Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

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Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:09 pm

I am hoping someone may have done more research into this than I have, and may have some insight.

I was toward the top of the class (coif) at a T6 school, and have a CoA clerkship with a V10 firm job lined up in a transactional practice group that really doesn't exist outside of Chicago and NYC.

My wife will be finishing her disertation in ~2 years (i.e. toward the end of the academic year in 2013), which will be partway through my first full year at the V10.

If she ends up with an academic job in the middle-ish of nowhere (she has far, far more passion for what she does than I have, and so I will walk away from biglaw if she gets a tenure-track gig), what kind of options will I be looking at? I would be willing to live apart for a year - to put me at 2 years into biglaw (plus CoA) - if that would significantly improve my options.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am hoping someone may have done more research into this than I have, and may have some insight.

I was toward the top of the class (coif) at a T6 school, and have a CoA clerkship with a V10 firm job lined up in a transactional practice group that really doesn't exist outside of Chicago and NYC.

My wife will be finishing her disertation in ~2 years (i.e. toward the end of the academic year in 2013), which will be partway through my first full year at the V10.

If she ends up with an academic job in the middle-ish of nowhere (she has far, far more passion for what she does than I have, and so I will walk away from biglaw if she gets a tenure-track gig), what kind of options will I be looking at? I would be willing to live apart for a year - to put me at 2 years into biglaw (plus CoA) - if that would significantly improve my options.


i mean the consensus is that it's always easier to "trade down" firms, but you'd definitely be in a tricky position for two reasons. first, you mentioned that the practice group you'd be working for does work not usually found outside NYC or Chi. if you can't outright switch practice groups to something broader, you might want to expose yourself as much as possible to work outside that practice group during your time at the firm.

The second problem, though, is that you would only have 1-2 years experience working in a law firm. i'm not an expert on lateraling by any means (only a 2L myself, but i've done some research), but it seems like most people don't begin the process until their 3rd or 4th year, because before that you don't really have enough skills to make a profit for the firm taking you on.

with your stats, though, it probably wouldn't be impossible to find something if you really needed to. i would suggest, though, trying to expose yourself to as much work outside the small specialty as you can.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Wholigan » Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:22 am

How likely do you think it is that this scenario will materialize? If rather likely, what about telling your firm that your taste in practice area changed? You could tell them that by doing the clerkship, you realized you want litigation or something. It seems like most people that choose corportate practice areas do it either because they like it more or the exit options are better. But you said you don't have all that much passion for it, and if you are going to have to lateral into a smaller market, litigation would probably improve your exit options.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:12 pm

I am your doppleganger -- though with slightly worse grades (distinction but not coif), a slightly worse clerkship (DC not COA) and with a wife who was a few years behind yours, relatively speaking. And I'm several years older than you.

Anyway, here's my advice:

1.) Add an extra year or two to the dissertation schedule. It usually seems to work out that way.

2.) If she is in the arts, humanities or social sciences, plan on her taking 2-3 years to find a t-t job. Yes, even if she is in the best department in her field with an amazing dissertation adviser who places all of his/her students. The academic market outside of the professional schools and hard sciences has been miserable since 2009. For example, in my wife's field, there used to be about 30-40 t-t job openings every year, split pretty evenly between generalist and specialist positions. In 2009 that dropped to 15. Last year it was 10. This year it was 6.

3.) That said, if you really do think that she'll be done and have a job lined up by the end of your first year at your firm, why not apply for a second clerkship? It would toll having to make the transition from a transactional practice to a litigation one.

4.) Another bit of advice: If you could publish an article or two during your clerkship (and whatever you do after), you'd actually probably have a fighting chance to be a spousal hire -- you'd have the necessary credentials, at least. And while it is far less common for the "trailing" spouse to be the law school professor than vice versa, it's not totally unheard of. At the very least you could probably discuss a VAP-type position, and then the two of you could go on the market together in her 3rd.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby RVP11 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:18 pm

How did you get set on doing transactional for your V10? Can't you switch?

Who in their right mind decides after 2L summer that they want to do transactional work but then ALSO applies for COA clerkships?

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:34 pm

RVP11 wrote:How did you get set on doing transactional for your V10? Can't you switch?

