Biglaw lawyer taking questions

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3rdYrLitigator
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:32 pm

democrattotheend wrote:Hi. Thanks for doing this...this thread has been very informative for me, even though I am only a 0L, because I think it's important to gain insight into what lawyers actually do before making the investment in law school. Threads like this are helpful because they go beyond what the firms tell you on their website and give insight into what it's actually like, so I appreciate your taking the time.

Here's my question: A lot of firms tout pro bono on their website, and many state that they give billable hours credit for pro bono and that they treat pro bono hours the same as other hours for bonuses, promotions, etc. Do they really mean that, or is it just PR? Is it looked down upon to do too much pro bono work, even if the firm gives billable hours credit? If so, how many hours of pro bono work are considered acceptable to count towards billable?

If you are not at a firm that gives billable credit for pro bono, my specific question may not be relevant, but either way, can you give me a general sense of how pro bono work is viewed by managing partners and other people who have a say in whether you stay or not?


Many firms take pro bono seriously. What that means is that they give you credit, and it counts the same as billable hours, but there are generally limits to how much pro bono you can do. For example, some firms have minimum billables that pro bono will count towards, but only a certain amount (ex: 2000 billables, first 100 pro bono counts towards 2000). I feel like even at the firms that take it seriously, there's usually a core of die hard pro bono champions and most everyone else is much less gung ho about it. Now, if you're billing over 2000 hours and doing a good amount of pro bono, that will probably look good, especially if you're working well over 2000 billable. But if you're not making your other hours and doing tons of pro bono, that's going to be a problem at most firms. That is unless you're doing very high profile pro bono work (Supreme Court appeals or other work that gets the firm noticed in a good way).

Anonymous User
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:03 pm

My summer firm didn't have a pro-bono cap.

What ended up happening is some people would spend tons of hours doing rather silly stuff for pro bono projects (mostly going way overkill on what should be really simple stuff) in order to make up for low billables.

Renzo
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Renzo » Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My summer firm didn't have a pro-bono cap.

What ended up happening is some people would spend tons of hours doing rather silly stuff for pro bono projects (mostly going way overkill on what should be really simple stuff) in order to make up for low billables.


I'm guessing that partners were wise to this trick come bonus/evaluation time?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:24 pm

Just wanted to add another opinion. At my firm pro bono hours were credited, but they were viewed differently than billable hours when calculating a bonus. You are fooling yourself if you think any firm views pro bono hours 100% the same as billable. If you are buffering your low billables with pro bono hours, people will still notice your low billables. Similarly, don't think that you can fill your time with pro bono hours, avoid billable work, and essentially be a highly paid public interest attorney. Things don't work that way.

With that said, pro bono hours are good to put in on top of billable work. Most firms appreciate it. Additionally, you can often get more hands on experience that you may not normally have with billable work as a junior or mid level associate. Ultimately, billables are king. Higher billables infinitely trump pro bono hours. Law firms are businesses.

Sorry for answering what I was not asked, just wanted to add my 2 cents.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:00 pm

Just wanted to add another opinion. At my firm pro bono hours were credited, but they were viewed differently than billable hours when calculating a bonus. You are fooling yourself if you think any firm views pro bono hours 100% the same as billable.


(poster from before)

Yeah, I'm sure it was viewed differently. But you had corporate associates on track to bill 1200 hours due to lack of work and desperate to do anything to make it look like they weren't totally slacking.

3rdYrLitigator
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Just wanted to add another opinion. At my firm pro bono hours were credited, but they were viewed differently than billable hours when calculating a bonus. You are fooling yourself if you think any firm views pro bono hours 100% the same as billable.


(poster from before)

Yeah, I'm sure it was viewed differently. But you had corporate associates on track to bill 1200 hours due to lack of work and desperate to do anything to make it look like they weren't totally slacking.


Yeah, official or unofficial, I'm sure there's a cap of some sort. A corporate associate billing 1200 hours with 800 pro bono probably looks better than a corporate associate billing 1200 hours with 0 pro bono, but that's about it.

Inygma
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Inygma » Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:51 pm

Amazing thread, thanks a million for this...


