In-house in Europe

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20gp
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Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:49 am

In-house in Europe

Postby 20gp » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:46 am

I've received a lot of great advice over the years from these boards so thought it was time to pay some back.

I work at a large public company in a major European market. I spent about five years in biglaw then moved in-house to a client. Happy to address any specific questions but below is my general advice for anyone looking to follow a similar path.

I went to a T14 and like most of my classmates started at a major firm in New York. The firm sold me on their "cross-border practice/international footprint" during OCI, but I quickly learned that in reality, although the big shops operate under one name in multiple jurisdictions, hours and revenue are credited and broken down by office. This means that there is necessarily a desire for the office or partner that hires you to keep you in that office and focused on the clients and deals of that office or partner. If you have language skills or experience working in another market you might be able to leverage this to get more exposure to the larger network, but you will have to be your own advocate and most of the time will need to push for these opportunities on your own (which you might not always have the time or energy to do because of regular work constraints). Whatever your plans are, remember that anyone interviewing you will be focused on what you can do for them or their office so you need to be enthusiastic about that particular market or team, whatever your future plans may be. I was lucky enough to meet and be mentored by a partner in one of our European offices, who recommended I focus on capital markets work early on as this is the largest practice area and most easily cracked by JDs looking to work outside of the US. There are also US associates in Europe who focus on arbitration and a few who do M&A, but many fewer than in cap markets. I eventually transferred within my firm to one of our European offices and from there moved in-house to a client. It's possible to apply directly to positions at other firms and I have friends who have successfully done so, but keep in mind that US teams outside of the US are often fairly small and many positions are filled without being advertised or involving recruiters. Here again, being proactive and reaching out to form your own connections and opportunities will be a huge advantage.

I'd advise anyone looking to follow a similar career path to take Securities Law while in law school and any accounting or financial literacy classes your law school offers. If you can take any classes cross-listed with your university's business school that would also be great, but most of what you will actually do on a day-to-day basis as an associate will be learned on the job. After graduation, there are still plenty of opportunities to take similar classes or condensed workshops that focus on the same topics, the problem will be finding the time to do so. If possible, also focus on developing at least one other language skill since this can get you involved in deals for which you might otherwise be passed over. Generally speaking, the vast majority of all documents you work on will be in English, but calls or emails with clients and other discussions that happen away from the drafting table will occur in a different language for many cross-border deals. Associates familiar with the local language and business customs of clients usually add more value. Finally, remember it is much easier to be hired for in-house positions if you have already been able to get yourself to the market you want to be in or if you have worked with someone in the company before or have mutual connections they trust who can recommend you and speak to your working capabilities. It's a path not often followed, but it is extremely possible with the right amount of planning and hard work and a little bit of luck.

Anonymous User
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Re: In-house in Europe

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:05 am

Thank you for posting, it's great to get new information on this topic. I am a fresh associate in Europe. Can you please talk more about what the in-house gigs look like in Europe vs US?

What's the comp like? Is it similar to US in that you will get 120K++ after exiting biglaw?
What sort of employers take US attorneys in-house in Europe? I assume it's those that do a lot of cap markets work?
What are the hours like?
What are the opportunities for advancement like?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this.

20gp
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:49 am

Re: In-house in Europe

Postby 20gp » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:
What's the comp like? Is it similar to US in that you will get 120K++ after exiting biglaw?
What sort of employers take US attorneys in-house in Europe? I assume it's those that do a lot of cap markets work?
What are the hours like?
What are the opportunities for advancement like?



- Like in the US, comp varies a lot depending on size of the company, location, years of experience, etc. Generally speaking it's comparable, but benefits like pension contribution and health care are almost always better. I know US associates who have gotten everything from 60k plus equity for a rapidly growing start-up company in Prague to 300K+ at a major financial institution in London. Like in the US, comp does not scale the way it does at firms. I only took a small salary hit when I left, but the gap between what I make and what associates who stayed at the firm make will increase pretty dramatically in the next few years.

- The in-house work that associates leave to do actually seems to vary a lot. In my experience, almost all are based on client relationships or contacts that were made while working in the local market. Friend above who went to a start-up is now much more of a generalist for example, despite having worked exclusively in cap markets as an associate and being hired for her knowledge of US law as it applies to foreign companies. I work for a company listed in the US, so my job does focus much more on securities law. I will also say that positions involving US securities law are probably the easiest to apply for if you're looking for a natural, check-the-box scan of your resume and going about the job search by applying for positions online.

- Hours can still be long depending on the type of position you have, especially if you work with teams in the US or Asia because of the time difference. But they are much better than firm life (it's not even a contest). Vacation and holidays are respected to greater degree, but that's also true of firm work in Europe vs. the US. The most noticeable difference in-house is you don't have to be bothered with entering time and in slower periods you can just relax and enjoy without worrying what it is doing to your yearly rate.

