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No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:41 am
by Anonymous User
I’ve received two offers for big law employment after the completion of my two-year clerkship in federal district court.

Law Firm A will credit both years, allowing me to enter as a third-year associate. This firm has a nine-year partnership track.

Law Firm B will credit NO years, meaning I’ll enter as a first-year associate. This firm has a seven-year partnership track.

Both firms offer essentially the same salary for first-year associates.

Law Firm B has indicated that it won’t budge on its policies. However, I prefer to work at Law Firm B.

Can anyone lay out all the drawbacks of going with Law Firm B? Any tips on how to negotiate? Is it uncommon for a firm to offer no credit for district court clerkships?

Thanks!

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:02 am
by VirginiaFan
Anonymous User wrote:I’ve received two offers for big law employment after the completion of my two-year clerkship in federal district court.

Law Firm A will credit both years, allowing me to enter as a third-year associate. This firm has a nine-year partnership track.

Law Firm B will credit NO years, meaning I’ll enter as a first-year associate. This firm has a seven-year partnership track.

Both firms offer essentially the same salary for first-year associates.

Law Firm B has indicated that it won’t budge on its policies. However, I prefer to work at Law Firm B.

Can anyone lay out all the drawbacks of going with Law Firm B? Any tips on how to negotiate? Is it uncommon for a firm to offer no credit for district court clerkships?

Thanks!



I say go to work for law firm B. Sure, you'll take a haircut on pay, but you also may make it an extra year or two because there's less incentive to push you out. Plus, if you really do end up having a shot at partner, 2 extra years of making connections will be beneficial.

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:31 am
by Elston Gunn
I know these firms have roughly the same first year salary, but what about raises and bonuses? If Firm B has a policy of not offering clerkship credit then that also sounds like the kind of firm with heavily compressed raises. Raises + lower starting salary could add up to a huge difference in salary.

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:04 pm
by Barrred
Unless you're dead set on becoming partner, choose Firm A. If you only stay for three years, some back-of-the-napkin math shows that you'd be leaving $250,000 on the table by going to Firm B instead of Firm A, assuming that both firms pay market salary and bonuses. Unless you're set on making partner, your goal should be to maximize your earning potential during the years you are there so that you are well positioned financially to go do something else after biglaw. I'd therefore go with Firm A.

(You say that you prefer Firm B, so maybe there are a ton of soft factors that you haven't told us about that makes Firm B make more sense, but you had better at least consider whether those soft factors are worth $250,000 over 3 years.

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:28 pm
by wwwcol
You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t go with Firm A. Maybe you’re an outlier, but you know the statistics. Vast majority of associates leave after 4-5 years. If you leave after 4 years, you’ve missed 30+50+55+45=180k just in base, before counting bonus.

Also, for what it’s worth, many partners don’t really know or care about fine gradations in class year. After the first couple months to a year at either firm, you’ll be viewed as class of 201X, not whatever class designation the firm’s hierarchy assigns you. So from a partership track perspective, going with firm B doesn’t help you. If anything, it unnecessarily prolongs partnership

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:37 am
by QContinuum
wwwcol wrote:You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t go with Firm A. Maybe you’re an outlier, but you know the statistics. Vast majority of associates leave after 4-5 years. If you leave after 4 years, you’ve missed 30+50+55+45=180k just in base, before counting bonus.

Also, for what it’s worth, many partners don’t really know or care about fine gradations in class year. After the first couple months to a year at either firm, you’ll be viewed as class of 201X, not whatever class designation the firm’s hierarchy assigns you. So from a partership track perspective, going with firm B doesn’t help you. If anything, it unnecessarily prolongs partnership

OP would be equally far out from partnership at either firm. They'd enter Firm A as a third-year, but the firm has a 9-year partnership track, so they'd be 6 years out. They'd enter Firm B as a first-year, but the firm has a 7-year partnership track, so they'd still be 6 years out.

So in terms of partnership, the timeline's the same. The difference is that OP would be making more $ each year as an associate at Firm A. I also echo Elston's suspicion above that Firm B may practice salary compression. A firm that doesn't offer any class year credit for a federal district court clerkship doesn't sound like a firm that's committed to paying market.

OP, why exactly do you prefer B to A?

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:32 pm
by Anonymous User
OP here, with some updated information.

Firm B said they will increase my bonus to offset the financial difference between the two offers. It won't cover the entire loss, but it makes starting as a first-year much easier to swallow (especially considering the partnership tracks are the same).

To answer the above question, there are many reasons why I prefer Firm B. First, I get to work in my preferred practice area. I would not get this opportunity at Firm A. Second, I have found amazing mentors at Firm B who have sincerely helped my career already. The mentorship opportunities at Firm A were lacking. Last, I was much happier working at Firm B. It was a better fit overall.

Does the above information change anyone's opinion?

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:34 pm
by lavarman84
Anonymous User wrote:OP here, with some updated information.

Firm B said they will increase my bonus to offset the financial difference between the two offers. It won't cover the entire loss, but it makes starting as a first-year much easier to swallow (especially considering the partnership tracks are the same).

To answer the above question, there are many reasons why I prefer Firm B. First, I get to work in my preferred practice area. I would not get this opportunity at Firm A. Second, I have found amazing mentors at Firm B who have sincerely helped my career already. The mentorship opportunities at Firm A were lacking. Last, I was much happier working at Firm B. It was a better fit overall.

Does the above information change anyone's opinion?


It's your life. The question is for you to decide. If those soft factors mean more to you than the financial loss you'll take, go for it. Personally, I have chosen doing something I find more fulfilling over money, so you know where my values lie. :lol:

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:17 am
by VirginiaFan
Anonymous User wrote:OP here, with some updated information.

Firm B said they will increase my bonus to offset the financial difference between the two offers. It won't cover the entire loss, but it makes starting as a first-year much easier to swallow (especially considering the partnership tracks are the same).

To answer the above question, there are many reasons why I prefer Firm B. First, I get to work in my preferred practice area. I would not get this opportunity at Firm A. Second, I have found amazing mentors at Firm B who have sincerely helped my career already. The mentorship opportunities at Firm A were lacking. Last, I was much happier working at Firm B. It was a better fit overall.

Does the above information change anyone's opinion?



OP, trust your gut. After all, we are talking biglaw here-- it'll be a lot of money either way. Go where you'll be happy.

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:51 pm
by Access
Go to Firm A. Lateral back to Firm B after 2 years. Then they won't be able to call you a first year. 3 more years and you're a partner.

Seriously, I don't understand how Firm B makes sense here, unless your personal preference is worth the monetary difference (if it does, don't listen to anyone and do what you want). But making partner is not a given, and so many people lateral. 7 years of a 30-50k difference in salary is more than a quarter mil. That's definite cash you're saying no to.

Re: No Credit for My Clerkship

Posted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 5:44 pm
by Anonymous User
OP isn't going to last 7 years if he ends up disliking the firm (or his practice area). And having people go to bat for you is important to your development as a lawyer. I'd also note that lateralling to Firm Ba few years down the road may be a possibility, but I wouldn't bank on it.

For one data point, I chose my first firm based on money/prestige, turning down an offer from a worse firm which paid a bit under market. I definitely regretted it.

But, long story short, there's a lot of speculation here. It could be that when you get to FIrm B, you like it a lot less than you thought you would or you end up liking the practice area Firm A assigns you too. We can't know.

There's no right answer. This one is just going to have to come down to your gut, but I wouldn't just look at the salary.