Why Not Mid Law?

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paradiselost9

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Why Not Mid Law?

Postby paradiselost9 » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:59 pm

Ignorant, naive 1L here. There seem to be many law firms in major northeastern cities that are what I would call "mid law." They are much smaller offices than their biglaw counterparts, pay new grads $110-$160k, and have a reputation for not requiring as many hours as their biglaw counterparts. Based on what I would assume are a lot of people's values, these mid-sized firms are more in line with what I would expect people to want.

I don't know if it's TLS and other misperceptions, but it can sometimes feel like people only think about big law.

Big law, however, has a reputation for grinding down associates and leaving them with questionable stability. Do mid-sized firms offer more stability? Perhaps their associates aren't kicked out or burned out in 3 years, avoiding a mid-life crisis of sorts?

I obviously know nothing and am just shooting for generalizations so I can move in the right direction with narrowing down specifics.

QContinuum

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby QContinuum » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:23 pm

People don't shoot for midlaw for a number of reasons:
  • Midlaw positions are relatively rare, and landing them may require more effort and networking than landing a BigLaw gig.
  • Midlaw positions often work associates just as hard as BigLaw gigs, except for significantly less pay.
  • It's much easier to lateral "down" the prestige ladder than "up," so folks generally prefer to start in the most prestigious job possible to maximize their future options.
  • Midlaw firms may, in some cases, be less financially stable than large BigLaw firms.
  • It's usually easier to go in-house from BigLaw than midlaw, due to the clients served by BigLaw firms.

These are all generalizations, which may or may not be true for any given BigLaw vs. any given midlaw firm.

paradiselost9

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby paradiselost9 » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:19 pm

generalizations are fine for now until i get grades, built my network, and learn more about the profession in general

a lot of the mid-law firms in philly have a reputation for offering fewer hours as a perk, but i could easily interview a few attorneys in these offices myself and confirm

smaller firms are inherently less stable than bigger ones, all else equal, but the idea is that all big law associates, practically speaking, have their career uprooted after a few years. i suppose i'm imagining that mid-law firms don't kick people out like big law does. maybe it's a place to earn your chops, build a long career, and work toward partner (if you're a good fit and do good work). (fwiw i'm primarily interested in litigation)

however, all these things are hard to get insight into. big law culture and career is relatively well expressed in this forum, but mid law is not so much. all your points are well taken though, and i appreciate the post

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Pneumonia

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby Pneumonia » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:43 am

In every major and secondary market there are lots of "mid-law" firms that pay well and aare great places to work. For most, even if landing there is what you're aiming for, it's better to do Biglaw first. Some almost treat it as a requirement. Sure, they take a few first years. But lots of midlaw firms hire predominantly in the lateral market.

tk421991

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby tk421991 » Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:46 am

2L here, so take my input for what it's worth.

My home state, RI, is almost entirely mid-sized law firms or small firms. There is no BigLaw in RI. I'm pretty sure the rest of New England is this way except for Boston and maybe Hartford/Bridgeport/New Haven.

Mid-sized firms of between 20-100 lawyers generally don't hire raw law grads. Small firms of 1-20 lawyers will occasionally take the odd raw law grad if there's an opening. Say there's two or three partners and two to six associates - if an associate leaves, a small firm will hire a replacement from a local law school like RWU, WNE, Suffolk, BC/BU, UNH, UCONN, etc.

The ways into "MidLaw" are:

1) Clerk with a somewhat prestigious judge in the area, i.e. an appellate state judge or a Federal district court judge
2) Leave BigLaw after a few years
3) Be a Summer Associate and get hired*
4) Work as a prosecutor, public defender, or solo for a few years**
5) Know a guy who knows a guy

*MidLaw firms sometimes have summer associate programs but don't bank on it. Investigate the firm you want to work with and find out if they have a program.

**The valuable asset here is trial experience.

As a 1L, you're going to need to get grades of about a 3.3+ to be even in the running for an internship/SA program with one of these firms. If this is your law school's curve, then GPA isn't an issue. If you're at a law school with a curve of around 2.5-2.8, you're going to have to be within the top 15% of your class to be considered. Another thing to keep in mind is that MidLaw firms are typically regional. A law firm that has offices in [market] will want law students from the area or who are willing to settle in the area. You might end up loathing Philly by 3L year.

