Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: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?
Any thoughts on this Kochel or others?
Also, for Kochel, do you think your firm was unusual in terms of how it treated performance reviews? I have heard a lot of criticism from associates that their reviews tell them very little about how they are doing and I get the impression that few associates at V10s are pushed out due to bad performance reviews during their first 5 years.
1. Practice areas. This is actually a big deal. Generally speaking, the broader your practice at the firm, the more marketable you will be for in-house jobs. But your firm will inevitably try to push you to specialize, so if in-house is your ultimate objective, you should either resist specializing for as long as possible or self-select for specialties that translate well into what in-house lawyers actually do. All companies will need corporate generalists who can get stuff done, so any practice area that has you doing governance work, contracts, securities or strategic transactions (asset sales, mergers, financing) will serve well, because it will give you nuts-and-bolts training with broad applicability. Also, companies in heavily regulated industries (finance, telecom, energy, etc.) will always need lots of lawyers versed in those specific areas of law. Now specializing in one of those areas will limit your marketability in terms of numbers of companies, but will make you attractive to companies in those industries.
On the contrary, there are some "corporate" practice areas that really don't translate well into in-house jobs: tax, benefits, antitrust, bankruptcy. Most companies simply aren't big enough to require more than 1-2 in-house lawyers (if that) doing those kinds of work, so if you gravitate to those fields you'll want to adjust your ultimate career goals. There are exceptions, of course, but your average company requires many more general corporate lawyers than non-corporate lawyers.
2. I believe it's very common, if not universal, for Biglaw firms to fire junior and midlevel associates ostensibly for bad performance. The frequency may be variable, because it's largely dependent on the firm's financial position, but it is especially true when the outside job market is slow, because the firm will need to force the attrition that normally would occur through voluntary departures--hence the term "stealth layoff." Once you've reached the 5+ year level, then the firm will start using the "we don't see you making partner" line if they want you to leave. And in fact that's preferable to letting you hang out until your eighth year, after your in-house marketability has peaked, before surprising you with the partnership denial.