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I am getting married in December so I would love to work at a family-friendly firm. Like Elie, I’m a raging liberal, and I heard Paul Weiss seems to fit that bill. On the other hand, I want to be at a firm with plenty of lovely women. I am bi and my soon-to-be hubby doesn’t mind if I taste a woman’s sweet nectar. Plus I simply cannot live without a pair of supple breasts in my life. (My man is ripped so no manboobs for me.) I met many cute associates at Davis Polk too and I remember an ATL article that mentions the great number of hotties at DPW.
So many choices! Can you help me out?
— Paradox of Choice
Dear Paradox of Choice,
Nice try, but this question’s a flame because nobody uses the term “sweet nectar” unless they’re (1) referring to the drink Odysseus used to get the Cyclops drunk and poke his eye out, or (2) a copywriter at Cosmo. Nevertheless, we’ll answer it because it’s slim pickings around here this week, and it’s better than another snooze-alert “should I quit law school?” question. Of course you should quit law school. Don’t be ridiculous.
Let’s break down these firms…
Sorry to the be the bearer of bad news, but law firms are nothing like The Deep End. Sexy associates — men or women — aren’t marching around in sharply tailored suits or gazing worriedly out windows or barking statements like “my client is innocent, I don’t give a DAMN what the polygraph says.”
It’s mostly just dumpy people and filing cabinets. That being said, there are firms with slightly fewer sad sacks and slightly more sex. Here’s the rundown:
Davis Polk. As you noted, ATL extensively covered the relative attractiveness of DPW associates (and Lat wrote about it for the New York Observer, too). When I interviewed at Davis, I got the sense that they were the sort of people who would do things like ignore YouTube forwards or act like you’re insane for ordering an ice luge off eBay. The ladies may be hot at DPW, but it’s not a place where you can get your freak on, mainly because nobody there is a freak (or nobody will admit to it). Family friendly status: unknown.
Paul Weiss. The single most attractive woman I have ever met in real life, not including a Vegas waitress at Tryst, was a lawyer at Paul Weiss. She was my last OCI interviewer of the day and when the interview ended, I remember thinking that there no point in my working at Paul Weiss or even going on living because if people like that existed then there was absolutely nothing I could add to the firm or to humanity because God had already invented somebody better in every single way. I later heard that this interviewer broke up with her live-in boyfriend and within days two male associates sent her flowers and asked her out. So yes, there are hot associates at Paul Weiss, but at least one of them is straight.
Cravath. I don’t know much about this place, but given what this tipster says, sounds like it might be a good fit:
People get down. All the time. I have not in the course of my [several]-year affiliation with the firm, however, heard anything about women-on-women action…
Having said that, a lot of the women are definitely masculine, and hot, and if I had to put money on it, I’d say they’d be down with it if given the chance.
Sullivan & Cromwell. Other than the explosive 100% platonic “synergy” between Aaron Charney and Gera Grinberg, which I witnessed firsthand, there weren’t any gay hookups that I knew about when I summered at S&C or that I’ve heard of since. The closest anybody in my class came to hooking up with each other was probably when a fellow female summer asked me for a spare tampon in the bathroom during Casino Night. In terms of the firm’s “family friendliness,” I’ll just say this: Rodgin Cohen once made a speech about never missing a single one of his son’s little league games. Turns out he could see the field from his office with a telescope.
I’ll let Elie tackle Debevoise.
I’ve said this consistently since I left: Debevoise is a GREAT place to work, if you like the Biglaw thing, which I did not. It’s family friendly (I took a three-week honeymoon without any problems while I worked there), and the people are very nice (I know its a cliché, but even now when I meet a Debevoise partner, they are very nice to me, despite my current job).
In terms of hotness, I can’t really speak to this. This is going to sound crazy, but I find it hard to objectify women once they start talking. Once they open their mouths, I care about things like “what they are saying” and “whether or not I agree.” Women I agree with, I find attractive. Women I disagree with (like Republicans) I find repulsive. Most of the women I worked with were left of center, so I thought they were attractive.
Some of the women I worked with were very progressive liberals, and so I found them hot. And this is the part of your question where I think I can be of some use: where should you go if you are a “raging liberal”?
First off, let me be clear: you’re looking to work for a top firm in New York City — you’re going to be okay. You’re going to find a soft landing space for your progressive views. A big NYC law firm is probably as close as a liberal yuppie will ever get to “church.” It’s pretty cool.
But, you said you were a “raging liberal,” and there you might have a problem. As I found out, as my very progressive friend found out, law firms generally don’t like to “rage.” They don’t like to run around, cursing the military-industrial complex and installing paperless toilets. That’s because “progressive” Biglaw firms still like to make a liberal amount of money. You can talk about whatever you want around the water cooler. But when it comes time to bill hours, you better shove your raging liberalism right back in your limousine and get busy reviewing the box of documents from the Big Oil company you’re defending.
Most progressives don’t mind doing this — a Biglaw salary will help you make lots of campaign contributions. And you can always pump up your bleeding heart with a little pro bono work. But sometimes, raging liberals become dissatisfied that they’re spending 12 to 24 hours a day in the service of The Man. Some people never get over that and for some people there’s no amount of money they can be paid to be happy doing that kind of work.
If you’re looking for a firm that’s going to let you put your healthy liberalism over the needs of whichever client is willing to pay the highest fees, you’re going to have to keep looking. Nobody is going to pay you $160K to save a tree, end racial profiling, or enact campaign finance reform. If you want to do that kind of work, approach your local Congressman and beg him or her for a low-paying, under-appreciated job on Capitol Hill. That’s where the real raging liberals hang out. And they’re poor (or live off of Mommy and Daddy’s money). Deal with it.
If you want to sell out (and don’t fool yourself honey, calling yourself a raging liberal who still wants to work in Biglaw is classic sell-out behavior), any of these firms will do. Just know that no amount of lesbian suckling is going to still the rage in your heart.
— Bull on a Parade With a Pocket Full of Shells
(Shameless plug: you can also read more about these firms in the Above the Law Career Center.)
Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org.