Biglaw lawyer taking questions

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:37 pm

not sure if you have any involvement with recruiting/hiring, but in your opinion, what are the prospects for people in the following:

median @ CCN
median @ MBPV
median @ DCNG
median @ UT/UCLA/Vandy
median @ strong regional like Fordham, Emory, Illinois, GW, etc

not necessarily NYC biglaw, but just market-paying gig

3rdYrLitigator
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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:39 pm

DCD wrote:i just mean a "regular job" ..management, engineering, etc.

would you be happy working your current job/schedule for less pay (as many of us probably will)? what would your threshold be where it wasn't worth it anymore? 100k starting? 120?


I guess if the "regular job" was interesting, sure.

When I started law school, biglaw started you out at 125K. So that's what I was hoping for. I don't think starting someone out at $125K is outrageous.

Thank you for taking questions -- this is useful stuff. Do you think your firm has a plan for developing associates into partners and if so what type of things do they do. Does one have to have a book to be promoted? Does your firm have service partners?


My firm has a mentoring program to help you navigate your way to partnership, I think there are certain metrics, and guidelines, but what it comes down to is doing a good job and making the right people like you. You don't have to have a book to be promoted, and there are service partners. However, making equity is different than income partnership, and the ability to generate business is much more important to make equity than income.

What percentage of 1st year associates were laid-off this year (will there be more rounds coming up?)

Also, of the summer class, what percentage were no-offer-pwnd?


If you're asking industry wide, check abovethelaw.com, many. At my firm, no 1st years were laid off that I know of, and I don't think we're no-offering any summers that I know of.

Thankfully this doesn't apply to me (knock on wood that my firm doesn't implode) but what suggestions would you give for 3L's who have been no-offered or don't have a biglaw gig lined up.


I really don't know, beyond networking their asses off, looking to smaller markets, looking to smaller firms, and trying for a government position... most of them are probably pretty f'ed, sorry to say. I know plenty of laid off associates/1st year types and market is grim. Contract attorney placement firms are flooded with resumes from former biglaw associates, it's really a tough time.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:43 pm

DavidYurman85 wrote:What is your take on being "out" in the workplace? Depends on the firm/culture, etc..? Thanks for taking questions!



Yeah, sorry totally depends on the firm. I don't think it'd be any deal at all where I work, but could see some other firms or at least departments in certain firms being somewhat hostile, unfortunately.

not sure if you have any involvement with recruiting/hiring, but in your opinion, what are the prospects for people in the following:

median @ CCN
median @ MBPV
median @ DCNG
median @ UT/UCLA/Vandy
median @ strong regional like Fordham, Emory, Illinois, GW, etc

not necessarily NYC biglaw, but just market-paying gig


My guess is as good as anyone else's, it's just too different of an economy than what I've seen. I'll give it a shot. First off, I think UT/UCLA/Vandy aren't distinguishable enough from your "strong regional" schools to warrant a different category. I think median through MBPV will be fine. I think median at DCNG will have to hustle and some may end up at firms that pull away from 160K. Median at the rest will have a much harder time than when I was coming out.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:46 pm

3rdYrLitigator wrote:My guess is as good as anyone else's, it's just too different of an economy than what I've seen. I'll give it a shot. First off, I think UT/UCLA/Vandy aren't distinguishable enough from your "strong regional" schools to warrant a different category. I think median through MBPV will be fine. I think median at DCNG will have to hustle and some may end up at firms that pull away from 160K. Median at the rest will have a much harder time than when I was coming out.


so below t10 should just withdraw right now? i figured as much.

thanks for answering the Qs!

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Alyosha » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:02 pm

Thank you for taking questions. I am wondering how slightly older students are perceived during the hiring process. Students that are 32, 33, 34 when they graduate, for example. Do they have a difficult time landing biglaw gigs because of their age?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby D. H2Oman » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
3rdYrLitigator wrote:My guess is as good as anyone else's, it's just too different of an economy than what I've seen. I'll give it a shot. First off, I think UT/UCLA/Vandy aren't distinguishable enough from your "strong regional" schools to warrant a different category. I think median through MBPV will be fine. I think median at DCNG will have to hustle and some may end up at firms that pull away from 160K. Median at the rest will have a much harder time than when I was coming out.


so below t10 should just withdraw right now? i figured as much.

thanks for answering the Qs!



