Being a Corporate Lawyer?

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Anonymous User
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Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:15 pm

So, pretty much everyone knows what a litigator does, but few know what exactly a Corporate lawyer does..at least as far as I can tell.

Do any 2/3Ls or current associates care to share any insights about what a BigLaw Corporate attorney would do on a day to day basis.

More specifically, any information that would help me answer a "why corporate law" interview question intelligently.

Danteshek
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby Danteshek » Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:30 pm

The honest answer is: "I want to make a lot of money" or "I want to be a slave to corporate interests."

...

But if you are actually interested in the work (lol):

Take Business Planning to get a sense of what transactional work is all about.

If you love poring over documents for typos alone in your office until 10PM, then you would might be a good fit.

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JetstoRJC
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby JetstoRJC » Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:33 pm

Danteshek wrote:The honest answer is: "I want to make a lot of money" or "I want to be a slave to corporate interests."

...

But if you are actually interested in the work (lol):

Take Business Planning to get a sense of what transactional work is all about.

If you love poring over documents for typos alone in your office until 10PM, then you would maybe be a good fit.


Just practicing :wink:

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thesealocust
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:20 pm

(1) A good selling point (and thus interview focus) is that transactional work is positive sum. You work to get something for everybody - and while you protect your client's interests, you're not trying to stuff the other guy in a trash can. Your client as a transactional lawyer is more likely to see you as an ally than as a necessary evil.

(2) The grunt work involves a lot of copy/paste, hunting for typos, and conference calls + dealing with printers + collecting signatures + interfacing with agencies. Research projects are much less common, and the writing will be of an entirely different character from briefs, memos, etc. you'd do in a litigation practice. No (or almost no) westlaw/lexis. Both litigation and corporate practices have infamous paper shuffling for low levels: Due diligence on the transactional end and doc review for litigators.

(3) At the higher level, transactional work involves structuring deals. You want to find ways to obtain tax advantages, carefully thread the needle through various sets of federal laws to accomplish your desired goals, and ensure that officers and directors are fulfilling their fiduciary duties when major transactions crop up. This is all very legal and very cool. Lit and corp are easy to deride on the junior level because bitch work is bitch work, but there is real substance to it.

(4) Schedules are much different. Litigators have dates on the calendar - file motion by X, oral argument on Y, etc. Corporate attorneys can have MUCH more variable schedules and demanding time tables. Major go / no-go calls can leave the fate of a deal in the balance in uncertain markets, clients can demand things very quickly, counsel for the other entity can delay things or be holding you up waiting to hash out the last bit of a document, etc. An all-nighter might be unavoidable and spontaneous in a corporate practice but just a symptom of a busy schedule or at least better anticipated for litigators.

(5) Corporate practice involves several different kinds of transactions. M&A is probably the sexiest. Lots of firms do finance work - venture capital, debt, and equities. Real estate, tax, and benefits/compensation/ERISA work are often spun off into their own groups. Bankruptcy can combine elements of corporate and litigation practices.

(6) Firms often staff deals and litigations much differently. Your average big law firm, in my experience, is MUCH more likely to leanly staff corporate deals (1 partner and 1-2 associates per deal) than litigation (which on major cases is more likely to look like a pyramidal structure). This is very, very firm and practice area dependent so there will be exceptions in either direction, but it's worth considering.

(7) There is some overlap between the skills a lawyer will need and the work a lawyer will do. Negotiating is negotiating, whether settlements or sales. Litigation practices are almost exclusively large corporate matters at the big law level, and you're likely to be mucking through federal securities laws either way - just after things go south as a litigator. Doc review and diligence are pretty fucking similar, etc.

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sanpiero
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby sanpiero » Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:26 pm

Danteshek wrote:The honest answer is: "I want to make a lot of money" or "I want to be a slave to corporate interests."

...

But if you are actually interested in the work (lol):

Take Business Planning to get a sense of what transactional work is all about.

If you love poring over documents for typos alone in your office until 10PM, then you would might be a good fit.



This. What a soul-crushing way to make a living.

keg411
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby keg411 » Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:59 pm

sanpiero wrote:
Danteshek wrote:The honest answer is: "I want to make a lot of money" or "I want to be a slave to corporate interests."

