What Would You Do?

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What would you do

Big Law
5
13%
Stay a large local firm
34
87%
 
Total votes: 39

Anonymous User
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What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:35 am

I'm top 1-4, LR at a top 40-50 school. I am a 2L, and missed the big law boat during OCIs, but I will be at a large local firm this summer that is well respected at least here, and is known for not working their attorneys to death. I'll likely graduate with little to no debt and will start at around 100k (great salary here) at my firm. Would you try and move to big law either during 3L or post clerkship(s), or stay put for prestige/resume/exit options?

trvr
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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby trvr » Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:47 am

With little to no debt I would take the local job that doesn't work you to death, especially if 100k goes pretty far in your area. Depends on your life plans, though.

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jbagelboy
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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby jbagelboy » Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:20 pm

Is top 1-4 "top quarter" or one of the top four students in the class?

Your gig sounds pretty solid and I might stick with it given your low debt, but a T50 deserves some flak if their very top student couldn't summer at a traditional large firm

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:29 pm

jbagelboy wrote:Is top 1-4 "top quarter" or one of the top four students in the class?

Your gig sounds pretty solid and I might stick with it given your low debt, but a T50 deserves some flak if their very top student couldn't summer at a traditional large firm



OP here. I meant I am ranked 1,2,3, or 4. I only applied to a few big firms, got call backs at two, and ended up with no offers. I didn't apply widely enough, but that's partially because my school sticks to local placement, and is great at it.

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MarkfromWI
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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby MarkfromWI » Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:31 pm

If the large local firm is in an area where you would like to stay long-term I'd take that. That kind of job (solid salary, some semblance of a work/life balance) is what a lot of people look for when leaving biglaw- you're essentially skipping the shitty part. It's a gig that should offer a relatively high QOL. I see no reason to chase biglaw unless you have grander ambitions for post-biglaw.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:13 pm

How much do you think leaving would burn bridges at local firm? I was faced with a somewhat similar choice and was able to pitch the local firm on the idea that I'd clerk, then work in BigLaw for a year or two for the experience/connections with the idea that I could come back to the local firm. (Not that they promised to keep a job for me or anything, but just that we left on good/friendly terms.) Is something like that possible?

If so, heading to BigLaw might be worth it: you can pay off loans, get a line on your resume, and get to know some people who might need local counsel. And just maybe, if really lucky, get some experiences that you wouldn't get at the local firm.

But if you'd be burning bridges at the local firm, I'd stay put. BigLaw isn't a long-term career (for the vast majority). Far better to stick with the really good outcome you have now than to jump to something that won't last more than five years, doesn't lead anywhere clear, and has a good shot of being miserable for at least a part of that time.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How much do you think leaving would burn bridges at local firm? I was faced with a somewhat similar choice and was able to pitch the local firm on the idea that I'd clerk, then work in BigLaw for a year or two for the experience/connections with the idea that I could come back to the local firm. (Not that they promised to keep a job for me or anything, but just that we left on good/friendly terms.) Is something like that possible?

If so, heading to BigLaw might be worth it: you can pay off loans, get a line on your resume, and get to know some people who might need local counsel. And just maybe, if really lucky, get some experiences that you wouldn't get at the local firm.

But if you'd be burning bridges at the local firm, I'd stay put. BigLaw isn't a long-term career (for the vast majority). Far better to stick with the really good outcome you have now than to jump to something that won't last more than five years, doesn't lead anywhere clear, and has a good shot of being miserable for at least a part of that time.


OP here. This is kind of what I'm thinking as well. It'd be risky to leave, but would be great if I could come back. But it also seems weird to leave a firm knowing that you'd eventually want to come back. Burning bridges wouldn't be the end of the world as there are other firms out there. But staying put seems to the be safest bet.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. This is kind of what I'm thinking as well. It'd be risky to leave, but would be great if I could come back. But it also seems weird to leave a firm knowing that you'd eventually want to come back. Burning bridges wouldn't be the end of the world as there are other firms out there. But staying put seems to the be safest bet.

I was able to feel people out at the local firm over the summer; I talked to a lot of associates/partners who encouraged me to spend a couple of years in NY BigLaw for the experience/connections. ("Encouraged" might be the wrong word—the overall message was more "we'd love for you to come straight here after your clerkship, but if I were in your shoes I'd probably want to go there for a year or two.") But it's also a local firm that is fairly used to people "coming home" after a stint in NY BigLaw—it doesn't happen all the time or anything, but has happened more than an handful of times.

I don't know how much of that might depend on local/firm culture. Also, I already had the NY offer, which made it a little easier to have conversations where I asked for advice about what to do. YMMV.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:03 pm

OP here. This is helpful. Thank you!

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:49 pm

I have no idea why you would rather do biglaw than this firm.

