Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

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Anonymous User
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Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:54 am

Hey guys, looking for stories about people who got biglaw a year or two after graduating, after missing the 2L SA boat. I'm specifically interested in those who didn't do a clerkship but rather those who took a non-firm legal job or even a quasi-legal job like compliance or other JD-preferred. I know it's not common but it does happen, and I'm trying to gauge how possible this is and how to best set myself up for making that move. Couple of specific questions below, but any advice you have outside of these parameters would be helpful as well.

Was it networking with the right people or did you apply to open positions?
If you applied to open positions, was it for entry level attorneys or for associates with 1-3 years of experience?
Did you target niche practice groups related to the non-firm position you had before, or just general corporate/litigation?
When is the right time to start looking?
What was your school/gpa range?

Relatedly--are you happy with trading in your quality of life/do you plan to stay in biglaw long term? I guess this one gets at why you still wanted biglaw...anyone do it not because of loans?

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bruinfan10
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby bruinfan10 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey guys, looking for stories about people who got biglaw a year or two after graduating, after missing the 2L SA boat. I'm specifically interested in those who didn't do a clerkship but rather those who took a non-firm legal job or even a quasi-legal job like compliance or other JD-preferred. I know it's not common but it does happen, and I'm trying to gauge how possible this is and how to best set myself up for making that move. Couple of specific questions below, but any advice you have outside of these parameters would be helpful as well.

Was it networking with the right people or did you apply to open positions?
If you applied to open positions, was it for entry level attorneys or for associates with 1-3 years of experience?
Did you target niche practice groups related to the non-firm position you had before, or just general corporate/litigation?
When is the right time to start looking?
What was your school/gpa range?

Relatedly--are you happy with trading in your quality of life/do you plan to stay in biglaw long term? I guess this one gets at why you still wanted biglaw...anyone do it not because of loans?

i mean i guess some people could do it for like, a misguided sense of prestige? but i think that wears off of non sociopaths pretty quick and then either paying loans or banking money has got to be the only reason people stick around in biglaw.

also my impression is that it gets a lot harder to get hired if you miss the 2L boat and you didn't clerk, but who knows, maybe you're working at a fortune 500 or an ibank and you're picking up experience firms would value? hard to say with only the little info you've given.
Last edited by bruinfan10 on Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:04 pm

My firm (V50-100) has hired these types of candidates as associates, and I know other firms have as well. They've come from unimpressive LLM programs, school-funded positions, and even document review companies. But it's relatively rare for this happen, and I don't think there's much you can do to improve your odds.

I think that in every case, the practice group happened to be extremely busy and needed one or more associates to start immediately, and wasn't able to bring on associates from other groups (some firms are rigidly divided among practice groups and can't just bring in someone else who is in a slower group). I've only seen niche practice groups face this situation; it's rare for an entire general litigation or corporate team to be so busy that they need to hire immediately. And I think all of these hires have occurred in October through April, when there's almost no one finishing a clerkship or school.

School/GPA doesn't seem to matter any more or less than usual, though applicants from better schools have an advantage because it's more likely they can email an alum from their school about an open position and get their foot in the door. It's unlikely that these types of applicants will be noticed otherwise.

071816
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby 071816 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:04 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hey guys, looking for stories about people who got biglaw a year or two after graduating, after missing the 2L SA boat. I'm specifically interested in those who didn't do a clerkship but rather those who took a non-firm legal job or even a quasi-legal job like compliance or other JD-preferred. I know it's not common but it does happen, and I'm trying to gauge how possible this is and how to best set myself up for making that move. Couple of specific questions below, but any advice you have outside of these parameters would be helpful as well.

Was it networking with the right people or did you apply to open positions?
If you applied to open positions, was it for entry level attorneys or for associates with 1-3 years of experience?
Did you target niche practice groups related to the non-firm position you had before, or just general corporate/litigation?
When is the right time to start looking?
What was your school/gpa range?

Relatedly--are you happy with trading in your quality of life/do you plan to stay in biglaw long term? I guess this one gets at why you still wanted biglaw...anyone do it not because of loans?

i mean i guess some people could do it for like, a misguided sense of prestige? but i think that wears off of non sociopaths pretty quite and then either paying loans or banking money has got to be the only reason people stick around in biglaw.

also my impression is that it gets a lot harder to get hired if you miss the 2L boat and you didn't clerk, but who knows, maybe you're working at a fortune 500 or an ibank and you're picking up experience firms would value? hard to say with only the little info you've given.

pretty much this. or a relevant government agency or company whose industry is in a hot practice area that the firm needs associates for.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:20 pm

I suppose that within a year or two of graduating law school that you'll need to send in your resume to check for openings & watch the local bar postings in your city's legal publication. Try to keep in contact with law school friends who work at your type of targeted firm. Political involvement can help. Contact a legal headhunter or two.
My offers came years after law school (although I did my 2L summer with a major firm) based on my work in the courts & in politics.

