Denver legal market

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naeba6
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Denver legal market

Postby naeba6 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:40 pm

Any advice on the Denver legal job market? I'm a 3L at a decent school struggling to break into the market, despite geographic ties. Looking for a litigation position ideally at a firm. Any advice would be really appreciated! Seems that going out of state for law school, even a fairly good one, is resulting in significant drawbacks...
Last edited by naeba6 on Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:52 pm

FWIW I'm at a t13 and have multiple friends in the top 20 percent of our class who were unable to break into the Denver market despite having lived there before law school. It's an extremely tight market.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:10 pm

Denver is a tiny market (<25 SAs listed on NALP) almost entirely served by the very top students at local schools (CU/DU) and competitive T13 students with significant ties to the region. Unless you can somehow network yourself into an offer this year, you're probably going to have to take a clerkship in the area or attempt to lateral in the future.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:22 pm

Top 10% at my T20 got Denver biglaw with very substantial ties. This is the only person I know of who tried Denver.

This person also worked in denver 1L summer.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:27 pm

Happy to answer questions about the Denver market. Litigation associate at a biglaw firm here. Colorado native who went to school and worked out of state before lateraling back here a few years ago.

Can confirm that breaking into Denver is tough even with ties. I generally think the easiest way to get Denver if you're not one of the lucky 20 or so folks who get SAs in the market is to go to NY/LA/DC/etc. biglaw for 2-3 years and lateral back here as a midlevel.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Denver is a tiny market (<25 SAs listed on NALP) almost entirely served by the very top students at local schools (CU/DU) and competitive T13 students with significant ties to the region. Unless you can somehow network yourself into an offer this year, you're probably going to have to take a clerkship in the area or attempt to lateral in the future.

I went to law school in Colorado and agree with this. In fact, doing a state clerkship seems to be a good way to break into the state (even a lowly state COA gig like I did). Unfortunately I think most judges will have hired for next fall, but it’s worth considering.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Happy to answer questions about the Denver market. Litigation associate at a biglaw firm here. Colorado native who went to school and worked out of state before lateraling back here a few years ago.

Can confirm that breaking into Denver is tough even with ties. I generally think the easiest way to get Denver if you're not one of the lucky 20 or so folks who get SAs in the market is to go to NY/LA/DC/etc. biglaw for 2-3 years and lateral back here as a midlevel.


What do lateral opportunities look like for someone doing energy/ corporate work in Houston biglaw?

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SmokeytheBear
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Re: Denver legal market

Postby SmokeytheBear » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:07 pm

Who are the big players in Denver for corporate work?

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Happy to answer questions about the Denver market. Litigation associate at a biglaw firm here. Colorado native who went to school and worked out of state before lateraling back here a few years ago.

Can confirm that breaking into Denver is tough even with ties. I generally think the easiest way to get Denver if you're not one of the lucky 20 or so folks who get SAs in the market is to go to NY/LA/DC/etc. biglaw for 2-3 years and lateral back here as a midlevel.


What do lateral opportunities look like for someone doing energy/ corporate work in Houston biglaw?


I know my firm has aggressively sought corporate midlevel laterals over the last year, hiring a few from Texas in particular. To me this seems to be the most robust area of corporate associate hiring in the market right now.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:52 pm

SmokeytheBear wrote:Who are the big players in Denver for corporate work?


This is a bit outside my wheelhouse since I do lit. I don't feel particularly qualified to suggest the top corporate firms, so I'll leave that to anyone else who knows that area of the market better than I do.

naeba6
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Re: Denver legal market

Postby naeba6 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Denver is a tiny market (<25 SAs listed on NALP) almost entirely served by the very top students at local schools (CU/DU) and competitive T13 students with significant ties to the region. Unless you can somehow network yourself into an offer this year, you're probably going to have to take a clerkship in the area or attempt to lateral in the future.


Thanks for the insight. Went to CU for undergrad, lived in Denver until law school, and my partner has been working for a company based in Denver for over 3 years now. But I'm not a native, so I think that's always held against me. Still have my fingers crossed for a couple state court clerkships with late application deadlines, but I'm also trying to be realistic about this.

naeba6
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Re: Denver legal market

Postby naeba6 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Happy to answer questions about the Denver market. Litigation associate at a biglaw firm here. Colorado native who went to school and worked out of state before lateraling back here a few years ago.

Can confirm that breaking into Denver is tough even with ties. I generally think the easiest way to get Denver if you're not one of the lucky 20 or so folks who get SAs in the market is to go to NY/LA/DC/etc. biglaw for 2-3 years and lateral back here as a midlevel.