ETA: To be a little clearer. I work at the kind of firm you're probably thinking of leaving to go to. Doing a few years here isn't going to do anything much for your career as far as I can see, if you want to be in the smaller city anyway. This isn't like law school where having the name on your resume creates opportunities that wouldn't be there at all otherwise. Working at Big Law LLP probably gives you some measure of credibility but all people really will want to know what you did there and how good at it you are.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby mvp99 » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:06 pm


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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:08 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:I have no idea why you would rather do biglaw than this firm.

ETA: To be a little clearer. I work at the kind of firm you're probably thinking of leaving to go to. Doing a few years here isn't going to do anything much for your career as far as I can see, if you want to be in the smaller city anyway. This isn't like law school where having the name on your resume creates opportunities that wouldn't be there at all otherwise. Working at Big Law LLP probably gives you some measure of credibility but all people really will want to know what you did there and how good at it you are.


I'm the poster above who was speaking in favor of going to biglaw if you can do so without burning bridges.

I agree with most of what dixie is saying here: in the short run, you'll likely learn more at the regional firm and the name on your resume won't open that many doors—certainly not anything like a law school. And I agree that people will want to know exactly what you did at the biglaw firm; getting real experience should be a priority (and that's never anything you can count on).

That said, I still think it can be worth it sometimes. As I said, I made a similar choice. Part of my thought process is that there's diminishing returns to experience at any one firm. Sure, you might learn a lot at the regional firm in your first two years, more than you would have at the biglaw firm. Much of that learning will come from getting to do real work, likely at an earlier level. If the regional firm is one where you have a realistic shot at partner, however, you might be better off in the long run with the biglaw experience. The way I thought of it was like this: in 10 years, I'll probably have learned just about as much from the regional firm whether I was their for 8 years or 10. So I'd rather have spent 2 years in biglaw and 8 at the regional firm than all 10 at the regional firm.

I'm not saying that you'll learn a ton of substance in your years as a biglaw junior. But you will—at the very least—learn what biglaw is like from the inside. Since opposing counsel will be biglaw a fair amount, that's not nothing. You have a good shot of being exposed to some genuinely great lawyers at some point along the line, and you might pick up some skills. Even if all you learn is how to manage workflow when faced with crazy fire drills, that's a good skill to have picked up. Biglaw is intense, and there's a lot to learn from that experience, even when the substance isn't as great as what you'd get at the same seniority elsewhere.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 03, 2015 1:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:I have no idea why you would rather do biglaw than this firm.

ETA: To be a little clearer. I work at the kind of firm you're probably thinking of leaving to go to. Doing a few years here isn't going to do anything much for your career as far as I can see, if you want to be in the smaller city anyway. This isn't like law school where having the name on your resume creates opportunities that wouldn't be there at all otherwise. Working at Big Law LLP probably gives you some measure of credibility but all people really will want to know what you did there and how good at it you are.


I'm the poster above who was speaking in favor of going to biglaw if you can do so without burning bridges.

I agree with most of what dixie is saying here: in the short run, you'll likely learn more at the regional firm and the name on your resume won't open that many doors—certainly not anything like a law school. And I agree that people will want to know exactly what you did at the biglaw firm; getting real experience should be a priority (and that's never anything you can count on).

That said, I still think it can be worth it sometimes. As I said, I made a similar choice. Part of my thought process is that there's diminishing returns to experience at any one firm. Sure, you might learn a lot at the regional firm in your first two years, more than you would have at the biglaw firm. Much of that learning will come from getting to do real work, likely at an earlier level. If the regional firm is one where you have a realistic shot at partner, however, you might be better off in the long run with the biglaw experience. The way I thought of it was like this: in 10 years, I'll probably have learned just about as much from the regional firm whether I was their for 8 years or 10. So I'd rather have spent 2 years in biglaw and 8 at the regional firm than all 10 at the regional firm.

I'm not saying that you'll learn a ton of substance in your years as a biglaw junior. But you will—at the very least—learn what biglaw is like from the inside. Since opposing counsel will be biglaw a fair amount, that's not nothing. You have a good shot of being exposed to some genuinely great lawyers at some point along the line, and you might pick up some skills. Even if all you learn is how to manage workflow when faced with crazy fire drills, that's a good skill to have picked up. Biglaw is intense, and there's a lot to learn from that experience, even when the substance isn't as great as what you'd get at the same seniority elsewhere.


Thanks for the input. If I decide to apply to biglaw, what is the best time to try? I'm hoping to clerk after I graduate, and I assume sometime during my clerkship may be a good time.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby JohannDeMann » Sat Apr 04, 2015 12:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:I have no idea why you would rather do biglaw than this firm.

