Starting biglaw salaries

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myspiritanimal
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Starting biglaw salaries

Postby myspiritanimal » Wed May 06, 2015 9:32 am

A question for those in the know with regard to legal hiring:

Do top firms ever offer more than the standard $160,000 plus small first-year bonus to certain candidates with exceptional experience? Or is that standard rarely, if ever, broken?

Appreciate the insight.

WheatThins
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby WheatThins » Wed May 06, 2015 9:46 am

Do you mean someone who did a federal clerkship? Then yes (bonus+class year advancement)

If you mean someone who got an A in corporations, then no.

SFSpartan
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby SFSpartan » Wed May 06, 2015 9:46 am

If that exceptional experience is an A3 clerkship, then firms typically offer a substantial bonus. For example, SCOTUS clerks got $300k bonuses last year.

Some practice groups may pay out significant bonuses to build specific practice areas as well. I think a couple years back Quinn was offering extra $$ to patent litigators with a CS/EE background.

myspiritanimal
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby myspiritanimal » Wed May 06, 2015 9:57 am

To clarify, I meant really good experience in business (i.e., advanced positions in finance/consulting).

Thanks for the responses!

mr.hands
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby mr.hands » Wed May 06, 2015 10:08 am

myspiritanimal wrote:To clarify, I meant really good experience in business (i.e., advanced positions in finance/consulting).

Thanks for the responses!


I've never heard of that. I'd say that it's highly unlikely

SFSpartan
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby SFSpartan » Wed May 06, 2015 10:13 am

myspiritanimal wrote:To clarify, I meant really good experience in business (i.e., advanced positions in finance/consulting).

Thanks for the responses!


Seconding mr. hand's post. However, experience as a business executive, anecdotally, can help you get biglaw if your grades are a bit suspect (I know of several associates that got Biglaw and attribute their job to previous business experience).

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Cobretti
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby Cobretti » Wed May 06, 2015 1:46 pm

myspiritanimal wrote:To clarify, I meant really good experience in business (i.e., advanced positions in finance/consulting).

Thanks for the responses!

If that experience includes a MBA lots of firms give a year seniority for that.

Eta: lots is an exaggeration, but many v10s do

TheDogWhisperer
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby TheDogWhisperer » Wed May 06, 2015 1:58 pm

Cobretti wrote:
myspiritanimal wrote:To clarify, I meant really good experience in business (i.e., advanced positions in finance/consulting).

Thanks for the responses!

If that experience includes a MBA lots of firms give a year seniority for that.

Eta: lots is an exaggeration, but many v10s do


But whyyyyyy?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed May 06, 2015 2:42 pm

MBA bonus/increased seniority is common. I suspect that the same might hold for CPAs & LLMS (taxation). Of course, this will vary by firm.

myspiritanimal
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby myspiritanimal » Wed May 06, 2015 2:46 pm

Interesting. So, from what you know, such increases are just for degrees and not for really strong work experience (that most MBAs don't have)?

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby XxSpyKEx » Wed May 06, 2015 2:49 pm

TheDogWhisperer wrote:
Cobretti wrote:
myspiritanimal wrote:To clarify, I meant really good experience in business (i.e., advanced positions in finance/consulting).

Thanks for the responses!

If that experience includes a MBA lots of firms give a year seniority for that.

Eta: lots is an exaggeration, but many v10s do


But whyyyyyy?


Because being able to understand financial and accounting concepts is useful in corporate work.

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Pneumonia
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby Pneumonia » Wed May 06, 2015 2:54 pm

myspiritanimal wrote:Interesting. So, from what you know, such increases are just for degrees and not for really strong work experience (that most MBAs don't have)?


I think work experience strong enough to draw a signing bonus or whatever would also be strong enough that it would be weird for you to be pursuing a position as a first year associate.

myspiritanimal
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby myspiritanimal » Wed May 06, 2015 3:00 pm

I generally agree. This is why such a person may hope to come in at a slightly higher level.

mr.hands
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby mr.hands » Wed May 06, 2015 3:05 pm

Pneumonia wrote:
myspiritanimal wrote:Interesting. So, from what you know, such increases are just for degrees and not for really strong work experience (that most MBAs don't have)?


I think work experience strong enough to draw a signing bonus or whatever would also be strong enough that it would be weird for you to be pursuing a position as a first year associate.


Whether firms should do this and whether they actually do are two different things. Your work experience helps you get the job; it doesn't help after that in terms of salary, singing bonus, etc. There's a huge oversupply of lawyers who can and will do that job. We just don't have the leverage to command higher salaries.

