Chicago Firms

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Chicago Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:38 am

I'm a 1L and am beginning to think about what firms I want to try to work at, but don't really know anything about the Chicago legal market other than ranking, who has what practice groups, and billable hour requirements (if any). I know I want to do corporate work, but am open to different sub groups. Anyone have any insights on what the different Chicago firms are like on the corporate side? (type of work, work environment, ect.)

nonsharepartner
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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby nonsharepartner » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:59 am

A reasonable response could be an entire essay here. What specifically would you like to know?

The types of work will be different depending on the practice group. My firm allows corporate associates to float for the first few years to find what they really like. You could do M&A, private equity, fund formation, capital markets, and a slew of other things your first 2-3 years. You would be given as much responsibility as you want/could handle, short of negotiating the primary terms of deals.

Work/life will also depend on practice group, not just on being a corporate lawyer.

The work environment at my firm is driven by who you choose to work for, generally. It can be miserable when you have multiple deals going on and it can be pleasant when you are slow - pleasant as in you can just go home.

I am at one of the top firms in the city. Do you have any connections to Chicago? If not, it may be somewhat difficult to get here, unless you have stellar credentials.
Last edited by nonsharepartner on Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby Cobretti » Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:20 am

If you're a 1L in Chicago already I highly recommend going to all the 1L receptions you can. The best way to get a feel for a firm is to meet as many people at these firms as you can. nonsharepartner's unnamed firm is pretty distinct from Sidley, which is pretty distinct from skadden/latham. If you're staying in Chicago over the summer I also recommend using that time to reach out to alums at your target firms and try to get coffee with some. Its really beneficial and something that most alums are more than happy to do (even if they are very busy and it is difficult/impossible to schedule). In my experience just about everyone was willing to answer questions by email and the only people that couldn't do coffee were just too busy, so don't feel bad asking.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby nonsharepartner » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:08 pm

Definitely agree with the above and should have mentioned it in my response.

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homestyle28
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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby homestyle28 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:30 pm

The reality of firm life in Chicago is that there's not much that distinguishes the big firms from each other, at least not as it applies to associates. Best way to get a sense of how much of a grindhouse a place is, imo, is to look at the equity partner: associate ratio. The higher the ratio, the more that place is planning on people leaving.

Only small variables in culture that matter, some places like Skadden, care a little more about your ass being in the seat, but at most firms, most partners live out in the burbs and catch the 6pm train.

my 2 cents.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:05 pm

The reality of firm life in Chicago is that there's not much that distinguishes the big firms from each other, at least not as it applies to associates. Best way to get a sense of how much of a grindhouse a place is, imo, is to look at the equity partner: associate ratio. The higher the ratio, the more that place is planning on people leaving.


This isn't true with respect to Kirkland. They definitely work longer hours there than at Sidley, Mayer, Winston, etc. It is true for the others. I'd probably peg it as the median associate bills around 2500 at Kirkland and 2200 everywhere else.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby feralinfant » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:23 pm

Really anecdotal evidence below/sweeping generalizations gleaned in tiny slivers of interaction at receptions and OCI. I also don't know much about the corp. practices. At the end of the day you're looking for differences at very similar businesses, so this is all relative.

I'll also add that you should not even hint at the idea that you applied anywhere but Chicago from the tippy top all the way down to shittiest shit-law firm. I thought it might seem implausible so in some of my interviews, when asked where i applied, I conceded that OCS had made us target NYC as safeties but that I was all in on Chicago. I thought I had a fairly convincing story (from midwest, some other things). Made jokes with interviewers at expense of NYC. Struggled immensely to convert callbacks.

Winston: More conservative/Republican. Wound a little tight. Winston-ed people a few years ago. Fuck Winston.

Jenner: liberal, pro bono, litigation. seems like they've been trying to up their corporate game lately. slightly nerdy but chill vibe.

Sidley: reserved/polite/nice.

Skadden: liberal. somewhere in between sidley and kirkland in terms of personality. relaxed but also greater sense of decorum than KE.

Kirkland: free market (shattering brownies). No one type but in general found to be more extroverted and straightforward.

Mayer: No clue.

Latham: Informal. Slight mercenary feel. Younger feel to the office. Invented Lathaming.

McDermott: Ciphers. Struggled to get my finger on the pulse of this place. (mostly kidding, just nothing to set it apart in my limited interaction)

ETA: Fuck Winston.
Last edited by feralinfant on Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby bjsesq » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:28 pm

Just a reminder that fuck Winston.


Carry on.


And yes, it is wound super tight.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:40 pm

homestyle28 wrote:The reality of firm life in Chicago is that there's not much that distinguishes the big firms from each other, at least not as it applies to associates. Best way to get a sense of how much of a grindhouse a place is, imo, is to look at the equity partner: associate ratio. The higher the ratio, the more that place is planning on people leaving.

Only small variables in culture that matter, some places like Skadden, care a little more about your ass being in the seat, but at most firms, most partners live out in the burbs and catch the 6pm train.

my 2 cents.

