ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

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ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:35 pm

Exit Options: Often discussed by 2Ls trying to justify toiling away for 2-5 years at a V10 law factory, yet rarely understood to the extent they probably should be. I have to admit that I'll be working at a V5 this summer, and so I get this amorphous impression that that's great for "exit options," but I don't really know what that means in theory. So that's what this thread is for. Any number of topics this thread can delve into:

(1) Which firms are best for exiting into specific fields?
(2) What exactly do in-house lawyers do? How much do they get paid? What kind of seniority do you start off with and what's upward mobility like?
(3) I'm going to do corp/lit/tax/etc; how does that impact my exit options and to what degree?
(4) What is geographic mobility like after working in biglaw in a major market like NYC, Chicago, or California? Do people tend to stay in the same area (maybe because of self-selection?) or do they branch out?

Any specific examples or data would be great and as always, would help back up your point.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:41 pm

you're going to do corp AND lit AND tax AND etc? that seems ambitious.....

I've heard anectodally that transactional work gives you more options to exit to in house or business. Also if you ever want to work abroad.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:you're going to do corp AND lit AND tax AND etc? that seems ambitious.....


No, it was just used as an example of a question somebody could bring up in this thread. For example, "I want to do litigation. How does that impact my exit options, maybe compared to somebody doing corporate?".

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:(2) What exactly do in-house lawyers do? How much do they get paid? What kind of seniority do you start off with and what's upward mobility like?


+1

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:45 pm

how many years at firm before companies consider associates for in house jobs?

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:you're going to do corp AND lit AND tax AND etc? that seems ambitious.....


No, it was just used as an example of a question somebody could bring up in this thread. For example, "I want to do litigation. How does that impact my exit options, maybe compared to somebody doing corporate?".


oh i get it. sorry i'm an idiot. :D

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:07 pm

As a rule, is it better for a litigator to start out at a big-name lit shop, all but assured of being crowded out after a few years, or a smaller, less prestigious office where staying power might be longer? Assume equally happy with federal government or private practice work, but a desire for better hours in five or so years.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Kochel » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:22 pm

In-house corporate counsel (ex-Biglaw) here, 10+ years experience. I started a Dear Abby thread about in-house last year--too lazy to search for it myself now--but I'd be happy to answer questions here.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby rayiner » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:24 pm

This publication has a guide to in-house legal salaries, nationally and by region: http://www.lacitycollege.edu/academic/d ... 0Guide.pdf

This data is broadly consistent with the data AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Law Association) publishes re: in-house salaries for patent attorneys, but I don't think that information is available publicly.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:31 pm

Kochel wrote:In-house corporate counsel (ex-Biglaw) here, 10+ years experience. I started a Dear Abby thread about in-house last year--too lazy to search for it myself now--but I'd be happy to answer questions here.


Thanks for taking questions!

I've often heard it said on here that Vault really only is a good indicator of firm prestige for NYC corporate work. Is there a noticeable difference between the general exit options available to biglaw associates coming from Cravath/Skadden/SullCrom versus Latham/Cleary/Weil versus Kirkland NY/Sidley/Shearman? Assuming that I have no idea what I want to do other than just general corporate work.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Big Shrimpin » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:31 pm

[quote="rayiner"data AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Law Association) publishes re: in-house salaries for patent attorneys, but I don't think that information is available publicly.[/quote]

Oo, relevant to my interests. Have you come across that data?

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:40 pm

Heading off to biglaw (nyc) and hoping to work in the firm's lit practice group. My ideal exit option is a little different from most other students. I'd like to eventually go solo.

Question for CURRENT associates or grads: What practice areas would be best for me in biglaw to help position me for going solo in NYC?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Kochel » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Kochel wrote:In-house corporate counsel (ex-Biglaw) here, 10+ years experience. I started a Dear Abby thread about in-house last year--too lazy to search for it myself now--but I'd be happy to answer questions here.


Thanks for taking questions!

I've often heard it said on here that Vault really only is a good indicator of firm prestige for NYC corporate work. Is there a noticeable difference between the general exit options available to biglaw associates coming from Cravath/Skadden/SullCrom versus Latham/Cleary/Weil versus Kirkland NY/Sidley/Shearman? Assuming that I have no idea what I want to do other than just general corporate work.


