Getting the real story on firms

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JamMasterJ
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Getting the real story on firms

Postby JamMasterJ » Thu May 09, 2013 10:39 am

So most of the stuff on Chambers tends to have a really positive view of firms, and Vault is pretty generic with only a little bit of negative stuff (and most of that is "the partners yell" or "long hours (no shit)." ATL has random anecdotes and some stuff in the comments from associates.

But is there a source where we can get a good look at a non-glossy picture of firms or is posting a "what do you think about x firm" thread on TLS the best option?

bdubs
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby bdubs » Thu May 09, 2013 2:27 pm

What kind of info are you looking for? Very few people have inside information on more than one or two firms. Those that have more are probably not the right people to be asking... Overall firms seem very similar during the interview process. IMO, you're best off looking for the firm with the most positives.

I think the best things to gauge the firm on, in no particular order, are:

Do you like the people you interviewed with?
Is the firm in a market/location that you prefer?
Does the firm have a strong reputation in the field that you want to practice or think you want to practice?
Are you likely to be able to do the kind of work you want to do within the firm?

Anonymous User
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 09, 2013 8:16 pm

If you're interested in a firm, search them on TLS, Above the Law, and AutoAdmit (do a Google site search because the website's search only goes back to 2012). Other than that, you're not going to find out anything except through word of mouth.

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thesealocust
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby thesealocust » Thu May 09, 2013 9:00 pm

bdubs wrote: Very few people have inside information on more than one or two firms.


This.

Hell, I can barely tell you about what the people down the hall from me do on a daily basis. On a day to day basis, "the firm" and its policies pale in comparison to your practice group.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby JamMasterJ » Thu May 09, 2013 10:34 pm

Cool thanks for the tips guys. Broader question: I know people couldn't really have predicted Dewey, but on a smaller scale, where should we look to avoid places that are on the outs?

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu May 09, 2013 10:37 pm

JamMasterJ wrote:Cool thanks for the tips guys. Broader question: I know people couldn't really have predicted Dewey, but on a smaller scale, where should we look to avoid places that are on the outs?


Places where partners are leaving quickly and in droves [insert droves pic]. Generally, the firms that do well are picking up rainmaker partners and high rollers. Recently, the firms that are doing poorly have often merged with *entire* (shitty) firms.

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Thu May 09, 2013 11:03 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
JamMasterJ wrote:Cool thanks for the tips guys. Broader question: I know people couldn't really have predicted Dewey, but on a smaller scale, where should we look to avoid places that are on the outs?


Places where partners are leaving quickly and in droves [insert droves pic]. Generally, the firms that do well are picking up rainmaker partners and high rollers. Recently, the firms that are doing poorly have often merged with *entire* (shitty) firms.

Dewey was hiring lateral "star" partners left and right for the year or two prior to its collapse. Its own partners only bailed in the final three months.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu May 09, 2013 11:09 pm

FlightoftheEarls wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
JamMasterJ wrote:Cool thanks for the tips guys. Broader question: I know people couldn't really have predicted Dewey, but on a smaller scale, where should we look to avoid places that are on the outs?


Places where partners are leaving quickly and in droves [insert droves pic]. Generally, the firms that do well are picking up rainmaker partners and high rollers. Recently, the firms that are doing poorly have often merged with *entire* (shitty) firms.

Dewey was hiring lateral "star" partners left and right for the year or two prior to its collapse. Its own partners only bailed in the final three months.


Didn't it also have some gigantic merger before that? To me, it sounded like the lateral "star" partners were hired to try to right the ship after it was already doomed. That's just my perspective as an outsider, however. I think you can also tell how a firm is doing by watching its PPP and RPL numbers. Howrey's numbers were in the tank the year or so before it collapsed.

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Thu May 09, 2013 11:27 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
FlightoftheEarls wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
JamMasterJ wrote:Cool thanks for the tips guys. Broader question: I know people couldn't really have predicted Dewey, but on a smaller scale, where should we look to avoid places that are on the outs?


Places where partners are leaving quickly and in droves [insert droves pic]. Generally, the firms that do well are picking up rainmaker partners and high rollers. Recently, the firms that are doing poorly have often merged with *entire* (shitty) firms.

Dewey was hiring lateral "star" partners left and right for the year or two prior to its collapse. Its own partners only bailed in the final three months.


Didn't it also have some gigantic merger before that? To me, it sounded like the lateral "star" partners were hired to try to right the ship after it was already doomed. That's just my perspective as an outsider, however. I think you can also tell how a firm is doing by watching its PPP and RPL numbers. Howrey's numbers were in the tank the year or so before it collapsed.