...

But if you are actually interested in the work (lol):

Take Business Planning to get a sense of what transactional work is all about.

If you love poring over documents for typos alone in your office until 10PM, then you would might be a good fit.



This. What a soul-crushing way to make a living.


:roll: :roll:

When everyone in law school and their mother wants to be a trial lawyer, sometimes it's good to aim to do something different.

Danteshek
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby Danteshek » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:10 pm

I guess corporate work is a good field for law students who haven't yet located their moral compass.

I guess most law students fall into this category.

grash
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby grash » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:25 pm

Awesome thread. If I could hijack for a moment to add on my own question: what kind of exit options exist if you go down this path and find you can't take the big law hours?
Last edited by grash on Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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thesealocust
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:26 pm

Danteshek wrote:I guess corporate work is a good field for law students who haven't yet located their moral compass.

I guess most law students fall into this category.


Oh for fuck's sake. You really think we should be losing sleep over issuing deeply, deeply immoral bonds?

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thesealocust
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:27 pm

grash wrote:What kind of exit options exist if you go down this path and find you can't take the big law hours?


Some leave for other big firms, some move to in-house legal departments, some make more exotic jumps to government agencies, non-profits, etc. Exit options are generally very impressive for biglaw associates. 95% don't stay along to make partner, and instead lateral to other firms or regions or types of legal employers. Big firm work is a training ground for many other appealing options.

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blank403
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby blank403 » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:41 pm

thesealocust wrote:
grash wrote:What kind of exit options exist if you go down this path and find you can't take the big law hours?


Some leave for other big firms, some move to in-house legal departments, some make more exotic jumps to government agencies, non-profits, etc. Exit options are generally very impressive for biglaw associates. 95% don't stay along to make partner, and instead lateral to other firms or regions or types of legal employers. Big firm work is a training ground for many other appealing options.



Do exit options vary significantly between corporate attorneys and litigation attorneys?

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thesealocust
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:46 pm

blank403 wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
grash wrote:What kind of exit options exist if you go down this path and find you can't take the big law hours?


Some leave for other big firms, some move to in-house legal departments, some make more exotic jumps to government agencies, non-profits, etc. Exit options are generally very impressive for biglaw associates. 95% don't stay along to make partner, and instead lateral to other firms or regions or types of legal employers. Big firm work is a training ground for many other appealing options.



Do exit options vary significantly between corporate attorneys and litigation attorneys?


Yes and no. It's very individualized, because many attorneys leave to work with clients of the firm. You'll get cold calls from recruiters looking for people in your specialty. It's more common for litigation attorneys to stay in the firm setting, but some do go corporate. Likewise it's more rare for corporate attorneys to transition to government or PI litigation positions.

In my opinion, in house counsel positions sound sweet (lower pay, lower hours) and since that's more common for corporate associates it absolutely was a factor in deciding what to practice.

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Bobby Dazzler
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby Bobby Dazzler » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:55 pm

thesealocust wrote:... it absolutely was a factor in deciding what to practice.


I'm assuming you're doing corporate type work this summer. Besides expressing a corporate over lit. preference in interviews, what advice could you give for those of us looking to get into it? Did you reference it in your cover letters? Is it NYC or bust for corporate work? Do you have a business background and do you think someone with a regular liberal arts degree can still plausibly sell an interest in corporate practice?

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nealric
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby nealric » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:56 pm

I guess corporate work is a good field for law students who haven't yet located their moral compass.




What people think happens: Dastardly Corporation X is thinking of ways to lay more people off so they can increase executive bonuses. Lord Voldemort, esq. gleefully tells Corporation X how they can do it without getting sued.

What actually happens: Corporation X wants to issue some bonds to build a factory. Lawyer makes sure all relevant securities laws are followed and drafts up the necessary documents.

Look, it's not saving the whales, but it ain't exactly clubbing baby seals.
Last edited by nealric on Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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AreJay711
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby AreJay711 » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:58 pm

nealric wrote:
I guess corporate work is a good field for law students who haven't yet located their moral compass.




What people think happens: Dastardly Corporation X is thinking of ways to lay more people off so they can increase executive bonuses. Lord Voldemort, esq. gleefully tells Corporation X how they can do it without getting sued.

