Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

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Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:51 am

I am not bragging about anything. If I sound showing off, please forgive me.

I am the only SA at a BigLaw (patent lit. only). But I realize that I don't like patent litigation that much.
At the same time, the boutique I worked last year is cordially asking me back after graduation (patent prosecution).

I love the BigLaw's 160k salary and great exit options (in-house patent counsel).
But I'm not that into patent litigation.
And perhaps I am the only SA, I feel lonely and isolated.
When I get home, I constantly worry about not being able to find a good case or a good prior-art reference. In the past two weeks, I read literally near 1000 cases in order to find a case on point with favorable result. This week, I am looking for a prior-art reference that I don't believe I will be able to find. I don't know how to write the memo Friday.
This is frustrating.

Last summer, I worked for the boutique at $15/hr. Though paid little, I went home happily every night.
I read invention disclosures, wrote patent apps, responses to office actions and opinion letters (infringement or invalidity), and interviewed clients. Everything was natural and easy.
I loved the partners, the patent agents, and the secretary there.
And the partners loved me.
The only bad thing is that I am not sure how much they will pay me, and, of course, it won't be as high as $160k.

So, I am thinking about turning down the offer after this summer and returning to the boutique after graduation (The SA recruiter at BigLaw told me that, for years, they've extended offers to every single SA).

I am worried that, if I turn down this offer, the firm will be hostile toward my school in the future, especially when I am the only SA at this office.

What should I do now?
Should I talk to the SA recruiter how I feel now so that we can find a way to make my life better?
In this case, what should I tell her? Complain about the assignments? Tell her I don't like patent lit?
Or I just remain silent, work hard, get the offer and then turn it down?
Is there any smooth way?

Thank you for reading my post and for your comments and advice.

Danteshek
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby Danteshek » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:21 am

Find out exactly what the other shop will pay you. You can sit on the SA offer. You don't have to accept right away if they offer, do you? And even if you do, you can certainly ask them for time to decide. I generally believe in following your gut in a situation like this. You do not sound very happy where you are. The goal is to become the best possible attorney you can become, and that comes from doing what you really love doing. If you are good, the money will follow. And you will probably not be great at patent lit since you don't seem to like it very much. Don't be a biglaw burnout just because it is the cool thing to do.

09042014
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby 09042014 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:45 am

You owe them no loyalty.

seatown12
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby seatown12 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:12 am

Desert Fox wrote:You owe them no loyalty.

alumniguy
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby alumniguy » Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:41 am

Agreed that no loyalty is owed.

However, I think there is some further analysis that is in order. You mentioned that you love the exit options that a biglaw pat. litigation offers. To me, this should be given some weight in how you address the choice before you.

No doubt that a significant portion of a junior associate's life in biglaw is not very rewarding, but often you develop significant skills as a junior associate that are just not comparable to small law outfits. For example, even in a document review scenario, you are learning about document production and the ins and outs of discovery that you likely wouldn't get in a small law environment. This may not be the most exciting task out there, but 10 years down the line when you are an in-house litigation attorney, you'll be glad that you understand the process to the level that you do. I imagine that the same rings true for patent litigation.

The question is whether you see yourself gaining any transferable skills from the biglaw pat. litigation job. This may be a litigation vs. transactional problem - i.e., you really prefer transactional law practice than a litigation law practice. If that is the case, I wouldn't go to the litigation firm. You can certainly try to find a different firm that does non-litigation patent law and that likely pays more than $15/hr.

Either way, I would talk to the partners you work with and express that you'd love to see some other facets of the practice. Ask to sit in on calls. Speak to some of the associates to get a better idea of what else they do. Remain upbeat. Again, this is critical, remain upbeat. No one likes to see a summer associate that is unhappy and/or miserable. Typically, summer associates are shown the more interesting aspects of the practice, so I'd be surprised if you don't see some other stuff eventually. I wouldn't advise you to tell them you don't like it, because well, that is a sure fire way to not get an offer.

Get the offer first. If you decide at the end of the summer that it isn't for you, have an frank conversation with one of the attorneys you made a connection with over the summer. Be honest. Tell them that you are having reservations about not liking the work that you've done compared to the non-litigation boutique experience you had last year. They hopefully will either (i) tell you that the work is more varied than you actually saw or (ii) tell you that they only do litigation type work. If (i) then you should probably think about getting a better understanding of the other type of work and if (ii), then politely decline the offer and explain that the practice isn't where you want your career to go.

Danteshek
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby Danteshek » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:13 am

alumniguy wrote:Agreed that no loyalty is owed.

However, I think there is some further analysis that is in order. You mentioned that you love the exit options that a biglaw pat. litigation offers. To me, this should be given some weight in how you address the choice before you.

No doubt that a significant portion of a junior associate's life in biglaw is not very rewarding, but often you develop significant skills as a junior associate that are just not comparable to small law outfits. For example, even in a document review scenario, you are learning about document production and the ins and outs of discovery that you likely wouldn't get in a small law environment.


