A Tale of Two Cities: New York versus London Firms

New York State of Mind

To start, we interviewed lawyers at several large New York practices to see what generalizations can accurately be made regarding the city itself. Certainly, New York is commonly regarded as one of the world's predominant cities in the global economy and is the home of the world's largest corporations. As such, law firms thrive in New York, and associates can boast their participation in corporate deals with the most zeros and litigation with the most at stake. The New York legal market is certainly form and substance: capturing the best work demands the best credentials and fanciest resumes. It is a city that many lawyers consider the place to be for the most complex work and noteworthy representations. There are, however, hundreds of sophisticated firms in New York, causing us to cross-examine the notion that the practice in New York is fairly described as any one thing when compared to another city's legal practice. Looking for themes that might carry through from New York firm to New York firm, we were specifically focused on the work environments for New York associates in sophisticated law firms.

The Downtown Institution. To begin, we interviewed a lawyer with a large multinational firm's New York office, located in downtown Manhattan. This Wall Street-oriented firm ranks high in name-recognition and size and has a full-service, highly visible practice in New York and beyond. It is fairly described as a "white shoe" firm-a term indicating that the firm in question is considered among the elite. Generally speaking, white shoe firms are New York-based, have a long-standing presence in the New York marketplace, and often cater to institutional clients who are usually large corporations and entities with immediately recognizable names in New York and beyond.