A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

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wubwubwub
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A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by wubwubwub » Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:58 pm

Hey LSL,

I've seen a lot of talk, but a dearth of information, about summer programs at "elite" plaintiff-side/private public interest firms. I went on a fairly aggressive search for one of these positions last fall, and I'm going to one of these firms for my 2L summer, so I figured I'd write up what I learned from my experience applying to several of these firms/what I've learned from others who did. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list or a ranking of any sort (these places are pretty specialized, so it would be sort of a fool's errand to try); just a list gleaned from personal experience. I'll also update this based on posts in the thread.

A little about me credentials-wise, if it helps you gauge competitiveness: HYS, probably about top 20% grades, senior position on a secondary journal, SDNY/EDNY/DDC/NDCA clerkship (although I did not have a clerkship lined up when I applied to these firms), a few years of interesting public interest work experience before law school.

Without further ado, the list (in alphabetical order):

Altshuler Berzon-based in the SF Bay Area. Lots of union-side work, along with some civil rights/environmental/employment discrimination stuff. 4 summers. Obsessed with traditional credentials (grades/LR/clerkships; they list the clerkships of their summers on their website!) but you probably need demonstrated public interest experience as well. They do OCI at H/S/B and mainly hire from them, I think, but they also solicit applications via their website. Apply in August, probably. You'll have to do a callback at their office in the Bay Area, and they do not pay for travel expenses (!). No splits, no full time offers, not sure how much they pay. Probably a good way to get an interview with Judge Berzon if you're so inclined.

Berger & Montague-Philly plaintiff's firm. No organized summer program, but may occasionally take a summer under special circumstances.

Bredhoff and Kaiser-DC area union-side labor law firm. I don't know much about them, but I know they hire a lot of people with fancy credentials and allow split summers with biglaw.

Cohen Milstein-national general practice (products liability/securities/employment/antitrust/etc) plaintiff's firm. They usually hire 4 summers for DC and one for NY. I think they're relatively tolerant of weaker grades, at least at top schools. Apply in August/September. One round of "biglaw-style" (talk to a couple of partners and a couple of associates over the course of about an hour) interviews over video conference. Pay is $2500 per week, no splits, no full time offers.

Gupta Wessler-tiny DC area lefty appellate boutique. They mostly do appellate and SCOTUS work, both as counsel of record and amicus, for a variety of non-profits and plaintiff's firms. Probably the most credentials-obsessed place on this list, and that's saying a lot; if you don't have a feeder clerkship no need to bother. Two-three summers. I don't know how much they pay or whether they allow splits, but no full-time offers (but if you can get a summer job here, it's not like you need one). Apply in July/August.

Edelson- tech-focused plaintiff's firm with offices in Chicago and SF. Seems to have a very tech startup-esque culture (interpret that how you will). Like a tech startup, seems to prioritize "culture fit" and demonstrated background/interest in the firm's niche practice area over traditional academic credentials. They do make full-time offers (although I think they regularly no-offer summers), but I'm not sure whether they allow splits or how much they pay. Interview with them during OCI (they go to a fair number of schools, mostly but not exclusively in Chicago/the Bay Area), or apply in August.

Emery Celli-NY based firm with a general civil rights practice; mostly police/jails/employment but other miscellaneous stuff too. Also has a commercial lit practice and a criminal defense practice but the summers mostly work on the civil rights side. My sense is that they strongly prefer HYS/Columbia/NYU and hire mostly through connections with public interest advisors at those schools, but they post on PSJD, and another poster says they're more flexible about school/connections than I thought, so can't hurt to apply. Apply in July-August. One round of interviews via Skype with a couple of associates, or you can go in person if you're in NY or want to pay your own travel expenses. Pay is $1000 per week, no splits, no full-time offers.

Girard Gibbs-San Francisco plaintiff's firm. No summer program.

Hagens Berman-Seattle plaintiff's firm. No summer program.

