Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

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Anonymous User
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Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:10 pm

Looking to switch careers into public interest/government work fairly early on, so I don't care about not having the optimal 2-4 years to be ready to go in house or lateral. What's the earliest I can leave BigLaw to do this without potentially hurting my career? FWIW I'm pretty sure I've seen laterals to "better" BigLaw firms on LinkedIn who only stayed at my firm for a year. Is that common?

NYstate
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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby NYstate » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Looking to switch careers into public interest/government work fairly early on, so I don't care about not having the optimal 2-4 years to be ready to go in house or lateral. What's the earliest I can leave BigLaw to do this without potentially hurting my career? FWIW I'm pretty sure I've seen laterals to other BigLaw firms on LinkedIn who only stayed at my firm for a year. Is that common?


If you are leaving biglaw for government or PI, won't your problem be convincing them that you want PI? I don't think there is a timeframe, just leave when you find a job you want.

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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:14 pm

Yes, it will. But I've already made threads about that/tried to take career steps to mitigate that. So what's done is done, and I have to work my way around that. Thanks for the reply, though.

NYstate
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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby NYstate » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Yes, it will. But I've already made threads about that/tried to take career steps to mitigate that. So what's done is done, and I have to work my way around that. Thanks for the reply, though.


What I mean is that convincing them to hire you may be a bigger problem than when you leave biglaw. If you leave biglaw and plan to spend years at another job, it won't hurt you when you leave that job.

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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:18 pm

I understood your post. Obviously, I would probably not leave unless I could accomplish that goal in the first place. I know it's difficult, but I'm willing to give it a shot. I've already accepted my full-time offer, so there's no going back on that now. I've tried to build my PI resume simultaneously, but I understand that clearly I will not be as strong a candidate as others.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby Old Gregg » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:20 pm

Not that hard. Biglaw to PI is a pretty established path, and one that is sometimes superior to other more conventional paths into PI. Don't know why poster above is getting you down.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:26 pm

I think NYstate is right - I don't think the PI/government employer will remotely care when you leave biglaw. Practically speaking, you may not be able to leave without getting some degree of substantial experience that will make you an attractive candidate for PI/gov, so it make take a while. But there's no real reason to worry that it looks "too soon" to leave, if a job comes up that you want and would be a good candidate for.

The problem is more that a pattern of only staying at jobs for a short time before jumping ship looks bad. But that's not the same as leaving one job after a short time to go to a position where you'd like to stay.

(The "how long do I need to stay" may be more of an issue for going to another firm - a firm might wonder why you're so anxious to leave the first firm so soon - and if you're changing to PI/gov, that concern goes away. And even if you were trying to change firms, staying, say, at least a year is probably more practical - why would another firm want to hire you as a first-year associate? - than anything else.)

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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:37 pm

Thanks. Yeah, it seems experience will be a bigger issue for me -- the area in which I'll probably practice may not be entirely conducive to this switch. I'll see what I can do.

- OP

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Old Gregg
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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby Old Gregg » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks. Yeah, it seems experience will be a bigger issue for me -- the area in which I'll probably practice may not be entirely conducive to this switch. I'll see what I can do.

- OP


Rack up pro bono experience in the areas you are interested in. Go to the annual benefits and other fundraising events. Get integrated with the community.

NYstate
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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby NYstate » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I understood your post. Obviously, I would probably not leave unless I could accomplish that goal in the first place. I know it's difficult, but I'm willing to give it a shot. I've already accepted my full-time offer, so there's no going back on that now. I've tried to build my PI resume simultaneously, but I understand that clearly I will not be as strong a candidate as others.


Wait, you are still in school? I thought you were starting in biglaw now or already almost a year in. If biglaw isn't what you want, work hard to get another job all year. You can always back out of accepting an offer if you find something else. The firm will get over it.

What kind of PI/govt work are you talking about?

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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby echooo23 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:01 pm

NYstate wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I understood your post. Obviously, I would probably not leave unless I could accomplish that goal in the first place. I know it's difficult, but I'm willing to give it a shot. I've already accepted my full-time offer, so there's no going back on that now. I've tried to build my PI resume simultaneously, but I understand that clearly I will not be as strong a candidate as others.


Wait, you are still in school? I thought you were starting in biglaw now or already almost a year in. If biglaw isn't what you want, work hard to get another job all year. You can always back out of accepting an offer if you find something else. The firm will get over it.

What kind of PI/govt work are you talking about?


