Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

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TakeTheOver
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Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby TakeTheOver » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:01 pm

Hey TLS,

I'm an undergrad graduating in May from a T20 non-Ivy (think Wash U, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Emory) and I have decided to take a two-year paralegal job before law school. I have two offers to choose from: Skadden NY and Proskauer NY. In both instances, I would be a corporate paralegal/legal assistant/whatever you want to call it. Personally, I found the people at Proskauer to be more relaxed and friendly than Skadden and I'm also very interested in their sports law practice, so choosing Proskauer would (hopefully) allow me to network at least a little within that practice. However, I know that Skadden is the more prestigious firm with better corporate practices in pretty much everything besides sports. My question is, does the prestige of a firm matter for a paralegal looking to get experience before law school? I felt like Skadden was too big for my taste and had more of an intense sweatshop vibe. Furthermore, I think I would get a more substantive experience at Proskauer. But if prestige matters at this point, I am not sure if I should bite the bullet and choose Skadden. Any advice here would be greatly appreciated; I only have a few days to decide which offer to take. Thanks everyone!

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:05 pm

Go wherever you'll have a better time for two years. Nothing else will matter

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:24 pm

I've attended law school and worked with people who went from BigLaw paralegal/legal assistant --> law school --> associate. I did not see a correlation between prestige of paralegal/legal assistant firm and prestige of biglaw job landed. I knew a girl who was a biglaw paralegal then went to a T14 but graduated jobless. In another instance, the paralegal went off to a state school for law school, became a student associate at her firm, then a summer associate, and then an associate. And I also know a partner who was a paralegal at a V10 but ended up in a V200 firm (stayed there her whole post-law school career). Long story short, it varies wildly. Go to the firm you prefer, make valuable connections, keep in touch with those connections, and that's as good as you can do imo. I doubt Skadden will put you in a more competitive position than Proskauer.

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lymenheimer
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby lymenheimer » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:26 pm


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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby 1styearlateral » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:32 pm

I'd echo the above posters but also include that I wouldn't bank on working in a particular area of the law, especially sports/entertainment law. Everyone and their mom wants to work in these fields, but very few people actually do; it's super competitive and very dependent on key players in the field. Taking a job at Proskauer does not mean you'll be placed in that department and, even if you were, there's no indication that it would give you a leg up on the competition.

Personally, I'd take Proskauer. Network like hell at whichever firm you choose so that come OCI, you have some talking points and/or people who can work magic for you behind the scenes.

TakeTheOver
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby TakeTheOver » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:41 pm

1styearlateral wrote:I'd echo the above posters but also include that I wouldn't bank on working in a particular area of the law, especially sports/entertainment law. Everyone and their mom wants to work in these fields, but very few people actually do; it's super competitive and very dependent on key players in the field. Taking a job at Proskauer does not mean you'll be placed in that department and, even if you were, there's no indication that it would give you a leg up on the competition.

Personally, I'd take Proskauer. Network like hell at whichever firm you choose so that come OCI, you have some talking points and/or people who can work magic for you behind the scenes.


Thank you for the advice! I'd be a general corporate paralegal so I wouldn't be placed in the sports practice but if an opportunity arises, I could find myself working on a project in the practice. I also understand that getting into sports law is extremely difficult but I figured that working at Proskauer could at least give me some connections in the practice if I network my ass off, which could help my chances (albeit very slim) in the future.

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:54 pm

I vote Skadden, unless you're absolutely dead set on working in sports.

TakeTheOver
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby TakeTheOver » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I vote Skadden, unless you're absolutely dead set on working in sports.


Not dead set on sports but definitely inclined towards it. Proskauer can at least help me see what it's like; don't think I could get that opportunity at Skadden. Thanks for your input!

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bk1
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby bk1 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:23 pm

Moved to appropriate forum.

