AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate Forum

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AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:34 pm

Background: Graduated from one of HYS, clerked for a district court judge, and am now at a big firm on the West Coast. I do a mix of litigation (not patent) and white-collar work. I generally enjoy my job. Ask me anything, but no guarantees I can answer without outing myself.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by skaw123 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:39 pm

Assuming you're not going for partner, what are your thoughts/plans in terms of exit strategies? I've heard they're severely limited for litigation associates.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:47 pm

OP here: I plan to stay in private practice indefinitely. Whether that means staying here or going to another firm, I don't know. But I haven't actively thought about exit options very much.

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rpupkin

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by rpupkin » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:52 pm

How long have you been working as an associate at your firm?

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:54 pm

rpupkin wrote:How long have you been working as an associate at your firm?
Between 1-3 years.

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mt2165

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by mt2165 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:05 pm

How have you found white-collar work? Interested in it because I really like criminal law, but have heard its a lot of doc review and a lot less interesting than you'd think. And hours?

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:24 pm

mt2165 wrote:How have you found white-collar work? Interested in it because I really like criminal law, but have heard its a lot of doc review and a lot less interesting than you'd think. And hours?
It's a lot different than litigation; it's much more fact-driven and involves very little law on a day-to-day basis. I do a lot of doc review, draft memos summarizing witness interviews or key documents, and spend some time interfacing with forensic consultants. It can be interesting, but there's much less writing than there is in litigation (especially persuasive writing, which I especially enjoy).

I billed around 2500 hours last year, including pro bono.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 19, 2016 7:05 pm

Do you ever see NYC associates come west? I'm going to the NYC office of a large firm that has a presence on both coasts, and I kinda wish I had bid west coast. Have some ties there, though not slam-dunk.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:24 pm

Did you clerk on the West Coast as well?

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do you ever see NYC associates come west? I'm going to the NYC office of a large firm that has a presence on both coasts, and I kinda wish I had bid west coast. Have some ties there, though not slam-dunk.
Yes, it's not uncommon. It's more common with transactional folks, but a number of litigators also start out in NYC and then transition to the west coast.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Did you clerk on the West Coast as well?
I clerked on a district court in the Ninth Circuit (and I'm being purposefully vague).

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:09 pm

How'd you end up doing white collar? By chance, or did you make a push for this group specifically?

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mt2165

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by mt2165 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
mt2165 wrote:How have you found white-collar work? Interested in it because I really like criminal law, but have heard its a lot of doc review and a lot less interesting than you'd think. And hours?
It's a lot different than litigation; it's much more fact-driven and involves very little law on a day-to-day basis. I do a lot of doc review, draft memos summarizing witness interviews or key documents, and spend some time interfacing with forensic consultants. It can be interesting, but there's much less writing than there is in litigation (especially persuasive writing, which I especially enjoy).

I billed around 2500 hours last year, including pro bono.
Thanks, good stuff. Do you know of any white collar associates at your firm who exited into criminal law jobs in govt?

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mt2165

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by mt2165 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:51 pm

me above, accidental anon

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 20, 2016 2:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Did you clerk on the West Coast as well?
I clerked on a district court in the Ninth Circuit (and I'm being purposefully vague).
Thanks. It seems like a lot of West Coast district court judges (especially in NDCA and CDCA) want people with experience. How did you address that when applying?

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by tbird » Sat Feb 20, 2016 2:35 am

Do you feel like clerking has made any big difference with the assignments you now receive or your credibility at the firm? I know it was probably a great experience and all, but does it really pay off once you are in practice in any measurable way? I mean outside of assisting with landing the right job.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Do you ever see NYC associates come west? I'm going to the NYC office of a large firm that has a presence on both coasts, and I kinda wish I had bid west coast. Have some ties there, though not slam-dunk.
Yes, it's not uncommon. It's more common with transactional folks, but a number of litigators also start out in NYC and then transition to the west coast.
Thx. :D

