Restructuring practice area as associate

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Samarcan

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Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Samarcan » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:41 pm

Would anyone with experience in this field at a top NY firm (~V5, V10, etc.) mind sharing what the day-to-day experience as a first or second-year associate is like in the Restructuring practice group? I've taken Bankruptcy in law school, and I liked the subject matter very much. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to work in the area when I summered at a V5. But I'm interested in the group. Any examples of concrete tasks or descriptions would be very helpful. (For example, is the day-to-day work/tasks more or less menial versus stimulating than that of a comparable junior associate in Private Equity?)

Thanks!

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:50 pm

currently a junior at top restructuring firm (KE/Weil). I do a lot of interesting things. In one day I might analyze a pension agreement, review leases, and talk to other lawyers re employee retentionplans. I draft motions (just small ones for now), analyze 10ks and review credit and debt agreements. You really get to do everything under the sun. It is very difficult work, very fast paced, very stressful and can be horrible hours. However, I do way cooler things (imho) than my PE counterparts. My lit friends do interesting things to, but theirs move at a slower pace. I get to get into the business and relaly get to know how they operate much more than coporate folks. We are the semi leaders of the bankruptcy whereas in PE we are just paper people. ymmv
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lincoln

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Lincoln » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:57 pm

I am not a restructuring associate, but I have had some exposure to the practice area in various ways. In my experience, restructuring lawyers are some of the smartest people around, and they really straddle the worlds of litigation, transactional and finance in a way that few other lawyers do. If you are interested in the subject, it seems like a good place to be.
Last edited by Lincoln on Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jd20132013

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:01 pm

Wow I had heard bankruptcy was one of the more chill groups. Guess that just goes to show u can't depend on what people say

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:10 pm

jd20132013 wrote:Wow I had heard bankruptcy was one of the more chill groups. Guess that just goes to show u can't depend on what people say


I was at a firm with a nationally-recognized bankruptcy practice (not KE or Weil) and they work their asses off. Maybe not as soul crushing as M&A, but there is nothing chill about it.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:13 pm

I work in the restructuring group of a firm you describe. I honestly think that restructuring work is more interesting as a junior than other practice groups because of the generalist focus (have done tax, executive comp, corporate, debt finance, litigation, pure bankruptcy work). The client also doesn't view you as a paper pusher either, because they likely have no bankruptcy experience. As a junior you will likely travel more than other practice groups--some may view that as a positive or a negative. Downside would be the hours, be prepared to bill ~2400 in a year. Echo what others have said, not chill at all, but I assume the hours are partly because restructuring is super busy right now and hours would come down in a more normal market.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Samarcan » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:09 pm

Thanks for all the responses so far. A specific follow-up question: does the group require more comfort with quantitative analysis than, say, traditional corporate M&A? My background is in English literature, though I took corporate classes in law school. I don't worry about the long hours, but rather whether I will be expected to have more background or familiarity with quant-stuff (perhaps in virtue of the self-selection effect that others coming into Restructuring tend to have that background, so I'd be expected to, as well).

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby foregetaboutdre » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:44 pm

jd20132013 wrote:Wow I had heard bankruptcy was one of the more chill groups. Guess that just goes to show u can't depend on what people say


Not in restructuring, but definitely not chill. Will say the lawyers are probably the smartest people around though. A Ch. 11 is like a madhouse.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby foregetaboutdre » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:45 pm

Samarcan wrote:Thanks for all the responses so far. A specific follow-up question: does the group require more comfort with quantitative analysis than, say, traditional corporate M&A? My background is in English literature, though I took corporate classes in law school. I don't worry about the long hours, but rather whether I will be expected to have more background or familiarity with quant-stuff (perhaps in virtue of the self-selection effect that others coming into Restructuring tend to have that background, so I'd be expected to, as well).


From the people I know, no. Thought it probably helps, but definitely not necessary.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:00 pm

You do not need any quantitative experience. You will need to understand concepts and the numbers associated with them, but you aren't the one crunching the numbers. Nothing you cannot learn on the job though--investopedia will become your friend.

At a top debtor shop, the hours will never be "chill." However, I'd think a creditor practice would probably be less. As debtor counsel, you are just involved in a million things at once and have quite a lot of paper to push -- if you like writing things, this makes the job a lot more interesting than your corporate counterparts.