You are forgetting the significant disadvantages to big law. An associate in a small law firm will learn about discovery, and probably have significantly more responsibility on cases than his big firm counterpart. Not too long ago, it was not unusual for a first year associate at a big firm to get second chair trial experience. That is definitely not true anymore. And don't forget that big firm associates are not expected to generate business for several years. This coddling retards their development.

alumniguy
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby alumniguy » Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:04 pm

Danteshek wrote:
alumniguy wrote:Agreed that no loyalty is owed.

However, I think there is some further analysis that is in order. You mentioned that you love the exit options that a biglaw pat. litigation offers. To me, this should be given some weight in how you address the choice before you.

No doubt that a significant portion of a junior associate's life in biglaw is not very rewarding, but often you develop significant skills as a junior associate that are just not comparable to small law outfits. For example, even in a document review scenario, you are learning about document production and the ins and outs of discovery that you likely wouldn't get in a small law environment.


You are forgetting the significant disadvantages to big law. An associate in a small law firm will learn about discovery, and probably have significantly more responsibility on cases than his big firm counterpart. Not too long ago, it was not unusual for a first year associate at a big firm to get second chair trial experience. That is definitely not true anymore. And don't forget that big firm associates are not expected to generate business for several years. This coddling retards their development.


There are disadvantages to both, agreed. The main issue here is that biglaw prepares junior associates for different types of lateral jobs than small law. Big law associates can go on to become partners (unlikely) or go in house. It is likely that they are going to go in house at a large or very large corporation. The types of issues you face as a junior associate are going to prepare you to handle the issues that arise in a large/very large corporation. Likewise, the diversity of skills a small law practice gives is probably more akin to working at smaller companies and/or staying in private practice, but in a small law environment. Generally, small law lawyers are more diversified in their skills, but I would argue that this really only benefits the type of work that small law offers. Biglaw firms are paid top dollar because they are experts/specialists in rather specialized areas of the law.

I completely disagree regarding generating business. For the majority of biglaw partners, bringing in business is an evolution that begins when one is a very senior associate and/or junior partner. Starting off as a junior partner, they likely will handle the firm's major clients by second chairing major deals or working on service type deals. If they are good enough, they make a name for themselves primarily based on their legal skills and will start to bring in regular business. But the whole idea that biglaw partners are going around drumming up business is a bit far fetched. It is more about client development on a firm wide basis and retention than "generating business" as an individual. As you become older and more recognized in your practice, then one starts to be able to generate business on their own by poaching clients.

Perhaps business generation is different in a small law firm environment where the work is less high stakes than at most big law firms, I don't know.

09042014
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby 09042014 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:09 pm

What are the exit options in Patent Litigation at a big law firm? I hear in house is typically a transactional thing.

alumniguy
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby alumniguy » Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:13 pm

Desert Fox wrote:What are the exit options in Patent Litigation at a big law firm? I hear in house is typically a transactional thing.


I have no clue, but I imagine that major corporations have plenty of in-house litigators focusing on patent law (i.e., apple, microsoft, google, adobe, etc.)

seatown12
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby seatown12 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:57 pm

It sounds like OP doesn't like patent lit, so the option to lateral to in-house patent lit isn't much of a prize for him. Maybe OP could research Biglaw firms that may do patent prosecution? I don't know if such firms even exist, but with potentially two offers in hand OP would seemingly be a desirable candidate if he were to find one.

09042014
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby 09042014 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:02 pm

seatown12 wrote:It sounds like OP doesn't like patent lit, so the option to lateral to in-house patent lit isn't much of a prize for him. Maybe OP could research Biglaw firms that may do patent prosecution? I don't know if such firms even exist, but with potentially two offers in hand OP would seemingly be a desirable candidate if he were to find one.


He should check out patent boutiques. Some Big law firms do patent prosecution, but most don't. But Patent Botiques do, and many of them pay market.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby gwuorbust » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:03 pm

Desert Fox wrote:What are the exit options in Patent Litigation at a big law firm? I hear in house is typically a transactional thing.


lateral to a patent troll shop?

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fatduck
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby fatduck » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:04 pm

gwuorbust wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:What are the exit options in Patent Litigation at a big law firm? I hear in house is typically a transactional thing.


lateral to a patent troll shop?

STOP REVEALING MY SECRETS

LawSchoolWannaBe
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby LawSchoolWannaBe » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:09 pm

gwuorbust wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:What are the exit options in Patent Litigation at a big law firm? I hear in house is typically a transactional thing.


lateral to a patent troll shop?


If you can avoid conflicts, this can work well. The conflicts can be a royal PITA, though.

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Doritos
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby Doritos » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:01 pm

alumniguy wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:What are the exit options in Patent Litigation at a big law firm? I hear in house is typically a transactional thing.


I have no clue, but I imagine that major corporations have plenty of in-house litigators focusing on patent law (i.e., apple, microsoft, google, adobe, etc.)


