How to wind up in New Orleans?

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gulf_boy

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How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by gulf_boy » Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:22 pm

I'll be enrolling in one of YSH in fall 2021 (deferred for a year because of COVID-related issues). I live on the Gulf Coast (a little over an hour away from New Orleans, but still very much in the city's orbit, imo) and would like to "return" after graduation.

I don't have any specific ties to the city beyond living in the region and I know that it is a pretty small and insular market. Is it possible for me to end up there/is it worth my time trying to? What can I do to maximize my chances? I'm looking for paralegal-type jobs there, but I don't expect I'll make many connections in the year between now and my matriculation.

In other threads on this topic, commenters have advised looking at Houston or Atlanta. I understand why, but am not particularly interested in those cities at this time.

I would appreciate any thoughts or guidance anyone might have. TIA!

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:29 pm

I grew up in New Orleans, go to Tulane, and have summered at two of the top firms in the city (anon because this information could out me in various sensitive threads).

On the question of whether your ties are sufficient to get a job here, I think they probably are if you're from anywhere in Louisiana or the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It is definitely an insular market, and the vast majority of hiring at local firms is from Tulane, LSU, or Loyola. But if you're from the region and make a pitch that you really want to live here, firms will be interested.

A note: some people might try to tell you that you need to go to law school in Louisiana to get a job here because our civil law system is so unique that you won't be able to pass the LA bar. That's not true. The civil law distinction only affects certain subjects (especially Property and Trusts & Estates), and the differences are not so extreme that you couldn't learn the new content in a bar prep course. At the firms I worked at, there were multiple lawyers who originally went to law school and took the bar in other states and then moved here, and they learned this stuff and passed the LA bar just fine.

On whether it's worth it, that's a personal question. If you're familiar with the area, you know there are downsides to living here (a generally not great economy that will probably be worse after Covid due to tourism and oil dependence; frequent weather disasters and threats from rising sea levels; etc) but also benefits (fun local culture, relatively laid-back work environments, relatively low cost of living, etc). In terms of salaries, first-year associates at the best/biggest firms in the city (think Jones Walker, Baker Donelson, Liskow & Lewis, Adams & Reese, etc) make about $110k. There are smart people at these firms--even though they rarely went to T14 schools, they were at the top of their class at Tulane or LSU and many have done federal clerkships and/or worked in bigger markets earlier in their careers.

If you're interested in public interest, there are a lot of opportunities for that here. New Orleans is kind of a mecca for public interest oriented people from elsewhere (I guess they pity us). Orleans Public Defenders has a bunch of lawyers who went to T14 schools and there are a range of other legal nonprofits that are pretty respected too. So even though we're not a major market, there is interesting legal work here that's done by smart people.

crazywafflez

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by crazywafflez » Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:50 pm

Hey, I'm from the South (not MS or LA though); I had no intention to stay in NOLA but didn't tell that to folks at OCI. I'm at Tulane and have good but not great grades. I struck out at every top NOLA firm. All of them asked what high school I attended, hah. I did much better with the TX & FL firms. I think you'll be fine if you show interest in the area and since you are from the MS coast you'll have a way better shot. YSH is great, congrats! I don't see very many T14 folks at the top firms here, I'm thinking like Stone Pigman, Baker etc.- they are there, but it is a tough market to crack- I'd say try and get a job here, especially 1L, but for sure 2L SA. I'm sure you could lateral in eventually, it is just a super insular and small market. As the above poster stated, pay is not like Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, or even Charlotte or Nashville. You are gonna be around 90k-115k. Pay is a lot more in step with B'ham, Memphis, and other midsized Southern cities. NOLA is a unique and cool place; just show you love it and that you want to be a part of it and I'm sure you'll get it.

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:06 pm

Another Tulane student here. Agree on all of the above, but wanted to add some.

I think Liskow & Lewis, Barrasso, Jones Walker and Stanley Reuter are probably the most difficult to land. Places like Stone Pigman, Chaffe, Sher Garner, Adams & Reese, Deutsch Kerrigan, Fishman Haygood, and McGlinchey are also good.

I’d prefer all those places over satellite offices for Proskauer or Baker Donelson that are less dynamic than the firms above. Proskauer does mostly ERISA work at the office and doesn’t pay the 190k many of its other offices get, oddly.

Bad:
I don’t think it’s easy to work here unless you’re from the actual city and/or went to school here, but I’m sure HYS gives you a better edge. People with 4.0s at Tulane who moved here beforehand strike out yet land fed clerkships or NYC V5 jobs.

