So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:56 pm

Is having pictures of your family in your office a sign of weakness in biglaw (and would diminish your chances of making partner)?

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Mr. Peanutbutter
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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby Mr. Peanutbutter » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:21 pm

PeanutsNJam wrote:Is having pictures of your family in your office a sign of weakness in biglaw (and would diminish your chances of making partner)?

Dear god you're a perfect fit for this job

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:23 pm

Mlk&Ckies wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:Is having pictures of your family in your office a sign of weakness in biglaw (and would diminish your chances of making partner)?

Dear god you're a perfect fit for this job


That's not my personal opinion. I'm asking in reference to the article BernieTrump linked about alcoholism and depression. Specifically:

Yet for almost a decade as an associate at various law firms, Peter displayed no photos of his children or me in his office. When I asked him why — particularly when other lawyers seemed to have photos in theirs — Peter told me he didn’t want the partners to see him as “distracted by my family.”


Just wondering if that's accurate.

calvinna
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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby calvinna » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:49 pm

I am reading this thread as a pretty damning account of corporate law, but what do people feel about attending top law schools more broadly? I scored a 173 on the June LSAT and have a 3.9 at a relatively unknown small undergrad. I am not great with quantitative skills and am interested in non-profit/government work. Is it realistic to try to attend a place like HYS with the goal of using loan forgiveness to get into policy work? It sounds kind of reasonable in my head but I am beyond terrified of getting sucked into corporate law, it seems like a uniquely miserable place filled with people similar to myself.

Reading this thread and that NYT article is making me want to switch courses but I am not sure what to. Any advice?

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby runnergirl159 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:01 pm

calvinna wrote:I am reading this thread as a pretty damning account of corporate law, but what do people feel about attending top law schools more broadly? I scored a 173 on the June LSAT and have a 3.9 at a relatively unknown small undergrad. I am not great with quantitative skills and am interested in non-profit/government work. Is it realistic to try to attend a place like HYS with the goal of using loan forgiveness to get into policy work? It sounds kind of reasonable in my head but I am beyond terrified of getting sucked into corporate law, it seems like a uniquely miserable place filled with people similar to myself.

Reading this thread and that NYT article is making me want to switch courses but I am not sure what to. Any advice?


Interested in this as well

tomwatts
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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby tomwatts » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:30 pm

If you go to a top school wanting to do public interest, you can do public interest. There are a lot of social/informal pressures to go to a big, corporate firm, but you can just... not do it. You have to keep your goals in mind and not get distracted by all the shiny things that seem to come with a biglaw job, but there's no reason you can't. Top schools generally have good public interest communities, so you can connect with like-minded people and stay on track.

And the actual work is pretty good, at least from what I've seen; you don't have clients paying top dollar to have you on-call 24/7, so you're probably not on call 24/7. You're usually doing something more interesting, since, after all, you went into whatever you're doing because you thought it was interesting, not because you thought it would pay a lot of money.

There are basically two things that are frustrating about the public interest path. One is that you have to live on loan forgiveness for a while (probably 10 years) and probably will never make as much as people at a corporate firm do in their first year (or, if you do, it'll take a decade or more to get there). The other is that you will find a job much later than your corporate-focused friends do. The corporate hiring timeline is such that your friends will have offers from firms by the time they're starting their second year. (Technically, these are offers to be summer associates at the end of their second year, but traditionally, at the end of the summer, SAs get offers to start as first-year associates when they graduate — so it's pretty much a real job offer.) Public interest-focused people don't find jobs until fall of their third year at the absolute earliest (with one or two really unusual exceptions), and some are still applying a month or two before graduation. It's nerve-wracking.

If you can deal with those two things — lack of money and the uncertainty of the hiring timeline — then go to a top school for public interest and never look back. If you think that those things are going to bother you, then you might have to think seriously about whether you really want to do this. (If you think you can deal with the latter but not the former, you might consider what I'm doing — plaintiffs' firm.)
Last edited by tomwatts on Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:33 pm

If you're interested in policy work, you could shoot for a DoJ summer honors program, which I think generally leads to a full-time offer at the end of the summer, so you could have a job locked down before graduating. It's very competitive, but if you're going to HYS, it's far from a pipe dream.

You could also lock down a clerkship by the end of your 2L year.

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby calvinna » Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:01 pm

tomwatts wrote:If you go to a top school wanting to do public interest, you can do public interest. There are a lot of social/informal pressures to go to a big, corporate firm, but you can just... not do it. You have to keep your goals in mind and not get distracted by all the shiny things that seem to come with a biglaw job, but there's no reason you can't. Top schools generally have good public interest communities, so you can connect with like-minded people and stay on track.