1. If you were to choose between a rank 30-40 full price or a rank 60-70sh for 3/4 scholly, what would you choose?

2. You said in a previous post that paying for something other than T20 right now is bad news... is that also for people going into 1L next year, in your opinion?

3rdYrLitigator
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:18 pm

Inygma wrote:Amazing thread, thanks a million for this...


1. If you were to choose between a rank 30-40 full price or a rank 60-70sh for 3/4 scholly, what would you choose?

2. You said in a previous post that paying for something other than T20 right now is bad news... is that also for people going into 1L next year, in your opinion?


1. Probably the 60-70-ish. Actually almost definitely.

2. I'd say so.

legends159
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby legends159 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:23 pm

Generally speaking, how would you rank these summer jobs for resume boost in preparation for OCI: it's fine if you say that some are on the same level and no real difference.

1. firm job (big law firm)
2. firm job (small firm in middle of nowhere)
3. Public interest work with high profile agency (say ACLU; NAACP)
4. Public interest work with smaller agency
5. US attorney's office (civil division)
6. US attorney's office (criminal division)
7. Government agency (say SEC)
8. Extern with a state judge (non-Supreme Court)
9. Extern with a federal judge/state supreme court judge
10. RA for a professor

3rdYrLitigator
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:07 pm

I'm not sure I can really differentiate a lot of these. I'd say personally:

1, 5, 6
7
9
the rest

legends159 wrote:Generally speaking, how would you rank these summer jobs for resume boost in preparation for OCI: it's fine if you say that some are on the same level and no real difference.

1. firm job (big law firm)
2. firm job (small firm in middle of nowhere)
3. Public interest work with high profile agency (say ACLU; NAACP)
4. Public interest work with smaller agency
5. US attorney's office (civil division)
6. US attorney's office (criminal division)
7. Government agency (say SEC)
8. Extern with a state judge (non-Supreme Court)
9. Extern with a federal judge/state supreme court judge
10. RA for a professor

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bettielocke
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby bettielocke » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:38 pm

tag...thanks again!

legends159
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby legends159 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:41 am

3rdYrLitigator wrote:I'm not sure I can really differentiate a lot of these. I'd say personally:

1, 5, 6
7
9
the rest



cool thanks. I was considering just going for USAO and not bothering with trying to get firm work cause i'm not ambitious enough to mass mail or network my tail off knowing that I have such a slim chance of getting one this summer.

lsb
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby lsb » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:43 am

legends159 wrote:
3rdYrLitigator wrote:I'm not sure I can really differentiate a lot of these. I'd say personally:

1, 5, 6
7
9
the rest



cool thanks. I was considering just going for USAO and not bothering with trying to get firm work cause i'm not ambitious enough to mass mail or network my tail off knowing that I have such a slim chance of getting one this summer.


I always thought that was one of the hardest to get?

legends159
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby legends159 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:45 am

I'm not saying I'll get it, though I know someone who is high ranking at the office I want to work in and he likes me and told me to send him my resume/cover letter. He also says they love HYS students. Plus I'll have a 2L who worked there last year send out emails for me.

lsb
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby lsb » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:50 am

legends159 wrote:I'm not saying I'll get it, though I know someone who is high ranking at the office I want to work in and he likes me and told me to send him my resume/cover letter. He also says they love HYS students. Plus I'll have a 2L who worked there last year send out emails for me.



I've always heard that at many DA offices, the quality of school is not as important as clinicals, internships, moot court, etc. However, I assume that US Attorneys offices are different and really like to hire within the top 14. Is this true in your experience?

Anonymous User
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:38 am

What are your thoughts as UVA as a school, and how does your firm look at UVA grads?

Great thread BTW much appreciated

legends159
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby legends159 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:44 am

lsb wrote:I've always heard that at many DA offices, the quality of school is not as important as clinicals, internships, moot court, etc. However, I assume that US Attorneys offices are different and really like to hire within the top 14. Is this true in your experience?


honestly I have no clue. Are you talking about state DA offices or Federal DOJ prosecuters?