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby Bach-City » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:41 pm

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Last edited by Bach-City on Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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smaug
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby smaug » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:49 pm

I would think Proskauer would be far less hellish

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby Cooley at Sticker » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:32 pm

Just out of curiosity, how do you go about getting paralegals gigs like this? What's your background?

TakeTheOver
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby TakeTheOver » Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:41 am

Cooley at Sticker wrote:Just out of curiosity, how do you go about getting paralegals gigs like this? What's your background?


Fortunately I had a connection (a family friend who used to work at Proskauer got me an interview). But I know that some Biglaw firms do go to college career fairs

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby guynourmin » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:14 am

Cooley at Sticker wrote:Just out of curiosity, how do you go about getting paralegals gigs like this? What's your background?


apply. I applied to pretty close to a dozen biglaw firm in Chicago out of UG (~5 years ago) and interviewed at 2 without any connections. Didn't go to a big school, didn't have great grades. Didn't get either job, either, but I wouldn't say either interview went particularly well. That's on me.

TakeTheOver
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby TakeTheOver » Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:18 pm

Anyone else have any advice? I'm still trying to figure this out :/

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby trmckenz » Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:55 pm

FWIW, I am at the tail end of doing what you are about to do (I am a patent agent in big law who is headed to law school in August). I traded up law firms twice for more 'prestige' (i.e., brand recognition), and frankly it was worth it in terms of garnering respect for law school admissions. I got into my reach school with a scholarship despite having below-median numbers.

There is no right or wrong answer though - just try to figure out what you want your story to be, and then go with that. I see two stories, filled with assumptions:

Story A: Skadden NY
Just about everyone in law knows Skadden. Everyone knows that Skadden NY, and their corporate practice in particular, is a great place to learn and work hard. If you can hang in Skadden NY, you can hang anywhere. The Skadden brand is more exclusive than Proskauer, which law schools will like. You will likely be exposed to many different aspects of a top-shelf corporate practice. You can tell interviewers in law school OCI, "I was exposed to A and B, I really liked A, but I did not like B," and sell how your interests align with the interviewing firm from there. You will maximize your number of options with this choice, which I think is the right move for being in your early 20s.

Story B: Proskauer NY
Some (if not most) people in law know Proskauer NY has a solid sports practice. You very well may be presented with opportunities to work on sports-related matters that cross over into your practice group, but it will not be regularly occurring and is tough to count on happening. If/when they do come across your desk, you can play these up on your resume. Working in sports/entertainment seems to require a pretty demonstrated commitment (often at the expense of salary or keeping other options open), so if you really want to work in sports, it might be good to brand yourself with Proskauer. In OCI interviews during law school, you could say, "I know I want to do sports and I wanted to be as close to the action as possible, which is why I turned down Skadden for Proskauer."

Both are strong stories, and you can spin them however you'd like. I have no idea of the actual work that you will get in either firm. Skadden is just much bigger name and more elite, so I'd say reach up as high as you can and take Skadden. Your reality is that you will not be locked into anything regardless of which firm you choose, especially since you're headed to law school in a couple of years. Good luck!

TakeTheOver
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby TakeTheOver » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:01 pm

trmckenz wrote:FWIW, I am at the tail end of doing what you are about to do (I am a patent agent in big law who is headed to law school in August). I traded up law firms twice for more 'prestige' (i.e., brand recognition), and frankly it was worth it in terms of garnering respect for law school admissions. I got into my reach school with a scholarship despite having below-median numbers.

There is no right or wrong answer though - just try to figure out what you want your story to be, and then go with that. I see two stories, filled with assumptions:

Story A: Skadden NY
Just about everyone in law knows Skadden. Everyone knows that Skadden NY, and their corporate practice in particular, is a great place to learn and work hard. If you can hang in Skadden NY, you can hang anywhere. The Skadden brand is more exclusive than Proskauer, which law schools will like. You will likely be exposed to many different aspects of a top-shelf corporate practice. You can tell interviewers in law school OCI, "I was exposed to A and B, I really liked A, but I did not like B," and sell how your interests align with the interviewing firm from there. You will maximize your number of options with this choice, which I think is the right move for being in your early 20s.

