Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

A forum for those current students who are or may be transferring from one school to another. Post any questions, advice, or other transfer related comments here.
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dbt
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Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby dbt » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:38 pm

I thought I would create this thread, both to see how transfers fared generally, and also to give my experience.

Background

I transferred from NYU to Yale this year for reasons related to clerkships and (potentially someday) academia. I still wanted to work for a firm, however (and for quite some time as I felt that it would give me valuable experience), so I participated in the employment program at Yale, FIP. I did 13 interviews through FIP. At NYU I had been signed up for 25 interviews, and I was worried that 13 was too few but OCS told me it would be enough. I split my interviews 9 in NYC, 5 in DC, with a preference for DC. I am strongly interested in litigation, and when asked (or when it served my purposes) I made that clear.

In virtually every interview (screening), I was asked why I transferred. I gave the reasons stated above. In a number of interviews, I was asked who else (or where else) I was interviewing with. Throughout it all I was honest (with the exception being that I never revealed my preference for DC - and indeed, I would have been happy in NYC).

The Results

I received just 4 callbacks. 2 were from small, litigation-focused NYC firms (PM if you want names); 2 were from elite DC firms/offices. What is interesting is that the 2 NYC firms were easily within my reach at my old school given my grades, while the 2 DC firms were not (and after having heard friends' results for these firms at NYU, I know that it is highly unlikely that I would have received a callback at either firm as an NYU student).

So what happened? You could say that I choked in all of those NYC interviews, but I don't think that's the case. I am a pretty strong interviewer and I got great vibes from most of my interviews. You could also say that I was unable to convey a true interest in NYC (since I had a preference for DC), but I was shut out of 2 DC firms that I would most likely have gotten coming from NYU as well (the final DC firm, W&C, was of course a reach).

In the end I think another transfer may have said it best when she said "If you leave a school and you had a pretty strong shot at getting X firm in the first place, you're most likely going to raise eyebrows and you have to work extra hard to convince X that you really want to work there. On the other hand, if you leave a school and you didn't have a strong shot at getting Y firm, transferring up will probably help you."

Maybe this analysis is wrong, maybe it's right. But I would say it explains my results well. In the end it all worked out for me, but I was pretty shocked at the very low number of callbacks that I received (especially given that my friends at NYU are receiving quite a few even with weaker grades). This is not a rant but rather a caution: if you're thinking of transferring but you really want a certain firm, think about how likely it is that you could secure an offer from that firm if you stayed at your current school. It might be best to just stay put because from my experience you're not going to just clean up and get callbacks from every firm (or even some/most of the firms) that you would have gotten had you stayed put.

Closing Notes

(1) If you're a transfer, cast your net very wide. It is pretty scary to be sitting around with no (or only 1) callback and to watch the rejections come in when you only have 25 interviews; it's far scarier when you only have 13.

(2) Probably best not to mention academia if that played a part in your decision to transfer; I was honest because I thought that was the best strategy and because it's difficult for me to bluff, but you might consider a different approach.

(3) Do mailers at firms that aren't coming if they interest you. I did only 2 mailers after FIP to firms that were really appealing to me and I got a callback through one (and no response at all from the other).

pandacot
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby pandacot » Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:51 pm

A lot of firms lose a great deal of money by investing in SAs who abandon the firm before the investment is recaptured. ITE, firms want someone who is going to be with them in the long haul.

Also, I think transferring depends a lot on the jump that is being made. Transferring from Toledo to Michigan? A no brainer (well, actually it was a difficult decision because I had full-ride and great connections). Anyway, firms were very receptive of my transfer for prestige, connections, diversity and challenge. Might be harder to sway firms when jumping from T5 to #1.

You'll do well. Congrats on Yale and all that it will bring in the future.

Edited due to reading comp failure
Last edited by pandacot on Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Lawl Shcool
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby Lawl Shcool » Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:55 pm

Ya I wouldn't have mentioned the academia thing but I also think that being totally honest has merit. It's a tough call and there is such a small gap between Yale and NYU that it is probably the only way to explain that move short of a SO in New Haven.

