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Topics - Burning Sands, Esq.

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Current Law Students / Jr. BigLaw Associate in NY Taking Questions
« on: July 06, 2009, 12:47:08 PM »
I may not respond right away for obvious reasons but I will address all the questions in the order in which they were received.

ETA: Any other current or former BigLaw Associates out there reading this feel free to jump in and add your 2 cents as well. I think it's important to give pre-laws and law students an idea of what they can realistically expect on a day to day.

FYI, see the following quote for background:

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.

Black Law Students / Nas v. Fox News
« on: July 28, 2008, 08:35:08 AM »

Rapper Nas Delivers Fox News Petition, Says Network Is "Scared"

About four hours after the announcement that his controversial, politically charged ninth album was number one in the country, Nas was on a small podium in front of Fox News headquarters in New York City protesting what he sees as racist attacks against Black Americans and presidential candidate Barack Obama. In a brief prepared statement, the multi-platinum rapper pointed out examples of what he and ColorOfChange see as a long racist smear campaign against the Obama family: The onscreen graphic that referred to Michelle Obama as the Senator's "baby mama"; Bill O'Reilly casually using the phrase "lynching party" to refer to attacks on the Senator's wife; referencing to the couple's infamous fist thump as a "terrorist fist jab." Said Nas, "Fox poisons this country every time they air racist propaganda and try to call it news. This should outrage every American that Fox uses hateful language to talk about the person that may be the first black president."

The rapper stood next to 19 neatly stacked cardboard boxes, with the number 620,127 taped to the side of each one -- over 600,000 signatures gathered by ColorOfChange demanding that network president Roger Ailes "find a solution to address racial stereotyping and hate-mongering before it hits the airwaves." Fox rejected the petitions, but Brave New Films says that Comedy Central's The Colbert Report will accept them instead.

Black Law Students / CNN's Black In America
« on: July 25, 2008, 01:40:49 PM »
Hopefully you all caught this yesterday and the day before.  If not they're re-airing this weekend.

For those who saw it - Thoughts?

Black Law Students / Boston Legal vs. SCOTUS
« on: April 23, 2008, 10:02:43 AM »
Don't know if you guys caught this last night but I thought it was a great segment and a reality check to the SCOTUS on what is wrong with our politics and the judicial branch.

[BTW they did a good job casting the actors for this segment - they really look like the real 9]

BACKGROUND: James Spader's character is arguing in front of the US Supreme Court about the death penalty that the State of Louisiana is trying to impose upon his client, a mentally retarded black man who was wrongly convicted of raping a little girl.  And to top it off, the little girl in question did not die, so basically Louisiana is trying to give the death penalty to somebody who didn't even kill anybody.
Unfortunately when you appeal to the Supreme Court you can't argue the facts that came out at the trial court below so Spader's only hope is to argue that this law is unconstitutional:

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