Who Really Wins?

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Re: Who Really Wins?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:20 pm

Different poster from the anon above but headed down a similar path. I've practiced at two different litigation firms in two major markets before recently deciding to make the jump to a non-legal gig at a start-up. My reasons for leaving are somewhat similar to the anon's - I don't "hate" the practice of law but I don't enjoy it either and couldn't imagine myself getting stuck in practice for the rest of my career. Just like the above anon's, many of my friends are shocked that I'm leaving (although I think that a number of them also wish they could/would make a similar transition).

I didn't go down the "typical move in-house to a client of a firm" because I didn't want to do legal work anymore. Going in-house changes your work environment but probably not the nature of the majority of your substantive work. Making the transition into a non-legal startup gig as a lawyer is not easy. The sad truth is that being an attorney allows you to develop a skillset useful for...being an attorney. You can try to spin how well you communicate or how you think analytically because you're a lawyer, but many startups are looking for people with specific business-related skills. For me, I was a business major in UG and worked at a startup for a year prior to law school. Both of those points helped me to get interviews. Landing an actual job, however, was still difficult. Making the transition really depends on what type of prior education/work experience you have before law school, and connections you have in the company/industry. If you really are serious about making the jump to a non-legal gig, you'd be wise to try to do it sooner rather than later. The older/more entrenched you get in your legal career, the harder it will be to make a transition.

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los blancos
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Re: Who Really Wins?

Postby los blancos » Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:42 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote: Even in the t14, I'd say a large percentage the students are the types of intelligent and ambitious people who would have been successful without the t14 degree. (Obviously, there are also losers who would not have been as successful without the t14 degree, but I suspect a lot of those people are the ones who get weeded out of biglaw within 3-5 years).

I think this was a lot more true 30-40 years ago when it was a lot easier for people who were just good at what they did or generally smart and motivated to be successful. I don't think that's nearly as true anymore in this retardedly overcompetitive world.

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Re: Who Really Wins?

Postby bk1 » Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:28 pm

Some rambling:

For me, I think I'm okay with not figuring out my end goal. I've got some ideas on what I think I'd like to do, but who the fuck really knows until you do them. So far, I've at least liked each step I've taken. If at some point I don't like whatever step I'm in, I'll figure something else out (even if that means delaying that next step until I've got debt under control).

I think the OP question misses things by a bit. To return to the philosophical point: who cares about the outcome, isn't the journey more important? If being a biglaw partner is something you'd absolutely love because of all the business-driven aspects, but you actually hate most regular legal work, are you really winning if you spend 10-15 years doing what you hate so you can then spend another 10-15 years doing what you actually like?

I realize I've taken a lot of risks and that this career entails a lot of risks. Maybe one day I'll regret them, but so far I haven't. Once I don't what I'm doing, I think I'll do my best to transition into something else. But who knows what I'll really do since I can't predict the future.

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Re: Who Really Wins?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:26 am

TTTooKewl wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a later career attorney (about 7-8 years out of school) that started "on track" and veered off. I went to T-14 on a scholarship. Afterwards, I went to BigLaw. I went because I thought the people were smart and I found the opportunity to get an understanding of the internal workings of companies pretty compelling. I also like high stakes situations -- it's just more interesting when the outcome has the potential for great victory or miserable failure.<br abp="881"><br abp="882">My firm loved me (I built a decent book of business from well regarded companies as a junior associate) and they let me know that they would be willing to drop a few years off the partner track if I kept going. Making partner didn't seem particularly interesting intellectually or challenging beyond the time commitment, so I left as a midlevel for a non-legal position. People thought I was insane. <br abp="883"><br abp="884">I found it very hard to explain to people why leaving was the right decision for me, particularly since I was actually reasonably happy as a lawyer. I basically told people I liked being a lawyer but didn't love it, so I didn't see much point in continuing. Millenial stuff. <br abp="885"><br abp="886">This is a very roundabout way of saying that BigLaw is the easy choice but it is rarely the right one. Spending some time to ask why you're going to BigLaw over other alternatives seems like a good place to start. Most people go for money or prestige. They're both pretty terrible reasons since they essentially operate as crappy proxies for actual personal satisfaction. Chasing money and prestige is rough because you're always measuring yourself relative to other people and you're always going to be on the losing end of that comparison. It was easy for me to leave law because I never particularly cared about anything other than working with smart people and learning new things. Once I stopped learning things I valued, I left. <br abp="887"><br abp="888">After law, I went into startups. Eventually ran one. Sold the company. Now I'm pretty senior at a company in the middle of massive growth. People seem to think I made the right decision now, but it's largely because I've stumbled back in to money and prestige, which has very little to do with why I'm doing what I'm doing. I enjoy my work because it is complex, varied and skill determinant (rather than time being the primary factor). I'd quit tomorrow if it became something I liked but didn't love.
<br abp="889"><br abp="890">Could you explain a little about your transition? How does one "go into startups"? Did you know people in startups from your pre-law network? (I ask these questions because it sounds like you didn't make the typical move in-house to a client of the firm's.) Did you bring relevant, non-legal skills to the table?

I had 0 pre-law connections or experience. I spent a lot of time talking business with my clients and helping them with business terms in addition to legal risk mitigation. They wanted me in a business capacity but my legal background had some benefit. I was also well networked in my target industry by the time I made the leap.

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