Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

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Most Predictable Practice?

Cap. Markets
5
31%
M&A
1
6%
Banking
7
44%
All equally unpredictable
3
19%
 
Total votes: 16

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Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:01 am

Hey all, now before I get this thread blown up about how quality of life sucks as a biglaw attorney, my question is of a different nature.

All things being equal, which of the three has the most predictability? All of us know what we're getting ourselves into, but perhaps if those practicing could weigh in on the practice area that has the fewest last-second all-nighters, I'm sure it would be a great help for those of us choosing.

I've heard M&A is the worst of the three, but I'd appreciate if anyone who could weigh in based on their experience.

Thanks!

(Also feel free to include anything specific about a practice area that others may not have considered even if its tangentially related)

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby WestOfTheRest » Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:14 am

Based on my experience in all three groups, I would have to say that cap markets is the most predictable. Although, you may be predicting a lot of hours. Banking seems to have the most reasonable total hours, but can be very unpredictable depending on client. M&A is just working full speed when you have stuff and dead stop when you don't.

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby nealric » Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:50 am

I would pick based on the personalities involved. The difference between working for a good and bad partner is more important than the difference between those practice groups.

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby ruski » Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:20 pm

banking wins because its the only one with no diligence

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Companion Cube » Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:22 pm

ruski wrote:banking wins because its the only one with no diligence


same for tax - but tax isn't listed

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Companion Cube » Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:23 pm

Oops accidental anon ^

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:54 pm

Part of cap markets is periodic/current reporting, which works on timelines that are established ahead of time so you have some degree of predictability (e.g. you know that your clients will be doing their 10-Qs and 10-Ks at roughly the same time every year). Follow-on offerings are more unpredictable in my experience - once they're in the works, people tend to want to close them based on how their shares are doing, and that can lead to enormous pressure to get it done quickly. I haven't worked on many IPOs, but the one deal I worked on was pretty chill in terms of predictability - there was just a massive amount to get done but the deadlines weren't extremely tight, so it was good to have on the backburner.

Anecdotally, I've heard that M&A is extremely hit or miss in terms of hours, and have heard terrible things about leveraged finance (because the clients tend to work ridiculous hours and expect it of you), but none of that is first hand.

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:03 pm

Cap Markets here, but I initially wanted to do M&A. Switched groups solely due to the unpredictability of M&A. In Cap M you might not always know when a deal is coming, but once it does the whole process is relatively predictable and straightforward. M&A deals can stretch out for years and randomly pop back into your life when you least expect them. The downside is that Cap M is maybe less exciting, but if I wanted exciting I wouldn't have become a corporate lawyer.

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:15 pm

Any thoughts on how these three roads play out in terms of a typical exit, especially coming out of V10 NY firms that are basically equally good at all three? Is there any real differentiation in the kinds of roles you'll get placed into, or is it really luck of the draw/client contacts?

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:13 am

OP here, so is it fair to say the consensus is that Banking>Cap Markets/Securities>>>>M&A? And that is because banking has no diligence, and the diligence that's involved in cap markets is pretty standard and boilerplate? Am I missing anything else?

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here, so is it fair to say the consensus is that Banking>Cap Markets/Securities>>>>M&A? And that is because banking has no diligence, and the diligence that's involved in cap markets is pretty standard and boilerplate? Am I missing anything else?



Jesus Christ.


First off, you don't pick a practice area because its the easiest. All practice areas have pros and cons. All can be soul crushing. Vastly more important than any practice area is finding colleages with whom you have a good working relationship. They need to think you're good at your work and generally not mind working with you till 2AM. If you find that, you will have a good experience. That may be in M&A or it may be in whatever. If you're at a good NY firm, you should have some period of time where you are rotating or unassigned in order to figure out which group you fit into best. Use it well.

