Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

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What Firm Should I Go To?

Skadden
15
32%
Davis Polk
26
55%
Freshfields
6
13%
 
Total votes: 47

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Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:06 am

Appreciate thoughts and advice on this:

Have offers from all 3. All NY. I'm interested in general corporate work (M&A and Cap Mkts both sound interesting), and specifically interested in international work (i.e. cross-border deals).

I genuinely liked the people from all 3, and will be scheduling second looks and attending all the offer dinners/receptions to ask the more pointed questions. What do you guys think in terms of culture, exit options*, general corporate practice, and international focus for each of these firms?

*I would prefer to exit to another firm rather than in-house. My feeling is that it's generally easier to move DOWN (Vault-wise), than UP--I've heard of plenty of ex-V5 associates at V50s, but never the other way around. Is this true? Anyone have any other perspectives on this?

One additional question: what kinds of questions should I ask during second looks? How blunt can I be? I'd like to ask things like:

"What time did you go home last week on average, and was this earlier or later than usual?"
"When did you take your last vacation?"
"Have you gotten to work on many components of deals, or were you forced to specialize immediately and have only been doing one thing?"
"How many of the summers in your class are still at the firm?"
"Do you feel that the partners are willing to invest in the associates, and be flexible in letting them try out different things or go to different offices?"

Any other questions I should be asking? Are any of these inappropriate?

Thanks for the help!

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:14 am

So far as I know, Freshfields NY does not do capital markets and M&A is mostly private M&A. You might want to check that. Fantastic firm culture though.

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:Appreciate thoughts and advice on this:

Have offers from all 3. All NY. I'm interested in general corporate work (M&A and Cap Mkts both sound interesting), and specifically interested in international work (i.e. cross-border deals).

I genuinely liked the people from all 3, and will be scheduling second looks and attending all the offer dinners/receptions to ask the more pointed questions. What do you guys think in terms of culture, exit options*, general corporate practice, and international focus for each of these firms?

*I would prefer to exit to another firm rather than in-house. My feeling is that it's generally easier to move DOWN (Vault-wise), than UP--I've heard of plenty of ex-V5 associates at V50s, but never the other way around. Is this true? Anyone have any other perspectives on this?

One additional question: what kinds of questions should I ask during second looks? How blunt can I be? I'd like to ask things like:

"What time did you go home last week on average, and was this earlier or later than usual?"
"When did you take your last vacation?"
"Have you gotten to work on many components of deals, or were you forced to specialize immediately and have only been doing one thing?"
"How many of the summers in your class are still at the firm?"
"Do you feel that the partners are willing to invest in the associates, and be flexible in letting them try out different things or go to different offices?"

Any other questions I should be asking? Are any of these inappropriate?

Thanks for the help!


congrats! mind sharing your Freshfields CB to offer timeline?

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:49 am

I work at DPW. Skadden is a great firm and absolutely a peer in terms of the work we do. I've not heard of Freshfields since I started practice, never seen them working on the other side of a deal, etc. My impression is that they are noticeably "less prestigious" for whatever that's worth.

Exiting "down" rather than "up" firm prestige rankings is absolutely accurate. It's more about practice area than firm name, but "better" firms have "better" practices. DPW and its peers higher many fewer laterals than 'less prestigious' firms and often do so from within the circle of the top 5 or 10 firms in NYC. There's a lot of 'moving down the ladder' when it comes to exit options. I don't think that's a reason to start at the top blindly, mind you, because people who start at other firms still have long and successful careers. But it is real.

To answer your questions about DPW:

1. I'd see this as an O.K. interview question. I left before 10:00 every night (6:00 one night) and didn't need to be in before 10:00 am any day.

2. In the summer, and it was quite long and totally uninterrupted. Vacation is sacred here - I have seen a lot of people go on 2 or even 3 week vacations, never heard of one canceled, and associate development harasses us if we're not taking them.

