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Author Topic: ~100% Sure I Want to Do Lit -- Which Firms?  (Read 2260 times)

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Re: ~100% Sure I Want to Do Lit -- Which Firms?
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2009, 03:26:41 PM »
My grades are fine, but probably preclude W&C and Cravath-type firms, so please don't suggest them.  Right now, I'm looking at these places:

Quinn Emmanuel (they sound great, and I heard they're a bit of a sweatshop, which is all the better ITE)
Boies Schiller
Kirkland (probably NYC more than Chicago)
Gibson Dunn
Crowell and Moring (I heard good things from others)

Any other suggestions?

If I'm really interested in a firm like Quinn, would they mind if I interviewed in multiple offices?

(speaking for NY offices only):

Gibson Dunn if you want to work day and night around the clock.

Crowell Moring if you don't want to work day and night around the clock but get the same pay. (excluding bonuses of course)

Kirkland, more towards Gibson Dunn environment but not quite as bad (debatable though).

Haven't worked with people or know any people at Boise or Quinn so I can't speak to those two.





Hey, Sands.  Just a quick question (probably a little off topic, sorry):  I understand that people work around the clock at these big firms, but is the work really that tedious?  Is it really that boring?  If you're in litigation, does it really come down to just doing document review round the clock?

I don't mind working hard; I just want to also do some interesting work.  I understand I'm going to be pulling time doing things that aren't quite so "sexy."  But, when it's all said and done, I want to get good experience and do some interesting work while learning what it really takes to be a lawyer.

Can you speak to that a little bit?


If it's ok with Officious I'll respond to that in this thread.

NY is a different beast than most other markets for reasons I can expand on later, but just wanted to throw that out up front as a threshold matter.

That being said, in a NYC BigLaw firm as a junior associate,  you can expect to work long hours on conducting and/or running doc reviews just because that is typically the name of the game for NY practice.  When I say long hours, I mean that you can expect to bill 180 to 200 hours/month on doc review related work for months at a time. (I had a few months that ran 200+ which starts to enter zombie territory)

You asked if the work is tedious and boring.  Short answer: yes.  Doing doc review at BigLaw typically entails running a doc review of anywhere from 1 or 2 to up to 100 or more document reviewers, aka Contract Attorneys.  For example, I was on one where there were 2 partners, 2 sr. associates, one other fellow junior associate and myself.  We had a team of about 40 Contract Attorneys reviewing documents from 9am to 8pm Monday thru Saturday. This lasted for about 6 or 7 months.

Part of your duties as a jr assoc involves quality control of the contract attorneys which means being present to answer questions and check their work after documents are reviewed.  This is the tedious part.  Contract attorneys will review the documents for relevance to a number of different criteria and also for privileged communications between the other side and their attorneys.  All of this information is done through various doc review program software. Each firm has their own favorite type.  After the documents are reviewed at the first level, then you, as the junior associate, will have to do Q.C. to check if a document that is, for example, tagged as privileged actually is privileged.

Like I said, tedious.

That's the initial phase of the litigation however.  As documents are reviewed and discovery begins to give us more clues to the puzzle, then you actually get into the "sexy" work of drafting motions, legal research, etc.  But it all starts with the doc review and discovery.  Before you do doc review/discovery you really don't know what is out there that can help your case or theories that you may have.  What starts off as a breach of contract claim between two large corporations, for example, can quickly turn into a trademark infringement claim involving multiple third parties who are now dragged into the litigation through impleader.

Getting back to the "sexy" work, the drafting of motions in NY is usually done by the sr. associates and signed off by the Partners.  Sometimes the sr. assoc's kick down the work to those of us jr. assoc's so then you can get your feet wet in actual motion practice in either federal or state court (usually federal). I can expand on that aspect as well but I'm trying to stay on point to your question as much as possible and still give a meaningful answer.

Lastly, you mentioned getting good experience and doing meaningful work as a lawyer.  Well I have good news and bad news.  Bad news, I can tell you right now, although it is the norm in Biglaw, there is NOTHING meaningful about doc review.  And what I mean by that is, there is NO substantive development as an attorney whatsoever from running a doc review.  During doc reviews, you'll have many-a-night where you'll be sitting up at midnight long after the office has cleared out wondering to yourself why you needed to go through 3 years of law school and a bar exam just to do something that you could literally train your kid brother to do in 15 minutes.