And the actual work is pretty good, at least from what I've seen; you don't have clients paying top dollar to have you on-call 24/7, so you're probably not on call 24/7. You're usually doing something more interesting, since, after all, you went into whatever you're doing because you thought it was interesting, not because you thought it would pay a lot of money.

There are basically two things that are frustrating about the public interest path. One is that you have to live on loan forgiveness for a while (probably 10 years) and probably will never make as much as people at a corporate firm do in their first year (or, if you do, it'll take a decade or more to get there). The other is that you will find a job much later than your corporate-focused friends do. The corporate hiring timeline is such that your friends will have offers from firms by the time they're starting their second year. (Technically, these are offers to be summer associates at the end of their second year, but traditionally, at the end of the summer, SAs get offers to start as first-year associates when they graduate — so it's pretty much a real job offer.) Public interest-focused people don't find jobs fall of their third year at the absolute earliest, and some are still applying a month or two before graduation. It's nerve-wracking.

If you can deal with those two things — lack of money and the uncertainty of the hiring timeline — then go to a top school for public interest and never look back. If you think that those things are going to bother you, then you might have to think seriously about whether you really want to do this. (If you think you can deal with the latter but not the former, you might consider what I'm doing — plaintiffs' firm.)


This response is exactly what I was hoping to hear and very reassuring. I think my convictions against big law are strong enough that if I went to a school with a good PI community I would stay on track. I worry that a lot of people think that way and end up changing course regardless, but the community support element at these schools seems like a really important piece of dodging shiny things.

The lower money and weird hiring timeline seem like comparatively low prices to pay for more interesting/providing value to society work and a remotely reasonable work life balance. Not being on call 24/7 certainly falls into that latter category. I hadn't considered plaintiffs' firm, I didn't really even know what that was but after some googling it does look like a reasonable mix of public interest and corporate law.

Thanks again, really helpful information.

calvinna
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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby calvinna » Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:15 pm

PeanutsNJam wrote:If you're interested in policy work, you could shoot for a DoJ summer honors program, which I think generally leads to a full-time offer at the end of the summer, so you could have a job locked down before graduating. It's very competitive, but if you're going to HYS, it's far from a pipe dream.

You could also lock down a clerkship by the end of your 2L year.


Those both seem like good options to consider. I don't think uncertainty would necessarily be a huge deal to me, but having work locked down ain't bad either. I don't think I would want to end up at DOJ most likely long term (though this current administration might be coloring my thoughts), but it does seem like people use stuff like DOJ and clerkships to spring into other interesting work.

Thanks for the response. I think you and tomwatts have convinced me to at least apply for HYS, it seems like if you feel strongly enough going in and don't mind less money PI is not a pipe dream from those schools.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:30 pm

PeanutsNJam wrote:If you're interested in policy work, you could shoot for a DoJ summer honors program, which I think generally leads to a full-time offer at the end of the summer, so you could have a job locked down before graduating. It's very competitive, but if you're going to HYS, it's far from a pipe dream.

You could also lock down a clerkship by the end of your 2L year.

Very few summer honors programs guarantee an offer at the end of the summer. DOJ's 2L summer program is actually called SLIP, and while you can get what's called a funnel offer, it's not that common (anymore, at least - maybe it used to be better).

There are a couple of non-DOJ programs (more likely to be called summer honors programs) that give post-grad offers, though I'm blanking on which ones. I'm pretty sure IRS does, and then maybe SEC or FTC? Or some other financial agency about which I know nothing?

If you apply for honors programs designed to hire entry level federal employees, you usually find out between Thanksgiving and Xmas of 3L. But people have a much better shot at these programs after clerking.

Edit: if you go to a top school you'll have as good a shot at this stuff as anyone. I just wanted to clarify about the timeline.

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby tomwatts » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:17 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:There are a couple of non-DOJ programs (more likely to be called summer honors programs) that give post-grad offers, though I'm blanking on which ones. I'm pretty sure IRS does, and then maybe SEC or FTC? Or some other financial agency about which I know nothing?

Outside of the federal government, apparently the New York City Law Department (http://www.nyc.gov/html/law/html/careers/honors.shtml) does. They outright say on their website that they may be unique in this regard.
calvinna wrote:I hadn't considered plaintiffs' firm, I didn't really even know what that was

You are not alone in not knowing what a plaintiffs' firm is. I'm convinced that as much as a third of students at top schools would want to do this kind of work if they'd ever heard of it, but they haven't, so I like to evangelize from time to time.