You won't be able to find much debtor work in the V5 though. Skadden historically was one of the big three, but they've really slowed down compared to their peers. DPW and S&C do great secured creditor representations and occasionally dabble in debtor work. As mentioned, Kirkland and Weil do a lot of debtor work, and PW is making a push to be one of the big players in the field as well--to be seen how that plays out.

Plenty of other great firms doing great work, but you would have to take a vault hit. Historically, bankruptcy was seen as dirty work (to some extent it still is), and many of the traditional white shoes still shy away from it.

The main downside is really exit options. There are only a few places with any significant work (New York by a long shot, Delaware, Chicago, Houston, and ot a far lesser extent LA). It probably has the best shot of transitioning into a finance role at an investment bank, but it is still a long shot and probably impossible without any business background. In house opportunities exist, but they are just going to be less than your M&A peers.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:05 pm

I've worked with Weil / K&E in a big bankruptcy where I was outside counsel to the debtor on some regulatory issues. Those guys work literally around the clock, dealing with various subsidiaries and creditors and all kinds of people all around the globe. It seems interesting, because you really need to understand the business and all of its liabilities across all dimensions, but also exhausting, at least at one of those very top debtor practices at their most ramped-up.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:You do not need any quantitative experience. You will need to understand concepts and the numbers associated with them, but you aren't the one crunching the numbers. Nothing you cannot learn on the job though--investopedia will become your friend.

At a top debtor shop, the hours will never be "chill." However, I'd think a creditor practice would probably be less. As debtor counsel, you are just involved in a million things at once and have quite a lot of paper to push -- if you like writing things, this makes the job a lot more interesting than your corporate counterparts.

You won't be able to find much debtor work in the V5 though. Skadden historically was one of the big three, but they've really slowed down compared to their peers. DPW and S&C do great secured creditor representations and occasionally dabble in debtor work. As mentioned, Kirkland and Weil do a lot of debtor work, and PW is making a push to be one of the big players in the field as well--to be seen how that plays out.

Plenty of other great firms doing great work, but you would have to take a vault hit. Historically, bankruptcy was seen as dirty work (to some extent it still is), and many of the traditional white shoes still shy away from it.

The main downside is really exit options. There are only a few places with any significant work (New York by a long shot, Delaware, Chicago, Houston, and ot a far lesser extent LA). It probably has the best shot of transitioning into a finance role at an investment bank, but it is still a long shot and probably impossible without any business background. In house opportunities exist, but they are just going to be less than your M&A peers.


Thanks, this is very helpful. I'm already headed to a V5 in NY, I just need to decide which practice areas to submit as my first few choices. Litigation is too slow, and junior-level work too tedious, so I went for corporate work during the summer. But much of corporate seems to be running around like the hallway monitor, making sure papers are signed, etc. I'd like to do corporate work that is more intellectually stimulating, and so thought Restructuring may be the way to go (I don't have the numbers expertise to do Tax). And I hope that if the people I work with are pleasant folks, who don't expect me to have a quant background, the long hours will not be too bad. As for exit options, I guess I'm not looking that far ahead yet -- it seems too early to do so!

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:You do not need any quantitative experience. You will need to understand concepts and the numbers associated with them, but you aren't the one crunching the numbers. Nothing you cannot learn on the job though--investopedia will become your friend.

At a top debtor shop, the hours will never be "chill." However, I'd think a creditor practice would probably be less. As debtor counsel, you are just involved in a million things at once and have quite a lot of paper to push -- if you like writing things, this makes the job a lot more interesting than your corporate counterparts.

You won't be able to find much debtor work in the V5 though. Skadden historically was one of the big three, but they've really slowed down compared to their peers. DPW and S&C do great secured creditor representations and occasionally dabble in debtor work. As mentioned, Kirkland and Weil do a lot of debtor work, and PW is making a push to be one of the big players in the field as well--to be seen how that plays out.

Plenty of other great firms doing great work, but you would have to take a vault hit. Historically, bankruptcy was seen as dirty work (to some extent it still is), and many of the traditional white shoes still shy away from it.