Any insight as to what practice areas are booming in Denver right now? I'm externing at Colo COA in the spring and hoping to do some extensive networking when I move back.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Happy to answer questions about the Denver market. Litigation associate at a biglaw firm here. Colorado native who went to school and worked out of state before lateraling back here a few years ago.

Can confirm that breaking into Denver is tough even with ties. I generally think the easiest way to get Denver if you're not one of the lucky 20 or so folks who get SAs in the market is to go to NY/LA/DC/etc. biglaw for 2-3 years and lateral back here as a midlevel.

Any chance to break into the market for a random NY V5 lit associate with no ties?

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:44 pm

SmokeytheBear wrote:Who are the big players in Denver for corporate work?


The regional firms seem to rule most of the local market because they have lower rates than the national powerhouses. Their 1st-year associates come in at $120k-$140k and raises/bonuses aren't close to keeping up with NY market raises. However, hours expectations tend to look lower - 1950 as an actual target (with a "requirement" slightly lower), as opposed to 2050-2100 actual target for the large national firms.

Regional powerhouses: Davis Graham & Stubbs; Holland & Hart; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; Faegre Baker Daniels; Dorsey & Whitney. Out of that list, Davis Graham and Holland Hart are more local-feeling than others while still truly being biglaw in the sense of size and legal work.

National powerhouses still have a market presence because Denver is large enough to support the larger customers that the billing rates demand. They demand higher hours and pay accordingly. Hogan Lovells (huge Denver office); Cooley; Gibson Dunn (tiny Denver office); and Bryan Cave (large Denver office) come to mind. Hogan and Cooley have been here for decades and are VERY well established. Bryan Cave feels the most local out of the grouping because they bought their way into the market by acquiring one of Denver's largest and best-established firms, Holme Roberts & Owen. Hogan, Cooley, and Gibson are on the national biglaw payscale ($180k). Bryan Cave is closer to $140 I believe.

There are plenty of others in the market, but those are what comes to mind right now. Note that this is a corporate list - this would be a very different list for lit. Some national firms seem to only have a litigation presence in CO, and there are some boutiques here.

owlofminerva
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Re: Denver legal market

Postby owlofminerva » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:24 pm

Any thoughts on places to go for litigation? I know Bartlit Beck doesn't really take laterals, so am thinking Wheeler Trigg is probably the place to be if looking to lateral into litigation. Any iscoop on hours, salary, culture there?

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:11 pm

WTO doesn’t pay much, ~$140-150k for a 5th-6th year lateral. Lots of trial work though.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:WTO doesn’t pay much, ~$140-150k for a 5th-6th year lateral. Lots of trial work though.


Does WTO hire entry-level?

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby owlofminerva » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:WTO doesn’t pay much, ~$140-150k for a 5th-6th year lateral. Lots of trial work though.


That can't be right. I know they pay first-years $160k.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:08 am

owlofminerva wrote:Any thoughts on places to go for litigation? I know Bartlit Beck doesn't really take laterals, so am thinking Wheeler Trigg is probably the place to be if looking to lateral into litigation. Any iscoop on hours, salary, culture there?


Wheeler Trigg starts at $160k. Their salary increases are small so a 5th-6th year lateral offer might not be much higher than 160k.

They are known for going to trial often and market themselves as such. My understanding is that often their cases are insurance defense related but if you want to be a civil litigator and get in court a trial is a trial. Another large practice area they have is med mal defense. One thing to keep in mind is they have only been around since 1997 and are litigation only. They've built a strong name for themselves very quickly but haven't diversified as much as some of the older firms. The culture is known as hard working and at times referred to as a sweatshop. However, if you're lateraling from a large NY lit shop WTO is much less intense. Hours are probably around 2,000, though as I recall they "do not have a billable hours requirement." Lean staffing, good substantive experience.

As for the other Denver-based firms, much of the practice in places like H&H or DGS is environmental or oil and gas related. Both are also known for commercial lit and they will both offer a range of clientele from oil and gas or banking giants to the local Denver pet shop down the road. Brownstein is a big lobbying firm and has a lot of ties to the political realm. Sherman & Howard is a respected litigation firm as well. All of these firms probably have hours requirements ranging from 1800-1900 but with bonus structures that may put compensation on par with WTO if you hit hours over 2,000. Also lean staffing and a good way to get quick experience at really any of these places.

There are also more regional firms worth looking at for litigation. Faegre has a decent sized office and a pretty good litigation team -- particularly its IP group. If I'm honest I don't know much about Polsinelli but they've recently set up shop here and rumor has it they are trying to grow their Denver office rapidly. Snell & Wilmer has a pretty strong presence here as well. I'm sure there are others but none come to mind currently.