ETA: To be a little clearer. I work at the kind of firm you're probably thinking of leaving to go to. Doing a few years here isn't going to do anything much for your career as far as I can see, if you want to be in the smaller city anyway. This isn't like law school where having the name on your resume creates opportunities that wouldn't be there at all otherwise. Working at Big Law LLP probably gives you some measure of credibility but all people really will want to know what you did there and how good at it you are.


I'm the poster above who was speaking in favor of going to biglaw if you can do so without burning bridges.

I agree with most of what dixie is saying here: in the short run, you'll likely learn more at the regional firm and the name on your resume won't open that many doors—certainly not anything like a law school. And I agree that people will want to know exactly what you did at the biglaw firm; getting real experience should be a priority (and that's never anything you can count on).

That said, I still think it can be worth it sometimes. As I said, I made a similar choice. Part of my thought process is that there's diminishing returns to experience at any one firm. Sure, you might learn a lot at the regional firm in your first two years, more than you would have at the biglaw firm. Much of that learning will come from getting to do real work, likely at an earlier level. If the regional firm is one where you have a realistic shot at partner, however, you might be better off in the long run with the biglaw experience. The way I thought of it was like this: in 10 years, I'll probably have learned just about as much from the regional firm whether I was their for 8 years or 10. So I'd rather have spent 2 years in biglaw and 8 at the regional firm than all 10 at the regional firm.

I'm not saying that you'll learn a ton of substance in your years as a biglaw junior. But you will—at the very least—learn what biglaw is like from the inside. Since opposing counsel will be biglaw a fair amount, that's not nothing. You have a good shot of being exposed to some genuinely great lawyers at some point along the line, and you might pick up some skills. Even if all you learn is how to manage workflow when faced with crazy fire drills, that's a good skill to have picked up. Biglaw is intense, and there's a lot to learn from that experience, even when the substance isn't as great as what you'd get at the same seniority elsewhere.


Sounds like dixie has worked in biglaw and anon hasnt. Dixie is right on. There is no purpose of working somewhere 2 years to get to A when you want to be at A. You aren't going to learn shit in biglaw. And the 10 year picture is the dumbest thing ever. If you want to be at A longterm its a net negative in the partnership consideration because you lost 2 years of bonding and essentially came in as a lateral instead of through their system. More to the point, law is a specialty. Generalists aren't worth shit and by going biglaw 2 years unless you are doing the exact same thing youd be doing at A, you're losing 2 years of valuable experience. In your year 3 at A, you're doing much more substantive work than you would be coming in at year 3 with first 2 years doing something else. Take the local firm - this is a no brainer.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:44 am

JohannDeMann wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:I have no idea why you would rather do biglaw than this firm.

ETA: To be a little clearer. I work at the kind of firm you're probably thinking of leaving to go to. Doing a few years here isn't going to do anything much for your career as far as I can see, if you want to be in the smaller city anyway. This isn't like law school where having the name on your resume creates opportunities that wouldn't be there at all otherwise. Working at Big Law LLP probably gives you some measure of credibility but all people really will want to know what you did there and how good at it you are.


I'm the poster above who was speaking in favor of going to biglaw if you can do so without burning bridges.

I agree with most of what dixie is saying here: in the short run, you'll likely learn more at the regional firm and the name on your resume won't open that many doors—certainly not anything like a law school. And I agree that people will want to know exactly what you did at the biglaw firm; getting real experience should be a priority (and that's never anything you can count on).

That said, I still think it can be worth it sometimes. As I said, I made a similar choice. Part of my thought process is that there's diminishing returns to experience at any one firm. Sure, you might learn a lot at the regional firm in your first two years, more than you would have at the biglaw firm. Much of that learning will come from getting to do real work, likely at an earlier level. If the regional firm is one where you have a realistic shot at partner, however, you might be better off in the long run with the biglaw experience. The way I thought of it was like this: in 10 years, I'll probably have learned just about as much from the regional firm whether I was their for 8 years or 10. So I'd rather have spent 2 years in biglaw and 8 at the regional firm than all 10 at the regional firm.

I'm not saying that you'll learn a ton of substance in your years as a biglaw junior. But you will—at the very least—learn what biglaw is like from the inside. Since opposing counsel will be biglaw a fair amount, that's not nothing. You have a good shot of being exposed to some genuinely great lawyers at some point along the line, and you might pick up some skills. Even if all you learn is how to manage workflow when faced with crazy fire drills, that's a good skill to have picked up. Biglaw is intense, and there's a lot to learn from that experience, even when the substance isn't as great as what you'd get at the same seniority elsewhere.