You're correct. Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf Lamb merged in 2007, although the collapse wasn't until 2012. The extent to which these partners were brought in as a result of the merger is unclear, but that hiring spree was largely throughout 2011, which was a decent while after they "finished" integrating the two firms. It was largely a combination of Dewey's significant expansion and its desire to pull in more rainmakers through financially irresponsible guarantees that really sank the firm. I would also add that the firm was largely M&A driven, so the collapse of the M&A markets in H2 2011 probably accelerated the demise quite substantially over the next 6-9 months.

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thesealocust
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby thesealocust » Thu May 09, 2013 11:34 pm

The firms that are doing the best neither hire nor lose partners on a regular basis.

That's not universally true of firms like that, and it's not necessarily true to say that firms with more partner movement have something wrong with them, but worth a thought.

anon168
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby anon168 » Thu May 09, 2013 11:42 pm

thesealocust wrote:The firms that are doing the best neither hire nor lose partners on a regular basis.

That's not universally true of firms like that, and it's not necessarily true to say that firms with more partner movement have something wrong with them, but worth a thought.


Firms that are "doing the best" and firms that are good places to work are not the same, necessarily.

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thesealocust
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby thesealocust » Thu May 09, 2013 11:44 pm

anon168 wrote:
thesealocust wrote:The firms that are doing the best neither hire nor lose partners on a regular basis.

That's not universally true of firms like that, and it's not necessarily true to say that firms with more partner movement have something wrong with them, but worth a thought.


Firms that are "doing the best" and firms that are good places to work are not the same, necessarily.


Firms aren't good places to work :lol:

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Fri May 10, 2013 12:00 am

thesealocust wrote:The firms that are doing the best neither hire nor lose partners on a regular basis.

That's not universally true of firms like that, and it's not necessarily true to say that firms with more partner movement have something wrong with them, but worth a thought.


This is true, but in biglaw the only firms like this are the tippy top firms like WLRK and Cravath. The vast majority of biglaw firms see a lot of movement among the partner ranks in both directions (leaving and joining). Most people won't get to work at firms where the partners never leave and the firm never hires laterals.

anon168
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby anon168 » Fri May 10, 2013 12:04 am

thesealocust wrote:
Firms aren't good places to work :lol:


Clearly not true.

People that believe that don't enjoy the practice of law.


But then you knew that already.

timbs4339
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby timbs4339 » Sun May 12, 2013 5:19 pm

Steven Harper's book makes a persuasive case that it's really hard to predict a doomed firm two years out when you are accepting offers or even one year before you join. Even some of the partners at these firms have no clue when they are about to implode. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and everyone is going to be able to look back and say that X firm is distinguishable from Howrey, Dewey, Thelen, Brobeck, etc etc. in some minor way.

If you have friends at the law firm lending groups of major banks they'll probably be able to tell you what firms to avoid.

09042014
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby 09042014 » Sun May 12, 2013 5:54 pm

timbs4339 wrote:Steven Harper's book makes a persuasive case that it's really hard to predict a doomed firm two years out when you are accepting offers or even one year before you join. Even some of the partners at these firms have no clue when they are about to implode. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and everyone is going to be able to look back and say that X firm is distinguishable from Howrey, Dewey, Thelen, Brobeck, etc etc. in some minor way.

If you have friends at the law firm lending groups of major banks they'll probably be able to tell you what firms to avoid.


Firm structure seems to be extremely unstable. They need extreme profitability EVERY year to keep rainmaking partners, and they need rainmaking partners to stay extremely profitable. I don't know how you'd go about figuring that out 2 years in advance.

rad lulz
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby rad lulz » Sun May 12, 2013 7:02 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
JamMasterJ wrote:Cool thanks for the tips guys. Broader question: I know people couldn't really have predicted Dewey, but on a smaller scale, where should we look to avoid places that are on the outs?


Places where partners are leaving quickly and in droves [insert droves pic]. Generally, the firms that do well are picking up rainmaker partners and high rollers. Recently, the firms that are doing poorly have often merged with *entire* (shitty) firms.

Image

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bjsesq
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Re: Getting the real story on firms

Postby bjsesq » Sun May 12, 2013 7:09 pm

anon168 wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
Firms aren't good places to work :lol:


Clearly not true.

People that believe that don't enjoy the practice of law.


But then you knew that already.


wat




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