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Author Topic: Denver and San Francisco  (Read 2608 times)

meliss23

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Denver and San Francisco
« on: October 20, 2007, 04:21:21 PM »
Anyone know anything about these markets?  They seem to pay well enough according to NALP.  How competitive do you think these are? And is it too late to call about SA positions?

mtfbwy

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Re: Denver and San Francisco
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2007, 04:55:03 PM »
Yes.

Very.

Probably.


I lived in Colorado for many years and spent a good bit of time in SF.

Denver is on the smaller side of "mid-market." There just aren't that many big offices (or branch offices of big firms), the summer classes of which are quite small compared to NY, Chi, LA, DC or Boston (smaller, actually, than Atlanta, Dallas, or Houston).  They tend to give many spots to top students at CU and DU (to a lesser extent).  But, it never hurts to try (your school rank/class rank, of course, are paramount).  The Front Range (Denver and its burbs, Evergreen, Boulder, Fort Collins) is a highly desirable place to live and, as such, there are a lot of people gunning for a relatively small number of professional jobs.  Cost (i.e. housing) of living isn't bad (though Boulder and the best hoods in Denver are pretty expensive). If your student loans aren't too much, there are actually quite a few good small to mid-size (non-Nalp) firms along the Front Range where you could happily start a career (and either stay and become a partner or lateral to a branch office of a big firm). A personal connection to the area might be important to many firms in CO.

SF is of course a much bigger city, but its legal market is small relative to its size. Much of what gets done at SF firms involves venture capital (Silicon Valley tech and bio work), plus ever-expanding work out of Asian markets.  The Bay Area is an extremely expensive place to live.  It always was, then the 90's (during which hundreds of thousands of people in SF/SV got rich quick) really pushed real estate prices through the roof.  It's a great area, though, if you can swing it.

As for SA positions, on the one hand, the show is over and most firms are nearly done with call-backs.  On the other hand, circumstances sometimes force firms to interview people after the fall recruiting seasons ends (e.g. they were too conservative in their initial hiring needs calculations, too many people declined offers, etc.).  You should get your resume (and a letter expressing your specific interest in that market and that office, especially in the case of Denver) to the recruiting director of every firm you can find right away - then hit them again in January (even if you get rejected right now).  Failing that, if you are able (i.e. if you have a SA position in another city already, e.g. NY or Chi), contact the firms again over the summer and shoot for a 3L fall call-back.

Good luck.

meliss23

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Re: Denver and San Francisco
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2007, 05:09:30 PM »
Thanks for the advice.  I am currently in Houston and have been unsuccessful with Fall Recruiting.  I am now desperately looking for a similar or smaller market at the last minute (obviously).  I think will be calling Denver and SF firms first thing Monday morning. 
Any thoughts on Seattle?

cesco

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Re: Denver and San Francisco
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2007, 05:26:27 PM »
Hi, I go to school in Colorado and would be happy to answer your questions regarding the Denver market.  If you would like specifics - send me a PM as I dont want to spread rumors about firms on a message board. 

However, I will note that the firms tend to be very loyal to DU and CU students, and their outside focus is really on T14 students.  The largest summer program in Colorado has about or under 10 SAs - but most firms hire between 1-3.  OCI is complete at both CU and DU, but there are still some outstanding callbacks.  Most (all I think) of my friends that went through OCI have offers, and most have made their decisions and accepted. 

Grades are important for both DU and CU OCI - so I would assume grades are also important if you are applying blindly.  Most firms will want a Denver connection - in fact I CONSTANTLY got asked if I planned to stay in Colorado - even though I lived here BEFORE I started school and obviously I stayed here for school.

So - in your cover letters I would address "why Denver" and also address "why this firm."  All of the offices in Denver are small (regional or national) and they all want to know why you are interested in them.  It is a very different market from New York, DC, etc where they have huge classes and things are done more anonymously. 
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cesco

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Re: Denver and San Francisco
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2007, 05:26:51 PM »
Hi, I go to school in Colorado and would be happy to answer your questions regarding the Denver market.  If you would like specifics about a particular firm, send me a PM as I dont want to spread rumors on a message board. 

However, I will note that the firms tend to be very loyal to DU and CU students, and their outside focus is really on T14/T25 as well as students who are from CO and left solely for law school.  The largest summer program in Colorado has about or under 10 SAs, the average is probably around 5-8, but many firms hire only 1-3.  OCI is complete at both CU and DU, but there are still some outstanding callbacks.  Most (all I think) of my friends that went through OCI have offers, and most have made their decisions and accepted. 