Lieff Cabraser-national general practice plaintiff's firm. They have offices in a bunch of cities, but all of their summers are based in SF. I think they hire 4-5 summers. I don't think they're particularly credentials-selective; I've never heard of anyone from my HYS going there, but I know it's a very well-regarded plaintiff's firm. Apply early, probably by July. Very biglaw-esque interview experience; they'll fly you out, put you in a nice hotel, cover your expenses, etc. Interview is akin to a biglaw callback as well. You'll meet with a couple of partners and a couple of associates over the course of a morning. Guessing pay is comparable to Cohen Milstein, since they're pretty similar firms, and that they don't allow splits or make fulltime offers.

Loevy and Loevy-Chicago based civil rights firm that primarily works on police misconduct issues (and in Chicago, they never have a dearth of work!) Unlike many of the firms on this list, they take both rising 2Ls and rising 3Ls, although rising 2Ls aren't paid. 5 paid positions for rising 3Ls and an unknown number of unpaid positions for rising 2Ls. I think you can apply on the later end, probably in October or November. No idea about the interview process. Guessing no full time offers, but I think I've heard of people splitting summers with them (although I think with non-profits, not biglaw).

Kaplan and Company-NY based. They're new so I don't know much, but it seems like they have a similar business model to Emery Celli, where a commercial litigation practice subsidizes a public interest practice. The public interest side seems to focus on LGBT/women's rights stuff, so if that's of interest to you it may be worth checking them out.

Neufeld Scheck and Brustein-tiny NY-based civil rights firm with a focus on police/prisons/innocence cases (the name partners were involved in the Innocence Project). I don't know if they actually have a summer program; I've heard of one person summering here, and this person went on to a SCOTUS clerkship so it may have been a special case. I sent an application to the general office email address and never heard anything back. Probably a cool job if you can get it though.

Outten and Golden-national employment firm (offices in NY, SF, DC, Chicago). Takes summers, at least in some offices. 2Ls only. Apply by late October, per website. Pay is $1000/week.

Relman, Dane, and Colfax-DC based fair housing firm. They have a litigation side and a compliance side, and I think summers can do assignments on both. They like top schools, and potentially top credentials from top schools, but a demonstrated interest in fair housing work also seems important. Apply in August. The interview process involves a first round Skype interview with a few attorneys, lasting about 45 minutes. Have heard reports that some candidates are asked to do a second round interview with a named partner, but also that some offers are made off the initial interview. 3 summers, pay is $1000 per week. They do allow splits, but don't make full time offers.

Robbins Geller-San Diego plaintiff-side securities firm. They definitely have a summer program—they were soliciting resumes in my school's Symplicity database—but I don't know anyone who's done it or even had an interview.

Sanford Heisler - national firm, the offices in NYC, DC, SF (and maybe Nashville/San Diego?) take summers (usually 6-10 total for the whole firm), focus on employment law. Two-round hiring process for summers; phone screener with senior associate for the first round, phone or in-person interview with partner for the second. Apply by September (although later could be fine), hiring starts in October. Pay is $800/week, not sure about splitting the summer. Standard offer is for 12 weeks. They typically make full-time offers to 2 or 3 of their SAs. They may also take 1Ls; if you're a 1L, you can apply later (mid-January may be OK) and you'll be asked to do a single phone interview.

Hope this is helpful! Feel free to add comments/additions/corrections to this thread.
Last edited by wubwubwub on Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:45 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by UVA2B » Sat Mar 24, 2018 7:18 pm

This is great, thanks for putting in the time and effort! I've stickied it for anyone interested in this type of work.

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Tsuga » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:11 am

Awesome info, thank you! Maybe an odd question: if you were targeting your school's region for full-time employment, e.g. Boston/MA from Harvard, do you think it'd make more sense to summer at an elite firm out of your region, or a more middle-of-the-road firm within your region -- assuming you don't have a summer offer from an elite firm within your region? More specifically I'd be interested in union-side labor law and plaintiff-side employment law.

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Guest » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:04 pm

I'll chime in.

Sanford Heisler - national firm, the offices in NYC, DC, SF take summers (usually 6 total for the whole firm), focus on employment law. Two-round hiring process for summers; phone screener with senior associate for the first round, phone or in-person interview with partner for the second. Apply by September (although later could be fine), hiring starts in October. Pay is $800/week, not sure about splitting the summer. Standard offer is for 12 weeks. They typically make full-time offers to 2 or 3 of their SAs.

