Politics is within your control. Not completely of course, but that's what keeps it interesting.
I'm not talking about how you get along with people. You have no control over a change in the managing partner. You have no control over how different branches interact. Or how the firm is going to allocate resources between practice groups. These things can have a substantial effect on your chances for partnership.
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:The discussion above makes some good points, but too many TLS users throw around exit options without really knowing what they are talking about. Most frequently, they do this to justify picking a higher ranked firm.
This is true. I can probably be more helpful by discussing some of the things to consider. The top three are probably client contact, industry, and practice area.
The more client contact you are able to get, the better your chance to move over to an in house position with a client. It is quite common for an associate to become intimately involved with a client and then be offered an in house position. Ultimately, this is a win-win for everyone. The client gets the services cheaper. The associate gets out of BigLaw (if that is what they wanted). The firm has an "insider" that may shore up their relationship with the firm.
Practice area. The practice area you specialize in will push your exit options strongly in one direction or another. Corporate work has the greatest potential to move in house. The more niche your practice area is, the fewer in-house spots there will be. Litigation exit options are more likely to be government or smaller firms than in house, since most companies do not handle their own litigation. To be sure, there are in house litigators, but options are closer to a niche practice than general corporate. Likewise, regulatory attorneys will see more of a revolving door with government or will seek out larger companies that can carry the overhead of a specialist attorney.
Industry. In addition to looking at practice area, what industry you end up focusing on will also have a substantial impact on your exit options. If you are doing M&A or project finance, but work primarily with energy companies, you are going to be looking at a very different set of exit options than someone who works in the same practice area but handles companies that have significant international exposures.