Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

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acul100

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Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby acul100 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:38 pm

Hi there,

I feel as if I have reached a bit of a crossroads career-wise and could do with some advice.

I am a 1st year transactional associate at a V5 (American) firm in London. Unlike in the US, lawyers here have to work for 2 years as a 'trainee solicitor' before they can qualify as an associate, so I have been with the firm for 3 years in total. Although I enjoy my work, things have become difficult recently as my girlfriend has recently moved to NYC. As it is not possible to work in the US with a UK law degree, I'm now considering re-qualifying in the US with a JD degree. In all honesty I enjoyed law school in the UK, so I wouldn't mind retraining in the US as I think there is benefit in being dual qualified. If anyone has any comments on these issues, I'd be grateful..

Firstly..assuming I end up at a T15 school, is 29 too old to be starting law school from a biglaw recruitment perspective? I'm hoping that my current firm will rehire me, but I can't be certain of this at this point and so want to keep my options open.

Secondly..how common is it for firms to hire international students without permanent residence? I understand that this is not likely to be easy, but I'm hoping that my work experience in the UK would enable me to stand out.

Any comments/thoughts would be much appreciated!

Thank you

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:28 pm

You can take the New York Bar. And I'm sure some firms would be receptive.

spyke123

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby spyke123 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:05 pm

Age and residence shouldn’t be problem. I’d be more concerned about investing another 3 years and $$$ to basically get the same job. As the above poster noted, could you just take the new york bar and just transfer within your current firm? Or maybe get an llm?

KM2016

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby KM2016 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:53 am

Couple things here.

1) I wouldn't make such a drastic move/potentially enroll in law school and incur all those expenses unless I was damn sure she's the one. I obviously don't know your personal situation, but considering you're contemplating spending upwards of $200k and moving to another continent, I would personally pop the question before taking the next step.

2) Don't go to law school. Save the aforementioned $200k, buy a nice ass ring instead, and take the NY bar exam, like others have mentioned. There's no guarantee you get another big law job after a 3 year hiatus, and why reinvent the wheel; you're already a licensed attorney elsewhere. You could study for the NY bar exam while you work in London, and if you pass, ask your current firm to transfer offices. Even if they say no, I don't think you'll have any issues landing a NY big law job if you're barred in NY and explain your reasoning for wanting to make the move.

Either way, good luck!

boxie

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby boxie » Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:40 am

Have you discussed with your firm trying to do a secondment out to NY first? Beyond just taking the NY bar, why would you not just get an LLM? Don't see the benefit of going through a full JD if you are already 1 year PQE. There are plenty of foreign lawyers who have qualified into the states working in big law. It wouldn't be unusual, and there are plenty of new associates around your age, so can't see that as a problem.

acul100

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby acul100 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:33 am

KM2016 wrote:Couple things here.

1) I wouldn't make such a drastic move/potentially enroll in law school and incur all those expenses unless I was damn sure she's the one. I obviously don't know your personal situation, but considering you're contemplating spending upwards of $200k and moving to another continent, I would personally pop the question before taking the next step.

2) Don't go to law school. Save the aforementioned $200k, buy a nice ass ring instead, and take the NY bar exam, like others have mentioned. There's no guarantee you get another big law job after a 3 year hiatus, and why reinvent the wheel; you're already a licensed attorney elsewhere. You could study for the NY bar exam while you work in London, and if you pass, ask your current firm to transfer offices. Even if they say no, I don't think you'll have any issues landing a NY big law job if you're barred in NY and explain your reasoning for wanting to make the move.

Either way, good luck!



Thank you for this. Totally see your point about the drastic nature of the decision. I should probably mention that I would be entering law school debt-free as my UK law degree was sponsored by the firm and I've managed to save up a fair amount whilst working. That said, it is a big commitment. If I'm honest even before I met my girlfriend I've always liked the idea of practicing in the US. For what I do it's the biggest market in the world. Unfortunately my law degree doesn't permit me to take the NY bar (only the CA one!) so I would need to at the very least do an LLM. From what I've heard US employers don't take that degree seriously hence why I'm thinking of the JD. Thanks again!

boxie

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby boxie » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:47 am

There are several associates in my group who are foreign qualified and converted with an LLM. I've never gotten the impression firms look down on this - I can't imagine a firm would think it a good use of your time to go through three full years of law school when you are already a practicing attorney, particularly since US law school courses are generally irrelevant to big law work and are more about conditioning your analytical skills. I think there is scepticism when a JD goes on to do an LLM as a "specialty" (with the exception of tax), but that isn't the same as doing a foreign attorney LLM.

JoeySkoko

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby JoeySkoko » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:51 am

Are you saying you can't sit the bar in NY without a JD because you're one of those British lawyers that didn't actually go to Law school? if so, I completely understand the need to do a JD. If not, just sit the Bar and apply for jobs. You're in transactional you'll find it easy to find a job here in NYC.

acul100

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby acul100 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:56 am

JoeySkoko wrote:Are you saying you can't sit the bar in NY without a JD because you're one of those British lawyers that didn't actually go to Law school? if so, I completely understand the need to do a JD. If not, just sit the Bar and apply for jobs. You're in transactional you'll find it easy to find a job here in NYC.



Yes, afraid so! It's a one year degree for those who didn't do law at undergrad. About 50% of lawyers qualify this way but unfortunately the degree isn't recognised in the US (outside of California). With that in mind, do you think that with my work experience an LLM would be sufficient to find employment in transactional law? Going by some of the comments here this looks like the most sensible route, but at the same time I don't want enrol only to find that employers don't take it seriously. I'm also looking into 2 year JD programmes but the only reputable ones I can find are at USC and Northwestern, when ideally I'd be in NYC.

JoeySkoko

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby JoeySkoko » Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:15 pm

JoeySkoko wrote:With that in mind, do you think that with my work experience an LLM would be sufficient to find employment in transactional law?


I don't know the answer to that to be honest. You should try to seek out people with that background. I found a biglaw job with a Aus law background with an LLM. And I'm in litigation which is a lot harder. I know plenty of transactional lawyers from AUS that have come over without any LLM.

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curepure

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Re: Moving from London Biglaw to law school in the US

Postby curepure » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:35 pm

You might be one of the few students who can actually benefit from an LLM degree. Does your firm sponsor it? Typically I see US firms' Asia offices sponsor LLMs for their locally trained attorneys with the intention of getting them back after graduation. If you can't take NY bar now, LLM is a path to that.

However, I've also seen an extremely well-credentialled LLM having a hard time getting associate positions after (i) working for a US Vault firm's Asia office, (ii) getting sponsored for a T6 LLM, and (iii) working at said firm's NYC office as an associate before being transferred back. This person was basically a mid-level associate before going back for a T14 JD, but once in law school, biglaw and in-house offers couldn't be any easier.



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