Interesting interpretation.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:08 pm

Alyosha wrote:Thank you for taking questions. I am wondering how slightly older students are perceived during the hiring process. Students that are 32, 33, 34 when they graduate, for example. Do they have a difficult time landing biglaw gigs because of their age?


There are a good number of people who come through and are a bit older, so I don't think there's a huge bias against them. But I've also never gone through OCI at that age, so I couldn't say for certain. I don't see it as a major issue.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby OperaSoprano » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:18 pm

Dwaterman86 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
3rdYrLitigator wrote:My guess is as good as anyone else's, it's just too different of an economy than what I've seen. I'll give it a shot. First off, I think UT/UCLA/Vandy aren't distinguishable enough from your "strong regional" schools to warrant a different category. I think median through MBPV will be fine. I think median at DCNG will have to hustle and some may end up at firms that pull away from 160K. Median at the rest will have a much harder time than when I was coming out.


so below t10 should just withdraw right now? i figured as much.

thanks for answering the Qs!



Interesting interpretation.


If your life's ambition is biglaw, maybe. I realize this board is skewed toward those with that ambition, but corporate law is not the only valid career path in the universe.

OP, thanks for answering these questions, though. Your insight is appreciated.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
3rdYrLitigator wrote:My guess is as good as anyone else's, it's just too different of an economy than what I've seen. I'll give it a shot. First off, I think UT/UCLA/Vandy aren't distinguishable enough from your "strong regional" schools to warrant a different category. I think median through MBPV will be fine. I think median at DCNG will have to hustle and some may end up at firms that pull away from 160K. Median at the rest will have a much harder time than when I was coming out.


so below t10 should just withdraw right now? i figured as much.

thanks for answering the Qs!


Depends on what you want. If you absolutely have to have biglaw right out of law schools, maybe you should reconsider, but if that's your goal for law schools, it probably isn't the right career move anyway. Just because you don't start out there doesn't mean you can't end up there as well.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby purplebanana » Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:05 pm

Do you find that people in the working world are as obsessed with prestige as law students/people who frequent AutoAdmit/read ATL? Not just regarding prestige of firms but prestige of law school, undergrad, etc.

Relatedly, is there a reason to choose a higher-ranked firm over a lower-ranked one if you like the lower-ranked firm a little better? This is assuming both pay market salary. In general, do the "better" firms generally pay better bonuses or offer some benefit that lower ranked firms don't?

To echo everyone else, thanks for your input!

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Kant » Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:16 pm

How do you know if you'll actually be good at being a lawyer? Are people that go to top14 schools generally pretty successful?

I'll get into a good law school, but some of my friends and family tell me I'd be more successful/happier/better at doing engineering or something similar?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby PSLaplace » Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:17 pm

How much - if any - would having a science/engineering undergrad help one make biglaw? Are certain degrees better than others?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:20 pm

PSLaplace wrote:How much - if any - would having a science/engineering undergrad help one make biglaw? Are certain degrees better than others?

I doubt they care.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:25 pm

purplebanana wrote:Do you find that people in the working world are as obsessed with prestige as law students/people who frequent AutoAdmit/read ATL? Not just regarding prestige of firms but prestige of law school, undergrad, etc.

Relatedly, is there a reason to choose a higher-ranked firm over a lower-ranked one if you like the lower-ranked firm a little better? This is assuming both pay market salary. In general, do the "better" firms generally pay better bonuses or offer some benefit that lower ranked firms don't?

To echo everyone else, thanks for your input!


Not really, most people get over that when they're actually working. That said, there are certain schools we generally hire from, and they generally are the higher ranked schools. A lot of associates read ATL, it's a good source of industry news, I mean the ABA journal and WSJ law blog sometimes pick up their stories.