Sounds like dixie has worked in biglaw and anon hasnt. Dixie is right on. There is no purpose of working somewhere 2 years to get to A when you want to be at A. You aren't going to learn shit in biglaw. And the 10 year picture is the dumbest thing ever. If you want to be at A longterm its a net negative in the partnership consideration because you lost 2 years of bonding and essentially came in as a lateral instead of through their system. More to the point, law is a specialty. Generalists aren't worth shit and by going biglaw 2 years unless you are doing the exact same thing youd be doing at A, you're losing 2 years of valuable experience. In your year 3 at A, you're doing much more substantive work than you would be coming in at year 3 with first 2 years doing something else. Take the local firm - this is a no brainer.

I think this is right if you're absolutely certain that you want to end up at the local firm long term, but if you're not entirely sure, I'd do biglaw because it could give you more options in the long run.

I was faced with a very similar conundrum and chose the large well-respected local firm instead of going to biglaw. I have no doubt that my last three years have been more pleasant and more interesting than a lot of my classmates who went to biglaw. However, while at my local firm, I fell in love with practicing a niche area of law that my firm only gets a little bit of work in because the vast majority of this kind of work goes to biglaw firms or boutiques (think False Claims Act/Government Contracts). And as you probably know, it's a lot harder to go from a firm in a tertiary market to biglaw than it is to go from biglaw to a local firm, so in terms of practicing this kind of law, I was pretty much screwed. Meanwhile, a number of my law school classmates practice in this area in biglaw firms and have started lateraling to great in-house and government positions doing this kind of work.

Long story short, going to biglaw for a spell will probably open more doors, so if you aren't entirely certain of what you want to do yet, I'd do that. If you feel pretty certain you want to be at the local firm and that the kind of work they do will keep you interested, then definitely skip biglaw.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:56 am

Sounds like the large local firm is offering you a dream job. Being an attorney doesn't have to be a miserable lifestyle & it appears that you're about to have a great law firm experience. Congratulations!

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby BiglawAssociate » Sat Apr 04, 2015 7:42 pm

I would do fed government - so none of the above.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:11 pm

JohannDeMann wrote:Sounds like dixie has worked in biglaw and anon hasnt. Dixie is right on. There is no purpose of working somewhere 2 years to get to A when you want to be at A. You aren't going to learn shit in biglaw. And the 10 year picture is the dumbest thing ever. If you want to be at A longterm its a net negative in the partnership consideration because you lost 2 years of bonding and essentially came in as a lateral instead of through their system. More to the point, law is a specialty. Generalists aren't worth shit and by going biglaw 2 years unless you are doing the exact same thing youd be doing at A, you're losing 2 years of valuable experience. In your year 3 at A, you're doing much more substantive work than you would be coming in at year 3 with first 2 years doing something else. Take the local firm - this is a no brainer.


I'm the anon Johann is quoting and I agree with most of what he says but still think there's room to come out the other way (as I did when faced with a similar choice). First, the points of agreement:

If you want to be at A longterm its a net negative in the partnership consideration because you lost 2 years of bonding and essentially came in as a lateral instead of through their system.
That's fair. If the local firm has competitive partnership, you will have 2 fewer years at the local firm to build connections. Depending on how political the firm is/who you get to know in your remaining 6-ish years, this could be a disadvantage.

In your year 3 at A, you're doing much more substantive work than you would be coming in at year 3 with first 2 years doing something else.
Agreed. You will definitely face a steeper learning curve in year 3 than people who've been there for two years already—even if you learned a lot, you'll have learned something different than the people who were there.

On to the disagreement:
You aren't going to learn shit in biglaw
I think this is an exaggeration, at least. BigLaw working long hours doing work for obsessive perfectionists who will absolutely jump on even the smallest of errors—that's half of what makes it so stressful. But that is a good way to learn the errors/improve your skills. In my experience, a local firm is likely to have lower standards: something 95% correct will be "great" whereas in BigLaw they'd focus on the 5%. Sure, BigLaw also has a lot of busywork that teaches nothing, but the hours are long enough that there's a lot of learning jammed in there too. (Which is why so many government/in house jobs like to hire attorneys with a few years in BigLaw.)

And the 10 year picture is the dumbest thing ever. . . . Generalists aren't worth shit
And this is the final, biggest point of disagreement. Sure, if you're looking at the immediate payoff, BigLaw isn't as good as going straight to the local firm—but then, from an immediate payoff perspective, clerking also comes up short. Looking further down the line (e.g., to after you've made partner at the local firm), having built skills and made connections can be really valuable. Especially in a local firm where not as many partners have out-of-market experience, those skills and connections can be a great way to distinguish yourself, build a book of business, and make yourself valuable to the firm long term. That's why clerking or working in BigLaw can both be worthwhile for those taking a longer view.

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Re: What Would You Do?

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:28 am

I respect anons disagreements fwiw




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