5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
TTTooKewl wrote:
What types of places did your former firm colleagues land, after leaving the firm?

It has varied a lot. Some went to other large law firms (usually for geographic reasons), some went to medium sized firms for a better shot at partnership or better lifestyle, many went in-house and a few (not many) left the law completely to switch fields or go into politics.


Thanks for the AMA. I just wanted to flesh out the above re: exiting law. For an M&A associate with 2 years experience (and some finance/accounting ability), are there opportunities for corporate development positions? What about IB? If so, did you consider these at all? Historically this has seemed to vary with the economy, so your input given the 2015 environment would be very interesting.

Also, do you know any associates who left to get an MBA? Where did they end up?

No clue - sorry I couldn't be of more help. I never wanted to pursue a non-legal job. I don't know a single associate that left to get an MBA. Lots of money and lost opportunity cost. No way I would want to start a new career at the bottom - couldn't do it again.

It certainly can't hurt to apply if you are interested in those types of roles. Also, I'd recommend talking to a recruiter, they will have a better sense of your marketability for these roles.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
TTTooKewl wrote:
What types of places did your former firm colleagues land, after leaving the firm?

It has varied a lot. Some went to other large law firms (usually for geographic reasons), some went to medium sized firms for a better shot at partnership or better lifestyle, many went in-house and a few (not many) left the law completely to switch fields or go into politics.


Thanks for the AMA. I just wanted to flesh out the above re: exiting law. For an M&A associate with 2 years experience (and some finance/accounting ability), are there opportunities for corporate development positions? What about IB? If so, did you consider these at all? Historically this has seemed to vary with the economy, so your input given the 2015 environment would be very interesting.

Also, do you know any associates who left to get an MBA? Where did they end up?

No clue - sorry I couldn't be of more help. I never wanted to pursue a non-legal job. I don't know a single associate that left to get an MBA. Lots of money and lost opportunity cost. No way I would want to start a new career at the bottom - couldn't do it again.

It certainly can't hurt to apply if you are interested in those types of roles. Also, I'd recommend talking to a recruiter, they will have a better sense of your marketability for these roles.


Thanks anyway, OP. To anyone else who is interested, I've started a new thread to hopefully get some data on the question above. Here's the link:

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=244622&p=8438211#p8438211

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:09 am

Thanks for taking questions, OP. I'm a third-year M&A associate (NYC) who isn't looking to make a jump yet, but I occasionally peruse some of the jobs sites to see what's out there. In doing so, I've noticed that most of the in-house positions provide either a minimum amount of experience (e.g., 5+ years) or a band of experience (e.g., 4-8 years), and many of them ask for a mix of firm and in-house experience.

In your experience, did you find that the number of years of experience stated was a pretty strict requirement, or did you notice some flexibility there? And could you tell whether companies requesting the mixture of in-house experience were less receptive to your applications than those that did not state that preference, or did you only apply to companies without that stated preference? Thanks.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:23 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions, OP. I'm a third-year M&A associate (NYC) who isn't looking to make a jump yet, but I occasionally peruse some of the jobs sites to see what's out there. In doing so, I've noticed that most of the in-house positions provide either a minimum amount of experience (e.g., 5+ years) or a band of experience (e.g., 4-8 years), and many of them ask for a mix of firm and in-house experience.

In your experience, did you find that the number of years of experience stated was a pretty strict requirement, or did you notice some flexibility there? And could you tell whether companies requesting the mixture of in-house experience were less receptive to your applications than those that did not state that preference, or did you only apply to companies without that stated preference? Thanks.

I ignored job requirements. They often change so you losing out on potential opportunities if you do not apply. It never hurts to apply - it can just be time consuming. I didn't put a ton of effort into cover letters (made a generic one and would revise 2-3 sentences depending on the company). I got interviews for jobs that stated the minimum years of experience was significantly higher than my years of experience. It all just depends. If they want a certain type of person but that person is not applying or is unwilling to accept the comp they set, the company will expand its search (but will not revise the job posting). Some jobs are highly specialized too so you may read the description and be scared that it is outside your skillset. If you are not afraid to learn, apply. The only times putting out lots of applications hurts you is if you start to get a lot of interviews. It can be exhausting, in my opinion, and your current job may start to notice. With that said, most first round interviews are by phone with HR, which allows you to do some real fact gathering. Overall, I'd err on the side of applying to anything that looks remotely interesting. Job descriptions are often not great at capturing the ideal candidate or describing the job.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby jhett » Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:40 pm

Thanks for doing this and I hope you are still checking the thread. You said you interviewed for 10 in-house positions. What are some of your tips for in-house interviews? What are some topics or professional qualities to emphasize? For example, I know one thing they are usually concerned with is that you understand the business. Your role is not just to churn out legal work, but to think strategically about how you as a lawyer can boost the business side of things. How can I convey this (aside from just saying so)?