Sure, there are tons of reasons to pick lower ranked firms. I could have gone to a V5 firm, but chose not to because I didn't feel like I would fit in there as well as I do with my firm. Higher ranked firms do generally pay better bonuses, but it depends on what range you're talking about, and bonus information is pretty easy to find online. Some top ranked firms deal with bigger clients and bigger cases than others. But again, it depends on what rankings you're talking about, Vault rankings? Amlaw? Chambers & Partners?

How do you know if you'll actually be good at being a lawyer? Are people that go to top14 schools generally pretty successful?

I'll get into a good law school, but some of my friends and family tell me I'd be more successful/happier/better at doing engineering or something similar?


Besides actually working as a lawyer? I guess being able to work quickly under a deadline while still being able to produce generally error-free work is important.

Successful in law firms? In life? I'm not an expert, but it seems like they at least are well represented in top firms.

That last one isn't a question. Do I think you'd be more successful or happier doing something else? I have no clue. But if you really enjoy the law, then that should be important. If you're in it for the money or prestige, well it's no guarantee.

How much - if any - would having a science/engineering undergrad help one make biglaw? Are certain degrees better than others?


Depends on what you want to specialize in. Patent law? Very important. Anything else? Meaningless. Likewise for other specialities. If you want to do tax law, having an accounting degree may be a plus.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 98234872348 » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:43 pm

3rd year, I would like to start by thanking you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.

That being said, I have a question about something you alluded to earlier:

3rdYrLitigator wrote:Depends on what you want. If you absolutely have to have biglaw right out of law schools, maybe you should reconsider, but if that's your goal for law schools, it probably isn't the right career move anyway. Just because you don't start out there doesn't mean you can't end up there as well.


The general consensus on TLS is that if you don't make Biglaw out of college, it is a slim to none chance you will make it at all (granted some people take a year or two off to clerk for a judge before accepting an offer with a firm). Hence, I was confused by the above statement; if you could shed some light on the subject of lateraling into Biglaw without prior Biglaw experience (if such a thing even occurs), I am sure many people would appreciate it.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby groundkontrol » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:50 pm

What region is your law school located in?

What schools does your firm particularly target? Harvard? Columbia? Penn? Any one in particular? Any from outside the T14?

Do you feel that there is diversity at your law firm in regards to race? Do you think race plays any role in interviews and hiring for your form?

What was your life like a a 1st year associate? Strictly doc review?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:54 pm

I know this is random, but can you find time to go to the gym 3 or 4 times per week and eat healthy while working biglaw hours?

Do you know, as a very very rough estimate, what percentage of associates eventually make partner? What kind of salary (ballpark is fine) do most new partners make?

Lastly, you said that the hours are brutal but you also mentioned that you average 50-55 hours a week. That's something like 9AM to 6 PM M-F and a couple hours on Saturday or Sunday. So the "70-80 hour" work week I often hear about is not always the norm?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:20 pm

Thank you for taking questions.

I am a first generation American/college student and absolutely don't know anyone in the legal market. What would be an appropriate way to network/ approach someone in the legal field?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:33 pm

mistergoft wrote:3rd year, I would like to start by thanking you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.

That being said, I have a question about something you alluded to earlier:

3rdYrLitigator wrote:Depends on what you want. If you absolutely have to have biglaw right out of law schools, maybe you should reconsider, but if that's your goal for law schools, it probably isn't the right career move anyway. Just because you don't start out there doesn't mean you can't end up there as well.


The general consensus on TLS is that if you don't make Biglaw out of college, it is a slim to none chance you will make it at all (granted some people take a year or two off to clerk for a judge before accepting an offer with a firm). Hence, I was confused by the above statement; if you could shed some light on the subject of lateraling into Biglaw without prior Biglaw experience (if such a thing even occurs), I am sure many people would appreciate it.


Well it's certainly tough, but you could go to small law and build a book of business, you could do a clerkship and come in, or build a name for yourself as a litigator or expert and come in. It wouldn't be easy, or short, but it's possible.

What region is your law school located in?

