Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

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Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:47 pm

I'm in the process of finishing up my callbacks and am happy to say that it has gone really well for me. I've narrowed my decision down to four offers (K&E Chicago, Sidley Chicago, Williams and Connolly, and Covington DC). My problem, though, is trying to decide how much I should factor compensation into my decision. While I think W&C has some really interesting work, the compensation quickly goes below market and I'm not sold on the idea that people have a good shot at making partner. Covington seems to brag about its reasonable hours, but, again, it's unclear to me whether or not to take that seriously. I really liked the people at Sidley and K&E. K&E mentioned to me multiple times at the cb that it pays above market bonuses, which appeals to me since I'd like to be rewarded for putting in the insane amount of hours I'm signing up for at any of these firms.

Does anyone have some perspective on how much larger the K&E bonuses usually are? If it helps at all, my goal is to move to the govt within 4 or 5 years after leaving law school, which makes me slightly more interested in making as much as I can while I'm at a firm.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby lolwat » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:35 pm

Isn't part of this also chicago vs dc? Especially depending on what govt work you wanna do in 4-5 years?

Of these choices I'd take w&c or at least have a better reason than $ to go somewhere else

K&e kind of has a bad rep for culture, not sure about the chicago office

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby deepseapartners » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:38 pm

Kirkland bonuses can be higher but they aren't guaranteed to make you rich overnight or anything like that, especially if for whatever's reason you don't end up with a crazy 2800 hour year or anything like that. I admittedly know a lot less about litigation but from what I do know, W&C is a pretty solid path if you are serious about going AUSA in 3-5 years. I'm sure you'll be fine wherever you end up going once you leave Biglaw.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:44 pm

Congratulations on multiple good offers.

Anecdotally, KE bonuses are usually 1.5-2x market. Last year, with just under 2100 hours, my bonus was ~$40k over market. So the additional money is meaningful, particularly as you get more senior.

That said, the compensation should not be as big a factor as the quality of work. (Which is also very good at Kirkland, in my experience)

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:46 am

I would go to Kirkland. Kirkland is the best litigation firm in the country for young associates. Their formal training is unparalleled

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby trebekismyhero » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:53 am

This is ultimately a choice between DC and Chicago with Kirkland and W&C being the top choices for each. If you want to work in DC, go to W&C. If you want to be in Chicago, go with Kirkland.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the process of finishing up my callbacks and am happy to say that it has gone really well for me. I've narrowed my decision down to four offers (K&E Chicago, Sidley Chicago, Williams and Connolly, and Covington DC). My problem, though, is trying to decide how much I should factor compensation into my decision. While I think W&C has some really interesting work, the compensation quickly goes below market and I'm not sold on the idea that people have a good shot at making partner. Covington seems to brag about its reasonable hours, but, again, it's unclear to me whether or not to take that seriously. I really liked the people at Sidley and K&E. K&E mentioned to me multiple times at the cb that it pays above market bonuses, which appeals to me since I'd like to be rewarded for putting in the insane amount of hours I'm signing up for at any of these firms.

Does anyone have some perspective on how much larger the K&E bonuses usually are? If it helps at all, my goal is to move to the govt within 4 or 5 years after leaving law school, which makes me slightly more interested in making as much as I can while I'm at a firm.

Covington DC associate here:

Hours are actually pretty good. Some of that is practice group dependent (white collar group generally has tougher hours, regulatory groups rarely even hit 1950 - but that's due to the nature of the work), but the hours are by far the least intensive of the people I know at other firms in my practice area.

I'm on pace for just shy of 2100 (although I plan on taking December slow if I can so likely will be slightly over 2000). This is typical - although obviously sometimes things can pop up which will make you have more in a given year.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:55 am

trebekismyhero wrote:This is ultimately a choice between DC and Chicago with Kirkland and W&C being the top choices for each. If you want to work in DC, go to W&C. If you want to be in Chicago, go with Kirkland.

Cov anon from above - I don't really agree with this, either. W&C is the top lit shop, but by year 3 you're making less than every other lit associate in the city, and you're getting worked to death on top of it. If you want to do corporate or regulatory, going W&C is not the right move.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby trebekismyhero » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:
trebekismyhero wrote:This is ultimately a choice between DC and Chicago with Kirkland and W&C being the top choices for each. If you want to work in DC, go to W&C. If you want to be in Chicago, go with Kirkland.

Cov anon from above - I don't really agree with this, either. W&C is the top lit shop, but by year 3 you're making less than every other lit associate in the city, and you're getting worked to death on top of it. If you want to do corporate or regulatory, going W&C is not the right move.


I agree about corporate. But if you want to do corporate, DC generally is the wrong move and OP should definitely pick Kirkland then.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:19 am

OP here. No real desire to do corp work, am really focused on lit (no practice area focus, but would like to try first amendment lit and investigations at some point). As for city preference, I could see myself living in either. Also, since an associate is in the thread, I was wondering what the attrition rate looks like at covington.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:20 am

What are the odds that W&C raises salaries within the next few years?

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:What are the odds that W&C raises salaries within the next few years?

