S&C Questions

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP-

C.O.N.F.U.S.I.N.G.

I tend to think that some of the S&C hate stems from jealousy but every other opinion (and this isn't shades of gray) are diametrically opposed to each other. Is this all hearsay?


As somebody who had offers from Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, Skadden and Davis Polk I can tell you flat out that nobody needs to shit on any firm in that group out of "jealousy." I know many S&C detractors who either work there or had offers there.

Every year vast swaths of people get offers at all or most of them, scratch our chins, shrug our shoulders, and follow our gut. It's best to think of them as peer firms, because they are peer firms. You'll make the same salary and work long hours at any of them, and if you disregard any signals you get there (or elsewhere) about the kind of environment you'll be in plus your own response to that environment, you may be in for a (very) bad time.


So...that made no sense...

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP-

C.O.N.F.U.S.I.N.G.

I tend to think that some of the S&C hate stems from jealousy but every other opinion (and this isn't shades of gray) are diametrically opposed to each other. Is this all hearsay?


As somebody who had offers from Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, Skadden and Davis Polk I can tell you flat out that nobody needs to shit on any firm in that group out of "jealousy." I know many S&C detractors who either work there or had offers there.

Every year vast swaths of people get offers at all or most of them, scratch our chins, shrug our shoulders, and follow our gut. It's best to think of them as peer firms, because they are peer firms. You'll make the same salary and work long hours at any of them, and if you disregard any signals you get there (or elsewhere) about the kind of environment you'll be in plus your own response to that environment, you may be in for a (very) bad time.


So...that made no sense...


In what way?

Basically two points:

(1) The "haters gonna hate because they're jealous" argument re: S&C/Cravath is dumb, because plenty of the haters either work at those firms or had offers to work at those firms.

(2) The V5ish (and really V10 - V15 ish) firms in NYC are so similar that the most important factor should be your personal reaction to the firms, not the TLS echo chamber. That's not to say the TLS echo chamber is "wrong" - just that the TLS echo chamber doesn't know you or how you would respond to any of the various environments.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:45 pm

If Cravath/S&C don't have significant upsides (in addition to downsides), their offer yields wouldn't be so high (same range as DPW) at one of HYSCCN. People with S&C/Cravath offers probably always have other V5/V10 offers. In the end, you should make your decision based on your interests and fit. S&C/Cravath are great fit for many, but not for some.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If Cravath/S&C don't have significant upsides (in addition to downsides), their offer yields wouldn't be so high (same range as DPW) at one of HYSCCN. People with S&C/Cravath offers probably always have other V5/V10 offers. In the end, you should make your decision based on your interests and fit. S&C/Cravath are great fit for many, but not for some.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:57 pm

op, you can go to linkedin, and get a sample of where former sullcrom associates exited to, versus v5/v10/v15 firms etc. You will realize, particularly when you restrict yourself to ite that, for a particular firm, subsequent employment runs the gamut, and across firms, one firm doesn't have a clear advantage in exit options.

An associate from a particular firm may have an advantage as far as exiting to an institutional client, but for a neutral position, i doubt an associate is going to be dinged because he did M&A at a V7 as opposed to a V5.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby soj » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If Cravath/S&C don't have significant upsides (in addition to downsides), their offer yields wouldn't be so high (same range as DPW) at one of HYSCCN. People with S&C/Cravath offers probably always have other V5/V10 offers. In the end, you should make your decision based on your interests and fit. S&C/Cravath are great fit for many, but not for some.

Why are you quoting yourself?

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:04 pm

Declined S&C for a V20 for the reasons many share. My tour through the office felt rather dismal and the associates I talked to looked and seemed even less happy than at other firms. Obviously I'm sure there are people at S&C who may love it, but the general impression from my own visit and those whom I've talked with is that it is an unpleasant environment that one must struggle through for a few years as a career stepping stone.

That being said, if your impression is different, don't be swayed by strangers on the internet who haven't had your experiences or views. Trust your judgment, you'll need to use it throughout your career.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Declined S&C for a V20 for the reasons many share. My tour through the office felt rather dismal and the associates I talked to looked and seemed even less happy than at other firms. Obviously I'm sure there are people and S&C who may love it, but the general impression from my own visit and those whom I've talked with is that it is an unpleasant environment that one must struggle through for a few years as a career stepping stone.

That being said, if your impression is different, don't be swayed by strangers on the internet who haven't had your experiences or views. Trust your judgment, you'll need to use it throughout your career.


