are some firms more "up and out" than others?

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Anonymous User
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are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:36 pm

granted, i know this is the general model. but what about firms with generally poor associate retention rates? do they have more of an incentive to let people stay longer? and what about firms with positions "between" partner and associate (not "of counsel"). keep in mind, i'm not talking about "better partnership opportunities." i'm talking about whether some firms would let you hang on longer as an associate than others, and which firms these might be.

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thesealocust
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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:41 pm

Absolutely. All you have to do is look at the size of the summer class, the size of the firm, and ask yourself "is this firm currently trying to expand its ranks of lawyers?"

Out comes in many forms though; some people are strongly counseled out while others flame out and head for the exits themselves.

It's critical to remember that this works in both directions: many firms suffer from higher attrition than they would like, and given the cost of onboarding associates few firms are excited about having high turnover. Up or out is real, but for somebody starting their career having the stamina to handle a biglaw job is a much bigger concern than having the ability to avoid being pushed out.

In other words, the odds are much higher that you will get exhausted than that you will want to keep working at a firm but fail to meet their standards.

There basically aren't positions "between" associate and partner other than counsel. If you're done/off the partnership track but a firm isn't ready to make you a full-fledged lifetime business owner, they will make you a non-equity partner or a counsel to signify your lasting relationship and seniority over associates.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:49 pm

by your first paragraph, i'm assuming you mean a large summer class relative to firm size would indicate they would be more open to you staying longer (taking into account all the other factors you mention), correct?

- OP

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:by your first paragraph, i'm assuming you mean a large summer class relative to firm size would indicate they would be more open to you staying longer (taking into account all the other factors you mention), correct?

- OP


Uh... the exact opposite. Unless the firm is actively growing, every person a firm hires in the summer class represents somebody the firm expects to lose or force out over the year.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:18 pm

thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:by your first paragraph, i'm assuming you mean a large summer class relative to firm size would indicate they would be more open to you staying longer (taking into account all the other factors you mention), correct?

- OP


Uh... the exact opposite. Unless the firm is actively growing, every person a firm hires in the summer class represents somebody the firm expects to lose or force out over the year.


Not sure how strong the correlation is. I can say that at my V10 with massive incoming classes, there's virtually no chance that an associate gets shown the door involuntarily, even once they're off the partnership track. There are more than a handful of super senior associates (I'm talking 12th and 13th year associates here) in the firm. I've never asked one of them directly, but I've heard that the only "pressure" from the firm is freezing their salary at the top end of the associate payscale. So if you want to call making ~280k + bonuses "pressure" to leave the firm, I guess there's that. Otherwise, it seems to be the internal (as in from within the individual associate) pressure of watching the favored few of your classmates and former subordinates elevated to partner / counsel and the lure of exit options that drives most of the attrition around here.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:20 pm

thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:by your first paragraph, i'm assuming you mean a large summer class relative to firm size would indicate they would be more open to you staying longer (taking into account all the other factors you mention), correct?

- OP


Uh... the exact opposite. Unless the firm is actively growing, every person a firm hires in the summer class represents somebody the firm expects to lose or force out over the year.


right, but the point of this thread is the distinction between "lose" and "force out." if a lot of people are leaving, then a large summer class relative to firm size could mean they are desperate for associates, and would not mind people staying on longer. if a lot of people are getting forced out, then you would be correct. right?

of course, given that i've already said i don't care about the partnership track, i guess this whole discussion is moot once your exit option opportunity salaries start becoming substantially similar to your associate salary.

basically, i'm asking this question because i know a lot of people leave my firm in the early years (of course i will take that for what it's worth also), so i was just wondering whether that means it's more likely that i would be able to stick around assuming i'm carrying my weight.

-OP

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby iplulzer » Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:by your first paragraph, i'm assuming you mean a large summer class relative to firm size would indicate they would be more open to you staying longer (taking into account all the other factors you mention), correct?

- OP


Uh... the exact opposite. Unless the firm is actively growing, every person a firm hires in the summer class represents somebody the firm expects to lose or force out over the year.


Not sure how strong the correlation is. I can say that at my V10 with massive incoming classes, there's virtually no chance that an associate gets shown the door involuntarily, even once they're off the partnership track. There are more than a handful of super senior associates (I'm talking 12th and 13th year associates here) in the firm. I've never asked one of them directly, but I've heard that the only "pressure" from the firm is freezing their salary at the top end of the associate payscale. So if you want to call making ~280k + bonuses "pressure" to leave the firm, I guess there's that. Otherwise, it seems to be the internal (as in from within the individual associate) pressure of watching the favored few of your classmates and former subordinates elevated to partner / counsel and the lure of exit options that drives most of the attrition around here.

this something a lot of ppl would appreciate knowing about that firm. you are already anon and have provided no information that could out you, why not name the firm?

