Advice for Targeting DC? Forum

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Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 4:00 pm

I'm a rising 2L - approx. top 1/4 at a T25, want to do litigation and really think I'll enjoy doing trial work if that's viable.

Will be working in D.C. this summer so will try and network/attend firm receptions/connect with alumni as much as possible. But, given that I'm a first gen student and my CDO is not super helpful, I was hoping others could chime in as to which firms would be realistic targets for someone of my profile, that have a strong litigation practice/ability to get experience early on, and decently good rep with regards to culture?

Thanks so much in advance!

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 4:50 pm

Just looked at the rankings and it looks like the current T25 is UGA, WashU, BYU, Ohio State, UF, UNC, and Wake.

I think its very unlikely that top 1/4 gets DC big law without some other factor (IP, URM, connections, etc.). It's certainly possible but DC is a very competitive market even for students from T14 schools with good grades. Top 1/4 at my lower t14 is far from a guarantee in DC.

I would look at firms towards the lower end of the AMLaw 200 and mid law firms. You may have a shot at a firm like Venable or Crowell if you make good connections but I think it's going to be tough and you should look into other, less competitive markets as well if you're set on big law.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 6:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 4:50 pm
Just looked at the rankings and it looks like the current T25 is UGA, WashU, BYU, Ohio State, UF, UNC, and Wake.

I think its very unlikely that top 1/4 gets DC big law without some other factor (IP, URM, connections, etc.). It's certainly possible but DC is a very competitive market even for students from T14 schools with good grades. Top 1/4 at my lower t14 is far from a guarantee in DC.

I would look at firms towards the lower end of the AMLaw 200 and mid law firms. You may have a shot at a firm like Venable or Crowell if you make good connections but I think it's going to be tough and you should look into other, less competitive markets as well if you're set on big law.
OP here. Apologies as I haven't looked at the new rankings so I guess my school might be T30 or something now, but generally speaking, our BL numbers have been pretty good for a non-T14. I am not looking for IP nor am I a URM so thanks for that information, as I'll lower my expectations accordingly.

I am guessing any success will come from alumni connections then...

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 6:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 4:00 pm
I'm a rising 2L - approx. top 1/4 at a T25, want to do litigation and really think I'll enjoy doing trial work if that's viable.

Will be working in D.C. this summer so will try and network/attend firm receptions/connect with alumni as much as possible. But, given that I'm a first gen student and my CDO is not super helpful, I was hoping others could chime in as to which firms would be realistic targets for someone of my profile, that have a strong litigation practice/ability to get experience early on, and decently good rep with regards to culture?

Thanks so much in advance!
This will be very, very difficult. People in the top 20% at my T14 strike out for DC litigation. It is less competitive if you come in saying you want to do some specific regulatory practice. If your summer position relates to one of these smaller DC practices (international trade or FERC or something) try to spin that into a job in a related practice. Saying you want early experience and trial work can also be a red flag for big law. You're not going to trial in big law. Given you're not URM, I would advise against having more than half, at most, of your interview eggs in the DC basket.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 6:58 pm

If you're at GW you're in a much better spot than if you're at a T30 outside the DMV area.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 9:23 pm

What’s more important to you - being in DC or doing Lit?

If it’s location, focus on getting into the firm first by getting the know the practice areas and networking. If you go hard at a niche practice area (that has a need for people) you can get in and then reassess your interest in lit.

If it’s lit, think about applying at the NYC offices of firms that have massive summer classes and then transferring or lateraling over to DC in a few years.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 10:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 9:23 pm
What’s more important to you - being in DC or doing Lit?

If it’s location, focus on getting into the firm first by getting the know the practice areas and networking. If you go hard at a niche practice area (that has a need for people) you can get in and then reassess your interest in lit.

If it’s lit, think about applying at the NYC offices of firms that have massive summer classes and then transferring or lateraling over to DC in a few years.
this is good advice. i wish i got this at my t14 before OCI.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 10:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 6:58 pm
If you're at GW you're in a much better spot than if you're at a T30 outside the DMV area.
Yep. I'm in the lit group of a V25 in DC and our summer class this year has one GW and all others are T14. That hasn't always been the case - my class years back was 2 GWs, the valedictorian of a nearby T50, and all others T14. There's no explicit requirement that you be from GW or a T14, but if you're not, you'd better hope you have something going for you other than just good grades (or else that you just happen to be a T15 this year).

