Job Searches

comparing.jpgWe’re back with the next installment of open threads on the Vault 100 law firms.
A particularly insightful comment from the last post on the top five firms:

[Davis Polk & Wardwell] and [Sullivan & Cromwell] do very similar work. DPW has a stronger underwriters’ practice, Sullivan is marginally better on the issuer side. DPW is much stronger than anyone at converts. Sullivan does more edgy contested M&A while DPW excels at deals with cutting edge securities components.

Sullivan is a slightly better place to work than its reputation. DPW generally lives up to its strong rep as a good place to work.

Now on to the next five from Vault, with their prestige scores in parentheses:

6. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (7.985)
7. Latham & Watkins LLP (7.784)
8. Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP (7.754)
9. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP (7.623)
10. Kirkland & Ellis LLP (7.473)

The most notable of “notable perks” in this batch is at Kirkland, where NYC associates get a “$350 office art budget” (previously reported here). Can associates use the money to commission work from their toddlers?
Please compare and contrast the firms in the comments. We’ll continue to work our way down the Vault list in future threads.
The Top 100 Most Prestigious Law Firms [Vault]
Earlier: Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Vault 1-5 (2009)

comparing.jpgAs reported last week, the Vault 2009 law firm rankings are out. You can find Vault’s ranking of the top 100 most prestigious firms here.
As observed by one astute commenter, “the prestige rankings will tell you nothing about the quality of your work experience.” In order to address this, we are relaunching a popular feature from last year: a series of open threads on the Vault 100 firms, organized in batches of five, to allow for comparative discussion (and gossip) about perks, hours, recruiting standards, firm life, etc.
We’re starting with the top five firms — and experiencing a bit of déjà vu, since the list is identical to last year’s (although the prestige scores, indicated parenthetically, have changed a little):

1. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz (8.777)
2. Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP (8.732)
3. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP (8.257)
4. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (8.135)
5. Davis Polk & Wardwell (8.070)

Cravath is closer than last year to passing Wachtell in the rankings. Perhaps the bedbugs prevented CSM from retaking the top position, which it held back in the 2003 rankings. We’re amused that Vault lists this as a Cravath “notable perk”: “Grinds associates into a fine, self-important powder.”
Please discuss and compare the top five. More threads to come.
The Top 100 Most Prestigious Law Firms [Vault]
Earlier: Rejoice: The 2009 Vault Rankings Are Out!, Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Vault 1-5 (2008 edition) and Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Vault 96-100 (2008 edition — with links to all of last year’s posts).

fashion.jpgWe’ve noticed that the comment thread on the cold offers post has morphed into a fashion advice column. Here are some of the on-campus interview attire questions that have been posed:

– Is a light gray suit a bad choice for interviews? Dark brown shoes, black, or either?
— What suit colors are acceptable?
— For females, do you have to wear a button down under your skirt suit, or can you wear something else?
— Skirt-suits v. pants suits?

We pajama-wearing ATL bloggers are no longer well-versed in the world of suit fashion, but Corporette has an advice post on interview fashion, in response to a query from a 3L. Their advice for the ladies:

  • Choose a dark suit. A black or navy suit is always more conservative than a brightly- or lightly-colored suit, and if you have to buy something inexpensive then it will hide the imperfections in the fabric and the seams.
  • Buy a skirt suit…. Be sure you pull a chair over to a full-length mirror and practice sitting in the skirt suit; you want to see what the interviewer will see and make sure you look appropriate and tasteful.
  • Is this to prevent a Basic Instinct moment?
    Additional fashion tips, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Suitable Suits?”

    Will Work for Food 2 Above the Law blog.JPGIf you’re a regular reader of legal newspapers and blogs, you might get the sense that law firm layoffs are happening everywhere. At the current time, the ATL category tag for Layoffs contains about 90 posts (and counting). It’s a topic that we cover extensively — and many readers still clamor for more.
    Here at ATL, a self-styled “legal tabloid,” inducing panic through sensationalism and scaremongering — layoffs! delayed start dates! cold offers! — is part of our job description. But are things really that bad?
    With respect to lawyer layoffs, maybe not. Leigh Jones examines the topic in a very interesting article for the National Law Journal (subscription):

    A look at the bigger picture shows a profession responding to the economic downturn rather adroitly — at least so far.

    Since October, some 338 attorney layoffs have been confirmed and reported by various news organizations at 12 law firms among the NLJ 250, The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s largest law firms.

    To be sure, unreported terminations could make the layoff totals much higher. But even if stealth layoffs are twice or even three times the reported amount, the number of attorneys ushered to the exits in the last 10 months is relatively small.

    More good news — but also some bad news, namely, a list of large law firms that have laid off lawyers — after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: The Sky Is Not Falling
    (Plus: A list of law firms that have done layoffs.)”

    avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
    With classes starting soon, another crop of 1Ls will be starting on a journey that has only one sure outcome: the accumulation of useless information devoid of any practical professional relevance.
    Once you take away all of the prestige-whoring, grade-inflating shell games that allow top schools to separate you from your future earnings, can’t most law classes be reduced to an Emanuel’s outline and a BarBri lecture?
    Which classes were the most irrelevant to the life of a Biglaw associate?

    Today I’ll offer my worthlessness rankings on basic classes that most everyone was forced to take. Thursday I’ll open up the field and rank useless classes that ATL readers could have avoided, in a bold “Clarice Starling” attempt to save just one law school lamb from signing up for International Law.
    But I’m about more than telling 1Ls that the next three years of their lives are pointless (though, really guys, totally pointless, just saying). I’ll be offering up alternative classes that might not be available at your local registrar, but that every Biglaw associate needs to take before leaving law school’s protective cocoon.
    After the jump, see the classes worth sleeping through.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Back to School: What Is The Most Worthless Class You Had to Take?”

    Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgEarlier today, the New York outpost of, a British publication, reported on personnel reductions at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The report was of keen interest to us because we’ve been hearing rumors — generally vague and unsubstantiated, but persistent — of “stealth layoffs” at STB.
    The folks over at The Lawyer seem to be hearing similar gossip, some of which appears in their report:

    [Simpson Thacher ] has taken the unusual step of introducing a mid-year performance review for its associates. It is understood that the benchmark for associates to reach in order to keep their jobs is significantly higher than in previous appraisals.

    Market sources have ­suggested that up to 30 associates have been asked to consider their positions as a result of the review. Simpson Thacher chairman Pete Ruegger denied the firm was making credit crunch-related layoffs.

    This report appears to be erroneous, at least in a few respects. We spoke with Simpson partner James D. Cross, co-chair of the firm’s Personnel Committee, who described it as “wildly inaccurate”:

    It’s business as usual here as far as reviews. We have not changed our standards, and we have not changed our process. We’ve always had a midyear review process. I don’t know where someone came up with the number of 30 [affected associates].

    A second STB source echoed Cross’s statement, telling us that “no new mid-year process was introduced.” The firm has long conducted midyear reviews for (1) first-year associates and (2) more senior lawyers who received negative annual reviews. According to this source, “if a more senior lawyer gets a negative annual review, that person will often be slated for a midyear review so that progress can be checked after six months, not just annually, and so that the firm makes sure it is doing all it can in terms of additional training and mentoring.”
    Additional discussion, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Correcting the Record on Simpson Thacher”

    Vault logo law firm rankings career guides.jpgThis morning we brought you a special sneak preview of the 2009 Vault law firm rankings (to be released in full on Tuesday, August 12, over at the Vault website). We passed along two compilations: (1) firms ranked 26-50 by prestige, and (2) firms 11-20 on the “best to work for” list.
    Now, as promised, we bring you the balance of the rankings: firms 1-50 by prestige, and all 20 of the “best to work for” firms.
    Check out the lists, plus comment from Vault law editor Brian Dalton, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Exclusive: A Sneak Peek at the 2009 Vault Rankings!
    (Part 2 of 2)”

    Job of the Week Lateral Link ATL logo.gif
    Tax attorneys are all the rage, with in-house and law firm opportunities for 2008 JDs and up. The Job(s) of the Week highlight some of the best of these opportunities. These are in New York, but Lateral Link has similar positions in other cities as well. Lateral Link’s $10,000 signing bonus applies to the positions below. If you are not already a Lateral Link Member, you can apply at
    Junior tax attorney – The New York office of this top 25 law firm, well-known for its quality of life, is seeking junior tax associates. They will consider 2008 law school graduates to start immediately (including those who may have had their start dates pushed back at other firms). For more information, please see Position 6074 on Lateral Link.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Job(s) of the Week: Tax Law Never Goes Out of Style”

    Vault logo law firm rankings career guides.jpgReaders, we bring you some very exciting news. Just in time for fall recruiting, the folks over at Vault are releasing their highly influential — indeed, authoritative — law firm rankings. The rankings, along with informative and interesting write-ups of the ranked firms, will be available in Vault’s law guides. (Vault’s Guide to the Top 100 Law Firms is basically a Biglaw job seeker’s Bible.)
    The official release date for the 2009 rankings is this coming Tuesday, August 12. But the Vault crew kindly offered Above the Law an exclusive preview of the new list, consisting of the top 50 firms for prestige and the 20 firms rated as “Best to Work For.” Obviously we wet ourselves just a little bit enthusiastically accepted Vault’s offer of an early look.
    Check out the first half of the ATL preview — firms ranked 26-50 by prestige, and 11-20 on the “best to work for” list — along with explanatory commentary from Vault law editor Brian Dalton, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Exclusive: A Sneak Peek at the 2009 Vault Rankings!
    (Part 1 of 2)”

    avatar Alex ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by ALEX, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Alex's avatar (at right).]
    We received nearly 200 comments on the OCI Open Thread, and to my surprise, most of them were not directed solely at how badly I suck. Small victory.
    Many of the comments offered helpful advice from self-professed recruiting attorneys. Others offered glimmers of hope for the anxious and the under-performing. And some left no doubt that, no matter how badly you think you’re going to do in interviews, others have done and will do worse.
    hot seat hotseat.jpgFirst, though, take a deep breathe. A large number of 2ls from top-fifteen law schools get biglaw jobs. And many top-performing law students from other schools get biglaw jobs, too.
    But even if you don’t, it’s no big deal. Seriously. OCI creates the false impression that the only sensible thing that you can do with a law degree is work at an AmLaw 100 firm. Don’t be fooled.
    Being a junior associate at a large law firm is not very fulfilling. You’re not even really a lawyer; you’re a low-level corporate employee with legal knowledge. Go try a case or counsel somebody with a problem. You’ll undoubtedly wonder why you ever cared about this week.
    With a little perspective, you’ll do much better in your interviews. As commenters have repeatedly pointed out to me over the last two weeks, nobody likes someone who appears to be trying too hard. If you don’t care so much, you’ll be yourself. See Exley’s excellent farewell post.
    Okay, helpful advice and uncomfortable stories after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “OCI Open Thread Follow-Up”

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