Law School Discussion

How important is the name really?

Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #50 on: November 16, 2006, 07:29:04 PM »
At one of my offer dinners I sat next to an lawyer from a NY Vault 10 firm who said she billed slightly over 3000 hours for two years in a row.
She might have been lying, but I can't imagine why she would do that at an event designed to make me accept the firm's offer.

Personally, I have to agree with Ruskie and say that I've never heard of anyone billing 3,000 hours.  Even at a Shearman etc. bonuses cap out at 2,500 hours I think (around $45K) so there's no reason to work much more than that. 

Also, just to reiterate about salary the 170-190K is the 135-145K base plus 15K in bar stipend and bar fees + 20-40K in bonuses.

Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #51 on: November 16, 2006, 07:44:41 PM »
Doesn't matter that you've never heard of anyone billing 3,000 hours. It happens. Google "Wachtell" and "3000 hours." You'll get lots of hits. Many reputable articles.


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Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #52 on: November 16, 2006, 09:45:09 PM »
Here's my take.  I think that you should transfer up at the end of your 1L year.  You will have had a good experience at Hofstra and not paid a dime and that is awesome.  However, if you want to do M&A and securities work you need to get into BigLaw. To do that you would be doing yourself a major disservice in being at Hofstra. 

Also, be aware that there are a handful of people who scored around 170 at my mid-T1 lawschool.  I know for sure that some of them are near the 50% percentile in their class.  So work real hard this year and make the transfer happen...don't slack.

Transfer to any T-14 and you'll be guaranteed a job, with the work you want, paying you a first-year total package between 170-190K. The first year at the firm will make up the difference in tuition you'll be facing by transferring. But again, realize that if you want to transfer out of Hofstra to a T-14 you'll need to be at least in the top 10% and there's people with LSAT scores and undergrad GPA's much lower than your that are just now finally getting their academics in gear.

I disagree with a couple of things in this post. First, even people at T-14 jobs are not guaranteed a BigLaw job paying "first year total packages btwn 170-190." I know people at Georgetown and Michigan who were at the middle of their classes, went through OCI and did not land jobs. Even at top schools, competition for BigLaw jobs exists. As you probably know, big law firms hire almost exclusively from OCI, so if you don't get a job thorugh this process, you're out of luck, at least for the big firms. 

Second, the most any BigLaw firm starts their associates out at is 145,000 and even these are scarce outside of NY. I found one firm in Chicago that pays 145 starting. There are quite a few that start at 135. Even with bonuses, there are very few firms that would give a first year associate a total package of 190,000 and if this firm did exist, you would probably be billing 3,000 hours + a year.

this is a very misleading post.

1) biglaw does most, but NOT ALL of its hiring through oci. write-ins, minority job fairs, etc. are all effective ways of getting a biglaw job.

2) no one, i repeat, NO ONE bills 3,000+ hrs a year. not even in nyc.

3) yes, it happens that people at top schools don't land jobs through oci. that happens exceptionally infrequently and they are usually able to secure well-paying positions later in the year.

4) market salaries are well over $100k in just about any major market. top 10 law students, unless they are socially retarded, usually have no trouble getting these jobs, regardless of class rank. many of my friends who made all "Passes" in their first year are now at top 20 firms in SF, NYC, DC, and LA.

1. Like I said, big firms hire almost exclusively through OCI. Through my experience (somewhat limited, I suppose) it is very unlikely for someone to get a well paying (and by well paying I mean 100,000+) job not through OCI.

2. You say "nobody bills 3,000 hours a year." Are you kidding me? This is billing less than 60 hours a week. Billing 60 hours a week is billing approx 8.5 hours a day (assuming you work weekends). This is very possible. Some lawyers out in 12 hours a day. With 12 hour work days you can surely bill 8.5 hours a day. Of course this means no life, almost whatsoever, but it also means mucho dinero. To say nobody bills 3,000 a year is a ridiculous over-generalization. Ask any associate at any big firm. I know people who have billed this many hours. They are not happy people. I even know of small firms where associates bill over 3000 hours (Baker Daniels in Indy, for example). Some firms have huge incentive programs for billing this many hours. Bonus packages for billing 2500 hours are VERY common. What makes you think 500 hours more (approx 9.5 billable more a week) is out of the question.

3. I was speaking more to BigLaw. It is likely that you will get something through OCI, but I was refuting the statement that "T14 people are guaranteed BigLaw jobs paying 170-190." This is not true. This is not true because base salaries don't start out this high. Check Nalp. Seach by salary. There is one firm listed that pays 155,000, a handful that pay 150,000.

