Which firm would you pick?

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dubious clerk

Which firm would you pick?

Post by dubious clerk » Thu Mar 19, 2020 2:50 am

Hi all, thanks in advance for any insights. Longtime lurker and occasional lounger. Please don't quote.

I'm currently clerking on one of 2/5/7/9, and am fortunate to have offers from my two top-choice firms coming out of the postclerkship hiring process. I worked at another firm for a couple of years pre-clerkship, so would be coming in as a mid-level. I think I have finally decided that I am going to pick one of these two firms rather than going back, in part for geography reasons, but picking between them has been much more difficult than I expected.

Firm 1
Above-market trial boutique. Going into this process, I predicted that if I did not return to my firm, I would end up here, for a couple reasons: (a) they are widely known for giving associates significant experience early on, and every associated I talked to who had been there at least a year (~5-6 of them, including post-callback follow-up) had been to trial in the last couple of years and taken witness directs, plus (b) the pay is nuts and would knock out my loans very quickly if I stayed. Apart from the pay and experience, I felt a bit more able to be myself during the callback process, and was making some effort to reverse-filter (meaning: if i reacted how i normally would to a question, rather than using interview-politeness, and they dinged me for that, i knew i wouldn't want to work there). Associates are typically exiting to USAOs or government, which I'm interested in, and occasionally to other firms. Cons: they work a ton. Basically everyone is pulling 2300+. Having had a 2400+ year at my prior firm, it's hard to see that as sustainable, and some associates confided that they were just grinding it out before moving on. They also do not do much work in my quasi-specialty, although I am not sure I want to continue in it (see below).

Firm 2
Biglaw, but headquartered in my city and widely regarded as one of the 2-3 best firms there, if not the best. People generally seemed more chilled out, and typical hours were more in the 1900-2100 range (though of course seniors gunning for partner would be higher). Market pay. The main pro apart from the hours is that they do much more work in my specialty. Prior to clerking, a significant part of my work was in a litigation specialty area (think: antitrust, enviro, l&e, intellectual property, etc). I mostly enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I want to do just that for the rest of my career, and while Firm 2's litigation practice is broad, I expect I'd get pulled on to those matters just by virtue of being a midlevel with relevant experience. But, on the other hand, I'd know what I'm doing a bit more and might be less likely to flame out. The main con for me is that Firm 2 seems to have really significant turnover. I have scoured the website -- for associates of my graduating year, less than 10% of Firm 2's typical class size is still at the firm, which suggests either aggressive pushouts or fairly widespread discontent among the associate ranks. Associates are typically exiting to in-house positions, which I'm less interested in, or to other firms.

The other consideration apart from firm-specific stuff is the impending economic slowdown from coronavirus. Firm 2 came out fairly unscathed from 2008, although that was, of course, twelve years ago and a lot has changed. I couldn't get much info on how Firm 1 did, and I don't have a great sense generally of how litigation and trial boutiques fared during the last recession. I could see them booming because of the lower rates, or slowing way down because clients are more gunshy. Both, of course, have downsides for what my life would be at Firm 1. And who knows how long above-market pay might last in a recession.

I was strongly learning Firm 1 after my callbacks. Follow-up conversations with people around my level at both firms evened it out more. I know a lot of this comes down to personal preference -- like, only I can decide how interested I am in continuing work in my quasi-specialty -- but I'd appreciate a gut check as to whether Firm 1 or Firm 2 might be a more obvious choice to others. I suspect this board will skew toward boutiques in general, but I appreciate any responses either way. Thanks!

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pancakes3
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Re: Which firm would you pick?

Post by pancakes3 » Thu Mar 19, 2020 9:51 am

does location matter?

dubious clerk

Re: Which firm would you pick?

Post by dubious clerk » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:16 pm

Ah, sorry, that would be important info -- no, they're in the same city and are in comparable locations within it; no preference based on location.

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kellyfrost
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Re: Which firm would you pick?

Post by kellyfrost » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:22 pm

Firm 1

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pancakes3
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Re: Which firm would you pick?

Post by pancakes3 » Thu Mar 19, 2020 6:51 pm

I'd lean firm 1 also but damn, 2300 hrs floor is brutal. at least a good chunk of that should be traveling but still.

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Johannes
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Re: Which firm would you pick?

Post by Johannes » Tue Mar 24, 2020 11:54 pm

kellyfrost wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:22 pm
Firm 1

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quiver
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Re: Which firm would you pick?

Post by quiver » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:59 pm

Not sure if you're still deciding, but feel free to PM me. I have experience with similar decisions (as well as govt hiring) and can probably provide better advice with more specifics (your desired specialty, which firms, which market, etc.).

dubious clerk

Re: Which firm would you pick?

Post by dubious clerk » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:17 pm

Thanks all, and thanks for the offer, quiver -- I went with firm 1, pending conflicts / etc. Will report back in a year or two, if there is still a legal industry by then.

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kellyfrost
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Re: Which firm would you pick?

Post by kellyfrost » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:42 pm

dubious clerk wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:17 pm
Thanks all, and thanks for the offer, quiver -- I went with firm 1, pending conflicts / etc. Will report back in a year or two, if there is still a legal industry by then.
Best of luck and congrats!

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