2014 Alum BigLaw > MidLaw > Government, Taking Your Questions

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 327369
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

2014 Alum BigLaw > MidLaw > Government, Taking Your Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:30 pm

Hello All,

I first started lurking on TLS some nine years ago when I was studying for the LSAT. I always found the forums to be very helpful with applications, classes, and job hunt, so from time to time I try to pop in to answer questions as a way of giving back. Plus, I'm a little bored at work today, so I thought I'd do a bit of an AMA.

About me: I graduated from a mid-western T50 school in 2014 with a decent set of accolades (moot court, law review, honors, coif). I went on to clerk for a state supreme court for a year, then went to a V30 firm in a major market for a year doing securities and M&A work. I then moved to a mid-market, mid-level firm for personal geographic reasons. While there I did mainly M&A and commercial contracting work. Then about six months ago, a contact I had in state government poached me to do work I find very interesting (a particular kind of criminal law). So it has been an interesting trajectory.

Happy to answer any questions you may have about my work, my transitions between jobs, etc. I'll pop in and out throughout the day today. And maybe on Monday for any cleanup.

Fire away!

Anonymous User
Posts: 327369
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 2014 Alum BigLaw > MidLaw > Government, Taking Your Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:29 pm

Thanks for taking questions, I'm thinking of making a similar transition to state gov't work.

1) how much of your work is comprised of investigatory work vs. substantive briefing/court work?

2) were grades or experience more important for getting hired?

Anonymous User
Posts: 327369
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 2014 Alum BigLaw > MidLaw > Government, Taking Your Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 16, 2018 3:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions, I'm thinking of making a similar transition to state gov't work.

1) how much of your work is comprised of investigatory work vs. substantive briefing/court work?

2) were grades or experience more important for getting hired?


I work exclusively in appeals, so I deal with a closed record. My work is therefore 99% briefing/court work. We also do training for law enforcement and things of that nature. No investigation on my end. Really it will depend on the structure of the government entity you go into. Our "line-level" prosecutors don't do much investigatory work, either, except for interviews/etc. designed as trial prep.

I would say the clerkship was the #1 factor, so I guess that counts as experience. Beyond that, though, my corporate/securities work didn't really have anything substantively to do with the hire. That said, I do think they were impressed with the firm names I had on my resume. Beyond that was writing sample. I think I might have had my GPA on my resume, but I don't think they worried about that too much. As is the case with most any transition, I think the further out you are from law school, the less your GPA will matter. And that cuts both ways; if you've been out five years and you're still emphasizing the fact that you were in the top 20% of your class, they'll wonder what you've done in the past five years.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327369
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 2014 Alum BigLaw > MidLaw > Government, Taking Your Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:59 pm

How helpful is clerking for those who want to do transactional biglaw?

carsondalywashere

Silver
Posts: 605
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: 2014 Alum BigLaw > MidLaw > Government, Taking Your Questions

Postby carsondalywashere » Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:58 pm

What was it like switching from transactional to litigation? Did it cause problems for you to get hired in a lit role? Also, same for your first corporate job; did your state supreme court clerkship give them any pause to your desire to do transaction work? Finally, why did you switch?

Anonymous User
Posts: 327369
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 2014 Alum BigLaw > MidLaw > Government, Taking Your Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How helpful is clerking for those who want to do transactional biglaw?


OP here.

The short answer is "not very."

The longer answer is a bit more complex. You are not likely to see much, if anything, in a clerkship that will relate directly to transactional practice. Even if you are in Delaware or SDNY and end up handling some shareholder litigation or something like that, it won't really expose you to, say, due diligence work. HOWEVER, there are some areas where I think it does help in general legal practice, including in transactional work. One huge thing is just basic confidence. After a year or two of clerking, you become much more confident in your research, your writing, and your work product. You are more efficient and more effective, and you're not terrified when a partner calls you into his or her office and asks "Is this right?" This confidence and ability is likely to get you more and better assignments, even in transactional practice. That's a good thing.

Also, given my personal experience, I'd say that it's never a bad idea to have a backup plan or build your resume to be versatile in case you don't like biglaw. There are absolutely people in biglaw who are trapped by the salary, and there are absolutely people who are trapped by a lack of options (except for maybe moving to another big firm). Don't be either of those people.

Oh, and different firms do it differently, but clerking gave me the chance to be a summer associate a second time (between graduation and clerkship). It was basically paid bar study during the World Cup, and it was GLORIOUS. Plus, the clerkship bonus when I started was very nice.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327369
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 2014 Alum BigLaw > MidLaw > Government, Taking Your Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:41 pm

carsondalywashere wrote:What was it like switching from transactional to litigation? Did it cause problems for you to get hired in a lit role? Also, same for your first corporate job; did your state supreme court clerkship give them any pause to your desire to do transaction work? Finally, why did you switch?


OP here.

The transition was okay. My writing was rusty. Very rusty. But all I do now (pretty much) is write, so it's more or less back in shape. As for the rest of it, work is kind of work. You come in, do your job, go home. I would say the bigger difference is law firm vs. government rather than transaction vs. litigation. True story: when I started here, I asked the tech guy about putting email on my phone. He looked confused and asked, "Why would you want to do that?" I don't check my phone on weekends, and I don't bill hours. Those are the biggest changes in the transition. That said, if you move from transactional to a government trial litigation position, you're probably going to need more suits...

The transactional background didn't cause problems because the position I'm in is more about ability and less about experience. That is, they were looking for someone smart enough to do the work. There wasn't a lot of procedural type stuff to worry about (and what procedure does need to be learned is pretty easy). However, there are certainly positions--especially in government--where they're looking for people to run trial litigation right away. A transaction background won't hurt you, per se, but it probably means you don't have the requisite experience to fill their needs. That said, if you spend 2-3 years in biglaw litigation, you also probably don't have the requisite experience, as most of what you've done will have been doc review and research, rather than the nuts and bolts of litigation.

I was a summer associate with my big law firm before I took the clerkship, and they deferred me for a year. They didn't really seem too concerned by it (there were a couple weird looks, but no one actually complained). We had a large class (30ish), so there were others to absorb what would have been my workload. I actually talked to a professor about it before I applied, and he told me that if the firm wasn't amenable to someone doing a clerkship, that's a pretty big red flag. Also, take a look at my post above about how some of the clerkship translated to transactional experience.

The switch was driven by a combination of factors. I was not happy in firm life even though I very much liked my colleagues. It turned out I'm just not meant for customer facing roles, even though I have a ton of experience with them. I also hated the fundamentals of firm life, like billing, and the way it crept into the rest of my life. It was very, very difficult to keep any separation between work and home. Now, I can go home and turn it off. I can actually just watch TV without feeling guilty about how many hours I did or didn't bill that day.

On the flip side, there were positives driving me to change positions, too. I like writing, and I knew that the new job would be focused on that. I was recruited by the guy who is my boss; we clerked for the same person (lesson: job hunting is truly all about personal connections). It was nice to be recruited, and it was nice to know who I'd be working for. The salary is lower, but government benefits tend to be very solid (mine are). It's nice to have a defined amount of vacation and sick time, rather than just (yeah, take vacation, just bill hours). And I am very fortunate to have a supportive wife who is a midlaw litigator, likes it, and earns a very nice salary. We decided it would be better for me to get home at a reasonable hour to cook and clean and do laundry and stuff. I have zero qualms about doing that stuff around the house or having her earn more than me, so that's been great.



Return to “Legal Employment�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.