2009 Prospective
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby 2009 Prospective » Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:04 pm

JPU wrote:Ya I wouldn't have mentioned the academia thing but I also think that being totally honest has merit. It's a tough call and there is such a small gap between Yale and NYU that it is probably the only way to explain that move short of a SO in New Haven.


I would think for firms like W&C, you might at least be able to say you moved in hopes of greater access to top notch clerkships.

pandacot
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby pandacot » Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:05 pm

2009 Prospective wrote:
JPU wrote:Ya I wouldn't have mentioned the academia thing but I also think that being totally honest has merit. It's a tough call and there is such a small gap between Yale and NYU that it is probably the only way to explain that move short of a SO in New Haven.


I would think for firms like W&C, you might at least be able to say you moved in hopes of greater access to top notch clerkships.


I would suggest against anything that mentions clerkships or academia. Just my oblivious 2 cents, but...

legends159
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby legends159 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:17 pm

Have u gotten offers at any of these places? WC gave out a lot of cb at SLS this year,around 7-8 apparently just to give one offer

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dbt
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby dbt » Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:36 pm

legends159 wrote:Have u gotten offers at any of these places? WC gave out a lot of cb at SLS this year,around 7-8 apparently just to give one offer


Yeah I got an offer from one of the DC firms. Maybe things are different at SLS (though I really can't imagine SLS students do better than YLS students), but last year at Yale gave 6 callbacks, all 6 callbacks were taken, and 6 offers were given.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Tue Sep 07, 2010 3:32 pm

You told a firm that you transfered to be able to pursue academia?

I'm amazed you got any callbacks. Fail.

Aqualibrium
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby Aqualibrium » Tue Sep 07, 2010 3:44 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:You told a firm that you transfered to be able to pursue academia?

I'm amazed you got any callbacks. Fail.


Yea, that is basically just telling them that you aren't a great investment because you don't plan to stick around at the firm.

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dbt
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby dbt » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:01 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:You told a firm that you transfered to be able to pursue academia?

I'm amazed you got any callbacks. Fail.


Not really. When I said that I was interested in pursuing academia, I always told them (and honestly) that I was interested in working at a firm for a long period of time first.

Essentially a firm is faced with a plethora of applicants willing to feed them the "I want to make partner" line, when in actuality very few people want to go for partner and the firm knows it. And when I did mention academia, at least half of the time I was answered with "I too heavily considered academia and here are some pros/cons of academia vs. firm life in the long run."

rynabrius
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby rynabrius » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:46 pm

dbt wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:You told a firm that you transfered to be able to pursue academia?

I'm amazed you got any callbacks. Fail.


Not really. When I said that I was interested in pursuing academia, I always told them (and honestly) that I was interested in working at a firm for a long period of time first.

Essentially a firm is faced with a plethora of applicants willing to feed them the "I want to make partner" line, when in actuality very few people want to go for partner and the firm knows it. And when I did mention academia, at least half of the time I was answered with "I too heavily considered academia and here are some pros/cons of academia vs. firm life in the long run."


You've earned the luxury of boldly telling the truth in this fashion. It's a positional good; few others are so situated.

Good thread by the way, I was going to post a similar one. I'll post some more thoughts when I have more info to share.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:37 pm

rynabrius wrote:
dbt wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:You told a firm that you transfered to be able to pursue academia?

I'm amazed you got any callbacks. Fail.


Not really. When I said that I was interested in pursuing academia, I always told them (and honestly) that I was interested in working at a firm for a long period of time first.

Essentially a firm is faced with a plethora of applicants willing to feed them the "I want to make partner" line, when in actuality very few people want to go for partner and the firm knows it. And when I did mention academia, at least half of the time I was answered with "I too heavily considered academia and here are some pros/cons of academia vs. firm life in the long run."


You've earned the luxury of boldly telling the truth in this fashion. It's a positional good; few others are so situated.

Good thread by the way, I was going to post a similar one. I'll post some more thoughts when I have more info to share.


tbf, he got a minimal number of callbacks as a T14 transfer to Yale. The 'luxury' he earned was being fortunate enough to not get flat rejected by every firm he interviewed with.

