minnbills wrote: ↑
Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:41 am
I'm happy to share some knowledge about Minneapolis.
A brief primer on the market
: The State of Minnesota enjoys a robust and diversified economy. The excellent quality of life in the land of lakes, coupled with the presence of three law schools in the state, has resulted in an over-saturated market in which entry-level positions for lawyers are fiercely competitive. Further, students who leave the state to pursue law degrees with T14 schools often come back to MN within a few years of graduating.
There is a large federal bench in the state, with 3 8th Circuit Judges (Straas, Murphy, and Loken), 12 District Court Judges, 9 Magistrate Judges, and 5 Bankruptcy Judges calling MN home. Accordingly, there are strong opportunities for federal clerkships here. Likewise, the MN Court of Appeals typically hires about 30 clerks per year, and the MN Supreme Court hires maybe 10-15 clerks.
Large MN firms generally operate on a low-cost business model, as opposed to true biglaw firms located on the coasts. This means that while starting salaries may appear commensurate with what a junior associate can make in NYC or another large market, there is very little salary growth after the first year. Thus, a senior associate at a market-paying firm in MN may only make about 200k per year. Typical yearly salary increases are in the range of 0K (seriously) to 5k per year. However, the low cost of living and strong exit options because of the sheer number of corporations located in MN makes the market an attractive option nonetheless.
Partners at the largest firms in MN may make about 500k per year, while partners at the remainder of these firms are probably bringing in between 250-350/yr depending on the practice area and seniority. However, the low cost of living, excellent public schools, and lower hours than what you find in NYC/Chi make partnership at one of these firms a great landing spot.
: There are three law schools in Minnesota: (1) The University of Minnesota; (2) Mitchell Hamline School of Law; and (3) the University of St. Thomas. UMN is by far the highest ranked, usually bouncing between 20-25 in the US News rankings. UMN dominates the market, which a majority of large firm and clerkship placements each year going to UMN grads. UMN enjoys some national reach, with a small percentage of students placing into large firms and federal clerkships across the country. Mitchell Hamline is the product of a merger between William Mitchell School of Law (which produced Chief Justice Berger) and Hamline School of Law. Though not highly-ranked, Mitchell Hamline has a robust and active alumni network in the state, and enjoys strong placement into smaller firms and state-level clerkships. UST opened its doors about 15 years ago, but has carved out a space for itself in the market. Backed up by a strong business school, UST routinely places some high-ranking students into prestigious jobs in Minnesota.
1) Greene Espel.
The highest paying and most-prestigious firm in the state is Greene Espel. GE is a boutique mostly-litigation firm which employs maybe 50 lawyers. With starting salaries at 180k, GE sets the market and positions are highly competitive, usually going to 8th Circuit Clerks.
2) Jones Day.
Jones Day, Nights, and Weekends opened its Minneapolis office two years ago by poaching several partners from other prominent Twin Cities firms. Jones Day has quickly established itself as a litigation powerhouse in the state, boasts 30 lawyers in MN, and is the second-highest paying firm with starting salaries at 160k. The firm has hired as many as 5 federal clerks per year since it opened, with these hires comprising almost the totality of junior-level hiring. The firm boasts former US Attorney Andrew Luger as a partner.
3) Dorsey & Whitney, and Faegre Baker Daniels.
These two firms were historically the two powerhouses in the MN legal field. Dorsey famously produced Justice Harry Blackmun, the primary author of Roe V. Wade, and counts Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Governor Tim Pawlenty as alumni. Former Vice President Walter Mondale is currently a partner at the firm. Dorsey enjoys a nationally prominent M&A practice and has consistently delivered one of the highest deal volumes of any firm in the country. Dorsey's New York office has grown to about 100 lawyers in recent years. Dorsey is known to be actively seeking another large firm in the U.S. to merge with.
The law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels is the largest firm in MN, and enjoys strong practice groups across the firm. Faegre is a product of a merger between indianapolis based Baker Daniels and the old Minneapolis firm of Faegre & Benson. Now, Faegre boasts particularly strong corporate and restructuring groups, and has a nationally-prominent financial services litigation team. Faegre is known to service some of the strongest hedge funds in the midwest. Both Dorsey and Faegre have offices across the U.S. and increasingly across the world. Junior associates at either firm can expect starting salaries of 140k (might be up to 160k shortly) and long hours. Both firms typically hire 5-10 summer associates per year in Minneapolis, and actively recruit laterals from coastal biglaw firms.
All of the following may be more appropriately described as midlaw
4) Robins Kaplan.