It probably depends on what their yield is like. But at the end of the day, even when they raise salaries they're still below market (and especially so once you start talking mid-level salaries).

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby ResIpsa21 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:06 pm

Full disclaimer, I worked for a V30 in DC and don't know that much about Chicago firms, so take this with a grain of salt.

Given that you want to litigate for the government (which I assume means DOJ/SEC/USAO), I'd strongly recommend DC over Chicago, which means W&C or Covington. First, while you're in private practice, you'll want to develop as many connections with former federal prosecutors and government-types as possible, which is easiest to do in a white-collar group in DC. After all, the vast majority of government jobs are in DC, so that's the network you want to tap. Kirkland and Sidley are great firms but from what I understand, they don't do nearly as much government-facing stuff, even in their DC offices and especially in Chicago. Second, you'll probably need to do a federal clerkship (or two) to be competitive for government jobs. I know both W&C and Covington are extremely supportive of their associates clerking and will help you with your applications. (I don't know how Kirkland/Sidley are with this, but again, DC > Chicago).

Personally, I'd go with Covington for quality of life alone. W&C does have more preftige than Covington in DC circles, but only by a small degree, and the hours/pay are a lot worse.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby CourCour » Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:09 pm

Do you want to go into government with the ability to come back to the firm? My understanding is at W&C, once you're gone, you're gone. Whereas, Covington sees a stint in government as a positive.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby rpupkin » Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Congratulations on multiple good offers.

Anecdotally, KE bonuses are usually 1.5-2x market.

I'm not sure your anecdotal evidence is representative. KE regularly pays above-market bonuses, but, based on my anecdata, something around 1.25 is typical. This ATL article supports my impression:

http://abovethelaw.com/2016/12/update-b ... onus-news/


Yes, KE will pay north of 1.5 of market in certain circumstances, but that usually requires billing a miserable number of hours.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby iamgeorgebush » Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:36 pm

First, the most important factor here (IMO) is the city. Chicago and DC are very different. Narrow that down first.

Second, IMO, the compensation differences among these firms are minor enough so that it shouldn't really affect your decision. Better to focus on other things like the type of work you'll get, culture, the firm's reputation, exit options, and so forth.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:40 am

iamgeorgebush wrote:First, the most important factor here (IMO) is the city. Chicago and DC are very different. Narrow that down first.

Second, IMO, the compensation differences among these firms are minor enough so that it shouldn't really affect your decision. Better to focus on other things like the type of work you'll get, culture, the firm's reputation, exit options, and so forth.

This is funny to me, because the biggest difference between these firms aren't exit options, reputation, or the type of work - you could argue cultural differences are major but that's so group/partner dependent it is always tough to nail down. But all of these firms are peers in the cities discussed, even if there are marginal differences with perception.

The actual difference here is compensation. If OP plans on spending any time in Biglaw, by year 5 he'll be clearing 40k+ less at W&C than at Covington.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby rpupkin » Fri Sep 01, 2017 6:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:First, the most important factor here (IMO) is the city. Chicago and DC are very different. Narrow that down first.

Second, IMO, the compensation differences among these firms are minor enough so that it shouldn't really affect your decision. Better to focus on other things like the type of work you'll get, culture, the firm's reputation, exit options, and so forth.

This is funny to me, because the biggest difference between these firms aren't exit options, reputation, or the type of work - you could argue cultural differences are major but that's so group/partner dependent it is always tough to nail down. But all of these firms are peers in the cities discussed, even if there are marginal differences with perception.

The actual difference here is compensation. If OP plans on spending any time in Biglaw, by year 5 he'll be clearing 40k+ less at W&C than at Covington.

lol @ assumption that Covington pays market

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:24 pm

OP again. Just to clarify, I've got a COA clerkship lined up for after graduation. Could see myself in any number of fed positions someday.

My concern, like others have noted, is that if I go to W&C that I'll bring in substantially less per year after a couple of years at the firm while working miserable hours. On the other hand, some in this thread seem to have suggested that not everyone at Covington is getting paid the full cravath scale.

I really appreciate the advice!

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:55 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:First, the most important factor here (IMO) is the city. Chicago and DC are very different. Narrow that down first.

Second, IMO, the compensation differences among these firms are minor enough so that it shouldn't really affect your decision. Better to focus on other things like the type of work you'll get, culture, the firm's reputation, exit options, and so forth.

This is funny to me, because the biggest difference between these firms aren't exit options, reputation, or the type of work - you could argue cultural differences are major but that's so group/partner dependent it is always tough to nail down. But all of these firms are peers in the cities discussed, even if there are marginal differences with perception.

The actual difference here is compensation. If OP plans on spending any time in Biglaw, by year 5 he'll be clearing 40k+ less at W&C than at Covington.

lol @ assumption that Covington pays market

Cov associate. They pay market bonuses in all offices now.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby rpupkin » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:First, the most important factor here (IMO) is the city. Chicago and DC are very different. Narrow that down first.

Second, IMO, the compensation differences among these firms are minor enough so that it shouldn't really affect your decision. Better to focus on other things like the type of work you'll get, culture, the firm's reputation, exit options, and so forth.

