Going In-House and Skipping Rungs on the Career Ladder

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

Going In-House and Skipping Rungs on the Career Ladder

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:23 pm

I have kind of an interesting dilemma. I'm currently a midlevel biglaw associate in a secondary market. I have networked myself into an opportunity to be the corporate AGC of a mid-to-large, privately held (but possibly soon-to-IPO) company. The job would basically be skipping a few rungs on the career ladder for me.

Downsides:
1. I'd have to move from my secondary market to a true primary market (NYC/Chicago). My S/O's family lives within a few miles of us now and we're going to start a family soon. That support system would be really hard to leave.

2. This job would be fairly similar to biglaw in hours. I'd have to move at the speed of business and the scope of the job would mirror the GC -- I'd be his right-hand.

3. The company has a history of some culture problems. Though it's big, it has a "tech startup culture" with all that brings (e.g. misogyny and etc.). Part of this role would be to oversee HR investigations so I'd at least be in a position to help.

4. It's in developing/transitioning industry. The company could just as easily be sold to a big player in the space looking to solidify market share as it could be taken public. While I'd hope that a buyer would want to operate it as a standalone business and I'd keep my job, there's definite risk of a sale/layoff.

The Upside:

1. Having a significant role with varied responsibilities and lots of oversight is the reason I went to law school. The job sounds really hard, but it sounds really awesome at the same time. It'd be a lot of supervising outside counsel, which is a different kind of "work" than I'm used to doing and one that I sense is at least more interesting than being the one actually doing the true grunt work. Is this right?

2. Compensation would be very competitive. S/O may not have to work and could stay home with child, which would help mitigate losing their support system.

3. This role on my resume, even if it only lasts 3 years, at this stage in my career would be impressive.

4. Though it's a move, it's still a fairly easy few hour drive to my current city, so we wouldn't be relegated to seeing family just a few times a year.

What Could I do Instead?

1. Stay at my firm for a few years. I don't work too hard (I'll bill around 2100-2300 this year). Don't think I want to be a partner, but I could certainly coast to a certain extent for the next 4 years while we have a kid and enjoy taking lots of vacations.

2. I could move in-house locally to a job where the people I've interviewed with have said that there is never any expectation of working evenings or weekends. I'd be the low rung on the in-house totem pole, but the job would be similarly low stress.

I really can't decide which path I want to take. I'm leaning towards pursuing the crazy job -- I figure that if it doesn't work out, I can come back to our hometown and I can pursue option 2 in a few years. The only cost is the hassle of moving and the stress of being miserable while I figure out it doesn't work.

Talk me into/out of it?


Also: To head off questions -- I'm competitive for this job through only the power of networking and good luck. I remind the GC of himself, apparently. Only time can tell whether that's a compliment or not...

Anonymous User
Posts: 313957
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Going In-House and Skipping Rungs on the Career Ladder

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have kind of an interesting dilemma. I'm currently a midlevel biglaw associate in a secondary market. I have networked myself into an opportunity to be the corporate AGC of a mid-to-large, privately held (but possibly soon-to-IPO) company. The job would basically be skipping a few rungs on the career ladder for me.

Downsides:
1. I'd have to move from my secondary market to a true primary market (NYC/Chicago). My S/O's family lives within a few miles of us now and we're going to start a family soon. That support system would be really hard to leave.

2. This job would be fairly similar to biglaw in hours. I'd have to move at the speed of business and the scope of the job would mirror the GC -- I'd be his right-hand.

3. The company has a history of some culture problems. Though it's big, it has a "tech startup culture" with all that brings (e.g. misogyny and etc.). Part of this role would be to oversee HR investigations so I'd at least be in a position to help.

4. It's in developing/transitioning industry. The company could just as easily be sold to a big player in the space looking to solidify market share as it could be taken public. While I'd hope that a buyer would want to operate it as a standalone business and I'd keep my job, there's definite risk of a sale/layoff.

The Upside:

1. Having a significant role with varied responsibilities and lots of oversight is the reason I went to law school. The job sounds really hard, but it sounds really awesome at the same time. It'd be a lot of supervising outside counsel, which is a different kind of "work" than I'm used to doing and one that I sense is at least more interesting than being the one actually doing the true grunt work. Is this right?

2. Compensation would be very competitive. S/O may not have to work and could stay home with child, which would help mitigate losing their support system.

3. This role on my resume, even if it only lasts 3 years, at this stage in my career would be impressive.

4. Though it's a move, it's still a fairly easy few hour drive to my current city, so we wouldn't be relegated to seeing family just a few times a year.

What Could I do Instead?

1. Stay at my firm for a few years. I don't work too hard (I'll bill around 2100-2300 this year). Don't think I want to be a partner, but I could certainly coast to a certain extent for the next 4 years while we have a kid and enjoy taking lots of vacations.

2. I could move in-house locally to a job where the people I've interviewed with have said that there is never any expectation of working evenings or weekends. I'd be the low rung on the in-house totem pole, but the job would be similarly low stress.

I really can't decide which path I want to take. I'm leaning towards pursuing the crazy job -- I figure that if it doesn't work out, I can come back to our hometown and I can pursue option 2 in a few years. The only cost is the hassle of moving and the stress of being miserable while I figure out it doesn't work.

Talk me into/out of it?


Also: To head off questions -- I'm competitive for this job through only the power of networking and good luck. I remind the GC of himself, apparently. Only time can tell whether that's a compliment or not...


Depending on your practice group I don't think you are skipping any rungs on the ladder. At least as my firm once you are a 5th year going in-house as a deputy GC is pretty common and if you wait until you are an 8th year or don't make partner then GC is pretty standard. So give yourself more credit there.

I personally would do it if the industry sounds exciting and just try to get a change of control package.

