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Author Topic: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions  (Read 24789 times)

RobWreck

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2009, 09:31:09 PM »
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St. John's University School of Law '11
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Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2009, 09:42:46 PM »
You mention that Employment and Labor litigation people do not spend as much time on doc review. Does this mean that a jr associate in l and e would do more substantive legal work (motions, deps, court appearances etc.)? I want to be the chicago version of alan shore/denny crane... what practice area do you recommend I do to get there (just kidding, I don;t expect an answer)? Alas, I am 0L RA for a professor at the law school I will be attending this fall (Chicago), do you think that will give me a leg up on getting a 1l summer firm gig in biglaw (preferably kirkland or skadden, HA) (for the few that will be hiring ANY 1LS, which i know will be few and far between)?

Thanks

Perhaps.  I really don't know what my Labor & Employment colleagues spend their day to day billable time on, but I know that the bulk of it is not doc review like ours is.   



Response from one of my classmates down the hall who does labor & employment:

"I would highly recommend labor & employment as a practice -- I'm really enjoying it so far.  there is minimal doc review because most of the cases are very small.  you also get to do a wide variety of stuff -- respond to EEOC/discrimination complaints, work on smaller litigations (generally), review/draft release agreements and employment agreements, advise clients on latest labor laws/issues, etc.  so a little bit of everything."
"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

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2009, 01:33:17 AM »
This is great, thanks Sands!
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T. Durden

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2009, 09:34:38 AM »
haha to the extent that people may or may not find this helpful, i'm a first year in nyc biglaw and my existence is pretty goddamn miserable. if it ain't doc review or doc production, i'm not doing it. the juxtaposition is strange - from working so hard in law school, etc. and then finally "making it" only to spend absurdly long hours doing something "that your kid brother could do," to quote sands. on the one hand, i feel that i'm paying my dues, so to speak, and on the other i feel like i'm being borderline exploited by the firm. in prior years, i think that they had to worry about losing jr. associates to other firms if / when they buried them under mountains of doc review and doc production. given the current cataclysmic state of the market, however, this is no longer the case and they know it. as such, the docs just keep piling up [as do those oh-so-coveted production assignments]

on a semi-related note, the quality of K attny on my doc review team is insane. in the "good 'ole days," it's my understanding that most k attnys were basically what you'd expect t2-t4 grads with below the median type grades. my review is staffed almost exclusively with t20 (many t14) grads, many of whom have 4-8 yrs WE. believe me, they're not doing DR because they want to. i hate to say it, but it appears to me that this ship be sinkin'. and on that note it's time for me to depart for work - i have to hit at least 10-11 hrs billed of pure, unadulterated DR today. life is a beautiful thing.

M_Cool

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2009, 01:39:07 PM »
To echo the post above, do all major markets have as much doc review?  I'm planning on using all of my bids on LA and maybe a few on secondary markets.  The good news is that most firms in LA seem to have large employment/labor groups so I imagine I could always request to be there if I want to avoid it.

Matthies

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2009, 02:50:58 PM »
To echo the post above, do all major markets have as much doc review?  I'm planning on using all of my bids on LA and maybe a few on secondary markets.  The good news is that most firms in LA seem to have large employment/labor groups so I imagine I could always request to be there if I want to avoid it.

This is going to depend on what is considered the “practice of law” in each jurisdiction. As I mentioned in the other thread NY’s law is pretty explicate and says doc review HAS TO BE DONE BY A LAWYER. Hence you have tons of contract lawyers in a state like NY. Not every state has that same rule, so in some states doc review can be done by paralegals or just about anyone in some cases. That’s how it is in Colorado. You don’t need to be a lawyer so I never actually met a contract lawyer and as far as I know we don’t even have companies that set up such services here (like in NYC). So you need to check what the practice requirements are in the jurisdiction you want to work in to find out if there is a lot of contract lawyer/doc review work going on there or it’s not something they normally have lawyers do.

All that being said, reviewing documents IS WHAT LAWYERS DO. Yes there is a difference between the lawyerly doc review and just clicking yes/no a screen in some firm’s basement. But if you don’t want to review “documents” be they contracts, wills, merger agreements, statutes or regulations, or something else law may not be what you expect. Most lawyers spend the vast majority of the time reviewing stuff and writing about what they have reviewed and very little in an actual courtroom.
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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2009, 03:13:35 PM »
Can you elaborate a bit on the differences between (biglaw) practice in NYC and that elsewhere?  You mentioned that it's different in some way--is this just an hours thing, or what?

Sure, it's different in 2 major ways: (1) Subject matter; and (2) Size.

1 - The subject matter of New York is, as you might imagine, driven mostly by Wall Street and other big business.  This is reflected in most of the work that we do as "BigLaw" in New York - securities, commercial litigations, commercial transactions, mergers & acquisitions, etc.  It's all about the financial market and big business (lol...at least it used to be about the financial market).  

Other states, obviously, have little to do with Wall Street (how fortunate for them right now!) although they will focus on whatever business is the "big business" draw for their respective state.

2 - The Size and Scope of NY Big Law matters are unparalleled anywhere else in the world save London.  Bigger than Chicago, bigger than ATL, bigger than San Fran, Bigger than LA.  The stuff is massive.  Beyond massive.  The matters can take literally take years and 100's of people putting in 1000's of hours.  

So why does this matter?  This matters to you and I as jr. associates or soon-to-be jr. associates because at this level of the law you are a mere pawn in the big picture.  It is unrealistic to enter Biglaw in NY straight from law school and expect to be placed in charge of a big case.  NY Biglaw litigators typically don't see the inside of a court room for 3 or 4 years (if ever).  Similarly, NY Biglaw transactional attorneys are not running deals or developing the transactional skills that their partners possess for years after law school.  Long story short, your personal development as an attorney learning the craft of the practice is severely stunted in NY Biglaw, taking years to develop what you would likely be able to develop in months elsewhere in other markets where more hands on work is given to jr. associates.  In NY, however, all they need from you for the first few years is grunt work.

