Possible to make GC as a Specialist?

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Possible to make GC as a Specialist?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:58 pm

Hi all,

I'm really struggling to pick a practice group for starting full-time, and I was wondering if you had really ever heard of specialists making GC at a F500 or so company. One of the biggest barriers I have mentally is that I want to feel like I have a limitless ceiling in the world of corporate law. Most everyone I see make GC were either in M&A, CM, or Lit. While M&A would be the most interesting to me, I really enjoy a specialty group (e.g. Tax/Funds). I don't think it's at all probable for me to become a GC at a mid to large sized company, but for motivation reasons I'd like it to at least be a possibility. I'd love to hear of any anecdotes.

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Re: Possible to make GC as a Specialist?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:54 am

You'd want to be a generalist. But also you need to reach a point in your life where you're willing to close doors to get off the treadmill (or, rather, to stay on a treadmill you prefer). Only you can make that call here.

impactplayer

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Re: Possible to make GC as a Specialist?

Postby impactplayer » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:51 pm

It's possible but it's going to be a pretty long road to make GC at a Fortune 500 company regardless of your practice group. Most companies of that size have a massive legal department so you'd go in as an associate GC regardless of your specialty. M&A (and, to a lesser extent, litigation) has a more direct pathway to GC but I've seen biglaw attorneys who were in tax or executive comp make it. In any event, it will take years if at all, so I wouldn't pick a practice group based on likelihood of making GC. Focus on working in a practice group that you enjoy (or don't hate) and where you like the people you work with. Just my two cents after being in biglaw for a decade now.

JHP

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Re: Possible to make GC as a Specialist?

Postby JHP » Wed Jun 19, 2019 1:02 pm

impactplayer wrote:It's possible but it's going to be a pretty long road to make GC at a Fortune 500 company regardless of your practice group. Most companies of that size have a massive legal department so you'd go in as an associate GC regardless of your specialty. M&A (and, to a lesser extent, litigation) has a more direct pathway to GC but I've seen biglaw attorneys who were in tax or executive comp make it. In any event, it will take years if at all, so I wouldn't pick a practice group based on likelihood of making GC. Focus on working in a practice group that you enjoy (or don't hate) and where you like the people you work with. Just my two cents after being in biglaw for a decade now.

I think this is very true, and to add, I think being in the securities law space is also a smart choice if you're eyeing public companies. Folks I know who became GCs were either M&A/securities folks who were hired as associate GC with the understanding that they'd be the successor, or specialists who were hired at one place to be head of that specialty, worked up the chain and gained lots of seniority, then jumped to another company where they could become GC. Being a generalist for now only gets you so far, but then after a few years, you are someone who has superficial knowledge in some areas, but not enough in-depth knowledge in at least one area, so that is a tactic of diminishing return. I think specialty practice is great and could be a huge boon if you look to go to a company that has particular concerns in that specialty (like IP).

shock259

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Re: Possible to make GC as a Specialist?

Postby shock259 » Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:57 am

impactplayer wrote:It's possible but it's going to be a pretty long road to make GC at a Fortune 500 company regardless of your practice group.


This exactly. It's sort of like asking "Is it possible to make partner at a law firm in X practice area?" Each company is different, but I don't think your specialty will have nearly as much impact on your GC prospects as other factors will, the most important one being how you perform at the company. The backgrounds of the very senior people at my company are all over the place: one IP litigator, one workers comp person, one environmental lawyer. Oh, and those people don't do any of that any more. They're now all just generalist lawyers.



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