On the whole, I don't think there'd be more than a marginal benefit to coming from V5 as opposed to V15-25, and in most cases no benefit at all. The in-house lawyers interviewing you will likely be vaguely familiar with most Biglaw firms and few would base hiring decisions on relative prestige rankings. (Honestly, it's been ages since I looked at Vault rankings and I doubt many in-house lawyers do so.) That said, in specific fields it will make a difference which firm you're coming from, but the rankings for most such fields won't follow Vault. In my own limited field I've dealt with most of the firms you named, and each of them has dominance in discrete niches.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby rayiner » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:41 pm

Big Shrimpin wrote:
rayiner wrote:data AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Law Association) publishes re: in-house salaries for patent attorneys, but I don't think that information is available publicly.


Oo, relevant to my interests. Have you come across that data?


I have the data as a member, but I don't think it's on the internet. It's largely consistent with the Robert Half #'s.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Big Shrimpin » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:08 pm

rayiner wrote:
Big Shrimpin wrote:
rayiner wrote:data AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Law Association) publishes re: in-house salaries for patent attorneys, but I don't think that information is available publicly.


Oo, relevant to my interests. Have you come across that data?


I have the data as a member, but I don't think it's on the internet. It's largely consistent with the Robert Half #'s.


tyty

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:10 pm

How does choice of practice area within corporate affect in-house opportunities? If my goal is to eventually go in-house for a F500 or similar large company, is there a certain practice area that I should shoot for? I think I previously heard that M&A was a good practice area to build the skills needed to go in-house, can the same be said for private equity work?

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby quakeroats » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:15 pm

Kochel wrote:In-house corporate counsel (ex-Biglaw) here, 10+ years experience. I started a Dear Abby thread about in-house last year--too lazy to search for it myself now--but I'd be happy to answer questions here.


Why did you leave your firm?

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Kochel » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:20 pm

quakeroats wrote:
Kochel wrote:In-house corporate counsel (ex-Biglaw) here, 10+ years experience. I started a Dear Abby thread about in-house last year--too lazy to search for it myself now--but I'd be happy to answer questions here.


Why did you leave your firm?


1. It wasn't fun anymore. Office politics and partner patronage became increasingly important.
2. Hours sucked.
3. Concluded that even if I wanted it, partnership wasn't likely.
4. While I wasn't being forced out, I worried that it could happen to me (as it did to a number of my friends), and wanted to leave on my own terms.

So I applied for a job with a client. In other words, a pretty typical story.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby quakeroats » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:27 pm

Kochel wrote:
quakeroats wrote:
Kochel wrote:In-house corporate counsel (ex-Biglaw) here, 10+ years experience. I started a Dear Abby thread about in-house last year--too lazy to search for it myself now--but I'd be happy to answer questions here.


Why did you leave your firm?


1. It wasn't fun anymore. Office politics and partner patronage became increasingly important.
2. Hours sucked.
3. Concluded that even if I wanted it, partnership wasn't likely.
4. While I wasn't being forced out, I worried that it could happen to me (as it did to a number of my friends), and wanted to leave on my own terms.

So I applied for a job with a client. In other words, a pretty typical story.


Can you go a little more into each of these? How many hours were you working? What kind of signals are sent to say partnership isn't likely? What does being forced out look like?

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Kochel » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:34 pm

quakeroats wrote:
Kochel wrote:
quakeroats wrote:
Kochel wrote:In-house corporate counsel (ex-Biglaw) here, 10+ years experience. I started a Dear Abby thread about in-house last year--too lazy to search for it myself now--but I'd be happy to answer questions here.


Why did you leave your firm?


1. It wasn't fun anymore. Office politics and partner patronage became increasingly important.
2. Hours sucked.
3. Concluded that even if I wanted it, partnership wasn't likely.
4. While I wasn't being forced out, I worried that it could happen to me (as it did to a number of my friends), and wanted to leave on my own terms.

So I applied for a job with a client. In other words, a pretty typical story.


Can you go a little more into each of these? How many hours were you working? What kind of signals are sent to say partnership isn't likely? What does being forced out look like?


I think my firm's practices were typical. For associates, everything hinges on the semiannual review process. Partners you've worked with submit reviews, which are then summarized for you by the Politburo. Frequently, this is the only feedback you'll ever get, and it comes months after the fact, secondhand, and is almost never constructive. And it's sometimes quite surprising. For the Politburo, all it takes is one bad review to distinguish you from the hordes of other associates in your class. While in the first couple of years the firm probably won't fire more than a small handful of associates, by the third and fourth years they will be looking to force attrition, and will look to use that singular bad review as a proxy for your overall performance. Usually the Politburo will tell you that you have six months to find another job; if this happens at the year-end review, you might not get a bonus.

