AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

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eth1988
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AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby eth1988 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:09 am

Former Sullivan & Cromwell associate here answering questions about the associate experience. Left as a mid-level. The firm has its pros and cons, but I don't think I could have gotten a better experience at another firm. Some observations to start off with:

1. S&C has a very direct culture

True. Feedback is very direct. When you screw up (and even the best associates screw up at times), feedback will be swift and in your face. You learn to avoid similar mistakes going forward and is pushed to become a really good lawyer who prizes effectiveness and perfection.

2. S&C has a bad culture

False. Culture is group dependent and very good overall. Partners/senior associates are demanding but polite. I found most partners/senior associates to be considerate of junior/mid-level lawyers' time. Partners/senior associates tend to think carefully about the exact analyses/products they want before delegating in order to minimize needless changes/tedious turns.

3. S&C provides incredible exit opportunities

True, with caveats. At the highest end, I have seen mid-level litigation lawyers leave for SCOTUS clerkships and AUSA positions and corporate lawyers leave for investment banking positions at Goldman, Evercore, Morgan Stanley, Citi, etc., consulting positions at BCG, McKinsey, etc., and associate positions at Wachtell as early as in year 1. Most lawyers leave for in-house legal positions at investment banks, F500 corporations, and other law firms. Could these lawyers have gotten the same exit opportunities if they had chosen to work at Wachtell/Cravath, probably.

4. S&C does not try to attract any particular type of personality

True. S&C's recruiting process tend to be very grade-based. As a result, you will find all types of personalities (from people who go out every weekend & sometimes during the week to people who prefer books over drinks) at the firm. S&C does try to screen out assholes.

5. S&C's generalist system provides a great training ground for junior lawyers

True, with caveats. In practice, S&C's generalist system is a free market system with central assignment mechanism. You get assigned work in practices areas that you ranked high most of the time, though you will be asked to work on assignments that don't interest you at all sometimes. The free market system allows you to stand out only a few month into your first year. Some star first-years (yes, some stars are apparent as first years) seem to be able to consistently source high-profile/interesting work, be treated explicitly as mid-levels, and to turn down work (even from partners). Though, there's enough good work for everyone.

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LaLiLuLeLo
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:37 am

Are you a WASP?

Winter is Coming
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Winter is Coming » Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:58 am

True, with caveats. In practice, S&C's generalist system is a free market system with central assignment mechanism. You get assigned work in practices areas that you ranked high most of the time, though you will be asked to work on assignments that don't interest you at all sometimes. The free market system allows you to stand out only a few month into your first year. Some star first-years (yes, some stars are apparent as first years) seem to be able to consistently source high-profile/interesting work, be treated explicitly as mid-levels, and to turn down work (even from partners). Though, there's enough good work for everyone

This is one of the great low key trolls of all time.

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wiz
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby wiz » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:16 am

Do you still have your S&C shoulder bag?

Genius
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Genius » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:14 am

I have not been too successful in the dating world because although I am tall and good looking, I am shy around women. If I go the S & C route and gain 3-4 years of experience there, will I have better chance (or even just as good a chance as male lawyers at Wachtell/Cravath) with women?

Thanks.

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rwe13
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby rwe13 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:44 am

School?

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lymenheimer
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby lymenheimer » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:23 am

Worst AMA ever

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kellyfrost
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby kellyfrost » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:29 am

Do any associates or partners at Sullivan Cromwell chew tobacco?

Can you chew tobacco in your office at this firm?

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Mad Hatter
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Mad Hatter » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:50 am

After reading your post, I think I know everything I need to about S&C. Thanks.

Anonymous User
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:02 pm

What's S&C's reputation for litigation in NY compared to Cravath or PW (the other two litigation shops that are thought to be top-notch)? Basically the same but different focus?

Anonymous User
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:57 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:Are you a WASP?

True, with caveats. While S&C is generally known for being the whitest motherfuckers around, in practice we have several women and minorities. We are especially diverse at the staff and janitorial levels. I personally identify as a White non-Hispanic Caucasian, but no longer believe in God after my time at A&C so cannot fully claim the Protestant part of that tag.

misterjames
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby misterjames » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:05 pm

Thanks for taking the time OP, insider insight is always interesting to me.

How did you feel about your ability to work from home? Was it easy to do so? Is it shunned? Promoted?

I think criticism is better upfront, much better than passive aggressiveness at least. Can you expand a bit more on what that feedback is like? And I mean on a day-to-day basis, not the formal reviews.

With respect to hours and work-life balance, did you ever feel like things were getting far too overwhelming? If so, how did you handle it?

Thanks again

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rpupkin
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby rpupkin » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:11 pm

Mad Hatter wrote:After reading your post, I think I know everything I need to about S&C. Thanks.

