Even though it hurt my prestige-whore nature, it was the right thing for me to do...plus, it didn't hurt that I'd be making a bigger salary at the NLJ firm by a good 15k for less work. lol.

Anonymous User
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Re: Lifestyle Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:38 pm

Start at the top (work a lot and make a lot of money) then go wherever you want, even for lifestyle, with the options you will have. What happens if you go to a smaller firm, work more than you thought and hate it, but have no good exit options?

I agree with the above comments. I have yet to meet an attorney even at a <75 person firm that works anything close to a 9-5.

Work your ass off for a couple years then make decisions with the options you earned. Do not pigeonhole yourself just because you are worried about working hard hours for a few years.




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