New associate wanting London

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Anonymous User
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New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:27 pm

Hoping to see if anyone might have insight on this.

I'm a grad from a T14, with good GPA, summer'd with a well-known firm, and have a mix of courses. I'll be starting as an associate in a few months and am psyched about the firm.

However, I'm also pretty committed to the idea of trying to get to London. From what I understand, the majority of the work for J.D.'s in London will be transactional roles for companies wanting to access US equity markets. The problem, here, is that I won't be doing that sort of work at my firm, so I don't feel comfortable, if I really want to pursue this, putting it off and hoping I can retool my skill-set a few years in. Also, the firm does not have a London office. So, what seems more reasonable to me is attempting to make this happen ASAP.

First off, I assume that this is going to be very difficult and if anything were to work out, it'd include considerable luck.

Second, I'm not even sure how to go about this. Do I contact legal recruiters? Do I directly apply to firms with offices in London with American attorneys to apply? Would my school's career services office be even worth attempting to access (the only thing I can imagine is that they may have alumni in London they could put me in contact with to network).

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:00 pm

London is indeed overwhelmingly transactional, with some international arbitration. Litigation work is less at London law firms anyway because of the split profession, and will overwhelmingly be done by UK-qualified people.

Watch out for firms whose London offices are just minor outposts, at least on the US law side. Also watch out for offices that were formerly UK law-only but have changed due to a merger. You should look for a place with a relatively large US-qualified contingent and its own clients (as opposed to "British side of US client's work" places).

I've been told by an attorney in a London office that the culture is very different. Expect to wear a suit everyday, except possibly Friday. If you're female, you may notice a 'laddish' culture that excludes women. British people drink much more than Americans, although the glass of wine at lunch has now disappeared. Sexual harrassment, etc., is nowhere near the problem it is in Continental Europe, but is worse than the US. Also expect a lot of late nights because the time difference means NY's 6pm conference call is London's 11pm.

Anonymous User
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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:London is indeed overwhelmingly transactional, with some international arbitration. Litigation work is less at London law firms anyway because of the split profession, and will overwhelmingly be done by UK-qualified people.

Watch out for firms whose London offices are just minor outposts, at least on the US law side. Also watch out for offices that were formerly UK law-only but have changed due to a merger. You should look for a place with a relatively large US-qualified contingent and its own clients (as opposed to "British side of US client's work" places).

I've been told by an attorney in a London office that the culture is very different. Expect to wear a suit everyday, except possibly Friday. If you're female, you may notice a 'laddish' culture that excludes women. British people drink much more than Americans, although the glass of wine at lunch has now disappeared. Sexual harrassment, etc., is nowhere near the problem it is in Continental Europe, but is worse than the US. Also expect a lot of late nights because the time difference means NY's 6pm conference call is London's 11pm.


Thanks for the info!

Is there a cause for the concern of the smaller offices, or offices that are ancillary? I assume this just means that employment may fluctuate with client demand, which means job instability (which is particularly bad with such a narrow employment opportunity in another country)? Or is there something else to watch out for?

Also, another reason I'm wanting to do this sooner rather than later is that I'm late 20's and single and willing to adapt to wherever I am, so it's kind of an ideal time to get into a new workplace, have insane hours, and be in a foreign country. The cultural stuff is all fine by me.


Any advice on avenues to explore this? Am I even in a place where a legal recruiter will deal with me?

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:London is indeed overwhelmingly transactional, with some international arbitration. Litigation work is less at London law firms anyway because of the split profession, and will overwhelmingly be done by UK-qualified people.

Watch out for firms whose London offices are just minor outposts, at least on the US law side. Also watch out for offices that were formerly UK law-only but have changed due to a merger. You should look for a place with a relatively large US-qualified contingent and its own clients (as opposed to "British side of US client's work" places).

I've been told by an attorney in a London office that the culture is very different. Expect to wear a suit everyday, except possibly Friday. If you're female, you may notice a 'laddish' culture that excludes women. British people drink much more than Americans, although the glass of wine at lunch has now disappeared. Sexual harrassment, etc., is nowhere near the problem it is in Continental Europe, but is worse than the US. Also expect a lot of late nights because the time difference means NY's 6pm conference call is London's 11pm.