Who in their right mind decides after 2L summer that they want to do transactional work but then ALSO applies for COA clerkships?


Original anon here.

Contrary to popular belief, the experience of doing a CoA is not completely useless for transactional people and, even if it was, is an independently rewarding experience. Not to mention that, after taxes and the like, you only lose about $20k of pay while putting in FAR fewer hours.

w/r/t putting out a few articles and doing the "trailing spouse" thing - I have 0 interest in being a lawprof. Even if I could choke out an Article or two in the next two years, I would be an utter failure as a prof. Contrary to popular belief, writing tenure-worthy articles is a lot harder than writing about circuit splits:/

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby tlstlstls73 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
RVP11 wrote:How did you get set on doing transactional for your V10? Can't you switch?

Who in their right mind decides after 2L summer that they want to do transactional work but then ALSO applies for COA clerkships?


Original anon here.

Contrary to popular belief, the experience of doing a CoA is not completely useless for transactional people and, even if it was, is an independently rewarding experience. Not to mention that, after taxes and the like, you only lose about $20k of pay while putting in FAR fewer hours.

w/r/t putting out a few articles and doing the "trailing spouse" thing - I have 0 interest in being a lawprof. Even if I could choke out an Article or two in the next two years, I would be an utter failure as a prof. Contrary to popular belief, writing tenure-worthy articles is a lot harder than writing about circuit splits:/


I can't understand why you would go to law school and a 2 year clerkship (a five year investment) when you know you might have to completely abandon your career for your spouse to work in bumfuck university. Why don't you just keep doing what you are doing, and your spouse can teach at a local CC? And don't tell me I don't understand love. I have a sig-o too with a different career, and we're going to compromise such that neither of us has to make the kind of sacrifice you are suggesting for yourself.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:57 pm

Why don't you just keep doing what you are doing, and your spouse can teach at a local CC? And don't tell me I don't understand love. I have a sig-o too with a different career, and we're going to compromise such that neither of us has to make the kind of sacrifice you are suggesting for yourself.


I'll just note that the first sentence contradicts the third. Saying that someone who has a legitimate shot at a t-t academic job should just go teach at a local CC is like telling a HSY-trained attorney that s/he should just go be a paralegal at a local T&E shop. I mean, it's all the legal industry, right?

In today's academic world, you get a t-t job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Why don't you just keep doing what you are doing, and your spouse can teach at a local CC? And don't tell me I don't understand love. I have a sig-o too with a different career, and we're going to compromise such that neither of us has to make the kind of sacrifice you are suggesting for yourself.


I'll just note that the first sentence contradicts the third. Saying that someone who has a legitimate shot at a t-t academic job should just go teach at a local CC is like telling a HSY-trained attorney that s/he should just go be a paralegal at a local T&E shop. I mean, it's all the legal industry, right?

In today's academic world, you get a t-t job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.


Sorry, I'm not well versed. What is a t-t job?

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby mrloblaw » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Why don't you just keep doing what you are doing, and your spouse can teach at a local CC? And don't tell me I don't understand love. I have a sig-o too with a different career, and we're going to compromise such that neither of us has to make the kind of sacrifice you are suggesting for yourself.


I'll just note that the first sentence contradicts the third. Saying that someone who has a legitimate shot at a t-t academic job should just go teach at a local CC is like telling a HSY-trained attorney that s/he should just go be a paralegal at a local T&E shop. I mean, it's all the legal industry, right?

In today's academic world, you get a t-t job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.


In today's legal world, you get a v10 job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:In today's academic world, you get a t-t job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.


You sound like an asshole who I would never want to associate with.
Last edited by Julio_El_Chavo on Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:07 pm

mrloblaw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Why don't you just keep doing what you are doing, and your spouse can teach at a local CC? And don't tell me I don't understand love. I have a sig-o too with a different career, and we're going to compromise such that neither of us has to make the kind of sacrifice you are suggesting for yourself.


I'll just note that the first sentence contradicts the third. Saying that someone who has a legitimate shot at a t-t academic job should just go teach at a local CC is like telling a HSY-trained attorney that s/he should just go be a paralegal at a local T&E shop. I mean, it's all the legal industry, right?