This is funny to me, because the biggest difference between these firms aren't exit options, reputation, or the type of work - you could argue cultural differences are major but that's so group/partner dependent it is always tough to nail down. But all of these firms are peers in the cities discussed, even if there are marginal differences with perception.

The actual difference here is compensation. If OP plans on spending any time in Biglaw, by year 5 he'll be clearing 40k+ less at W&C than at Covington.

lol @ assumption that Covington pays market

Cov associate. They pay market bonuses in all offices now.

As of when? Covington has a history of announcing market-matching bonuses and then finding ways to pay below-market bonuses to a significant percentage of associates. That's their shtick. Their initial refusal to go to $180K (for base salary) in summer 2016 is inline with the firm's general cheapness when it comes to associate compensation.

Covington is a good firm and there might be reasons--depending on your interests--to choose it over other firms, but I would not go there assuming that I would get market pay for the next five years.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby SportsFan » Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:48 am

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:First, the most important factor here (IMO) is the city. Chicago and DC are very different. Narrow that down first.

Second, IMO, the compensation differences among these firms are minor enough so that it shouldn't really affect your decision. Better to focus on other things like the type of work you'll get, culture, the firm's reputation, exit options, and so forth.

This is funny to me, because the biggest difference between these firms aren't exit options, reputation, or the type of work - you could argue cultural differences are major but that's so group/partner dependent it is always tough to nail down. But all of these firms are peers in the cities discussed, even if there are marginal differences with perception.

The actual difference here is compensation. If OP plans on spending any time in Biglaw, by year 5 he'll be clearing 40k+ less at W&C than at Covington.

lol @ assumption that Covington pays market

Cov associate. They pay market bonuses in all offices now.

As of when? Covington has a history of announcing market-matching bonuses and then finding ways to pay below-market bonuses to a significant percentage of associates. That's their shtick. Their initial refusal to go to $180K (for base salary) in summer 2016 is inline with the firm's general cheapness when it comes to associate compensation.

Covington is a good firm and there might be reasons--depending on your interests--to choose it over other firms, but I would not go there assuming that I would get market pay for the next five years.

But then, no one should go to any firm assuming they'll be there for 5 years anyway lol...

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:30 am

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:First, the most important factor here (IMO) is the city. Chicago and DC are very different. Narrow that down first.

Second, IMO, the compensation differences among these firms are minor enough so that it shouldn't really affect your decision. Better to focus on other things like the type of work you'll get, culture, the firm's reputation, exit options, and so forth.

This is funny to me, because the biggest difference between these firms aren't exit options, reputation, or the type of work - you could argue cultural differences are major but that's so group/partner dependent it is always tough to nail down. But all of these firms are peers in the cities discussed, even if there are marginal differences with perception.

The actual difference here is compensation. If OP plans on spending any time in Biglaw, by year 5 he'll be clearing 40k+ less at W&C than at Covington.

lol @ assumption that Covington pays market

Cov associate. They pay market bonuses in all offices now.

As of when? Covington has a history of announcing market-matching bonuses and then finding ways to pay below-market bonuses to a significant percentage of associates. That's their shtick. Their initial refusal to go to $180K (for base salary) in summer 2016 is inline with the firm's general cheapness when it comes to associate compensation.

Covington is a good firm and there might be reasons--depending on your interests--to choose it over other firms, but I would not go there assuming that I would get market pay for the next five years.


Didn't Covington go lockstep with their bonuses last year (assuming you hit 1950)?

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:29 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
iamgeorgebush wrote:First, the most important factor here (IMO) is the city. Chicago and DC are very different. Narrow that down first.

Second, IMO, the compensation differences among these firms are minor enough so that it shouldn't really affect your decision. Better to focus on other things like the type of work you'll get, culture, the firm's reputation, exit options, and so forth.

This is funny to me, because the biggest difference between these firms aren't exit options, reputation, or the type of work - you could argue cultural differences are major but that's so group/partner dependent it is always tough to nail down. But all of these firms are peers in the cities discussed, even if there are marginal differences with perception.

The actual difference here is compensation. If OP plans on spending any time in Biglaw, by year 5 he'll be clearing 40k+ less at W&C than at Covington.

lol @ assumption that Covington pays market

Cov associate. They pay market bonuses in all offices now.

As of when? Covington has a history of announcing market-matching bonuses and then finding ways to pay below-market bonuses to a significant percentage of associates. That's their shtick. Their initial refusal to go to $180K (for base salary) in summer 2016 is inline with the firm's general cheapness when it comes to associate compensation.

Covington is a good firm and there might be reasons--depending on your interests--to choose it over other firms, but I would not go there assuming that I would get market pay for the next five years.


Didn't Covington go lockstep with their bonuses last year (assuming you hit 1950)?

Cov anon - yes. Bonuses are now lockstep based on hours.

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Re: Weighing Compensation vs Prestige/(possibly more interesting work)

Postby sublime » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:I would go to Kirkland. Kirkland is the best litigation firm in the country for young associates. Their formal training is unparalleled


Lol.

Kirkland, despite its cultural issues and partnership structure is a fine firm but just lol.



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