Thanks for the info!

Is there a cause for the concern of the smaller offices, or offices that are ancillary? I assume this just means that employment may fluctuate with client demand, which means job instability (which is particularly bad with such a narrow employment opportunity in another country)? Or is there something else to watch out for?

Also, another reason I'm wanting to do this sooner rather than later is that I'm late 20's and single and willing to adapt to wherever I am, so it's kind of an ideal time to get into a new workplace, have insane hours, and be in a foreign country. The cultural stuff is all fine by me.


Any advice on avenues to explore this? Am I even in a place where a legal recruiter will deal with me?


A few firms that have a good rep for their London offices include Skadden, Latham, and Cleary.

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A few firms that have a good rep for their London offices include Skadden, Latham, and Cleary.


I am curious about what factors in a firm I should look out for and the particular risks attendant to the special circumstances of being an American J.D. in another country. As with a U.S. position, I am sure that the better the firm, the better the work and the better the stability should economic factors come into play. But are there special considerations that I need to have?

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:24 pm

+1 for Latham. This was awhile ago I heard this, but within the last year to six months they were hoping to bring over more people to their London office.

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:+1 for Latham. This was awhile ago I heard this, but within the last year to six months they were hoping to bring over more people to their London office.


Good to know. Sounds like if legal recruiters don't give me much of a response that I'll just start mailing firms with larger US practices there.

gnuwheels
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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby gnuwheels » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:51 pm

First off, can you expound a bit on the precise reasons you're committed to London? It's a pretty big decision and a commitment to a very narrow practice area, and you're going to have to spin that interest well. Also, I feel like maybe in your position you'll need less of the international connections/interests, but you're still gonna want to accentuate any you have.

Re: firms. Latham's practice is big but very narrow (exclusively high yield as far as I know). White & Case is one to look at. Also why not magic circle?

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:02 pm

gnuwheels wrote:First off, can you expound a bit on the precise reasons you're committed to London? It's a pretty big decision and a commitment to a very narrow practice area, and you're going to have to spin that interest well. Also, I feel like maybe in your position you'll need less of the international connections/interests, but you're still gonna want to accentuate any you have.

Re: firms. Latham's practice is big but very narrow (exclusively high yield as far as I know). White & Case is one to look at. Also why not magic circle?


W&C expanded in the UK via merger, and I think the US practice is not as big as some firms' London offices (though not small either). MC is a very bad choice for a JD, imho: their US work goes thru their US offices, and their London offices do very little US work. Don't go MC unless you plan on cross-qualifying as an English solicitor.

My general advice: see whether there's a massive pay differential between US qualified (US firms usually pay NY rates, sometimes plus travel allowances) and UK qualified (for MC firms, GBP55-60k ~ $90k for a first year non-trainee) lawyers. Big pay gaps = resentment/bad office climate. Places like Latham pay both UK and US qualifieds NY rates; W&C has a substantial pay gap; if MC firms even have US lawyers in their London offices, the pay gap is almost 2:1 US:UK qual.

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:05 pm

gnuwheels wrote:First off, can you expound a bit on the precise reasons you're committed to London? It's a pretty big decision and a commitment to a very narrow practice area, and you're going to have to spin that interest well. Also, I feel like maybe in your position you'll need less of the international connections/interests, but you're still gonna want to accentuate any you have.

Re: firms. Latham's practice is big but very narrow (exclusively high yield as far as I know). White & Case is one to look at. Also why not magic circle?


I don't have the concrete reasons, such as having lived there or having family there, but I have a strong desire otherwise and feel fairly confident that I can display that to interviewers. Partially it's a chance to take my career abroad.

I'm not foreclosing on any type of firm, Magic Circle would be great, really I'm just trying to get a sense right now of where I should even be looking, and then how to go about finding this. I feel as though I'm in a slightly strange position, not being a student at OCI and not being a practicing attorney in the areas that need the work over there - so I'm kind of in between.

