papercutter wrote:Maybe my experience has been unusual, but I find the idea that there are distinct "writing" and "discovery" associates to be pretty strange. When I'm assigning things out, I definitely keep track of which associates are better writers, but they better be able to do discovery work as well, and vice versa. At least once a case gets past the pleading stages, the people drafting motions are going to be drawn from the team for the case, just like the people working on depos, doc review, and discovery disputes. When we get to SJ, class cert, and trial motions, you need good writers, sure, but you also want the people who know the issues in painstaking detail because they've been in the discovery trenches.
I have seen a few friends whose work has been almost all briefing, but they're rare, usually more senior, and when they're smart, re-learn discovery skills so that they're well-rounded.
Also, doing all writing and no discovery is a great way to back yourself into a corner as a mid-level. If you haven't mastered discovery basics you can't supervise other associates in discovery, which means you can't manage cases, and once you have a midlevel's billing rates, it's hard to justify giving you the work you'd need to pick up those skills.
I don't think it's necessarily unusual, but every firm/litigation group probably does things differently.
As for the last comment, yes and no. That seems to be the most common path for litigation associates, but it's not the only path, and it's not for everyone, either.
I will say that my significant other works at a major litigation shop with some very high-profile appellate lawyers and did NOT want to do appellate litigation, and he actually had to fight a fair amount to not continue getting work from the appellate group. And he never clerked. So your mileage may vary significantly - at least at some firms, even lawyers who don't want appellate sometimes get pressed into appellate. People saying breaking into appellate litigation at a big firm is difficult may not have experience with it, just awareness of the prestige mystique.
I think this is rare, but obviously it can happen. It's not so much prestige as much as that there often isn't that volume of appellate work to go around. Of course, when there is, then everybody gets sucked into that kind of work. It's just typically the other way around where the trial work eats up the vast majority of hours.