SF/SV vs. NY Firms for Corporate

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SF/SV vs. NY Firms for Corporate

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2016 1:32 pm

2L at a school in CA. Interested in transactional (M&A, capital markets, funds, etc.). I was fortunate enough to get offers from one of the top SF/SV firms (think Cooley, WSGR, Fenwick) and a large V50 in NY (think Morgan Lewis, Baker & McKenzie, for example). I understand that the main difference is the clients (tech vs. finance), but I'm not sure which I'd rather focus on long-term.

Pros for SF/SV: Big fish in a small pond. Great exit opps to tech clients.
Cons for SF/SV: Limited to tech..? Limited exposure to finance-side (i.e. capital markets, funds, etc.) of transactional work.

Is this accurate? If anyone has experience practicing in both, please chime in? If my end-goal is to work for the IMF, WB, USAID, or something along those lines (gov or international org's - I know, it's a pipedream/longshot), what would make more sense?

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Re: SF/SV vs. NY Firms for Corporate

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2016 4:45 pm

Based solely on the options described, take the SV firm and don't look back. You will be worked hard at WSGR but you will get fantastic exposure to "important" work. People I've spoken to at Cooley and fenwick seem much much happier and more chill than any New York attorney I've ever known

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Re: SF/SV vs. NY Firms for Corporate

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2016 6:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Based solely on the options described, take the SV firm and don't look back. You will be worked hard at WSGR but you will get fantastic exposure to "important" work. People I've spoken to at Cooley and fenwick seem much much happier and more chill than any New York attorney I've ever known


Thanks for the helpful insight! Question - let's say I want to move/lateral firms from coast to coast (west to east / east to west). Or go international - HK or London comes to mind. Would going to a Valley firm provide me with viable opportunities down the road? As 2L, it's really tough to see how my career will shake out (i.e. preference for the type of transactional work/location/etc.), so I'd like to keep my options open as much as possible.

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Re: SF/SV vs. NY Firms for Corporate

Postby iamgeorgebush » Sat Aug 20, 2016 7:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Based solely on the options described, take the SV firm and don't look back. You will be worked hard at WSGR but you will get fantastic exposure to "important" work. People I've spoken to at Cooley and fenwick seem much much happier and more chill than any New York attorney I've ever known

Putting aside OP's pipe dreams for a moment, I agree with this poster. If you had offers from a top transactional shop in NYC (e.g., a V5 firm), this would be a much more difficult choice. But between a top SF/SV firm like Cooley/WSGR/Fenwick and a V50 NYC firm like Morgan Lewis, Baker & McKenzie, etc., definitely choose the SF/SV firm. You obviously haven't mentioned what the specific firms are, but if it's between a firm that's top dog in the #2 market and a firm that's not even close to top dog in NYC, I'd pick the former. Better exit opportunities, and probably better lifestyle.

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for the helpful insight! Question - let's say I want to move/lateral firms from coast to coast (west to east / east to west). Or go international - HK or London comes to mind. Would going to a Valley firm provide me with viable opportunities down the road? As 2L, it's really tough to see how my career will shake out (i.e. preference for the type of transactional work/location/etc.), so I'd like to keep my options open as much as possible.

Based purely on my anecdotal observations looking at attorney profiles at SF/SV firms, my instincts tell me that you're unlikely to be able to move from a firm like Morgan Lewis or Baker & McKenzie NYC to a top SF/SV shop (although you might be able to move to that firm's SF/SV office...dunno that I would count on that either, though). People do move from top NYC shops to top SV shops, but moving from an okay-but-nothing-special NYC shop seems like a much harder move. You can look at those firms' website to see for yourself, though.

With respect to the move from the West Coast to East Coast, I expect it would be hard to "lateral up," so to speak, but it may be possible to lateral to the NYC office of the SF/SV firm (and I know WSGR and Cooley both have NYC offices). Your ability to do so would probably depend on the needs of the office, how much they like you, and/or your reason for moving.