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby mrtux45 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:38 am

tomwatts wrote:You are not alone in not knowing what a plaintiffs' firm is. I'm convinced that as much as a third of students at top schools would want to do this kind of work if they'd ever heard of it, but they haven't, so I like to evangelize from time to time.


Could you go into a little more detail about this? I understand plaintiff's firms to mean smaller personal injury, business lit, etc (what many would consider "shit law"). I don't consider it shit law or have any disrespect for the profession- I'm a paralegal at a small firm.

My plan has always been try to make big law and then last 2ish years so I can leave completely debt free and with a solid nest egg. Then I'd transition to a smaller plaintiff firm focusing on what many would consider shitlaw. Is this a fairly common path and a reasonable way to avoid the negative aspects/QOL/attitudes highlighted ITT?

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby $$$$$$ » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:45 am

calvinna wrote:I am reading this thread as a pretty damning account of corporate law, but what do people feel about attending top law schools more broadly? I scored a 173 on the June LSAT and have a 3.9 at a relatively unknown small undergrad. I am not great with quantitative skills and am interested in non-profit/government work. Is it realistic to try to attend a place like HYS with the goal of using loan forgiveness to get into policy work? It sounds kind of reasonable in my head but I am beyond terrified of getting sucked into corporate law, it seems like a uniquely miserable place filled with people similar to myself.

Reading this thread and that NYT article is making me want to switch courses but I am not sure what to. Any advice?


If you have a 173 and a 3.9, you should be able to get hefty scholarships at very good schools. There is no reason to take on the debt of HYS (unless you get a ton of aid) if you can get a full ride to Michigan, UVA, Penn, etc. Plenty of people from these schools get into policy work.

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby Delano » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:01 pm

tomwatts wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:There are a couple of non-DOJ programs (more likely to be called summer honors programs) that give post-grad offers, though I'm blanking on which ones. I'm pretty sure IRS does, and then maybe SEC or FTC? Or some other financial agency about which I know nothing?

Outside of the federal government, apparently the New York City Law Department (http://www.nyc.gov/html/law/html/careers/honors.shtml) does. They outright say on their website that they may be unique in this regard.
calvinna wrote:I hadn't considered plaintiffs' firm, I didn't really even know what that was

You are not alone in not knowing what a plaintiffs' firm is. I'm convinced that as much as a third of students at top schools would want to do this kind of work if they'd ever heard of it, but they haven't, so I like to evangelize from time to time.

I realize these questions probably can't be answered in a vacuum, but - When it comes to the larger plaintiffs firms (Cohen Milstein, Robbins Geller, etc), how do exit ops to government and PI (say, impact lit type stuff at a non-profit) compare to BL? And are hours fairly similar to BL?

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby tomwatts » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:40 pm

mrtux45 wrote:I understand plaintiff's firms to mean smaller personal injury, business lit, etc (what many would consider "shit law").

What I'm talking about is along the lines of Lieff Cabraser, Hagens Berman, Cohen Milstein, Robbins Geller, etc. These are high-end plaintiffs' shops with a few dozen lawyers (anywhere from 20+ to 100+) that do a lot of gazillion-dollar class actions. Each firm has a slightly different model: some do pretty much any subject, whereas others will do almost exclusively one subject (securities, employment, whatever), and some will do some individual representation alongside their class actions. But they all primarily or exclusively represent plaintiffs, generally workers/consumers/investors, against corporations who have (allegedly) legally wronged them.

The flavor of this kind of litigation is pretty different from, say, a personal injury practice with a solo or 2-4 lawyers. At class action plaintiffs' firms, the cases are enormous, often lasting years and ending with settlements that can be in the hundreds of millions or even billions. You probably make a lot more money than the typical personal injury lawyer; although you're not starting at biglaw salaries, after a few years you might rise to anywhere from somewhat less than what you would make in biglaw to somewhat more, depending on the firm, how well the cases go, and how well you're doing.

Law students sometimes hear about the firms that do a mix of plaintiff-side work and defense-side work (e.g., Susman), but for whatever reason, the more traditional plaintiffs' firms don't break through the noise as well. I don't know why. At these places, you get to do public interest-flavored work (go after the bad guys) and get paid really well to do it. It seems like something that a lot of law students are looking for. It's not for everyone, for sure — you're still doing litigation, although the contingency fee model reduces some of the problems associated with biglaw-style litigation — but I wish more people knew about it as an option.