If you want to try for a large firm's satellite office the expectations are basically the same as they would be in the mothership offices. Expect to work long hours and don't expect very substantive experience until you're solidly a mid-level. One difference would be that if a firm has a large freestanding Denver office (Hogan is an example of this), you might have a chance of working on only regional or even Colorado-centric matters. If it's a large shop with only a few partners and a few associates (A&P, Wilmerhale), a good portion of your work might come from an enormous client like AIG or Phillip Morris or Comcast and so you're working in more of a service office.

owlofminerva
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Re: Denver legal market

Postby owlofminerva » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:31 am

Thanks--pretty helpful info. Any chance you know anything about Haddon Morgan and Foreman? They're pretty small, so maybe not, but they also look like they could be worth a shot to lateral.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
owlofminerva wrote:Any thoughts on places to go for litigation? I know Bartlit Beck doesn't really take laterals, so am thinking Wheeler Trigg is probably the place to be if looking to lateral into litigation. Any iscoop on hours, salary, culture there?


Wheeler Trigg starts at $160k. Their salary increases are small so a 5th-6th year lateral offer might not be much higher than 160k.

They are known for going to trial often and market themselves as such. My understanding is that often their cases are insurance defense related but if you want to be a civil litigator and get in court a trial is a trial. Another large practice area they have is med mal defense. One thing to keep in mind is they have only been around since 1997 and are litigation only. They've built a strong name for themselves very quickly but haven't diversified as much as some of the older firms. The culture is known as hard working and at times referred to as a sweatshop. However, if you're lateraling from a large NY lit shop WTO is much less intense. Hours are probably around 2,000, though as I recall they "do not have a billable hours requirement." Lean staffing, good substantive experience.

As for the other Denver-based firms, much of the practice in places like H&H or DGS is environmental or oil and gas related. Both are also known for commercial lit and they will both offer a range of clientele from oil and gas or banking giants to the local Denver pet shop down the road. Brownstein is a big lobbying firm and has a lot of ties to the political realm. Sherman & Howard is a respected litigation firm as well. All of these firms probably have hours requirements ranging from 1800-1900 but with bonus structures that may put compensation on par with WTO if you hit hours over 2,000. Also lean staffing and a good way to get quick experience at really any of these places.

There are also more regional firms worth looking at for litigation. Faegre has a decent sized office and a pretty good litigation team -- particularly its IP group. If I'm honest I don't know much about Polsinelli but they've recently set up shop here and rumor has it they are trying to grow their Denver office rapidly. Snell & Wilmer has a pretty strong presence here as well. I'm sure there are others but none come to mind currently.

If you want to try for a large firm's satellite office the expectations are basically the same as they would be in the mothership offices. Expect to work long hours and don't expect very substantive experience until you're solidly a mid-level. One difference would be that if a firm has a large freestanding Denver office (Hogan is an example of this), you might have a chance of working on only regional or even Colorado-centric matters. If it's a large shop with only a few partners and a few associates (A&P, Wilmerhale), a good portion of your work might come from an enormous client like AIG or Phillip Morris or Comcast and so you're working in more of a service office.


Following on a bit more with the market in general:

Corporate: Dentons has set up shop in Denver, I think they are paying $160k for first-years, black box after that. They are rapidly building out their government contracting team. Holland Knight just upgraded their office to a larger space and I think will be looking to fill that up a bit more soon. A lot of corporate, some lit there. Small group as of now, though. I think they are paying Denver first-years around $140?

IP has a surprisingly strong presence in the Denver area as well.

Patent pros teams: Denver-paying firms includes Polsinelli, Holland Hart, Dorsey, Faegre, Merchant & Gould, and a surprising number of patent pros boutiques. $180k national firms with patent pros teams are Kilpatrick Townsend and also I believe Hogan Lovells has a couple patent pros folks here. Hogan is NYC market pay, raises, bonuses. I believe Kilpatrick lags behind on bonuses.

IP Lit teams (a lot of patent with a decent mix of other IP work): The powerhouses appear to be Cooley and WilmerHale. Leaner teams, full NYC pay, powerhouse partners, big cases, lots of responsibility early. If you are a law student reading this, you need to be right near the top of your class for these spots and even then you are competing against top students nationwide. Even these large national firms only do 0-1 SA's each year. I would probably put Kilpatrick Townsend close to this group - same NYC pay, lower bonuses, but I don't think they have hired in their IP lit group for a bit though. Larger regionals that still do high-quality work and are on the Denver payscale include Dorsey, Faegre, Holland & Hart, Merchant & Gould, and, again, a handful of Denver-only boutiques that pick up high-quality work.

