Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

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Anonymous User
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Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:06 pm

I'm a rising 2L at a T10 working at an agency in DC. I'm looking to get a biglaw gig in DC. I had a few questions--

1) Is there a primer/thread about what practicing regulatory work looks like at a biglaw firm? Is it all that different than litigation or does "regulatory work" fall under the "litigation category"? Is regulatory work a "practice group" on its own? Or should I be saying that I want to do regulatory work in general and specify healthcare/environmental law/etc? Which firms in DC are known for their regulatory work?

2)In general, is there a hierarchy for DC biglaw firms-- should I just go by Vault? Should I prefer biglaw firms that are headquartered in DC versus firms not headquartered in DC?

3) Any general advice for researching the DC market?

I'm sorry if this is a rehash of topics. If someone could point me out to some good ones, it would be much appreciated!

LawIdiot86
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby LawIdiot86 » Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:48 pm

Saying you want to do "regulatory law" will lead to a lot of stares because there is no such thing. There is healthcare regulatory law, banking regulatory law, environmental regulatory law, energy regulatory law, etc. Each assumes you have an interest in the underlying field, so expressing interest in every field is inadvisable. Regulatory work frequently falls outside litigation. While some firms pair it with litigation on the theory that comment letters/agency orders will lead to law suits and enforcement actions, that isn't always the case. Some pair regulatory with transactional because some types of transaction require extensive involvement with regulators. To research it, first find the industry you want, then go and find the closest category on Chambers. If you have a particular industry you're interested, I might be able to tell you more.

letsdoit
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby letsdoit » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:03 pm

LawIdiot86 wrote:Saying you want to do "regulatory law" will lead to a lot of stares because there is no such thing. There is healthcare regulatory law, banking regulatory law, environmental regulatory law, energy regulatory law, etc. Each assumes you have an interest in the underlying field, so expressing interest in every field is inadvisable. Regulatory work frequently falls outside litigation. While some firms pair it with litigation on the theory that comment letters/agency orders will lead to law suits and enforcement actions, that isn't always the case. Some pair regulatory with transactional because some types of transaction require extensive involvement with regulators. To research it, first find the industry you want, then go and find the closest category on Chambers. If you have a particular industry you're interested, I might be able to tell you more.


This is half true. Several firms have general "regulatory" groups in DC-Hogan, Venable, etc. Expressing interest in "regulatory law" during interviews worked for me just fine, but I had a coherent explanation for the interest. But, if you can explain an interest in a specific specialty, do that. For example, use your experience this summer.

I think Chambers is the best source for deciding where to work, as in-house counsel often utilize it to determine who to hire. For example, http://www.chambersandpartners.com/usa/Editorial/42858. Vault obviously gives a good list of the general "prestige" a firm enjoys, which is of course important. Each firm has a different set of regulatory areas they excel in.

LawIdiot86
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby LawIdiot86 » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:55 pm

letsdoit wrote:
LawIdiot86 wrote:Saying you want to do "regulatory law" will lead to a lot of stares because there is no such thing. There is healthcare regulatory law, banking regulatory law, environmental regulatory law, energy regulatory law, etc. Each assumes you have an interest in the underlying field, so expressing interest in every field is inadvisable. Regulatory work frequently falls outside litigation. While some firms pair it with litigation on the theory that comment letters/agency orders will lead to law suits and enforcement actions, that isn't always the case. Some pair regulatory with transactional because some types of transaction require extensive involvement with regulators. To research it, first find the industry you want, then go and find the closest category on Chambers. If you have a particular industry you're interested, I might be able to tell you more.


This is half true. Several firms have general "regulatory" groups in DC-Hogan, Venable, etc. Expressing interest in "regulatory law" during interviews worked for me just fine, but I had a coherent explanation for the interest. But, if you can explain an interest in a specific specialty, do that. For example, use your experience this summer.

I think Chambers is the best source for deciding where to work, as in-house counsel often utilize it to determine who to hire. For example, http://www.chambersandpartners.com/usa/Editorial/42858. Vault obviously gives a good list of the general "prestige" a firm enjoys, which is of course important. Each firm has a different set of regulatory areas they excel in.


I would be shocked to find out that Hogan and Venable permit lawyers to wander around their regulatory groups doing a little bit of this area of law and some of that area of law. Of the first ten people I clicked on Venable's list, nine listed an industry focus in their first sentence and the tenth was a new first year associate's profile. Hogan went ten for ten with with specific industries or specialties mentioned in the first line.

bdubs
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby bdubs » Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:50 am

1) I did litigation as an SA last summer and I can say that the mechanics of regulatory work are somewhat similar, but the tone is very different. You're much more deferential to a regulator because your client would like the investigation/proposed rule to just go away. You still produce documents, depose people, and produce legal memos. As a litigator you get more creativity to craft arguments based on case law and pick apart the other sides' position, both things you don't want to do in front of a regulator.

2) As everyone else has said: you should focus on a type of regulatory work. If you want the best general coverage you can use Vault (i.e. Covington, Wilmer, Hogan are all pretty good). If you want a particular area then focus more narrowly (Wiley Rein -Telecom, Arnold & Porter/Cleary - Antitrust, etc...)