Post-COVID, I think it will be difficult to work at any of these firms regardless of your school because of how small their classes are. Each of the firms above take 1-2 2Ls at Tulane per summer, and mostly locals. The offer-rates for southern markets are not ~100% like for bigger markets, which is horrifying. Sometimes half or less of the class gets an offer.

The city also leans heavily into litigation, so it may not be the best place if you’re only set on transactional firm work.

Good:
If you clerked in EDLA and/or the 5th Circuit, you’ll likely get a job in NOLA. Also, the firms normally do recruit 1L summers, so applying for these early roles might help if you reapply for 2L summer later on. Another perk is that southern firms often encourage splits with their SAs, so you could still accept an SA from a larger market and take a second one in NOLA to avoid the no-offered outcome.

You can also lateral into NOLA if you don’t make it work right out of school. Barrasso is one of the best firms in the city and many went to a T14, clerked, did big law elsewhere (even non-Houston) and then joined after.

purplegoldtornado

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by purplegoldtornado » Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:25 pm

crazywafflez wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:50 pm
Hey, I'm from the South (not MS or LA though); I had no intention to stay in NOLA but didn't tell that to folks at OCI. I'm at Tulane and have good but not great grades. I struck out at every top NOLA firm. All of them asked what high school I attended, hah. I did much better with the TX & FL firms. I think you'll be fine if you show interest in the area and since you are from the MS coast you'll have a way better shot. YSH is great, congrats! I don't see very many T14 folks at the top firms here, I'm thinking like Stone Pigman, Baker etc.- they are there, but it is a tough market to crack- I'd say try and get a job here, especially 1L, but for sure 2L SA. I'm sure you could lateral in eventually, it is just a super insular and small market. As the above poster stated, pay is not like Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, or even Charlotte or Nashville. You are gonna be around 90k-115k. Pay is a lot more in step with B'ham, Memphis, and other midsized Southern cities. NOLA is a unique and cool place; just show you love it and that you want to be a part of it and I'm sure you'll get it.
I have heard of not really needing ties for Texas, but is that true for Florida as well?

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:58 pm

Not the quoted person, but am also from FL and familiar with interviewing and getting offers from Orlando/FTL/Miami markets. Ties are pretty important there for firm work, as all the big law satellites (H&K, GT, White & Case, etc.) and local places (Bilzin, Gunster) look for it. A lot of hiring comes from T14 FL residents and local FL students. Being Cuban helps as well.

I think TX is less ties-sensitive for places like Houston or maybe Dallas, but the more coveted places like Austin certainly expect ties.

purplegoldtornado

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by purplegoldtornado » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:58 pm
Not the quoted person, but am also from FL and familiar with interviewing and getting offers from Orlando/FTL/Miami markets. Ties are pretty important there for firm work, as all the big law satellites (H&K, GT, White & Case, etc.) and local places (Bilzin, Gunster) look for it. A lot of hiring comes from T14 FL residents and local FL students. Being Cuban helps as well.

I think TX is less tie-sensitive for places like Houston or maybe Dallas, but the more coveted places like Austin certainly expect ties.
Guess I'll keep my T2 Midwestern arse out. Hahaha thanks for the info!!

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:06 pm
Another Tulane student here. Agree on all of the above, but wanted to add some.

I think Liskow & Lewis, Barrasso, Jones Walker and Stanley Reuter are probably the most difficult to land. Places like Stone Pigman, Chaffe, Sher Garner, Adams & Reese, Deutsch Kerrigan, Fishman Haygood, and McGlinchey are also good.

I’d prefer all those places over satellite offices for Proskauer or Baker Donelson that are less dynamic than the firms above. Proskauer does mostly ERISA work at the office and doesn’t pay the 190k many of its other offices get, oddly.

Bad:
I don’t think it’s easy to work here unless you’re from the actual city and/or went to school here, but I’m sure HYS gives you a better edge. People with 4.0s at Tulane who moved here beforehand strike out yet land fed clerkships or NYC V5 jobs.

Post-COVID, I think it will be difficult to work at any of these firms regardless of your school because of how small their classes are. Each of the firms above take 1-2 2Ls at Tulane per summer, and mostly locals. The offer-rates for southern markets are not ~100% like for bigger markets, which is horrifying. Sometimes half or less of the class gets an offer.

The city also leans heavily into litigation, so it may not be the best place if you’re only set on transactional firm work.

Good:
If you clerked in EDLA and/or the 5th Circuit, you’ll likely get a job in NOLA. Also, the firms normally do recruit 1L summers, so applying for these early roles might help if you reapply for 2L summer later on. Another perk is that southern firms often encourage splits with their SAs, so you could still accept an SA from a larger market and take a second one in NOLA to avoid the no-offered outcome.

