The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

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wert3813

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The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby wert3813 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:27 pm

From time to time questions about white collar pop up and as it's something I'm interested in it I thought I would make a central place for discussion. This thread is meant to be for associates working in white collar, summers who dabbled or want to dabble, and future attorneys interested in the practice.

Vault Top 20

W&C
Skadden
Debevoise
Paul Weiss
S&C
Gibson Dunn
WilmerHale
Covington
Cravath
Davis Polk
Kirkland
Wachtell
Boies
Jones Day
Quinn
White & Case
Sidley
Latham
Akin
Steptoe

Initial topics for discussion:
How many of these firms actually have enough work/let associates do this type of work early on?
New York for securities DC for non-securities is thought to be TCR. Accurate?
A major misconception for some people about white collar is you are going to trial. Any white collar lawyers on here wanna share what their day is actually like?
Let's be honest, is the work at an associate level that much different that being a litigation associate?

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby heartbreaker » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:45 pm

At least in New York, GDC, Skadden and S&C have really interesting and diversified white collar work, if you can break into the practice group. One great way to break into a practice group with a lot of FCPA work is language skills. Spanish, Chinese and Arabic (and maybe Russian) are most helpful.

There is a significant distinction between doing white collar work in biglaw or white collar work at one of the specialized white collar boutiques. Biglaw generally represents companies and the boutiques represent individual executives or employees. You will almost certainly not go to trial as a white collar associate at big law. Corporations never go to trial and always take guilty pleas or civil settlements of some sort. The firm's role is to do a comprehensive investigation of the facts and make an argument to the government to minimize the penalties from the settlement, or avoid charges. A white collar group that frequently goes to trial is not successful - the goal is to avoid indictment in the first place. Boutiques do have trial work, because executives have much more at stake and are more willing to fight the government or the SEC. However, the majority of the work is pre-indictment fact development and advocacy.

My recommendation would be to get a clerkship and then go to a boutique. The quality of work is tremendous and you have immediate responsibility in terms of fact development, substantive writing and client management. White collar associates at biglaw do much of the same work that litigation associates do (document review, interview memos, legal memos), although the cases are more interesting than your typical breach of contract. However, since the white collar groups are smaller at most big law shops (though small is relative), you will get an opportunity for more responsibility early on (as in, by your 2nd or 3rd year). Still, everything about the work experience at a boutique is better.

You can PM me for more details re: white collar boutique practice or white collar practice in NY.

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby wert3813 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:55 pm

heartbreaker wrote:At least in New York, GDC, Skadden and S&C have really interesting and diversified white collar work, if you can break into the practice group. One great way to break into a practice group with a lot of FCPA work is language skills. Spanish, Chinese and Arabic (and maybe Russian) are most helpful.

There is a significant distinction between doing white collar work in biglaw or white collar work at one of the specialized white collar boutiques. Biglaw generally represents companies and the boutiques represent individual executives or employees. You will almost certainly not go to trial as a white collar associate at big law. Corporations never go to trial and always take guilty pleas or civil settlements of some sort. The firm's role is to do a comprehensive investigation of the facts and make an argument to the government to minimize the penalties from the settlement, or avoid charges. A white collar group that frequently goes to trial is not successful - the goal is to avoid indictment in the first place. Boutiques do have trial work, because executives have much more at stake and are more willing to fight the government or the SEC. However, the majority of the work is pre-indictment fact development and advocacy.

My recommendation would be to get a clerkship and then go to a boutique. The quality of work is tremendous and you have immediate responsibility in terms of fact development, substantive writing and client management. White collar associates at biglaw do much of the same work that litigation associates do (document review, interview memos, legal memos), although the cases are more interesting than your typical breach of contract. However, since the white collar groups are smaller at most big law shops (though small is relative), you will get an opportunity for more responsibility early on (as in, by your 2nd or 3rd year). Still, everything about the work experience at a boutique is better.

You can PM me for more details re: white collar boutique practice or white collar practice in NY.

This is excellent stuff and great to get the boutique perspective. Thanks!

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:28 pm

Had an interview with Cadwalader in DC where they have a strong FCPA group. Associates travel all over the globe and loved it. Travel even as 1st years.

