Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

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Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:34 pm

Hey folks. I did some pretty careful searches for this topic in the forums and have found some marginally useful information, but I'd really love to hear from an associate who has actually gone through this process and anyone, associate or not, who may be familiar with it

For the sake of this post, and to avoid wasting time questioning my past motives, I'd like to ask you to please assume the following:
1. I am a first-year associate at a v15 NY-based firm with office(s) in California, and I am a member of the NY Bar
2. I focus primarily on transactional M&A/securities work
3. I had a good reason for not beginning my career in California
4. I have a good reason for wanting to eventually end up at a California firm at some point 2-3 years from now, but I have no ties whatsoever to California

My questions are:
1. What lateral opportunities could I expect as a 2nd/3rd year M&A associate? In particular, should I expect to "trade down" to a less competitive firm (and I don't mean strictly rankings wise, since firms like WSGR are top-notch in SF/SV M&A), or is it common for an associate at a v15 to lateral to another similarly highly-regarded firm? I ask because I realize certain firms place may favor home-grown attorneys and internal laterals, and I wonder if this would hurt my chances as an outside lateral

2. What should I be doing to manage the expectations of my employer? Obviously, I would love to stay with my current firm and transfer internally with their blessings, but I'm worried that revealing my lack of commitment to NY could damage my relationships with the partners/senior attorneys I work with. Would it be a bad idea to make my intentions known? Or are my concerns completely misplaced?

3. For anyone who did transfer (or know someone who has), did you take the CA bar before or after switching offices? Did the firm you work for (or lateraled to) pay for bar prep expenses?

4. This question is aimed at anyone who is admitted in NY and CA: how difficult was it to study for a second bar exam while working full-time? Would you recommend doing this earlier rather than later? i.e. should I consider taking the CA bar exam soon, before I completely forget what it's like to study?

I know these are pretty targeted questions, but I'd appreciate any insight into this process!

Thx in advance for all replies :)

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:57 pm

I'm a 3L who will be starting this fall at the NYC offices of a V10 (also with large California presence but HQ in NYC) with basically identical questions and would love to hear responses from someone as well. Any insights on the possibility of moving within a firm vs. laterally to a different firm would also be appreciated.

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:12 pm

I can only tell you about the bar exam problem.

I took the NY bar exam right after graduating. I started a clerkship that fall, and took CA the following summer. My experience won't be perfect, because I was clerking which probably meant more time to study (although my clerkship hours aren't as cushy as others).

It wasn't fun. I would take it as soon as possible - what I would do is re-use your MBE notes, skip the MBE lectures, and focus on the state-specific lectures. I re-studied my MBE notes, did as many MBE practice questions as I could, and really only watched the CA lectures.
At the start, I could see that I was ahead of the curve on the MBE multiple-choice, which was a good sign. I did all of the practice essay questions, just to get back into the swing of things.

While I would not ignore it, the MPT is easy points and there's no real way to study for it.

Bottom line: do it while your muscle memory will still get you through the MBE, and do as best you can with the CA specific stuff.

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I can only tell you about the bar exam problem.

I took the NY bar exam right after graduating. I started a clerkship that fall, and took CA the following summer. My experience won't be perfect, because I was clerking which probably meant more time to study (although my clerkship hours aren't as cushy as others).

It wasn't fun. I would take it as soon as possible - what I would do is re-use your MBE notes, skip the MBE lectures, and focus on the state-specific lectures. I re-studied my MBE notes, did as many MBE practice questions as I could, and really only watched the CA lectures.
At the start, I could see that I was ahead of the curve on the MBE multiple-choice, which was a good sign. I did all of the practice essay questions, just to get back into the swing of things.

While I would not ignore it, the MPT is easy points and there's no real way to study for it.

Bottom line: do it while your muscle memory will still get you through the MBE, and do as best you can with the CA specific stuff.


I'm the OP -- thanks for weighing in on this. Just casually browsing through profiles on various firm websites, I've actually seen quite a few attorneys (not a ton, but not an insignificant number either) that are qualified in both states, but many are partners or senior-level associates, so it's good to hear from someone who sat for both exams within ~year of each other. I guess I'm not the only person crazy enough to contemplate this. :P

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm the OP -- thanks for weighing in on this. Just casually browsing through profiles on various firm websites, I've actually seen quite a few attorneys (not a ton, but not an insignificant number either) that are qualified in both states, but many are partners or senior-level associates, so it's good to hear from someone who sat for both exams within ~year of each other. I guess I'm not the only person crazy enough to contemplate this. :P

My friend who is a first year associate did NY in July and CA this February, but he's slightly insane.