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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My firm (V50-100) has hired these types of candidates as associates, and I know other firms have as well. They've come from unimpressive LLM programs, school-funded positions, and even document review companies. But it's relatively rare for this happen, and I don't think there's much you can do to improve your odds.

I think that in every case, the practice group happened to be extremely busy and needed one or more associates to start immediately, and wasn't able to bring on associates from other groups (some firms are rigidly divided among practice groups and can't just bring in someone else who is in a slower group). I've only seen niche practice groups face this situation; it's rare for an entire general litigation or corporate team to be so busy that they need to hire immediately. And I think all of these hires have occurred in October through April, when there's almost no one finishing a clerkship or school.

School/GPA doesn't seem to matter any more or less than usual, though applicants from better schools have an advantage because it's more likely they can email an alum from their school about an open position and get their foot in the door. It's unlikely that these types of applicants will be noticed otherwise.


OP here. Thanks anon, your observations on timing and practice groups are super helpful, will be mindful of that and work it into my strategy.


bruinfan10 wrote:also my impression is that it gets a lot harder to get hired if you miss the 2L boat and you didn't clerk, but who knows, maybe you're working at a fortune 500 or an ibank and you're picking up experience firms would value? hard to say with only the little info you've given.


Yea, F500 in an industry relevant to a common practice area. I kept the personal info vague to garner a bigger spread of responses, didn't want to rule out anecdotes from people who were at, say, a local government agency that was less immediately relevant.

Anonymous User
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2015 4:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey guys, looking for stories about people who got biglaw a year or two after graduating, after missing the 2L SA boat. I'm specifically interested in those who didn't do a clerkship but rather those who took a non-firm legal job or even a quasi-legal job like compliance or other JD-preferred.


i interviewed at a big 4 accounting firm for a tax position (oci/cb). to be honest, throughout the process, it was unclear if it was for an attorney role or a jd-advantage role. i interviewed with jds, jd+tax llms, and accountants. in any case, one of the jds i interviewed with said that it was very common for people leave to go in-house, to go to biglaw firms, or stay and try to make partner at the accounting firm.

this comment is based solely on this interviewer's (unsolicited) description of what people do once they leave. i also would guess that it's at least in part due to the fact that i was talking to someone in the tax group.

i'm not sure what the exit options (biglaw or otherwise) look like for a pure compliance (esp. financial services)/consulting position. would appreciate hearing from others though.

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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:08 pm

Bump...anybody else have thoughts?

gaddockteeg
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby gaddockteeg » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:Bump...anybody else have thoughts?


youve got all the asnwers you need already. bascially it's only firms hiring off cycle. And then you have to have experience in the practice area that happens to be hiring.

So, go to a smaller firm/government agency/industry/ and just do good work until a big (or mid) law position pops up on a job board in the field you have experience in. Then apply. I know a lot of people who have done this and its not as rare as youd think. My own nlj 250 has a few people who have gone this path. And one of my close freinds went mid law employment -> kirkland ellis employment.

Make sure to pick the first job's field carefully. Not personal injury not general litigation, etc. you want to try and specialize earlier. it's gonna be rare for a big law firm to randomly need a third year general litigation associate out of the lbue. Think employment litigitation, tax, banking, affordable housing, maybe real estate, etc.

edit: i also know a lot of compliance (non-jd) folk who get big law after a few years. bascially compliance at a big bank.

Anonymous User
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:33 am

Make sure to pick the first job's field carefully. Not personal injury not general litigation, etc. you want to try and specialize earlier. it's gonna be rare for a big law firm to randomly need a third year general litigation associate out of the lbue. Think employment litigitation, tax, banking, affordable housing, maybe real estate, etc.