I agree with all of this. I declined an S&C offer for a v10

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Declined S&C for a V20 for the reasons many share. My tour through the office felt rather dismal and the associates I talked to looked and seemed even less happy than at other firms. Obviously I'm sure there are people and S&C who may love it, but the general impression from my own visit and those whom I've talked with is that it is an unpleasant environment that one must struggle through for a few years as a career stepping stone.

That being said, if your impression is different, don't be swayed by strangers on the internet who haven't had your experiences or views. Trust your judgment, you'll need to use it throughout your career.


I agree with all of this. I declined an S&C offer for a v10


OP, you have to go with how you feel. 60-70% of people reject offers from S&C, as they do to all other top firms (including WLRK). The only exception is W&C, where the offer yield is consistently above 60%.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:People on TLS like to bash Cravath/S&C because these firms have high RPL and PPP while dominating in every area (unlike WLRK), even compared with Skadden/DPW. If I worked at another V10, I would like to think that the RPL and PPP at those firms are (20-30%) higher than ones at my firm not because the lawyers are smarter/more talented/more sought after, but because they work harder/more (to get work and to do work). If they don't work harder/more, I would think that those associates have bad personalities/are anti-social. I would be tempted to infer that those places have bad culture.

The truth is, there are great people at all these firms. There are mean people at all these firms. What you perceive the balance to be at each firm depends on your personality. If you want to work at a firm that dominates securities, M&A, capital markets, and essentially all other corporate areas and don't mind the straight talk, go to S&C. If you like the rotation system, go to Cravath. If you prefer the one-year rotation and a "nice"/"passive aggressive workplace", go to DPW. If you want PE, go to STB. Not sure who goes to Skadden/Cleary/Weil/Kirkland/Latham based on non-fit reasons when they have these other options.



Worth requoting, especially for the breakdown in the second paragraph. Also, I'd point out that there are, in fact, fit-based reasons for opting out of the v5, as that last sentence suggests.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Declined S&C for a V20 for the reasons many share. My tour through the office felt rather dismal and the associates I talked to looked and seemed even less happy than at other firms. Obviously I'm sure there are people and S&C who may love it, but the general impression from my own visit and those whom I've talked with is that it is an unpleasant environment that one must struggle through for a few years as a career stepping stone.

That being said, if your impression is different, don't be swayed by strangers on the internet who haven't had your experiences or views. Trust your judgment, you'll need to use it throughout your career.


I agree with all of this. I declined an S&C offer for a v10


OP, you have to go with how you feel. 60-70% of people reject offers from S&C, as they do to all other top firms (including WLRK). The only exception is W&C, where the offer yield is consistently above 60%.


op should go with how he/she feels etc., but i wouldn't read too much into yields...it's meaningless. if anything attrition is more useful.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Declined S&C for a V20 for the reasons many share. My tour through the office felt rather dismal and the associates I talked to looked and seemed even less happy than at other firms. Obviously I'm sure there are people and S&C who may love it, but the general impression from my own visit and those whom I've talked with is that it is an unpleasant environment that one must struggle through for a few years as a career stepping stone.

That being said, if your impression is different, don't be swayed by strangers on the internet who haven't had your experiences or views. Trust your judgment, you'll need to use it throughout your career.


I agree with all of this. I declined an S&C offer for a v10


OP, you have to go with how you feel. 60-70% of people reject offers from S&C, as they do to all other top firms (including WLRK). The only exception is W&C, where the offer yield is consistently above 60%.


op should go with how he/she feels etc., but i wouldn't read too much into yields...it's meaningless. if anything attrition is more useful.


The problem is that no body knows what attrition rates are. The numbers being thrown around are people's guesses. And, for instance, Covington has high attrition, but it doesn't mean that Covington isn't a great place to start a career.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote: The problem is that no body knows what attrition rates are. The numbers being thrown around are people's guesses. And, for instance, Covington has high attrition, but it doesn't mean that Covington isn't a great place to start a career.


people know attrition rates, and there's a way to approximate numbers if you have the time and energy (e.g., there's a dude on the internet tormenting quinn who's been diligently compiling stats on quinn departures. he made ATL, much to the chagrin of JBQ). the problem is figuring out the reasons for the departures. i.e., who's leaving voluntarily for other opportunities, who's leaving due to work environment issues etc., who's being pushed out etc etc.

in any event, my point was that attrition rates are relatively more useful than yields. yields depend on the choices of law students, attrition concerns people that have actually experienced being an associate at a particular place.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:13 pm

OP here-

Guys, I think this was awesome. Informative, provocative and most importantly, respectful.

