Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

For many law schools, the bidding process for the upcoming on-campus interview season closed yesterday. In bidding, schools quite reasonably advise students to select potential employers that align with their aspirations and geographic preferences. For example, the section of the Duke Law web site devoted to OCI admonishes students to “thoroughly research” potential employers and to “focus only on employers in whom you are genuinely interested and that match your career goals.” Presumably, one career goal shared by all law school graduates is to eventually be free of debt. As previously and repeatedly noted, for most, a Biglaw associate position is the only employment outcome which gives the graduate a plausible prospect of paying off his student loans.

So what shapes student perception of large law firms and drives the decision of the law student in prioritizing their OCI bids? No doubt there are unique versions of received wisdom that get passed from generation to generation of students at every school. And of course there are plenty of media entities measuring firms against one another: revenues (AmLaw), “prestige” (Vault), practice area prowess (Chambers) and so on. This being the time of year where Biglaw careers are just starting to be built, we thought it would be interesting to look at how students themselves rate law firms. Which firms are the law student favorites?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series from Bruce MacEwen and Janet Stanton of Adam Smith Esq. and JDMatch. “Across the Desk” takes a thoughtful look at recruiting, career paths, professional development, human capital, and related issues. Some of these pieces have previously appeared, in slightly different form, on AdamSmithEsq.com.

Next in our series on a taxonomy of law firms are the capital-markets centric firms.

If you think this moniker roughly translates to the classic New York white shoe elite, move to the head of the class.

But, as much in our world at the start of the 21st Century, it’s not exactly that simple. Here’s what’s different about these firms.

First, recall that we’ve hypothesized seven primary species…

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Employers in Finland are legally prohibited from running web searches on job applicants. This anti-Googling rule seeks to protect privacy.

We don’t take that approach here in the United States. Although running internet searches on job applicants can raise legal issues, the practice is generally permissible.

So it’s important for current and aspiring employees to maintain clean digital footprints. You never know when an employer, like an elite international law firm, might learn of your criminal past, like your prior conviction for a sex offense….

Please note the UPDATE added below regarding the nature of the offense.

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Many fine things can be said about Cleary Gottlieb. It’s prestigious (#8 in the latest Vault rankings). It’s profitable (#10 in the recently released Am Law 100 profit-per-partner rankings). It’s pleasant, known for a nice firm culture.

So what are the downsides of Cleary? Here’s one: the firm might be a bit… boring.

As you can see from our archives, we don’t write that much about Cleary. And when we do, it’s not always exciting stuff — e.g., Cravath-matching bonunses. Yawn.

Well, today we bring you some news about Cleary that might be at least slightly juicy: a mysterious partner departure, and possible stealth layoffs….

UPDATE (2:30 p.m.): Now with an important update, a statement from the partner in question.

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Well, the tournament has been a “shocker,” right? I know folks from Wichita State and they are psyched to flash inappropriate gestures on national TV for another round.

Sadly, Oregon got bounced out of the Sweet Sixteen, which made me a little sad, though not as sad as my whole bracket getting bounced when Indiana lost by double digits. I’d finally put my faith in the Big Ten and they repaid me with that?!?

In any event, the ATL bracket finally got some action too, with a couple of upsets. Including my beloved Cleary…

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The Biglaw grind is not unlike being in Shawshank prison. It involves years of lockdown, with the occasional rooftop beer or comfortable library, interspersed with terrifying conversations that end with a partner saying, “Or am I being obtuse?”, and then locking you in solitary confinement.

After such an experience, everybody deserves a redemption.

Today’s excellent departure memo comes from a former comedian who decided to leave comedy to go into a top Biglaw job. That’s not a joke.

Now, he’d rather be at the bottom of an ocean….

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Last week my NCAA bracket soared to the lead in our office bracket pool. And then crashed to reality when my New Mexico Final Four pick got cut down by Harvard. It was a bitter pill to swallow when I have to talk to Harvard grads daily.

At least the Ducks are still in the tournament.

Meanwhile, the ATL March Madness bracket rolls into the Sweet Sixteen. At least so far, you all love the chalk….

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Client service. The heartbeat of Biglaw. The area where every firm has to improve. Perpetually. Biglaw hamsters in overdrive. All to make the clients happy. Sit back and admire your Biglaw firm’s willingness to go the “extra mile” by listening to its clients. We might even see a client paraded before our partners once a year. (See my column on improving partner meetings by having guest appearances from clients.)

We are taught happy clients are well-paying clients. And clients that will refer their dissatisfied colleagues at other companies to experience our brand of Biglaw magic. We love clients. Almost as much as the consultants do on House of Lies, a show that provides outrageous, if funny, explorations of the client-service provider dynamic in modern-day America. (A fun business development-training program would involve watching a series of client-interactions from the show and learning from them. Better than listening to Rainmaker X pretend the reason for his multimillion-dollar book was not his maternal grandfather’s business dealings and connections.)

Truly thinking about client service can be all-consuming, especially for a younger partner like myself. No one is giving me clients. I have to fight for them in the marketplace. I love it, but it is difficult and you need patience.

But rather than focus on the process of developing clients, let’s discuss the art of “superpleasing” clients….

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Ted Olson and David Boies: adversaries, then allies, then adversaries again.

After covering the Dewey & LeBoeuf bankruptcy hearing on Wednesday morning, I walked a few blocks uptown to the Second Circuit for another exciting event: oral argument in the closely watched Argentina bondholder litigation. It was a Biglaw battle royal, pitting Ted Olson, the former solicitor general and current Gibson Dunn partner, against a tag team of top lawyers that included David Boies, Olson’s adversary in Bush v. Gore (and ally in Hollingsworth v. Perry).

Here’s my account of the proceedings, including photos….

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* Dear professors, please try to understand that most people who experience normal, human emotions are more concerned with the future of American law students than they are with whether or not American law schools can survive by bilking the hell out of foreigners. [PrawfsBlawg]

* In Canada, they raided somebody’s Super Bowl party to bust up an illegal gambling ring. They never would have done this during the Grey Cup. [CTV News]

* Apparently some kind of law something happened on Downton Abbey last night? I missed it, because staring at a dark stadium is literally more interesting than that freaking show. [Law and More]

* Thomson Reuters is getting out of the academic book publishing business. If only law professors would do the same thing. [TaxProf Blog]

* Is Washington & Lee’s “experiential” curriculum working? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Just to be clear, torturing people only works in the movies and television. [Politics USA]

* Cleary might become an ATL feeder firm. [Legal Cheek]

* Here’s an excerpt from a fun interview with David Lat, in which he talks about asking Richard Posner out on a date. [California Lawyer]

And there’s video, which you can watch for CLE credit, after the jump….

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