I ask because I recently interviewed for two in-house positions. I came close to getting both (top 3-5 finalist) but ultimately didn't get either. I'm now at a boutique firm (better hours than my big law firm), but my ultimate goal is still in-house.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:22 pm

jhett wrote:Thanks for doing this and I hope you are still checking the thread. You said you interviewed for 10 in-house positions. What are some of your tips for in-house interviews? What are some topics or professional qualities to emphasize? For example, I know one thing they are usually concerned with is that you understand the business. Your role is not just to churn out legal work, but to think strategically about how you as a lawyer can boost the business side of things. How can I convey this (aside from just saying so)?

I ask because I recently interviewed for two in-house positions. I came close to getting both (top 3-5 finalist) but ultimately didn't get either. I'm now at a boutique firm (better hours than my big law firm), but my ultimate goal is still in-house.

Have a great answer as to why you want this position, why you like the company, and why you are leaving your firm (stay away from much negative). Aside from that, know your resume and relax. I found most interviews to be pretty conversational. I generally tried to emphasize my taking ownership of work and awareness of how business issues drive legal approach. For example, if you are negotiating a SPA with a VC fund that is joining your client's board, you take a very different approach than an M&A deal in which both sides are trying to squeeze out as much value from the deal as possible because they do not care about maintaining a relationship after the deal. My guess is that you do this already but don't fully realize it. Try to think of examples of assignments/projects in which you came up with a creative solution to solve a problem. Maybe you don't have any good examples - if not, don't worry about it. Also, don't try to inorganically bring these up. Generally, I found there were questions which segued into providing these types of examples. Read the Company's 10-K (if public), their website and articles on the Company. If they recently acquired a company or rolled out a new product, try to somehow organically bring it up in a question. In all honesty, don't try too hard. I found that most interviewers are not looking for you to dazzle them with how you well you know their company's problems....because you don't. They want to know that you will fit with the culture (which you shouldn't try to fake...you want it to be a good fit), that you aren't exaggerating your substantive skills, and that you are genuinely interested in the company/position.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions, OP. I'm a third-year M&A associate (NYC) who isn't looking to make a jump yet, but I occasionally peruse some of the jobs sites to see what's out there. In doing so, I've noticed that most of the in-house positions provide either a minimum amount of experience (e.g., 5+ years) or a band of experience (e.g., 4-8 years), and many of them ask for a mix of firm and in-house experience.

In your experience, did you find that the number of years of experience stated was a pretty strict requirement, or did you notice some flexibility there? And could you tell whether companies requesting the mixture of in-house experience were less receptive to your applications than those that did not state that preference, or did you only apply to companies without that stated preference? Thanks.

I ignored job requirements. They often change so you losing out on potential opportunities if you do not apply. It never hurts to apply - it can just be time consuming. I didn't put a ton of effort into cover letters (made a generic one and would revise 2-3 sentences depending on the company). I got interviews for jobs that stated the minimum years of experience was significantly higher than my years of experience. It all just depends. If they want a certain type of person but that person is not applying or is unwilling to accept the comp they set, the company will expand its search (but will not revise the job posting). Some jobs are highly specialized too so you may read the description and be scared that it is outside your skillset. If you are not afraid to learn, apply. The only times putting out lots of applications hurts you is if you start to get a lot of interviews. It can be exhausting, in my opinion, and your current job may start to notice. With that said, most first round interviews are by phone with HR, which allows you to do some real fact gathering. Overall, I'd err on the side of applying to anything that looks remotely interesting. Job descriptions are often not great at capturing the ideal candidate or describing the job.

Thanks very much, OP. This is very helpful information.