4. Again, I'm not talking about "top ten law students." Of course the top ten law students can get BigLaw jobs. Again, I was responding to the guy who said a T14 is guaranteed a BigLaw job regardless of class rank. There are quite a few students, including myself, that secured jobs at Vault top 20 firms. We were all top of our class. All of us. The BigLaw firms (Sidley Austin, Kirkland & Ellis, Sheaman & Sterling, Jones Day, Jenner Block, etc, etc,) only took the top students. These firms would never take students from the bottom of the class. Check out these firms' websites. Even the associates from HYS, etc have honors, journal experience, etc.

BTW, good luck in England. I have a lot of family there; I envy you. Bring your wellies and your brolly though;)

you DO realize that 3000 billables/365 year = ~8.2, right?

that means you have to BILL, not WORK, but BILL 8.2 every single day of the year. no vacation, no weekends, nothing. assuming you take a 1 hr lunch break and 30 minutes worth of piss & coffee breaks, while staying efficient every single second of the rest of your work day, that means you are working ten hour days evey damned day of the year. do you honestly believe anyone does that? well, i suppose you could find one or two people, but this if FAR from the norm at ANY law firm. associates in major markets typically bill ~2400-2600 hrs, with bonuses starting as low as 1900 at some major market firms.

Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #53 on: November 16, 2006, 11:54:02 PM »
The The American Lawyer's 2005 Midlevel Associates Survey has Cravath at an average of 60.6 hours BILLED per week, and Wachtel at 62.5 average hours BILLED per week.  lets assume 2 weeks vacation - not even used in calculating the average, and you still get 50x60.6 = 3,030 which is > 3,000.  That's all the math I can handle for now. 

So as hard as that is for you to imagine, and no matter how many irrelevant anecdotal stories you want to bring up ("my grandpa's old war buddy used to have a houseboy who had a side job cleaning the offices of Jones Day's San Diego office, and he said they usually only worked 2,245 hours a year", etc.), there are SOME ATTORNEYS WHO BILL OVER 3,000 hours a year. Admittedly, these are 3nd-5th year, but I have a hard time imagining that all the 1st and 2nd years aren't up there next to them.  You can claim its all padding or whatever else helps you sleep at night.


Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #54 on: November 17, 2006, 03:39:07 AM »
Your posts are awfully combative at the top, but I'll attempt to answer your question in the most honest and direct manner possible.  I'm a mid-level at a non-NYC other major east coast market firm who sits on the hiring committee, who also happens to be suffering a bout of insomnia, otherwise I rarely visit here and even rarer do I post.  I hope you feel that qualifies me to speak to your question.
First, in my opinion you absolutely made a mistake taking a Tier 4 full ride over an HYSCCN admission if your intention is to break into high-end corporate/transactional work.  Big firms are becoming less snobbish as another poster noted, and the supply of top school students just doesnt meet the ravenous demand for attorneys at that level anymore.  However, no one has pointed out so far that all so called "Big Law" firms are not created equal.  I don't have too many doubts your ability to graduate and find a market paying job somewhere, you seem smart and determined.  But Kaye Scholer, Stroock, Kronish, Cadwallader, etc are not going to provide the same quality of  deals or the same opportunities for professional advancement as other better regarded firms. Unfortunately, those firms are almost entirely closed off to you coming from Hofstra (and while I recognize people will offer colloquial exceptions, I'm speaking broadly). If you think the snobbery ends once you graduate and hit the working world, you've got another thing coming.  Lawyers in big firms are easily as catty about their reputations relative to peers as law students are. 

Big firms are risk adverse.  They have good experience with people from certain schools, hiring partners and their peers went to a certain few schools, and they're comfortable with that.  Hiring from a low ranked school, even at the top of the clss, is risky to them.  You are a big investment and if it doesn't pan out, they're in hot water with firm management.  Because of this name will always be important.  Also, there is, on average, a big difference between students at your school versus a top-whatever number suits you.  A middle of the class student from a Tier 3/4 just isn't going to be up to tackling the same rigorous material a median student from a top school can handle.  It's probably more accurate to say a top student at a Tier 3/4 would be competitive with a median student at a top school.  I say that with regard to competence in practice, because law school exams tend to test a very narrow skill set. Law students are risk averse too.  They know you can't predict you'll make top 10# at the low school with a scholarship v. median at a top school, and they know the risk that entails.  So try to keep things in perspective and not get a chip on your shoulder about things.

