Exit options at Irell better than other top patent firms?

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Exit options at Irell better than other top patent firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:09 pm

Pretty much what the title says. I'm set on patent litigation and don't care about location. I have an offer from Irell and from a more traditional biglaw firm that also does great patent work (think Weil, MoFo, etc.). I like the traditional firm better in a lot of ways, but if the prospects are better at Irell, I'll go there.

anon168
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Re: Exit options at Irell better than other top patent firms?

Postby anon168 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Pretty much what the title says. I'm set on patent litigation and don't care about location. I have an offer from Irell and from a more traditional biglaw firm that also does great patent work (think Weil, MoFo, etc.). I like the traditional firm better in a lot of ways, but if the prospects are better at Irell, I'll go there.


Depending on who you work with, yes, the exit options from Irell for a patent litigator are significantly better than if you went to a more traditional biglaw firm that had a patent dept.

But that being said, just remember that if you like the biglaw firm better "in a lot of ways" you should seriously reconsider Irell even if the exit options are better. Because no matter how great those exit options are, they won't be available to you if you are not a successful associate -- and that will most likely be the case if you do not enjoy working where you are at (e.g. Irell in your case).

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Re: Exit options at Irell better than other top patent firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:46 pm

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Pretty much what the title says. I'm set on patent litigation and don't care about location. I have an offer from Irell and from a more traditional biglaw firm that also does great patent work (think Weil, MoFo, etc.). I like the traditional firm better in a lot of ways, but if the prospects are better at Irell, I'll go there.


Depending on who you work with, yes, the exit options from Irell for a patent litigator are significantly better than if you went to a more traditional biglaw firm that had a patent dept.

But that being said, just remember that if you like the biglaw firm better "in a lot of ways" you should seriously reconsider Irell even if the exit options are better. Because no matter how great those exit options are, they won't be available to you if you are not a successful associate -- and that will most likely be the case if you do not enjoy working where you are at (e.g. Irell in your case).

That makes a lot of sense, thanks! Bumping for more opinions if there's any out there.

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Re: Exit options at Irell better than other top patent firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:20 pm

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Pretty much what the title says. I'm set on patent litigation and don't care about location. I have an offer from Irell and from a more traditional biglaw firm that also does great patent work (think Weil, MoFo, etc.). I like the traditional firm better in a lot of ways, but if the prospects are better at Irell, I'll go there.


Depending on who you work with, yes, the exit options from Irell for a patent litigator are significantly better than if you went to a more traditional biglaw firm that had a patent dept.

But that being said, just remember that if you like the biglaw firm better "in a lot of ways" you should seriously reconsider Irell even if the exit options are better. Because no matter how great those exit options are, they won't be available to you if you are not a successful associate -- and that will most likely be the case if you do not enjoy working where you are at (e.g. Irell in your case).

somewhat related: are in-house exit options from Irell limited at all by the fact that they're adverse to a lot of companies who presumably hire in-house litigators? (apple, google, intel, samsung, etc)

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Re: Exit options at Irell better than other top patent firms?

Postby L’Étranger » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:20 pm

First off OP, congrats on your offers.

I personally question the widely held TLS mentality regarding exit options, and would like to make two separate points, the first general and the second specific to OP's situation.

Point 1: In my mind one would go to a law firm to work hard at that firm and excel at their job with the ultimate goal of advancing within that firm. To go into a biglaw job thinking about how to leave from day one seems defeatist and counterproductive. Yes, of course, very few get the opportunity to stay on as partners and I realize that there are some who even if offered partnership wouldn't want to take on that commitment, but still - to be thinking about your next job before you start working seems really odd to me. Not to mention that it is also very difficult to speculate five or six years into the future. Who knows what the economy will be like? Or what their personal commitments will be like at that time?

Point 2: If, regardless of what I think in Point 1, you the OP would still start a job with exiting that job on your mind, why would you believe that one firm would be better for this than another? An exit option amounts to getting offered a non-entry level job, and getting hired for any non-entry level job is strongly related to one's skill set. I would expect that a company with in-house legal would be far more likely to have direct use for a 6th year associate with employment or corporate law experience, and I would expect that company to have less direct use for a former IP litigator even one from a prestigious firm like Irell. In terms of lateraling from firm to firm, prestige may count some, but I think the strength of your practice group and your own personal skill level will count even more.

TLDR version: Thinking about exit options at this early stage seems odd and counterproductive, it's unrealistic to try and speculate as to what those options may be so many years down the line, and being good at your job is probably what really counts.

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Re: Exit options at Irell better than other top patent firms?

Postby bhan87 » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:34 pm

L’Étranger wrote:First off OP, congrats on your offers.

I personally question the widely held TLS mentality regarding exit options, and would like to make two separate points, the first general and the second specific to OP's situation.

Point 1: In my mind one would go to a law firm to work hard at that firm and excel at their job with the ultimate goal of advancing within that firm. To go into a biglaw job thinking about how to leave from day one seems defeatist and counterproductive. Yes, of course, very few get the opportunity to stay on as partners and I realize that there are some who even if offered partnership wouldn't want to take on that commitment, but still - to be thinking about your next job before you start working seems really odd to me. Not to mention that it is also very difficult to speculate five or six years into the future. Who knows what the economy will be like? Or what their personal commitments will be like at that time?

Point 2: If, regardless of what I think in Point 1, you the OP would still start a job with exiting that job on your mind, why would you believe that one firm would be better for this than another? An exit option amounts to getting offered a non-entry level job, and getting hired for any non-entry level job is strongly related to one's skill set. I would expect that a company with in-house legal would be far more likely to have direct use for a 6th year associate with employment or corporate law experience, and I would expect that company to have less direct use for a former IP litigator even one from a prestigious firm like Irell. In terms of lateraling from firm to firm, prestige may count some, but I think the strength of your practice group and your own personal skill level will count even more.