Not as many as you'd think. A lot of patent stuff (writing the apps for instance) is outsourced at big companies because its cheap and the matters are discrete enough to send to an outside shop. There are patent attorneys in-house at big tech companies like you mentioned though and part of what they do is manage outside shop's work. Patent attys in-house get paid more than the attys without tech backgrounds. If you do big-law patent stuff you will be able to go in-house but you may not be doing the specific patent work you want/expect. Just something to keep in mind and look into.

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Ipsa Dixit
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby Ipsa Dixit » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:10 pm

I would make sure I had an offer somewhere else lined up before I planned to turn down an offer with the current firm. That would be my only exit strategy. I'd be gracious about turning it down and just say you have accepted an offer with another firm.

Other than that, life is too short to spend all day on stuff you just don't give a shit about. Happiness >>>>>>>>>>> $160k salary.

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fatduck
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby fatduck » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:13 pm

Doritos wrote:
alumniguy wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:What are the exit options in Patent Litigation at a big law firm? I hear in house is typically a transactional thing.


I have no clue, but I imagine that major corporations have plenty of in-house litigators focusing on patent law (i.e., apple, microsoft, google, adobe, etc.)


Not as many as you'd think. A lot of patent stuff (writing the apps for instance) is outsourced at big companies because its cheap and the matters are discrete enough to send to an outside shop. There are patent attorneys in-house at big tech companies like you mentioned though and part of what they do is manage outside shop's work. Patent attys in-house get paid more than the attys without tech backgrounds. If you do big-law patent stuff you will be able to go in-house but you may not be doing the specific patent work you want/expect. Just something to keep in mind and look into.

if i understand you correctly, you're saying that biglaw litigation might have better in-house exit opportunities than biglaw prosecution?

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Doritos
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby Doritos » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:31 pm

fatduck wrote:
Doritos wrote:
alumniguy wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:What are the exit options in Patent Litigation at a big law firm? I hear in house is typically a transactional thing.


I have no clue, but I imagine that major corporations have plenty of in-house litigators focusing on patent law (i.e., apple, microsoft, google, adobe, etc.)


Not as many as you'd think. A lot of patent stuff (writing the apps for instance) is outsourced at big companies because its cheap and the matters are discrete enough to send to an outside shop. There are patent attorneys in-house at big tech companies like you mentioned though and part of what they do is manage outside shop's work. Patent attys in-house get paid more than the attys without tech backgrounds. If you do big-law patent stuff you will be able to go in-house but you may not be doing the specific patent work you want/expect. Just something to keep in mind and look into.

if i understand you correctly, you're saying that biglaw litigation might have better in-house exit opportunities than biglaw prosecution?


Do you mean patent prosecution v. general big law lit? I would still probably go w/ patent prosecution but you may not be doing as much prosecution as you expected. What I am saying is that the job description, at least at the tech companies i'm familiar with, is different as an in-house patent person compared to a patent prosecutor at like a patent boutique.

Just plain biglaw lit is harder to go in-house because most companies go to outside counsel on litigation matters that are worth any real money. As such, there are few pure litigators in house. You can do biglaw lit and then go in-house but don't be surprised if you end up doing a lot of contract drafting and not a ton of westlaw searching. If you have an eye for in-house you serve yourself well by doing transactional work at a firm. It is a lot easier to get hired in-house that way.

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fatduck
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby fatduck » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:38 pm

Doritos wrote:Do you mean patent prosecution v. general big law lit? I would still probably go w/ patent prosecution but you may not be doing as much prosecution as you expected. What I am saying is that the job description, at least at the tech companies i'm familiar with, is different as an in-house patent person compared to a patent prosecutor at like a patent boutique.

Just plain biglaw lit is harder to go in-house because most companies go to outside counsel on litigation matters that are worth any real money. As such, there are few pure litigators in house. You can do biglaw lit and then go in-house but don't be surprised if you end up doing a lot of contract drafting and not a ton of westlaw searching. If you have an eye for in-house you serve yourself well by doing transactional work at a firm. It is a lot easier to get hired in-house that way.

i meant patent lit in particular. what you just said is what i have always heard, i just read your previous post differently which was confusing.

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Doritos
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Re: Is it okay to turn down an offer when you're the only SA?

Postby Doritos » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:40 pm

fatduck wrote:
Doritos wrote:Do you mean patent prosecution v. general big law lit? I would still probably go w/ patent prosecution but you may not be doing as much prosecution as you expected. What I am saying is that the job description, at least at the tech companies i'm familiar with, is different as an in-house patent person compared to a patent prosecutor at like a patent boutique.

Just plain biglaw lit is harder to go in-house because most companies go to outside counsel on litigation matters that are worth any real money. As such, there are few pure litigators in house. You can do biglaw lit and then go in-house but don't be surprised if you end up doing a lot of contract drafting and not a ton of westlaw searching. If you have an eye for in-house you serve yourself well by doing transactional work at a firm. It is a lot easier to get hired in-house that way.

i meant patent lit in particular. what you just said is what i have always heard, i just read your previous post differently which was confusing.


Reading it again, it's a confusing post. My apologies.




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