The substantive stuff comes later.  Much later.  
"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

M_Cool

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2009, 04:01:16 PM »
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But if you don’t want to review “documents” be they contracts, wills, merger agreements, statutes or regulations, or something else law may not be what you expect. Most lawyers spend the vast majority of the time reviewing stuff and writing about what they have reviewed and very little in an actual courtroom.

I was referring to going through box after box tagging stuff for privilege or vainly looking for new causes of action.  I would hate that.  On the other hand, I enjoy legal research / memo writing.  I do mostly appellate stuff where I'm summering and I enjoy the work, but I realize that appellate work is a very niche field and I most likely won't get it (especially since I'm not considering DC). 

I just want to make sure I end up in a practice group / location where I can get the most exposure to memo writing / legal research / strategy type stuff as opposed to heading up a doc review full of contract attorneys.  I would hate that.

Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2009, 04:03:19 PM »
on a semi-related note, the quality of K attny on my doc review team is insane. in the "good 'ole days," it's my understanding that most k attnys were basically what you'd expect t2-t4 grads with below the median type grades. my review is staffed almost exclusively with t20 (many t14) grads, many of whom have 4-8 yrs WE. believe me, they're not doing DR because they want to. i hate to say it, but it appears to me that this ship be sinkin'.


Mr. Durden speaks the truth!!!!!

A bit of disclosure about my own personal experience, I was one of the many (I think the count was up to somewhere around 4,000 last time I checked) Biglaw associates that lost our jobs due to the economy.  Let me tell you, it is not a good experience. This economy has really done a number on all professions, and the legal profession is apparently in no better position to avoid lay-offs and office closures than any other profession.

That said, after several months of being unemployed, pounding the pavement, shaking every tree and leaving no stone unturned, I finally got picked up by another Biglaw firm where I am at now.

However, during that time period where I was out of work I personally saw exactly what T. Durden described above on the doc review scene with respect to all the talent that was in the room reviewing documents.  

It's a little different being on the other side - if you didn't have it before, you develop a serious appreciation for what contract attorneys have to go through on daily basis.  The hours suck just like they sucked when you were an associate except you are getting paid MUCH MUCH LESS money.  A lot less.  Like just enough to make my rent payment less. There are no benefits, no dental, no 401k, no health insurance. You just get a flat rate of around $30-or-so bucks an hour, which sounds great at first until you realize your take home in NY at that rate is about 70% of your total earnings.  Oh and BTW, your hours are at the mercy of the firm producing the doc's.  So, for example, they could tell you that the production will only run between the hours of 9 to 6, M-F and you must take at least a 30 minute lunch break each day.  So, in that situation (which is based on a true story), you're getting at most 8.5 hours a day max, or 42.5 hours a week.  (which as I recall, came out to about $900 a week in take home).  But on the bright side, thank goodness that our profession has something like doc review to fall back on for those who lost their jobs in Biglaw.  Other professions don't have things like that.

Getting back to Durden's point above though, I was on 2 different doc reviews as a contract attorney.  The first one that I did was a relatively small production of about a dozen or so people, but of that dozen there were 7 former Biglaw associates in the room.  The second doc review I did was bigger, and had about 50-60 doc reviewers.  I'm not sure where everybody was from, and judging by the familiarity that some of the reviewers had with each other I'm sure that some of them were the regulars you would expect to see that Durden mentioned above, but at my table alone there was a former 2nd year from Skadden who graduated from a T-14, two former 2nd years from Latham who each graduated from T-14's, a girl from Kaye Scholer (didn't catch her school), a former 4th year from Morgan Lewis, and (I kid you not!) a former General Counsel for a Wall Street Hedge Fund that had collapsed!!!  This guy had like 20 years of work experience by himself, and there he was right next to the rest of us, reviewing documents.

That had to have been the best damn review of documents in the history of doc review going on in that room. :D

But the scary part is that scene, in today's economy, is very typical right now.  There are a lot of T-14 law grads doing doc review right now in order to make ends meet.  But, as was the consensus among the folks I worked with who had come from Biglaw, you gotta do what you gotta do to ride this thing out for as long as it takes until something better comes along.  If you're lucky, that will only be a few months.  However, I have friends who used to be in Biglaw who have been out of work since October or November of last year and still haven't found a job yet.  

It's a humbling experience, and nobody is safe.

"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

Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2009, 04:16:25 PM »
Quote
But if you don’t want to review “documents” be they contracts, wills, merger agreements, statutes or regulations, or something else law may not be what you expect. Most lawyers spend the vast majority of the time reviewing stuff and writing about what they have reviewed and very little in an actual courtroom.

I was referring to going through box after box tagging stuff for privilege or vainly looking for new causes of action.  I would hate that.  On the other hand, I enjoy legal research / memo writing.  I do mostly appellate stuff where I'm summering and I enjoy the work, but I realize that appellate work is a very niche field and I most likely won't get it (especially since I'm not considering DC). 

I just want to make sure I end up in a practice group / location where I can get the most exposure to memo writing / legal research / strategy type stuff as opposed to heading up a doc review full of contract attorneys.  I would hate that.

Well now a days, you would be going through boxes so much as you would be going through screens and screens of PDF's on some doc review software, but I hear what you're saying. Looking at the same type of document all day long can be pretty mind numbing.  When I was doing doc review, I could almost feel my brain lose IQ points every day.

But Matthies is right, even if you were at a firm or in a practice group that doesn't hire contract attorneys, as a lawyer you're still going to be have to review documents all day long for living.  That is what the practice is all about.
"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