Keep in mind that for every big project, there are shitty workstreams and good workstreams. As a senior associate, I generally assign who gets which workstream. (Sometimes, a partner will say they worked with a junior one-on-one and liked them, and ask me to give them a good assignment. Other times, it's pretty much my discretion, in which case I'll put feelers out to my friends who have already worked with the folks on the list and get feedback on who should get the choice morsels and who should get the gristle.) If you get the shitty workstreams and shitty assignments, you will be fucking miserable and wish you were never born and you will think biglaw is totally fucking awful and you will leave in 2 years and you will wonder how anyone could ever do it and they must be sociopaths because - to use "banking" as an example - oh my god if I review one more fucking mortgage termination I will actually shoot myself in the fucking face. If you get the good work streams, you'll still work hard but it will be about half as much soul-crushing meaningless work and the other half will be somewhere between mildly to extremely interesting and senior lawyers will start to say hi in the halls and generally you will think this is tough but not that bad and I could do this and you are much more likely to make it 5 or 6 years and then get placed into a cherry in house job where they hope you can throw business back their way for the rest of your career.

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby ruski » Wed Oct 21, 2015 12:01 pm

would have to disagree with above. at any top firm these three groups will be huge and making any meangiingful relatiionships will be tough. in every group they'll be good seniors that try to mentor you and there will be not-so-good seniors who think an eyebrow raise in the hallway is the reason you should get up in the morning. as a junior in these large groups you will work with both types. if by the time you're senior and you're good, you could latch on to a partner, but as junior/midlevel you will be working with whoever you are assigned to. and not sure where the senior above works but usually there is only one junior per team so you'll get all the junior work stream, regardless of how glorious it is.

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 21, 2015 12:46 pm

ruski wrote:would have to disagree with above. at any top firm these three groups will be huge and making any meangiingful relatiionships will be tough. in every group they'll be good seniors that try to mentor you and there will be not-so-good seniors who think an eyebrow raise in the hallway is the reason you should get up in the morning. as a junior in these large groups you will work with both types. if by the time you're senior and you're good, you could latch on to a partner, but as junior/midlevel you will be working with whoever you are assigned to. and not sure where the senior above works but usually there is only one junior per team so you'll get all the junior work stream, regardless of how glorious it is.


I am the anon above. I work in one of the top firms in NY. You are wrong. You make meaningful relationships as a goddamned summer, let alone as a first year. Everyone talks and everyone knows who is the "good" junior and "bad" junior about 6 months after you show up. But the thing is, a good junior for one group might be a bad junior for the other group - theres some objective difference between "good" and "bad" folks but a lot of it is working style and personality. So the number one priority is to find folks who you fit in with and who think you have chops, and it flows from there.

TBF Im sure there are other ways to skin the cat, but I've made it six years and have seen both sides of it so consider that I am not totally talking out of my ass.

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 21, 2015 1:41 pm

OP here, I specifically wasn't asking what was easiest, just which one was most predictable. I think a number of people would agree that's a decent reason to pick a practice group all things being equal, and at the very least a fair inquiry to make.

And there are some firms where you don't get to pick which practice area you start off in, and therefore can't gage the kind of people you'll be "stuck with." I appreciate the feedback though, and would like to think I'm fairly social and can put out decent work product, so all I can do on that front is be friendly and work hard

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 21, 2015 3:34 pm

Capital markets is much more predictable than M&A. Can't speak to banking vis-a-vis cap markets.

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Re: Practicing Attnys: Lesser of Three Evils? Cap.Markets, M&A, or Banking?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here, I specifically wasn't asking what was easiest, just which one was most predictable. I think a number of people would agree that's a decent reason to pick a practice group all things being equal, and at the very least a fair inquiry to make.

And there are some firms where you don't get to pick which practice area you start off in, and therefore can't gage the kind of people you'll be "stuck with." I appreciate the feedback though, and would like to think I'm fairly social and can put out decent work product, so all I can do on that front is be friendly and work hard


If you want to elevate predictability over all, then you need to avoid M&A and M&A driven work. But the problem is that, depending on the firm, bank finance and securities work could be comprised significantly of acquisition finance which has timelines that are even worse than core M&A, since finance is the tail on the dog. "Ordinary" finance or securities work is much more predictable, but you likely need to do acquisition finance deals at any big NY firm, so that doesn't help you much. The problem is that M&A is by far the most profitable and important practice so at any top firm, a significant slug of the transactional work in the other practice areas is derived from the M&A practice.

Personally, you're best off just owning the fact that you are not going to have predictable hours for the next 3-5 years or so and just trying to succeed at what fits you best. Once you're more senior, your ability to control when you have to work becomes much better.

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