Grades are important for both DU and CU OCI - so I would assume grades are also important if you are applying blindly.  Most firms will want a Denver connection - in fact I think EVERY firm asked me  if I planned to stay in Colorado - even though I lived here BEFORE I started school and obviously I stayed here for school. They dont want to invest resources into someone that is just here for the summer to enjoy the mountains.

So - in your cover letters I would address "why Denver" and also address "why this firm."  All of the offices in Denver are small (regional or national) and they all want to know why you are interested in them.  It is a very different market from New York, DC, etc where they have huge classes and things are done more anonymously. 

A suggestion - you might want to see if any of your school's alumni work in the market (hopefully the specific firms you apply to).  They will e a good first contact, and may help get your resume in front of the right people. 
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craven

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Re: Denver and San Francisco
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2007, 07:49:49 PM »
Ceso's right for the most part, though Faegre is looking at a SA class of 15-20 this year.  It's a tough market to crack from out of town, since they're very xenophobic and they're worried about people coming out to ski for 3 years, then going home.  There are some small firms that may hire some summers, but the big national/regional firms are all about done.

oscarsonthepond

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Re: Denver and San Francisco
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2007, 11:37:17 AM »
SF = really expensive
CO = really cheap

I've never lived in Denver, but I interviewed there.  I've talked to about a dozen people from there who absolutely love it (very friendly, lots of outdoor activities, gorgeous, etc.).  I decided not to go because we don't have family anywhere near there.  However, there are a number of firms there that pay 160k and the cost of living is very low.

For example, click here to see CNN Money's cost of living calculator.  160K IN DENVER IS 266K IN SF!!!  Even if you made 266 in SF, though, you could *never* buy a house there like you could in Denver.  Denver is one of those unique places (along with some Texas cities and other locations) that just has a dirt cheap cost of living but market pay.  I don't think there are a lot of 160k openings there, but if you can get one you'd be set.  I interviewed w/ Cooley Godward (which is actually even better cause it's in Broomfield - 18 miles outside of Denver).  One associate said he had a 5 bedroom house on an acre and people made fun of him because he had the cheapest house of anybody there.  Not to mention the fact that everyone there has almost zero commute.

In general, the offices there will be smaller and you probably wouldn't get the same level of work (even at the V100 firms) that you would on the coast, but I think that's a small sacrifice to make.

Alamo79

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Re: Denver and San Francisco
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2007, 12:07:21 PM »
I'd shoot for denver, or maybe try farther up in the pacific northwest (Portland/Seattle?).  COL concerns aside, everything I've heard (though admittedly anecdotal) about San Fransisco's legal market indicates that it's insanely competitive. 

craven

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Re: Denver and San Francisco
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2007, 10:28:14 AM »
I can speak a little more to the Denver market, to shore up what's been said above. 

In regards to Oscar's point, there are some firms that do pay the same across markets, so you can pull down $160 in Denver.  However, I'd think twice before doing so.  There's obviously a lot of competition for those jobs, especially since COL is so low in Denver.  Also, and this was the rub for me, the Denver legal market doesn't support paying first-year associates $160.  A new associate can't bill high enough to make it work.  So those smaller offices of the big firms that are paying that much are often working as farm teams for the motherships in DC or NYC or Chicago, getting overflow work shipped out.  If you look at pay in Denver, you'll see a few firms grouped at $160, then a number grouped at $120, and then some strung out below $120.  $120 is market pay in Denver, and it's what firms are paying if they're doing local work.  Working on local issues may not be a consideration for you if you're doing corporate work, but especially if you're doing litigation, it's on local work where you'll get your hands-on experience.  This was a big consideration for me.

Also, to back up ceso, the market is tough for those either 1) not from CO or 2) not attending CU or DU.  I'm in the top 1/4 of a T-25 and got exactly one offer in the Denver market.  They want a lot of connection to Colorado, and I think the only reason I was able to pull down an offer at all was because I had worked there my 1L/2L summer. 

I think that's all the advice I have for now; let me know if you have any more specific questions.

cesco

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Re: Denver and San Francisco
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2007, 11:48:35 PM »
OP, give us an update.

Did any of your remaining callbacks pan out, or did you decide to hit up Denver,San Fran or other markets? 

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