Wilmer v. Covington (DC)

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Which Firm

Poll ended at Mon Sep 21, 2015 9:29 am

WilmerHale
16
67%
Covington
8
33%
 
Total votes: 24

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Wilmer v. Covington (DC)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:29 am

I'm lucky to have offers from Wilmer and Covington's DC offices, and I'm having trouble deciding. I am interested in lit generally, with a possible focus on government-focused work. I would be happy to do a rotation through the government but also wouldn't mind staying at the firm. I know partner is a long shot for anyone, but it is a goal. Is partnership more feasible at one firm over the other?

I care a lot about the firm being a reasonably humane place where people are at least not persistently unhappy. You hear the same thing from every firm during OCI ("we're collegiate!") but I wasn't sure which firm is better on culture.

I got a slightly better feel from Wilmer, and would be leaning towards them but their compensation model gives me pause. Any thoughts?

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Re: Wilmer v. Covington (DC)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:21 am

Not OP, but I am interested in this as well. The poll is skewing towards Wilmer - can anyone elaborate?

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Re: Wilmer v. Covington (DC)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 02, 2015 3:56 pm

Next-day bump

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Re: Wilmer v. Covington (DC)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 02, 2015 4:37 pm

They are very similar firms. Both are top-of-the-market DC firms with strong litigation practices across the board. Both have lots of people who go into government.

The mix of practices is slightly different. Covington probably has better regulatory practices overall, particularly related to pharma and life sciences. It also does a lot of insurance litigation. Wilmer is slightly stronger in general commercial litigation. It also has one of the top appellate practices in DC, although that probably shouldn’t be much of a consideration as an incoming summer. I think white collar is a wash.

Covington has a reputation for being slightly nerdier and more cloistered, whereas Wilmer is supposed to be a bit more outgoing. Wilmer is also less of a purely DC institution – they have a very strong Boston office from the Wilmer/Hale merger a number of years ago. My impression is Covington’s non-DC offices are comparatively less important to the firm. I doubt partner prospects are significantly different. I’m only vaguely familiar with Wilmer’s compensation system, but I doubt there is a significant difference at the associate level between them and Covington (someone please correct me if I’m wrong).

When I interviewed, Covington felt slightly more comfortable and I would pick them if put in your position. That said, they are so similar that I would just go with your gut. If you felt more comfortable at Wilmer, definitely go there.

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Re: Wilmer v. Covington (DC)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:30 pm

I voted Wilmer. From what I've understood researching both firms for OCI/cbs, Wilmer generally has a better reputation in terms of culture. It's more laid back, partner/associate relations are supposed to be closer/less vertical, and the atmosphere is overall more collegial. This is what I've gleaned from both a) this forum, b) talking with DC practicioners, and c) CB interactions (but then again I didn't get offered by Covington, so what do you know). As an illustration of Covington's culture, it is apparently common practice for the firm to give out fake assignments to test summers. I think that's pretty lame. Covington's litigation department also has a reputation for being very rough.
On the other hand, Wilmer has a bunch of disadvantages too. A big one is the weird "merit" evaluation & non-lockstep compensation system after the 3rd year, which supposedly is a tool for firm management to 1) go cheap on bonuses and 2) stealth layoff people. Neither of these things is very appealing, or a vibrant testimony to collegiality.

At the end of the day, you can't go wrong with either. They're both DC powerhouses, they both open a lot of doors in government, and they'll both work you hard (but at least—hopefully—on interesting, "headline-grabbing" cases :roll: ).

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Re: Wilmer v. Covington (DC)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 03, 2015 12:11 am

My vote goes to Wilmer as well. If you care about that elusive culture thing, I think Wilmer comes out on top. Cov is similar in size to Wilmer, but has a much bigger summer class. That suggests a pretty standard factory-like processing of associates. Wilmer seems to have less attrition; people go into government, but they come back. And this is totally anecdotal, but of the folks I know, those at Wilmer seem a little happier.

Wilmer's compensation model isn't ideal IMHO, but my understanding--and someone correct me if I am wrong--is that if you're hitting target hours, you'll make market, albeit some $$$ will be deferred. If you aren't hitting target, your bonus will be affected, but the net result is similar to other firms where a bonus is conditioned on hitting an hours target as well. And there is always the remote possibility that you'll be the one associate who exceeds expectations. As for the stealth layoffs someone mentioned, those definitely happened in the bad old days of 2009 and IIRC a few years back in IP or some practice area that was shrinking.

All that said, I think the two firms are much more alike than not. Likewise, partnership odds at the probably about the same at both firms, which is to say very slim (but better if you land a BigFed job). As others have said, go where you had a better gut feeling.



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