You seem interested in the idea of having smaller billing requirements. You don't have to talk to attorneys who work at truly MidLaw firms to get an idea of the hours requirements - these places hire enough to generate information available online about the hours, the work culture, and the environment. I can give specific examples of firms I know of, if you want to PM me. But you can always ask around off the record if you want. Asking during a law school networking event... nah.

The reason why people aim for BigLaw over MidLaw is because: 1) law grads have large amounts of debt and earning $200k as a 25 year old law grad helps bring down the debt levels faster than making $80k in Providence or Burlington; and 2) high turnover rates mean BigLaw needs to keep bringing in law grads. MidLaw simply doesn't pay on comparable rates (correct me if I'm wrong, please) and doesn't hire fresh law grads at the same rate.

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UVA2B

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby UVA2B » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:06 pm

I think most of what you said is more or less fair, but Providence absolutely has biglaw. At minimum, I know Locke Lord has an office there. But substantially you’re right that there isn’t much outside of Boston.

tk421991

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby tk421991 » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:47 pm

I stand corrected. I thought LL just had a Boston office and Nixon Peabody is in Prov. There's also a couple firms like Pierce Atwood and Partridge, Snow, and Hahn that could be BigLaw based on the number of lawyers but function more like regional MidLaw firms.

malibustacy

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby malibustacy » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:36 am

First, "mid-law" can mean anything from boutique firms that pay more than Big Law to total sweatshops.

Good mid laws don't really hire out of law school. Some firms that I know as "mid laws" hired like two summers.

Firms that have lower-hours/better working conditions attract plenty of laterals from V20 firms even for less pay.

QContinuum

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby QContinuum » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:52 am

malibustacy wrote:First, "mid-law" can mean anything from boutique firms that pay more than Big Law to total sweatshops.


To my understanding, midlaw generally refers to firms that pay (significantly) less than BigLaw. I have never heard the term "midlaw" applied to elite boutiques that pay more than NY market - those firms may be small, but they are generally lumped into the "BigLaw" category.

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thatlawlkid

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby thatlawlkid » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:34 am

paradiselost9 wrote:generalizations are fine for now until i get grades, built my network, and learn more about the profession in general

a lot of the mid-law firms in philly have a reputation for offering fewer hours as a perk, but i could easily interview a few attorneys in these offices myself and confirm

smaller firms are inherently less stable than bigger ones, all else equal, but the idea is that all big law associates, practically speaking, have their career uprooted after a few years. i suppose i'm imagining that mid-law firms don't kick people out like big law does. maybe it's a place to earn your chops, build a long career, and work toward partner (if you're a good fit and do good work). (fwiw i'm primarily interested in litigation)

however, all these things are hard to get insight into. big law culture and career is relatively well expressed in this forum, but mid law is not so much. all your points are well taken though, and i appreciate the post

What specific firms are you referring to here?

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BruceWayne

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby BruceWayne » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:06 am

OP response wont' really help you as you're from NE and seem to be focused on staying there, but I feel like this would be helpful to some folks as when I was a regular here there was almost nothing on this topic:

Midlaw is actually quite big in my area of the country (the southeast). To be honest, it's big enough to where, in hindsight, I'm kinda surprised at how inaccurate the TLS info was when I was in school. There are a ton of midlaw firms in the southeast. And MANY of them do hire people people straight out or with minimal experience. The firms aren't even that hard to find. However, what I will say is the idea that they work less hours than biglaw, unfortunately, is wrong. Many of these firms expect 2000 billable hours a year. Also, the salary is much lower than the current biglaw rates (think 80-110K). Also, I'm not really sure how much of a leg up is given to people from highly ranked schools. Also, the work may not be what many TLS posters are looking for. Lots of premise liability, insurance defense, trucking cases etc. Sometimes you can find firms that do things like construction litigation. But the bottom line is that the work is definitely there. I would not be surprised if this kinda thing existed in other parts of the country as well.

