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Postby Myself » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:52 pm

Last edited by Myself on Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How to go from Federal Government into Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:57 pm

The firm where I'm headed hires people as partner from the regulatory agencies they face in court all the time. But you have to be reasonably high up in the agency to get an offer like that; definitely easy to switch over into being an associate after serious BigGov work. Most people want to go the other way.


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Re: How to go from Federal Government into Big Law?

Postby anon168 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:22 pm

ajax adonis wrote:I just had a question that I've sometimes thought about but never really got an answer to. It's not a highly pertinent question now, but I may want to think about it down the road.

How do (is it plausible?) for someone who started their legal career in the fed gov to lateral to big law after a few years? How does that work? I'm guessing it's mostly in regulatory or litigation areas. Do you need a "book of business"? What can you do to make yourself valuable in the eyes of the private sector?


I just did this recently, and I can speak to the litigation side.

There's lots of variables in play here.

First, it depends on what government agency you're talking about. Litigating components like the USAO, DOJ (certain sections), SEC, etc., are in more demand than other purely regulatory agencies like the FCC, DEA, DHS, etc.

Second, when you say a "few years" what do you mean? 2 or 3? No demand for your talents. 4-8? Tepid demand (depending on agency). 8+ and you're looking a serious consideration. How serious that consideration will not necessarily turn on "book of business" because no government lawyer will have a cache of cases to bring (for a variety of reasons, one of them being that thing called "Ethics"). How much demand there will be for your talents will depend on your experience at the Feds -- did you do lots of trials? work on impactful regulatory schemes? have experience in a niche area like FCPA or Tax?, etc.

The positions that most young lawyers or law students find sexy (e.g. criminal prosecution) don't necessarily translate to demand in the private sector. Aside from trial work, there isn't much value-added to a firm from hiring a government lawyer that's prosecuted lots of narcotic cases, for example. That's not to say that if you were Chief of the Criminal Division of some USAO and did lots of high profile white collar or government fraud cases, you won't be in demand -- but those cats are few and far between. No, if you want to make yourself really marketable after, say, 4-6 years in federal service, look at areas like Consumer Fraud, Tax, Securities Enforcement, or FCPA. In other words, figure out what practice areas big law firms find to be the biggest cash-cows.

Hope that helps.

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Re: How to go from Federal Government into Big Law?

Postby nevdash » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:03 pm

Just to add on to everything anon168 said, I've also heard that DOL/NLRB lawyers very frequently and easily make the transition into L&E departments of big firms.

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Re: How to go from Federal Government into Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:24 am

Like others have posted, it depends a lot on the department/agency you work at. In my practice area (antitrust), it's not hard for someone to lateral to a firm as an associate after 3-5 years at the FTC or DOJ Antitrust Division.

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