One shot at Biglaw?

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PLATONiC
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby PLATONiC » Sat Oct 17, 2009 8:48 pm

I've seen stuff about this while browsing the web - I'm not exactly sure where, but perhaps you should search for "lateral hires." I think I read about this issue on an article written by a person who works for an attorney recruitment company at lawcrossing.com

bahama
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby bahama » Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:19 am

nealric wrote:Notice that I accounted for $175k of overhead in my calculations in addition to salary.


Just to nitpick, overhead in professional services is typically 1.5 - 2x compensation. Office buildings, computers, furniture, non-billable staff, and so on are all pretty expensive, especially in major markets like NYC. This alone could just about wipe out the profit you calculated. Plus, 2600 hrs billed was an unrealistic assumption for all but a handful of firms, who also had the highest expenses by paying out substantial bonuses (which you didn't include) directly reducing profits.

Not sure about your other assumptions, but the conventional wisdom is that 1st and 2nd year associates cost firms money. I suspect at the height of the boom this perhaps wasn't the case at all firms, but don't have anything to back that up.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sun Oct 18, 2009 5:04 am

nealric wrote:
What about networking, i'd imagin lawyers who work hard enough can build connections to get out of the minor leagues.


You likely won't meet the right people from a small firm. Unless it's a good boutique type of firm, you won't be dealing with biglaw lawyers or engaging in a biglaw-type practice. If for some reason you do meet a biglaw attorney at a cocktail party, they won't be impressed at your uncontested divorce skills.

IMO, if you end up at a small firm, work to build the best practice you can in the small firm world.


I question this for top school grads in major cities (e.g. NYU, Columbia, Chicago, etc). I mean if half your class makes it into biglaw and the majority of which stays in the same city it sounds like if you were to just keep in touch with your friends from school and other classmates you would have a good 200 people in biglaw that you know of as is. Granted most of those people wouldn't be able to help you right then and there it probably wouldn't be unlikley for you to meet your law school classmate's friends (who are higher up in the firm). Will all of this every actually lead to moving into biglaw? Probably not, but who knows, it sounds like a better shot then you not knowing anyone who works in biglaw except running into a "biglaw attorney at a cocktail party."

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:55 am

If you're talking 2600 billed, you're also talking firms that are paying $35,000 in bonuses. Since that's lockstep, that's 100 hours of gross theoretical revenue straight off the top for any firm.

I'd also dispute that hitting 2600 is in any way normal, even for V20's. Wachtell's notorious for that, but since they (a) get whatever they want as a fee and (b) pay 95% of base bonuses, none of this applies to them. 2600 is well north of midlevel averages even in New York.

And since you're talking billable for the associate work, but actually collected for the money, you can reduce that a lot, particularly for first years. I really don't see how anything over 2200 collected hours should even be considered, and most associates are going to be below that considerably.

Now, to pay the associate:

--- $200K in compensation between base, "bonus" (since it was guaranteed) and 401(k)
--- Overhead - His share of staff, rent, supplies, utilities, training, other expenses client won't eat
--- Benefits - This stuff is not cheap at all for employers
--- Recruiting costs - these are, per associate, well over their summer associate salary (their share of events, non-billable attorney time spent recruting them, etc). I've seen it estimated as high as $100,000 total; it's certainly over $50,000.

For all but a few firms, this barely worked during the boom. It doesn't work at all now and probably doesn't work in a "normal" economy. Especially not with clients who have learned they can push back hard on bills. And it's not even the firms in Vault order. Cravath signed a notoriously bad lease.

It's worth noting that the extremely compensated new associate is an very recent addition; last step of the salary and summer associate blowout wars was in 2007. It probably wasn't what people had in mind in terms of business model. They just went with it because, at the time, it didn't matter because anything seemed affordable. That has turned out not to be true. You can make first year associates worthwhile again, but the way to do it is to cut salary, eliminate lockstep bonuses and drastically reduce recruiting outlays - summer associate salary, promotional law school events and social budget being the most obvious targets.

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CE2JD
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby CE2JD » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:51 am


Posner
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby Posner » Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:38 pm

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Last edited by Posner on Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nealric
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby nealric » Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:26 pm

And since you're talking billable for the associate work, but actually collected for the money, you can reduce that a lot, particularly for first years. I really don't see how anything over 2200 collected hours should even be considered, and most associates are going to be below that considerably.