It is true that firms know that not everyone is gunning to make partner. However, you are worthless for several years as an associate - and the number of years continues to go up, as clients continue to refuse to pay for junior associate work. You may have insisted that you were going to practice at the firm for a "long time," but the calculus you immediately initiate is: "Is this kid going to stick arond long enough that he will actually make us money? Will he be working like he's trying to make partner (or have good private practice exist options,) or is he just going to stamp his card on the way to the academy?"

If you think that your approach didn't have a lot to do with your lack of success at OCI (and yeah, for an NYU -> Yale transfer, 4 callbacks is a serious lack of success, even though you were lucky enough to get an offer out of it,) you're crazy.

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dbt
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby dbt » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:43 pm

If you think that your approach didn't have a lot to do with your lack of success at OCI (and yeah, for an NYU -> Yale transfer, 4 callbacks is a serious lack of success, even though you were lucky enough to get an offer out of it,) you're crazy.


I don't doubt that my approach might have had an impact, especially for NY firms. But # of callbacks isn't really the appropriate metric in my opinion. The DC firms that I received callbacks at are extremely competitive and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten them at NYU.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:46 pm

dbt wrote:
If you think that your approach didn't have a lot to do with your lack of success at OCI (and yeah, for an NYU -> Yale transfer, 4 callbacks is a serious lack of success, even though you were lucky enough to get an offer out of it,) you're crazy.


I don't doubt that my approach might have had an impact, especially for NY firms. But # of callbacks isn't really the appropriate metric in my opinion. The DC firms that I received callbacks at are extremely competitive and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten them at NYU.


Oh, not saying that transfering was a bad move. Just sounding a cautionary note for people who might read this thread in the future: be wary of how honest you're going to be. Clerkship opportunities (particularly if your focus is lit) - absolutely. Academia? BAD.

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dbt
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby dbt » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:47 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:
dbt wrote:
If you think that your approach didn't have a lot to do with your lack of success at OCI (and yeah, for an NYU -> Yale transfer, 4 callbacks is a serious lack of success, even though you were lucky enough to get an offer out of it,) you're crazy.


I don't doubt that my approach might have had an impact, especially for NY firms. But # of callbacks isn't really the appropriate metric in my opinion. The DC firms that I received callbacks at are extremely competitive and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten them at NYU.


Oh, not saying that transfering was a bad move. Just sounding a cautionary note for people who might read this thread in the future: be wary of how honest you're going to be. Clerkship opportunities (particularly if your focus is lit) - absolutely. Academia? BAD.


Yea I think I agree with that in retrospect, though for some firms (and I think the 2 DC ones I'm talking about are actually pretty govt/academia oriented so my interests resonated with them) I don't think it was a problem.

I really would caution against saying you're interested in academia for NY firms (and I think I said that in my OP). I just couldn't think of what seemed to me a good enough, honest-sounding reason for why I would make a relatively small move up, and I didn't want to come across as a total prestige whore.

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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby rynabrius » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:12 pm

dbt: I would have said that I was interested in writing white papers that describe matters relevant to the firm's bottom line while still meeting my billables. Of course, I would only say it if it were true. I read some articles by partners while interviewing, and they tended to be more on the descriptive and practical side. Personally, I find such scholarship a welcome change from the constant divagations into imponderables and normative questions that pure academic legal writing so often entails these days.

Probably moot now, but that's one potential way to handle it. Academic interests can be a way to add value for a firm.

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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby bradley » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:27 pm

I can't believe you got any callbacks. Your interviewers were probably stunned by your insane idiocy in telling them you want to go into academia. You could have said anything without lying; perhaps you could have told them you wanted a bigger challenge or wanted to open every door, but basically telling them you don't see a firm in your long-term future is not smart. They probably see you using such judgment with their clients someday. (Are you going to tell I client, "Oh, we want your business but we probably won't spend all our resources on it because we have bigger clients.") Use this as a learning experience.

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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby rynabrius » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:32 pm

Let me reiterate my earlier point in starker terms. dbt transferred from NYU to Yale. (I imagine Chicago didn't accept him--I kid, I kid.) Thus, he has earned the privilege to not be concerned with gilding the lily as much as the majority of people here. It was not strategic interviewing, but one welcome consequence of utter honesty, if you can afford it, is that you are likely to land at a firm that is a better fit for you. For most, this much honesty would probably lock them out of callbacks altogether.