Nonetheless it is true that I should be going with my gut. I am going to be going for a second look at DPW and Skadden and then I will make my decision from there.

Thanks again, and if anyone wants to continue this conversation...all the more comments are welcomed...

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:People on TLS like to bash Cravath/S&C because these firms have high RPL and PPP while dominating in every area (unlike WLRK), even compared with Skadden/DPW. If I worked at another V10, I would like to think that the RPL and PPP at those firms are (20-30%) higher than ones at my firm not because the lawyers are smarter/more talented/more sought after, but because they work harder/more (to get work and to do work). If they don't work harder/more, I would think that those associates have bad personalities/are anti-social. I would be tempted to infer that those places have bad culture.

The truth is, there are great people at all these firms. There are mean people at all these firms. What you perceive the balance to be at each firm depends on your personality. If you want to work at a firm that dominates securities, M&A, capital markets, and essentially all other corporate areas and don't mind the straight talk, go to S&C. If you like the rotation system, go to Cravath. If you prefer the one-year rotation and a "nice"/"passive aggressive workplace", go to DPW. If you want PE, go to STB. Not sure who goes to Skadden/Cleary/Weil/Kirkland/Latham based on non-fit reasons when they have these other options.



Worth requoting, especially for the breakdown in the second paragraph. Also, I'd point out that there are, in fact, fit-based reasons for opting out of the v5, as that last sentence suggests.


S&C actually has a horrendous ranking in debt and credit work (a core corporate practice area) according to Chambers and Partners (Band 5 vs. Band 1 for STB and some other V5s)... it's also no better than, for example, STB in any major corporate practice area (aside from FIs, which is more of a niche than STB's PE strength). Its bankruptcy group is also lackluster. Yes, S&C is known as a public M&A powerhouse, but STB, traditionally known for dominating PE M&A, has been on some of the largest public M&A deals this year including Dell/Silverlake and Verizon/Vodafone and typically ranks up there in the deal tables with S&C, WLRK and Skadden in overall $ volume for deals -- sometimes surpassing its peer in the US tables. As such, I wouldn't paint S&C as anything better than a peer with other V5 and STB, and it's only edge, IMO, is the better exit options to FIs that S&C traditionally deals with; but that's no more of an advantage than STB's edge in having better exit options to PE clients -- no surprise that associates will have better exit options to their law firms' clients.

Here's additional insight into S&C's culture: as a recent HLS grad, S&C gives offers to every gunner at HLS with 4 or 5Hs out of 10. They literally provide an offer to every single callback (AFAIK from previous years' data) and screener interviews are well known to be transcript drops for the vast majority of firms recruiting at HLS. I know of autistic-like (maybe Asperger's?) gunner nerds with offers at S&C-- many are going (20ish out of 40-50 offers for the last 2 years?), which I suppose is not surprising since gunners love to gun and S&C is gunner heaven. If you want to be surrounded by such people, then S&C is a good fit. I will admit that the firm is top for most of its corporate practice (although no more so than its peers in any one area except FIG), but I'm unsure how heinous the working conditions will be given that there are so many gunners there who are willing to put in everything possible to get ahead (just as they have been their entire life); at a certain point, you only have one last good to give -- your time -- and I have a feeling people at S&C are more willing than others to give that up to a greater extent than even at peer firms (except Cravath and WLRK associates), given S&C's silly selection process.

This last bit is important insofar as you want to stand out at the firm. Depending on the assignment system, it's probably possible to sail by at some top corporate law firms for a couple years doing bare minimum work and then grab on to an exit. Obviously at Cravath (working closely with a partner who will keep a close eye on you) or at WLRK (where everyone knows everyone) that's a bit harder. But if you want to get ahead of the crowd, my intuition leads me to believe that at S&C (and, of course, Cravath and WLRK) you will need to put in significantly more hours than at peer firms just because there are likely more gunners who will do the same because they also want to get ahead. I feel that's a little less likely at other top firms. But since the standout associates may be more likely to get better work and better mentoring (hell, even potentially a better chance of becoming partner), it may become an important consideration for you. Having said that, you will likely need to have 2500+ billables at any of these firms to be even considered standout. It's just that at Cravath, you'll likely need 2800+ and S&C maybe 2700, etc.

