Started in government, went in house, a bit lost on what's next?

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Started in government, went in house, a bit lost on what's next?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:12 pm

I'll start this by saying I'm mostly happy in my current job and I'm really just looking for anecdotes, suggestions, and a bit of baseless speculation (as per usual).

I started my career in a financial regulator's GC office for 2-3 years and then moved in house to a bank as an AGC. The legal department here is small so my role has encompassed a lot, from corporate governance to deal work, litigation and securities (bank has a broker-dealer sub), and I've continued to build on my regulatory experience as well. At this point, I would define my experience as that of a banking/financial services generalist.

I'm in my fifth year of practice and feel like I'm at a point where I need to decide if I'm going to try and specialize or continue this generalist path, and whether I'm going to try to do either of those at a firm or another bank.

I've asked myself what my ultimate goals are in 15, 20 years from now. I'm not sure if it's reasonable, but I'm shooting for GC of a bank, or at least a very senior level if not that high. Regardless, I've accepted that careers can come upon unexpected opportunities, so I'm not married to that goal.

I guess my questions are, am I right in feeling like I might need to start specializing? Is there long-term career growth in continuing as an industry generalist? Separately, what do you all think my chances are at a big firm? Do grades still matter for me (fwiw, median at a TT)? Do you think it'd be easy to move to a new bank as a mid-level generalist?

jhett

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Re: Started in government, went in house, a bit lost on what's next?

Postby jhett » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:02 am

Firm jobs and in-house jobs will pull you in different directions. The former will want you to specialize and the latter (especially if you want to be GC) will want to you to generalize.

Given your in-house experience, I think you should stay in-house. As you get more senior, lateral moves to firms usually require you to be specialized in something. Given that you are a generalist right now, it might make the move hard and they may knock you down a few class years if they do take you on. FYI, at firms your experience matters way more than your grades now.

That said, you should develop an expertise in some area of law, even if you stay in-house. Perhaps you can become the go-to person in your current office for certain legal issues, or lead certain initiatives. Or you can lateral to another in-house position in a bigger legal department in which you can specialize in something but still be flexible enough to do other things as well.

Someone told me that for in-house experience, because you tend to be generalist it's good to develop a hook or two in your resume. Something that says you took the ball with a particular issue and ran with it. For example, "Created IP licensing program that generated $50M in revenue." It shows you have some area of expertise rather than just a scattershot of many different little things. And it makes you an attractive candidate in future career moves.

s1m4

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Re: Started in government, went in house, a bit lost on what's next?

Postby s1m4 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:32 pm

How common is it to make a move from such a role back to a law firm, even if you have never previously practiced law? Do people see this happen often? Sometimes? Are the firms who accept such people typically boutiques; midlaw; biglaw?

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Re: Started in government, went in house, a bit lost on what's next?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:50 pm

jhett wrote: That said, you should develop an expertise in some area of law, even if you stay in-house. Perhaps you can become the go-to person in your current office for certain legal issues, or lead certain initiatives. Or you can lateral to another in-house position in a bigger legal department in which you can specialize in something but still be flexible enough to do other things as well.

Someone told me that for in-house experience, because you tend to be generalist it's good to develop a hook or two in your resume. Something that says you took the ball with a particular issue and ran with it. For example, "Created IP licensing program that generated $50M in revenue." It shows you have some area of expertise rather than just a scattershot of many different little things. And it makes you an attractive candidate in future career moves.


OP here, appreciate the feedback, and thanks for this in particular - it's something I've been doing already and it's nice to hear others think it's worthwhile. I've been doing a ton of corporate governance work which I think could be a big sell, and have a few projects that show good initiative. On top of that I now have a steady track record on the regulatory side as well.

I think you're right about staying in house though. thanks again

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Re: Started in government, went in house, a bit lost on what's next?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:56 pm

s1m4 wrote:How common is it to make a move from such a role back to a law firm, even if you have never previously practiced law? Do people see this happen often? Sometimes? Are the firms who accept such people typically boutiques; midlaw; biglaw?


I think it depends on a lot of factors like length and category of experience, skill set, etc. That being said, when I was looking to leave my government job I had met an alum for coffee, and he had gone from 2 years in house at a BB to a V5, without prior firm experience. Take that for what you will...

synergy

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Re: Started in government, went in house, a bit lost on what's next?

Postby synergy » Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
s1m4 wrote:How common is it to make a move from such a role back to a law firm, even if you have never previously practiced law? Do people see this happen often? Sometimes? Are the firms who accept such people typically boutiques; midlaw; biglaw?


I think it depends on a lot of factors like length and category of experience, skill set, etc. That being said, when I was looking to leave my government job I had met an alum for coffee, and he had gone from 2 years in house at a BB to a V5, without prior firm experience. Take that for what you will...


I realize this wasn't you but out of curiosity, do you know if the alum had to drop class years at all to go to a firm?

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Re: Started in government, went in house, a bit lost on what's next?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:08 pm

synergy wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
s1m4 wrote:How common is it to make a move from such a role back to a law firm, even if you have never previously practiced law? Do people see this happen often? Sometimes? Are the firms who accept such people typically boutiques; midlaw; biglaw?


I think it depends on a lot of factors like length and category of experience, skill set, etc. That being said, when I was looking to leave my government job I had met an alum for coffee, and he had gone from 2 years in house at a BB to a V5, without prior firm experience. Take that for what you will...


I realize this wasn't you but out of curiosity, do you know if the alum had to drop class years at all to go to a firm?


He did not, I think largely because the work he was doing in house was fairly niche and he continued it at the firm, so he was essentially up to par with other associates at his year. He did however explicitly mention that it has happened to other juniors and I should be ready to discuss it at or after interviewing with a firm.



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