FTC -> Big Law Partner Forum

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FTC -> Big Law Partner

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 23, 2015 8:25 am

I'm about to become an antitrust associate at a firm with a good antitrust practice (Cleary/Jones Day/Gibson) and I would really like to lateral to the FTC eventually. If I am at my firm for 5 years and at the FTC for 5 years (for example), how easy would it be for me to come back as an antitrust partner in big law? If I'm sick of fed gov 5 years in, what are my other options other than being a big law partner? Is there a danger that I'd be stuck in fed gov forever?


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Re: FTC -> Big Law Partner

Post by bdubs » Sat May 23, 2015 8:43 am

You probably won't come back as a partner in biglaw from the FTC unless you get some substantial promotions. There might be opportunities for counsel/senior associate kinds of positions in biglaw though.


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Re: FTC -> Big Law Partner

Post by FSK » Sat May 23, 2015 9:58 am

I took Antitrust with a former FTC chair, and he referenced a lot of his prior students who taken advantage of the revolving door. Obviously, they had made a very powerful connection.....
Last edited by FSK on Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: FTC -> Big Law Partner

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 23, 2015 10:46 am

I'm an associate in the dc office of one of those three and work with the antitrust folks a bit. We have a lot of people going back and forth. (Generally firm-->govt-->firm but a few the other direction). But your timeline is probably a bit optimistic. It'd probably be more like 5 firm 15 govt (you need the time to get promotions that bdubs rightly suggests you will need to come back).

A better source of info would be your colleagues in the practice. Antitrust more than most other practices seems (from my outside perspective) to have flexibility to move back and forth a bit so you don't have to worry about looking like you're asking because you want to jump ship. But just observe for a year or so to see what you can glean about your firm's culture about such things


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Re: FTC -> Big Law Partner

Post by fxb3 » Sat May 23, 2015 10:59 am

For a revolving door to BigLaw partnership, I honestly think the rule of thumb should be that it takes about 13-15 years after graduating law school to be a partner. I've seen a couple of routes to this recently (including one I can think of specifically that came from the FTC), which are commonly:

(1) 3-5 years biglaw associate -> 5 years fed gov -> 3-5 years senior associate/counsel -> partner
(2) 3-5 years biglaw associate -> 8-10 years fed gov, including promotions into senior positions -> partner (maybe with a very brief, like 1 year, trial period as counsel)
(3) 3-5 years biglaw associate -> 15 years fed gov, including extremely senior supervisory positions -> super big deal partner

This is not to imply that merely by sticking it out in fed gov, you graduate into senior positions that can make you a partner immediately. Plenty of people spend their careers as line attorneys (which I don't knock, it can be a great gig). But these are specific instances I've seen recently at my firm and others. I can't recall anyone who went into fed gov and became a partner as quickly as they could have had they stayed at the firm and made partner "on schedule." (But of course, the practices that tend to have a revolving door are often practices where you can't make partner without gov experience, like white collar, so it's not as if they could have made partner had they stayed.)

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Re: FTC -> Big Law Partner

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 23, 2015 11:39 am

You need to make Deputy Assistant Director (and have around 3 years of experience in that position) at one of the merger or anticompetitive practice "shops" at the FTC to have a good shot of entering biglaw as a partner. There are excellent exit options below that level, but they are not at the partner level.

There is no danger that you'd be"stuck" in the federal government forever. Of the people I know from about 5 years ago at the FTC who left, 3 have gone in-house to senior positions at tech companies, a few others to attorney positions at Fortune 500 companies, and 2 to partners in biglaw. The FTC has some of the best exit options in the entire government. Also, the FTC is usually considered one of the best places to work in the federal government and is very different from a stereotypical government agency, so it's not a bad place to spend your career, and many people do.

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