Admittedly, S&C had the best recruiting process of all the NY firms (basically all of the traditional top ones) I interviewed with -- they try really hard to make you believe you're special -- but neither a recruiting season nor a summer at the firm can provide a glimpse into what, I intuitively foresee, is a harsher more workaholic culture than even other peer firms (aside from Cravath and WLRK).

All in all, consider many factors when selecting your firm, such as:

1) Traditional practice strengths of certain firms (if you know you want to do something for sure, go to the firm that's best in that area, but if you're unsure then all else equal it's better to go to a firm that does well in as many areas as possible)
2) Flexibility of assignments when you first start out (e.g., S&C is very flexible for a while, but others not so much)
3) Assignment system (do you want to work directly with a partner or through an intermediary such as an assigning associate in case you screw up?
4) Culture (as best you can, through both intuition and limited empirical observation) and reputation.
5) Firm clients (for better exit options to those firms)
6) Rankings and prestige (to an extent)

Ultimately, you will be dealing with a lot of uncertainty and nobody here can tell you the right answer -- but some can provide better reason and insight than others.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:46 pm

^ Interesting take on how recruiting methods feed into firm culture. It doesn't quite ring true with my experiences though, speaking as someone who worked as an outside consultant with various law firms before law school (including most of the firms being discussed in this thread). Based on my interactions with associates from a pretty wide cross-section of firms, it's not at all clear that personalities at more 'elite' firms were any more characteristically gunnerish than those at other firms.

As outside consultants, we played a semi-adversarial role to the lawyers, so they sometimes ended up trying to turn us into punching bags to make themselves look good. None of the firms being mentioned in this thread were notable offenders in this regard. I actually had a fair number of engagwments with S&C, and for whatever it's worth, the associates and handful of partners I worked with were universally pretty pleasant to get along with, even under what I can only describe as hellish-pressure-cooker conditions. If anything, I found S&C guys especially easy to work with because of how on top of their shit they were. "Nerdy" wouldn't be an unfair way to describe them, but that's not unique among top law firms, so far as I could tell.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:47 pm

OP,  in response to your third question about how S&C treated associates in 2009-2010, I am/was S&C class of 2009 and they were really great in that respect. I had some really slow months (like literally nothing to do) and never had anyone say a word to me about it,  in reviews or otherwise. There was probably at least one year where I billed around 1800,  but I'm not sure because I stopped adding up my annual billables after I realized they wouldn't fire me for it.

As several people pointed out,  the claim about 50 percent attrition after the first year is ridiculous. It's 50 percent after about four years

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:03 pm

I was a summer there this year, and I think that because a lot of what S&C decides on is your grades, you get a pretty wide cross-section of personalities. Combined with that and the big class, it's just kind of like your law school class in that you have a bunch of smart people with different personalities and approaches to work.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:07 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:People on TLS like to bash Cravath/S&C because these firms have high RPL and PPP while dominating in every area (unlike WLRK), even compared with Skadden/DPW. If I worked at another V10, I would like to think that the RPL and PPP at those firms are (20-30%) higher than ones at my firm not because the lawyers are smarter/more talented/more sought after, but because they work harder/more (to get work and to do work). If they don't work harder/more, I would think that those associates have bad personalities/are anti-social. I would be tempted to infer that those places have bad culture.

The truth is, there are great people at all these firms. There are mean people at all these firms. What you perceive the balance to be at each firm depends on your personality. If you want to work at a firm that dominates securities, M&A, capital markets, and essentially all other corporate areas and don't mind the straight talk, go to S&C. If you like the rotation system, go to Cravath. If you prefer the one-year rotation and a "nice"/"passive aggressive workplace", go to DPW. If you want PE, go to STB. Not sure who goes to Skadden/Cleary/Weil/Kirkland/Latham based on non-fit reasons when they have these other options.



Worth requoting, especially for the breakdown in the second paragraph. Also, I'd point out that there are, in fact, fit-based reasons for opting out of the v5, as that last sentence suggests.


S&C actually has a horrendous ranking in debt and credit work (a core corporate practice area) according to Chambers and Partners (Band 5 vs. Band 1 for STB and some other V5s)... it's also no better than, for example, STB in any major corporate practice area (aside from FIs, which is more of a niche than STB's PE strength). Its bankruptcy group is also lackluster. Yes, S&C is known as a public M&A powerhouse, but STB, traditionally known for dominating PE M&A, has been on some of the largest public M&A deals this year including Dell/Silverlake and Verizon/Vodafone and typically ranks up there in the deal tables with S&C, WLRK and Skadden in overall $ volume for deals -- sometimes surpassing its peer in the US tables. As such, I wouldn't paint S&C as anything better than a peer with other V5 and STB, and it's only edge, IMO, is the better exit options to FIs that S&C traditionally deals with; but that's no more of an advantage than STB's edge in having better exit options to PE clients -- no surprise that associates will have better exit options to their law firms' clients.