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 11:14 pm

I'm at an Amlaw100 in DC and involved in summer associate hiring. I cannot stress how much of a difference it makes to get a recommendation from someone at the firm. Since you're in DC this summer, literally reach out and have lunches or go out for coffee or whatever with as many people at firms that would be reasonable for you to get into, and see if you can get in through the pre-OCI process right now. When we see someone who has reached out and talked to literally anyone at the firm who can show that we aren't just one of 30 firms they are applying to, that makes us feel like the associate has a genuine interest and we have 100% given offers to folks who wouldn't otherwise get one solely on grades/class rank/school because they've shown how interested they are and can show up to interviews and talk about why they are interested in us.

Like others said, don't go too heavy on litigation. In your intro meeting/coffee meeting with a connection you can get a sense for what practice groups the firm is proud of or that are "big" in DC, and then if you can convert your relationship into an OCI or pre-OCI interview, talk about how you connected with so and so, and they talked about x group and y group, and you would be interested to explore those or whatever. Some firms don't hire summers for a particular specialty, and you can gun for litigation once you land the summer associate job.

Don't be afraid to reach out to alumni from either your undergrad or law school. If literally anyone from my undergrad OR law school *ever* reached out to me I would be down to chat with them, give them advice, and if they are reasonably professional, put in a good word with the hiring committee. No one ever does. Don't assume that we're all being inundated with requests - we're not (or, at least, I'm not!). I get that this may not really get you as far with firms that are going to be super selective, but the firms I've work at would be pretty receptive to this.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 24, 2023 11:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 9:23 pm
What’s more important to you - being in DC or doing Lit?

If it’s location, focus on getting into the firm first by getting the know the practice areas and networking. If you go hard at a niche practice area (that has a need for people) you can get in and then reassess your interest in lit.

If it’s lit, think about applying at the NYC offices of firms that have massive summer classes and then transferring or lateraling over to DC in a few years.
OP here - thanks everyone for the very helpful advice.

Doing lit is definitely more important, I do have pre-law school work experience in NYC as well as strong ties to Texas, but I'd prefer not to go back to Texas if I can help it but ultimately wouldn't mind it (didn't like NYC very much to be honest) - but it sounds like I don't have the option to be too picky.

Re: some other comments about practice area, I do really enjoy administrative law (from what I have learned so far), but not sure if or how to make that a selling point while targeting D.C. as I would imagine that might be too niche.

And my T30 isn't any of the D.C. area schools unfortunately.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 25, 2023 2:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 11:31 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 9:23 pm
What’s more important to you - being in DC or doing Lit?

If it’s location, focus on getting into the firm first by getting the know the practice areas and networking. If you go hard at a niche practice area (that has a need for people) you can get in and then reassess your interest in lit.

If it’s lit, think about applying at the NYC offices of firms that have massive summer classes and then transferring or lateraling over to DC in a few years.
OP here - thanks everyone for the very helpful advice.

Doing lit is definitely more important, I do have pre-law school work experience in NYC as well as strong ties to Texas, but I'd prefer not to go back to Texas if I can help it but ultimately wouldn't mind it (didn't like NYC very much to be honest) - but it sounds like I don't have the option to be too picky.

Re: some other comments about practice area, I do really enjoy administrative law (from what I have learned so far), but not sure if or how to make that a selling point while targeting D.C. as I would imagine that might be too niche.

And my T30 isn't any of the D.C. area schools unfortunately.
Notre dame, BU or BC (whichever you’re at) is going to send like 3-4 people to DC.

Don’t be dumb. This is not 2021, Play your cards smart and don’t shoot for the moon.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 25, 2023 8:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 11:31 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 9:23 pm
What’s more important to you - being in DC or doing Lit?

If it’s location, focus on getting into the firm first by getting the know the practice areas and networking. If you go hard at a niche practice area (that has a need for people) you can get in and then reassess your interest in lit.

If it’s lit, think about applying at the NYC offices of firms that have massive summer classes and then transferring or lateraling over to DC in a few years.
OP here - thanks everyone for the very helpful advice.

Doing lit is definitely more important, I do have pre-law school work experience in NYC as well as strong ties to Texas, but I'd prefer not to go back to Texas if I can help it but ultimately wouldn't mind it (didn't like NYC very much to be honest) - but it sounds like I don't have the option to be too picky.

Re: some other comments about practice area, I do really enjoy administrative law (from what I have learned so far), but not sure if or how to make that a selling point while targeting D.C. as I would imagine that might be too niche.