3. The option was all ours. Many people I know specialized quickly and are nearly running deals after less than a year at the firm, others have done a few rotations or moved offices. Deals are staffed very leanly, so the odds of you getting responsibility well before you think you're ready for it are... high. One day the senior will be sick, stuck in an airport, or too busy - and you'll be field promoted and bewildered. Good luck.

4. Almost all of them. I've only seen departures for georgapy and clerkships (which were often pre-planned). There's no hiding the attrition rate though, we hire ~100 every year and don't grow noticeably, so I would imagine about 100 associates depart every year (and only roughly 5 make partner). This goes to the question you asked early about lateraling to other firms though; we're very much home-grown (though I do know some people who lateraled here).

5. I'd say so. They know a lot of us won't want to stick around, but there seems to be a pretty real attitude that collectively we're "the future" and it's critical to get us up to speed. I've had partners work towards fixing unsustainable busy and workloads, seen people get moved around at their request even if it was outside of the normal rotation window, etc.

Anonymous User wrote:Appreciate thoughts and advice on this:

Have offers from all 3. All NY. I'm interested in general corporate work (M&A and Cap Mkts both sound interesting), and specifically interested in international work (i.e. cross-border deals).

I genuinely liked the people from all 3, and will be scheduling second looks and attending all the offer dinners/receptions to ask the more pointed questions. What do you guys think in terms of culture, exit options*, general corporate practice, and international focus for each of these firms?

*I would prefer to exit to another firm rather than in-house. My feeling is that it's generally easier to move DOWN (Vault-wise), than UP--I've heard of plenty of ex-V5 associates at V50s, but never the other way around. Is this true? Anyone have any other perspectives on this?

One additional question: what kinds of questions should I ask during second looks? How blunt can I be? I'd like to ask things like:

"What time did you go home last week on average, and was this earlier or later than usual?"
"When did you take your last vacation?"
"Have you gotten to work on many components of deals, or were you forced to specialize immediately and have only been doing one thing?"
"How many of the summers in your class are still at the firm?"
"Do you feel that the partners are willing to invest in the associates, and be flexible in letting them try out different things or go to different offices?"

Any other questions I should be asking? Are any of these inappropriate?

Thanks for the help!

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:So far as I know, Freshfields NY does not do capital markets and M&A is mostly private M&A. You might want to check that. Fantastic firm culture though.

I remember being told by the guy at my Freshfields screening interview that they don't do M&A, and don't have any plans to start. Apparently the problem is that you can't just hire laterals to start an M&A practice, because you need lots of different 'pieces' (i.e., people performing specialized roles). It doesn't make sense to hire the pieces one at a time, because they can't do anything until you have all the other pieces, and you're not going to be able to find them all at at the same time. Apparently the only way to gain an M&A practice these days is to merge with a firm that already does it, which apparently Freshfields is unwilling to do.

A bit of an aside, but I found it interesting.

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:50 pm

OP here:

Thank so much for the responses (especially the long one from the DPW associate). I really appreciate it. Can someone else, hopefully an insider, give perspective on Skadden and Freshfields?

congrats! mind sharing your Freshfields CB to offer timeline?


Had a CB Tuesday night, got the offer Wednesday morning.

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:45 pm

Bump. Anyone else?

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:10 am

If I were selecting just based on firm name, I would select freshfields.

Honestly doe, you should focus on fit/culture. I think that's very important (and hard to determine based on callbacks). However, you said you're attending more events; you should try to meet more attorneys/ young SAs to figure out what it's like working there and what the people are like.

aces
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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby aces » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:21 pm

AntipodeanPhil wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:So far as I know, Freshfields NY does not do capital markets and M&A is mostly private M&A. You might want to check that. Fantastic firm culture though.

I remember being told by the guy at my Freshfields screening interview that they don't do M&A, and don't have any plans to start. Apparently the problem is that you can't just hire laterals to start an M&A practice, because you need lots of different 'pieces' (i.e., people performing specialized roles). It doesn't make sense to hire the pieces one at a time, because they can't do anything until you have all the other pieces, and you're not going to be able to find them all at at the same time. Apparently the only way to gain an M&A practice these days is to merge with a firm that already does it, which apparently Freshfields is unwilling to do.