In today's academic world, you get a t-t job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.


In today's legal world, you get a v10 job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.


Even V100 I would think.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:09 pm

Julio_El_Chavo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:In today's academic world, you get a t-t job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.


You sound like an asshole who I would never want to associate with.


Edit: OK, you were talking about the response to me, not me. I agree. Whoever would divorce me because they wanted to be a professor and I wanted to pursue my V10 career (assuming I even had one, which I don't)---could go right fucking ahead.

Why? I wouldn't abandon my career just like I wouldn't ask my sig-o to abandon theirs if they wanted to do prof stuff. Even to the point of living in separate for a few years rather than throwing V10 out the window and then sig-o can try to lateral to a good prof job in the V10 area or V10 guy/girl can try to lateral to a comparable firm in the prof job area.

Goes back to the original Q - why invest so much time and ridiculously hard work to get top grades and a top job at a top school just to throw it all away.

Also - to poster above dissing on CC. In places like California, CC is a fantastic job often paying six figures. There's also great jobs at top private schools for people who would be eligible for tenure jobs.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:15 pm

It's more likely than not that she'll take longer than the allotted time to finish her dissertation. In fact, you should be encouraging her to take 3 years and try to have an article published by the time she's done. That is a good career compromise--it lets her follow her passion on a slightly slower schedule, and lets you save money and develop skills to make yourself more marketable. Then, finding a decent job could easily take a year, and universities often hire in advance (so she'd be interviewing 9 months before she would start).

You have some time to widen your focus, and you should take it. People do lateral after a year but it'd be much easier for you to lateral during year 3 (class year 4 because of the COA), and that's not out of line with her career schedule.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:18 pm

Sorry, I'm not well versed. What is a t-t job?


Tenure-track.

You sound like an asshole who I would never want to associate with.


Really? Your spouse goes to post-high school schooling for probably 10-12 years, making peanuts (if s/he is lucky and gets funding plus a stipend), spends a year or two writing a 400 page opus, all to compete with 500 other aspiring academics for one of a dozen or so permanent jobs that become available every year -- and I'm an asshole for suggesting that if s/he wins the lottery and gets offered one of those jobs, s/he needs to take it and you either need to go with him/her or divorce?

In today's legal world, you get a v10 job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.


Please. Most of those who stay at a V10 firm end up divorced anyway. That's what happens when one spouse works 70-80 hours a week for years on end. Lawyers can be lawyers in most places. In academia, you usually only have one shot at one job.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby IAFG » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:25 pm

Sucks that you already committed to a clerkship. If you had gone straight to work then done a clerkship later you could have gotten at least a partial fresh start in the legal hiring world.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:27 pm

In places like California, CC is a fantastic job often paying six figures. There's also great jobs at top private schools for people who would be eligible for tenure jobs.


Not dissing on CC. I'm saying that someone suggesting that a person who has a legitimate shot at a t-t academic job should "just go teach at the local CC" doesn't understand that a lecturer job at a CC and a tenure-track job at a national university are fundamentally different creatures. One is basically the equivalent of a high school teaching job for 19 and 20 year-olds, the other is a research and writing job with 6 hours a week of teaching thrown in on the side.

fact, you should be encouraging her to take 3 years and try to have an article published by the time she's done. That is a good career compromise--it lets her follow her passion on a slightly slower schedule, and lets you save money and develop skills to make yourself more marketable. Then, finding a decent job could easily take a year, and universities often hire in advance (so she'd be interviewing 9 months before she would start).


It's not that this is bad advice, it's just that it's unlikely that your wife will have this much control over her career options. At least in my (spouse's) experience, you should plan to go on the market for 3-4 years before you land a job, but you very well may get one the first year.

Though one thing she might look into is a post-doc -- those often can be done at (and sometimes are awarded by) the PhD institution. That would buy you guys an extra year or two.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
You sound like an asshole who I would never want to associate with.