And my T30 isn't any of the D.C. area schools unfortunately.
Do NOT say you are interested in administrative law or general regulatory work. Red flag that makes you sound clueless and associates/partners will call you out on it. If you go this route you have to talk about specific niches like FERC or FCC law. Honestly, sounds like you should focus most of your OCI efforts on Texas and just try to see if you can get a pre-OCI offer in DC through networking.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 25, 2023 1:22 pm

I struck out from a T6 top 25% because I wanted DC lit and didn’t understand the market. Don’t do DC.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 25, 2023 1:30 pm

OP, sorry to say but in my reading, you're precisely the type of applicant who will get screened out for not having a decent answer to "why DC," which is essentially necessary to overcome the already-low odds for a lower tier school applicant getting any traction (not to mention basically necessary even for top school/grade applicants)

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 25, 2023 3:43 pm

OP still needs a path forward -

I’d do the following if I were you:

Prioritize getting an offer, any offer, and then focus on specific desires. This would mean:

1) apply pre-OCI to Texas and NYC law firms that have taken students from your school (the more the merrier)
2) talk to lawyers in DC and use those conversations to decide what you might like to do and why (for example Securities Lit is a huge portion of the lit market and few mention this as a desired field - you can stand out by mentioning this as an interest but you need to talk to lawyers who do this first so you don’t sound crazy). This will pay off in interviews and other convos.
3) once you secure an offer in an easier market (or at an easier firm in DC - roughly by checking Vault / Chambers lit rankings and not going for the top dogs and looking closely at summer associate class size), pivot to your desired market.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by TheGreatestGunner » Thu May 25, 2023 4:45 pm

People have already given you the correct advice, which is, get into any BL, preferably one that has a big office in DC. This means applying NYC and whatever market your school performs best at.

Then, during your 2L Summer, if it is within the norm for the firm, reach out and see if you can get work from a DC Partner. I did this. Immediately the partner asked if I wanted to go to DC and told me she could make it happen.

Alternatively, once you have BL experience, you would be more desirable for DC, and could apply then. Either 3L or after a few years. But DC is the hardest legal market to break into, it is heavily targeted by virtually every top law school, so its going to be a climb. You can also fight hard for grades in the coming year, generally its less competitive in your 2nd and 3rd year, so if you go gunner then, you'll raise your GPA and look more competitive at the end.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2023 4:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 4:50 pm
Just looked at the rankings and it looks like the current T25 is UGA, WashU, BYU, Ohio State, UF, UNC, and Wake.

I think its very unlikely that top 1/4 gets DC big law without some other factor (IP, URM, connections, etc.). It's certainly possible but DC is a very competitive market even for students from T14 schools with good grades. Top 1/4 at my lower t14 is far from a guarantee in DC.

I would look at firms towards the lower end of the AMLaw 200 and mid law firms. You may have a shot at a firm like Venable or Crowell if you make good connections but I think it's going to be tough and you should look into other, less competitive markets as well if you're set on big law.
Seconding the advice to look at firms like Crowell, Freshfields, McDermott, Venable, PH, White & Case, and the like in DC...

I had the opportunity to witness the OCI process at the first firm I mentioned... while the grade cutoffs are more generous (you still want to finish top 15%ish at a more name brand T30, top 1/3ish from a lower T14, and at least around median at NYU/Columbia/Chicago if non IP/URM), there are fewer spots so it's not a given even with good grades. They'll regularly turn down an HLS median student for a strong GW student they gel more with. Networking is important with these firms imo

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2023 11:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 25, 2023 1:30 pm
OP, sorry to say but in my reading, you're precisely the type of applicant who will get screened out for not having a decent answer to "why DC," which is essentially necessary to overcome the already-low odds for a lower tier school applicant getting any traction (not to mention basically necessary even for top school/grade applicants)
Thanks for the honesty. Really, the reason I'd like to be in DC is because my goal is to eventually work for the federal government (Litigation at the DOJ or another federal agency is the dream) after a few years in Biglaw. I also have quite a few good friends in D.C. But obviously, I don't think that's something that I can really say when I'm speaking with a firm. Any advice on how to craft a good "Why DC" response?