Here's additional insight into S&C's culture: as a recent HLS grad, S&C gives offers to every gunner at HLS with 4 or 5Hs out of 10. They literally provide an offer to every single callback (AFAIK from previous years' data) and screener interviews are well known to be transcript drops for the vast majority of firms recruiting at HLS. I know of autistic-like (maybe Asperger's?) gunner nerds with offers at S&C-- many are going (20ish out of 40-50 offers for the last 2 years?), which I suppose is not surprising since gunners love to gun and S&C is gunner heaven. If you want to be surrounded by such people, then S&C is a good fit. I will admit that the firm is top for most of its corporate practice (although no more so than its peers in any one area except FIG), but I'm unsure how heinous the working conditions will be given that there are so many gunners there who are willing to put in everything possible to get ahead (just as they have been their entire life); at a certain point, you only have one last good to give -- your time -- and I have a feeling people at S&C are more willing than others to give that up to a greater extent than even at peer firms (except Cravath and WLRK associates), given S&C's silly selection process.

This last bit is important insofar as you want to stand out at the firm. Depending on the assignment system, it's probably possible to sail by at some top corporate law firms for a couple years doing bare minimum work and then grab on to an exit. Obviously at Cravath (working closely with a partner who will keep a close eye on you) or at WLRK (where everyone knows everyone) that's a bit harder. But if you want to get ahead of the crowd, my intuition leads me to believe that at S&C (and, of course, Cravath and WLRK) you will need to put in significantly more hours than at peer firms just because there are likely more gunners who will do the same because they also want to get ahead. I feel that's a little less likely at other top firms. But since the standout associates may be more likely to get better work and better mentoring (hell, even potentially a better chance of becoming partner), it may become an important consideration for you. Having said that, you will likely need to have 2500+ billables at any of these firms to be even considered standout. It's just that at Cravath, you'll likely need 2800+ and S&C maybe 2700, etc.

Admittedly, S&C had the best recruiting process of all the NY firms (basically all of the traditional top ones) I interviewed with -- they try really hard to make you believe you're special -- but neither a recruiting season nor a summer at the firm can provide a glimpse into what, I intuitively foresee, is a harsher more workaholic culture than even other peer firms (aside from Cravath and WLRK).

All in all, consider many factors when selecting your firm, such as:

1) Traditional practice strengths of certain firms (if you know you want to do something for sure, go to the firm that's best in that area, but if you're unsure then all else equal it's better to go to a firm that does well in as many areas as possible)
2) Flexibility of assignments when you first start out (e.g., S&C is very flexible for a while, but others not so much)
3) Assignment system (do you want to work directly with a partner or through an intermediary such as an assigning associate in case you screw up?
4) Culture (as best you can, through both intuition and limited empirical observation) and reputation.
5) Firm clients (for better exit options to those firms)
6) Rankings and prestige (to an extent)

Ultimately, you will be dealing with a lot of uncertainty and nobody here can tell you the right answer -- but some can provide better reason and insight than others.


Other than the factors at the end, what this post presents is completely false. S&C is top for capital markets (both debt and equity, Chambers band 1 and top of the league table). As to S&C having gunners/nerds/aspies, there are a lot of those at all firms. During my callbacks, I actually felt that DPW/Cleary/Debevoise had the most nerds/aspies. As for recruiting, S&C's grade cut-off is higher than that. However, getting 6/7 H's at HLS doesn't mean that someone is a gunner (well, it could if you are not that bright, but then you probably wouldn't end up with 6/7 H's anyway). I know a lot of cool people who didn't gun but got 6/7 H's, and many are heading to S&C (granted, some law review nerds are going there too).
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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:People on TLS like to bash Cravath/S&C because these firms have high RPL and PPP while dominating in every area (unlike WLRK), even compared with Skadden/DPW. If I worked at another V10, I would like to think that the RPL and PPP at those firms are (20-30%) higher than ones at my firm not because the lawyers are smarter/more talented/more sought after, but because they work harder/more (to get work and to do work). If they don't work harder/more, I would think that those associates have bad personalities/are anti-social. I would be tempted to infer that those places have bad culture.

