Plaintiffs Firms v. Boutique Lit v. QE/BSF

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Plaintiffs Firms v. Boutique Lit v. QE/BSF

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:39 pm

Hi all - I’m a first year lit associate at a V10 in NYC. Graduated w class rank ~ top 3% from top 10 school. While I haven’t been at my firm long, I already feel like this isn’t a great situation for me. In particular, I think I want something more hands-on, trial focused, and high adrenaline. (i know, so unique). Talking to midlevels at my firm, it seems planning ahead is important. In that vein, I was wondering if people had thoughts on the relative merits of going to a top plaintiffs shop (eg Cohen Millstein) or lit boutique (kobre/morvillo) or one of the mid-law lit firms (boies/quinn). My long term goal would be to probably go gov for a bit before moving back to a big-law/plaintiffs shop on partner track.

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Re: Plaintiffs Firms v. Boutique Lit v. QE/BSF

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:Hi all - I’m a first year lit associate at a V10 in NYC. Graduated w class rank ~ top 3% from top 10 school. While I haven’t been at my firm long, I already feel like this isn’t a great situation for me. In particular, I think I want something more hands-on, trial focused, and high adrenaline. (i know, so unique). Talking to midlevels at my firm, it seems planning ahead is important. In that vein, I was wondering if people had thoughts on the relative merits of going to a top plaintiffs shop (eg Cohen Millstein) or lit boutique (kobre/morvillo) or one of the mid-law lit firms (boies/quinn). My long term goal would be to probably go gov for a bit before moving back to a big-law/plaintiffs shop on partner track.


I don't think that QE/BSF is going to be all that different than a V10. Possibly more litigation-focused, if most of your work at your V10 is investigations or enforcement, but I don't know about "high adrenaline."

For that, I think a smaller shop is definitely going to be more likely to provide you with those types of opportunities. You might also consider applying to clerk: there might be some 2019 or 2020 SDNY/EDNY positions open, and with a couple of years of biglaw experience and a district court clerkship, you'd be very competitive for those kinds of lit boutiques.

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Re: Plaintiffs Firms v. Boutique Lit v. QE/BSF

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:32 pm

bump

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Re: Plaintiffs Firms v. Boutique Lit v. QE/BSF

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:27 am

I'm at BSF but have dealt quite a bit with lit boutiques, plaintiffs' firms, and QE.

Going to a plaintiffs' firms like Cohen Milstein: you'll get more hands-on experience than in Biglaw, sure. Some of that experience will be on the business side of litigation (evaluating contingency cases, budgeting, managing co-counsel). It is highly unlikely you'll get any trial experience. If you are CM (or Hausfeld, or Lieff, or a similar high-end contingency firm), the cases you pick make it unlikely you're going to trial. Either you lose at MTD/SJ/cert, or you clear those hurdles and negotiate a settlement deal. Trials aren't unheard of -- every so often something doesn't settle, or you have some bellwether mass tort cases, or the odd individual high-recovery case -- but it's not at all common.

Lit boutique: You will generally get more hands-on experience. Trial experience depends a lot on the boutique and the kinds of cases you wind up on. Leaner staffing means you will generally have fewer matters, so it's sort of a crap shoot as to whether you wind up in a case that's slotted for trial or not. Thin staffing also has downsides (for example, when it's time to do document review, it's still the junior associates doing it, but there's less room to spread it around - there may be less to do if first-tier review is contracted out, but at the end of the day someone has to read and click).

Quinn: I'm not neutral about QE, so I will just say that in my experience it is the same as or worse than a Biglaw firm in terms of the work you'll get. You'll get adrenaline, but it may be as part of a 30-associate review team under a crazy deadline.

BSF: I think of BSF as being about 60% litigation boutique and about 40% biglaw. There are plenty of cases that are leanly staffed, but there are some that scale up significantly. There are a fair number of trials, and it's unusual to run across a senior associate who hasn't been through a few, but it's not as common as with some smaller lit shops. There are contingency/AFA cases that create some opportunities for associates to get experience they wouldn't get otherwise; but there are also a lot of normal fee-paying clients that give you an opportunity to do A+ work without worrying too much about budget constraints. All of these have upsides and downsides. My experience has been mostly positive, but YMMV.

Government work is a viable exit option for all of these, although the type of gov work may vary.

As to your longer-term plans: aiming for Biglaw and a plaintiffs' shop are very different end-goals, both in terms of what routes are viable (e.g., if you work for a plaintiffs' shop as a junior associate, your chances of getting hired in Biglaw later are slim), and in terms of the skillset you want to build.

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Re: Plaintiffs Firms v. Boutique Lit v. QE/BSF

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:03 am

I think the above poster is spot-on. I have only two things to add:

(1) I interviewed with (and got an offer from) QE, and I know a ton of people who work there or used to work there. It is not like working a litigation boutique; it is like working at a high-leverage biglaw shop where you get to wear flip-flops. It is the Amazon of biglaw - it positions itself as being a cutting-edge, intense place that will give you better experience than its peers, but the reality is that it's just a horrible sweatshop.

(2) You should resolve the threshold question of whether you want to be a plaintiff's lawyer or not before you get any further. This will then open up several further decision points. If you want to be a plaintiff's lawyer, you should consider whether you want to be a plaintiff's trial lawyer (which will likely involve doing high end personal injury/mass tort work, or maybe civil rights work if that's your thing) or whether you want to be a securities/class action specialist, as those attorneys rarely go to trial but still do lots of substantive, interesting work. If you don't, then consider whether you want to work at a defense-oriented firm, a larger boutique firm that works on BOTH SIDES of the V (BSF, McKool, Susman, etc.), a white-collar oriented firm (which I think encompasses both Morvillo and Kobre), etc. And I wouldn't discount other biglaw firms - my SO and I both work/worked at random firms in the middle of the V100 and still got very good substantive experience.

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Re: Plaintiffs Firms v. Boutique Lit v. QE/BSF

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:30 am

These answers have been so helpful/illuminating. I came to law school with no info/background on the law, and still marvel at how little I (and I assume every other law student) knows about the legal market when you make a decision to tether yourself to X firm for a few years. Can't thank you all enough.



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