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:57 pm

iplulzer wrote:this something a lot of ppl would appreciate knowing about that firm. you are already anon and have provided no information that could out you, why not name the firm?


If there is a firm in the V10 that doesn't list all of its attorneys and their bios online, I don't know it.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:53 pm

thesealocust wrote:Absolutely. All you have to do is look at the size of the summer class, the size of the firm, and ask yourself "is this firm currently trying to expand its ranks of lawyers?"


I don't think summer class size is a good indicator of up and out policies one way or the other. Some firms bring in giant SA classes because there's an unspoken assumption that it's impossible to make partner, and it is assumed everyone will leave after a few years.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:55 pm

I definitely get that... I'm just trying to say that if Firm A hires a summer class equal to 20% the size of its firm, firm B hires a summer class equal to 10% the size of its firm, and neither are growing, you have an objective data point about turnover at the two firms. To the extent that turnover is self decided vs. pushed out, I'm not sure there's a good way to know...

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:59 pm

i guess basically what i'm asking is, aside from the interesting point raised by the V10 anon, is it generally easier to stay longer at a Stroock than at a Skadden? might be that there just is no way to tell

-OP

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby iplulzer » Sat Sep 14, 2013 8:38 pm

thesealocust wrote:
iplulzer wrote:this something a lot of ppl would appreciate knowing about that firm. you are already anon and have provided no information that could out you, why not name the firm?


If there is a firm in the V10 that doesn't list all of its attorneys and their bios online, I don't know it.

what's this got to do with anything?

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thesealocust
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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:03 pm

iplulzer wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
iplulzer wrote:this something a lot of ppl would appreciate knowing about that firm. you are already anon and have provided no information that could out you, why not name the firm?


If there is a firm in the V10 that doesn't list all of its attorneys and their bios online, I don't know it.

what's this got to do with anything?


You can very easily scope out firms and practices, including how many lawyers they have, how many are associates vs. partners vs. counsel in various practice areas/cities, and how long each lawyer has been with the firm (or a ballpark based on the year they got their JD).

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby iplulzer » Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:56 pm

thesealocust wrote:
iplulzer wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
iplulzer wrote:this something a lot of ppl would appreciate knowing about that firm. you are already anon and have provided no information that could out you, why not name the firm?


If there is a firm in the V10 that doesn't list all of its attorneys and their bios online, I don't know it.

what's this got to do with anything?


You can very easily scope out firms and practices, including how many lawyers they have, how many are associates vs. partners vs. counsel in various practice areas/cities, and how long each lawyer has been with the firm (or a ballpark based on the year they got their JD).

obviously that's the default option and i'd say it's significantly less easy than you make it sound, especially if i am looking to find 1 firm out of 10.

or, the anonymous poster could just tell us anonymously what firms she means and done deal. she made some specific claims that i would think would be of interest to the crowd that drools over these types of firms. i mean, wouldn't they want to know where this is: "I can say that at my V10 with massive incoming classes, there's virtually no chance that an associate gets shown the door involuntarily, even once they're off the partnership track. There are more than a handful of super senior associates (I'm talking 12th and 13th year associates here) in the firm. I've never asked one of them directly, but I've heard that the only "pressure" from the firm is freezing their salary at the top end of the associate payscale."

with all the speculation flying around this place, informed and otherwise, i would think this would be critical info to have.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:08 pm

Even anonymously, no one has to give out info they don't want to give.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby iplulzer » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:19 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Even anonymously, no one has to give out info they don't want to give.

never said anyone had to do anything. it was a mere suggestion and not an unreasonable one. i really don't get the weird pushback i'm getting about this. but then i don't care, was just trying to help (these firms are irrelevant to my practice area). i'm done, please resume the thread...

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Old Gregg » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:22 pm

iplulzer wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Even anonymously, no one has to give out info they don't want to give.

never said anyone had to do anything. it was a mere suggestion and not an unreasonable one. i really don't get the weird pushback i'm getting about this. but then i don't care, was just trying to help (these firms are irrelevant to my practice area). i'm done, please resume the thread...


Just drop it man. You're not getting your information.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby anon168 » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:07 pm

iplulzer wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:by your first paragraph, i'm assuming you mean a large summer class relative to firm size would indicate they would be more open to you staying longer (taking into account all the other factors you mention), correct?