A bit of an aside, but I found it interesting.

This statement is incorrect.

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 22, 2013 7:59 pm

aces wrote:
AntipodeanPhil wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:So far as I know, Freshfields NY does not do capital markets and M&A is mostly private M&A. You might want to check that. Fantastic firm culture though.

I remember being told by the guy at my Freshfields screening interview that they don't do M&A, and don't have any plans to start. Apparently the problem is that you can't just hire laterals to start an M&A practice, because you need lots of different 'pieces' (i.e., people performing specialized roles). It doesn't make sense to hire the pieces one at a time, because they can't do anything until you have all the other pieces, and you're not going to be able to find them all at at the same time. Apparently the only way to gain an M&A practice these days is to merge with a firm that already does it, which apparently Freshfields is unwilling to do.

A bit of an aside, but I found it interesting.

This statement is incorrect.


For M&A, Skadden>Davis Polk>>>>>Freshfields in NYC.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Old Gregg » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:01 pm

My feeling is that it's generally easier to move DOWN (Vault-wise), than UP--I've heard of plenty of ex-V5 associates at V50s, but never the other way around.


No. It's self-selection.

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:12 pm

aces wrote:
AntipodeanPhil wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:So far as I know, Freshfields NY does not do capital markets and M&A is mostly private M&A. You might want to check that. Fantastic firm culture though.

I remember being told by the guy at my Freshfields screening interview that they don't do M&A, and don't have any plans to start. Apparently the problem is that you can't just hire laterals to start an M&A practice, because you need lots of different 'pieces' (i.e., people performing specialized roles). It doesn't make sense to hire the pieces one at a time, because they can't do anything until you have all the other pieces, and you're not going to be able to find them all at at the same time. Apparently the only way to gain an M&A practice these days is to merge with a firm that already does it, which apparently Freshfields is unwilling to do.

A bit of an aside, but I found it interesting.

This statement is incorrect.

That's what the guy told me. I just checked, and according to their website they have 5 partners based in NY who do (at least some) M&A work. I'm guessing that what that means is that they do M&A work out of their London office, with a few lawyers in NY to assist with the US-law aspects of global deals. Anyone know more here?

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:15 pm

I interviewed with that guy during OCI last year and he told me that Freshfield's selling point was that, every firm in NYC can do a M&A transaction, but only Freshfields can excel at the kind of complex cross-border M&A transactions they do. Or something. Felt like I was on the wrong end of a business development pitch, tbh

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I interviewed with that guy during OCI last year and he told me that Freshfield's selling point was that, every firm in NYC can do a M&A transaction, but only Freshfields can excel at the kind of complex cross-border M&A transactions they do. Or something. Felt like I was on the wrong end of a business development pitch, tbh


That can be said about a lot of firms.

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:20 pm

Freshfields has a small M&A department that certainly does not compare to the NY heavyweights (a category which includes Skadden and DPW), and I think if you're deciding based on caliber of work, it's clearly third by a wide, wide margin. But they do pretty much exclusively work on cross-boarder deals, and specifically inbound transactions, which is pretty uncommon.

I don't think it's crazy to choose Freshfields if you loved the people/culture, wanted an international focus, and thought it represented a better work/life balance. But DPW/Skadden are much more well-regarded firms, even if Freshfields NY is still pretty new and thus has some growth potential.

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Old Gregg » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:24 pm

I get that international deals are sexy and all, but they are really a good dose of hard work. This is because of time differences. It's also because if you do travel, you will be traveling to a conference room and spending most, if not all, if your time there.

It seems great in the abstract, but sucks when you're up at 3am every night waiting for feedback from local international counsel. It sucks.

Just an FYI.

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I work at DPW. Skadden is a great firm and absolutely a peer in terms of the work we do. I've not heard of Freshfields since I started practice, never seen them working on the other side of a deal, etc. My impression is that they are noticeably "less prestigious" for whatever that's worth.