The truth is, there are great people at all these firms. There are mean people at all these firms. What you perceive the balance to be at each firm depends on your personality. If you want to work at a firm that dominates securities, M&A, capital markets, and essentially all other corporate areas and don't mind the straight talk, go to S&C. If you like the rotation system, go to Cravath. If you prefer the one-year rotation and a "nice"/"passive aggressive workplace", go to DPW. If you want PE, go to STB. Not sure who goes to Skadden/Cleary/Weil/Kirkland/Latham based on non-fit reasons when they have these other options.



Worth requoting, especially for the breakdown in the second paragraph. Also, I'd point out that there are, in fact, fit-based reasons for opting out of the v5, as that last sentence suggests.


S&C actually has a horrendous ranking in debt and credit work (a core corporate practice area) according to Chambers and Partners (Band 5 vs. Band 1 for STB and some other V5s)... it's also no better than, for example, STB in any major corporate practice area (aside from FIs, which is more of a niche than STB's PE strength). Its bankruptcy group is also lackluster. Yes, S&C is known as a public M&A powerhouse, but STB, traditionally known for dominating PE M&A, has been on some of the largest public M&A deals this year including Dell/Silverlake and Verizon/Vodafone and typically ranks up there in the deal tables with S&C, WLRK and Skadden in overall $ volume for deals -- sometimes surpassing its peer in the US tables. As such, I wouldn't paint S&C as anything better than a peer with other V5 and STB, and it's only edge, IMO, is the better exit options to FIs that S&C traditionally deals with; but that's no more of an advantage than STB's edge in having better exit options to PE clients -- no surprise that associates will have better exit options to their law firms' clients.

Here's additional insight into S&C's culture: as a recent HLS grad, S&C gives offers to every gunner at HLS with 4 or 5Hs out of 10. They literally provide an offer to every single callback (AFAIK from previous years' data) and screener interviews are well known to be transcript drops for the vast majority of firms recruiting at HLS. I know of autistic-like (maybe Asperger's?) gunner nerds with offers at S&C-- many are going (20ish out of 40-50 offers for the last 2 years?), which I suppose is not surprising since gunners love to gun and S&C is gunner heaven. If you want to be surrounded by such people, then S&C is a good fit. I will admit that the firm is top for most of its corporate practice (although no more so than its peers in any one area except FIG), but I'm unsure how heinous the working conditions will be given that there are so many gunners there who are willing to put in everything possible to get ahead (just as they have been their entire life); at a certain point, you only have one last good to give -- your time -- and I have a feeling people at S&C are more willing than others to give that up to a greater extent than even at peer firms (except Cravath and WLRK associates), given S&C's silly selection process.

This last bit is important insofar as you want to stand out at the firm. Depending on the assignment system, it's probably possible to sail by at some top corporate law firms for a couple years doing bare minimum work and then grab on to an exit. Obviously at Cravath (working closely with a partner who will keep a close eye on you) or at WLRK (where everyone knows everyone) that's a bit harder. But if you want to get ahead of the crowd, my intuition leads me to believe that at S&C (and, of course, Cravath and WLRK) you will need to put in significantly more hours than at peer firms just because there are likely more gunners who will do the same because they also want to get ahead. I feel that's a little less likely at other top firms. But since the standout associates may be more likely to get better work and better mentoring (hell, even potentially a better chance of becoming partner), it may become an important consideration for you. Having said that, you will likely need to have 2500+ billables at any of these firms to be even considered standout. It's just that at Cravath, you'll likely need 2800+ and S&C maybe 2700, etc.

Admittedly, S&C had the best recruiting process of all the NY firms (basically all of the traditional top ones) I interviewed with -- they try really hard to make you believe you're special -- but neither a recruiting season nor a summer at the firm can provide a glimpse into what, I intuitively foresee, is a harsher more workaholic culture than even other peer firms (aside from Cravath and WLRK).

All in all, consider many factors when selecting your firm, such as:

1) Traditional practice strengths of certain firms (if you know you want to do something for sure, go to the firm that's best in that area, but if you're unsure then all else equal it's better to go to a firm that does well in as many areas as possible)
2) Flexibility of assignments when you first start out (e.g., S&C is very flexible for a while, but others not so much)
3) Assignment system (do you want to work directly with a partner or through an intermediary such as an assigning associate in case you screw up?
4) Culture (as best you can, through both intuition and limited empirical observation) and reputation.
5) Firm clients (for better exit options to those firms)
6) Rankings and prestige (to an extent)

Ultimately, you will be dealing with a lot of uncertainty and nobody here can tell you the right answer -- but some can provide better reason and insight than others.