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby PeanutsNJam » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:30 pm

How much does it bother you that Skadden is ranked higher by Vault

Anonymous User
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:08 pm

Thank you very much!
Can you tell us about specific practices in the firm that are known as being more relaxed/friendly/balanced?

Blackfish
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Blackfish » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:19 pm

what drives law students and junior associates to be incessant and shameless homers for their law firms

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LaLiLuLeLo
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:33 pm

Blackfish wrote:what drives law students and junior associates to be incessant and shameless homers for their law firms


Validation that you didn't piss away the prime of your life.

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mjb447
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby mjb447 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:52 pm

eth1988 wrote:1. S&C has a very direct culture

True. Feedback is very direct. When you screw up (and even the best associates screw up at times), feedback will be swift and in your face. You learn to avoid similar mistakes going forward and is pushed to become a really good lawyer who prizes effectiveness and perfection.

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Rahviveh
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Rahviveh » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:56 pm

Were you a star first year?

Moonraker
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Moonraker » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:04 pm

Did you have other offer from peer firms? If so, why S&C?

jd20132013
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby jd20132013 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:08 pm

Mad Hatter wrote:After reading your post, I think I know everything I need to about S&C. Thanks.


Same

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:05 pm

eth1988 wrote:
You learn to avoid similar mistakes going forward and is pushed to become a really good lawyer who prizes effectiveness and perfection.

I see why you're a former S&C associate. Sorry, that's just my direct culture talking.

Hutz_and_Goodman
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:13 pm

"True, with caveats" is an accurate answer to every proposition in the world, except something that is demonstrably always false. The answers above that are "True" are incorrect.

eth1988
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby eth1988 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:36 am

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:Are you a WASP?


Yes.

wiz wrote:Do you still have your S&C shoulder bag?


Yes.

Genius wrote:I have not been too successful in the dating world because although I am tall and good looking, I am shy around women. If I go the S & C route and gain 3-4 years of experience there, will I have better chance (or even just as good a chance as male lawyers at Wachtell/Cravath) with women?

Thanks.


Not sure.

rwe13 wrote:School?


Columbia.

kellyfrost wrote:Do any associates or partners at Sullivan Cromwell chew tobacco?

Can you chew tobacco in your office at this firm?


Not sure.

Anonymous User wrote:What's S&C's reputation for litigation in NY compared to Cravath or PW (the other two litigation shops that are thought to be top-notch)? Basically the same but different focus?


S&C's practice has traditionally been more focused on financial institutions and white-collar defense. Though I was a capital markets lawyer, so my knowledge of litigation is more limited.

misterjames wrote:Thanks for taking the time OP, insider insight is always interesting to me.

How did you feel about your ability to work from home? Was it easy to do so? Is it shunned? Promoted?

I think criticism is better upfront, much better than passive aggressiveness at least. Can you expand a bit more on what that feedback is like? And I mean on a day-to-day basis, not the formal reviews.

With respect to hours and work-life balance, did you ever feel like things were getting far too overwhelming? If so, how did you handle it?

Thanks again


Definitely fine to work from home. As a mid-level, I was able to go home for dinner and then log on later during the evening to finish up any work on most nights. You are generally expected to be in the office from 10-5 though. People don't bother you during scheduled vacation.

Informal feedback is frequent and direct. Some seniors will frame criticisms as things that you could improve on, while others will call you to their office and directly tell you that you screwed up and ask you to fix the mistakes. If you made a mistake, people will bring it to your attention. I've never encountered any screamers at the firm though. On the flip side, you are often expected to push back against seniors lawyers (including partners) and tell them that you disagree with their interpretations of the law.

I did on occasions feel overwhelmed, especially as a first year. After getting overwhelmed a couple of times, I became more comfortable saying no to additional projects.

Anonymous User wrote:Thank you very much!
Can you tell us about specific practices in the firm that are known as being more relaxed/friendly/balanced?


Relatively speaking, real estate, derivatives, financial regulatory work, executive comp, and tax tend to be more predictable/involve less weekend work. Though I've heard that these areas are still stressful at times.

Rahviveh wrote:Were you a star first year?


No.

Moonraker wrote:Did you have other offer from peer firms? If so, why S&C?


Yes. Davis Polk and Cravath. Lawyers at Davis Polk seemed nice, though a few seemed fake, and I got the passive aggressive vibe. Chose S&C over Cravath because of the more flexible assignment system.

Tiny Rick!
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Re: AMA - former Sullivan & Cromwell associate

Postby Tiny Rick! » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:51 am

Oceans rise, empires fall, SullCrom remains the worst.




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