3) Talk to people from your school who are in DC and they will know something about the general landscape. If your school has many people go to DC they might have a person who does DC coverage (my school used a legal placement consultant who was pretty good). I personally think you should look to overall firm reputation outside of DC as well since it seems to influence some of the offices.

TooOld4This
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby TooOld4This » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:21 am

LawIdiot86 wrote:
letsdoit wrote:
LawIdiot86 wrote:Saying you want to do "regulatory law" will lead to a lot of stares because there is no such thing. There is healthcare regulatory law, banking regulatory law, environmental regulatory law, energy regulatory law, etc. Each assumes you have an interest in the underlying field, so expressing interest in every field is inadvisable. Regulatory work frequently falls outside litigation. While some firms pair it with litigation on the theory that comment letters/agency orders will lead to law suits and enforcement actions, that isn't always the case. Some pair regulatory with transactional because some types of transaction require extensive involvement with regulators. To research it, first find the industry you want, then go and find the closest category on Chambers. If you have a particular industry you're interested, I might be able to tell you more.


This is half true. Several firms have general "regulatory" groups in DC-Hogan, Venable, etc. Expressing interest in "regulatory law" during interviews worked for me just fine, but I had a coherent explanation for the interest. But, if you can explain an interest in a specific specialty, do that. For example, use your experience this summer.

I think Chambers is the best source for deciding where to work, as in-house counsel often utilize it to determine who to hire. For example, http://www.chambersandpartners.com/usa/Editorial/42858. Vault obviously gives a good list of the general "prestige" a firm enjoys, which is of course important. Each firm has a different set of regulatory areas they excel in.


I would be shocked to find out that Hogan and Venable permit lawyers to wander around their regulatory groups doing a little bit of this area of law and some of that area of law. Of the first ten people I clicked on Venable's list, nine listed an industry focus in their first sentence and the tenth was a new first year associate's profile. Hogan went ten for ten with with specific industries or specialties mentioned in the first line.


Don't confuse marketing for the way firms actually work.

Regulatory law is a "thing" in DC. While lawyers will specialize, for interviewing purposes it is just fine to say that you are interested in doing regulatory work. Just like you don't have to know that you want to do general commercial litigation, or mass torts, or product liability, you don't have to know what agency you want to specialize in when you show up. If you can explain why you want to do regulatory work (rather than lit or corporate) that is generally adequate.

If you have an area you are interested in and the firm has a practice in that area, you can specify. Be careful, though, not to box yourself in too much in case the group is small and won't be taking any new people on.

letsdoit
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby letsdoit » Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:30 am

LawIdiot86 wrote:
letsdoit wrote:
LawIdiot86 wrote:Saying you want to do "regulatory law" will lead to a lot of stares because there is no such thing. There is healthcare regulatory law, banking regulatory law, environmental regulatory law, energy regulatory law, etc. Each assumes you have an interest in the underlying field, so expressing interest in every field is inadvisable. Regulatory work frequently falls outside litigation. While some firms pair it with litigation on the theory that comment letters/agency orders will lead to law suits and enforcement actions, that isn't always the case. Some pair regulatory with transactional because some types of transaction require extensive involvement with regulators. To research it, first find the industry you want, then go and find the closest category on Chambers. If you have a particular industry you're interested, I might be able to tell you more.


This is half true. Several firms have general "regulatory" groups in DC-Hogan, Venable, etc. Expressing interest in "regulatory law" during interviews worked for me just fine, but I had a coherent explanation for the interest. But, if you can explain an interest in a specific specialty, do that. For example, use your experience this summer.

I think Chambers is the best source for deciding where to work, as in-house counsel often utilize it to determine who to hire. For example, http://www.chambersandpartners.com/usa/Editorial/42858. Vault obviously gives a good list of the general "prestige" a firm enjoys, which is of course important. Each firm has a different set of regulatory areas they excel in.


I would be shocked to find out that Hogan and Venable permit lawyers to wander around their regulatory groups doing a little bit of this area of law and some of that area of law. Of the first ten people I clicked on Venable's list, nine listed an industry focus in their first sentence and the tenth was a new first year associate's profile. Hogan went ten for ten with with specific industries or specialties mentioned in the first line.



Then be shocked. I know for a fact that your first few years (2-4) at at least two of the firms mentioned in this thread, associates are often generally assigned to the "regulatory group" as they specialize in an area and find a specific industry of focus.

Anonymous User
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:32 pm

Showing an interest in regulatory law - particularly if your resume can show a background in a specific industry area like energy, telecoms, or healthcare - can make a huge difference when applying to DC firms, simply because it sets you apart from most candidates. Lots of T10 students want to come to DC for appellate litigation, so laying out regulatory work as your reason for interest in a firm (again, assuming you can back it up) can help your interview stand out.

Also, a major perk of regulatory law vs litigation (depending on your temperament) is that the "specialty" bar associations - health, energy, environmental, etc - are frequently very collegial due to their small size. Everyone knows everyone, and it pays to build a reputation as someone who opposing counsel or the relevant agency can work with. For instance, health plans (Blue Cross/Aetna) can have interests that are completely aligned with hospital groups on certain regulations, while being miles apart on others, so no one wants to burn bridges with someone they'll need on their side for a later case. Litigators can afford to be assholes in some adversarial proceedings; regulatory lawyers usually can't. Depending on your work style, there can be a big difference, even within one firm.