Other than the factors at the end, what this post presents is completely false. S&C is top for capital markets (both debt and equity, Chambers band 1 and top of the league table).As to S&C having gunners/nerds/aspies, there are a lot of those at all firms. During my callbacks, I actually felt that DPW/Cleary/Debevoise had the most nerds/aspies. As for recruiting, S&C's grade cut-off is higher than that. However, getting 6/7 H's at HLS doesn't mean that someone is a gunner (well, it could if you are not that bright, but then you probably wouldn't end up with 6/7 H's anyway). I know a lot of cool people who didn't gun but got 6/7 H's, and many are heading to S&C (granted, some law review nerds are going there too).


You're confusing capital markets (securities) with banking/finance (credit agreements, bank/lev loans, etc)--S&C, for purposes of this conversation, is a laggard with no real footprint in that area. And they are Band 4. Same for bankruptcy, where S&C has historically been a non-player.

So the notion that S&C "dominates all other corporate areas" is beyond far-fetched. They have clear strengths and weaknesses, just like the rest of their peers.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:47 am

FWIW my callback included every interviewer mention at some point in time that S&C was "the best." And not like a we're recruiting and you should come here the best, but a genuine belief. One interviewer told me that S&C's approach to business development was essentially saying "we're Sullivan and Cromwell" to perspective clients rather than building relationships like some of the "less established" firms. I had another interviewer tell me which practice areas I would like based on my grades, and told me I shouldn't be in some practice areas because I didn't get an A in whatever class he thought correlated.. The hiring partner asked what other firms I was looking at, and I essentially responded with the v15 (I had callbacks at 10/15), and he said, "well, most of those firms aren't on our level" and then handed me the offer and told me to respond ASAP. Declined the next day.

These things might not phase someone who would like S&C, but they were a turnoff for me.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:FWIW my callback included every interviewer mention at some point in time that S&C was "the best." And not like a we're recruiting and you should come here the best, but a genuine belief. One interviewer told me that S&C's approach to business development was essentially saying "we're Sullivan and Cromwell" to perspective clients rather than building relationships like some of the "less established" firms. I had another interviewer tell me which practice areas I would like based on my grades, and told me I shouldn't be in some practice areas because I didn't get an A in whatever class he thought correlated.. The hiring partner asked what other firms I was looking at, and I essentially responded with the v15 (I had callbacks at 10/15), and he said, "well, most of those firms aren't on our level" and then handed me the offer and told me to respond ASAP. Declined the next day.

These things might not phase someone who would like S&C, but they were a turnoff for me.


This was what I felt during my callback at S&C as well. The only other place where I felt this intensity/confidence on the part of the firm was Cravath (didn't bid on WLRK). For me, I was told to explore other firms thoroughly before making a decision after being offered on the spot at S&C, and there was no pressure at all to accept. Different firms have different vibes. The vibe at S&C/Cravath was definitely "we are the best," "we train generalists who are great/experts at everything," "clients think that you are an expert simply because you work at S&C/Cravath," "we offer the highest quality of service," and "our peers can be counted using one hand." Some people respect such confidence/straight-forwardness, while others prefer Davis Polk's more passive approach.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:53 pm

I've been lurking the last few days just to see how people responded to a recent callback dinner I went to . . . but I can't let this crap hang out there.
Let's start with the usual disclaimers. I'm an associate at S&C, and I love my job and feel very lucky to be here. I'm not particularly hooked up with recruiting, and I'm not shilling because I couldn't really care less, from a selfish point of view, if 2Ls come here. I just hate, HATE to see folks make the same mistakes some of my friends did, and go to a place like Latham for the culture and end up being a credit/high-yield monkey, working as hard as I do and getting half as much out of it. Don't make that mistake please.

(a) I have no hours-based billing pressure. My first year, things were slow (it was the crisis) and I billed, gosh, couldn't have been more than 1800 hours. Not a word. It is strictly a project-based workload. Work fast and efficiently, and you'll work less than half the folks you know at other firms. Waste time, and it will suck. But it is up to you, not the clock, to determine when you leave. This alone justifies going to S&C (or the one or two peer firms with a similar setup) over places lower down the food chain.