The law firm of Robins Kaplan is a large litigation-focused firm. With a reputation as a mini quinn emanuel, Robins associates can expect starting salaries of 140k and a sink-or-swim environment. Robins boasts one of the strongest IP litigation teams in the country. Robins typically hires 5-10 summer associates per year. Known to be a hostile environment with a lot of churn.
5) IP-only Firms.
Fish and Richardson, Patterson Thuente, Carlson Caspers, and Merchant and Gould are all boutique IP firms. Prospective associates should know that these firms generally offer higher compensation packages than non-IP firms.
6) Winthrop & Weinstein.
"Fratty" is an appropriate description of the culture at this firm. Honestly, I don't like almost everyone I know who works there. Winthrop is known as a strong litigation firm with an active presence in the agribusiness space. Winthrop pays 160k and is a sink-or-swim environment.
7) Stinson Leonard Street.
The product of the merger of the Minneapolis firm of Leonard Street and Deinard, and the Stinson firm of Kansas City, Stinson is a strong regional firm with some offices on the coasts. Stinson boasts a strong corporate department and pays 140k to first years. Stinson tends to hire 3-5 summer associates per year.
8) Fredrikson & Byron.
"Where law and business meet," Fredrikson has staked itself out as a strong business-oriented full service law firm headquartered in Minneapolis. Fredrikson boasts one of the strongest litigation teams in the state, has a strong presence in the oil & gas field, and also features the only large debtor-side bankruptcy practice in the United States west of Chicago. Fredrikson frequently hires laterals from biglaw firms on the coasts and has been expanding aggressively in recent years. Starting salaries of 140k and strong partnership prospects make this an attractive firm for young attorneys. 3-5 summer associates positions per year.
9) Briggs & Morgan.
Briggs is a regional firm with a strong litigation presence in MN. Several former MN Supreme Court Justices reside in the litigation department. The firm has a "fratty" reputation and is known to have some outsized personalities among its partnership ranks. The firm has a strong construction and real estate practice. Starting salaries at 140k and 2-5 summer associates per year.
10) Gray Plant Mooty Mooty & Bennett.
GPM is a first-rate, if a bit on the small side, law firm that boasts one of the strongest franchise practice groups in the U.S. GPM is known to grow conservatively and offers some of the best entry-level experience available in the state of MN. The firm has a genteel culture and is known as a great place to work. Starting salaries at 130k and 2-5 summer associate hires per year.
Formerly "Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand," Maslon began as the "jewish" firm in MN back when it was difficult for jewish lawyers to find employment with large firms. (Seriously.) Maslon rebranded in recent years and enjoys an excellent reputation as a small-ish firm with first-rate lawyers. The firm has a professorial culture, boasts one of the strongest litigation teams in the midwest and heavily recruits laterals from coastal biglaw firms. Starting salaries at 130k (might be 120k) and 1-3 summer associates per year.
12) Fox Rothschild.
The Philadelphia-based firm of Fox Rothschild moved into the MN market when it acquired the venerable Minneapolis firm of Oppenheimer, Wolff and Donnelly. Since then, the Minneapolis Office of FR has grown conservatively and hires maybe 1-3 summer associates per year.
13) Ballard Spahr.
Ballard moved into Minneapolis with the acquisition of the venerable firm of Lindquist & Vennum, which boasted former MN Supreme Court Justice (and pro football hall of famer) Alan Page amongst its illustrious alumni. Ballard is rumored to have chosen Lindquist solely for its strong M&A group Now, not surprisingly, the Minneapolis office of Ballard Spahr is home to one of the top M&A practices in the midwest. Like Fox Rothschild, since its merger Ballard has grown conservatively. Starting salaries at 130k and maybe 1-3 summer associates a year.
14) Larkin Hoffman
. Located in the suburb of Bloomington, Larkin has staked itself out as a low-cost but high performing firm with a focus on corporate work. Starting salary below market but a great work-life balance.
Other firms of note:
-Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie (high octane litigation boutique);
-DLA Piper. (Recently moved into the market and has grown to about 10 lawyers. The firm recently poached the strongest restructuring partner in the state, Michael Fisco, and has an active corporate group);
-Best & Flanagan (venerable MN firm with some strong partners, like Tom Heffelfinger, former US Att'y.);
-Barnes & Thornburg (strong litigation and restructuring practice, pays less than market);
-Ciresi Conlin (recently formed by Michael Ciresi, former name partner at Robins Kaplan. Small firm but one of the strongest litigation teams in the cities.)