What schools does your firm particularly target? Harvard? Columbia? Penn? Any one in particular? Any from outside the T14?

Do you feel that there is diversity at your law firm in regards to race? Do you think race plays any role in interviews and hiring for your form?

What was your life like a a 1st year associate? Strictly doc review?
What region is your law school located in?

What schools does your firm particularly target? Harvard? Columbia? Penn? Any one in particular? Any from outside the T14?

Do you feel that there is diversity at your law firm in regards to race? Do you think race plays any role in interviews and hiring for your form?

What was your life like a a 1st year associate? Strictly doc review?

My firm targets top schools, none in particular, and strong regional schools.

The diversity is about average for biglaw, but it kind of peters out at the partner level. I think race plays a large role in hiring at the associate level.

Not strictly doc review at all, some doc review, but a lot of substantive work.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I know this is random, but can you find time to go to the gym 3 or 4 times per week and eat healthy while working biglaw hours?

Do you know, as a very very rough estimate, what percentage of associates eventually make partner? What kind of salary (ballpark is fine) do most new partners make?

Lastly, you said that the hours are brutal but you also mentioned that you average 50-55 hours a week. That's something like 9AM to 6 PM M-F and a couple hours on Saturday or Sunday. So the "70-80 hour" work week I often hear about is not always the norm?


Sure, if you take the time you can, but it might not be a completely regular schedule. I eat fairly healthy, it's not that hard. A very low percentage of associates make partner 10-20%? Income partners I'd have to guess make somewhere in the mid $300Ks but that's a guess.

No, a 70-80 hour work week isn't the norm, but it's not unusual at all. I've had more 70-80 hour work weeks the last two months than 50-55 hour weeks but I'm also on pace for a fairly huge billing year, about 20-30% higher than the average associate at my firm.

I am a first generation American/college student and absolutely don't know anyone in the legal market. What would be an appropriate way to network/ approach someone in the legal field?


Join legal organizations, contact alumni, attend conferences, get to know professors, etc. I didn't know anyone in the legal market either coming in, but through law school I made some helpful contacts.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby goosey » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:41 pm

In regards to hiring and diversity, do you think that a Muslim woman that wears a headscarf would be hired? Do you think this would help, hurt or have no effect?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:39 am

goosey wrote:In regards to hiring and diversity, do you think that a Muslim woman that wears a headscarf would be hired? Do you think this would help, hurt or have no effect?


Honestly, I think it might hurt. I have nothing to base this on other than the fact that I've never seen another lawyer wearing a headscarf, either in my own firm, or in other firms.

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby Ivy_hopeful » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:15 am

3rdYrLitigator wrote:
mistergoft wrote:3rd year, I would like to start by thanking you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.

That being said, I have a question about something you alluded to earlier:

3rdYrLitigator wrote:Depends on what you want. If you absolutely have to have biglaw right out of law schools, maybe you should reconsider, but if that's your goal for law schools, it probably isn't the right career move anyway. Just because you don't start out there doesn't mean you can't end up there as well.


The general consensus on TLS is that if you don't make Biglaw out of college, it is a slim to none chance you will make it at all (granted some people take a year or two off to clerk for a judge before accepting an offer with a firm). Hence, I was confused by the above statement; if you could shed some light on the subject of lateraling into Biglaw without prior Biglaw experience (if such a thing even occurs), I am sure many people would appreciate it.


Well it's certainly tough, but you could go to small law and build a book of business, you could do a clerkship and come in, or build a name for yourself as a litigator or expert and come in. It wouldn't be easy, or short, but it's possible.

What region is your law school located in?

What schools does your firm particularly target? Harvard? Columbia? Penn? Any one in particular? Any from outside the T14?

Do you feel that there is diversity at your law firm in regards to race? Do you think race plays any role in interviews and hiring for your form?

What was your life like a a 1st year associate? Strictly doc review?
What region is your law school located in?

What schools does your firm particularly target? Harvard? Columbia? Penn? Any one in particular? Any from outside the T14?

Do you feel that there is diversity at your law firm in regards to race? Do you think race plays any role in interviews and hiring for your form?