As a follow-on, if I'm looking to potentially go in-house in a different market on the opposite coast, would you anticipate that one or more of the interview rounds would require travel to that office for an in-person interview? That probably sounds like an obvious question (as I have to imagine that would be expected as part of the process), so I'm trying to figure out how that typically plays out given the demands of a corporate practice. I believe you mentioned that you didn't interview out of market, but do you have any acquaintances who went through that process?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions, OP. I'm a third-year M&A associate (NYC) who isn't looking to make a jump yet, but I occasionally peruse some of the jobs sites to see what's out there. In doing so, I've noticed that most of the in-house positions provide either a minimum amount of experience (e.g., 5+ years) or a band of experience (e.g., 4-8 years), and many of them ask for a mix of firm and in-house experience.

In your experience, did you find that the number of years of experience stated was a pretty strict requirement, or did you notice some flexibility there? And could you tell whether companies requesting the mixture of in-house experience were less receptive to your applications than those that did not state that preference, or did you only apply to companies without that stated preference? Thanks.

I ignored job requirements. They often change so you losing out on potential opportunities if you do not apply. It never hurts to apply - it can just be time consuming. I didn't put a ton of effort into cover letters (made a generic one and would revise 2-3 sentences depending on the company). I got interviews for jobs that stated the minimum years of experience was significantly higher than my years of experience. It all just depends. If they want a certain type of person but that person is not applying or is unwilling to accept the comp they set, the company will expand its search (but will not revise the job posting). Some jobs are highly specialized too so you may read the description and be scared that it is outside your skillset. If you are not afraid to learn, apply. The only times putting out lots of applications hurts you is if you start to get a lot of interviews. It can be exhausting, in my opinion, and your current job may start to notice. With that said, most first round interviews are by phone with HR, which allows you to do some real fact gathering. Overall, I'd err on the side of applying to anything that looks remotely interesting. Job descriptions are often not great at capturing the ideal candidate or describing the job.

Thanks very much, OP. This is very helpful information.

As a follow-on, if I'm looking to potentially go in-house in a different market on the opposite coast, would you anticipate that one or more of the interview rounds would require travel to that office for an in-person interview? That probably sounds like an obvious question (as I have to imagine that would be expected as part of the process), so I'm trying to figure out how that typically plays out given the demands of a corporate practice. I believe you mentioned that you didn't interview out of market, but do you have any acquaintances who went through that process?

Yes - I would anticipate at least one round of interviews in person. Former colleagues have done it but I never really asked about the specifics and I doubt it would be helpful because each company has a slightly different process. I know of at least one that scheduled the interview for Friday/Monday so she should play it off to firm as a long weekend vacation. At some point, you need to figured out what's more important - interviewing or keeping your current firm happy. If you are interviewing, emphasis should be on the former while trying to placate the latter.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:42 pm

OP here. Bumping in case anyone has any questions related to in house life and to report in.

The switch has been even better than I imagined. The predictable schedule has been truly freeing and a huge stress reliever. It's nice not to track time, but that never really bugged me as much as the unpredictability of big law hours. I also really enjoy the subject matter. The work is sophisticated and it's fun to make decisions rather than teeing up the important issues for clients to decide (like I did at a law firm). Career prospects are also good. I hope to remain at the same company for many years, but I think I'm probably marketable by the time I hit the 1 year marker. The salary hit was a little tough and it still stresses me a little, but it's been manageable. I'm really glad I have a nice nest-egg of cash. I know it's not an efficient use of capital to have a bunch of cash in a savings account, but it's been a big relief for me. I'm really glad I opted for cash rather than paying down loans aggressively.

Feel free to AMA.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby deepseapartners » Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Bumping in case anyone has any questions related to in house life and to report in.

The switch has been even better than I imagined. The predictable schedule has been truly freeing and a huge stress reliever. It's nice not to track time, but that never really bugged me as much as the unpredictability of big law hours. I also really enjoy the subject matter. The work is sophisticated and it's fun to make decisions rather than teeing up the important issues for clients to decide (like I did at a law firm). Career prospects are also good. I hope to remain at the same company for many years, but I think I'm probably marketable by the time I hit the 1 year marker. The salary hit was a little tough and it still stresses me a little, but it's been manageable. I'm really glad I have a nice nest-egg of cash. I know it's not an efficient use of capital to have a bunch of cash in a savings account, but it's been a big relief for me. I'm really glad I opted for cash rather than paying down loans aggressively.