The main downside is really exit options. There are only a few places with any significant work (New York by a long shot, Delaware, Chicago, Houston, and ot a far lesser extent LA). It probably has the best shot of transitioning into a finance role at an investment bank, but it is still a long shot and probably impossible without any business background. In house opportunities exist, but they are just going to be less than your M&A peers.


Not a vault hit :roll:

It’s interesting but the hours are terrible. Also, depending on the V5 the practice may be well-renowned which would be good for your options down the road.

Restructuring is basically its own little world and it’s not something I’d go into blind, personally.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:55 pm

^^^same anon. It’s also known for being bro-ish, rough and tumble, not genteel, etc. That’s not necessarily true but it does attract adrenaline junkies. I would not bet on the people being nice. At all.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:^^^same anon. It’s also known for being bro-ish, rough and tumble, not genteel, etc. That’s not necessarily true but it does attract adrenaline junkies. I would not bet on the people being nice. At all.


Oh! I did not know that. I thought the "bro-ish" and adrenaline-type practices were M&A, Credit, and Cap Markets -- ie., the really big practice groups. I thought maybe because Restructuring is so interdisciplinary, it would be less bro-ish and more book-ish. Maybe that's wrong!!

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:26 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You do not need any quantitative experience. You will need to understand concepts and the numbers associated with them, but you aren't the one crunching the numbers. Nothing you cannot learn on the job though--investopedia will become your friend.

At a top debtor shop, the hours will never be "chill." However, I'd think a creditor practice would probably be less. As debtor counsel, you are just involved in a million things at once and have quite a lot of paper to push -- if you like writing things, this makes the job a lot more interesting than your corporate counterparts.

You won't be able to find much debtor work in the V5 though. Skadden historically was one of the big three, but they've really slowed down compared to their peers. DPW and S&C do great secured creditor representations and occasionally dabble in debtor work. As mentioned, Kirkland and Weil do a lot of debtor work, and PW is making a push to be one of the big players in the field as well--to be seen how that plays out.

Plenty of other great firms doing great work, but you would have to take a vault hit. Historically, bankruptcy was seen as dirty work (to some extent it still is), and many of the traditional white shoes still shy away from it.

The main downside is really exit options. There are only a few places with any significant work (New York by a long shot, Delaware, Chicago, Houston, and ot a far lesser extent LA). It probably has the best shot of transitioning into a finance role at an investment bank, but it is still a long shot and probably impossible without any business background. In house opportunities exist, but they are just going to be less than your M&A peers.


Not a vault hit :roll:

It’s interesting but the hours are terrible. Also, depending on the V5 the practice may be well-renowned which would be good for your options down the road.

Restructuring is basically its own little world and it’s not something I’d go into blind, personally.


Don't really get this response. OP stated V5, of which only three do any significant amount of bankruptcy. One of those does a lot of debtor work (Skadden), but seems slow these days. The other two (DPW and S&C) do primarily secured lender work, which often involves less associate grunt work. Then you have Weil and Kirkland which do primarily debtor work and are hiring huge classes these days. Latham does some secured lender work, but not really a huge operation. Outside of that, tons of firms do great work, but are lower vault rankings (which the OP specifically cares about). My point being there are tons of great opportunities in the field, but sticking to the V5 or even v10 may significantly limit the options. It's not like M&A where literally everyone at the top does a ton of it.

Obviously agree, sticking with a V5 firm is better for exits. Not sure where I stated otherwise.

The bro stereotype probably depends on how you interpret that term. It isn't a bunch of frat dudes chugging beer in the office, but it does tend to attract more down to earth people who aren't looking for a "genteel" (read stuffy) environment. It's the kind of practice that way too much is going on for people to let perfection get in the way of the good.

Also, a vast majority of lawyers (myself included) are raging nerds, so most people are going to be bookish to varying degrees.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:
jd20132013 wrote:Wow I had heard bankruptcy was one of the more chill groups. Guess that just goes to show u can't depend on what people say


I was at a firm with a nationally-recognized bankruptcy practice (not KE or Weil) and they work their asses off. Maybe not as soul crushing as M&A, but there is nothing chill about it.


Agreed; the firm I summered at had a bankruptcy group that worked the longest hours

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:14 am

Second year at one of DPW/S&C.