As far as the type of work, I'm incredibly open. As a fresh grad I obviously have a lot to learn and the first few years will provide a lot of learning and development wherever I go and whatever I do. At this point, no practice area is repugnant to me and as long as I'm doing something that will carry forward into a career practice, I'm happy to learn it.

Anonymous User
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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:W&C expanded in the UK via merger, and I think the US practice is not as big as some firms' London offices (though not small either). MC is a very bad choice for a JD, imho: their US work goes thru their US offices, and their London offices do very little US work. Don't go MC unless you plan on cross-qualifying as an English solicitor.

My general advice: see whether there's a massive pay differential between US qualified (US firms usually pay NY rates, sometimes plus travel allowances) and UK qualified (for MC firms, GBP55-60k ~ $90k for a first year non-trainee) lawyers. Big pay gaps = resentment/bad office climate. Places like Latham pay both UK and US qualifieds NY rates; W&C has a substantial pay gap; if MC firms even have US lawyers in their London offices, the pay gap is almost 2:1 US:UK qual.


Really, that's surprising to hear about MC, does this lead to a strange assortment of work coming across the JD's desks? And at this point I do not have any intention of qualifying as a solicitor, so that's certainly something I need to find our more about.

My understanding is that most of these jobs maintain parity with NY rates, and that'd be my expectation if I made the move. I can't imagine that the pay disparity is escapable, given that there aren't going to be offices with only JD's; are you saying that this is a source of discord in offices?

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:W&C expanded in the UK via merger, and I think the US practice is not as big as some firms' London offices (though not small either). MC is a very bad choice for a JD, imho: their US work goes thru their US offices, and their London offices do very little US work. Don't go MC unless you plan on cross-qualifying as an English solicitor.

My general advice: see whether there's a massive pay differential between US qualified (US firms usually pay NY rates, sometimes plus travel allowances) and UK qualified (for MC firms, GBP55-60k ~ $90k for a first year non-trainee) lawyers. Big pay gaps = resentment/bad office climate. Places like Latham pay both UK and US qualifieds NY rates; W&C has a substantial pay gap; if MC firms even have US lawyers in their London offices, the pay gap is almost 2:1 US:UK qual.


Really, that's surprising to hear about MC, does this lead to a strange assortment of work coming across the JD's desks? And at this point I do not have any intention of qualifying as a solicitor, so that's certainly something I need to find our more about.

My understanding is that most of these jobs maintain parity with NY rates, and that'd be my expectation if I made the move. I can't imagine that the pay disparity is escapable, given that there aren't going to be offices with only JD's; are you saying that this is a source of discord in offices?


I think parity between solicitors and attorneys is a sign of a good office; can't really give anecdotal evidence of discord, but I think it's a sign that the firm takes its London office seriously if it has a good split of US (i.e., NY) and UK qualifieds and doesn't have a huge disparity in pay. That's less of an issue if it's an established UK firm; if it's a US firm, it's a sign it's lacking in UK-based business and isn't looking to grow.

One more firm for the 'strong London office' list, btw: B&McK. Gibson Dunn made waves a few years ago by paying the former UK AG a huge amount to join its London office - particularly unusual since it's almost unheard of for barristers to join law firms in the UK rather than practicing in 'Chambers' (collections of self-employed barristers). Gibson might, therefore, have a strong London litigation practice; not sure about whether it involves any work a US-qualified lawyer could do other than int arb.

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:18 pm

So, does anyone have advice regarding dealing with recruiters, particularly from the somewhat unorthodox position that I'm in?

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:19 pm

it helps a lot if you speak European languages such as French or German

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:43 pm

What sort of response from a legal recruiter should one be expecting in these circumstances?

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What sort of response from a legal recruiter should one be expecting in these circumstances?

Most recruiters do not work with you until you're employed as an associate. It is very hard to get them to work with you if you're a fresh grad. I suppose the thought is that you should be using career services at your law school.

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Re: New associate wanting London

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:28 pm

I'm in a similar position as OP was - wanting to start in London next fall - and wondering if OP could give an update on his/her situation?




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