Feel free to AMA.


What's been the most difficult adjustment? Or has it been a universally great move?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:47 pm

Another In-House guy chiming in.

I would add that salary alone can be a bit deceptive. In-house jobs often have a lot of "hidden" compensation compared to biglaw. In biglaw, it's all salary. Health plans tend not to be that great (firms don't have huge leverage with insurance companies), usually no 401k match. In house I get:

401k match (7% salary, tax deferred)
Defined contribution pension (7% salary, tax deferred)
Restricted stock grant (10-25% of salary- no tax until vesting happens)
Bonus (10-25% of salary)
Employer contribution to HSA (2k/yr)

Taking into account the above, I made about the same in-house as I would have made if I had stayed at the firm (ended up with a good bonus and stock award). But I average 40 hours a week.

Regarding getting in-house jobs. Don't rely on recruiters. Ask around all your friends and acquaintances to see if you know anybody at the company. At F500 companies, you would be surprised how many connections you might have. Maybe one of your friends at another firm represents the company and knows someone there really well- you don't know until you ask. Just having one person at the company walk your resume over to the department actually doing the hiring accomplishes more than any recruiter. You have to get around HR at all costs- they do nothing but gum up the works. A recruiter can accomplish that, but it's not the best way.

On autonomy: It's one of the best parts of the job coming from being a biglaw associate where you always play the subservient role. In-house jobs typically expect you to be in charge of the matters you are assigned to and make any necessary judgment calls. You will be hiring and getting taken to lunch by the biglaw partners who used to boss you around. That said, the politics can be even more complicated than a law firm, so it is not the place for someone who doesn't wan't to be bothered figuring out who needs to be taken care of.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby aliens » Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:55 am

I'm a third year associate and I just got contacted by a recruiter trying to fill an in-house position. While I have been looking to switch jobs, I wasn't specifically seeking this position, so the contact from the recruiter came as a surprise. I talked to her and the position seems like a great opportunity for me. The same day she was able to get me an interview with the GC. What I'm asking is, since I wasn't really preparing for this, what should I do prior to the interview (and during) to make this happen? What types of questions do candidates typically ask at in-house interviews? I know the typical questions for firms, but I'm at a loss for in-house. (While I did have one in-house interview before, I felt very out of place and didn't get the position, so I obviously need to polish up for this interview.)

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Danger Zone » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:30 am

No questions currently but thanks for providing some insight into a process which appears to be a black box to the outside world.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:35 am

What do your advancement prospects look like? Hopping around from company to company until you have a shot at GC 20 years down the road?

Are advancement prospects meaningfully different between someone like you (5 yrs biglaw, 1 yr inhouse) and someone who left biglaw early (2 yrs biglaw, 4 yrs inhouse)?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby NoBladesNoBows » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:37 am

Last edited by NoBladesNoBows on Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby gp86 » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Bumping in case anyone has any questions related to in house life and to report in.

The switch has been even better than I imagined. The predictable schedule has been truly freeing and a huge stress reliever. It's nice not to track time, but that never really bugged me as much as the unpredictability of big law hours. I also really enjoy the subject matter. The work is sophisticated and it's fun to make decisions rather than teeing up the important issues for clients to decide (like I did at a law firm). Career prospects are also good. I hope to remain at the same company for many years, but I think I'm probably marketable by the time I hit the 1 year marker. The salary hit was a little tough and it still stresses me a little, but it's been manageable. I'm really glad I have a nice nest-egg of cash. I know it's not an efficient use of capital to have a bunch of cash in a savings account, but it's been a big relief for me. I'm really glad I opted for cash rather than paying down loans aggressively.

Feel free to AMA.


Do you have any discomfort going from being a revenue generator to a cost center? I think that's one of my main sources of trepidation about going in house - you're not necessarily moving into better job security.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby totesTheGoat » Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:31 pm

There are a handful of in-house positions now being offered to students straight out of school... do you think that your firm experience is invaluable in regards to your in-house work, or is in-house something you would have felt comfortable doing straight out of school?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:01 pm

NoBladesNoBows wrote:Thanks to everyone answering questions! It's very helpful for planning ahead. I have a few questions:


1. What were you doing before going in-house/what were most of your coworkers doing? I assume almost everyone comes from biglaw, but of those that do is pretty much everyone from a transactional practice? Any litigators? Other? If there are people that didn't come from biglaw where did they come from?

