Secondary/tertiary-market midlaw/"regional biglaw" vs. major-market biglaw

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ribbit16

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Secondary/tertiary-market midlaw/"regional biglaw" vs. major-market biglaw

Post by ribbit16 » Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:40 am

I'm planning on being a litigator and am considering the top firm in a smaller market and one of the top firms in a major market. What do you think of this list of pros and cons? Anything else I should be considering?

Smaller market
- More responsibility on cases earlier on, in particular a lot of trials
- >50% odds of partnership
- Substantially lower hours (~18-1900)
- Lots of local prestige and tippy-top in-market exit options
- Low cost of living, good public schools
- Salary compression, no chance of e.g. biglaw partner money
- Could go back to it whenever after trying out biglaw first, the reverse isn't true
- Lots of local counsel work (would be interested in hearing what that's like)
- No clerkship bonus

Larger market
- Bigger, more prominent cases, and the lead role on those cases
- More experienced partners/senior associates who might be better teachers of complex litigation
- More hours means more education
- Prestige
- Portability; could (and probably would) lateral into smaller market later
- More money if I stick it out to senior associate
- Clerkship bonus
- Low odds of getting stand-up experience in billable work
- Abysmal odds of partnership
- Wouldn't be building a network in the city I would probably work in long-term
- Very high cost of living that eliminates/reverses the salary difference for juniors

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Secondary/tertiary-market midlaw/"regional biglaw" vs. major-market biglaw

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:52 am

ribbit16 wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:40 am
Larger market
[. . .]
- Portability; could (and probably would) lateral into smaller market later
You want to be in the smaller market anyway? I'd just start there, if the firm is really as great as you say it is (>50% partnership chances sounds a bit optimistic).

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Re: Secondary/tertiary-market midlaw/"regional biglaw" vs. major-market biglaw

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 14, 2020 1:47 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:52 am
ribbit16 wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:40 am
Larger market
[. . .]
- Portability; could (and probably would) lateral into smaller market later
You want to be in the smaller market anyway? I'd just start there, if the firm is really as great as you say it is (>50% partnership chances sounds a bit optimistic).
Yeah, I'd just start in the smaller market. >50% partnership chance isn't unusual at all for small and often well-respected secondary/tertiary shops.

The top firms in my local market only bring on someone if they plan on making them an equity partner. Before law school, I had lived in that city my whole life and had many family friends who were attorneys there. Never was there an associate hired that didn't make partner. By well-respected, I mean the firm had put several justice on our state supreme court in the past decade or two.

I also interviewed at a smaller but very well respected shop in a secondary/tertiary market (think Indianapolis) that paid $100k+ starting and it was repeatedly stressed that all new associates (1-2yr.) were expected to stay and make equity.

Of course, you'll never have the "sexy" biglaw cases, and your partner comp might end up looking like a midlaw associate's compensation in your late 30s to mid 40s, but the COL and hours are usually substantially better, you're a big fish in your community, and the issues you work on might be very important for developing the law in your state.

decimalsanddollars

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Re: Secondary/tertiary-market midlaw/"regional biglaw" vs. major-market biglaw

Post by decimalsanddollars » Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:03 pm

Agreed with the above, especially if the smaller market is in a different state than the big firm. Outside of the major markets, state law matters a lot for litigation, and building that foundation early will pay dividends in the long run.

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