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Hand » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:17 pm

Jeff wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:11 am
Awesome info, thank you! Maybe an odd question: if you were targeting your school's region for full-time employment, e.g. Boston/MA from Harvard, do you think it'd make more sense to summer at an elite firm out of your region, or a more middle-of-the-road firm within your region -- assuming you don't have a summer offer from an elite firm within your region? More specifically I'd be interested in union-side labor law and plaintiff-side employment law.
There's something to be said on either side, but if forced to choose I'd say I'd go with working in your region, unless the hypothetical elite firm is so elite that employers in your home market would recognize the name brand and know that you must've done really well to have gotten an offer there. The only place that immediately comes to mind for me would be Bredhoff in DC for labor work. But absent something like that it's probably more useful to get plugged in to the local market; a recommendation from a decent but not elite shop they have personally interacted with will likely go further for a future employer than a recommendation from an elite shop they don't know anything about. I'm still in law school though so take this with a grain of salt.

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Tsuga » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:52 pm

Hand wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:17 pm
There's something to be said on either side, but if forced to choose I'd say I'd go with working in your region, unless the hypothetical elite firm is so elite that employers in your home market would recognize the name brand and know that you must've done really well to have gotten an offer there. The only place that immediately comes to mind for me would be Bredhoff in DC for labor work. But absent something like that it's probably more useful to get plugged in to the local market; a recommendation from a decent but not elite shop they have personally interacted with will likely go further for a future employer than a recommendation from an elite shop they don't know anything about. I'm still in law school though so take this with a grain of salt.
Makes sense, thanks!

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Twombly » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:11 pm

How do you find other PI firms in this category?

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Hand » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:56 am

Twombly wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:11 pm
How do you find other PI firms in this category?
http://hls.harvard.edu/content/uploads/ ... -guide.pdf

This is the best resource

wubwubwub
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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by wubwubwub » Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:05 am

Hand wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:56 am
Twombly wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:11 pm
How do you find other PI firms in this category?
http://hls.harvard.edu/content/uploads/ ... -guide.pdf

This is the best resource
The Harvard guide is good, albeit outdated. I'd also suggest asking around. Talk to the public interest people in your career services office, former colleagues at public interest employers (if you have them), etc. I don't want to overemphasize traditional credentials, but they can be a good guide to the reputation of a firm: if you're curious about a firm and you see that most of the attorney bios on the website include top schools, federal clerkships, etc., that's probably a sign that the firm is fairly well regarded.

Guest

Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Guest » Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:33 pm

On Emery Celli: Yes, they do hire outside of HYS/Columbia/NYU, and no you don't need need connections.

On Relman: Yes, you do need top credentials from top schools. I did one interview on the phone and there were no partners on the call. They take ~3 people. They pay summers ~1000/wk.

lawtweet
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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by lawtweet » Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:45 pm

Sanford Heisler: Also have offices in San Diego and Nashville. More like 8-10 SAs. Take both 1Ls and 2Ls and can apply as late as mid January (at least for 1Ls). I only had one phone interview and got an offer. Not sure if the two-round is only for 2Ls or if their process has changed.

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by tomwatts » Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:26 pm

Bear in mind that a lot of plaintiffs' firms don't hire SAs. Mine doesn't, for example.

EDIT: Realized I should probably elaborate. Off the top of my head, I don't think Berger & Montague (Philadelphia), Hagens Berman (Seattle), Girard Gibbs (San Francisco), among others, regularly hire SAs. I think Outten & Golden at least sometimes does. (Possibly every summer. Not sure.)

You can apply to places that don't regularly hire SAs, but don't be overly pushy about it. I know someone who ended up summering at Berger even though they don't regularly hire SAs.

Robbins Geller (San Diego) hires SAs.

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Hand » Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:08 pm

tomwatts wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:26 pm
Bear in mind that a lot of plaintiffs' firms don't hire SAs. Mine doesn't, for example.

