Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

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rpupkin
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Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby rpupkin » Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP again. The number one thing I want to emphasize again (and can't emphasize enough) is that for litigators, you have to have to have to find out what types of assignments a first year is going to get. Wait until you get offers, and then dig dig dig and compare across all firms you've received offers at. Not all big law firms are created equal on this front. You do not want to be in a first line doc review mill, when your friends at firm X are writing first drafts of briefs. You want that experience. And do not trust Vault. Those comments are given without context. My old firm, for example, had tons of comments about client contact right away and lots of responsibility. And that was true for the corporate side, but you would never know it was a corporate associate's comment because it is just presented as a blanket statement. A poor future litigator may go in thinking "wow, client contact! Great responsibility!" and be sadly disappointed to learn neither of those things will happen for 6-7 years.

This is an important point. Keep in mind, though, that there can be a lot of variety even within the lit group at a given firm. If you're staffed on a large case, the chances are much higher that you'll be doing doc review (or something similarly mind-numbing) as a junior. If you're staffed on a small case or cases, you're far more likely to get substantive work early on. A lot of this can come down to luck.

One of the ironies here is that firms often sell themselves to summer associates by using a line like: "We work on huge cases! You get to read about your work in the news!" But these cases, of course, are usually the ones where the junior associates are spending hundreds of hours doing doc review. If you're a junior at a big firm, you generally want to avoid these headline-making cases.

Anonymous User
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Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:09 am

sublime wrote:Can you please elaborate a bit more on the "second to fourth years" are the sweet spot to move comment? What makes you say that? What happens to people who stay longer? Could this sweet spot be extended at certain firms or if you are getting certain work?

What was the interview process of your new firm like?

Thanks for doing this btw,


Ugh. I had a really long, well thought out answer written and I lost it somehow. I'll post again soon.

Anonymous User
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Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:05 am

sublime wrote:Can you please elaborate a bit more on the "second to fourth years" are the sweet spot to move comment? What makes you say that? What happens to people who stay longer? Could this sweet spot be extended at certain firms or if you are getting certain work?

What was the interview process of your new firm like?

Thanks for doing this btw,


Let me see if I can remember everything I typed before! First, let me say that my comments about the sweet spot are very specific to litigators that do mostly doc review in up and out firms. I didn't even know what an up and out firm was until the end of my first year. I naively thought all those departure memos were from associates moving on to greener pastures. An up and out firm means precisely that: either you move up or you move out. What this means is that a fifth through eighth year who is not viewed as partnership material will be given a set number of months to find a new job and asked to leave. I have personally witnessed many good associates asked to leave in this fashion. In fact, my old firm recently laid off about ten 5th through 8th years who they told were just not partnership material. So when you get your offers, ask whether the firm is an up and out firm. Some firms will allow associates to stay and keep working for a number of years. My new firm, for example, has associates that are 10-12 years past their graduation dates.

So why does this matter? It matters really if you haven't done a lot of substantive work. Imagine a sixth year who has done mostly doc reviews as a junior and then run mostly doc reviews as a senior. Now imagine this person is told they have three months to find a new job. This person has no skills compared to her peers at other firms. No one wants to hire the doc review associate when they can hire someone who has true trial skills. So that's when this becomes a problem.

I personally think your second to third year is the best time to switch firms if you haven't done much subtantive work. Firms are very forgiving when you're still junior. They accept that (1) you're still green and (2) you came from an environment where the business model was to have juniors do doc review to generate revenue. They also believe that you're smart because you got the big firm job in the big city and they believe that it's worth their time to train you. Because you're still cheap (comparatively) and you're still green. Firms are much less forgiving to associates in the 4-6 year spot who don't have much experience. There isn't much excuse for them not being a larger part of a motion or trial practice. While the problem really is with their old firms, the new firms view it as it being something wrong with the associate. I have had MANY recruiters tell me not to wait until my fourth year to move. That it would be significantly harder to find work. That as a second to third year, I could still be picky. As a fourth year, I would be in a position where I may need to take what I can get. I've personally seen good fifth and sixth years pushed out and unable to find work because they're simply not as marketable.

Interviews as a lateral were very similar to OCI. The main difference being that most interviews were panel interviews with multiple partners or associates sitting across a conference table from me. That threw me off the first time, but once I expected it, it was easier. Most of my interviews were also in conference rooms and didn't involve the traveling to different attorneys' offices that 2L interviews involved. Most were one screener and a callback, though. Hope that helps.

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Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 04, 2015 7:44 pm

Similar boat as you (market I will be in isn't the market I plan on staying in). Did you pass the bar for your new market before applying for jobs? If so, how did you find time and do you have any tips?

Anonymous User
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Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 06, 2015 6:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Similar boat as you (market I will be in isn't the market I plan on staying in). Did you pass the bar for your new market before applying for jobs? If so, how did you find time and do you have any tips?


OP here. I took two bar exams simultaneously, so this was never an issue for me. Other associates at my old firm had to study for new states' bars and they just brought flash cards with them for downtime or to glance at during doc review. They also used vacation time for the weeks leading up to the exam to hunker down and also to eventually travel to their exams.

Good luck!




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