David Elsberg in Conversation with David Lat

view of lower manhattan

Yesterday, David Lat profiled David Elsberg on his podcast Original Jurisdiction. In a wide-ranging interview, our Founding Partner at Elsberg Baker & Maruri PLLC discusses giving associates stand-up trial experience, striking out on his own–twice, and designing the law firm of the future.

On the launch Elsberg Baker & Maruri, Elsberg explained, “The stars aligned. It was an opportunity to be with those people who I thought were fantastic. We all share a sort of philosophy or approach to litigation, and I really love that.”

To better understand the design of the Firm, Lat questioned what would make Elsberg Baker & Maruri stand out “in a town with a lot of great, small, nimble litigation shops.” Elsberg cited the commercial advantages to sophisticated clients, who tend to select counsel based on the litigator more than the law firm, and added, “in a litigation only firm, every single thing is designed to optimize the service that you can give to clients as a litigator.”

The Firm’s model, as Elsberg described, will equate to greater advantages for substantive stand up experience for associates and a clear track to equity partnership. “We're not going to have any non-equity partners and it's going to be a seven-year track. Then you're up for equity partner. That's the exact opposite of what has been happening generally where more and more non-equity partners are being made and the length of the non-equity track has gotten longer.”

Elsberg goes on to discuss the importance of giving associates courtroom opportunities. “For a long time I believed that a key part of a really strong, successful firm, is you start with first years, giving them stand up experience. So, by the time they're up at their seventh year, they really, really know what they're doing.”

“If you want to get star associates and you want to get and keep star young lawyers, and you want to give the young associates a lot of experience, I don't think you're going to keep people who are fantastic unless they really feel that they literally own the place. They literally have ownership. And so it's also designed to set the incentives.”

Lat asked Elsberg about whether the model would lend itself to organic growth. Elsberg confirmed, “We like the idea of growing organically. If we're going to have a seven-year track, we're going to have people coming up for equity partner. We want the young lawyers to get training and then have a real shot at partner.”

To young lawyers, Elsberg provided some career advice: “Do everything you can right out of the gate to try to get the types of experience that you're looking for. And what that means is just asking a lot, over and over again, because one of the times you ask, someone's going to say yes, you can do this. Once you have the experience, there's this virtuous upward cycle.”