- Opportunities for advancement also depend on where you land, but generally speaking would rate them equal to opportunities in the US. No foreigner or language bias if you go to a large international company or are a really vital team member at a small company, but I guess it might be something of an issue for mid-sized organizations.

Anonymous User
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Re: In-house in Europe

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:50 pm

Thanks for posting! A few questions:

-Is it significantly easier to get to an international office from NYC? I'm a junior in an SF office who has done a fair amount of cap markets work so far (all equity - no debt work) and am interested in possibly transferring to a European office.

-What level of language skills are required? I'm conversational in the language of my preferred market but would not feel comfortable handling technical documents at this point.

-Do "ties" matter at all? I would be looking to move to a city where my husband is from and where his entire family lives. Just wondering if this would work in my favor at all.

-Can you discuss some differences between the cap markets work in the US versus in Europe?

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

Re: In-house in Europe

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:07 pm

What do I need to do if I want to work for a large multinational in Spain? Thanks.

20gp
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:49 am

Re: In-house in Europe

Postby 20gp » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for posting! A few questions:

-Is it significantly easier to get to an international office from NYC? I'm a junior in an SF office who has done a fair amount of cap markets work so far (all equity - no debt work) and am interested in possibly transferring to a European office.

-What level of language skills are required? I'm conversational in the language of my preferred market but would not feel comfortable handling technical documents at this point.

-Do "ties" matter at all? I would be looking to move to a city where my husband is from and where his entire family lives. Just wondering if this would work in my favor at all.

-Can you discuss some differences between the cap markets work in the US versus in Europe?


- I wouldn't say it's significantly easier to make the move from NY, but sometimes there is more collaboration with the European offices from the east coast so you get to know more people in the European network. It may also be easier if you work for a firm that has offices in the region you want to move to and can set up an internal transfer or secondment to another office.

- Conversational language skills are fine, especially to start. If there are documents in the local language or governed by local law on your deals there will be native-speaking associates or partners qualified in that jurisdiction to review. You'll likely use your skills in more informal, everyday interactions.

- Ties are very important as a way to show why you want to move (needs to be more than just an escape plan). Definitely mention the family connection and language abilities when looking.

-The work will vary depending on what firm and team you end up on, but obviously for registered work you'll be dealing with FPIs that have to observe slightly different reporting requirements. A lot of the work will focus on debt as there are many European companies that want to access the US investor base but do not have the need or desire to deal with being registered in the US. The main thing I noticed is associates are given substantive work much earlier on and I had a lot more client interaction since the team was smaller. High yield debt deals in particular were really interesting in this heightened responsibility context given their complexity and pace. Most European jurisdictions also have a level of "trainee" or research assistant so you will have more junior people around that you will be expected to manage.

20gp
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2016 7:49 am

Re: In-house in Europe

Postby 20gp » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:What do I need to do if I want to work for a large multinational in Spain? Thanks.


Similar advice as already mentioned. For sure brush up language skills if you're not a native speaker or out of practice as Spain is a European country known to not be as accepting of English (compared to say the Scandinavian countries). Logistically, I think it also helps to place yourself geographically as close to the market you want to be in as possible. So for example you may want to consider looking at London firm positions (where there are many associate opportunities) with the idea that from there it will be easier to make contacts in the Spanish market, visit the area, be close enough to easily interview in person, etc.

One other caveat to the advice above: even though capital markets is a useful practice for getting you abroad, when you look to move in-house a broader skill set is also desirable. If you have the chance to work on any corporate governance tasks, regulatory matters, M&A transactions etc. either assisting other teams or volunteering for pro bono matters that will only be to your advantage.

Anonymous User
Posts: 299543
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: In-house in Europe

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:37 am

Thanks, really useful. I've the language skills but not the mixed caps/M&A part.

20gp wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What do I need to do if I want to work for a large multinational in Spain? Thanks.


Similar advice as already mentioned. For sure brush up language skills if you're not a native speaker or out of practice as Spain is a European country known to not be as accepting of English (compared to say the Scandinavian countries). Logistically, I think it also helps to place yourself geographically as close to the market you want to be in as possible. So for example you may want to consider looking at London firm positions (where there are many associate opportunities) with the idea that from there it will be easier to make contacts in the Spanish market, visit the area, be close enough to easily interview in person, etc.

One other caveat to the advice above: even though capital markets is a useful practice for getting you abroad, when you look to move in-house a broader skill set is also desirable. If you have the chance to work on any corporate governance tasks, regulatory matters, M&A transactions etc. either assisting other teams or volunteering for pro bono matters that will only be to your advantage.




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