Biglaw isn't for everyone, but many of us have financial situations that make it the best initial option, regardless of whether it's what we want to do or not.

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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:21 pm

Yes, I'm a 3L who accepted an offer recently. What the above poster said is also true in my case. I am thinking of EJW-type jobs. But I know the deadline for that is in like two weeks, so at this point inertia has set in, and I am thinking of just doing a brief stint in BigLaw while I work out how to switch. I would not be opposed to reneging if I found something, but it seems like that might be an easier path at this point. Thank you to Fresh Prince for the advice. Also already doing clinics/internships/trying to make contacts.

- OP

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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:37 am

My friend clerked for a judge, then went to big law, then after one year of big law went to work as an AUSA. Never hurt his career at the USAO and he has plenty of options now to lateral back into big law (at least that's what he tells me).

NYstate
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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby NYstate » Tue Sep 03, 2013 6:07 am

Anonymous User wrote:Yes, I'm a 3L who accepted an offer recently. What the above poster said is also true in my case. I am thinking of EJW-type jobs. But I know the deadline for that is in like two weeks, so at this point inertia has set in, and I am thinking of just doing a brief stint in BigLaw while I work out how to switch. I would not be opposed to reneging if I found something, but it seems like that might be an easier path at this point. Thank you to Fresh Prince for the advice. Also already doing clinics/internships/trying to make contacts.

- OP


You should at least apply. Everyone I know who says they will just do biglaw for two years is miserable. Biglaw isn't an easy job to just put up with for a couple of years if you honestly want to be somewhere else.

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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby mbison » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:44 am

NYstate wrote:You should at least apply. Everyone I know who says they will just do biglaw for two years is miserable. Biglaw isn't an easy job to just put up with for a couple of years if you honestly want to be somewhere else.


As somebody who did biglaw for several years, I tend to disagree. I would say it's actually quite a bit easier for somebody just looking to coast for a few years. Not being concerned about surviving for the long run allows you to slack while still getting paid the same salary. If you start in biglaw, you can always save for a few years and then jump ship. The other way, not so much.

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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby NYstate » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:39 pm

mbison wrote:
NYstate wrote:You should at least apply. Everyone I know who says they will just do biglaw for two years is miserable. Biglaw isn't an easy job to just put up with for a couple of years if you honestly want to be somewhere else.


As somebody who did biglaw for several years, I tend to disagree. I would say it's actually quite a bit easier for somebody just looking to coast for a few years. Not being concerned about surviving for the long run allows you to slack while still getting paid the same salary. If you start in biglaw, you can always save for a few years and then jump ship. The other way, not so much.


Slacking isn't the best idea when people are getting stealthed and laid off at top firms. But OP can go that route if he wants. If OP's main question is when is the earliest he can leave for the job he really wants, maybe he should go hard after the job he really wants.
But if he needs the money, and it sounds like he does, then maybe biglaw is his best option instead of struggling for 10 years in PSLF.

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NinerFan
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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby NinerFan » Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:56 pm

Not that I've talked to all that many Gov/PI people, but from the handful I have talked to, they all encouraged doing a Biglaw stint first for the experience, resume line, and $$$. I got the strong feeling that Biglaw -> PI/Gov is easier than LS -> PI/Gov, and you get some cash to pay off your loans to boot.

But with regards to the OP's original question, the limiting factor is more when someone else is willing to hire you. Conventional wisdom is that before 2 years, you generally don't have enough experience or skills to be an attractive candidate for another job.

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Re: Earliest time you can leave BigLaw without raising red flags

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:37 pm

NinerFan wrote:Not that I've talked to all that many Gov/PI people, but from the handful I have talked to, they all encouraged doing a Biglaw stint first for the experience, resume line, and $$$. I got the strong feeling that Biglaw -> PI/Gov is easier than LS -> PI/Gov, and you get some cash to pay off your loans to boot.


This is the impression I get also, from people at my LS who are brave/noble enough to try to go straight to PI -- it seems even more difficult than getting BigLaw. For me, OCI was just like "oh, you have good grades at a T14? Here is a six-figure job at age 23/4/5," which could not help but affect me given that my family is poor, and I've never had a full-time job before. I do feel as if my lack of desire to make partner or stay in the private sector will lead to me just slacking for 1-2 years, and then seeing what I can find. But w/r/t commitment, I almost feel as if there would be more questions/problems about my wanting to switch now than if I tried to switch later.

What mbison says has also been my line of thinking.

- OP




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