(b) It's the fairest place I've ever been. There aren't just gay partners or female partners; there are powerful, deeply respected gay and female partners. There is a difference between substantive diversity (which S&C has loads of) and window dressing. S&C takes the meritocracy seriously; all that matters is if you have chops, not what you do in your private life. (Relatedly, there are more folks here with interesting side interests and personal lives than anywhere else I've worked.)

(c) There is real effort put into training you. You're not pigeon-holed into a practice area. You're constantly pushed, assigned to new matters in areas you've never done before. People monitor your experience and you receive assignments to plug holes in your knowledge.

(d) As a result, you LEARN here, constantly, and you become a damn good lawyer. You'll have 90% of the credit knowledge as your friend doing ONLY credit at Simpson; you'll have 90% of the high yield knowledge as your friend doing ONLY high yield work at Cahill; oh, and you'll ALSO know how to do registered offerings and you'll have worked on a projects deal, etc.

(e) Then why is there this pervasive myth that working at S&C is miserable? There must be a grain of truth to that, no? I think there is. Generally, the partners here love the work. Honest to goodness love it, like coming to the office is the best part of their day. At some point, for a lot of people who work here, the light comes on and you start to love it too. If you do, it's basically heaven - they pay you so much money, and you'd do it for free. If it doesn't come on, I think it starts to get hard and tiresome - you're working with people who love the job and if they see you doing it reluctantly, you sort of don't fit in.

(f) I didn't realize I'd love it when I was recruiting, and I don't think many of my peers did, either. You go and you're doing what everyone else is doing, bitching at parties about how much being an associate sucks, and then all of a sudden you sort of realize that it doesn't suck at all.

(g) With the exception of lender-side credit work, for which I understand DPW and Simpson are clearly better, we're at or near the top of every other transactional practice area I'm aware of. Don't sleep on our leveraged finance and bankruptcy groups; they are growing extremely rapidly and getting very high level work. IMO, I'd rather be at S&C for those areas than a cog in the wheel of the Latham/Cahill high yield or Kirkland/Weil bankruptcy factories. Chambers tends to measure practice group size as much as work quality, so from the perspective of an incoming associate Chambers tends to overrate places with well-oiled practice group machines that may operate with lots of leverage.

Anonymous User wrote:
You're confusing capital markets (securities) with banking/finance (credit agreements, bank/lev loans, etc)--S&C, for purposes of this conversation, is a laggard with no real footprint in that area. And they are Band 4. Same for bankruptcy, where S&C has historically been a non-player.

So the notion that S&C "dominates all other corporate areas" is beyond far-fetched. They have clear strengths and weaknesses, just like the rest of their peers.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby legends159 » Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:(d) As a result, you LEARN here, constantly, and you become a damn good lawyer. You'll have 90% of the credit knowledge as your friend doing ONLY credit at Simpson; you'll have 90% of the high yield knowledge as your friend doing ONLY high yield work at Cahill; oh, and you'll ALSO know how to do registered offerings and you'll have worked on a projects deal, etc.


I respect your post and the fact that you love legal work, which for all intents and purposes though likely means you'll love it no matter which of the peer firms that OP cited you work at.

However, I find it hard to believe, unless you're a genius, that you will have 90% of the knowledge from doing a few deals tangentially that someone who spends 6-12 months predominantly doing will have. You may sort of understand the work from a very high level perspective, i.e., what a credit agreement does, what a guaranty or security agreement looks like, but you're far from being able to meaningfully negotiate points that matter or run part of the deal. Same for HY work - you may know what 144A offerings look like, know what an OM is and consists of and what an indenture is, but you're still far from being able to draft the DON, negotiate the UA or any other ancillary documents like a reg rights agreement.

Credit/cap mkts deals from a high level perspective do not seem super complicated, but when you're on the ground level dealing with the intricacies and mechanics of how this credit agreement or security actually works, it's not so easy that you can pull in someone who hasn't had meaningful experience and expect them to hit the ground running. This is why s&c only does a 2 year general practice and then forces you to specialize - b/c you won't be able to run deals otherwise, you'll always just be the junior who does one-off assignments that the senior asks for.

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Re: S&C Questions

Postby Old Gregg » Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:34 pm

Agreed with legends, S&C lover above, should more realistically describe S&C as a "jack of all trades, master of none" situation as opposed to a "jack of all trades, almost master of all." The latter is just not going to happen, and I'm not sure the former is positive, either.




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