White collar/government investigations

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White collar/government investigations

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2016 10:56 am

Does anyone have any info on what this practice looks like day-to-day? I'm considering a firm whose lit department does a fair amount of this kind of work.

Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.

misterjames

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Re: White collar/government investigations

Postby misterjames » Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone have any info on what this practice looks like day-to-day? I'm considering a firm whose lit department does a fair amount of this kind of work.

Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.


As a junior associate it will be tons and tons of doc review and document preparation, and you'll attend depositions but just to take notes and observe, you won't actually participate.

fwiw im in a financial regulator and have seen first hand what associates on the other side of the table are doing.

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Re: White collar/government investigations

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2016 1:37 pm

There's a distinction between investigations and then criminal white collar litigation. If you are doing biglaw, you will more likely be doing the former. As a junior it will be neverending, unceasing document review. Many of these reviews are absolutely massive (millions of documents) and require huge teams of contract attorneys and then huge teams of junior associates to do QC, privilege/redactions, and fact development. Fact development is mostly writing endless memos to file summarizing the documents or update calls with the client or government.

You'll also help partners prep for and attend interviews of relevant witnesses, either internally or sometimes with the government. This will be a substantial amount of work made more complicated if the witness gets a personal lawyer. You wont ask any questions unless the person is very low level or unimportant, but you will get to watch and take down essentially a transcript of the interview. These can get very interesting - people cry, get angry (especially if the lawyer is female and the interview is in certain countries), and generally lie out their teeth. This portion might also involve international travel to various places although you probably aren't going to get much opportunity to sightsee since interview times are very busy.

As a junior lawyer you are not going to be doing much "law" - your role is to get through the documents and then prepare fact memos. The law happens at the senior levels. Midlevels and seniors manage the review, summarize the facts for the partners, and supervise productions to the gov.

These investigations can stretch on for years and associates tend to get consumed by them, so you might be a junior associate who spends 80% of their total time for a year doing fact development. This can be bad or good for your personal or career development depending on your goals. It's a very hit or miss area of law - some people hate it, others love it (tends to be people who dislike the adversarial aspects of litigation or do not really enjoy legal research or brief writing).

White collar litigation is a much different beast, but it is rare - my firm has only a few partners who specialize in it. Those cases are often much more leanly staffed

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Re: White collar/government investigations

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2016 2:41 pm

I do biglaw white collar along with some related regulatory work. I don't think the negativity in the posts above is entirely accurate.

At least in my practice, there are different types of cases. Sometimes, there has clearly been wrongdoing and the question is what the consent decree or settlement order will look like. This could involve research into what such resolutions have looked like in similar cases, creating talking points or presentations for meetings with the government, or reviewing and producing documents that support a charitable view of the conduct.

Other times, you are developing facts in a large corporate case involving boatloads of documents that nobody understands, and that means a lot of document review, chron drafting, overseeing contract attorney review, and managing discovery.

There are investigations into creative business models (think Uber or high speed trading) where a big part of the goal is to convince the government that it is legal and has always been legal. There are investigations where particular conduct is acknowledged to be wrong, but the goal will be to argue it didn't happen.

I have been fortunate that most of the work I have done has been on small-ish cases which were leanly staffed, but there are definitely cases where not only is there a massive team within the firm, but there is also a joint defense group because the executives and management of the firm have their own representation. And there will be situations in which rockstar partners at four big firms are waiting for the results of your research into how courts have traditionally treated SEC comment letters in approving settlements with the DOJ, and there will be situations where your job is to re-order the five physical binders that another firm sent so that the documents are grouped by custodian rather than by topic.

Given my lack of hate for doc review, I don't know that my opinion is really meaningful to TLSers. But I have found the work to be interesting because it involves a fair bit of human contact, both with individuals and through the documents. I can't speak for all firms, but I have found as a rule that partners/seniors are happy to let you take the reins on as much as you can handle, so doc review grows into discovery management and privilege questions evolve into privilege recommendations, and so on. I say that being aware of some opportunities I failed to capitalize on as well as some I did grab. Perhaps as a result, my satisfaction with white collar work has depended much more on the people I have worked with than on whether it was doc review or something more "prestigious".

I am rambling by now but if there are particular questions I can try to answer them.

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Re: White collar/government investigations

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2016 10:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I do biglaw white collar along with some related regulatory work. I don't think the negativity in the posts above is entirely accurate.

At least in my practice, there are different types of cases. Sometimes, there has clearly been wrongdoing and the question is what the consent decree or settlement order will look like. This could involve research into what such resolutions have looked like in similar cases, creating talking points or presentations for meetings with the government, or reviewing and producing documents that support a charitable view of the conduct.

Other times, you are developing facts in a large corporate case involving boatloads of documents that nobody understands, and that means a lot of document review, chron drafting, overseeing contract attorney review, and managing discovery.

There are investigations into creative business models (think Uber or high speed trading) where a big part of the goal is to convince the government that it is legal and has always been legal. There are investigations where particular conduct is acknowledged to be wrong, but the goal will be to argue it didn't happen.

I have been fortunate that most of the work I have done has been on small-ish cases which were leanly staffed, but there are definitely cases where not only is there a massive team within the firm, but there is also a joint defense group because the executives and management of the firm have their own representation. And there will be situations in which rockstar partners at four big firms are waiting for the results of your research into how courts have traditionally treated SEC comment letters in approving settlements with the DOJ, and there will be situations where your job is to re-order the five physical binders that another firm sent so that the documents are grouped by custodian rather than by topic.

Given my lack of hate for doc review, I don't know that my opinion is really meaningful to TLSers. But I have found the work to be interesting because it involves a fair bit of human contact, both with individuals and through the documents. I can't speak for all firms, but I have found as a rule that partners/seniors are happy to let you take the reins on as much as you can handle, so doc review grows into discovery management and privilege questions evolve into privilege recommendations, and so on. I say that being aware of some opportunities I failed to capitalize on as well as some I did grab. Perhaps as a result, my satisfaction with white collar work has depended much more on the people I have worked with than on whether it was doc review or something more "prestigious".

I am rambling by now but if there are particular questions I can try to answer them.


OP here. This is really helpful; all of this has been helpful, actually.

I was curious if you might have an idea what investigations work might look like at a relatively smaller firm? The firm I'm considering is a satellite office of a major national firm in a major market. The lit group probably tops out at around 20-30 attorneys, 5-6 partners. Would a junior associate experience in a smaller practice group look different?

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Re: White collar/government investigations

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:14 pm

(New Anon here, associate with large practice in this area)

I think everything said above is very accurate and still probably pretty applicable to a smaller satellite office. You may work more on smaller investigations, many of which can be done with 2-3 associates and a partner. You may also do more work representing individuals who are employed by a company that is under investigation, and whose interests are deemed sufficiently non-aligned with the company's that they need separate counsel. This role is a little less labor intensive and, in the best of circumstances, lets you focus more on the strategic and client-counseling side of the job.

You also may very well end up staffed on huge investigations that involve lawyers from your firm's other offices.

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

Re: White collar/government investigations

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:18 pm

Not OP, but similar questions. Info is very helpful. Thanks!



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