Reviews are therefore terrifying. But it's all part of the machinery, designed to maximize associates' profitability while remaining impersonal. The firm simply doesn't care if its brutal methods weed out associates who'd have made excellent partners, as those who are left are just as likely to become excellent partners: the firm needs attrition, and either forces it directly or, as with me, indirectly.

So when I was a fourth-year, and saw several friends get the axe at the year-end review--good lawyers, whose only mistake was to have alienated a single partner--I vowed to be gone before the next review. I'd been billing around 2000 hours at the time (it was the tail-end of the dot-com recession), but I'd begun to realize that I'd need to push much harder to get the best assignments with the right partners if I wanted to maximize my chances. It was just unpleasant. And while I'm grateful to have had the four-year apprenticeship, I've never once felt that law firm work offered any advantage over the in-house environment.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:41 pm

Kochel wrote:I think my firm's practices were typical. For associates, everything hinges on the semiannual review process. Partners you've worked with submit reviews, which are then summarized for you by the Politburo. Frequently, this is the only feedback you'll ever get, and it comes months after the fact, secondhand, and is almost never constructive. And it's sometimes quite surprising. For the Politburo, all it takes is one bad review to distinguish you from the hordes of other associates in your class. While in the first couple of years the firm probably won't fire more than a small handful of associates, by the third and fourth years they will be looking to force attrition, and will look to use that singular bad review as a proxy for your overall performance. Usually the Politburo will tell you that you have six months to find another job; if this happens at the year-end review, you might not get a bonus.

Reviews are therefore terrifying. But it's all part of the machinery, designed to maximize associates' profitability while remaining impersonal. The firm simply doesn't care if its brutal methods weed out associates who'd have made excellent partners, as those who are left are just as likely to become excellent partners: the firm needs attrition, and either forces it directly or, as with me, indirectly.

So when I was a fourth-year, and saw several friends get the axe at the year-end review--good lawyers, whose only mistake was to have alienated a single partner--I vowed to be gone before the next review. I'd been billing around 2000 hours at the time (it was the tail-end of the dot-com recession), but I'd begun to realize that I'd need to push much harder to get the best assignments with the right partners if I wanted to maximize my chances. It was just unpleasant. And while I'm grateful to have had the four-year apprenticeship, I've never once felt that law firm work offered any advantage over the in-house environment.


WOW thank you for this. I've heard similar stories countless times from former law firm attorneys and I've read the statistics, but when you are on a website like this and you attend a top law school sometimes you forget reality and you begin to think that everything is about one's intellectual capacity and work ethic. You forget that in the real world politics often play a much bigger role--particularly in corporate America. Thanks for sharing. Do you find that your experience is less true for those in smaller regions?

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:47 pm

Kochel wrote:
quakeroats wrote:
Kochel wrote:
quakeroats wrote:
Why did you leave your firm?


1. It wasn't fun anymore. Office politics and partner patronage became increasingly important.
2. Hours sucked.
3. Concluded that even if I wanted it, partnership wasn't likely.
4. While I wasn't being forced out, I worried that it could happen to me (as it did to a number of my friends), and wanted to leave on my own terms.

So I applied for a job with a client. In other words, a pretty typical story.


Can you go a little more into each of these? How many hours were you working? What kind of signals are sent to say partnership isn't likely? What does being forced out look like?


I think my firm's practices were typical. For associates, everything hinges on the semiannual review process. Partners you've worked with submit reviews, which are then summarized for you by the Politburo. Frequently, this is the only feedback you'll ever get, and it comes months after the fact, secondhand, and is almost never constructive. And it's sometimes quite surprising. For the Politburo, all it takes is one bad review to distinguish you from the hordes of other associates in your class. While in the first couple of years the firm probably won't fire more than a small handful of associates, by the third and fourth years they will be looking to force attrition, and will look to use that singular bad review as a proxy for your overall performance. Usually the Politburo will tell you that you have six months to find another job; if this happens at the year-end review, you might not get a bonus.