Finally, if you have a specific industry focus, look through the Chambers rankings and apply to the top boutiques in each area as well as the biglaw firms. In DC, regulatory boutiques tend to pay six figures (albeit not 160 to start), have big-name clients in their field of expertise, and frequently are more humane places to work in terms of hours.

09042014
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby 09042014 » Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:47 pm

You can also tailor your interest in regulation to the firms specific area of specialty. You tell Wiley Rein you want to do Telecom, you tell Akin Gump Healthcare, A&P-Enviro, etc. etc.

This will help you get offers, and once you actually go to work, your probably wanna be in your firms best practice area. That seems like a good way to get access to good work at firms who don't have a ton of high end work. Should lead to better exist options. But this is conjecture.

Alexandria
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby Alexandria » Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:03 pm

I think it's fine to say in an interview that you want to do regulatory work, but you should have some idea of what that means and what the firm's regulatory strengths are. I also think it's a good idea, when you are a summer, to do what you can to get as many regulatory projects as possible. I don't know how other firms work, but in terms of getting into my practice group once I arrived at the firm as an associate, I believe it really helped at my firm that I had gotten to know a bunch of lawyers in my (now) practice group when I was a summer associate. So try to pick a regulatory area you're interested in while you're a summer, and if you can demonstrate an interest in that area through law school classes, even better. The individual practice groups are small and might only take one new associate a year. And I do believe (as I think most do) that there is a real difference between being a regulatory associate and being a litigation or a corporate associate. Not only is the work (IMO) MUCH more interesting, but the demands are saner. And I also think you get more client contact, as well as agency contact, right away.

Again, I don't know how other firms work -- but this is my impression as a 3rd year regulatory associate.

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Redamon1
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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby Redamon1 » Sat Jun 15, 2013 2:30 pm

Great thread. Another rising 2L prepping for OCI here... Can one do this kind of work outside DC? I get that many of the agencies issue regulations from DC but they apply nationally, so I would imagine that regulatory work/practices exist in other cities? I would also imagine that companies need help making sense of and implementing state regulations. Names of firms doing this kind of work in SF & NYC would be appreciated. I'm open to various topic areas (and have work experience in a couple): energy, environment, food & beverage, anti-trust, consumer finance.

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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby Alexandria » Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:39 pm

Redamon1 wrote:Great thread. Another rising 2L prepping for OCI here... Can one do this kind of work outside DC? I get that many of the agencies issue regulations from DC but they apply nationally, so I would imagine that regulatory work/practices exist in other cities? I would also imagine that companies need help making sense of and implementing state regulations. Names of firms doing this kind of work in SF & NYC would be appreciated. I'm open to various topic areas (and have work experience in a couple): energy, environment, food & beverage, anti-trust, consumer finance.


Not as much. DC really is the hub of agency work. I work in a telecom practice, and that is certainly true for us. It's probably less true for certain other industries, like finance and NYC, I'd imagine. And there is some work in front of state regulators, like public utilities commissions. But overall, regulatory work is a uniquely DC practice.

I should note that you can have related industry practices that are not so regulatory in nature in other markets. Like I know other communications lawyers who work in, for example, California. But their practices are completely different -- and more litigation-based. They don't really do any FCC work -- and that is our bread and butter.

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Re: Regulatory Work and DC biglaw questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:34 am

Alexandria wrote:
Redamon1 wrote:Great thread. Another rising 2L prepping for OCI here... Can one do this kind of work outside DC? I get that many of the agencies issue regulations from DC but they apply nationally, so I would imagine that regulatory work/practices exist in other cities? I would also imagine that companies need help making sense of and implementing state regulations. Names of firms doing this kind of work in SF & NYC would be appreciated. I'm open to various topic areas (and have work experience in a couple): energy, environment, food & beverage, anti-trust, consumer finance.


Not as much. DC really is the hub of agency work. I work in a telecom practice, and that is certainly true for us. It's probably less true for certain other industries, like finance and NYC, I'd imagine. And there is some work in front of state regulators, like public utilities commissions. But overall, regulatory work is a uniquely DC practice.

I should note that you can have related industry practices that are not so regulatory in nature in other markets. Like I know other communications lawyers who work in, for example, California. But their practices are completely different -- and more litigation-based. They don't really do any FCC work -- and that is our bread and butter.


Definitely true. DC is the epicenter for most federally regulated areas, and most of the law firm opportunities in regulatory practices are there. Some work is in state capitals (energy and insurance have a pretty big role for state regulators, for example). The only major exception might be in-house regulatory work (i.e. working for an energy company in Texas, or a health insurance company based in New York, etc) - most big companies with a federal regulatory overlay to their business will have a few attorneys in the GC's office who specialize in that subject matter. Even if you're really set on doing regulatory work outside of DC long-term, it could be worth working in DC for a few years, then moving elsewhere once you have some experience.




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