With respect to international, I really don't know.

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Re: SF/SV vs. NY Firms for Corporate

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:48 pm

iamgeorgebush wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Based solely on the options described, take the SV firm and don't look back. You will be worked hard at WSGR but you will get fantastic exposure to "important" work. People I've spoken to at Cooley and fenwick seem much much happier and more chill than any New York attorney I've ever known

Putting aside OP's pipe dreams for a moment, I agree with this poster. If you had offers from a top transactional shop in NYC (e.g., a V5 firm), this would be a much more difficult choice. But between a top SF/SV firm like Cooley/WSGR/Fenwick and a V50 NYC firm like Morgan Lewis, Baker & McKenzie, etc., definitely choose the SF/SV firm. You obviously haven't mentioned what the specific firms are, but if it's between a firm that's top dog in the #2 market and a firm that's not even close to top dog in NYC, I'd pick the former. Better exit opportunities, and probably better lifestyle.

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for the helpful insight! Question - let's say I want to move/lateral firms from coast to coast (west to east / east to west). Or go international - HK or London comes to mind. Would going to a Valley firm provide me with viable opportunities down the road? As 2L, it's really tough to see how my career will shake out (i.e. preference for the type of transactional work/location/etc.), so I'd like to keep my options open as much as possible.

Based purely on my anecdotal observations looking at attorney profiles at SF/SV firms, my instincts tell me that you're unlikely to be able to move from a firm like Morgan Lewis or Baker & McKenzie NYC to a top SF/SV shop (although you might be able to move to that firm's SF/SV office...dunno that I would count on that either, though). People do move from top NYC shops to top SV shops, but moving from an okay-but-nothing-special NYC shop seems like a much harder move. You can look at those firms' website to see for yourself, though.

With respect to the move from the West Coast to East Coast, I expect it would be hard to "lateral up," so to speak, but it may be possible to lateral to the NYC office of the SF/SV firm (and I know WSGR and Cooley both have NYC offices). Your ability to do so would probably depend on the needs of the office, how much they like you, and/or your reason for moving.

With respect to international, I really don't know.


OP here. Thanks for the insight. I'll be honest - I'm leaning toward the SF/SV firm myself, but I was just a little 'concerned' about the rankings. This is just a 2L speaking (a.k.a. I don't know s***), but SF/SV firms seem to fall on the lower end of V100, if that at all.

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Re: SF/SV vs. NY Firms for Corporate

Postby cookiejar1 » Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:51 pm

Don't worry about that. Vault rankings are not a good proxy for determining the relative prestige of SF/SV firms compared to more traditional white shoe firms based in NYC. They focus on different things.

I will say that neither option will substantially help you towards your pipe dream. But life is life. Good luck!

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Re: SF/SV vs. NY Firms for Corporate

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:52 pm

cookiejar1 wrote:Don't worry about that. Vault rankings are not a good proxy for determining the relative prestige of SF/SV firms compared to more traditional white shoe firms based in NYC. They focus on different things.

I will say that neither option will substantially help you towards your pipe dream. But life is life. Good luck!


Thanks for the input. What are some of the paths toward my 'pipe dream' then? Firms in DC? Maybe international arbitration/trade sort of work?

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cookiejar1

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Re: SF/SV vs. NY Firms for Corporate

Postby cookiejar1 » Sat Aug 20, 2016 11:00 pm

I'm not qualified to answer. Your best bet is to network your heart out. It'll be easier to do that in DC than in SF/SV. If you're interested in career paths, I'd recommend just searching for counsels in each organization's legal department. I googled "IMF legal department linkedin" and I'm looking at a bunch of profiles right now. Firms don't typically "feed" into this organization but maybe if you look through enough profiles you'll sniff out some pattern (e.g., most start out at DC firms with really strong gov't/regulatory practices / advanced degrees in other fields / etc).



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