Willkie v PW

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Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:24 pm

I am deciding between these two firms and like each for very different reasons. I'm not sold on staying in biglaw for my career or even very long but I'm also not gunning to leave in 2 years either. I'm more interested in litigation, but not ruling corporate out. I'm also trying to keep my future options as open as possible wrt leaving biglaw and or NYC. I really liked the people I met at Willkie and felt comfortable there. Conversely, PW gave me mixed feelings. However, PW seems to be a great step above Willkie for litigation and it seems like I would maximize my opportunities with PW Also, liking the people vs not could have easily been luck of the draw. I've looked at the chambers rankings, vault rankings, and posts about the culture at both firms, but I honestly don't know how relevant being "elite" vs "highly regarded" on chambers is. And I also don't know if generally liking the feel of a firm should overide the seeming prestige disparity between the two firms.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am deciding between these two firms and like each for very different reasons. I'm not sold on staying in biglaw for my career or even very long but I'm also not gunning to leave in 2 years either. I'm more interested in litigation, but not ruling corporate out. I'm also trying to keep my future options as open as possible wrt leaving biglaw and or NYC. I really liked the people I met at Willkie and felt comfortable there. Conversely, PW gave me mixed feelings. However, PW seems to be a great step above Willkie for litigation and it seems like I would maximize my opportunities with PW Also, liking the people vs not could have easily been luck of the draw. I've looked at the chambers rankings, vault rankings, and posts about the culture at both firms, but I honestly don't know how relevant being "elite" vs "highly regarded" on chambers is. And I also don't know if generally liking the feel of a firm should overide the seeming prestige disparity between the two firms.


PW and it's not even close.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 23, 2017 7:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am deciding between these two firms and like each for very different reasons. I'm not sold on staying in biglaw for my career or even very long but I'm also not gunning to leave in 2 years either. I'm more interested in litigation, but not ruling corporate out. I'm also trying to keep my future options as open as possible wrt leaving biglaw and or NYC. I really liked the people I met at Willkie and felt comfortable there. Conversely, PW gave me mixed feelings. However, PW seems to be a great step above Willkie for litigation and it seems like I would maximize my opportunities with PW Also, liking the people vs not could have easily been luck of the draw. I've looked at the chambers rankings, vault rankings, and posts about the culture at both firms, but I honestly don't know how relevant being "elite" vs "highly regarded" on chambers is. And I also don't know if generally liking the feel of a firm should overide the seeming prestige disparity between the two firms.


PW and it's not even close.


I normally would advocate for doing what feels right for you personally, but I have to agree with the above. PW is one of the premier lit shops in NYC.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:17 pm

Willkie is a great firm with a fratty/party culture. The very good people get promoted to partner. Very solid partnership and true partnership.

I don't know much about Paul Weiss.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 23, 2017 8:58 pm

I worked at PW before LS & am considering going to Willkie for my SA; full disclosure I don't know what it's actually like to work at Willkie, but I didn't try to go back to PW b/c I wasn't wild about it & am pursuing a different practice area that PW isn't as strong in; not sure what I would have done had I wanted lit.

PW is a great firm but it's very large & there's no guarantee with who you will work for and what types of things you'll work on. As with anywhere, some partners are kind & some are less so. Similarly, there's a wide variance in the type of work you get as a junior - some stars get true mentorship and great opportunities; others get stuck on doc review on huge cases for years. It's the only firm I've ever worked at, so I can't say if anywhere else is markedly different. The name will get you in the door anywhere, though, and for the most part the cases are going to be interesting.

I am not sure if this applies to lit, but I have heard that the culture is changing for the worse w/r/t some of the corporate hires, and women I know who are still there are very concerned about the exodus of female partners over the past 1-2 years. People leave very frequently & there does not seem to be much of an emphasis lately on "homegrowing" partners. I have gotten the opposite vibe from Willkie, but if exit opps are OP's chief concern, PW is probably the way to go.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:51 am

This year at Wilkie more summers wanted litigation than will ultimately be assigned to it. It is competitive. I do not know how this compares to PW, however.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:This year at Wilkie more summers wanted litigation than will ultimately be assigned to it. It is competitive. I do not know how this compares to PW, however.


Everybody typically gets their first choice. Small groups like personal rep may not be included in that though.