There are also other kinds of high-end private public interest firms — union firms (e.g., Bredhoff & Kaiser, Altshuler Berzon), firms that are sort of hard to classify (e.g., Strumwasser & Woocher) — that do public-interest-flavored work and pay pretty well.

mrtux45 wrote:My plan has always been try to make big law and then last 2ish years so I can leave completely debt free and with a solid nest egg. Then I'd lateral to a smaller plaintiff firm focusing on what many would consider shitlaw. Is this a fairly common path and a reasonable way to avoid the negative aspects/QOL/attitudes highlighted ITT?

You must not have much debt if you can wipe it out with 2 years of biglaw and have money to spare.

As for the rest, I can only speak to how the big class action plaintiffs' firms view experience in biglaw, which is anywhere from neutral to a positive; some of these firms prefer that you do 2-4 years of biglaw before joining them, whereas others will take you straight out of law school/clerkships/fellowships.

(It's worth noting that other private public interest firms, such as union firms, view biglaw experience as a negative. I don't think I ever ran into that with traditional plaintiffs' firms, though.)

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:50 pm

I'd looked into Altshuler for like a millisecond at one point, and dropped it because it looked like you needed pretty stellar credentials (even for TLS) - like double Yale, NDCA, 9th Cir. Are the other plaintiffs' firms this selective?

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby tomwatts » Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:38 pm

Delano wrote:I realize these questions probably can't be answered in a vacuum, but - When it comes to the larger plaintiffs firms (Cohen Milstein, Robbins Geller, etc), how do exit ops to government and PI (say, impact lit type stuff at a non-profit) compare to BL? And are hours fairly similar to BL?

I actually don't know much about exit options from these kinds of firms. Because the model is different, you get much more substantive experience much earlier on in plaintiffs' firms than in biglaw. It's a bit more like government work in that regard; it's not uncommon for a third-year associate at a plaintiffs' firm to be across the table at a deposition from a junior partner from biglaw. I have to think that having that kind of experience plays well when you apply to impact lit at a nonprofit, but I can't say that I know for sure.

As far as hours, they range from a little less to a lot less than is typical in biglaw. To be clear, it's still litigation, so when things heat up, they can heat up a lot. If a case actually goes to trial (not common), you're working around the clock. But from a wide variety of conversations with a bunch of associates at a bunch of these firms, my best guess is that you're typically in the 50-60 hour range at the average high-end plaintiffs' firm — though it varies a lot, by firm and by week.

(Full disclosure: I haven't actually started at a plaintiffs' firm. I'm about to start in a bit over a month. But I had informational or job interviews at with people at nearly every major firm up and down the West Coast and one on the East Coast, and one of my friends was going through the same thing with some other East Coast firms, too.)

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby mrtux45 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:46 pm

tomwatts wrote:


Thanks for such a great response. Lots of information and jumping off points to do my own research.

The types of firms you mentioned seem like something I'd be interested in, I guess I always assumed I'd need big law experience first since I chose regional over T14. As far as debt goes, I'm hoping to be around 75k between ug and law school. My plan to pay it all down seems reasonable provided I'm smart with money/keep my eye on the exit. Also I know as a 0L its impossible to predict where you'll land in the class, but I'm hopeful I can swing top third.

Basically, I just want to avoid being miserable and "selling out" to work for the bad guys. But I've accepted that it may be a necessary short term trade off in order to expedite the path to where I want to be long term.

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby Delano » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:00 pm

tomwatts wrote:
Delano wrote:I realize these questions probably can't be answered in a vacuum, but - When it comes to the larger plaintiffs firms (Cohen Milstein, Robbins Geller, etc), how do exit ops to government and PI (say, impact lit type stuff at a non-profit) compare to BL? And are hours fairly similar to BL?

I actually don't know much about exit options from these kinds of firms. Because the model is different, you get much more substantive experience much earlier on in plaintiffs' firms than in biglaw. It's a bit more like government work in that regard; it's not uncommon for a third-year associate at a plaintiffs' firm to be across the table at a deposition from a junior partner from biglaw. I have to think that having that kind of experience plays well when you apply to impact lit at a nonprofit, but I can't say that I know for sure.

As far as hours, they range from a little less to a lot less than is typical in biglaw. To be clear, it's still litigation, so when things heat up, they can heat up a lot. If a case actually goes to trial (not common), you're working around the clock. But from a wide variety of conversations with a bunch of associates at a bunch of these firms, my best guess is that you're typically in the 50-60 hour range at the average high-end plaintiffs' firm — though it varies a lot, by firm and by week.

