Revealed: the reasons why UK associates join US firms - and it's not just for money

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  • The survey should also have dug into the seniority of those who move. I doubt any NQ or junior associate these days seriously considers partnership prospects when they apply somewhere. They would also sound ridiculous if they bring that up in an interview at a MC or top US firm.
    Also, agree with the above post that the quality of deals at US firms is nothing compared to MC. Up to you whether it's worth the money or not. Sorry, I mean partnership prospects...

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  • I work at an international office of a 'real' US firm. I've asked a few of the English associates why they chose a US firm over a magic circle. Their responses typically included statements like "I don't have the right background to succeed at a magic circle", or "I'm not posh enough to work at the magic circle" or "They wouldn't consider someone like me".
    How depressing. Why would any top grad, even a painfully posh one, want to join a crowd like the magic circle? The MC sound pre-modern compared to their US peer firms - more antiquated institutions than leading-edge businesses.
    What's so great about the US firms? Sure you get smashed about, but generally the structure and relations between people is flat, open and casual. The money is a great motivator too, specially given the short shelf life of most associates big law careers.

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  • @ 5:25pm Nonsense. It is all about money. Any one of those factors that you list (recognition etc) can be relegated/removed and compensated for with more money. However, remove salary and how many out there would do the job full-time pro-bono because they received recognition or because the firms values were aligned with their own?

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  • I once read an interview with a partner at a top US firm who had moved from a MC firm who said that the biggest difference between the MC and a US firm is that lawyers in US firms say " f**k " and no-one bats an eyelid.............oh and the mullah

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  • In my experience, over the last 20 years, there has been a noticeable decline in the quality of MC associates and an increase in the quality of US firm associates. I think that this is because the US firms have been acquiring the knowledge management expertise of the more established UK firms, and also hiring excellent partners (especially in the funds space). We use (and, indeed, prefer) certain US firms to certain MC firms because their associates are better. I have found it interesting that some commentators think that the work that my firm does is "not of a high enough quality" - that is not what the MC tell us in pitches.

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  • "Accordingly US law firms are probably offering more than just better salaries"

    Yep. More appreciation, more bluntness, less contempt, less emphasis on social background...

    Simply put, people prefer working at US firms for the same reason they prefer working with Americans than with Brits!

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  • To me US firm associates are, in fact, better trained. More responsibility, more hands-on work, less 'departmentalization', in short they are generally more flexible, well-rounded lawyers.

    The big difference is the lesser degree of leverage in US firms in terms of staffing and what this produces in the long run. MC firms have a 'Mexican army' approach to staffing which is really not ideal in terms of growing as a lawyer.

    So while MC associates do, of course, provide high-quality work, they are generally less commercial and self-reliant.

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  • @ Me | 11-Apr-2012 9:57 am

    No, really. The point wasn't that salary doesn't count. The point was that salary is only part of it. To put it another way, take away everything and leave just salary and you won't be a happy legal bunny for long. Trust me. I'm sure people are solely motivated by money but take away quality of work; clients; personal development; management prospects; family life; health and salary becomes less important. Therefore, I suspect that the US firms are offering more than just a great salary. Otherwise those revolving doors would be doubling as the next alternative to wind farms.

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  • "The reason I joined was just short of 100k a year for a NQ"...."Perhaps the most interesting anecdotal evidence that I have is that i'm probably working less hours than I would be at a MC firm."

    What a shame that you lawyers are allowed to earn 100k without knowing the difference between "less" and "fewer"...

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