Lateraling in your first year

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Anonymous User
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Lateraling in your first year

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:22 pm

Hi, I thought we might compile a list of firms that are hiring first year laterals and in general start a discussion about the ins and outs/pros and cons of lateraling to a new firm early in your career. If any current biglaw lawyers have anything to share, feel free to post here.

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

Re: Lateraling in your first year

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:43 pm

I made an early lateral move in order to switch practice areas (my first firm made it logistically impossible to switch to my desired group). The general consensus is that you get one "free pass" to make a quick move early in your career, whether it be to change practice areas, change geographic area, maybe first firm simply wasn't the right fit and you realized it fast, etc. But the consequence is that you pretty much have to stay in your second position for a few years (i.e. you cannot make another relatively quick move). If you do, that's how you make yourself look like a serial jumper. One move early on is totally fine, especially if it puts you on the path you want to be on. But damn sure its the right move because you don't get another free pass.

As for my experience, my first firm was entirely understanding and gracious. They knew I wanted to do work in a particular practice area, and said it makes total sense to lateral in order to pursue that career path. Keep in mind that, if you want to change practice areas, its something that needs to be done quickly, or else the substantive gap builds up too much. So no one questioned my reasons for switching.

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

Re: Lateraling in your first year

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 10, 2015 2:15 pm

Hey thanks for your response. Does it make sense to lateral because of bad fit in current firm/looking to make a jump in firm prestige and quality?

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

Re: Lateraling in your first year

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 10, 2015 2:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey thanks for your response. Does it make sense to lateral because of bad fit in current firm/looking to make a jump in firm prestige and quality?


Those are two entirely separate things. Why is your current firm a bad fit? What have you done to try and change things (i.e. have you tried working with different people, moving into a different practice group, spoken with mentors)? Are you sure that your gripe isn't just with some inherent aspect of biglaw (as opposed to something about your current firm in particular)? There are absolutely situations in which a firm simply isn't the right fit. You just want to make sure that that is truly the case before leaving.

As far as leaving for prestige/quality, I'd be much more careful about that. Its one thing to go from some small, local firm to a renowned biglaw firm that handles the more sophisticated cases and clients. But that logic sort of dies a bit if you are already working at a large, reputable firm. For example, the work that a V75 or V100 firm does isn't going to be that different from the work of a V20 or V10 firm. Will the clients be more brand name? Probably. Is that a worthwhile basis for a change? Probably not.

Remember what I said about only getting one free pass. You don't want to play that card unless you need it. Do you really "need" that boost in prestige? Again, I don't know where you are currently, so I can't say how much that boost would even be. What if you find out that the extra prestige also brings along far worse hours, more neurotic and crazy partners, less and less substantive work in favor of discovery drudgery, etc.? You will have burned your free pass and you would be stuck. So be careful before making a move on this basis.



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