I can't speak for the V10 that the poster above is referring to so I'll defer to him on that. Perhaps associates with MBAs at V10 firms can get a bonus. That's an extremely narrow set of firms though. I don't know of any other firms that do this (and I know my firm doesn't)
Last edited by mr.hands on Wed May 06, 2015 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TheDogWhisperer
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby TheDogWhisperer » Wed May 06, 2015 3:06 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
TheDogWhisperer wrote:
Cobretti wrote:
myspiritanimal wrote:To clarify, I meant really good experience in business (i.e., advanced positions in finance/consulting).

Thanks for the responses!

If that experience includes a MBA lots of firms give a year seniority for that.

Eta: lots is an exaggeration, but many v10s do


But whyyyyyy?


Because being able to understand financial and accounting concepts is useful in corporate work.


Ill test this hypothesis and come back to you

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby XxSpyKEx » Wed May 06, 2015 3:12 pm

TheDogWhisperer wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
TheDogWhisperer wrote:
Cobretti wrote:If that experience includes a MBA lots of firms give a year seniority for that.

Eta: lots is an exaggeration, but many v10s do


But whyyyyyy?


Because being able to understand financial and accounting concepts is useful in corporate work.


Ill test this hypothesis and come back to you


Lol, well, the idea is that you're going to be able to do things like read financial statements more easily than someone who was a basket weaving major, didn't bother to take any accounting or finance classes while in law school, and then went straight to corporate law practice.

Anonymous User
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 06, 2015 3:30 pm

mr.hands wrote:
Pneumonia wrote:
myspiritanimal wrote:Interesting. So, from what you know, such increases are just for degrees and not for really strong work experience (that most MBAs don't have)?


I think work experience strong enough to draw a signing bonus or whatever would also be strong enough that it would be weird for you to be pursuing a position as a first year associate.


Whether firms should do this and whether they actually do are two different things. Your work experience helps you get the job; it doesn't help after that in terms of salary, singing bonus, etc. There's a huge oversupply of lawyers who can and will do that job. We just don't have the leverage to command higher salaries.

I can't speak for the V10 that the poster above is referring to so I'll defer to him on that. Perhaps associates with MBAs at V10 firms can get a bonus. That's an extremely narrow set of firms though. I don't know of any other firms that do this (and I know my firm doesn't)

Ones I know definitely do from first hand experience are Skadden, Kirkland and STB; but I was under the impression most V10s did. And while some give signing bonuses for MBAs I think starting as a second year is the most common boost.

KidStuddi
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby KidStuddi » Wed May 06, 2015 3:34 pm

MBA will get you advanced a class year at my firm. Work experience might too, but only work you did as an attorney (or at least after you had a JD). If you started off in-house or did consulting after law school and now you're transitioning to a firm or something, maybe you'd get some credit for that, but I've never heard of anyone getting credit for work experience from before three years of law school.

For what it's worth, if you're going to try and negotiate I'd suggest asking for a bonus rather than class years. Yes you get paid more earlier with class advancement, but it also advances your viability clock. If you come in as a 2nd / 3rd year, you've basically got 2-3 years before you start becoming not so attractive for lateral hiring. If your goal in Biglaw is to build a good skill set and resume ahead of a transition into another position as an attorney (government, in-house, to another firm), I think starting at year 1 is really in your best interest.

If your firm is known for thinning out the mid-senior level ranks intentionally, facing up or out pressure earlier doesn't seem like a net win to me either.

Anonymous User
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 06, 2015 3:43 pm

KidStuddi wrote:MBA will get you advanced a class year at my firm. Work experience might too, but only work you did as an attorney (or at least after you had a JD). If you started off in-house or did consulting after law school and now you're transitioning to a firm or something, maybe you'd get some credit for that, but I've never heard of anyone getting credit for work experience from before three years of law school.

For what it's worth, if you're going to try and negotiate I'd suggest asking for a bonus rather than class years. Yes you get paid more earlier with class advancement, but it also advances your viability clock. If you come in as a 2nd / 3rd year, you've basically got 2-3 years before you start becoming not so attractive for lateral hiring. If your goal in Biglaw is to build a good skill set and resume ahead of a transition into another position as an attorney (government, in-house, to another firm), I think starting at year 1 is really in your best interest.

If your firm is known for thinning out the mid-senior level ranks intentionally, facing up or out pressure earlier doesn't seem like a net win to me either.

Very interesting point. But... money......

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby XxSpyKEx » Wed May 06, 2015 3:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
KidStuddi wrote:MBA will get you advanced a class year at my firm. Work experience might too, but only work you did as an attorney (or at least after you had a JD). If you started off in-house or did consulting after law school and now you're transitioning to a firm or something, maybe you'd get some credit for that, but I've never heard of anyone getting credit for work experience from before three years of law school.