Now, to pay the associate:

--- $200K in compensation between base, "bonus" (since it was guaranteed) and 401(k)
--- Overhead - His share of staff, rent, supplies, utilities, training, other expenses client won't eat
--- Benefits - This stuff is not cheap at all for employers
--- Recruiting costs - these are, per associate, well over their summer associate salary (their share of events, non-billable attorney time spent recruting them, etc). I've seen it estimated as high as $100,000 total; it's certainly over $50,000.


Reread my post:

My calculations call for 1950 collected (3/4 of the 2600) billed.
100k in non-compensation overhead
75k in recruiting costs

Also note that I actually went with an unrealistically low billing rate ($250/hr). Granted, I left out bonus, so add another 30k. Cut those billables to 2300 (1725 collected), add 50k to overhead just for the heck of it, and the associate still turns a profit- albeit a very small one (a little over 6k).

My point wasn't really that all firms were making profits off first year (far from it), it was just that the very top firms were. They were the ones that started the salary wars in the first place. I really don't think any firm is right now save perhaps the Wachtells of the world.

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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:59 pm

What people are forgetting is that some of the major, major markets (or, let's just put it this way: NY, LA, SF, DC, Chicago; maybe Boston and Miami) have a significant number of prestigious, one-office, mid-size firms that are typically paying around $95-$115k. Mostly litigation work, but they often have prestigious clients (most of the time, large corporations with only a local presence). A lot of the first-year associates at these places lateral out to BigLaw; while most of their partners lateral in from BigLaw.

Headybrah
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby Headybrah » Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:08 pm

just curious,
I want to maximize my chances at Biglaw and am applying to law schools now

Im out of the top 14 right now and cusp of BC and GW...

What are thoughts on going to a school like Tulane or Wisconsin - can I get to biglaw from there?

06072010
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby 06072010 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:12 pm

uh, heady -- make a new thread, no need to go off-topic in this one.

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nealric
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby nealric » Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:19 am

What people are forgetting is that some of the major, major markets (or, let's just put it this way: NY, LA, SF, DC, Chicago; maybe Boston and Miami) have a significant number of prestigious, one-office, mid-size firms that are typically paying around $95-$115k


And the vast majority of said firms hire very few people without any experience. Don't believe me? Check the NALP form in a major city and add up the total number of associates hired in that pay range. Granted, a few are not NALP members- but if they aren't NALP members it's probably because they don't really hire new grads.

Much more realistic are boutiques in niche practice areas that pay 60-80k.

What are thoughts on going to a school like Tulane or Wisconsin - can I get to biglaw from there?


Yes, but you had better be at the top of the class (Top 10% in this economy).

gollymolly
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby gollymolly » Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:39 am

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Last edited by gollymolly on Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:45 am

nealric wrote:
What people are forgetting is that some of the major, major markets (or, let's just put it this way: NY, LA, SF, DC, Chicago; maybe Boston and Miami) have a significant number of prestigious, one-office, mid-size firms that are typically paying around $95-$115k


And the vast majority of said firms hire very few people without any experience. Don't believe me? Check the NALP form in a major city and add up the total number of associates hired in that pay range. Granted, a few are not NALP members- but if they aren't NALP members it's probably because they don't really hire new grads.


Actually, this isn't completely accurate. Many NALP firms don't hire new grads, and many non-NALP firms do (basically suggesting that simply having a NALP form reflects nothing about the firm's hiring practices in terms of hiring law students). However, it is correct that most of those midsize firms don't hire a lot of fresh law school grads (from what I can tell around 25-50% do, but the class sizes are so small that your odds aren't great and the vast majority of them cut there programs for c/o 2011). NYC might be a different though (I never looked at NYC).


nealric wrote:
What are thoughts on going to a school like Tulane or Wisconsin - can I get to biglaw from there?


Yes, but you had better be at the top of the class (Top 10% in this economy).


I highly doubt top 10% alone would have cut it for either of those schools for c/o 2011. C/O 2013 might be a different story.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon Oct 19, 2009 12:47 am

gollymolly wrote:
nealric wrote:
What people are forgetting is that some of the major, major markets (or, let's just put it this way: NY, LA, SF, DC, Chicago; maybe Boston and Miami) have a significant number of prestigious, one-office, mid-size firms that are typically paying around $95-$115k


And the vast majority of said firms hire very few people without any experience. Don't believe me? Check the NALP form in a major city and add up the total number of associates hired in that pay range. Granted, a few are not NALP members- but if they aren't NALP members it's probably because they don't really hire new grads.