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby wert3813 » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:Had an interview with Cadwalader in DC where they have a strong FCPA group. Associates travel all over the globe and loved it. Travel even as 1st years.

Thanks for sharing. Any summers or associates wanna offer their experiences with Cadwalader's FCPA practice? Also slightly OT but what is the culture of the DC office like? You can read things on the internet but I'm always skeptical since usually culture defaults to the NY office and culture is so office specific.

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:49 am

I'm a first year doing some of this work now at a BigLaw firm not on the list (my firm has a general litigation practice and you just kind of end up doing whatever is available). It's incredibly interesting and I'm really hoping to get more. It's been a ton of doc review (which is generally the case with internal investigations and white collar work as a whole), but it's super interesting.

I can definitely see how language skills would be a huge plus, but if you're not looking to get into a super competitive group, and the work is available, they're not required just to break in.

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:50 pm

wert3813 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Had an interview with Cadwalader in DC where they have a strong FCPA group. Associates travel all over the globe and loved it. Travel even as 1st years.

Thanks for sharing. Any summers or associates wanna offer their experiences with Cadwalader's FCPA practice? Also slightly OT but what is the culture of the DC office like? You can read things on the internet but I'm always skeptical since usually culture defaults to the NY office and culture is so office specific.



Different anon with a summer offer there. DC office is really collegial. Everybody seemed to get along and stressed a difference from the Ny office. Granted the firm has gotten better in past few years they said. Associates had traveled to basically every continent for work. Many had done stints at DOJ or USAO and lateraled in or worked for a few years and came back to the firm. Office setting was more modern and open doors.

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby wert3813 » Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
wert3813 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Had an interview with Cadwalader in DC where they have a strong FCPA group. Associates travel all over the globe and loved it. Travel even as 1st years.

Thanks for sharing. Any summers or associates wanna offer their experiences with Cadwalader's FCPA practice? Also slightly OT but what is the culture of the DC office like? You can read things on the internet but I'm always skeptical since usually culture defaults to the NY office and culture is so office specific.



Different anon with a summer offer there. DC office is really collegial. Everybody seemed to get along and stressed a difference from the Ny office. Granted the firm has gotten better in past few years they said. Associates had traveled to basically every continent for work. Many had done stints at DOJ or USAO and lateraled in or worked for a few years and came back to the firm. Office setting was more modern and open doors.

Good to know. Did you take the offer there?

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby anon919 » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:22 pm

Bump

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:18 pm

Great thread. Would enjoying crim and crim pro classes your 1L year be good ways to show interest in white collar work? Or is that too transparent?

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 16, 2014 8:42 pm

Current SA. Probably going to be placed in my firm's FCPA group. What are the main exit options from FCPA? Is in-house counsel a viable option?

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:30 am

Looking to find a comprehensive list of firms with top FCPA practices. I have a decent list of large firms, but does anyone have any boutique lists?

Law360 counts the following as the top 10. I'm assuming the DC office is the main for FCPA given the locations of the practitioners on the firm sites:

-WilmerHale
-WilkieFarr
-Venable
-Reed Smith
-Kirkland & Ellis
-Gibson Dunn
- Debevoise (NY)
-Davis Polk (NY)
-Crowell & Moring
-Cahill Gordon (NY)

I believe other good firms for FCPA include, in no particular order:
-Weil (DC)
-Skadden (DC)
-Covington
-Steptoe & Johnson
-Paul Hastings (DC)
-Cleary (DC)
-Shearman & Sterling
- Squire Patton Boggs
- Jones Day (DC)
-Akin Gump
- White & Case
- Arnold & Porter
-Miller & Chevalier
-O'Melveney
-Cadwallader (DC)
-King & Spalding
-Hogan Lovells

Firms that I've had recommended, but haven't dug up enough info on yet: Holland & Knight, Ropes & Gray, Fried Frank, Morgan Lewis, Morrison & Foerster, Shepperd Mullin, Latham

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:Current SA. Probably going to be placed in my firm's FCPA group. What are the main exit options from FCPA? Is in-house counsel a viable option?