Wrt female partners leaving, I wish Robbie and Beth were still here, but it isn't like they went to a peer firm, they started their own shops doing things they couldn't do as much as they would have liked here.

For partnership chances, we are a highly leveraged firm. You shouldn't come here, or any peer firm expecting to make partner.

Full disclosure (if it wasn't obvious) I'm a pw lit associate.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:17 am

Prestige wise PW is much better then Wilkie (6th yr NYC Assc speaking).
Look you have to do what makes you happy, and if you like the Wilkie folks that much more (you are going to be spending at least 12 hours a day with those folks/in that culture) then go there. Picking a firm 2L with partnership in mind is crazy.
On a personal level my gf works at PW, and she works like crazy to get the good cases and she loves it. I work at V10 (corp) and she still bills more than me every year.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:57 am

I'm between Willkie and another V20 firm and feel the same way as OP - I know I'd like the people at Willkie better and be happier there. But, you still have to at least think about the rankings.

At the end of the day, the pay is the same, so it's hard to justify walking away from a rare place where you really fit in just because Vault ranked it below another firm that gave you an offer. I'm 99% sure I'm going to accept at Willkie. Life's too short to spend years at a place where you don't click with your coworkers.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:29 pm

NYC midlevel lit associate here. I know people who work /have worked at both firms, but will try to be vague as to stay anon.

First of all, Vault rankings suck, especially when you are trying to measure among a single practice group in a single city. Don't pay any attention to them - they don't provide any information that you can't get from AmLaw and Chambers.

Second, these two firms are extremely different work wise. PW lit is going to work you hard - on the level of V10 M+A. The firm is massively leveraged in litigation, which is a practice area that is trending towards much low leverage as clients demand more efficiency. That's a function of the size and importance of the matters PW handles, but what it means for you as a junior is that your chances of getting stuck in doc review for years until you burnout are much higher. Willkie also has matters like that but much less frequent and is less leveraged. People at Willkie work a lot of hours but probably less so than at PW.

In terms of the work, both firms obviously do a lot of securities, M+A, white collar, and general commerical lit. NYC lit in general is very derivative of other groups (except in terms of institutional clients), but PW is much more likely to be generating truly organic litigation work. Some people find that important.

In terms of exit options, I'd say the two firms are roughly similar in terms of scope of options but that on average PW probably places people in slightly better jobs (i.e. a PW midlevel will have a higher chance all things being equal of going to the DOJ.) IME, litigation exit options depend a ton on who you work for, especially in trying to go to the government, but if you last until you are a midlevel at PW and work for the right folks you'll have better exit ops than a comparable person at Willkie.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:50 pm

Prior pw junior lit associate here - I'm sure it happens, but I haven't had to do much doc review, and neither have many my friends who are juniors. Most of the doc review that we deal with is second or third level and is actually a nice break sometimes.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:09 pm

If you think you want lit, go with PW. Not only is it a better lit firm, but the lit group at Willkie is shrinking; about half of the incoming classes that want lit actually get it, and the other half get put in groups they don't want to be in. There are great people and not-so-great people at every firm, and your experience anywhere is largely luck of the draw. Pick PW.

*Anonymous because I'm a current Willkie associate (who actually has found the culture to live up to the hype, for what it's worth)

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:44 am

The distinction is substantial enough that Paul Weiss is the clear choice even if you like Willkie better. Willkie's litigation practice is focused on a handful of industries (like insurance) that are pretty dry IMO. It's a very nice firm but its lit group will not offer the opportunities or the standing of a Paul Weiss, which is more along the lines of Davis Polk, Cravath, ect. Willkie has also had issues the past couple summers with guaranteeing spots in litigation, which would not be an issue at PW.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:If you think you want lit, go with PW. Not only is it a better lit firm, but the lit group at Willkie is shrinking; about half of the incoming classes that want lit actually get it, and the other half get put in groups they don't want to be in. There are great people and not-so-great people at every firm, and your experience anywhere is largely luck of the draw. Pick PW.

*Anonymous because I'm a current Willkie associate (who actually has found the culture to live up to the hype, for what it's worth)


How is it shrinking exactly? How many people left? Who - partners/associates?

