LA + SF BigLaw - Expressing Practice Area Preferences

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LA + SF BigLaw - Expressing Practice Area Preferences

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:44 am

I have a question specific to California BigLaw recruiting. Advice from practicing attorneys in either SF or LA would be particularly appreciated (although advice from current or former SAs in those markets would be helpful too!).

Basically, I've heard that when interviewing for big NY firms, it's fine to have no preference for a particular practice group. In fact, some NY attorneys with whom I've spoken have said that it's silly to express a preference (ETA: at least too strong of a preference). Obviously, rising 2Ls cannot know what it's actually like to practice in a particular area, since all they've done is a year of law school, which is so different from practice (or so I've been told). Hence, many firms let SAs try out different practice groups before committing (typically at the end of the summer). However, I've heard that it could be a mistake to be so wishy-washy about CA firms. Is this true? I could see why it might be, since CA firms' class sizes are generally smaller---unlike NY firms, they can't just grab 100 people and trust that the dice will fall in the right places, so they have to pick people for specific practice areas. Is this how things work? During interviews with CA firms, should one express a clear preference for a particular practice group?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:20 am, edited 2 times in total.

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El Pollito
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Re: LA + SF BigLaw - Expressing Practice Area Preferences

Postby El Pollito » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:11 am

If you have a real preference, expressing it in an intelligent, knowledgable and convincing way is never a mistake in any market.

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Re: LA + SF BigLaw - Expressing Practice Area Preferences

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:22 am

Right. What I'm wondering is whether it is *necessary* to express a preference when interviewing for CA firms. Let's say I'm waffling between two or three practice areas and would like to take the summer to decide. Will that be a problem for CA firms? Will it hurt me if I don't express a strong preference for one particular practice group?

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Re: LA + SF BigLaw - Expressing Practice Area Preferences

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:43 am

Current SA in CA here. I can't offer a ton of insight, but I can say this. It will depend on the firm / office. Some CA offices are full service, with a ton of successful practice areas. Most practice areas at a firm like that likely need new juniors. At smaller, more satellite-type offices, there may be some stagnant practice areas, while other practice areas may be in great need for new juniors. At an office like that, you will be better served to express an interest in the busy practice group.

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Re: LA + SF BigLaw - Expressing Practice Area Preferences

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:52 am

Current SA who went through OCI last year. It depends. There were a few firms who were only hiring into lit, so if you don't express interest in lit, you didn't get a callback. There were a few firms who knew how many people they wanted for corporate and how many they wanted for lit, and you needed to basically commit before the summer. There were a few firms where they really couldn't care less.

Overall, I'd say that you need to express an interest in one of the other, at least for LA. Even in the big offices, the classes are much smaller, and they generally know how many people they need on each side of the aisle and are trying to fill those spots. From what I've seen of my current firm, they filled spots based on litigation/transactional needs, but it's very possible to switch once you start as a summer.

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Re: LA + SF BigLaw - Expressing Practice Area Preferences

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:25 am

Great, thanks for your responses. Exactly the sort of info I was looking for. - OP

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sundance95
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Re: LA + SF BigLaw - Expressing Practice Area Preferences

Postby sundance95 » Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:52 am

You need to understand the work that the specific office you are interviewing with does. For example: a rough rule of thumb for firms with both Silicon Valley and San Francisco offices is that SF offices tend to do lit while SV offices tend to do transactional work. If you are interviewing with an office where associates almost exclusively do lit, you'd be wise to express interest in lit.




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