For what it's worth, if you're going to try and negotiate I'd suggest asking for a bonus rather than class years. Yes you get paid more earlier with class advancement, but it also advances your viability clock. If you come in as a 2nd / 3rd year, you've basically got 2-3 years before you start becoming not so attractive for lateral hiring. If your goal in Biglaw is to build a good skill set and resume ahead of a transition into another position as an attorney (government, in-house, to another firm), I think starting at year 1 is really in your best interest.

If your firm is known for thinning out the mid-senior level ranks intentionally, facing up or out pressure earlier doesn't seem like a net win to me either.

Very interesting point. But... money......


Well, you actually get more money by being in biglaw for the additional years, don't you? For example, if you're looking at getting pushed out on Year 5 regardless, you get to draw that first 4 years of biglaw income, versus starting as a 3rd year and getting 2 years of biglaw income. In the latter situation, you only get 2 years of biglaw income, and in the former situation, you get 4 years of biglaw income (despite the fact that the first 2 years are at a slightly lower income). Obviously, part of this depends on what you do after you're out of biglaw, but it seems like most people take a pretty substantial paycut when they leave biglaw.

mr.hands
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby mr.hands » Wed May 06, 2015 4:12 pm

Just focus on good grades and landing the job first. It looks like OP is a 0L, which makes this conversation even less important. Some other posters are spring semester 1Ls.

Worry about this post-job offer. Until you have the job, you're wasting your time.

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BlindGuyMcSqueezy
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby BlindGuyMcSqueezy » Wed May 06, 2015 4:14 pm

mr.hands wrote:
Whether firms should do this and whether they actually do are two different things. Your work experience helps you get the job; it doesn't help after that in terms of salary, singing bonus, etc.


Stinks for me that I've got a terrible voice, I guess. :wink:

Anonymous User
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 06, 2015 8:27 pm

KidStuddi wrote:MBA will get you advanced a class year at my firm. Work experience might too, but only work you did as an attorney (or at least after you had a JD). If you started off in-house or did consulting after law school and now you're transitioning to a firm or something, maybe you'd get some credit for that, but I've never heard of anyone getting credit for work experience from before three years of law school.

For what it's worth, if you're going to try and negotiate I'd suggest asking for a bonus rather than class years. Yes you get paid more earlier with class advancement, but it also advances your viability clock. If you come in as a 2nd / 3rd year, you've basically got 2-3 years before you start becoming not so attractive for lateral hiring. If your goal in Biglaw is to build a good skill set and resume ahead of a transition into another position as an attorney (government, in-house, to another firm), I think starting at year 1 is really in your best interest.

If your firm is known for thinning out the mid-senior level ranks intentionally, facing up or out pressure earlier doesn't seem like a net win to me either.


As someone who was advanced a class year because I got a JD/MBA, I don't think this is how things would work if I was to lateral. The understanding at my firm is that even though I'm paid as though I'm an (class year)+1 year associate, for all other purposes I would be treated like just like any other associate from my class year. In reality for the firm this only means paying me as an 8th year+ for two years if I make it that far at this firm (at which point they probably would be happy to pay me as such for 2 years anyway).

If i were to lateral my class year would probably be reassessed in light of my experiences as an attorney and not really have anything to do with my other advanced degrees. This would make sense to me in that the reasons I would think to lateral would all relate to getting better experience at a new firm, having better prospects for promotion at a new firm, or avoiding getting fired. At any of those points I would be happy to assess whether taking a pay cut would advance my interests (as most laterals have to do anyway).

Anonymous User
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 06, 2015 9:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
mr.hands wrote:
Pneumonia wrote:
myspiritanimal wrote:Interesting. So, from what you know, such increases are just for degrees and not for really strong work experience (that most MBAs don't have)?


I think work experience strong enough to draw a signing bonus or whatever would also be strong enough that it would be weird for you to be pursuing a position as a first year associate.


Whether firms should do this and whether they actually do are two different things. Your work experience helps you get the job; it doesn't help after that in terms of salary, singing bonus, etc. There's a huge oversupply of lawyers who can and will do that job. We just don't have the leverage to command higher salaries.

I can't speak for the V10 that the poster above is referring to so I'll defer to him on that. Perhaps associates with MBAs at V10 firms can get a bonus. That's an extremely narrow set of firms though. I don't know of any other firms that do this (and I know my firm doesn't)

Ones I know definitely do from first hand experience are Skadden, Kirkland and STB; but I was under the impression most V10s did. And while some give signing bonuses for MBAs I think starting as a second year is the most common boost.


I know Kirkland and some other V10s do, but do the very top firms (Cravath, Wachtell, S&C) start MBAs as second years?

bball25
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Re: Starting biglaw salaries

Postby bball25 » Wed May 06, 2015 9:10 pm

Kirkland is a very top firm. HTH.




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