Above posters are correct that we mostly work with secured lender/holder groups. Usually out of court (e.g.,exchange offers) and prepack/arranged. We do some debtor work but nowhere near volume of Weil/KE.

30% of my time is analyzing credit docs doing covenant reviews. Another 20% drafting/reviewing motions depending on representation. 15% legal research (not the huge time suck that it can be in regular way lit). 10% just doing your regular corporate grunt work like turning comments, tracking responses etc... 10% taking stab at term sheets/drafting agreements, 10% listen to seniors argue with KE about professional fee carve outs and 5% dodging living wills work.

Agree that hours can be brutal but so far I’ve found it to be more predictable and not as “needed this yesterday” compared to my time in corporate. But I think the top debtor shops can skew more that way. I’m on track for 2200 (including four weeks of vacation during which I wasn’t disturbed) which isn’t awful. Still have time to chill on weekends. Some of the seniors are getting crushed but mostly cuz there are so few of them relative to need

Happy to discuss over PM if want to discuss more firm specific stuff.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:33 am

Junior at a firm that does a decent amount of debtor work.

A good example of the practice: being the lead on all tax/insurance/vendor issues depending on the first day motion workstream you were on. If you drafted the vendor motion, you're the vendor gal/guy and when a partner from an AmLaw 100 firm who represents a vendor calls with questions/issues, you are often the point person (fielding these inbounds is considered busy work that seniors are too good for). To me, its pretty fun/exciting getting the autonomy to deal with these issues, which are substantive enough that other solid firms have partners working on them. Also intimidating and stressful though, at least at first.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You do not need any quantitative experience. You will need to understand concepts and the numbers associated with them, but you aren't the one crunching the numbers. Nothing you cannot learn on the job though--investopedia will become your friend.

At a top debtor shop, the hours will never be "chill." However, I'd think a creditor practice would probably be less. As debtor counsel, you are just involved in a million things at once and have quite a lot of paper to push -- if you like writing things, this makes the job a lot more interesting than your corporate counterparts.

You won't be able to find much debtor work in the V5 though. Skadden historically was one of the big three, but they've really slowed down compared to their peers. DPW and S&C do great secured creditor representations and occasionally dabble in debtor work. As mentioned, Kirkland and Weil do a lot of debtor work, and PW is making a push to be one of the big players in the field as well--to be seen how that plays out.

Plenty of other great firms doing great work, but you would have to take a vault hit. Historically, bankruptcy was seen as dirty work (to some extent it still is), and many of the traditional white shoes still shy away from it.

The main downside is really exit options. There are only a few places with any significant work (New York by a long shot, Delaware, Chicago, Houston, and ot a far lesser extent LA). It probably has the best shot of transitioning into a finance role at an investment bank, but it is still a long shot and probably impossible without any business background. In house opportunities exist, but they are just going to be less than your M&A peers.


Not a vault hit :roll:

It’s interesting but the hours are terrible. Also, depending on the V5 the practice may be well-renowned which would be good for your options down the road.

Restructuring is basically its own little world and it’s not something I’d go into blind, personally.


Don't really get this response. OP stated V5, of which only three do any significant amount of bankruptcy. One of those does a lot of debtor work (Skadden), but seems slow these days. The other two (DPW and S&C) do primarily secured lender work, which often involves less associate grunt work. Then you have Weil and Kirkland which do primarily debtor work and are hiring huge classes these days. Latham does some secured lender work, but not really a huge operation. Outside of that, tons of firms do great work, but are lower vault rankings (which the OP specifically cares about). My point being there are tons of great opportunities in the field, but sticking to the V5 or even v10 may significantly limit the options. It's not like M&A where literally everyone at the top does a ton of it.

Obviously agree, sticking with a V5 firm is better for exits. Not sure where I stated otherwise.

The bro stereotype probably depends on how you interpret that term. It isn't a bunch of frat dudes chugging beer in the office, but it does tend to attract more down to earth people who aren't looking for a "genteel" (read stuffy) environment. It's the kind of practice that way too much is going on for people to let perfection get in the way of the good.

Also, a vast majority of lawyers (myself included) are raging nerds, so most people are going to be bookish to varying degrees.