- OP


Uh... the exact opposite. Unless the firm is actively growing, every person a firm hires in the summer class represents somebody the firm expects to lose or force out over the year.


Not sure how strong the correlation is. I can say that at my V10 with massive incoming classes, there's virtually no chance that an associate gets shown the door involuntarily, even once they're off the partnership track. There are more than a handful of super senior associates (I'm talking 12th and 13th year associates here) in the firm. I've never asked one of them directly, but I've heard that the only "pressure" from the firm is freezing their salary at the top end of the associate payscale. So if you want to call making ~280k + bonuses "pressure" to leave the firm, I guess there's that. Otherwise, it seems to be the internal (as in from within the individual associate) pressure of watching the favored few of your classmates and former subordinates elevated to partner / counsel and the lure of exit options that drives most of the attrition around here.

this something a lot of ppl would appreciate knowing about that firm. you are already anon and have provided no information that could out you, why not name the firm?


Kirkland does this, but generally only for certain practice groups.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Lincoln » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:14 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Absolutely. All you have to do is look at the size of the summer class, the size of the firm, and ask yourself "is this firm currently trying to expand its ranks of lawyers?"


I don't think summer class size is a good indicator of up and out policies one way or the other. Some firms bring in giant SA classes because there's an unspoken assumption that it's impossible to make partner, and it is assumed everyone will leave after a few years.


Moreover, different firms have very different policies on bringing in laterals. A firm that doesn't hire laterals at all would probably want to have a larger summer class than a firm that is willing to fill staffing needs by hiring from outside.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:23 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Absolutely. All you have to do is look at the size of the summer class, the size of the firm, and ask yourself "is this firm currently trying to expand its ranks of lawyers?"


I don't think summer class size is a good indicator of up and out policies one way or the other. Some firms bring in giant SA classes because there's an unspoken assumption that it's impossible to make partner, and it is assumed everyone will leave after a few years.

Isn't the bolded exactly what "up or out" means? Seems like a pretty good indicator to me....

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:26 am

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Absolutely. All you have to do is look at the size of the summer class, the size of the firm, and ask yourself "is this firm currently trying to expand its ranks of lawyers?"


I don't think summer class size is a good indicator of up and out policies one way or the other. Some firms bring in giant SA classes because there's an unspoken assumption that it's impossible to make partner, and it is assumed everyone will leave after a few years.

Isn't the bolded exactly what "up or out" means? Seems like a pretty good indicator to me....


On the other hand, some firms have large SA classes because they are legitimately looking to expand. If this is the case, a large SA class doesn't say as much about a firm's up or out policy.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby 09042014 » Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:by your first paragraph, i'm assuming you mean a large summer class relative to firm size would indicate they would be more open to you staying longer (taking into account all the other factors you mention), correct?

- OP


Uh... the exact opposite. Unless the firm is actively growing, every person a firm hires in the summer class represents somebody the firm expects to lose or force out over the year.


Not sure how strong the correlation is. I can say that at my V10 with massive incoming classes, there's virtually no chance that an associate gets shown the door involuntarily, even once they're off the partnership track. There are more than a handful of super senior associates (I'm talking 12th and 13th year associates here) in the firm. I've never asked one of them directly, but I've heard that the only "pressure" from the firm is freezing their salary at the top end of the associate payscale. So if you want to call making ~280k + bonuses "pressure" to leave the firm, I guess there's that. Otherwise, it seems to be the internal (as in from within the individual associate) pressure of watching the favored few of your classmates and former subordinates elevated to partner / counsel and the lure of exit options that drives most of the attrition around here.



I don't buy this at all.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 15, 2013 3:07 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:by your first paragraph, i'm assuming you mean a large summer class relative to firm size would indicate they would be more open to you staying longer (taking into account all the other factors you mention), correct?

- OP


Uh... the exact opposite. Unless the firm is actively growing, every person a firm hires in the summer class represents somebody the firm expects to lose or force out over the year.


Not sure how strong the correlation is. I can say that at my V10 with massive incoming classes, there's virtually no chance that an associate gets shown the door involuntarily, even once they're off the partnership track. There are more than a handful of super senior associates (I'm talking 12th and 13th year associates here) in the firm. I've never asked one of them directly, but I've heard that the only "pressure" from the firm is freezing their salary at the top end of the associate payscale. So if you want to call making ~280k + bonuses "pressure" to leave the firm, I guess there's that. Otherwise, it seems to be the internal (as in from within the individual associate) pressure of watching the favored few of your classmates and former subordinates elevated to partner / counsel and the lure of exit options that drives most of the attrition around here.



I don't buy this at all.