Anonymous User wrote:
owlofminerva wrote: Any chance you know anything about Haddon Morgan and Foreman? They're pretty small, so maybe not, but they also look like they could be worth a shot to lateral.


Not a clue about them. Lots of smaller firms like that around. Pay and quality of work is a total crapshoot - you have to find someone with inside knowledge to get much info, which is difficult (even locally).

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:Happy to answer questions about the Denver market. Litigation associate at a biglaw firm here. Colorado native who went to school and worked out of state before lateraling back here a few years ago.

Can confirm that breaking into Denver is tough even with ties. I generally think the easiest way to get Denver if you're not one of the lucky 20 or so folks who get SAs in the market is to go to NY/LA/DC/etc. biglaw for 2-3 years and lateral back here as a midlevel.


How is CU vs. DU viewed within the Denver legal market? Is CU generally favored over DU?

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:30 am

Different anon, but I went to school in Colorado. Re CU vs DU, they’re both well regarded. Both have LOTS of alumni working in Denver, so there isn’t a clear preference for CU; DU alumni love to hire DU grads. I would say you probably have to be a little higher in your class from DU to do well, given that it’s a bigger school (but you could also say that because it’s bigger, there are more DU alums).

The thing is that if you’re talking about biglaw, you’re going to have to be top 10% from either to feel comfortable about your chances (people outside top 10% do get biglaw, but it’s far from guaranteed and is going to be contingent on a ton of factors). And if you’re not talking about biglaw, it’s going to be more about your abilities to network and impress employers through internships etc than whether you go to CU or DU.

CU historically has better job stats and better bar passage rates, which is worth keeping in mind. But there isn’t necessarily a knee jerk preference for CU over DU. You’ll find specific employers who prefer CU, but the same is true for DU.

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:Different anon, but I went to school in Colorado. Re CU vs DU, they’re both well regarded. Both have LOTS of alumni working in Denver, so there isn’t a clear preference for CU; DU alumni love to hire DU grads. I would say you probably have to be a little higher in your class from DU to do well, given that it’s a bigger school (but you could also say that because it’s bigger, there are more DU alums).

The thing is that if you’re talking about biglaw, you’re going to have to be top 10% from either to feel comfortable about your chances (people outside top 10% do get biglaw, but it’s far from guaranteed and is going to be contingent on a ton of factors). And if you’re not talking about biglaw, it’s going to be more about your abilities to network and impress employers through internships etc than whether you go to CU or DU.

CU historically has better job stats and better bar passage rates, which is worth keeping in mind. But there isn’t necessarily a knee jerk preference for CU over DU. You’ll find specific employers who prefer CU, but the same is true for DU.


Thanks, that's really helpful. I am leaning towards CU just because I have the GI Bill so financially it makes more sense. What is OCI like at both schools? Are certain firms more affiliated with one school than the other or do most of the big and midlaw firms in Denver pull from the top 10% of both schools?

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Re: Denver legal market

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:34 am

So, I went through OCI in the height of the recession, when literally half the number of firms came than had come the previous year, so I’m not the best source for what it’s like now. My sense though is that yes, the firms that do OCI at one will do OCI at the other, at least for biglaw - there may well be smaller firms who prefer one or the other if they’re all alums or something (some quite small firms do OCI to get summer clerks but aren’t really offering SAs like biglaw).

My sense at the time was that there were definitely firms who came to local OCI but filled most of their class with T14ers with ties - I can’t name specific firms at this point, but a lot more people got biglaw screeners than ended up getting SAs. But again, things looked bad enough in 2009 that it may be hard to compare that to today.

(Personally I am pro CU over DU :lol: but mostly I would say that DU is DEFINITELY not worth more money. If the GI bill will save you money at CU then CU is definitely the better deal. If somehow DU ends up being cheaper CU probably isn’t worth paying more for, either, though. I liked that CU was smaller and that the class was all full-time students, for the community it created. DU is a little more employment oriented in that it sells itself a little more about making you job-ready, but I don’t think in the end that it got their students more jobs or makes any difference in ability once you get on the job - you are going to have to learn the job on the job. And I think there are *plenty* of opportunities for all that at CU. It’s like the alleged difference between top schools and lower ranked schools - top schools are more academic oriented and lower ranked schools are more about black letter law/teach for the bar exam. It’s not an extreme difference here, just a way for the 2 to differentiate themselves from each other. So that can make one school more appealing than the other depending on your preferences. I would say CU is stereotypically more outdoors-y/granola/liberal than DU, unsurprisingly.)




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