TLDR version: Thinking about exit options at this early stage seems odd and counterproductive, it's unrealistic to try and speculate as to what those options may be so many years down the line, and being good at your job is probably what really counts.


I think you make some very good points, but I think the focus on exit options is mostly a reflection of the risk-averse mentality of most people on this board. Much like the common advice that people should go to the best school they can to minimize risk of graduating without employment, the focus on exit options is a way to think about what happens if disaster strikes. Though, in this case, I think the OP may be better off going to the traditional biglaw firm for many of the same reasons already mentioned here. Prestige does count in lateraling, but becoming an amazing associate with a diverse skill-set is ultimately what's going to be most important. Thus, you should rethink going to Irell merely for better exit options because you're much more likely to succeed as a place you enjoy working at. However, if you don't like the biglaw firm that much more than Irell, the exit options may be a good enough reason for you to choose Irell over them.

One other thing you ought to consider is whether you truly know you want to do IP litigation. Without knowing more, I would assume that the traditional biglaw firm will give you a wider variety of practice groups to try out if it turns out you hate IP lit.

In the end, however, you probably can't go wrong with either choice.

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Re: Exit options at Irell better than other top patent firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:52 pm

L’Étranger wrote:First off OP, congrats on your offers.

I personally question the widely held TLS mentality regarding exit options, and would like to make two separate points, the first general and the second specific to OP's situation.

Point 1: In my mind one would go to a law firm to work hard at that firm and excel at their job with the ultimate goal of advancing within that firm. To go into a biglaw job thinking about how to leave from day one seems defeatist and counterproductive. Yes, of course, very few get the opportunity to stay on as partners and I realize that there are some who even if offered partnership wouldn't want to take on that commitment, but still - to be thinking about your next job before you start working seems really odd to me. Not to mention that it is also very difficult to speculate five or six years into the future. Who knows what the economy will be like? Or what their personal commitments will be like at that time?

Point 2: If, regardless of what I think in Point 1, you the OP would still start a job with exiting that job on your mind, why would you believe that one firm would be better for this than another? An exit option amounts to getting offered a non-entry level job, and getting hired for any non-entry level job is strongly related to one's skill set. I would expect that a company with in-house legal would be far more likely to have direct use for a 6th year associate with employment or corporate law experience, and I would expect that company to have less direct use for a former IP litigator even one from a prestigious firm like Irell. In terms of lateraling from firm to firm, prestige may count some, but I think the strength of your practice group and your own personal skill level will count even more.

TLDR version: Thinking about exit options at this early stage seems odd and counterproductive, it's unrealistic to try and speculate as to what those options may be so many years down the line, and being good at your job is probably what really counts.


(Different anon, 2L considering similar firms) A couple things:

1. While I think that exit options might be a little hyped on TLS, I'm not so sure it's that ridiculous to think about. According to NALP, Irell seems to hire around 20-30 SAs each year and have a similar number of incoming 1st year associates. In the past few years Irell (according to a quick search of their website) made roughly 1-2 partners per year. IIRC, Irell's partnership track is around 7 years. Granted that's a long ways away (9 years for a 2L considering SAing there), but there is the knowledge that you almost assuredly will not make partner. So knowing going in that there is an almost guarantee you won't be there in X years, I don't think that it's that ridiculous to consider. On top of that OP possibly (but I'm sure others) does't necessarily want to work in biglaw for that long since the hours are brutal. In that case there is the very real consideration that biglaw is merely a stepping stone and that exit options are quite important.

2. And while I don't have much knowledge, I'm skeptical of the "skills" idea. My reason is that how can someone hiring you truly evaluate your skills? I mean if we have 2 people who are both 3rd year associates who have done drastically different work, it is my guess that both can spin their work in a way that sounds like they've both done a ton.

3. My guess is that IP lit will open more doors than other types of lit for in-house work. Rayiner posted a while ago that around 1/3 of in-house counsel spots were litigators. I suspect that a large percentage of those are insurance defense guys working at insurance companies. After that I think IP lit would be decent for in-house. Large tech companies need in-house counsel to vet the legal arguments that outside counsel uses and I've seen several IP lit people jump in-house. That being said, I don't know how common it is.



@OP:

I know you said you're set on patent lit but if you have any niggling doubts then I would lean towards the big firm. You'll likely have the option to try corporate as well as other types of lit (though that may not entirely be the case if you're talking about a place like Weil SV). After that I would probably prioritize your happiness first and foremost. If you are sure you definitely liked the big firm better then go there.

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Re: Exit options at Irell better than other top patent firms?

Postby anon168 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:
anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Pretty much what the title says. I'm set on patent litigation and don't care about location. I have an offer from Irell and from a more traditional biglaw firm that also does great patent work (think Weil, MoFo, etc.). I like the traditional firm better in a lot of ways, but if the prospects are better at Irell, I'll go there.


Depending on who you work with, yes, the exit options from Irell for a patent litigator are significantly better than if you went to a more traditional biglaw firm that had a patent dept.

But that being said, just remember that if you like the biglaw firm better "in a lot of ways" you should seriously reconsider Irell even if the exit options are better. Because no matter how great those exit options are, they won't be available to you if you are not a successful associate -- and that will most likely be the case if you do not enjoy working where you are at (e.g. Irell in your case).

somewhat related: are in-house exit options from Irell limited at all by the fact that they're adverse to a lot of companies who presumably hire in-house litigators? (apple, google, intel, samsung, etc)


A little bit, yes. But only to the extent you've actually worked on the case that Irell was adverse to. Companies -- and YOU -- should and willl worry more about ethical issues, than any issue related to marketing or bad blood.




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