That's the bad news.

Good news is there is a way to get good experience and do meaningful work as a junior associate in Biglaw and its name is Pro Bono.  As a 1st year associate, I appeared in both federal and state court, representing clients on a variety of issues from death penalty cases to criminal defense work to civil litigations.  I have visited clients in federal prison (an interesting experience), state and county jails and other detention centers.  I have helped single mothers living in battered women's shelters get some much needed benefits from the City of New York. - All of this has been from pro bono work.

So I know that was lengthy but hopefully that sheds some light on what you guys are getting into.  Let me know if you guys have any other questions.

That was a great response.  Thanks!  The only downside is that now I have many, many more questions (as I'm sure most of the other posters reading this).  However, I don't want to steal from this thread.  Perhaps, when you're free you can start a thread where we can just throw questions at you.  It's nice to get some inside perspective on what a lot of us aspiring for.

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Re: ~100% Sure I Want to Do Lit -- Which Firms?
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2009, 03:42:41 PM »
My grades are fine, but probably preclude W&C and Cravath-type firms, so please don't suggest them.  Right now, I'm looking at these places:

Quinn Emmanuel (they sound great, and I heard they're a bit of a sweatshop, which is all the better ITE)
Boies Schiller
Kirkland (probably NYC more than Chicago)
Gibson Dunn
Crowell and Moring (I heard good things from others)

Any other suggestions?

If I'm really interested in a firm like Quinn, would they mind if I interviewed in multiple offices?

(speaking for NY offices only):

Gibson Dunn if you want to work day and night around the clock.

Crowell Moring if you don't want to work day and night around the clock but get the same pay. (excluding bonuses of course)

Kirkland, more towards Gibson Dunn environment but not quite as bad (debatable though).

Haven't worked with people or know any people at Boise or Quinn so I can't speak to those two.





Hey, Sands.  Just a quick question (probably a little off topic, sorry):  I understand that people work around the clock at these big firms, but is the work really that tedious?  Is it really that boring?  If you're in litigation, does it really come down to just doing document review round the clock?

I don't mind working hard; I just want to also do some interesting work.  I understand I'm going to be pulling time doing things that aren't quite so "sexy."  But, when it's all said and done, I want to get good experience and do some interesting work while learning what it really takes to be a lawyer.

Can you speak to that a little bit?


If it's ok with Officious I'll respond to that in this thread.

NY is a different beast than most other markets for reasons I can expand on later, but just wanted to throw that out up front as a threshold matter.

That being said, in a NYC BigLaw firm as a junior associate,  you can expect to work long hours on conducting and/or running doc reviews just because that is typically the name of the game for NY practice.  When I say long hours, I mean that you can expect to bill 180 to 200 hours/month on doc review related work for months at a time. (I had a few months that ran 200+ which starts to enter zombie territory)

You asked if the work is tedious and boring.  Short answer: yes.  Doing doc review at BigLaw typically entails running a doc review of anywhere from 1 or 2 to up to 100 or more document reviewers, aka Contract Attorneys.  For example, I was on one where there were 2 partners, 2 sr. associates, one other fellow junior associate and myself.  We had a team of about 40 Contract Attorneys reviewing documents from 9am to 8pm Monday thru Saturday. This lasted for about 6 or 7 months.

Part of your duties as a jr assoc involves quality control of the contract attorneys which means being present to answer questions and check their work after documents are reviewed.  This is the tedious part.  Contract attorneys will review the documents for relevance to a number of different criteria and also for privileged communications between the other side and their attorneys.  All of this information is done through various doc review program software. Each firm has their own favorite type.  After the documents are reviewed at the first level, then you, as the junior associate, will have to do Q.C. to check if a document that is, for example, tagged as privileged actually is privileged.

Like I said, tedious.

That's the initial phase of the litigation however.  As documents are reviewed and discovery begins to give us more clues to the puzzle, then you actually get into the "sexy" work of drafting motions, legal research, etc.  But it all starts with the doc review and discovery.  Before you do doc review/discovery you really don't know what is out there that can help your case or theories that you may have.  What starts off as a breach of contract claim between two large corporations, for example, can quickly turn into a trademark infringement claim involving multiple third parties who are now dragged into the litigation through impleader.

