Transitioning from NYC Biglaw to smaller litigation firms? Forum

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Transitioning from NYC Biglaw to smaller litigation firms?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 25, 2024 4:13 pm

New grad here, about to enter the litigation department at a generic, corporate-oriented NYC big law in the fall. Although I accepted the return offer, I do not feel that a typical NYC big law fits me, so I am thinking about transitioning to a smaller, more litigation-oriented, preferably more intellectual place at some point (think about litigation boutique or more litigation oriented firms). My law school records are fine, think about perhaps top 15% at CCN. I am also applying to federal clerkship this summer so perhaps doing a clerkship first is a way to go.

To what extent are those litigation firms, boutique or not, differ from litigation departments at those generic NYC big firms? Given my situation, what should I do in order to transfer to those places?

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Re: Transitioning from NYC Biglaw to smaller litigation firms?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 25, 2024 5:00 pm

Absolutely doing a federal clerkship or two will help. Lit boutiques are often a lot easier to get hired at post-clerkship. The way judicial hiring is going you’d likely be clerking in the 26/27 term if you apply this summer so you’ll have two years in biglaw before hand. That was my situation (2 years in DC BigLaw, currently clerking, accepted an offer at one of Susman/Keker/Kellogg for the fall). To make yourself competitive, get as much substantive lit experience as you can at your firm before you clerk. By the time you leave your clerkship you’ll probably almost be a 4th year associate and any boutique will want to see that you can keep up with their other midlevels who have had a lot more briefing/stand up opportunities than your average BigLaw midlevel.

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Re: Transitioning from NYC Biglaw to smaller litigation firms?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 25, 2024 8:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 25, 2024 4:13 pm
New grad here, about to enter the litigation department at a generic, corporate-oriented NYC big law in the fall. Although I accepted the return offer, I do not feel that a typical NYC big law fits me, so I am thinking about transitioning to a smaller, more litigation-oriented, preferably more intellectual place at some point (think about litigation boutique or more litigation oriented firms). My law school records are fine, think about perhaps top 15% at CCN. I am also applying to federal clerkship this summer so perhaps doing a clerkship first is a way to go.

To what extent are those litigation firms, boutique or not, differ from litigation departments at those generic NYC big firms? Given my situation, what should I do in order to transfer to those places?
If you want to transfer, you should stay at your "generic" NYC firm for a few years, clerk, and then apply widely to the litigation boutiques. Don't forget to network.

Not to be that annoying TLS-er, but what are the generic NYC big firms you're referring to? Not all NYC big firms are equal, of course. In my experience hiring and working at these types of firms, litigation boutiques will offer you an earlier chance to get courtroom experience. That typically means doing depositions more often and being more likely to first chair. The generic NYC big firms don't offer much over those and are not worth consideration. The very most elite NYC firms (https://legacy.vault.com/best-companies ... n/new-york) offer a wider array of practice groups and have tippy top corporate departments that feed to the litigation teams. The most elite NYC firms with rotation systems also offer a small firm vibe with big firm resources and more structured training, professional development, networking, etc.

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