2. What are the long-term advancement opportunities in-house? I realize that something like GC is even more unicorn than making partner, but assuming solid job performance where can you expect to be after 10-15 years? Assistant to GC? What kind of work/salary would you be looking at?

3. In regard to the politics mentioned above, would you elaborate a bit on that? I know what "office politics" means in general (several years work experience at F500) but what are some specific examples that you've seen? Is it different in legal?


Thanks again, your perspective is much appreciated!


Not OP- other in-house poster above who mentioned politics.

1. Biglaw in whatever position they were hired for. There are more slots for deal people, but there are a few litigators- guessing something like a 4:1 ratio (lumping various niche practices like ERISA in with the deal people).

2. You can climb the ladder. My company has grades that go Attorney -> Senior Attorney ->Counsel -> Senior Counsel -> AGC ->GC (though there are some anomalous "other" titles in there too). Excluding bonuses and stock grants, Attorney is in the mid 100s, Senior Counsel is mid 200s, GC is in the millions all in (though executive comp gets extremely complex). I don't have as good idea what AGC's make because they are above the regular pay scale but not so high their pay is disclosed on the proxy.

3. As in house counsel, you have internal clients. They are not all created equal and there are different sensitivities when working with them. While it may seem obvious that Bob from accounting is not to be given the same priority as the VP of Operations, sometimes things aren't so clear. You may have to know that the accounting department is in the middle of a dispute with operations over who handles X, and that if you give advice Y it's going to step on accounting's toes and Bob from accounting is golf buddies with the CFO and will raise holy hell if you tell him he has to accommodate you.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:12 pm

Thoughts on choosing midlaw over biglaw and the effects, if any, on one's candidacy for IH positions? I'm heading to a mid-sized IP boutique on the theory that I'll get better substantive experience, develop skills faster, and have better partnership prospects. The tradeoff seems to be that the firm's name is not as recognizable outside of *Firm City* as *V20* and that companies who'd be most likely to hire me are not concentrated in *Firm City.* How important is firm name brand for IH hiring and job search?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby NoBladesNoBows » Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:51 pm

Last edited by NoBladesNoBows on Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby sinfiery » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:01 pm

reading this thread almost makes me want to be a lawyer

wtf

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:23 am

I am going to be doing banking and finance next year at a v100. I was recently going through goinhouse and I noticed a lot of the companies wanted associates with M&A experience. Is that typically a strict requirement or can banking and finance associates apply to these positions?

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:35 am

totesTheGoat wrote:There are a handful of in-house positions now being offered to students straight out of school... do you think that your firm experience is invaluable in regards to your in-house work, or is in-house something you would have felt comfortable doing straight out of school?


Curious about this as well. I recently accepted an in-house position. They specifically wanted someone straight out of school. All of the other attorneys, except one, have at least 5 years of big law experience and raved about how much better their lives are now. I realize that by accepting this position my future opportunities with firms are pretty limited. But, the environment, benefits and work/life balance seem incredible.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
totesTheGoat wrote:There are a handful of in-house positions now being offered to students straight out of school... do you think that your firm experience is invaluable in regards to your in-house work, or is in-house something you would have felt comfortable doing straight out of school?


Curious about this as well. I recently accepted an in-house position. They specifically wanted someone straight out of school. All of the other attorneys, except one, have at least 5 years of big law experience and raved about how much better their lives are now. I realize that by accepting this position my future opportunities with firms are pretty limited. But, the environment, benefits and work/life balance seem incredible.

I graduated in 2014 and went straight in-house, in a similar situation where everyone else has 5+ years biglaw experience. They all seem to agree that their biglaw experience was invaluable, but partly that it was invaluable to get them here...where I already am. It's also not impossible (though it is of course difficult) to go in-house > biglaw. I have received been approached by two firms we work with as to whether I would consider making the switch.

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Re: 5th year associate leaving now to go in-house: AMA

Postby rickgrimes69 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:57 pm

Can OP (or anyone else) speak to the in-house opportunities for a capital markets lawyer?




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