BigLaw to Labor

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Anonymous User
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BigLaw to Labor

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 24, 2015 8:41 pm

Hey there,

So in the fall I'll be starting at a v5 firm (non-labor litigation), but feel like working in labor law (on the pro-labor side, hopefully specifically for a union).

Has anyone else heard of this path, and do you think firms will hold the corporate law path against me?

Thanks.

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: BigLaw to Labor

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun May 24, 2015 9:16 pm

Switching from management's side to union work might be akin to a prosecutor wanting to become a public defender.

NorCalLaw
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Re: BigLaw to Labor

Postby NorCalLaw » Sun May 24, 2015 11:13 pm

You'll definitely be viewed with suspicion. Do you have any history or connections with the labor movement (past employment as organizer, worked as a union member, etc.)? These could make you a credible candidate. Hopefully you took labor, employment discrimination, and similar courses during school. If you have some useful specialty experience (or at the very least, actual L&E experience) then you might be able to make a better case for yourself, too. Lots of labor firms are looking for ERISA people right now, for example, take a peek: https://lcc.aflcio.org/public/career-co ... ring-hall/

Not all labor firms do a ton of real litigation, by the way; a majority of what most of these firms do is grievance arbitration.

Volunteering for pro-bono stuff, membership in certain organizations such as the NLG, or clerking for a left-leaning judge could all provide a boost, too. In fact, snagging a clerkship would be a great opportunity to transition; most elite labor firms are eager to hire ex-clerks; some virtually require it. In that scenario, if you failed to get the job, you could still return to your old firm.

The pay cut will be enormous, by the way, but most union-side firms have reasonable hours and good benefits.

It would probably be easier to switch to a firm that exclusively does employment litigation on behalf of individuals and classes of individuals; these places need talented litigators.

Edit: In terms of working as inside counsel for a local or similar body, most of those people are hired from labor law firms.

k5220
Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: BigLaw to Labor

Postby k5220 » Tue May 26, 2015 5:02 am

union-side labor lawyers are a pretty ideological bunch. looking like a corporate lawyer / capitalist will definitely hurt you and you'll need a good explanation for why you did it and some evidence of genuine commitment to the labor movement (get involved in a union organizing campaign or participate in fight for 15 or something like that, be able to point to things you did in law school, have a convincing story for what drew you to labor law and why you're making the switch).

some biglaw places also let associates who push for it take pro bono cases where you might even be able to get kinda applicable experience (like working on 1st amendment civil rightsy stuff).

CanadianWolf
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Re: BigLaw to Labor

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue May 26, 2015 9:41 am

But it's highly unlikely that a biglaw firm would permit one to do unionizing type pro bono work since it could cost them paying clients & might be a conflict-of-interest.

k5220
Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: BigLaw to Labor

Postby k5220 » Tue May 26, 2015 11:24 am

CanadianWolf wrote:But it's highly unlikely that a biglaw firm would permit one to do unionizing type pro bono work since it could cost them paying clients & might be a conflict-of-interest.

no i didn't mean there was union-side pro bono. but pro bono in general will hurt your candidacy for a union-side job a lot less than if you just do corporate stuff for a year because you're helping the little guy instead of protecting management interests, and certain kinds of pro bono (like first amendment stuff) could even be relevant. (that's how a friend of mine got into the aclu after biglaw).

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: BigLaw to Labor

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue May 26, 2015 11:30 am

Understood. It was clear from your other post. The problem is that unions are not likely to accept a biglaw lawyer under most any set of circumstances. Although both ACLU & unions tend to be quite zealous in pursuit of their causes, unions are likely to be extremely wary of one who represented big business mgmt. or big business interests at any time.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: BigLaw to Labor

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 26, 2015 7:45 pm

I have not heard of anyone making that particular move, but a coworker moved from Biglaw to being an attorney at the NLRB. Might be a good alternative.




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