SFSpartan

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby SFSpartan » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:45 am

BruceWayne wrote:OP response wont' really help you as you're from NE and seem to be focused on staying there, but I feel like this would be helpful to some folks as when I was a regular here there was almost nothing on this topic:

Midlaw is actually quite big in my area of the country (the southeast). To be honest, it's big enough to where, in hindsight, I'm kinda surprised at how inaccurate the TLS info was when I was in school. There are a ton of midlaw firms in the southeast. And MANY of them do hire people people straight out or with minimal experience. The firms aren't even that hard to find. However, what I will say is the idea that they work less hours than biglaw, unfortunately, is wrong. Many of these firms expect 2000 billable hours a year. Also, the salary is much lower than the current biglaw rates (think 80-110K). Also, I'm not really sure how much of a leg up is given to people from highly ranked schools. Also, the work may not be what many TLS posters are looking for. Lots of premise liability, insurance defense, trucking cases etc. Sometimes you can find firms that do things like construction litigation. But the bottom line is that the work is definitely there. I would not be surprised if this kinda thing existed in other parts of the country as well.


TLS is good at aggregating info about how large law firms based in major (typically coastal) markets work. It's less good at aggregating info about secondary markets (particularly in the midwest and southeast, where there isn't enough work to sustain more than a few huge, NY-style biglaw offices). What most other posters have said is generally true of midlaw in my market (Bay Area)

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:16 am

I'm at mid-law now. I'd take big law in a heart beat. In fact, I aimed for biglaw during law school but couldn't get it. Mid-law was the backup (which prob suggests that my mid-law wasn't necessarily the ones that pay close to market + look for associates that came from biglaw etc.)

Now, I'm earning proportionately better than what the average big law associate earns $/hr. But the fact of the matter is biglaw's earning potential is way higher (if you care about pay at all). I've done some contract work where I got paid 60$/hr, of which I only worked about 10 hrs/week. My current firm pays me 120k (1st year), and I'm working about 42 hours/week (or, $55/hr). If you ever convert biglaw's earning potential, e.g. 190k pre-bonus for 75 hours/week, that's just about $50/hr. However, this is just after the 1st year. They get crazy raises. I get about a 10k raise. My bonus will be substantially smaller. Slowly their converted hourly rate will be in the 60s, 70s, 80s....

Another reason is the work I get to do. I just don't feel busy enough at my firm. Whereas biglaw firm is probably on the other side of the spectrum where it's a bit too busy. But there are a good # of big firms out there that's closer to 60 hr/weeks (and not 75-80 hours).

Just my 2 cents

lawboi619

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby lawboi619 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm at mid-law now. I'd take big law in a heart beat. In fact, I aimed for biglaw during law school but couldn't get it. Mid-law was the backup (which prob suggests that my mid-law wasn't necessarily the ones that pay close to market + look for associates that came from biglaw etc.)

Now, I'm earning proportionately better than what the average big law associate earns $/hr. But the fact of the matter is biglaw's earning potential is way higher (if you care about pay at all). I've done some contract work where I got paid 60$/hr, of which I only worked about 10 hrs/week. My current firm pays me 120k (1st year), and I'm working about 42 hours/week (or, $55/hr). If you ever convert biglaw's earning potential, e.g. 190k pre-bonus for 75 hours/week, that's just about $50/hr. However, this is just after the 1st year. They get crazy raises. I get about a 10k raise. My bonus will be substantially smaller. Slowly their converted hourly rate will be in the 60s, 70s, 80s....

Another reason is the work I get to do. I just don't feel busy enough at my firm. Whereas biglaw firm is probably on the other side of the spectrum where it's a bit too busy. But there are a good # of big firms out there that's closer to 60 hr/weeks (and not 75-80 hours).

Just my 2 cents



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Last edited by QContinuum on Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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paradiselost9

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Re: Why Not Mid Law?

Postby paradiselost9 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 4:56 pm

thatlawlkid wrote:What specific firms are you referring to here?


this isn't the bible but it should wet your whistle http://www.thelegalintel.com/amlaw/palaw_2010_chart.pdf



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