Re Skadden, just based on what they are all telling me so maybe it's just kool aid, but everyone that lives in the suburbs has said they will go home for dinner and work at home for a few hours after just like any other Chicago firm.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby feralinfant » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:46 pm

Obliging a request to elaborate on Latham's mercenary quality:

Latham has a young, high energy feel to it but little sense of a cohesive or institutional identity. This makes sense because the firm basically operates on a Pirate Ship business model. They pull into pirate bay (oci), pick up some people between vessels, ship out, raid, pillage, and then while many are dead the coffers are full. Rinse and repeat. They even have grog (a bar with beer on tap) in the office. You come away with the sense of an extremely large appetite.

To be fair, some of this impression was probably due to the fact they had just recently moved to new offices. So it wasn't really "broken in" yet.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby bjsesq » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:48 pm

They're not in the Sears anymore? Where are they now?

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby Cobretti » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:48 pm

feralinfant wrote:McDermott: Ciphers. Struggled to get my finger on the pulse of this place. (mostly kidding, just nothing to set it apart in my limited interaction)

McDermott has market shattering rugs in their lobby. Seriously that thing has to be 300x200 feet.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby feralinfant » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
homestyle28 wrote:The reality of firm life in Chicago is that there's not much that distinguishes the big firms from each other, at least not as it applies to associates. Best way to get a sense of how much of a grindhouse a place is, imo, is to look at the equity partner: associate ratio. The higher the ratio, the more that place is planning on people leaving.

Only small variables in culture that matter, some places like Skadden, care a little more about your ass being in the seat, but at most firms, most partners live out in the burbs and catch the 6pm train.

my 2 cents.

Re Skadden, just based on what they are all telling me so maybe it's just kool aid, but everyone that lives in the suburbs has said they will go home for dinner and work at home for a few hours after just like any other Chicago firm.


I was interviewed by a refugee from Skadden's New York office. He presented as a sweet but broken individual. I truly believe he conceptualizes his stint in Skadden Chicago as akin to a stay in a Swiss sanatorium, or the sort of mineral spa where rich 19th century individuals suffering from consumption would repose.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby feralinfant » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:53 pm

Cobretti wrote:
feralinfant wrote:McDermott: Ciphers. Struggled to get my finger on the pulse of this place. (mostly kidding, just nothing to set it apart in my limited interaction)

McDermott has market shattering rugs in their lobby. Seriously that thing has to be 300x200 feet.


Can confirm that McDermott owns a rug that probably had to be lifted in by a crane.

bjsesq wrote:They're not in the Sears anymore? Where are they now?


IBM building

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby bjsesq » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:57 pm

Angling for that Trump Bankruptcy work

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby cookiejar1 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:58 pm

I felt like I went back in time going to McDermott. You should definitely try to cop a callback just for that experience.

Oh, and if you're a fan of UVA's architecture (one of you more pretentious people can clarify what architectural movement that is) try walking through Jones Day Chicago. The secretary desks and wall moldings are lol-just-lol great.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby nonsharepartner » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
The reality of firm life in Chicago is that there's not much that distinguishes the big firms from each other, at least not as it applies to associates. Best way to get a sense of how much of a grindhouse a place is, imo, is to look at the equity partner: associate ratio. The higher the ratio, the more that place is planning on people leaving.


This isn't true with respect to Kirkland. They definitely work longer hours there than at Sidley, Mayer, Winston, etc. It is true for the others. I'd probably peg it as the median associate bills around 2500 at Kirkland and 2200 everywhere else.


Median associate at Kirkland does not bill 2500 hours. I bet all the share partners wish that were true but it's not.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby homestyle28 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:13 pm

nonsharepartner wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
The reality of firm life in Chicago is that there's not much that distinguishes the big firms from each other, at least not as it applies to associates. Best way to get a sense of how much of a grindhouse a place is, imo, is to look at the equity partner: associate ratio. The higher the ratio, the more that place is planning on people leaving.


This isn't true with respect to Kirkland. They definitely work longer hours there than at Sidley, Mayer, Winston, etc. It is true for the others. I'd probably peg it as the median associate bills around 2500 at Kirkland and 2200 everywhere else.


Median associate at Kirkland does not bill 2500 hours. I bet all the share partners wish that were true but it's not.


Was just about to comment this. There's some difference in hours by firm, but I think it's more practice group specific. Pro-tip take whatever number is on Nalp or they're telling you at OCI and add 10+%.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby DELG » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Re Skadden, just based on what they are all telling me so maybe it's just kool aid, but everyone that lives in the suburbs has said they will go home for dinner and work at home for a few hours after just like any other Chicago firm.

I don't understand how this doesn't trouble people more. Leave home at 8, arrive at 9, leave at 6:30, eat dinner and see your kids, get back on at 8 and now start "a few hours" more?

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby homestyle28 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:23 pm

DELG wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Re Skadden, just based on what they are all telling me so maybe it's just kool aid, but everyone that lives in the suburbs has said they will go home for dinner and work at home for a few hours after just like any other Chicago firm.