2:04 pm anon here. I'd add the regulatory/agency-focused practice areas here--healthcare, FDA, antitrust, environmental, telecommunications, etc. I've seen non-traditional candidates get hired in several of these fields (all in DC). I think it's fairly easy to pick up a new practice area at a junior level, but a lot of firms are more comfortable hiring someone with relevant experience, such as someone doing a school-funded fellowship at the GC's office of a major hospital (applying for a healthcare position), than an ordinary litigation lateral or judicial clerk.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:53 am

It's not just relevant experience, often relationships with regulatory agencies are also important & highly valued.

synergy
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby synergy » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:19 pm

gaddockteeg wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Bump...anybody else have thoughts?


youve got all the asnwers you need already. bascially it's only firms hiring off cycle. And then you have to have experience in the practice area that happens to be hiring.

So, go to a smaller firm/government agency/industry/ and just do good work until a big (or mid) law position pops up on a job board in the field you have experience in. Then apply. I know a lot of people who have done this and its not as rare as youd think. My own nlj 250 has a few people who have gone this path. And one of my close freinds went mid law employment -> kirkland ellis employment.

Make sure to pick the first job's field carefully. Not personal injury not general litigation, etc. you want to try and specialize earlier. it's gonna be rare for a big law firm to randomly need a third year general litigation associate out of the lbue. Think employment litigitation, tax, banking, affordable housing, maybe real estate, etc.

edit: i also know a lot of compliance (non-jd) folk who get big law after a few years. bascially compliance at a big bank.


Very interested in the compliance route. How long did they do compliance before getting big law? Any anecdotes on how they got the biglaw jobs? Any specific compliance duties that translated to biglaw?

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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:30 pm

I've never heard of someone who went into compliance at a private sector firm/bank straight out of law school go into biglaw after a few years in compliance. I'm sure it's happened, but it must be very rare except from very senior compliance positions. I have known people who were in biglaw and then moved to compliance in a senior position be able to go back to biglaw. I've also seen people who went into compliance right after law school be able to find attorney positions in-house, but that's also pretty rare.

$$$$$$
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby $$$$$$ » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I've never heard of someone who went into compliance at a private sector firm/bank straight out of law school go into biglaw after a few years in compliance. I'm sure it's happened, but it must be very rare except from very senior compliance positions. I have known people who were in biglaw and then moved to compliance in a senior position be able to go back to biglaw. I've also seen people who went into compliance right after law school be able to find attorney positions in-house, but that's also pretty rare.



I spent a year doing financial services consulting, which deals with large aspects of compliance (especially dodd-frank) after law school and then entered a V20 firm in a major market as a 1st year associate in their corporate group. I know a few people that were able to do this coming from my old job, some of whom got V5 offers. I am not sure what groups they entered it (for the most part, I think everyone either went into structured finance or financial institutions groups), but I know I am in a traditional corporate group doing PE deals, so it is definitely doable. I think the key is timing, you want to be able to come in as a normal first year.

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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:14 pm

$$$$$$ wrote:I spent a year doing financial services consulting, which deals with large aspects of compliance (especially dodd-frank) after law school and then entered a V20 firm in a major market as a 1st year associate in their corporate group. I know a few people that were able to do this coming from my old job, some of whom got V5 offers. I am not sure what groups they entered it (for the most part, I think everyone either went into structured finance or financial institutions groups), but I know I am in a traditional corporate group doing PE deals, so it is definitely doable. I think the key is timing, you want to be able to come in as a normal first year.


$$$$$$, can you elaborate a little on how you did this and what you mean by timing? Was it networking or applying to entry level/3L openings? Did you do this a month or so before your anticipated start with the normal first years (late summer/early fall)?

Anonymous User
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:29 pm

I was able to lateral to a big law firm in a secondary market within 6 months after starting at one of the big four accounting firms. I went to a T10 school and graduated with honors.

I applied to an open position for associates with 1-3 years of experience. The only reason I got an interview for the position was because one of my friends from law school was at the firm. My best advice to you would be to stay in contact with your classmates that went to big firms. My friends from law school were well aware of my hope to lateral to a big law firm and were willing to put in a good word for me if there was an opening at their firm. Firms see laterals without prior big law experience as a risk. Firms are more willing to take a risk on you even though you didn't get a big law job out of law school if someone at the firm will vouch for you.

gaddockteeg
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby gaddockteeg » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:12 pm

synergy wrote:
gaddockteeg wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Bump...anybody else have thoughts?


youve got all the asnwers you need already. bascially it's only firms hiring off cycle. And then you have to have experience in the practice area that happens to be hiring.

So, go to a smaller firm/government agency/industry/ and just do good work until a big (or mid) law position pops up on a job board in the field you have experience in. Then apply. I know a lot of people who have done this and its not as rare as youd think. My own nlj 250 has a few people who have gone this path. And one of my close freinds went mid law employment -> kirkland ellis employment.