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 26, 2023 11:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 25, 2023 3:43 pm
OP still needs a path forward -

I’d do the following if I were you:

Prioritize getting an offer, any offer, and then focus on specific desires. This would mean:

1) apply pre-OCI to Texas and NYC law firms that have taken students from your school (the more the merrier)
2) talk to lawyers in DC and use those conversations to decide what you might like to do and why (for example Securities Lit is a huge portion of the lit market and few mention this as a desired field - you can stand out by mentioning this as an interest but you need to talk to lawyers who do this first so you don’t sound crazy). This will pay off in interviews and other convos.
3) once you secure an offer in an easier market (or at an easier firm in DC - roughly by checking Vault / Chambers lit rankings and not going for the top dogs and looking closely at summer associate class size), pivot to your desired market.
Thanks very much - I was already planning on doing pre-OCI applications for my home market in Texas so I will definitely be sure to do that.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 27, 2023 8:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 26, 2023 11:04 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 25, 2023 1:30 pm
OP, sorry to say but in my reading, you're precisely the type of applicant who will get screened out for not having a decent answer to "why DC," which is essentially necessary to overcome the already-low odds for a lower tier school applicant getting any traction (not to mention basically necessary even for top school/grade applicants)
Thanks for the honesty. Really, the reason I'd like to be in DC is because my goal is to eventually work for the federal government (Litigation at the DOJ or another federal agency is the dream) after a few years in Biglaw. I also have quite a few good friends in D.C. But obviously, I don't think that's something that I can really say when I'm speaking with a firm. Any advice on how to craft a good "Why DC" response?
This is a nice life goal, but do NOT share it with firms. Firms want someone who wants to work at a firm. In my OCI interviews there were questions specifically pointed at eliciting a “I want to work in government/public interest.” Needless to say, when I let it slip I wanted to work in government I did not get a callback/offer.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 27, 2023 8:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 26, 2023 11:04 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 25, 2023 1:30 pm
OP, sorry to say but in my reading, you're precisely the type of applicant who will get screened out for not having a decent answer to "why DC," which is essentially necessary to overcome the already-low odds for a lower tier school applicant getting any traction (not to mention basically necessary even for top school/grade applicants)
Thanks for the honesty. Really, the reason I'd like to be in DC is because my goal is to eventually work for the federal government (Litigation at the DOJ or another federal agency is the dream) after a few years in Biglaw. I also have quite a few good friends in D.C. But obviously, I don't think that's something that I can really say when I'm speaking with a firm. Any advice on how to craft a good "Why DC" response?
I think this has been discussed in more depth in some other threads, but ideally you'll have both personal and professional reasons, with each being as concrete as possible. I'd suggest leveraging whatever you're doing this summer as much as you can in shaping those, but take a look at the past threads for some more guidance - one was from not all that long ago iirc

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2023 2:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 25, 2023 8:03 am
Do NOT say you are interested in administrative law or general regulatory work. Red flag that makes you sound clueless and associates/partners will call you out on it.
I'm confused by this comment. I basically gave the "administrative law or regulatory work" answer (and explained my answer based on my limited adlaw coursework) and got offers from the usual fancy D.C. suspects. But I also explained the limits of my substantive knowledge and had personal reasons for working in D.C.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2023 8:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jun 23, 2023 2:27 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 25, 2023 8:03 am
Do NOT say you are interested in administrative law or general regulatory work. Red flag that makes you sound clueless and associates/partners will call you out on it.
I'm confused by this comment. I basically gave the "administrative law or regulatory work" answer (and explained my answer based on my limited adlaw coursework) and got offers from the usual fancy D.C. suspects. But I also explained the limits of my substantive knowledge and had personal reasons for working in D.C.
I said I thought I was interested in regulatory work in a few of my interviews, and was immediately hit with a “regulatory isn’t a practice area, do you think you could be interested in privacy/FERC/SEC/etc…” but I think it could be different for a couple of the fancier firms that have general litigation groups very focused on administrative law.

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2023 1:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 4:50 pm


I think its very unlikely that top 1/4 gets DC big law without some other factor (IP, URM, connections, etc.). It's certainly possible but DC is a very competitive market even for students from T14 schools with good grades. Top 1/4 at my lower t14 is far from a guarantee in DC.


OP stated a preference for lit, is IP litigation easier to get than general litigation? I thought IP lit was as competitive as general lit but that patent prosecution was less competitive

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Re: Advice for Targeting DC?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2023 2:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jun 23, 2023 1:26 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 24, 2023 4:50 pm


I think its very unlikely that top 1/4 gets DC big law without some other factor (IP, URM, connections, etc.). It's certainly possible but DC is a very competitive market even for students from T14 schools with good grades. Top 1/4 at my lower t14 is far from a guarantee in DC.


OP stated a preference for lit, is IP litigation easier to get than general litigation? I thought IP lit was as competitive as general lit but that patent prosecution was less competitive
IP seems significantly less competitive than general lit in DC specifically and also specifically at some firms.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jun 23, 2023 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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