I don't understand how this doesn't trouble people more. Leave home at 8, arrive at 9, leave at 6:30, eat dinner and see your kids, get back on at 8 and now start "a few hours" more?


I don't find tacking on 1-2 hours at the end of the day when the kids are in bed and my wife is also working to be that painful. Much prefer when I can do this 4-5 days a week and have my weekends free than when I get hit with something at 4 on a Friday.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby nonsharepartner » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:23 pm

homestyle28 wrote:
nonsharepartner wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
The reality of firm life in Chicago is that there's not much that distinguishes the big firms from each other, at least not as it applies to associates. Best way to get a sense of how much of a grindhouse a place is, imo, is to look at the equity partner: associate ratio. The higher the ratio, the more that place is planning on people leaving.


This isn't true with respect to Kirkland. They definitely work longer hours there than at Sidley, Mayer, Winston, etc. It is true for the others. I'd probably peg it as the median associate bills around 2500 at Kirkland and 2200 everywhere else.


Median associate at Kirkland does not bill 2500 hours. I bet all the share partners wish that were true but it's not.


Was just about to comment this. There's some difference in hours by firm, but I think it's more practice group specific. Pro-tip take whatever number is on Nalp or they're telling you at OCI and add 10+%.


Probably more accurate. I think median is around 2100 but as long as you are close to 2000, no one will care (assuming that you did "quality" work of course)

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby bjsesq » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:24 pm

homestyle28 wrote:
DELG wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Re Skadden, just based on what they are all telling me so maybe it's just kool aid, but everyone that lives in the suburbs has said they will go home for dinner and work at home for a few hours after just like any other Chicago firm.

I don't understand how this doesn't trouble people more. Leave home at 8, arrive at 9, leave at 6:30, eat dinner and see your kids, get back on at 8 and now start "a few hours" more?


I don't find tacking on 1-2 hours at the end of the day when the kids are in bed and my wife is also working to be that painful. Much prefer when I can do this 4-5 days a week and have my weekends free than when I get hit with something at 4 on a Friday.

Can you really prevent that hit at 4 heading into the weekend, though?

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby nonsharepartner » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:27 pm

DELG wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Re Skadden, just based on what they are all telling me so maybe it's just kool aid, but everyone that lives in the suburbs has said they will go home for dinner and work at home for a few hours after just like any other Chicago firm.

I don't understand how this doesn't trouble people more. Leave home at 8, arrive at 9, leave at 6:30, eat dinner and see your kids, get back on at 8 and now start "a few hours" more?


9-6 is nine hours in the office already and with the extra 2-3 hours at home, it is definitely draining. I will say that this is not expected at my firm but most do it anyway because they want to bill more and get more of a bonus. The worst thing is always being on call and the need to respond to everything, no matter the hour. And as was said below, this allows one to have "free" weekends. Not too many people working weekends here regularly, unless it's a crazy deadline. Most in my group do not work weekends.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby DELG » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:29 pm

homestyle28 wrote:
DELG wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Re Skadden, just based on what they are all telling me so maybe it's just kool aid, but everyone that lives in the suburbs has said they will go home for dinner and work at home for a few hours after just like any other Chicago firm.

I don't understand how this doesn't trouble people more. Leave home at 8, arrive at 9, leave at 6:30, eat dinner and see your kids, get back on at 8 and now start "a few hours" more?


I don't find tacking on 1-2 hours at the end of the day when the kids are in bed and my wife is also working to be that painful. Much prefer when I can do this 4-5 days a week and have my weekends free than when I get hit with something at 4 on a Friday.

1-2 hours is not "a few hours." If you're doing "a few hours" after commuting on a typical day, that's more like leaving at 10-11 every night, which is possible, but still a pretty bad deal. Maybe an expectedly bad deal for biglaw, but certainly not the stuff of kool-aid.

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Re: Chicago Firms

Postby homestyle28 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:49 pm

DELG wrote:
homestyle28 wrote:
DELG wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Re Skadden, just based on what they are all telling me so maybe it's just kool aid, but everyone that lives in the suburbs has said they will go home for dinner and work at home for a few hours after just like any other Chicago firm.

I don't understand how this doesn't trouble people more. Leave home at 8, arrive at 9, leave at 6:30, eat dinner and see your kids, get back on at 8 and now start "a few hours" more?


I don't find tacking on 1-2 hours at the end of the day when the kids are in bed and my wife is also working to be that painful. Much prefer when I can do this 4-5 days a week and have my weekends free than when I get hit with something at 4 on a Friday.

1-2 hours is not "a few hours." If you're doing "a few hours" after commuting on a typical day, that's more like leaving at 10-11 every night, which is possible, but still a pretty bad deal. Maybe an expectedly bad deal for biglaw, but certainly not the stuff of kool-aid.


FWIW the partner flight in my office usually happens around 5, not 6:30.




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