Story B: Proskauer NY
Some (if not most) people in law know Proskauer NY has a solid sports practice. You very well may be presented with opportunities to work on sports-related matters that cross over into your practice group, but it will not be regularly occurring and is tough to count on happening. If/when they do come across your desk, you can play these up on your resume. Working in sports/entertainment seems to require a pretty demonstrated commitment (often at the expense of salary or keeping other options open), so if you really want to work in sports, it might be good to brand yourself with Proskauer. In OCI interviews during law school, you could say, "I know I want to do sports and I wanted to be as close to the action as possible, which is why I turned down Skadden for Proskauer."

Both are strong stories, and you can spin them however you'd like. I have no idea of the actual work that you will get in either firm. Skadden is just much bigger name and more elite, so I'd say reach up as high as you can and take Skadden. Your reality is that you will not be locked into anything regardless of which firm you choose, especially since you're headed to law school in a couple of years. Good luck!


Amazing advice, man. Thank you! This definitely helps clear things up a bit. I guess my biggest hang-up is the ability to at least get a glimpse of sports law at Proskauer versus no exposure at all in Skadden. I also think that I would get exposure to more areas of corporate law at Proskauer, since I've heard from some at Skadden that they are often placed into a very specific practice and can get stuck there due to massive size of the firm.

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trmckenz
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby trmckenz » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:50 pm

TakeTheOver wrote:
Amazing advice, man. Thank you! This definitely helps clear things up a bit. I guess my biggest hang-up is the ability to at least get a glimpse of sports law at Proskauer versus no exposure at all in Skadden. I also think that I would get exposure to more areas of corporate law at Proskauer, since I've heard from some at Skadden that they are often placed into a very specific practice and can get stuck there due to massive size of the firm.


This is a tough question. It can go either way. Even though I know you want people to say "go for Proskauer!" because it aligns well with your passions, I still think you should go Skadden.

In favor of Proskauer, I definitely see the value of getting your foot in the door there if you are sold on sports law. As a paralegal though, getting actual exposure to sports law work should be far less important than building relationships with people who practice sports law. Even if you don't explicitly work on any sports stuff as a corporate paralegal, which may very well happen, there is a far greater chance that you will be able to interact with sports law attorneys at the firm. For example, there might be an NCAA march madness bracket competition, a golf tournament pool, a firm softball league, or some other social event where you can get face time with other sports-focused people. You will almost certainly meet some sports law attorneys this way. That's the real advantage of being at Proskauer.

So, when you are interviewing with Proskauer for Summer Associate positions, the goal is for the interviewer to be able to say, "oh, I know this guy, he and I played softball together. He was reliable and came to all of the games and was responsive to team emails. He even drove in a couple of runs in the championship game... man I wish we had won the title, but maybe we can win next year with his bat on the team again." I think stuff like that is what will increase your odds of being hired more dramatically than having done support work for a couple of sports clients.

Most importantly, during law school, you will be hired at law firms as a Summer Associate. Summer Associates are hired based primarily on (1) law school choice and (2) grades. Relationships and work experience definitely help, but you have to be within the ballpark of the school/grades combo before the firm even looks at your other factors. For example, the head of my IP group said he doesn't care if I take any IP courses in law school, he just wants to see a high class rank (top 25% or so to get another look, depending on the school). Work experience is not typically a prerequisite for big law firm SA hiring, so I think you should shift your focus a little bit here from getting your hands on sports law work at ages 22-25 to setting yourself up for being employable as a Summer Associate. This means (1) go to a really good law school and (2) get really good grades.

