{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Market variances on salary/billing are so dumb. The same work is being done in the Midwest, South, etc. as NYC. Why should the client pay more because of where the lawyer chooses to live?", "post_id": "614bacf9905f9c002380405e", "reply_count": 13, "vote_count": 5, "bowl_id": "5df70ed2f7169f002b172d3f", "bowl_name": "Big Law" }

Market variances on salary/billing are so dumb. The same work is being done in the Midwest, South, etc. as NYC. Why should the client pay more because of where the lawyer chooses to live?

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Because it costs a lot more to be a lawyer in some places? Because there’s competition at lower rates in places with lower costs of living? I don’t understand why this is confusing.

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But is it really the same work

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I don’t work there anymore. I moved to a primary market. But those cases were definitely not clear winners. Many people in our team did come from primary market big law.

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With all due respect I’ve worked with reputable firms from smaller markets and the services are just not always the same. Sometimes there was slower turnaround; weaker quality control; even where quality was ok you can clearly see that there is a difference in pace / responsiveness. That said, NYC biglaw pace is unsustainable and unhealthy… but it seems that’s what the clients expect now

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Choose a firm that doesn't do that

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While I realize this answer is only partial and definitely overly reductive, I think one factor is that higher rates are paid to certain markets in exchange of a reduced error rate. The same underlying service can be provided in the Midwest or NYC, but I would argue that the premium paid to NYC firms is for a “guarantee” of sorts to not make any mistakes at all. It might only be the difference between a 1% and 2% material error rate, but when deals or cases are worth billions of dollars, the expected value of the risk reduction can be significant. Firms take those high billable rates and can then justify paying attorneys top of the market and creating an aggressive culture of perfection, because the product they’re selling isn’t just legal work - it’s legal work with the lowest possible error rate. For many clients, the difference is negligible, which is why not everyone finds it worth it to hire top of the market NYC firms for every matter; but for some clients, for some matters, you don’t just want legal work, you want (in theory) flawless legal work.

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A7 - this is right on point. I know I would want to cover my butt by hiring “the best.”

One answer is, perhaps, clients are not willing to pay NYC rates for, for example, MO attorneys. Different legal market with different standards. You have some of the best firms in the world in NYC while MO, not so much. Having the competition is more conducive to higher standards. That is not to say that the representation will be worse if you pick a MO lawyer. But, for the same price, might as well go with, what is perceived to be, the best. Another potential reason is the market. Generally, companies and firms try to pay the smallest amount of money possible to hire people. That “smallest amount” is higher in NYC than in MO.

NYC-based finance associate here. Some of my lending matters have been to not-huge companies that hire local “regional biglaw” as counsel. The differences I see are slower response times (especially evenings and weekends) and different team dynamics. In my experience it seems either the junior is left to just run the deal with little hand holding (and to their credit handles things well most of the time) or the partner controls the entire process. I think a lot of the difference is client driven. Business just happens at a slower pace when your client isn’t a hedge fund/private equity/big bank.

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