What was your life like a a 1st year associate? Strictly doc review?

My firm targets top schools, none in particular, and strong regional schools.

The diversity is about average for biglaw, but it kind of peters out at the partner level. I think race plays a large role in hiring at the associate level.

Not strictly doc review at all, some doc review, but a lot of substantive work.



What large role does race play in hiring at the associate level? Is it a positive role or do you think that minorities have a more difficult getting hired? If so why do you think that is?

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby catharsis » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:18 am

OP, thank you so much for making this thread and really following through with it. Ive read the entire thing up to this point. You rock!

I have a few questions for you--

1. What law school did you get your JD from?

2. How important were grades vs. the school you actually went to (rankings wise) in landing you this job? And how important are rankings in the grand scheme of things?

3. My friend made a joke the other day that the last person ranked in their graduating class from Harvard is still a Harvard lawyer. How important is class-rank at a top school? Obviously not being last but can you reasonably solidify a 100k job out of a top school coming out as the average student in your class?

4. How important is the type of law you do related to landing a job at a big firm? I dont know much yet about big firms but noticed one in my city had a variety of different fields of law that their attorneys do (I always figured it was just one area with a bunch of attorneys handling the same area haha). What is a good type of law to do that is in demand (or was in demand bc of the economy) that big law firms really like?

Thank you for your time!

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Re: Biglaw lawyer taking questions

Postby 3rdYrLitigator » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:46 am

Ivy_hopeful wrote:What large role does race play in hiring at the associate level? Is it a positive role or do you think that minorities have a more difficult getting hired? If so why do you think that is?


It depends on what race you're talking about. If it's one of the urm races I think it plays a positive role, and I base that on the fact that I've seen people accepted for call back with GPAs significantly lower than our average. We have an "informal" GPA cutoff but I've seen urm candidates brought back below that mark, when I have never seen any other non-urm candidate brought in below that mark.

If you think it will play a negative role in hiring, you have never seen exactly how hard biglaw tries to recruit urms.

Edit: on second reading I don't know if you were asking for the grounds for my assumption, or a more policy question. Policy-wise I think it's because, when it comes down to it, clients care about diversity and the firm wants to please clients. I'm sure many lawyers care about diversity as well, but it's probably more client driven.

1. What law school did you get your JD from?

2. How important were grades vs. the school you actually went to (rankings wise) in landing you this job? And how important are rankings in the grand scheme of things?

3. My friend made a joke the other day that the last person ranked in their graduating class from Harvard is still a Harvard lawyer. How important is class-rank at a top school? Obviously not being last but can you reasonably solidify a 100k job out of a top school coming out as the average student in your class?

4. How important is the type of law you do related to landing a job at a big firm? I dont know much yet about big firms but noticed one in my city had a variety of different fields of law that their attorneys do (I always figured it was just one area with a bunch of attorneys handling the same area haha). What is a good type of law to do that is in demand (or was in demand bc of the economy) that big law firms really like?


1. Sorry, I don't want to answer this one, but at T10 school.
2. When I was hired I think the school's reputation was important. Lawyers don't follow the ins and outs of the rankings once they've left law school but the the top schools have been the top schools for a long time. So the general lay out of the rankings are important but a couple spots don't matter. Rankings will always play a significant part in things, but your grades are important too. As I mentioned before there's an unofficial gpa cutoff at my firm, regardless of school.
3. When I came out, sure you could expect a 100K job being average in your class from a top school. These days, I think it will be harder. I wouldn't be surprised if some average students struggled a bit, whereas a few years ago when I came through average students had their choice of firms.
4. Well, right now, bankruptcy departments seem to be doing well, intellectual property also seems to be doing alright, and I think tax may be holding steady. However, I'm really not sure about trying to "chase" hot fields. If it's not an area that interests you biglaw will be unbearably dull. What are your interests and career goals? If it's just to make money, I guess you can try to find a hot field, but I know I'd hate my life if I were working in bankruptcy right now, even though my job security would be pretty strong.




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