I'd imagine that with state DA office they're happy to take as many people as they can give a desk to for the summer since it's free work. With the USAO it's really hard to get a job with them after graduation (most people who get it had stellar grades from top schools and clerked with federal judges or lateralled in after working in biglaw)

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underdawg
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby underdawg » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:00 am

well manhattan DA is going to be competitive. USAO is going to be competitive. bumfuck, nowhere DA might not be too tough and you'll only have regional competition.

i still think being able to talk about your summer is the most important (at least, unless you work biglaw 1L, that will always be the best). be a little careful, i hear you might get more substantive experience at the DA's office (i hear they sometimes let you handle misdemeanors pretty much on your own sometimes?) than at USAO. think about it. USAO doesn't hire straight out of law school (at least SDNY and EDNY). i hear sometimes they make an exception for a SCOTUS clerk. sometimes. you think they're going to let a 1L do a lot of stuff? ha ha

legends159
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby legends159 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:06 am

you're right, the more prestigious the thing is the less stuff they let you do. Although in any job, I won't expect to do anything as a 1L that they wouldn't let a 0L do (cause honestly most 1Ls aren't that much more knowledgeable than 0Ls in terms of practical legal work).

It's a trade off I suppose, but I'm not that interested in criminal law. Is there a civil version of the DA's office? And although the Manhattan DA office is very competitive, i hear the Brooklyn one is much easier to get (though still challenging)

Inygma
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Inygma » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:33 pm

Here's a question:

If I attend Davis next year I have a contact that is a partner at the largest firm in Sacramento, CA. If I am able to intern over my 1L summer and get a good recomendation from the partner, how will that affect my chances at BigLaw in SoCal (Read: Los Angeles) having a Senior Partner at a large firm as a reference. I would stick with his firm, but my wife's family and mine are in Southern California.

lsb
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby lsb » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:33 pm

legends159 wrote:you're right, the more prestigious the thing is the less stuff they let you do. Although in any job, I won't expect to do anything as a 1L that they wouldn't let a 0L do (cause honestly most 1Ls aren't that much more knowledgeable than 0Ls in terms of practical legal work).

It's a trade off I suppose, but I'm not that interested in criminal law. Is there a civil version of the DA's office? And although the Manhattan DA office is very competitive, i hear the Brooklyn one is much easier to get (though still challenging)


I'm pretty sure DA offices do not handle civil matters. No positive, though. Anyone else want to weigh in on this?

Renzo
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Renzo » Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:49 am

lsb wrote:
legends159 wrote:you're right, the more prestigious the thing is the less stuff they let you do. Although in any job, I won't expect to do anything as a 1L that they wouldn't let a 0L do (cause honestly most 1Ls aren't that much more knowledgeable than 0Ls in terms of practical legal work).

It's a trade off I suppose, but I'm not that interested in criminal law. Is there a civil version of the DA's office? And although the Manhattan DA office is very competitive, i hear the Brooklyn one is much easier to get (though still challenging)


I'm pretty sure DA offices do not handle civil matters. No positive, though. Anyone else want to weigh in on this?

NYC Law Dept. is sort of a city version of the DOJ Torts div. and is probably as close as you can come to a "civil DA"

3rdYrLitigator
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:41 am

Inygma wrote:Here's a question:

If I attend Davis next year I have a contact that is a partner at the largest firm in Sacramento, CA. If I am able to intern over my 1L summer and get a good recomendation from the partner, how will that affect my chances at BigLaw in SoCal (Read: Los Angeles) having a Senior Partner at a large firm as a reference. I would stick with his firm, but my wife's family and mine are in Southern California.


Helps a bit. It also depends if he's got a lot of close contacts in SoCal, which would help a ton. However, personally, I never really look at references like that, I kind of assume that a rec from a bigshot partner that a 1L summered at is a family friend (maybe unfairly).

3rdYrLitigator
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat May 15, 2010 8:02 pm

I'm back for the weekend and I'll be taking questions for a couple days. If you have any questions that haven't been asked on this thread for a Biglaw litigator, shoot.

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atlantalaw
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby atlantalaw » Sat May 15, 2010 8:31 pm

3rdYrLitigator wrote:I'm back for the weekend and I'll be taking questions for a couple days. If you have any questions that haven't been asked on this thread for a Biglaw litigator, shoot.


i was just wondering if you could give a bit more detail on how being on a secondary journal helped. is it just because of the writing experience? or were employers pretty impressed? both? other? thanks!




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