EDIT: Realized I should probably elaborate. Off the top of my head, I don't think Berger & Montague (Philadelphia), Hagens Berman (Seattle), Girard Gibbs (San Francisco), among others, regularly hire SAs. I think Outten & Golden at least sometimes does. (Possibly every summer. Not sure.)

You can apply to places that don't regularly hire SAs, but don't be overly pushy about it. I know someone who ended up summering at Berger even though they don't regularly hire SAs.

Robbins Geller (San Diego) hires SAs.
I *think* outten&golden hires SAs every summer (or most summers, at least? either way people interested in employment law should have them on their list)

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Guest » Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:21 pm

What about Tycko & Zavareei? Anyone know their deal?

wubwubwub
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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by wubwubwub » Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:38 pm

Updated 4/8 to reflect replies

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by RichardMilhousNixon » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:00 pm

Sorry to change the subject from SA positions specifically, but anyone have any insight as to how the hours at these firms typically compare to BL?

wubwubwub
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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by wubwubwub » Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:49 pm

RichardMilhousNixon wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:00 pm
Sorry to change the subject from SA positions specifically, but anyone have any insight as to how the hours at these firms typically compare to BL?
At the one I'm at for the summer, seemingly pretty comparable. Most of the attorneys come in around 9-10, stay until 6:30-7 or so, and then log on from home for a few hours. More in-office time when there are deadlines.

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by Twiqbalz » Fri Aug 31, 2018 10:54 pm

Guest wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:04 pm
They typically make full-time offers to 2 or 3 of their SAs.
In reference to Sanford Heisler above ^^ - can anyone confirm this? How do you know this information?

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Re: A Guide to SA Positions at "Elite" Plaintiff/Private Public Interest Firms

Post by hpntq » Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:10 am

wubwubwub wrote:
Sat Mar 24, 2018 6:58 pm
A little about me credentials-wise, if it helps you gauge competitiveness: HYS, probably about top 20% grades, senior position on a secondary journal, SDNY/EDNY/DDC/NDCA clerkship (although I did not have a clerkship lined up when I applied to these firms), a few years of interesting public interest work experience before law school.
This was a great post, and I am really happy you made this post because not much is know about the plaintiff bar and their work. However, despite your credentials, in all honesty they do not help me gauge the competitiveness for these firms. And I do not mean that in any negative way.I have been trying to figure out what these elite plaintiff firms want for a while, let me explain below.

An example from your list, Altshuler Berzon hires primarily from HYS who are in the top class with LR but they do make room for anyone else who was probably in the top 5-10% in t14 (just look at the profiles of all associates and partners there, its insane). Same can be said for Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP who hire SLS or Berkeley graduates who are in the top of their class with LR as well as a few other cali schools where students are in the top 5-10%. So there is some monopoly as to where these firms hire from and who they look for. Its also probably important to know that both firms are boutique plaintiff litigation firms with different practice areas.

However, the credentials of associates and partners on the plaintiff bar becomes more convoluted when you look at firms in other practice areas, lets say in securities class actions, consumer protection, or labor and employment, as well as Qui Tam whistle blowing (Philips and Cohen) and the list goes on. After looking through many firms, its really not clear whether they want people from HYS in the top 20% +LR, or people who are dedicated to the cause and go to lower ranked schools. Look at Hagens Berman, Labaton, and Robins Geller, they have numerous graduates from from T14-50. Some law review, some not. Some big law, some not. Its honestly hurts my brain trying to read through all of these firms websites, looking at their lawyers, and trying to put together the ideal candidate based on their credentials. However,the questions still stands, who are they looking for?

Going back to my introduction, I am thankful you posted this because this is the only reason why I want to go to law school, to work on the plaintiff bar, specifically at an elite/boutique one. And since you summered at a prestigious plaintiff firm, lets talk about it? I want to hear you experiences!

How was your experience?
Did the work evoke any feelings that you are pursing justice for the right side?
Did you have any experience in biglaw, if so, what is the difference between these two diametrically opposed paths?
After summering, are you interested in pursuing this line of work, or has you view changed of the plaintiff side?

Best!

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