Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

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Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:38 am

Hey all, so I've heard both on these boards and from a number of friends who turned down offers from Munger that the firm has a fairly abrasive/stuffy/elitist culture. I'd love to get a few more thoughts from anyone who might have more information on the atmosphere at Munger's offices.

I would normally be interested in applying because, given their small size and low leverage, they seem to give you a better shot at early substantive experience than your average Latham/Gibson megafirm setup, but if their attorneys really are as stiff as people say, I'd probably stay away. My credentials line up with their (non-SCOTUS clerk) associates, but part of the reason I've loved my clerkships is because after people destroy law school and land a couple sweet AIII gigs, in my experience they chill out a little bit and stop trying to prove they're the smartest person in the room. I wouldn't want to lose that kind of collegial feel completely.

I'm curious if anyone else has thoughts on either Munger's culture or whether they offer greater substantive experience than traditional biglaw firms. Thanks!

Edit: I toned down the descriptions of the firm that I've been given so as not to offend people who might have relevant info, and because I don't want to repeat unfair hearsay.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:10 pm

Wow. This is a very harsh indictment for a bunch of students who never worked at the firm, some of whom probably lied about having the opportunity as law students often do. People are bright and ambitious, maybe a little more intellectually oriented and less social than Gibson or Latham associates, but they certainly aren't snottier, more elitist or more insufferable on average than any other large firm. They might be try-hard, law review types, but they are also attorneys who made a conscious choice not to go to Cravath model firms, because they wanted a better culture. I've found Munger attorneys to be more friendly and normal than their peers at the most comparable firm in LA market -- Irell. I don't share the anecdotal views that have been expressed to you so far at all.

The substance opportunities for a litigator are very valuable, especially if you want deposition and earlier trial exposure. Probably not as relevant for a corporate attorney and I wouldn't go there for transactional work. If you have the opportunity to work at MTO or Keker and you want litigation experience and responsibility, I think it's a great choice. Maybe the post-clerk decision is a little different from the law school recruiting/summer experience though.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Wow. This is a very harsh indictment for a bunch of students who never worked at the firm, some of whom probably lied about having the opportunity as law students often do. People are bright and ambitious, maybe a little more intellectually oriented and less social than Gibson or Latham associates, but they certainly aren't snottier, more elitist or more insufferable on average than any other large firm. They might be try-hard, law review types, but they are also attorneys who made a conscious choice not to go to Cravath model firms, because they wanted a better culture. I've found Munger attorneys to be more friendly and normal than their peers at the most comparable firm in LA market -- Irell. I don't share the anecdotal views that have been expressed to you so far at all.

The substance opportunities for a litigator are very valuable, especially if you want deposition and earlier trial exposure. Probably not as relevant for a corporate attorney and I wouldn't go there for transactional work. If you have the opportunity to work at MTO or Keker and you want litigation experience and responsibility, I think it's a great choice. Maybe the post-clerk decision is a little different from the law school recruiting/summer experience though.

Thanks, I toned down the language in the OP a little bit, and I really appreciate your thoughts. As a quick follow up, you mentioned KVN, and I was curious to what extent MTO's growth has diluted associates' chances of getting on leanly staffed cases that generate substantive assignments at an early stage. My impression is that you can't really call MTO a boutique anymore, and I can't really estimate how that might have affected junior associates' experiences.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 07, 2015 1:39 am

I read your original post and wanted to comment but I never did. I only interviewed with MTO through OCI (pre-clerkship) and I didn't get your impression at all. I suggest you interview with them first to see what you think. I actually thought MTO attorneys were genuinely interesting people that in another life I wanted to be around.

You know that one person on Law Review that actually cares? MTO is filled with those people. They aren't all universally horrible, you know. MTO is just filled with types who are interested in the law. They love it. They breathe it. They want to talk it. You might like it yourself.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby DELG » Sat Mar 07, 2015 1:58 am

yikes in two posts this thread managed to give me a really horrific opinion of people at MTO

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby prezidentv8 » Sat Mar 07, 2015 2:02 am

DELG wrote:yikes in two posts this thread managed to give me a really horrific opinion of people at MTO


lol

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 07, 2015 5:06 am

Everyone I know that works at MTO is the elitist, smug, academic you're talking about (only know about 5 or 6 so take it with a grain of salt). They all acknowledge that they fit into the munger "type" and they enjoy it. They're pretty proud that they are in a firm full of intellectuals.

If you get there and people seem nice, normal, and friendly -- you're probably one of them (and that's okay). If that's the case, don't shy away because of the reputation. Most people like that enjoy being around similarly minded people.

If you don't like those kinds of people, you'll know.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 07, 2015 7:17 pm

I had a very positive experience during my summer at MTO and enjoyed the working environment. It's certainly not a fratty firm and there didn't seem to be expectations that people would socialize out of work, but everybody I interacted with was cordial and I wouldn't characterize the overall culture of the place as smug or abrasive. During my summer I was able to work on very interesting projects - including fairly substantive work on an active trial - but I'm sure that being an associate involves all of the usual biglaw drudgery. If I had gone into biglaw in LA I would have returned to the firm. I'll admit that I'm very nerdy so perhaps the other anon has a point about blindness to one's own surroundings.