Much more realistic are boutiques in niche practice areas that pay 60-80k.

What are thoughts on going to a school like Tulane or Wisconsin - can I get to biglaw from there?


Yes, but you had better be at the top of the class (Top 10% in this economy).


Honest question - really? Are top 10% of Tulane/Wisconsin getting jobs?


Any jobs? Yeah, probably. Biglaw in a major market (i.e. $145-160K pay range), not a chance in hell (unless you figure in LR, and a 1L biglaw summer associateship).

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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:00 am

nealric wrote:
What people are forgetting is that some of the major, major markets (or, let's just put it this way: NY, LA, SF, DC, Chicago; maybe Boston and Miami) have a significant number of prestigious, one-office, mid-size firms that are typically paying around $95-$115k


And the vast majority of said firms hire very few people without any experience. Don't believe me? Check the NALP form in a major city and add up the total number of associates hired in that pay range. Granted, a few are not NALP members- but if they aren't NALP members it's probably because they don't really hire new grads.


But plenty do. I can name plenty in Los Angeles: Lindhal Beck, Glancy Binkow, Blecher Collins, Girardi Keese, Keesal Young, Tredway Lumsdaine and Lavely Singer, among others. All quite prestigious (as far as small LA firms go), and all hire straight out of law school, and most of them also have summer programs and recruit at UCLA/USC OCI. And plenty of firms that recruit on-campus are not on NALP. It's too bad, because then it leads to a guessing game on salary, and students surely don't feel comfortable asking. Of those, only Lindhal Beck and Keesal Young are on NALP. They pay $115,000 and $155,000 a year, respectively. All those firms probably pay within that wage bracket.

Of course, they usually are only going to hire one - maybe two - new students a year, and certainly some years they might not hire any.

The point is, coming from a top boutique, you can definitely lateral to BigLaw within your market (where these firms are known even by lawyers in BigLaw; after all most of their partners came from BigLaw). But, again, this isn't something you see outside of the biggest of the big legal markets.

It kind of makes me wish I was going to law school in LA (my hometown), because those firms also don't really seem to care about non-USC/UCLA/Loyola/Southwestern students (I've tried) when it comes to new hires.

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nealric
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby nealric » Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:25 am


The point is, coming from a top boutique, you can definitely lateral to BigLaw within your market (where these firms are known even by lawyers in BigLaw; after all most of their partners came from BigLaw). But, again, this isn't something you see outside of the biggest of the big legal markets.


If you didn't get biglaw, you probably won't get a top boutique. Most of them are actually tougher to get than biglaw.


Actually, this isn't completely accurate. Many NALP firms don't hire new grads


There is very little reason to be a NALP member unless you have some inclination towards hiring new grads. They might not hire someone every year, but they at least hire occasionally.

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Matthies
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby Matthies » Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:10 am

I can say here in Denver there are planty of mid size firms that hire new grads at decent saleries, the big catch is they don’t do it from OCI and they don’t usually put any want ad out. Most of the time they hire a 3L to work as a clerk then if they like you hire you on after gradation or its word of mouth recommendation hiring only.

The biggest issue for students is they don’t know how to tap into this market so they don’t get many chances at these mid size firms, those that do have plenty of choices. If you look at the salary survey I posted a few weeks ago the mean salary for an associate with 0-1 years experience in Colorado is around $72k. Its not the 35-45k people throw out all the time as what your doomed to if you don’t go to big law. At least here.

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reasonable_man
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Re: One shot at Biglaw?

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:39 am

This thread has like 64 different directions.


- Its really hard to get biglaw if you miss it out of the gate.

- Firms are all losing money on their associates right now (for the most part), because there isn't enough work to go around. Thus, arguing whether a midlevel is more 'profitable' than a new-hire is like arguing whether the entrance or the exiting of the bullet through the vital organ did more damage; at some point, who the fuck care? The patient is fucking dying anyway.

- Don't go to a lower Tier 1 upper Tier 2 school if you want biglaw. Why? Because there is a 93% chance you won't be in the top 7% of your class.




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