Make sure to pick the first job's field carefully. Not personal injury not general litigation, etc. you want to try and specialize earlier. it's gonna be rare for a big law firm to randomly need a third year general litigation associate out of the lbue. Think employment litigitation, tax, banking, affordable housing, maybe real estate, etc.

edit: i also know a lot of compliance (non-jd) folk who get big law after a few years. bascially compliance at a big bank.


Very interested in the compliance route. How long did they do compliance before getting big law? Any anecdotes on how they got the biglaw jobs? Any specific compliance duties that translated to biglaw?


Yeah I know like 4 people who have done this. Im not sure if its the same for you, but a bunch of random banks (citi, edward jones, etc) come to my school during 3L spring oci and interview for non legal compliance positions (generally all in NY). A lot of the kids who go this route lateral to firms 2 or 3 years out. I know 1 kid at buckleysandler in DC, another at orrick NY, and the other 2 I forget where but somewhere in NY.

Also, I know people in big law who lateraled to compliance and then lateraled back to big law (never asked why). Honestly though, compliance seems like a good gig in general, even if you dont make it.

edit: check linkedin for actual anecdotes. its a prety good resource to plan career moves.

$$$$$$
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby $$$$$$ » Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
$$$$$$ wrote:I spent a year doing financial services consulting, which deals with large aspects of compliance (especially dodd-frank) after law school and then entered a V20 firm in a major market as a 1st year associate in their corporate group. I know a few people that were able to do this coming from my old job, some of whom got V5 offers. I am not sure what groups they entered it (for the most part, I think everyone either went into structured finance or financial institutions groups), but I know I am in a traditional corporate group doing PE deals, so it is definitely doable. I think the key is timing, you want to be able to come in as a normal first year.


$$$$$$, can you elaborate a little on how you did this and what you mean by timing? Was it networking or applying to entry level/3L openings? Did you do this a month or so before your anticipated start with the normal first years (late summer/early fall)?


All "networking," had friends from college hook me up with the consulting job and then a friend from law school refer me to his firm around June. They were looking for more juniors and all the people they hired that summer as 3Ls came on as new first years and I joined their class. Timing just worked out well, never had any plan otherwise, but from what I can see, going this route was beneficial to me actually getting an offer because they assumed i knew nothing but were cool with me coming in fresh as a first year.

treeey86
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby treeey86 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:46 pm

It's not as hard as people on this thread make it seem. If you are working at a law firm doing respectable work in an area of law that the Big Law firm needs to hire into, you have decent grades ,and come from a respectable school, then you are competitive for hire at the Big Law firm.

Now, how you get your resume noticed above others who are similarly competitive is the harder part.

I've had many friends from my T-20 school ranging from top 25% - median grads grab Big Law after 1-3 years out of law school. The common factors were they had experience in a practice area that the Big Law firm was hiring into, knew someone in the Big Law firm to help get their resume noticed (either an associate in the practice group, perhaps a partner in another practice group, a former employer or professor with ties, etc), and were willing to come in under their year (so if they were a third year attorney they were willing to start at a 2nd or even 1st year pay scale).

gaddockteeg
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby gaddockteeg » Sat Jun 13, 2015 9:30 am

treeey86 wrote:It's not as hard as people on this thread make it seem. If you are working at a law firm doing respectable work in an area of law that the Big Law firm needs to hire into, you have decent grades ,and come from a respectable school, then you are competitive for hire at the Big Law firm.

Now, how you get your resume noticed above others who are similarly competitive is the harder part.

I've had many friends from my T-20 school ranging from top 25% - median grads grab Big Law after 1-3 years out of law school. The common factors were they had experience in a practice area that the Big Law firm was hiring into, knew someone in the Big Law firm to help get their resume noticed (either an associate in the practice group, perhaps a partner in another practice group, a former employer or professor with ties, etc), and were willing to come in under their year (so if they were a third year attorney they were willing to start at a 2nd or even 1st year pay scale).


Yep. TBH, I think TLS in general (maybe all law school forums, because TLS isn't as bad as like JDU) paints a darker vision of employment prospects than what I've personally found to be true. And I went to a T20 also.

EvelynS
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Re: Landing biglaw 1-2 years after graduating (non-clerks)

Postby EvelynS » Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:51 pm

As OP here, also wondering about that. Any thoughts/stories about compliance at a hedge fund and then going to a law firm? How doable it is considering that a lot of attorneys think that compliance is not a legal job (and maybe rightfully so)?




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