Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

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Anonymous User
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Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:51 pm

My goal is to become partner at a plaintiff's firm. Tell me what to do.

A few guiding questions:

Is it better to work at a plaintiff's firm right from graduation, or lateral in after experience?
If lateraling is better, is it best to lateral from biglaw, government, or PI?

If it is best to work right from graduation, what is the best 2L summer job to get?
Rank the following: biglaw, midlaw, smalllaw, government (this can be broken into categories), PI (categories), plaintiff's firm, other (specify)

Thanks !!

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:08 pm

Are you a lawyer already? If so, what area do you practice in?

justinp
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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby justinp » Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:10 pm

What area of plaintiff's work? The path to partnership at a securities firm like Lieff/RGRD/whatever the various Milberg Weiss spinoffs are looks very different from the path to partnership at a mass tort firm like Baron & Budd looks very different from the path to partnership at an employment/civil rights firm like Altschuler. All of which are very different from mixed-docket shops like Susman/Gibbs/Keker. The top plaintiffs firms in most categories do have summer programs (I think all of the ones I just listed hire at least a few summers) but beyond that it's going to be field-specific.

Securities folks who don't go straight into a plaintiff's firm usually start at a big-firm securities defense practice, and lateral over later (with many folks making a stop at the USAO in between). Don't really know a ton about how to break into mass tort, employment, civil rights, etc.

NB I'm a law student still, so if someone who has a better view of things (I think one of the frequent commenters on here is a plaintiff's lawyer?) tells you otherwise then ignore me.

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Danger Zone
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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby Danger Zone » Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:42 pm

It's a simple, one step process: start your own firm.

Enjoy.

BobLoblaw.13
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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby BobLoblaw.13 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My goal is to become partner at a plaintiff's firm.


Kind of off topic, but what made you choose this as a career goal? I feel like not as much is known about plaintiff's firms. At the very least, I don't know much about them; most of my classmates seem to be similarly in the dark (or uninterested); and there doesn't appear to be as much written about them on TLS (e.g., a search for "plaintiff firm" in topic titles reveals just one thread: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=190378&p=5752528&hilit=plaintiff+firm#p5752528).

What makes it an attractive career to you? Is it that you get to sue entities for doing things that you'd feel uncomfortable defending? Is the work/life balance supposed to be better than BigLaw? How do salaries compare to those in BigLaw?

Sorry if this looks like a thread hijacking, but it might also help people answer your question, especially since, as justinp indicated, the ideal path to plaintiff's firm partner looks very much dependent on the type of plaintiff firm at which you'd like to work.

Anonymous User
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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:03 pm

BobLoblaw.13 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My goal is to become partner at a plaintiff's firm.


Kind of off topic, but what made you choose this as a career goal? I feel like not as much is known about plaintiff's firms. At the very least, I don't know much about them; most of my classmates seem to be similarly in the dark (or uninterested); and there doesn't appear to be as much written about them on TLS (e.g., a search for "plaintiff firm" in topic titles reveals just one thread: http://top-law-schools.com/forums/viewt ... m#p5752528).

What makes it an attractive career to you? Is it that you get to sue entities for doing things that you'd feel uncomfortable defending? Is the work/life balance supposed to be better than BigLaw? How do salaries compare to those in BigLaw?

Sorry if this looks like a thread hijacking, but it might also help people answer your question, especially since, as justinp indicated, the ideal path to plaintiff's firm partner looks very much dependent on the type of plaintiff firm at which you'd like to work.


I chose a plaintiffs firm over several other big law options. The salary is the same, at least in the market where I was looking. I want to have actual trial experience and that's what plaintiffs firms do- sue (or defend) corps/people a lot. I don't want to do doc review for 3 years when I could be getting hands-on experience.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby BeautifulSW » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:24 pm

Being a really successful plaintiff's attorney is a path to wealth and independence. But from my 30 years of experience at the Bar, I can tell you that not every lawyer will succeed. Many who try it either on their own or in small firms will end up bankrupt. Most will struggle along year after year, some good years some less good and some where you won't take home a dime. A few, however, strike it rich. Really rich.

I am not one of those few.

In order to hit the big time, you need to develop good jury skills which takes lots of trial experience. A couple of years doing criminal law might not be a bad idea. You must also understand the law of your area better than any professor you've ever met. Finally, hardest of all, you must have both clear sight and a granite heart. You must be able to refuse a potential plaintiff and MEAN IT even if she has a legal claim if in your view the claim is not worth the effort, the client will be too hard to work with due to arrogance or dishonesty, or the case will require more assets than you can afford to commit. (And lose. These are contingent fee cases.)

In other words, you need to be able to pick 'em.

If you gain the ability to pick 'em and establish a reputation for attracting really good plaintiffs' work, you won't need to worry about anything else ever again. You can create your own wildly successful firm and become a millionaire (I'm not exaggerating) or become a highly valued rain maker in another firm. Either way, you might not even have to do most of the work yourself anymore!

Good luck!

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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:40 pm

How much do partners at the top plaintiffs firms make?

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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How much do partners at the top plaintiffs firms make?


Kind of a hard question to answer, because the income stream at all these places is really spiky-- you have lean years where you're filling your pipeline with promising cases, and you have huge years where you hit a big contingency fee or two.

But in general, put it this way: many of these firms own private jets.

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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How much do partners at the top plaintiffs firms make?

This varies greatly. I don't just mean it varies from firm to firm, it will vary a lot from year to year in the same place.

Cases can take years to work through. With contingent fee cases you don't get paid until the case is over. You may have a big win in one year and bring in millions, and you may have a dry year. You have to make enough in the good years, and manage your money well to live through the hard ones. As the previous poster said, you could have a year where you don't make a cent. But for the successful firms the payoffs are worth it when they come. If you can bank a few million from a single case, then you can definitely survive until your next big win and your next few million comes in.

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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:04 pm

OP here,

To clarify, I am currently a 2L. I'm deciding what to do for my 2L summer to put me in a better position for this path.
I'm not so much interested in securities, I'm more interested in civil rights, mass tort, "mixed bag", etc. And I'm not looking to start my own firm or anything, just join a well respected firm.

Does anyone know what type of 2L summer internships I should be looking for??

BeautifulSW
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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby BeautifulSW » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:55 pm

Hm. You know...you MIGHT consider working for an insurance defense firm for a summer. You would learn how insurance adjusters work and how tightly insurance companies control their contract defense counsel. You might also begin to develop a "nose" for bogus claims that will save you endless trouble and expense when you start screening your own clients.

Hints: There are a LOT of bogus claims out there. There are also a LOT of unreasonable insurance companies. Bad faith abounds, I'm afraid.

Thing is, once you are doing plaintiffs' work, it isn't easy to sample the defense side. You won't necessarily be welcome. Firms usually do one side or the other, not both.

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manofjustice
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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby manofjustice » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:32 pm

Is there a path to plaintiff law from a big firm?

justinp
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Re: Best path to becoming a plaintiff's firm partner

Postby justinp » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:51 pm

manofjustice wrote:Is there a path to plaintiff law from a big firm?


Like I said above, big-firm securities defense --> USAO/SEC enforcement --> plaintiff's-side securities firm is a reasonably common route. My guess-- and this is really just speculative-- is that it's possible to move from big-firm patent defense to a Desmarais or a McKool. But I've got no idea if it actually happens.

I don't know enough about other areas of plaintiff's work to say whether there is a general path or what that path is.




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