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How'd you end up doing white collar? By chance, or did you make a push for this group specifically?
Mostly by accident. I had a lull after a large matter ended, got staffed on an investigation that needed more people, and have been doing it ever since. There's a lot of demand for white collar associates at my firm, and I imagine it would be pretty easy to get staffed on investigations (especially large, cross-office ones) if that's something you wanted to do. But I'm not really privy to the details.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
mt2165 wrote:How have you found white-collar work? Interested in it because I really like criminal law, but have heard its a lot of doc review and a lot less interesting than you'd think. And hours?
It's a lot different than litigation; it's much more fact-driven and involves very little law on a day-to-day basis. I do a lot of doc review, draft memos summarizing witness interviews or key documents, and spend some time interfacing with forensic consultants. It can be interesting, but there's much less writing than there is in litigation (especially persuasive writing, which I especially enjoy).

I billed around 2500 hours last year, including pro bono.
Thanks, good stuff. Do you know of any white collar associates at your firm who exited into criminal law jobs in govt?
A good chunk of white collar associates exit into AUSA positions and similar roles. I should add, however, that there aren't that many "white collar associates" - while there are some people who primarily do white collar work, there are also a lot of litigation associates who also do some white collar work. I don't know how much exits for those two groups differ.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Did you clerk on the West Coast as well?
I clerked on a district court in the Ninth Circuit (and I'm being purposefully vague).
Thanks. It seems like a lot of West Coast district court judges (especially in NDCA and CDCA) want people with experience. How did you address that when applying?
Other than avoiding judges who stated on OSCAR that they wanted people with experience (or judges who our clerkship office knew only hired clerks with experience), I didn't. I applied broadly during my 2L summer (the Plan was still around when I was applying, for what that's worth) and the judges who called evidently were fine with the fact that I would be clerking straight out of law school.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:11 pm

tbird wrote:Do you feel like clerking has made any big difference with the assignments you now receive or your credibility at the firm? I know it was probably a great experience and all, but does it really pay off once you are in practice in any measurable way? I mean outside of assisting with landing the right job.
It has made an immense difference. I will answer this in more detail later, but coming into my firm from a clerkship put me gave me a significant head start and has continued to pay dividends during the time I have been there. I think most of the benefits are practice-related: it makes you a better writer, improves your research skills, and gives you a really strong big-picture grasp of litigation that a lot of junior associates lack. But it also gave me a leg up on getting good assignments when I started and enhanced my credibility with certain partners. Clients care too: if I get included on the team for a case we are pitching, the pitch document will always mention who on the team clerked.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Did you clerk on the West Coast as well?
I clerked on a district court in the Ninth Circuit (and I'm being purposefully vague).
Thanks. It seems like a lot of West Coast district court judges (especially in NDCA and CDCA) want people with experience. How did you address that when applying?
Other than avoiding judges who stated on OSCAR that they wanted people with experience (or judges who our clerkship office knew only hired clerks with experience), I didn't. I applied broadly during my 2L summer (the Plan was still around when I was applying, for what that's worth) and the judges who called evidently were fine with the fact that I would be clerking straight out of law school.
Thanks! What kind of grades do you need from HYS for a decent district court clerkship on the West coast?

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:46 am

It varies heavily by judge. I think more H's than P's will put you in the running for most district court judges, but it probably isn't enough to get you picked out of the pile in some chambers in C.D. Cal/N.D. Cal. In my chambers, someone with more than 50/50 H's, a journal, a tie to the area, and a summer job at a place we had heard of would get a serious look: the clerks would read the whole writing sample, review the recommendations carefully, and likely pass on the application to the judge if everything checked out. But that's no guarantee of a callback, let alone a clerkship offer.

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Re: AMA: West Coast Litigation Associate

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:It varies heavily by judge. I think more H's than P's will put you in the running for most district court judges, but it probably isn't enough to get you picked out of the pile in some chambers in C.D. Cal/N.D. Cal. In my chambers, someone with more than 50/50 H's, a journal, a tie to the area, and a summer job at a place we had heard of would get a serious look: the clerks would read the whole writing sample, review the recommendations carefully, and likely pass on the application to the judge if everything checked out. But that's no guarantee of a callback, let alone a clerkship offer.
Thanks again, this is really helpful!

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