Average skill-set of a V50 c/o 2015 corporate/M&A associate

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Average skill-set of a V50 c/o 2015 corporate/M&A associate

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:03 pm

I'm in a smaller but Cravath/Milbank-paying market (think Portland, Seattle, Austin, etc). My fourth anniversary of starting biglaw is in September. Curious as to whether my skill-set is below or on par with the typical M&A associate at my level in a V50. I lateraled from a larger market (but still not NYC) but had an extremely slow first year in which I learned next to nothing, so I am somewhat insecure as to my level of experience.

I do 90% M&A (primarily PE and VC) and 10% SEC/capital markets. On the M&A side, I know my way around every type of purchase agreement (i.e. I have read and understand every PLC precedent out there) but have never led a call with the other side about substantive issues in the purchase agreement itself. I've only drafted purchase agreements from scratch a couple times. I can draft every other type of ancillary document, plus of course the usual junior stuff like closing checklists, due diligence, disclosure schedules. Because there has always been a partner or senior associate above me making executive decisions, I have never "run my own deal". I hear that phrase all the time but am unclear what it means -- does a fourth year associate really run their own deals with no (or very minimal) partner input?

On the VC side is where I am more often "running" the deals in the sense that once the very top level issues are resolved early on (again with partner input), I can revise all the docs to match the agreed terms and close the deal by myself -- but again that often feels more like grunt work than anything else.

I am also finding that as a fourth-year, I am repeatedly coming into contact with tax and EB issues that's literally like a foreign language to me (especially on the PE side). This is problematic because the senior associates and partners in my group seem very knowledgeable in these issues and can engage the specialists with great fluency. To me, "running a deal" requires at least superficial knowledge of a wide array of tax and other specialist matters, and I feel that I am simply not there yet.

I do minimal capital markets work (by virtue of the client base) -- basically I've done form checks and one or two capital markets deals my whole life.

Needless to say I ain't exactly a Wachtell or Cravath-level associate. Making partner is not my goal and I plan to quit the law completely once I hit my fifth anniversary and have enough cash to pay off my house (yes, I save like an absolute mofo) because I find zero transcendental meaning in what I do. Which I realize makes this question kind of moot, but just curious still as to where I stand.

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UnfrozenCaveman

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Re: Average skill-set of a V50 c/o 2015 corporate/M&A associate

Postby UnfrozenCaveman » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:31 am

Seems to me like you've gone above and beyond for someone planning to quit next year.

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trebekismyhero

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Re: Average skill-set of a V50 c/o 2015 corporate/M&A associate

Postby trebekismyhero » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:07 am

Yep, sounds like you are definitely at the level, if not above of a typical M&A mid-level. The question you should ask yourself if you want to quit law in the next year, is what type of skills you want/need to pick up to transition from law.

notinbiglaw

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Re: Average skill-set of a V50 c/o 2015 corporate/M&A associate

Postby notinbiglaw » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:55 pm

Above for sure. And you got good partners.

I know partners that know less than you.

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Re: Average skill-set of a V50 c/o 2015 corporate/M&A associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:35 pm

V20 specialist junior here: our corporate midlevels definitely don't have fluency in tax/IP/employment, so I don't think you have anything to worry about.

On a related note, what are you plans for exiting the law? I'm also finding that law isn't all that i thought it would be and would like to know how someone transitions out.

anon because post history would make it easy to identify me.

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Re: Average skill-set of a V50 c/o 2015 corporate/M&A associate

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:48 am

Op here. My main plan is literally to quit without a plan. Once I have enough cash to pay off my house in a year (hooray to not living in Cal or NYC) I am home free in my view. I can go become a fireman or teacher or travel the world for a year. A 70k job (plus wife who makes that much) more than suffices with no mortgage. That’s one option — exit to the middle class.

The other less radical option is to quit to go to some in-house legal gig that I know with near certainty is 9-to-5. I am willing to take up to a 66% pay cut for the right job if it is interesting and/or
unstressful.

Also considered joining a VC or PE fund on the business side — I can be the dude who terrorizes their own lawyers. But PE is likely just as bad hours as biglaw so no go. And most VC funds are too small to hire their own lawyers.

Finally, I can also find some kind of gig at generic big tech company, a run of the mill thing in my city. But haven’t given thought to what I would do, as I don’t have a resume that screams business or engineering.

Of course, I can also coast in year six until I get fired. Could probably easily bank another six figures this way.

notinbiglaw

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Re: Average skill-set of a V50 c/o 2015 corporate/M&A associate

Postby notinbiglaw » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:49 pm

Uh. I’d find partners and coworkers you get along with and honestly talk to them about future prospects. Most are extremely open about it and many will actually help you find good exit options.

Some firms also have reduced schedule options available that may suit you well.

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Re: Average skill-set of a V50 c/o 2015 corporate/M&A associate

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:44 am

c/o 15 at a V10 and we seem to be in about the same place. I don't understand anything tax does but the other specialist groups I generally have a good idea of when things are going to be an issue, and you can understand the problem after a few calls with the specialists. I lead calls on the purchase agreement all the time, but sometimes I also don't, depends on how involved the partner wants to be. I'm pretty confident I can DO everything, its just doing it to the standard of the person you are working for with everything else on your plate. Hands off partner, smaller deal and not a lot going on and I can run the whole thing with basically no input. More involved partner, larger deal, unfamiliar client or very busy and I probably won't be able to properly manage the diligence well.

The biggest problem is lack of time - I can't turn the purchase agreement and manage all this diligence AND do 3 other deals. Substantive documents still take a good amount of time for me to get right, so I often don't actually put that sort of effort into them - it saves me a lot of time not to and I don't want the partner to think I'm can run the whole deal because I don't have time to do that. Unlike junior stuff you can absentmindedly grind through, I can't restructure a purchase agreement at 3am on 2 hours of sleep.

Also same boat as you, after 5th year my loans will be gone and I'll be out. Can't wait, been counting down every single day since the day I started. 5 years in this Gulag, but without any major slip ups I think I can swing a in-house position with normal hours that will put me in the upper-middle class.



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