(Full disclosure: I haven't actually started at a plaintiffs' firm. I'm about to start in a bit over a month. But I had informational or job interviews at with people at nearly every major firm up and down the West Coast and one on the East Coast, and one of my friends was going through the same thing with some other East Coast firms, too.)

Thanks so much!

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby tomwatts » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:24 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I'd looked into Altshuler for like a millisecond at one point, and dropped it because it looked like you needed pretty stellar credentials (even for TLS) - like double Yale, NDCA, 9th Cir. Are the other plaintiffs' firms this selective?

Yeah, Altshuler is a bit special. No, the other private public interest firms are not similarly selective (at least not universally so). I definitely met plenty of associates who were from top schools (the caliber of, say, Berkeley) but not near the top of the class. It can be a little hard if you're applying from schools well outside the top handful, but I definitely came across associates who were from schools in the 50-100 range in the rankings from time to time.

Good credentials help, though. I was top 10% at HLS and applying from a (non-feeder) COA clerkship, and I think I had an easier time getting interviews than most applicants do.

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby tizza58 » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:01 pm

So I've read several comments that BigLaw firms will push/force senior associates out at some point...

Do those firms typically layoff/fire those associates that are in their 6th, 7th or more years with the firm?

If so, is it to reduce cost since you are getting paid at a higher salary?

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby Vincent Adultman » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:13 pm

tizza58 wrote:So I've read several comments that BigLaw firms will push/force senior associates out at some point...

Do those firms typically layoff/fire those associates that are in their 6th, 7th or more years with the firm?

If so, is it to reduce cost since you are getting paid at a higher salary?


That's how pyramid structures work.

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Mr. Peanutbutter
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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby Mr. Peanutbutter » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:53 pm

It's bc once they're charging client $900/hour for your work, you better be fucking partner material perfect. If not, bye.

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby tomwatts » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:29 pm

The following is maybe a little too crude and oversimplified, but I think it's still more or less accurate.

HugeCorp needs a lawyer who is an expert in NichePractice. They look up who's the best at NichePractice (or they think about who they've used before), and they find that FamousPartner is the top lawyer in NichePractice. So they want to hire FamousPartner to be their lawyer. FamousPartner is pretty busy, though; FamousPartner is trying to handle a ton of matters at the same time and can't actually do all the work for all of them at once. But most of that work is pretty mindless and mundane; only a little requires the top expert in the field. So FamousPartner comes with a team. That team consists of a bunch of associates and maybe even a junior partner. The team reviews everything, writes first drafts, etc., and hands the result to FamousPartner.

As a result, FamousPartner is to some extent a figurehead. FamousPartner just has to edit the product handed over by the team and then go be the face of everything (argue the motion, advise the client, whatever). But if there's anything that requires judgment or expertise, FamousPartner handles that. FamousPartner has been doing this for twenty years (or thirty years, or whatever), and the rest of the team has been doing it for 0-7 years, mostly. So FamousPartner is the real lawyer providing the smarts, and everyone else is just taking care of the mundane garbage.

So how does this explain an up-or-out model? Well, if you're 8+ years in, you're not really contributing any more than any other senior associate. All the stuff requiring judgment/expertise is being done by FamousPartner, so you're just contributing what any other associate could learn to do in 5-6 years (reading routine things, writing routine things). But with lockstep salary increases, you're making a lot more than a fifth-year associate. So either the firm has to bill your time at a relatively high rate, at which the client will balk because the client is paying for FamousPartner and not some crappy super-senior associate, or the firm has to bill your time at a relatively low rate, in which case you're getting paid too much for how much you're billing. Neither is good.

This means that there are two ways to stay around long-term. You could actually learn something specialized and useful that wouldn't be easy to replace with the next associate coming up. If you do that, the firm will keep you on as a special counsel. Or you could start getting clients who want to hire you as their lawyer; you become FamousPartner! Neither is common, and if you don't do either of those two things, you'll get replaced with someone younger and cheaper, and that'll leave you SOL.

This also explains part of why biglaw sucks so much. As an associate, you're basically just a cog in the machine trying to make FamousPartner look good. You don't actually get to do anything real; if you go out and show your face in court or wherever, the client will be like, "Who is this clown? I paid for FamousPartner, not this bozo!" So the work is pretty mundane and boring pretty much all the time.

I say this from having seen the inside of biglaw for all of 8 weeks, so if anyone understands this better than I do, I welcome corrections. But I think this is more or less how it works.

EDIT: Typo.
Last edited by tomwatts on Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: So you want to be a NY Corporate Associate?

Postby Johann » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:36 pm

You're correct Tom watts.




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