Exiting "down" rather than "up" firm prestige rankings is absolutely accurate. It's more about practice area than firm name, but "better" firms have "better" practices. DPW and its peers higher many fewer laterals than 'less prestigious' firms and often do so from within the circle of the top 5 or 10 firms in NYC. There's a lot of 'moving down the ladder' when it comes to exit options. I don't think that's a reason to start at the top blindly, mind you, because people who start at other firms still have long and successful careers. But it is real.

To answer your questions about DPW:

1. I'd see this as an O.K. interview question. I left before 10:00 every night (6:00 one night) and didn't need to be in before 10:00 am any day.

2. In the summer, and it was quite long and totally uninterrupted. Vacation is sacred here - I have seen a lot of people go on 2 or even 3 week vacations, never heard of one canceled, and associate development harasses us if we're not taking them.

3. The option was all ours. Many people I know specialized quickly and are nearly running deals after less than a year at the firm, others have done a few rotations or moved offices. Deals are staffed very leanly, so the odds of you getting responsibility well before you think you're ready for it are... high. One day the senior will be sick, stuck in an airport, or too busy - and you'll be field promoted and bewildered. Good luck.

4. Almost all of them. I've only seen departures for georgapy and clerkships (which were often pre-planned). There's no hiding the attrition rate though, we hire ~100 every year and don't grow noticeably, so I would imagine about 100 associates depart every year (and only roughly 5 make partner). This goes to the question you asked early about lateraling to other firms though; we're very much home-grown (though I do know some people who lateraled here).

5. I'd say so. They know a lot of us won't want to stick around, but there seems to be a pretty real attitude that collectively we're "the future" and it's critical to get us up to speed. I've had partners work towards fixing unsustainable busy and workloads, seen people get moved around at their request even if it was outside of the normal rotation window, etc.

Anonymous User wrote:Appreciate thoughts and advice on this:

Have offers from all 3. All NY. I'm interested in general corporate work (M&A and Cap Mkts both sound interesting), and specifically interested in international work (i.e. cross-border deals).

I genuinely liked the people from all 3, and will be scheduling second looks and attending all the offer dinners/receptions to ask the more pointed questions. What do you guys think in terms of culture, exit options*, general corporate practice, and international focus for each of these firms?

*I would prefer to exit to another firm rather than in-house. My feeling is that it's generally easier to move DOWN (Vault-wise), than UP--I've heard of plenty of ex-V5 associates at V50s, but never the other way around. Is this true? Anyone have any other perspectives on this?

One additional question: what kinds of questions should I ask during second looks? How blunt can I be? I'd like to ask things like:

"What time did you go home last week on average, and was this earlier or later than usual?"
"When did you take your last vacation?"
"Have you gotten to work on many components of deals, or were you forced to specialize immediately and have only been doing one thing?"
"How many of the summers in your class are still at the firm?"
"Do you feel that the partners are willing to invest in the associates, and be flexible in letting them try out different things or go to different offices?"

Any other questions I should be asking? Are any of these inappropriate?

Thanks for the help!


What group are you in? Are you seriously trying to represent to this kid that your experience leaving before 10 pm every single day and getting in some time around 10 am every day is typical for a DPW associate?

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Re: Skadden v. DPW v. Freshfields (All NY)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What group are you in? Are you seriously trying to represent to this kid that your experience leaving before 10 pm every single day and getting in some time around 10 am every day is typical for a DPW associate?


DPW associate here. The question was, and I quote "What time did you go home last week on average, and was this earlier or later than usual?" My response was the truth - that I had left before 10 every night that week. Looking back on the year, that has been true far more often than it has been false.

Don't get me wrong: I've walked around our halls at some very strange hours... but it's usually pretty empty, even on busy transactional floors, after 8 or 9 or on weekends/holidays. If I am there those hours, not many others on my floor are. I've pulled all-nighters at the firm, I'll bill more hours this year than I think is healthy, and I have had our security desk arrange cars at objectively insane hours, but it's not like it's every week.




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