Honestly, I suspect that big law firms have more in common with each other culturally than the TLS/law school world would have it. There will be jerks and smug elitists at every firm and I'm sure that MTO isn't immune to that - I was just lucky enough to not interact with them over my summer (I think). I certainly wouldn't avoid applying to the firm because of its reputation unless you really want a "work hard play hard" kind of lifestyle. Meet people from the firm during your callback, chat with associates, and decide for yourself if it's the kind of place you'd like to work.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 02, 2015 12:58 pm

bump

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:31 pm

They consciously and purposefully no-offer several summers each year. I understand you're coming in post-clerkship, but I think it speaks a lot about their culture (Hunger Games-esque). I know several folks who worked there and they had very few good things to say, beside the experience and work.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 02, 2015 8:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:They consciously and purposefully no-offer several summers each year. I understand you're coming in post-clerkship, but I think it speaks a lot about their culture (Hunger Games-esque). I know several folks who worked there and they had very few good things to say, beside the experience and work.


This is a mischaracterization. Sure they "consciously" no offer to the extent they are aware it happens, but Munger doesn't "purposefully" no offer just for the sake of not having a 100% offer rate; they no offer people who clearly aren't interested the private sector or in doing work/accepting constructive criticism about their work. It's not always a very well run summer program, but it's not like the Hunger Games; the summer class is full of highly accomplished people that are very amicable and supportive for each other, albeit somewhat pretentious. I never felt a competitive vibe there at all, just some too-good-to-be-here vibes and the occasional stupid/idiosyncratic firm policy choice.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 02, 2015 10:18 pm

This is a mischaracterization. Sure they "consciously" no offer to the extent they are aware it happens, but Munger doesn't "purposefully" no offer just for the sake of not having a 100% offer rate; they no offer people who clearly aren't interested the private sector or in doing work/accepting constructive criticism about their work. It's not always a very well run summer program, but it's not like the Hunger Games; the summer class is full of highly accomplished people


My sources posit this is exactly what Munger does. I have trouble believing that students who get killer grades at good schools get to MTO and decide they don't want to work hard or gun or feel deadly panic at the first negative review and work to improve. But if you have first hand experience, maybe you have a point; my information is second hand.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 03, 2015 3:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:
This is a mischaracterization. Sure they "consciously" no offer to the extent they are aware it happens, but Munger doesn't "purposefully" no offer just for the sake of not having a 100% offer rate; they no offer people who clearly aren't interested the private sector or in doing work/accepting constructive criticism about their work. It's not always a very well run summer program, but it's not like the Hunger Games; the summer class is full of highly accomplished people


My sources posit this is exactly what Munger does. I have trouble believing that students who get killer grades at good schools get to MTO and decide they don't want to work hard or gun or feel deadly panic at the first negative review and work to improve. But if you have first hand experience, maybe you have a point; my information is second hand.


I was a Munger summer and I wouldn't compare the atmosphere to the Hunger Games.

Regarding no-offers, there were a couple of people in my summer class who made it readily apparent to the other summers that they were not interested in returning to the firm, usually because they wanted to go into academics or work in DC government. Not all of these people were no-offered, but some were. I also wouldn't assume that 1L grades neatly test for the same skills that the summer programs "tests" for. One can be great at issue spotting but also be surprisingly bad at brief and memo writing.

The worry about Munger no-offers on this forum seems a bit overblown. The majority of summers receive offers and almost everybody who summers at Munger clerks and/or splits with another firm which gives them ample ability to recover from a no-offer. Everybody I know who received a no-offer my summer landed on their feet. I actually think that the firm's reputation for no-offers helps in this regard - it's not necessarily the same kind of "black mark" that getting no-offered by another firm might carry.

(FYI - Not the anon above. I haven't posted in the thread yet)

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 03, 2015 4:18 am

.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 03, 2015 12:32 pm

Can anyone comment on compensation at Munger? There's surprisingly little bonus info on Above the Law.

Does anyone know if they've increased bonuses to match DPW levels like the other big California players? Also, since it seems everyone there has clerked, does anyone know if they pay a stub year bonus in addition to a clerkship bonus, or whether they offer a bonus bump for people who've clerked for two years?

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 03, 2015 2:02 pm

Former MTO SA, clerking now and may return.

1. Relatively accurate bonus information exists elsewhere on this forum.

2. My understanding is second clerkships receive no additional clerkship bonus. (First = $50k)

3. For (I believe) second-years and above, the firm provides an additional, nontrivial and uncommon retirement contribution. So all-in comp probably slightly exceeds market.

4. For those shooting for partner, MTO brings a higher expected value (likelihood of partnership & time to partnership).

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 03, 2015 3:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Former MTO SA, clerking now and may return.

1. Relatively accurate bonus information exists elsewhere on this forum.

2. My understanding is second clerkships receive no additional clerkship bonus. (First = $50k)

3. For (I believe) second-years and above, the firm provides an additional, nontrivial and uncommon retirement contribution. So all-in comp probably slightly exceeds market.