Another thing to realize is that you might not even be hired into a sports law practice group right out of law school. I'm not sure if Proskauer hires directly from law school into their sports law group. Many sports/entertainment firms don't hire Summer Associates (e.g., Loeb & Loeb doesn't hire Summer Associates). Being a corporate paralegal may in reality help you get hired into the Proskauer corporate group (or another firm's corporate group) right out of law school, and then from there, and with some effort, you can lateral into sports law practice.

So, it would be wise to assume that the much more likely outcome is for you to be hired in a more general corporate group right after law school. Fortunately for you, this outcome is directly relevant to corporate paralegal experience. I recommend maximizing your chances at landing a big law Summer Associate position in a corporate group, which means focusing on the two most important pieces of law student hiring, namely (1) going to a really good law school and (2) getting really good grades. Having Skadden on your resume is much more likely to help you get into a higher-ranking school than the Proskauer brand. Admissions committees all know Skadden is a V5 firm, and that it is one of the "best" outcomes for law students. The Skadden name will impress every time. The Proskauer brand would probably only be "better" than Skadden if your entire mantra and personal statement is centered on sports law, and you're confident in your schmoozing abilities. Also, you may want sports law right now, but that could all very well change.

Lastly, as I'm sure you can infer, I don't really think the risk of getting pidgeonholed into a niche of corporate practice should be of primary concern. I work in patent prosecution, which is a niche of IP practice, and I don't feel excluded from any other area of IP (or any other practice group for that matter). Law school can most certainly serve as a "reset" button for choosing a different practice area. It just depends on, again, (1) where you go to law school and (2) how good your grades are. Our advantage is that we have gained experience before law school, which will help open eyes to the legal world before law school. The real risk of getting pidgeonholed comes with being an Associate, and by that time you'll know whether you want to do sports law or corporate or something entirely different.

At the end of the day, I think getting the Skadden brand name on your resume is going to help more than Proskauer. It is much easier to lateral from a high-ranking firm to a lower-ranking firm than the other way around, so I suggest starting as high as you can get. Skadden is a V5 and sets you on a very high trajectory in the legal profession. Those are my two cents.

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby GoneSouth » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:44 am

FWIW, I know a guy who was a paralegal at Proskauer and had no trouble getting a 1L and 2L summer associate gig there because of the connections he'd made. It was DC though, not NY.

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby GoneSouth » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:46 am

trmckenz wrote:
TakeTheOver wrote:
Amazing advice, man. Thank you! This definitely helps clear things up a bit. I guess my biggest hang-up is the ability to at least get a glimpse of sports law at Proskauer versus no exposure at all in Skadden. I also think that I would get exposure to more areas of corporate law at Proskauer, since I've heard from some at Skadden that they are often placed into a very specific practice and can get stuck there due to massive size of the firm.


This is a tough question. It can go either way. Even though I know you want people to say "go for Proskauer!" because it aligns well with your passions, I still think you should go Skadden.

In favor of Proskauer, I definitely see the value of getting your foot in the door there if you are sold on sports law. As a paralegal though, getting actual exposure to sports law work should be far less important than building relationships with people who practice sports law. Even if you don't explicitly work on any sports stuff as a corporate paralegal, which may very well happen, there is a far greater chance that you will be able to interact with sports law attorneys at the firm. For example, there might be an NCAA march madness bracket competition, a golf tournament pool, a firm softball league, or some other social event where you can get face time with other sports-focused people. You will almost certainly meet some sports law attorneys this way. That's the real advantage of being at Proskauer.

So, when you are interviewing with Proskauer for Summer Associate positions, the goal is for the interviewer to be able to say, "oh, I know this guy, he and I played softball together. He was reliable and came to all of the games and was responsive to team emails. He even drove in a couple of runs in the championship game... man I wish we had won the title, but maybe we can win next year with his bat on the team again." I think stuff like that is what will increase your odds of being hired more dramatically than having done support work for a couple of sports clients.