Anonymous User
Posts: 313957
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Going In-House and Skipping Rungs on the Career Ladder

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:56 pm

Based on what you wrote, it sounds like you are just looking for confirmation that making the jump is the right move - just do it

Magic Hat

Bronze
Posts: 106
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2014 7:07 pm

Re: Going In-House and Skipping Rungs on the Career Ladder

Postby Magic Hat » Sat Aug 19, 2017 2:50 pm

From a professional standpoint it sounds like a good move but I'd have a few concerns. Based on your concerns about misogyny it is probably a good guess that you are a female. Do you know that misogyny is an issue or are you just assuming that because it's tech there is misogyny? Do you foresee that as a serious problem?

On the personal level, what does your S/O think? Does he or she want you to take the job? Is he or she willing to move and leave behind the support network (which as the father of a toddler and an infant I can tell you is completely irreplaceable)? Does he or she want to stay home?

Good luck.

Anonymous User
Posts: 313957
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Going In-House and Skipping Rungs on the Career Ladder

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:10 pm

Aside from the culture concern, I think you definitely do it. Do some real digging into the culture more though. Bc bad culture can make any job a nightmare, no matter how cool on paper

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nealric

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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:53 am

Re: Going In-House and Skipping Rungs on the Career Ladder

Postby nealric » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have kind of an interesting dilemma. I'm currently a midlevel biglaw associate in a secondary market. I have networked myself into an opportunity to be the corporate AGC of a mid-to-large, privately held (but possibly soon-to-IPO) company. The job would basically be skipping a few rungs on the career ladder for me.

Downsides:
1. I'd have to move from my secondary market to a true primary market (NYC/Chicago). My S/O's family lives within a few miles of us now and we're going to start a family soon. That support system would be really hard to leave.

2. This job would be fairly similar to biglaw in hours. I'd have to move at the speed of business and the scope of the job would mirror the GC -- I'd be his right-hand.

3. The company has a history of some culture problems. Though it's big, it has a "tech startup culture" with all that brings (e.g. misogyny and etc.). Part of this role would be to oversee HR investigations so I'd at least be in a position to help.

4. It's in developing/transitioning industry. The company could just as easily be sold to a big player in the space looking to solidify market share as it could be taken public. While I'd hope that a buyer would want to operate it as a standalone business and I'd keep my job, there's definite risk of a sale/layoff.

The Upside:

1. Having a significant role with varied responsibilities and lots of oversight is the reason I went to law school. The job sounds really hard, but it sounds really awesome at the same time. It'd be a lot of supervising outside counsel, which is a different kind of "work" than I'm used to doing and one that I sense is at least more interesting than being the one actually doing the true grunt work. Is this right?

2. Compensation would be very competitive. S/O may not have to work and could stay home with child, which would help mitigate losing their support system.

3. This role on my resume, even if it only lasts 3 years, at this stage in my career would be impressive.

4. Though it's a move, it's still a fairly easy few hour drive to my current city, so we wouldn't be relegated to seeing family just a few times a year.

What Could I do Instead?

1. Stay at my firm for a few years. I don't work too hard (I'll bill around 2100-2300 this year). Don't think I want to be a partner, but I could certainly coast to a certain extent for the next 4 years while we have a kid and enjoy taking lots of vacations.

2. I could move in-house locally to a job where the people I've interviewed with have said that there is never any expectation of working evenings or weekends. I'd be the low rung on the in-house totem pole, but the job would be similarly low stress.

I really can't decide which path I want to take. I'm leaning towards pursuing the crazy job -- I figure that if it doesn't work out, I can come back to our hometown and I can pursue option 2 in a few years. The only cost is the hassle of moving and the stress of being miserable while I figure out it doesn't work.

Talk me into/out of it?


Also: To head off questions -- I'm competitive for this job through only the power of networking and good luck. I remind the GC of himself, apparently. Only time can tell whether that's a compliment or not...


Depending on your practice group I don't think you are skipping any rungs on the ladder. At least as my firm once you are a 5th year going in-house as a deputy GC is pretty common and if you wait until you are an 8th year or don't make partner then GC is pretty standard. So give yourself more credit there.

I personally would do it if the industry sounds exciting and just try to get a change of control package.


Keep in mind that titles vary between companies. At my F500, nobody is going to be Deputy GC from any associate role. That would be the #2 role of a 20+ attorney law department.

notgreat

Silver
Posts: 625
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:24 pm

Re: Going In-House and Skipping Rungs on the Career Ladder

Postby notgreat » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:49 am

This sounds like a great opportunity, friend. Good luck either way, but I would take it if you are not making partner.

BTW, I can't believe you said you don't work too hard billing 2,100-2,300. That is a lot of fucking work.

Anonymous User
Posts: 313957
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Going In-House and Skipping Rungs on the Career Ladder

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:25 am

OP here. Thanks everyone.

I guess it's not as rare a job as I had thought, but I still think it'd be a good challenge. Some of you picked up on the fact that I'm sort of leaning that way. The biggest issue for me is one that's hard for strangers to give advice about: How I quantify the risk in light of having to also move my S/O away from family. S/O seems game for it, but is always supportive: If I think it's a good career move, S/O will gladly take the risk and do it, even though moving away from family is far from ideal. I'm lucky that way, but I know they want it to be my decision whereas I want to make sure they're heard, too.

I'll have to deal with that as I try to figure out if the job is too big for one person or if the environment is otherwise not a good fit.

I think compensation will be a gating issue, so it's possible that will end up making the decision on easy one if it's low (or exceptionally high, I suppose...).

Anyway -- Writing my initial post helped me think things through and your responses have been appreciated. Happy to read more if anyone else wants to weigh in, even with anecdotal stories about AGC jobs.



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