You can also lateral into NOLA if you don’t make it work right out of school. Barrasso is one of the best firms in the city and many went to a T14, clerked, did big law elsewhere (even non-Houston) and then joined after.
This is all good info and the bolded is really important. The top NOLA firms have very small summer programs that don't necessarily lead to an offer (even if you do a fine job, they might just realize they don't need to hire more than a certain number--they don't face the same pressure to give everyone an offer as true biglaw firms do). However, my impression from working at some of these firms is that they are doing fine financially despite Covid. It just hasn't seemed to affect the local legal industry very much yet, maybe because most of these firms are litigation-heavy as mentioned. So while the summer programs will stay small, I wouldn't necessarily expect them to shrink due to Covid (unless the economy starts to get way worse).

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by crazywafflez » Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:00 pm

I have Texas ties. Didn't have any FL ones- only tried for Northern FL, Tampa and Orlando though- unfamiliar with Miami. I didn't find ties to be an issue in FL but I'm sure they can be (I only tried for one firm in Orlando and it was midsized & the person who interviewed me was a Tulane Alum from my homestate, hah)- Texas isn't super ties heavy for Houston or Dallas, but San Antonio can be I've heard. NOLA is more ties heavy compared to all of the above places. Jacksonville isn't ties heavy at all from my xp and some of my friends at OCI (I love St Augustine hah).

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gulf_boy

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by gulf_boy » Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:49 pm

Thanks to everyone who's responded—this is all really helpful, and not as pessimistic as I'd expected!
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:29 pm
I grew up in New Orleans, go to Tulane, and have summered at two of the top firms in the city (anon because this information could out me in various sensitive threads).

On the question of whether your ties are sufficient to get a job here, I think they probably are if you're from anywhere in Louisiana or the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It is definitely an insular market, and the vast majority of hiring at local firms is from Tulane, LSU, or Loyola. But if you're from the region and make a pitch that you really want to live here, firms will be interested....

To get into what is possibly a boring semantic question, I'm not from the area originally (didn't go to high school here, to touch on what another commenter mentioned), but I do live on the MS coast, and will be coming "from" here to law school.... Hopefully that'll be enough.

And yeah, I'm definitely aware of the downsides. What I really meant by "worth it" was more along the lines of "will I waste my summers angling for New Orleans because I won't get a job there anyway." Which, because of this post—
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:06 pm

Post-COVID, I think it will be difficult to work at any of these firms regardless of your school because of how small their classes are. Each of the firms above take 1-2 2Ls at Tulane per summer, and mostly locals. The offer-rates for southern markets are not ~100% like for bigger markets, which is horrifying. Sometimes half or less of the class gets an offer.

The city also leans heavily into litigation, so it may not be the best place if you’re only set on transactional firm work.
— is a little concerning. When you say—
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:06 pm
Good:
Another perk is that southern firms often encourage splits with their SAs, so you could still accept an SA from a larger market and take a second one in NOLA to avoid the no-offered outcome.
—does this refer to 2L summer, such that I could do half the summer here and half the summer in, say, New York or Houston, and take the job there if things don't pan out here?


If anyone has any other tips about how to maximize my shot at getting a gig here (even just the names of the firms, provided throughout the thread, is really helpful), I'd definitely appreciate it. Thanks again folks.

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:15 pm

The splitting I referred to could be for either 1L or 2L summer. There is practically no midsize or large firm in NOLA that offers 8-10 week summer programs, as they all are 3-6 weeks long. I think some firms in Houston may be similar.

What I’d do is line an SA up in NOLA for the end of the summer (late July through August), but also accept an SA offer from a larger market since the latter is likely to run from May to July as usual places do. The only problems this could present are (1) that some firms prefer to have their SAs during certain parts of the summer and (2) NOLA firms might deny you if they hear about you trying to split with a firm outside of the south.

I had friends that split their summer with 2 or 3 firms here, which maximized their chances of getting at least one offer. If you could manage getting more than 1 NOLA firm, that’s obviously preferable.

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Re: How to wind up in New Orleans?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:22 pm

Some NOLA firms are flexible about dates since their summer programs are not very structured (e.g. you could express your interest in working there and suggest just 2-3 weeks you have free in the summer and they might go for it). I also know people who have split their summer between NOLA firms and firms in Houston or elsewhere and it hasn’t been a big deal (but could theoretically make a real offer less likely, since they’re not guaranteed to begin with).

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