Junior at one of KE/Weil. While this is necessarily firm and office dependent, the people in my group are pretty great and I’m honestly not sure where the negative broey stereotype is coming from. I think anon above hit the nail on the end in that people in my group are much less stuffy and far more practical in nature. I’ll also add that they, and I think restructuring lawyers in general, are very very nerdy. Most of the people I work with seem to really enjoy the practice area and talking about/learning about its different nuances.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:50 pm

OP here. Just to be clear, I didn't mean to imply anything by specifying I was asking about the V5, other than that is where I did my summer work and will be going back to after school, and so is most relevant for me to know about that kind of work. (I just didn't get a chance to do any Restructuring at the firm while there over the summer, as it wasn't yet on my radar).

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:05 pm

Summered at Weil - seems like their restructuring associates are consistently the hardest worked across the firm (at least in New York).

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Just to be clear, I didn't mean to imply anything by specifying I was asking about the V5, other than that is where I did my summer work and will be going back to after school, and so is most relevant for me to know about that kind of work. (I just didn't get a chance to do any Restructuring at the firm while there over the summer, as it wasn't yet on my radar).


Got it. If you mean what will work be like at at your specific v5, no way of really saying without talking about specific firm. But, the V5 follows what I said before:
*Cravath - virtually nonexistent. Still has some legacy work on EFH because of Rick Levin, but he is at Jenner now, and their bk practice is no more.
*Wachtell - they get involved with some secured lender stuff, and some purchaser type reps. Very small footprint though, and don't know how many incoming associates really have a choice to pursue this.
*Skadden, S&C, and DPW - all as described above.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby MaxMcMann » Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:08 am

Question for restructuring associates: can you tell me more about exit options?

I have heard friends in finance say that generally restructuring is the best group to be in to make a jump over to the business (as in non legal) side of finance.

I appreciate that restructuring has been described here as more practical and down to earth - I find I have more of an issue working in the stuffier types of law environments and tend do better among like minded people - and this is the main reason I'm curious about restructuring. However, as a dreamer, I can't help but entertain the small chance of exiting somewhere even cooler, and was hoping someone could weigh in on it (even if "vastly better odds" of entering finance means 0.5% instead of 0.1% - it's certainly not something I'm going to hang my hat on).

Additionally, can someone weigh in on the principal differences in approach/exit options/culture/anything relevant that I'm missing between lender side and debtor side work, to the extent these exist?

I know almost nothing about restructuring and none of my friends are in it, so please excuse me for letting my rather obvious ignorance of the subject show.

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Re: Restructuring practice area as associate

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:31 am

MaxMcMann wrote:Question for restructuring associates: can you tell me more about exit options?

I have heard friends in finance say that generally restructuring is the best group to be in to make a jump over to the business (as in non legal) side of finance.

I appreciate that restructuring has been described here as more practical and down to earth - I find I have more of an issue working in the stuffier types of law environments and tend do better among like minded people - and this is the main reason I'm curious about restructuring. However, as a dreamer, I can't help but entertain the small chance of exiting somewhere even cooler, and was hoping someone could weigh in on it (even if "vastly better odds" of entering finance means 0.5% instead of 0.1% - it's certainly not something I'm going to hang my hat on).

Additionally, can someone weigh in on the principal differences in approach/exit options/culture/anything relevant that I'm missing between lender side and debtor side work, to the extent these exist?

I know almost nothing about restructuring and none of my friends are in it, so please excuse me for letting my rather obvious ignorance of the subject show.

It’s hard to say. At my firm, most people who leave after 3/4year have gone to clients, but we also do a ton of creditor work with repeat players, so making a name for yourself is inevitable. Don’t really have much insight into what happens at debtor shops, but my hunch is that would be less likely.


Debtor shops churn and burn like crazy, but the flip side of that is you learn a ton and your team is generally larger (taking a vacation or going offline can be difficult if not impossible if you’re literally the only mid level or senior on a deal, which happens often here).

It’s rough and it has its trade offs but I couldn’t imagine doing another group at a big firm. The substantive law is pretty interesting, especially when things get divisive, and the bankruptcy code and history are fascinating IMO (at least compared to the securities or tax laws).



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