Corporate Law to Environmental Law

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Corporate Law to Environmental Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:41 pm

I am a 4th year NYC corporate associate that is interested in pivoting from corporate (M&A/Finance) to environmental law, specifically working for the government or a environmental advocacy group (EDF, NRDC, Earth Justice, SELC, etc.). Does anyone have any experience making this switch or have any advice for going about it? I have begun to get applications ready and I figure networking can be helpful as well, but interested in hearing any stories of attorneys that have done something like this.

Thanks in advance for the help.

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SmokeytheBear

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Re: Corporate Law to Environmental Law

Postby SmokeytheBear » Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a 4th year NYC corporate associate that is interested in pivoting from corporate (M&A/Finance) to environmental law, specifically working for the government or a environmental advocacy group (EDF, NRDC, Earth Justice, SELC, etc.). Does anyone have any experience making this switch or have any advice for going about it? I have begun to get applications ready and I figure networking can be helpful as well, but interested in hearing any stories of attorneys that have done something like this.

Thanks in advance for the help.


No advice (though the obvious goes without stated--school alumni network and what pro bono related to this you might have done). But just wanted to say congrats on making the move!

corporatemandaorbust

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Re: Corporate Law to Environmental Law

Postby corporatemandaorbust » Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:47 pm

Just curious, why are you trying to make the move? Is it kind of like the passion vs money dilemma?

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Re: Corporate Law to Environmental Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:55 pm

corporatemandaorbust wrote:Just curious, why are you trying to make the move? Is it kind of like the passion vs money dilemma?


Yea, that's pretty much it. I'm extremely passionate about the environment, was top climate science student in my college minor and think that the work these organizations and government agencies do aligns much more with my core values. To be honest, I don't really know where I went wrong thinking money = happiness, I've been miserable my entire time working in corporate law. I find corporate law to be very boring and I have almost no motivation anymore to do the work, I'm literally just trying to collect paychecks and tune everything out for as long as I can. While I am probably going to go back to school one day to get a masters in environmental science or even maybe an engineering degree by getting a second bachelors, I'd like to give law one more shot doing something I feel good about about before throwing in the towel on my legal career.

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White Dwarf

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Re: Corporate Law to Environmental Law

Postby White Dwarf » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:14 pm

No experience here, but I'd think moving to the NY Attorney General's Environmental Protection Bureau (or some other state's equivalent) from big law would be both doable and a good way to transition to organizations like that.

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elendinel

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Re: Corporate Law to Environmental Law

Postby elendinel » Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:55 am

I have no personal experience making the switch but environmental law was an area I had considered at one point, and I discussed it with a professor who had been in the industry for awhile. One thing he said that I thought was useful is that when people think government they almost always think EPA or nonprofit are their primary choices, but EPA isn't always the best place to be if you're passionate about environmental justice--sometimes the goals or methods of other agencies or government positions may fit better with what you want to do (especially right now, but also in eco-friendly administrations, too). Try thinking outside the box with respect to what agencies you apply to (I can't remember exactly where he recommended, unfortunately, but look at science-oriented agencies, agencies that deal with property and therefore may deal with environmental issues associated with property, AG positions, etc., as potential alternatives to the EPA). Some places will allow you to take classes while working there and some may not be able to give you that flexibility, so that's also something to consider, too (dunno that any of them will pay for the education).

As someone else who's making the transition from biglaw environment (for longer than 4 years) to something that pays a lot less but is more interesting to me, the main piece of advice I can give you right now is that at some point when you actually have an offer somewhere and need to give notice to your firm, you may have the "I'm making a terrible mistake" moment and wonder if you're making the right decision to toss aside biglaw for what you want to do (especially if you have a lot of friends/family who think you're nuts for leaving $$ to save the environment). One thing you can do that may help is (a) to pick a career in environmental law that will give you skills that can be transferred back to biglaw (if not corporate, then at least something else) if you decide you don't care as much about your passions as you thought, and (b) to give yourself a timeframe at which you'll make the switch back (or to the next thing) if you don't like the place you end up at after all. You may never need contingencies, but being able to say "Well even if this doesn't work I can still use X skills to go to Y in Z years" to myself when I gave notice gave me enough confidence in my decision to do it without being overly terrified by the decision I was making.

Good luck!

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Re: Corporate Law to Environmental Law

Postby Nebby » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:32 pm

Do you have environmental experience? Do you have litigation experience? What skills can you offer an organization who's primary purpose for attorneys is litigation? These orgs would hire you and assume you can run your own cases in minimal time. If you've never participated in discovery, fact gathering, briefing, cross examination, etc. then it'll be difficult.



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