Getting back to the "sexy" work, the drafting of motions in NY is usually done by the sr. associates and signed off by the Partners.  Sometimes the sr. assoc's kick down the work to those of us jr. assoc's so then you can get your feet wet in actual motion practice in either federal or state court (usually federal). I can expand on that aspect as well but I'm trying to stay on point to your question as much as possible and still give a meaningful answer.

Lastly, you mentioned getting good experience and doing meaningful work as a lawyer.  Well I have good news and bad news.  Bad news, I can tell you right now, although it is the norm in Biglaw, there is NOTHING meaningful about doc review.  And what I mean by that is, there is NO substantive development as an attorney whatsoever from running a doc review.  During doc reviews, you'll have many-a-night where you'll be sitting up at midnight long after the office has cleared out wondering to yourself why you needed to go through 3 years of law school and a bar exam just to do something that you could literally train your kid brother to do in 15 minutes.

That's the bad news.

Good news is there is a way to get good experience and do meaningful work as a junior associate in Biglaw and its name is Pro Bono.  As a 1st year associate, I appeared in both federal and state court, representing clients on a variety of issues from death penalty cases to criminal defense work to civil litigations.  I have visited clients in federal prison (an interesting experience), state and county jails and other detention centers.  I have helped single mothers living in battered women's shelters get some much needed benefits from the City of New York. - All of this has been from pro bono work.

So I know that was lengthy but hopefully that sheds some light on what you guys are getting into.  Let me know if you guys have any other questions.

That was a great response.  Thanks!  The only downside is that now I have many, many more questions (as I'm sure most of the other posters reading this).  However, I don't want to steal from this thread.  Perhaps, when you're free you can start a thread where we can just throw questions at you.  It's nice to get some inside perspective on what a lot of us aspiring for.

No problem.  I'll start one in the General Board.
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Re: ~100% Sure I Want to Do Lit -- Which Firms?
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2009, 04:01:39 PM »
Just a side note to what Sands is saying. I think there is a big misconception on LSD that doc review and contract attorneys slaving away in sweatshop basements like in NYC are universal in the legal world. They are not. Iím not completely sure on the exact rule but I believe NYís practice act specifically says document review must be done by a lawyer (Iím sure Sands can correct me if Iím wrong about that). That is not the case in every state. Here in Colorado there is no such requirement so doc review can be done by paralegals (or just about anyone for that matter). Thatís not to say there are not contract attorneys here, there are, but they are very few and far between and I have never actually met one personally and I know A LOT of lawyers in this town. Its just not how things are done here because the rules allow more people to do document review than just attorneys.
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Re: ~100% Sure I Want to Do Lit -- Which Firms?
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2009, 04:40:02 PM »
Just a side note to what Sands is saying. I think there is a big misconception on LSD that doc review and contract attorneys slaving away in sweatshop basements like in NYC are universal in the legal world. They are not. Iím not completely sure on the exact rule but I believe NYís practice act specifically says document review must be done by a lawyer (Iím sure Sands can correct me if Iím wrong about that). That is not the case in every state. Here in Colorado there is no such requirement so doc review can be done by paralegals (or just about anyone for that matter). Thatís not to say there are not contract attorneys here, there are, but they are very few and far between and I have never actually met one personally and I know A LOT of lawyers in this town. Its just not how things are done here because the rules allow more people to do document review than just attorneys.


You are 100% correct.  That's why I mentioned that practice in NY is a different beast than most other markets.

Here in NY, contract attorneys are a way of life.  We contract with contract attorney agencies around town and basically the only question asked is "are you barred?" (meaning did you pass the bar?) 

Although I am pretty sure the rules here do allow non-barred JD's to do doc review so long as they have taken the bar exam and are awaiting results.
"A lawyer's either a social engineer or a parasite on society. A social engineer is a highly skilled...lawyer who understands the Constitution of the U.S. and knows how to explore its uses in the solving of problems of local communities and in bettering [our] conditions."
Charles H. Houston