Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

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Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:40 pm

How does one change practice groups... particularly if changing practice groups would require changing firms? For example, how would a patent prosecutor working at a big law firm move to another big law firm to do tech transactions? Asking because my firm does not have a very good tech transactions practice. I would be willing to drop year(s) for the switch. And is a recruiter the right way to go for this?

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Re: Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How does one change practice groups... particularly if changing practice groups would require changing firms? For example, how would a patent prosecutor working at a big law firm move to another big law firm to do tech transactions? Asking because my firm does not have a very good tech transactions practice. I would be willing to drop year(s) for the switch. And is a recruiter the right way to go for this?


No, a recruiter will conflict you out everywhere. Biglaw firms are unlikely to take a lateral who is switching practice groups considering the recruiter fee that's involved with hiring you. But that's not going to stop recruiters from taking your resume and submitting it as many places as you'll allow. The firm is obligated to pay the recruiter fee if you're hired within 6 months from the initial submission. So what would happen is you'll get locked out almost everywhere a recruiter submits you.

Of course, you can lateral to a different firm and stay in the same practice group, but I think even then it would be very hard to switch out of the group. Usually, laterals are brought in to fill a specific need.

Your best bet is to go about this alone, with help through networking. Or just direct apply to places and explain your desire to be in a different practice group.

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Re: Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby BlueParrot » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:36 pm

Whether or not you actually use a recruiter for submissions, I would suggest that you talk to a few recruiters and get their thoughts on what the market is like and the difficulty of making the switch.

Good recruiters have experience with situations like this and might be incredibly helpful, but I'm not sure if firms are willing to pay the recruiter fees for sort of unusual junior laterals. For juniors in high demand practice areas, I know that some have been very successful when using a recruiter though.

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Re: Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby TheSpecialist » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:17 am

I sort of changed practice groups as a second-year associate. I was working in what sounds like a related area, but in reality the practice was entirely different. The way I got my current position was because I heard about an opening at my current firm and instead of going through a recruiter (for the aforementioned reasons, i.e., you automatically become a pricier hire), I asked a law school friend who works at my current firm if he could send along my resume to someone in my current group. He did and I got an email a few weeks later asking if I would be willing to come in for an interview. To be honest, changing areas was easier than I thought it would be because a lot of being a biglaw associate is just knowing how biglaw works.

Funnily enough, I know that both my current and previous firm are looking for tech transactions hires. I know they would prefer someone with experience, but feel free to message me if you would like to talk about it. I'd be happy to pass your resume along if it seems like a good fit (I'm in a non-NY major market).

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Re: Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby redsox550 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:25 am

I think everyone unanimously agrees going through a friend is usually better than a recruiter (possible exceptions include if the recruiter really has a strong personal relationship with someone at the firm) however I'm not really buying the whole recruiter fee being a deterrent.

You bill around a millliom dollars a year for a firm as a first year in a major market, 50k or wtvr the fee is, is almost inconsequential if the firm is getting a solid hire. Yes If all things are perfectly identical then maybe they will choose slightly cheaper option, but that's unlikely going to be the case.

There is a strong argument not to use a recruiter in certain situations but I don't think that's due to the fee

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Re: Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby First Offense » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:31 am

redsox550 wrote:I think everyone unanimously agrees going through a friend is usually better than a recruiter (possible exceptions include if the recruiter really has a strong personal relationship with someone at the firm) however I'm not really buying the whole recruiter fee being a deterrent.

You bill around a millliom dollars a year for a firm as a first year in a major market, 50k or wtvr the fee is, is almost inconsequential if the firm is getting a solid hire. Yes If all things are perfectly identical then maybe they will choose slightly cheaper option, but that's unlikely going to be the case.

There is a strong argument not to use a recruiter in certain situations but I don't think that's due to the fee

No you don't. Assume $400/hr for a first year. At 2000 hours, you're at 800k. Salary, overhead, benefits, bonus probably eats up around 3-400k? That's not counting the costs associated with summer associates, moving costs, signing bonuses.

However, even if you "bill" 2000 hours, you're not realizing 2000 hours. A first year's hours are going to get written down a lot. A *lot*. I would be shocked if a first year realizes 75% of their hours. Some companies just straight won't pay for a first year's work.

I think the general consensus has been you start being profitable around your third year, and that rings true to me.

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Re: Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby smokeylarue » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:09 pm

First years are definitely profitable. If they weren't, every law firm would just hire laterals and not have any summer classes.

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Re: Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby redsox550 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:11 pm

First Offense wrote:
redsox550 wrote:I think everyone unanimously agrees going through a friend is usually better than a recruiter (possible exceptions include if the recruiter really has a strong personal relationship with someone at the firm) however I'm not really buying the whole recruiter fee being a deterrent.

You bill around a millliom dollars a year for a firm as a first year in a major market, 50k or wtvr the fee is, is almost inconsequential if the firm is getting a solid hire. Yes If all things are perfectly identical then maybe they will choose slightly cheaper option, but that's unlikely going to be the case.

There is a strong argument not to use a recruiter in certain situations but I don't think that's due to the fee

No you don't. Assume $400/hr for a first year. At 2000 hours, you're at 800k. Salary, overhead, benefits, bonus probably eats up around 3-400k? That's not counting the costs associated with summer associates, moving costs, signing bonuses.

However, even if you "bill" 2000 hours, you're not realizing 2000 hours. A first year's hours are going to get written down a lot. A *lot*. I would be shocked if a first year realizes 75% of their hours. Some companies just straight won't pay for a first year's work.

I think the general consensus has been you start being profitable around your third year, and that rings true to me.


1. NYC first years billable rate for V50s is over $400 an hour. 2. Major markets you tend to bill over 2000. 3. You are missing the point, I am not saying you will make the firm a million in profits, what im saying is the 50gs or wtvr fee is pretty inconsequential in terms of everything involved. A firm will pay $$$ to get someone if they think he will be a good candidate.

redsox550

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Re: Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby redsox550 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:13 pm

smokeylarue wrote:First years are definitely profitable. If they weren't, every law firm would just hire laterals and not have any summer classes.


That wouldn't really work. There would be a massive shortage of laterals pretty immediately if firms stopped hiring first years. Also a few firms (usually the smaller ones) have adopted a similar approach. Lastly, a V10 firm with 70+ first years can't really expect to hire that many laterals to replace an incoming class.

also, if firms are currently profitable they prob don't wanna change the system around too much

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Re: Third Year Attorney Changing Practice Groups

Postby ruski » Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:41 pm

i switched practice groups (and firms) end of second year/beginning of third. I marketed myself as being a corporate generalist the first two years (kind of true) and now that i've experienced all practice groups I really want X which my firm doesn't have. this seems better than saying "hi im in Y now but i want to practice X." marketing yourself as a generalist, which you can easily do as a junior, makes you look more trainable to a new practice group and less like you doing a complete 180



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