Really? Your spouse goes to post-high school schooling for probably 10-12 years, making peanuts (if s/he is lucky and gets funding plus a stipend), spends a year or two writing a 400 page opus, all to compete with 500 other aspiring academics for one of a dozen or so permanent jobs that become available every year -- and I'm an asshole for suggesting that if s/he wins the lottery and gets offered one of those jobs, s/he needs to take it and you either need to go with him/her or divorce?


Yes, that's what I'm saying. You shouldn't get married in the first place if you're willing to sacrifice everything, including your relationship with your spouse, for your career.

Assuming your spouse doesn't turn into someone who is inordinately more selfish than you previously thought, you should be able to work out some kind of temporary long-distance relationship. A V10 associate and a t-t prof are both extremely intelligent people who should be able to figure this out without sacrificing their entire relationship. A relationship which you've built up over 10-12 years shouldn't be sacrificed for a career that's been built up over the same time period. The fact that you even suggested this reflects the selfish attitude of an asshole.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:33 pm

The fact that you even suggested that it should be reflects the selfish attitude of an asshole.


Whatever. Not that it matters, but when this situation presented itself for me, I had no qualms leaving my V20 firm job to move the family out here.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
The fact that you even suggested that it should be reflects the selfish attitude of an asshole.


Whatever. Not that it matters, but when this situation presented itself for me, I had no qualms leaving my V20 firm job to move the family out here.


OP here: thanks for your insights. While I'm not surprised that the thread has devolved into an irrelevant kibitz of relationship choices, your thoughts are appreciated. What did you end up doing after you walked away from the firm?

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:05 pm

What did you end up doing after you walked away from the firm?


Mostly government, with one brief detour. The pay sucks but the work is really fun (and the second paycheck mitigates the comp hit, at least to some degree). As a litigator, I got more meaningful and interesting experience in six months here than in 5+ years at biglaw.

Now that my wife has gotten the book out and looks like a shoo-in for tenure, and we're done having kids, we've decided to turn the focus back to my career for a bit. Which is what our initial plan was when we moved out here. (What that entails is a complicated story, but basically it involves her getting a research fellowship and taking a year or two of leave from her home institution while I pursue a career option that should end up helping me.)

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby RVP11 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:06 pm

mrloblaw wrote:In today's legal world, you get a v10 job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.


Are you a 0L?

The difference between a V10 and a good firm in a smaller market (or a good government job) is miniscule compared to the difference between tenure-track at a major university and teaching at a community college.

A tenure-track position is the whole goal of the PhD. Implying that a corporate V10 job in NYC is the whole goal of the JD is absurd.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby tlstlstls73 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:10 pm

RVP11 wrote:
mrloblaw wrote:In today's legal world, you get a v10 job, you go. Period. Your spouse deals, or you divorce. Those are the options.


Are you a 0L?

The difference between a V10 and a good firm in a smaller market (or a good government job) is miniscule compared to the difference between tenure-track at a major university and teaching at a community college.

A tenure-track position is the whole goal of the PhD. Implying that a corporate V10 job in NYC is the whole goal of the JD is absurd.


For many people, that is the whole goal of a JD.

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:10 pm

Why does anyone care whether this guy is making the right decision anyway? Maybe it makes sense for him in a way that wouldn't for you (though a Suga Mama prof sounds pretty awesome no matter who you are).

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Re: Year 1-2 Exit from biglaw into "no man's land" - options?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
fact, you should be encouraging her to take 3 years and try to have an article published by the time she's done. That is a good career compromise--it lets her follow her passion on a slightly slower schedule, and lets you save money and develop skills to make yourself more marketable. Then, finding a decent job could easily take a year, and universities often hire in advance (so she'd be interviewing 9 months before she would start).


It's not that this is bad advice, it's just that it's unlikely that your wife will have this much control over her career options. At least in my (spouse's) experience, you should plan to go on the market for 3-4 years before you land a job, but you very well may get one the first year.

Though one thing she might look into is a post-doc -- those often can be done at (and sometimes are awarded by) the PhD institution. That would buy you guys an extra year or two.


She doesn't have control over whether she gets a job the first year on the market. She does have control over when she goes on the market, though. She can control finishing her dissertation + an article in a related area in three years instead of just a dissertation in 2. A post-doc is a good choice but only for some fields.




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