What actually happens: Corporation X wants to issue some bonds to build a factory. Lawyer makes sure all relevant securities laws are followed and draft up the necessary documents.

Look, it's not saving the whales, but it ain't exactly clubbing baby seals.


Wait, you mean you have to club baby seals on your free time? Damn it :x

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fatduck
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby fatduck » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:59 pm

AreJay711 wrote:
nealric wrote:
I guess corporate work is a good field for law students who haven't yet located their moral compass.




What people think happens: Dastardly Corporation X is thinking of ways to lay more people off so they can increase executive bonuses. Lord Voldemort, esq. gleefully tells Corporation X how they can do it without getting sued.

What actually happens: Corporation X wants to issue some bonds to build a factory. Lawyer makes sure all relevant securities laws are followed and draft up the necessary documents.

Look, it's not saving the whales, but it ain't exactly clubbing baby seals.


Wait, you mean you have to club baby seals on your free time? Damn it :x

yea, but my firm lets us bill them as pro bono hours

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thesealocust
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:03 pm

Bobby Dazzler wrote:
thesealocust wrote:... it absolutely was a factor in deciding what to practice.


I'm assuming you're doing corporate type work this summer. Besides expressing a corporate over lit. preference in interviews, what advice could you give for those of us looking to get into it? Did you reference it in your cover letters? Is it NYC or bust for corporate work? Do you have a business background and do you think someone with a regular liberal arts degree can still plausibly sell an interest in corporate practice?


Do research, but don't go crazy. I read "Barbarians at the Gate" and brought it up in a somewhat self deprecating way (i.e. "I'm interested in transactional work, but obviously we didn't learn much about it 1L year - most of my knowledge at this point comes from Barbarians at the Gate"). That actually worked better than I ever could have expected, and at one firm a guy pointed down the hall and mentioned one of the minor characters actually still worked at the firm in the corner office.

Corporate happens elsewhere, but NYC is far and away the best and biggest place for it. There's good VC work in Boston, tech / startup / finance work out in Cali, Hollywood deals in cali, financial firms in Chicago, oil and gas corporate stuff in texas, there are DC firms that at least pretend to do coporate work, etc. But any of the above are as likely to phone up one of the major NYC players if it's a major transaction.

My background is actually in the fine arts, so no, I had absolutely no relevant background :P A single assignment involving securities law my 1L summer helped trigger some interest, but mostly I just learned by cruising various websites and reading about practice areas.

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smokyroom26
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby smokyroom26 » Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:48 pm

nealric wrote:
I guess corporate work is a good field for law students who haven't yet located their moral compass.




What people think happens: Dastardly Corporation X is thinking of ways to lay more people off so they can increase executive bonuses. Lord Voldemort, esq. gleefully tells Corporation X how they can do it without getting sued.

What actually happens: Corporation X wants to issue some bonds to build a factory. Lawyer makes sure all relevant securities laws are followed and drafts up the necessary documents.

Look, it's not saving the whales, but it ain't exactly clubbing baby seals.


:D Excellent use of the word "dastardly." Also, I love you.

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kurla88
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby kurla88 » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:33 pm

nealric wrote:
I guess corporate work is a good field for law students who haven't yet located their moral compass.




What people think happens: Dastardly Corporation X is thinking of ways to lay more people off so they can increase executive bonuses. Lord Voldemort, esq. gleefully tells Corporation X how they can do it without getting sued.

What actually happens: Corporation X wants to issue some bonds to build a factory. Lawyer makes sure all relevant securities laws are followed and drafts up the necessary documents.

Look, it's not saving the whales, but it ain't exactly clubbing baby seals.


You get a lol-point.

My reasons:

1) More collaborative than combative - you're working toward the same goal, it's not zero-sum.
2) You have to think of business solutions within the legal framework. It's more than all lawyering all the time.

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sanpiero
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Re: Being a Corporate Lawyer?

Postby sanpiero » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:45 pm

lol @ those who think big law life largely consists of helping corporations raise capital

enjoy helping the corporate elite find ways to profit at the expense of others, just as they have for the last 150 years in this country. what fulfillment!




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