Most importantly, during law school, you will be hired at law firms as a Summer Associate. Summer Associates are hired based primarily on (1) law school choice and (2) grades. Relationships and work experience definitely help, but you have to be within the ballpark of the school/grades combo before the firm even looks at your other factors. For example, the head of my IP group said he doesn't care if I take any IP courses in law school, he just wants to see a high class rank (top 25% or so to get another look, depending on the school). Work experience is not typically a prerequisite for big law firm SA hiring, so I think you should shift your focus a little bit here from getting your hands on sports law work at ages 22-25 to setting yourself up for being employable as a Summer Associate. This means (1) go to a really good law school and (2) get really good grades.

Another thing to realize is that you might not even be hired into a sports law practice group right out of law school. I'm not sure if Proskauer hires directly from law school into their sports law group. Many sports/entertainment firms don't hire Summer Associates (e.g., Loeb & Loeb doesn't hire Summer Associates). Being a corporate paralegal may in reality help you get hired into the Proskauer corporate group (or another firm's corporate group) right out of law school, and then from there, and with some effort, you can lateral into sports law practice.

So, it would be wise to assume that the much more likely outcome is for you to be hired in a more general corporate group right after law school. Fortunately for you, this outcome is directly relevant to corporate paralegal experience. I recommend maximizing your chances at landing a big law Summer Associate position in a corporate group, which means focusing on the two most important pieces of law student hiring, namely (1) going to a really good law school and (2) getting really good grades. Having Skadden on your resume is much more likely to help you get into a higher-ranking school than the Proskauer brand. Admissions committees all know Skadden is a V5 firm, and that it is one of the "best" outcomes for law students. The Skadden name will impress every time. The Proskauer brand would probably only be "better" than Skadden if your entire mantra and personal statement is centered on sports law, and you're confident in your schmoozing abilities. Also, you may want sports law right now, but that could all very well change.

Lastly, as I'm sure you can infer, I don't really think the risk of getting pidgeonholed into a niche of corporate practice should be of primary concern. I work in patent prosecution, which is a niche of IP practice, and I don't feel excluded from any other area of IP (or any other practice group for that matter). Law school can most certainly serve as a "reset" button for choosing a different practice area. It just depends on, again, (1) where you go to law school and (2) how good your grades are. Our advantage is that we have gained experience before law school, which will help open eyes to the legal world before law school. The real risk of getting pidgeonholed comes with being an Associate, and by that time you'll know whether you want to do sports law or corporate or something entirely different.

At the end of the day, I think getting the Skadden brand name on your resume is going to help more than Proskauer. It is much easier to lateral from a high-ranking firm to a lower-ranking firm than the other way around, so I suggest starting as high as you can get. Skadden is a V5 and sets you on a very high trajectory in the legal profession. Those are my two cents.


Ok I stopped reading here. No admissions committee is going to care whether you were a freaking paralegal at Skadden over Proskauer. There's no way.

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smaug
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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby smaug » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:55 pm

lol @ striving to be a sadden SA anyway

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:25 pm

I can say that I know of 2 pple who punched way above their GPA/school and landed SAs at firms they were originally paralegals at. I wouldn't be surprised if working at a firm pre-law school can help you land an interview when you otherwise wouldn't get one through OCI/mass mail.

That said, yes, there is no way an admissions office will look at Skadden as better than Proskauer. And just lmfao as Skadden as one of the "best" outcomes for law students.

I don't understand trmckenz's V5 fixation.

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Re: Paralegal before law school: Skadden NY vs. Proskauer NY?

Postby HonestAdvice » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:05 am

Anecdotally, it didn't seem to be as big of a help as one would expect. If anything it's a slight boost at every firm, because it shows that you know what to expect and are less likely to hate it. If the goal is to get an offer at the firm you work for, one would expect Proskauer to be a better bet simply because the hiring committee is smaller, it's more likely you'll work with someone on the committee and the connections you develop will carry more weight. That said, these connections are most valuable to those who would be attractive candidates even if they were not a previous employee.




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