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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby thexfactor » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:33 pm

I made a similar mistake during my 1L interview for a diversity clerkship. The career center lady nearly wanted to smack me to death after i said that. Needless to say, I never got an offer.

bradley wrote:I can't believe you got any callbacks. Your interviewers were probably stunned by your insane idiocy in telling them you want to go into academia. You could have said anything without lying; perhaps you could have told them you wanted a bigger challenge or wanted to open every door, but basically telling them you don't see a firm in your long-term future is not smart. They probably see you using such judgment with their clients someday. (Are you going to tell I client, "Oh, we want your business but we probably won't spend all our resources on it because we have bigger clients.") Use this as a learning experience.

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dbt
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby dbt » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:34 pm

rynabrius wrote:dbt: I would have said that I was interested in writing white papers that describe matters relevant to the firm's bottom line while still meeting my billables. Of course, I would only say it if it were true. I read some articles by partners while interviewing, and they tended to be more on the descriptive and practical side. Personally, I find such scholarship a welcome change from the constant divagations into imponderables and normative questions that pure academic legal writing so often entails these days.

Probably moot now, but that's one potential way to handle it. Academic interests can be a way to add value for a firm.


I actually did this, especially as I saw how often practicing attorneys published.

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dbt
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby dbt » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:35 pm

bradley wrote:I can't believe you got any callbacks. Your interviewers were probably stunned by your insane idiocy in telling them you want to go into academia. You could have said anything without lying; perhaps you could have told them you wanted a bigger challenge or wanted to open every door, but basically telling them you don't see a firm in your long-term future is not smart. They probably see you using such judgment with their clients someday. (Are you going to tell I client, "Oh, we want your business but we probably won't spend all our resources on it because we have bigger clients.") Use this as a learning experience.


You're misunderstanding what I've said and what I did. Without going into further detail, I implied (and the point was conveyed) that I was interested in working for a firm for at least 4 or 5 years, which is true.

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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby BruceWayne » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:37 pm

Out of curiosity if you knew that you preferred DC so strongly, why originally NYU? Oh and thanks for the post; it's hard to get a substantive answer to this issue.
Last edited by BruceWayne on Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rynabrius
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby rynabrius » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:38 pm

dbt wrote:
rynabrius wrote:dbt: I would have said that I was interested in writing white papers that describe matters relevant to the firm's bottom line while still meeting my billables. Of course, I would only say it if it were true. I read some articles by partners while interviewing, and they tended to be more on the descriptive and practical side. Personally, I find such scholarship a welcome change from the constant divagations into imponderables and normative questions that pure academic legal writing so often entails these days.

Probably moot now, but that's one potential way to handle it. Academic interests can be a way to add value for a firm.


I actually did this, especially as I saw how often practicing attorneys published.


GMTA.

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dbt
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby dbt » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:39 pm

BruceWayne wrote:Out of curiosity if you knew that you preferred DC so strongly, why originally NYU?


I grew to prefer DC for its greater focus on litigation and regulatory work, but of course this didn't happen until I started to hone my interests within the field of law (during 1L and the summer). I still love NYC, and I would have been fine staying there.

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dbt
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Re: Transferring and Employment: One Perspective

Postby dbt » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:41 pm

rynabrius wrote:
dbt wrote:
rynabrius wrote:dbt: I would have said that I was interested in writing white papers that describe matters relevant to the firm's bottom line while still meeting my billables. Of course, I would only say it if it were true. I read some articles by partners while interviewing, and they tended to be more on the descriptive and practical side. Personally, I find such scholarship a welcome change from the constant divagations into imponderables and normative questions that pure academic legal writing so often entails these days.

Probably moot now, but that's one potential way to handle it. Academic interests can be a way to add value for a firm.


I actually did this, especially as I saw how often practicing attorneys published.


GMTA.


In fact my interview with Cravath (of all firms ha) was very good, even though I didn't receive a callback, because the partner spent probably 2/3 of the interview explaining how he too had been interested in academia and/or becoming a journalist even while he was in law school. He told me about how he wanted to change the world in a certain way and then spent a good deal of time explaining how he felt he was able to change the world as a litigator. It was an excellent conversation.




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