Reviews are therefore terrifying. But it's all part of the machinery, designed to maximize associates' profitability while remaining impersonal. The firm simply doesn't care if its brutal methods weed out associates who'd have made excellent partners, as those who are left are just as likely to become excellent partners: the firm needs attrition, and either forces it directly or, as with me, indirectly.

So when I was a fourth-year, and saw several friends get the axe at the year-end review--good lawyers, whose only mistake was to have alienated a single partner--I vowed to be gone before the next review. I'd been billing around 2000 hours at the time (it was the tail-end of the dot-com recession), but I'd begun to realize that I'd need to push much harder to get the best assignments with the right partners if I wanted to maximize my chances. It was just unpleasant. And while I'm grateful to have had the four-year apprenticeship, I've never once felt that law firm work offered any advantage over the in-house environment.


You may not have a sense for this but do you think this is typical at smaller offices of biglaw firms? So, not the 700 person NYC office, but a big highly ranked vault firm's 100-150 person office in a major market where the classes are more like 10. Do you think they are actively pushing people out with a class & office size that small? Thanks for fielding questions.

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Na_Swatch » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:49 pm

Kochel wrote:
I think my firm's practices were typical. For associates, everything hinges on the semiannual review process. Partners you've worked with submit reviews, which are then summarized for you by the Politburo.

.....

It was just unpleasant. And while I'm grateful to have had the four-year apprenticeship, I've never once felt that law firm work offered any advantage over the in-house environment.


Thanks a lot for this! It's awesome to hear from someone whose actually gone through the process of Biglaw -> In house. I was wondering if you could go into a little more detail about how you looked for and found your inhouse job though? Do you just make it known to headhunters that you're looking or is it more about directly contacting companies themselves? Thanks again!

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:00 pm

Na_Swatch wrote:
Kochel wrote:
I think my firm's practices were typical. For associates, everything hinges on the semiannual review process. Partners you've worked with submit reviews, which are then summarized for you by the Politburo.

.....

It was just unpleasant. And while I'm grateful to have had the four-year apprenticeship, I've never once felt that law firm work offered any advantage over the in-house environment.


Thanks a lot for this! It's awesome to hear from someone whose actually gone through the process of Biglaw -> In house. I was wondering if you could go into a little more detail about how you looked for and found your inhouse job though? Do you just make it known to headhunters that you're looking or is it more about directly contacting companies themselves? Thanks again!


Was there a big paycut? Was it tough to handle?

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Re: ITT We Discuss "Biglaw Exit Options" or "Life After Biglaw"

Postby LawWeb » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Kochel wrote:I think my firm's practices were typical. For associates, everything hinges on the semiannual review process. Partners you've worked with submit reviews, which are then summarized for you by the Politburo. Frequently, this is the only feedback you'll ever get, and it comes months after the fact, secondhand, and is almost never constructive. And it's sometimes quite surprising. For the Politburo, all it takes is one bad review to distinguish you from the hordes of other associates in your class. While in the first couple of years the firm probably won't fire more than a small handful of associates, by the third and fourth years they will be looking to force attrition, and will look to use that singular bad review as a proxy for your overall performance. Usually the Politburo will tell you that you have six months to find another job; if this happens at the year-end review, you might not get a bonus.

Reviews are therefore terrifying. But it's all part of the machinery, designed to maximize associates' profitability while remaining impersonal. The firm simply doesn't care if its brutal methods weed out associates who'd have made excellent partners, as those who are left are just as likely to become excellent partners: the firm needs attrition, and either forces it directly or, as with me, indirectly.

So when I was a fourth-year, and saw several friends get the axe at the year-end review--good lawyers, whose only mistake was to have alienated a single partner--I vowed to be gone before the next review. I'd been billing around 2000 hours at the time (it was the tail-end of the dot-com recession), but I'd begun to realize that I'd need to push much harder to get the best assignments with the right partners if I wanted to maximize my chances. It was just unpleasant. And while I'm grateful to have had the four-year apprenticeship, I've never once felt that law firm work offered any advantage over the in-house environment.


WOW thank you for this. I've heard similar stories countless times from former law firm attorneys and I've read the statistics, but when you are on a website like this and you attend a top law school sometimes you forget reality and you begin to think that everything is about one's intellectual capacity and work ethic. You forget that in the real world politics often play a much bigger role--particularly in corporate America. Thanks for sharing. Do you find that your experience is less true for those in smaller regions?

+1 most useful info, 'specially this time of year, I've seen on the site.




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