Okay, it's a tad hyperbolic. But I stand by the general principle that, at my firm at least, the associates feel very comfortable that they have a job until they decide to leave on their own accord. Obviously if you're not showing up to meetings and turning in shit work (or no work) consistently, they will show you the door. I do recall one anecdote of an associate that was forced out because, once she got engaged, she stopped doing any work at all (basically kept telling partner A she was busy with work from partner B and telling partner B that she was busy with work from partner A) while she planned her wedding at her desk. Also allegations of heavy, heavy padding of hours. This went on for months before she was found out and I think she was pretty much shown the door, but it was an extreme case and would be cause to fire anyone, probably even an equity partner. Obviously I didn't mean to suggest that you could just continue to collect a paycheck for doing nothing.

Rather I was addressing the relevant question of whether the "up or out" culture was stronger at firms with massive incoming summer classes. I don't think it is. I've heard very few anecdotes of associates leaving on bad terms or being asked to leave, and literally no anecdotes about associates being forced out because of their seniority as a primary or even ancillary reason. On the other hand, I have personally worked with 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th year associates and they seemed to be valued commodities. Partners love having them on their cases because they know enough to run shit; clients love having them on their matters because their experience comes comparatively cheap; and the firm management doesn't mind having them around because they're cost effective at a firm where there's only one tier of partnership and the counsel title comes with a significant pay bump. The only person really being "screwed" here, if you can call it screwed (see above re: freezing pay at the top of the associate scale), are the associates themselves. That being said, most do leave before reaching senior / super senior status, but that's driven by ambition to try making partner elsewhere or going in-house for less random hours QoL concerns, going government with eyes on lateraling somewhere else as a partner in 5 years, etc. But as far as showing them the door forcibly? Just doesn't seem to happen.

It may also be relevant that the firm does not hire lateral associates and very rarely hires lateral partners, so it's not like they need to throw out midlevels / seniors to clear out space for others they're bringing in.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Old Gregg » Sun Sep 15, 2013 3:16 pm

On the other hand, I have personally worked with 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th year associates and they seemed to be valued commodities. Partners love having them on their cases because they know enough to run shit; clients love having them on their matters because their experience comes comparatively cheap; and the firm management doesn't mind having them around because they're cost effective at a firm where there's only one tier of partnership and the counsel title comes with a significant pay bump. The only person really being "screwed" here, if you can call it screwed (see above re: freezing pay at the top of the associate scale), are the associates themselves.


Those associates are also screwed because they have absolutely zero mobility. They were screwed by their firm being lulled into thinking they had a shot at partner, and were then shut out of it. The problem is that no one else will take them. Clients clearly don't cherish the associates that much because the relationship hasn't turned into a portable book for those associates, and no they're not that good for the firm. Higher salary and nicer title also means higher rates; if the firm can have you bill the same hours for more money and can maintain the realization rate on those hours, you're much better as "of counsel" or "partner," and the fact that you're not good enough to maintain the title to command those higher rates says that if there are associates who can, they will be granted the promotion and you won't.

So no, they're not that cost effective from. Yes, the firm is not losing money on you, but the goal of a big firm (especially the V10s we're discussing in this thread) is not revenue stabilization, it's revenue growth. 13th year associates don't grow the revenue base of a firm; of counsels and equity partners do.

Yes, it sounds "great" being a 13th year associate because you think you have job security, there's no pressure to do be groomed for partnership and you have high, stable pay. But the problem is that you really don't have anywhere else to go, you're a legitimate second-class citizen at the firm (and a permanent one at that), and if the economy tanks and the firm has to lay people off, you're the kind of inefficiency in revenue-generation that they will be targeting to eliminate.

If you are really comfortable being such an associate (or being of counsel), you need to be at a firm that either (a) doesn't subject itself to the revenue-growth expectations of the firms we're discussing (and many such firms exist) or (b) work in an office located in a country with labor laws that make it very difficult for your firm to throw your ass to the curb. I really can't think of any other way.

Well... another way is that if you make of counsel in a speciality that has low supply, and such that you're basically indispensable at your firm. These two factors provide great job stability as well, actually.

But a 13th year associate doing M&A? He should have been gone yesterday (i.e., looking for a job around year 7, ideally year 5, but I take it he is at year 13 because partners were probably telling him what he wanted to hear at year 5).

You need to be at a firm that will tell you this shit honestly, or you will enter a point of no return with zero options.

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Re: are some firms more "up and out" than others?

Postby Old Gregg » Sun Sep 15, 2013 3:24 pm

Very weird how flying provides a great analogy for this phenomenon. Behold the coffin corner:

--ImageRemoved--




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