My advice would be to make the best grades possible and transfer up to the best school possible (or top in your chosen market).  You really want to gain access to the best legal work as early as possible in your career, and you're going to find that trading up is almost always possible (as others' stories point out) but that it requires a whole lot more work and a healthy dose of luck beyond what would be required if you start out there from day one.  Thats true for law school transfers, firm laterals or in-house moves.  Don't get discouraged and don't get angry.  The process is what it is, and it is that way for reasons that make (some, if only some) sense, and it is unlikely to change anytime soon.  The job market is good right now, and will likely be better when you're interviewing next summer.  If you break top 10$ at Hofstra, make LR, have a standout resume and non-repugnant personality you'll land a market paying gig.  If you do those things + transfer to a top school with its better OCI and opportunities, you'll find something better still, and I promise you the debt will pay for itself many times over down the line.  Besides, you really don't want to end up at Jones Days Nights and Weekends do you?  (sorry to the other guy for the cheap shot, all in good fun)
Best of luck and study hard. I hope this is helpful and coherent, but I have my doubts, it was late, now it's early, and I'm going to nap before I trudge in to the office.


Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #55 on: November 17, 2006, 03:51:20 AM »
And dear lord.  To settle the 2,X00 v. 3,000 hour debate above.  I have friends at a couple of firms who do bill 3,000 a year, mostly at those firms pointed to.  That said, this class of people is way under 5% of what you'd call big law attorneys, and  there is absolutely padding that goes on in those figures, so I don't feel the other posters are incorrect to say that "nobody bills 3K hours" because virtually no one does.  Those who do are also clocking in a large number of hours on doc review work in lit or proofing/editing boiler plate and waiting on the printers in corp.  Nodding off and drooling during conference calls is also a specialty of theirs. No one bills 3K hours of mentally intensive work, that would quite likely be impossible.  Associates also don't last very long at those rates, as evidenced by those firms high turnover.  However they do get to work on some exceedingly cool matters.

Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #56 on: November 17, 2006, 12:59:27 PM »
Switch to decaf.


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Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #57 on: November 26, 2006, 09:46:17 AM »
Very strange to read this thread all morning then turn on We and see OP on "Unwrapping Macy's" registering for her wedding.

As for my $.02, you're going to have to pray that LSAT and undergrad GPA are accurate predictors of your success in law school (they're not all that accurate, but you could be lucky).  I transferred from a low T2 (with nearly the exact same reputation as Hofstra, in fact, I almost went there) to a top 10 law school and the difference in job opportunities was shocking. When you have 800 law firms rather than 20, how could it not be?  Kids at the bottom of the class at my new school are being aggressively recruited for incredible biglaw jobs all over the country and the world(where they do, in fact, often bill more than 3000 hours.  I know partners at the firm I summered at who break 3000 consistently, and I've met associates who have had 400-hour months).  Good clerkships are utterly impossible to get out of a low T2 or T3, no matter how stellar your grades are, who you know, or how many languages you speak.  Also, don't forget that while someone coming out of a lower-ranked school with lots of "other skills" does look better in interviews than a top-10 law student with zero personality, nobody can compete with a student with depth and character who graduates from a great school.  Your life will also be much easier not having to worry about being on every committee, journal, and moot court team.  And trust me, you won't.

You're not shut out of a possible career in biglaw, I have a close personal friend who graduated from Hofstra and got permanent full-time offers at Sullivan & Cromwell and Shearman, but he had a 4.0 cumulative GPA and was EIC of the Law Review.  I'm sure it happens -- it happened at my old school -- but you have a much better chance of landing a good job out of a good school than a T3, and (as you'll learn as you progress through law school) it's all about increasing your chance do to what you want to do, because nothing is guaranteed.

My advice: you MUST transfer after your first year unless you want to do government work or work at a "lifestyle" firm.  Don't even think twice about it.  The debt means very little coming out of a great law school with an ability to earn nearly $200K (all in).  Then again, based on your previous choices, it seems like you might want to reconsider biglaw.  If you want to be happy and if "soft factors" (read: anything other than money and prestige) mean anything to you, I wouldn't recommend biglaw.  It can be soul crushing.

Good luck with school (and your wedding)

Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #58 on: November 26, 2006, 08:27:20 PM »
the irony of all of this of couse is that within 8 years of having started at biglaw less than 1% of us will still actually be there....


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Re: How important is the name really?
« Reply #59 on: November 27, 2006, 03:41:38 PM »
the irony of all of this of couse is that within 8 years of having started at biglaw less than 1% of us will still actually be there....

Shhh!!!!! You need to keep that to yourself lest everyone over on the pre-law board should find out! Biglaw's the only way to go or stay according to them and half of everyone else on this board.