Do you need to be multilingual for FCPA work

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:54 am

Not at all, otherwise FCPA lawyers would only work in the languages that they speak in (rarely more than 1 or 2). The language skills are a big bonus if you happen to land a case where it would be useful. Other than that, it is an indication of cultural awareness.

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby 1492 » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:41 pm

How well does a few years work experience in a big four accounting firm's forensics group set you up for one of these positions?

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:00 am

Do you think it would be possible to try and lateral to this group from being a first year corporate associate? I'm at one of the firms listed as the top 10 for FCPA.

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Re: The All Things White Collar/FCPA/etc. Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Looking to find a comprehensive list of firms with top FCPA practices. I have a decent list of large firms, but does anyone have any boutique lists?

Law360 counts the following as the top 10. I'm assuming the DC office is the main for FCPA given the locations of the practitioners on the firm sites:

-WilmerHale
-WilkieFarr
-Venable
-Reed Smith
-Kirkland & Ellis
-Gibson Dunn
- Debevoise (NY)
-Davis Polk (NY)
-Crowell & Moring
-Cahill Gordon (NY)

I believe other good firms for FCPA include, in no particular order:
-Weil (DC)
-Skadden (DC)
-Covington
-Steptoe & Johnson
-Paul Hastings (DC)
-Cleary (DC)
-Shearman & Sterling
- Squire Patton Boggs
- Jones Day (DC)
-Akin Gump
- White & Case
- Arnold & Porter
-Miller & Chevalier
-O'Melveney
-Cadwallader (DC)
-King & Spalding
-Hogan Lovells

Firms that I've had recommended, but haven't dug up enough info on yet: Holland & Knight, Ropes & Gray, Fried Frank, Morgan Lewis, Morrison & Foerster, Shepperd Mullin, Latham


I'm a biglaw senior associate (NYC) who works at one of the top 10 firms listed above. A lot of my time was FCPA work up until about 2 years ago (we have a generalist practice for the first few years and then people tend to drift into the work that they want, usually focusing more on either investigations or litigation). FCPA/investigations weren't a good fit for me so I've managed to avoid it for the last couple of years. But I know some folks who absolutely love it and do it almost exclusively (and internal investigations more generally). Some things that people tend to like:

1) FCPA offers a lot more opportunity for international travel than pretty much any group (corporate or lit) in biglaw outside of extremely niche practice areas like international arb.
2) The law is relatively straightforward, most the legal research is generally keeping track of developments in the industry, other investigations and settlements, etc, rather than Westlaw/Lexis research. I personally was never asked to do any legal research.
3) Exit options are much broader than general lit. Not only into the government, but also in-house at banks and F500s.
4) For senior associates, work/life balance can be saner than many of the lit subspecialties unless it's during interviews or presenting to the government. Hours for more junior folks can be worse because of the big teams and lots of different workstreams and general mismanagement that goes with being five levels removed from the decision-makers. However, a big investigation can mean you don't have to worry about your hours for years.
5) Fact investigation can be really fun - it's a rush to find that critical document or to piece together an important series of events.
6) As someone said above, your "opposing counsel" are the government, who are usually saner to work with than private counsel (the fact that the objective is to be cooperative with them contributes to that).

Some things I personally didn't like about FCPA (again, this is just me personally, everyone's experience is different):

1) A lot of the work was cross-offices. If your firm does not do a great job ensuring work flows seamlessly between different offices that can be a big negative.
2) This is not unique to FCPA work but the teams are generally larger which causes management issues. Lawyers are pretty terrible managers and biglaw lawyers especially. Related to this, these matters typically have high leverage which means that it's harder to get substantive work unless you really try to integrate yourself with the partners.
3) Work can be really tedious as a junior and you get ghosted off of matters pretty regularly, which can be demoralizing. All biglaw work is like this to some extent but with FCPA, there isn't really finished product that goes out the door such that you can say "yeah, I drafted section III of that appeal brief back before it got rewritten three times."
4) I have questions about the long-term viability of the practice area. There's been a shift away from FCPA enforcement in the new administration, and companies are seeking lower-cost service providers for a lot of the work. The former will change with a new administration.




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