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm the OP -- thanks for weighing in on this. Just casually browsing through profiles on various firm websites, I've actually seen quite a few attorneys (not a ton, but not an insignificant number either) that are qualified in both states, but many are partners or senior-level associates, so it's good to hear from someone who sat for both exams within ~year of each other. I guess I'm not the only person crazy enough to contemplate this. :P

My friend who is a first year associate did NY in July and CA this February, but he's slightly insane.


Second poster here -- presumably he had to let his firm know that he was taking the CA bar (even just for the time off to fly out there and actually take the exam if nothing else). Any idea on how to go about this diplomatically, or will the firm just not care that's he's clearly angling to move offices/firms within a few years? I might actually consider this strategy if it seems viable.

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby piccolittle » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:59 am

Will the firm pay for the second exam if you haven't yet expressed interest in transferring offices? Or is this firm dependent? I can't imagine they would pay, but I've heard crazier things.

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:40 am

Good news! I just recently heard from a friend of a friend that the firm this person lateraled to not only paid for him to take the CA bar but also gave him a couple weeks off in between quitting his previous firm and starting his new position (the gap coincided with the bar exam date). The new firm then reimbursed him for his bar prep expenses as well, conditioned on him passing the exam.

Not sure if this is the norm, but good to know these cases exist.

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:07 pm

SPAM

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm the OP -- thanks for weighing in on this. Just casually browsing through profiles on various firm websites, I've actually seen quite a few attorneys (not a ton, but not an insignificant number either) that are qualified in both states, but many are partners or senior-level associates, so it's good to hear from someone who sat for both exams within ~year of each other. I guess I'm not the only person crazy enough to contemplate this. :P

My friend who is a first year associate did NY in July and CA this February, but he's slightly insane.


Second poster here -- presumably he had to let his firm know that he was taking the CA bar (even just for the time off to fly out there and actually take the exam if nothing else). Any idea on how to go about this diplomatically, or will the firm just not care that's he's clearly angling to move offices/firms within a few years? I might actually consider this strategy if it seems viable.

He actually borrowed a friend's books to study and said he was taking vacation.

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:08 pm

I know a few people who have made this move and have some experience myself. This is situation-specific, but my general answers:

1. As a transactional associate, you may be able to make a lateral move to a similarly ranked CA firm (assuming you are correct in assessing your reason for moving to CA or ties to CA). I know a few people who have done this. That said, by that point, you may not care about firm rank so much as factors more specific to each opportunity.

2. Moving within your firm, if possible, is usually the easiest option. I wouldn't bring it up until you are actually interested in making the move, though. If you have started in NY, you are best off showing commitment to the people you work with there, since you will probably need good evaluations from them in order for another office to take you. As it gets closer, it makes sense to talk to whoever in your firm is responsible for transfers (probably HR/attorney relations) so they know to flag any openings for you.

3. I know people who have been able to move prior to passing the CA bar (doing transactional work -- this is much more difficult for litigators). If you move within the firm, they'll probably work with you on the timing around the bar. All biglaw firms I have knowledge about in these circumstances pay for laterals' bar prep and test expenses. If you transfer within your firm, they might not. This should be in your firm's policies somewhere, though.

4. It's doable. I have done it and know several friends who have done it. It's more difficult to do before you have a job in CA, though, because you may not want to tell the people you're working with that you're taking it (and even if you do, they probably won't be willing to give you weeks off to study and take the test). If you wait until you're actually ready to make the move, the CA office or lateral firm will likely give you time off to study (since it is obviously in their interest that you pass). As far as remembering how to study... I don't know. I know people who took the two back-to-back and seemed to find it okay. I waited a few years in between them and didn't find that I had totally forgotten the material or anything. I'd base this more on when you can get the time off to study.

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Re: Lateral Experience from NY to CA and Bar Exam Concerns

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 28, 2014 4:27 pm

Reviving this thread in hopes of gleaning any new tips and/or success stories regarding the original post.




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