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:Prestige wise PW is much better then Wilkie (6th yr NYC Assc speaking).
Look you have to do what makes you happy, and if you like the Wilkie folks that much more (you are going to be spending at least 12 hours a day with those folks/in that culture) then go there. Picking a firm 2L with partnership in mind is crazy.


I'd also like to add that picking a firm 2L based on your gut feeling during a 2 hour interview is also pretty crazy. You might have liked the PW folks less than Willkie now, but you shouldn't close the door on the PW opportunity because of an anecdotal experience. In my experience, Willkie was beyond welcoming. They gave me an offer on the spot, showered me with praise, and made me feel like the second coming of Jesus. You shouldn't let that fool you-- it's quite possible they're like that with everyone.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby QContinuum » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:In my experience, Willkie was beyond welcoming. They gave me an offer on the spot, showered me with praise, and made me feel like the second coming of Jesus. You shouldn't let that fool you-- it's quite possible they're like that with everyone.


I love the bolded - one of the best posts I've ever seen on TLS.

But anon is right. The recruiting process (and the summer program) usually bears little resemblance to life as an 'actual' associate. I wouldn't put too much weight on the 'slickness' of a firm's recruiting process.

That said, I've always thought it's important to trust your gut. You know best what you need to thrive - certainly better than us faceless folks on TLS. All we can tell you objectively is that PW > Willkie reputationally and (on average) in terms of exit opps. But reputation ≠ happiness and, to some extent, you (and luck/fate/whatever) make your own exit opps. If you're convinced PW wouldn't work for you, don't go there just because it's a better choice for the generic candidate.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If you think you want lit, go with PW. Not only is it a better lit firm, but the lit group at Willkie is shrinking; about half of the incoming classes that want lit actually get it, and the other half get put in groups they don't want to be in. There are great people and not-so-great people at every firm, and your experience anywhere is largely luck of the draw. Pick PW.

*Anonymous because I'm a current Willkie associate (who actually has found the culture to live up to the hype, for what it's worth)


How is it shrinking exactly? How many people left? Who - partners/associates?


It's not shrinking in terms of people (just yet), but it's not as busy as corporate, so they're putting fewer people in it as a group. As such, even if you want litigation, there's still only about a 50/50 chance you'll get it at Willkie. If OP was dead set on corporate, I could see this being a closer decision (both because Willkie corporate is very busy right now, and I think the difference between PW and Willkie shrinks more when you're looking at corporate instead of litigation), but if you think at all you might want lit, go to the place that will guarantee it to you.

And FWIW, litigation across the industry seems to be slowing down. There seem to be just a few biglaw firms where litigation is still a main focus, and PW is one of them.

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Re: Willkie v PW

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If you think you want lit, go with PW. Not only is it a better lit firm, but the lit group at Willkie is shrinking; about half of the incoming classes that want lit actually get it, and the other half get put in groups they don't want to be in. There are great people and not-so-great people at every firm, and your experience anywhere is largely luck of the draw. Pick PW.

*Anonymous because I'm a current Willkie associate (who actually has found the culture to live up to the hype, for what it's worth)


How is it shrinking exactly? How many people left? Who - partners/associates?


It's not shrinking in terms of people (just yet), but it's not as busy as corporate, so they're putting fewer people in it as a group. As such, even if you want litigation, there's still only about a 50/50 chance you'll get it at Willkie. If OP was dead set on corporate, I could see this being a closer decision (both because Willkie corporate is very busy right now, and I think the difference betwoeen PW and Willkie shrinks more when you're looking at corporate instead of litigation), but if you think at all you might want lit, go to the place that will guarantee it to you.

And FWIW, litigation across the industry seems to be slowing down. There seem to be just a few biglaw firms where litigation is still a main focus, and PW is one of them.


Litigation generally just can't keep pace with the fee structure of groups like bankruptcy or M+A, and clients just do not want to pay as much for it anymore unless they absolutely have to. There's also a concern that, during Trump, the types of wide-ranging DOJ/SEC investigations that could justify teams of dozens of document reviewers or associates to fly around the world sitting in on interviews just aren't going to materialize at the rates they did during Obama. (Also, a ton of that was crisis related work which is drying up now.) I would not be shocked if most litigation groups seem some contraction in their incoming classes in terms of pushing people to do corporates. PW, as a go-to firm for a lot of big name litigation or investigations, is probably pretty well insulated from that.



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