4. For those shooting for partner, MTO brings a higher expected value (likelihood of partnership & time to partnership).

Thanks for the information. Although my understanding is that 2.5%-3% 401(k) matching isn't exactly rare among the big CA firms, and waiting to provide matching until an associate has worked a year actually seems more restrictive than other firms' retirement programs.

Edit: Wow. Apparently 401(k) matching IS rare. But I believe Latham and Gibson offer it in addition to MTO.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby WheninLaw » Sat Oct 03, 2015 6:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
This is a mischaracterization. Sure they "consciously" no offer to the extent they are aware it happens, but Munger doesn't "purposefully" no offer just for the sake of not having a 100% offer rate; they no offer people who clearly aren't interested the private sector or in doing work/accepting constructive criticism about their work. It's not always a very well run summer program, but it's not like the Hunger Games; the summer class is full of highly accomplished people


My sources posit this is exactly what Munger does. I have trouble believing that students who get killer grades at good schools get to MTO and decide they don't want to work hard or gun or feel deadly panic at the first negative review and work to improve. But if you have first hand experience, maybe you have a point; my information is second hand.


Your "sources" are wrong. Killer grades don't mean you'll be a good associate. Munger will no-offer primarily for poor writing, which is far more prevalent than you might think among the top.

source: I worked at MTO.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 03, 2015 10:03 pm

WheninLaw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
This is a mischaracterization. Sure they "consciously" no offer to the extent they are aware it happens, but Munger doesn't "purposefully" no offer just for the sake of not having a 100% offer rate; they no offer people who clearly aren't interested the private sector or in doing work/accepting constructive criticism about their work. It's not always a very well run summer program, but it's not like the Hunger Games; the summer class is full of highly accomplished people


My sources posit this is exactly what Munger does. I have trouble believing that students who get killer grades at good schools get to MTO and decide they don't want to work hard or gun or feel deadly panic at the first negative review and work to improve. But if you have first hand experience, maybe you have a point; my information is second hand.


Your "sources" are wrong. Killer grades don't mean you'll be a good associate. Munger will no-offer primarily for poor writing, which is far more prevalent than you might think among the top.

source: I worked at MTO.


Anon from the first quoted post that also summered at MTO

I agree (this is obvious from my post), with the caveat that I'm not sure it's strictly how good a "writer" you are holistically, but more how seriously you take your writing and your ability to receive constructive criticism/correct mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and they aren't expecting you to be richard poster.

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
This is a mischaracterization. Sure they "consciously" no offer to the extent they are aware it happens, but Munger doesn't "purposefully" no offer just for the sake of not having a 100% offer rate; they no offer people who clearly aren't interested the private sector or in doing work/accepting constructive criticism about their work. It's not always a very well run summer program, but it's not like the Hunger Games; the summer class is full of highly accomplished people


My sources posit this is exactly what Munger does. I have trouble believing that students who get killer grades at good schools get to MTO and decide they don't want to work hard or gun or feel deadly panic at the first negative review and work to improve. But if you have first hand experience, maybe you have a point; my information is second hand.


I was a Munger summer and I wouldn't compare the atmosphere to the Hunger Games.

Regarding no-offers, there were a couple of people in my summer class who made it readily apparent to the other summers that they were not interested in returning to the firm, usually because they wanted to go into academics or work in DC government. Not all of these people were no-offered, but some were. I also wouldn't assume that 1L grades neatly test for the same skills that the summer programs "tests" for. One can be great at issue spotting but also be surprisingly bad at brief and memo writing.

The worry about Munger no-offers on this forum seems a bit overblown. The majority of summers receive offers and almost everybody who summers at Munger clerks and/or splits with another firm which gives them ample ability to recover from a no-offer. Everybody I know who received a no-offer my summer landed on their feet. I actually think that the firm's reputation for no-offers helps in this regard - it's not necessarily the same kind of "black mark" that getting no-offered by another firm might carry.

(FYI - Not the anon above. I haven't posted in the thread yet)


Yup, all of this. I don't know if anyone from my class was no offered and who they might be - all the summers from my school received an offer to my knowledge -- but I'm sure they'd have no trouble getting another job after their clerkship (or going to some other top firm they split with).

It's true some summers had real problems with the firm and the summer program, but for other reasons mostly.

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Re: Munger's Culture and Early Substantive Experience Opps

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:04 am

[Also former Munger SA; have not posted in this thread yet.]

The no-offer risk isn't a reason not to go to Munger for the summer. Almost all SAs receive offers, and those that don't land on their feet. They have often split with another firm; have a clerkship lined up; or will not have trouble getting an offer from another firm in the fall, given that Munger is open about no-offering otherwise talented people. I also get the impression that the firm is very conscious about the effect that no-offers have on the SA and future recruiting - it is not a decision taken lightly.

There are lots of other reasons why you may not want to go to Munger for the summer - an elitist culture, a surprisingly bad gender ratio in the SA class, a summer program that is far more stressful and less fun than other firms' programs, and the firm's inflated sense of its own importance - but the no-offer risk, while it looms large in the minds of SAs throughout the summer, is not a good reason.




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