Practice area question

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Wallfacer

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Practice area question

Post by Wallfacer » Wed May 06, 2020 12:47 am

After years of practicing transactional corporate law, it has dawned on me that I might be much better suited to a practice area that is more focused on answering client questions rather than drafting agreements and disclosure documents (which is what my current role is focused on). Thinking back, I think I have much more enjoyed matters that involved providing advice to clients regarding discrete questions about the application of regulations or contracts to facts, as compared to transactional work. Are there any practice areas of this type that would not be impossible for a mid/senior transactional associate to get into? Any advice on making such a transition would be appreciated. Thanks for any advice.

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Yea All Right

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Yea All Right » Wed May 06, 2020 2:00 pm

Sounds like regulatory work may be for you. Maybe look into whether your current practice has any work related to interfacing with regulators, analyzing rules, etc.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 06, 2020 4:15 pm

Seconding regulatory work. I worked in Compliance before moving into Biglaw and Compliance is very similar to reg work at a firm. It’s very on the ground problem solving and talking things through. Unfortunately you mostly get calls when there is a problem and sometimes you can’t get a good outcome through no fault of your own.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Wallfacer » Mon May 11, 2020 7:42 pm

Let's say my current practice area does not offer that sort of regulatory role. Assuming further that my firm will not be interested in having me switch to a regulatory practice area, what are the chances I could lateral to another firm (would be fine taking a class cut) to do regulatory work? I would be fine with going from biglaw to a small law firm and taking a class year cut. Are there any practice areas that would be most likely to give a mid/senior level a shot at back-to-basics retooling?

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 11, 2020 9:09 pm

Concur with the rest of the thread that regulatory work seems what's most directly applicable to what you want but have you considered early stage EC/VC work? Most early stage stuff is answering an endless barrage of client questions as to how just about anything related to the law interacts with their corporate entity, their business, employees, etc. (and how this changes depending on whatever wacky niche they've attempted to claim in the startup ecosystem) and walking them through how the corporate tools you have to work with can help resolve their questions and concerns. I'm a midlevel in SV and frequently am the first point of contact for my clients, so I'm fielding the type of inquiries that seem to interest you constantly.

As previously noted, if you're set on regulatory work and never want to touch a contract again (outside of perhaps marking up deal docs as a specialist) then have at it but the above would be a less drastic change from where you presumably are practicing right now.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 11, 2020 9:16 pm

Wallfacer wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 7:42 pm
Let's say my current practice area does not offer that sort of regulatory role. Assuming further that my firm will not be interested in having me switch to a regulatory practice area, what are the chances I could lateral to another firm (would be fine taking a class cut) to do regulatory work? I would be fine with going from biglaw to a small law firm and taking a class year cut. Are there any practice areas that would be most likely to give a mid/senior level a shot at back-to-basics retooling?

OP, you should look into employee benefits and executive compensation practices. It might be a multi-step process, but if you’re able to get to a firm that works more on compliance, you may enjoy it. Look into Morgan Lewis, Proskauer, Jones Day, and McDermott. I’m not sure how willing they are to retool, but those firms have a good balance of deal work and counseling.

I don’t work at one of those firms, but I work in employee benefits and executive compensation at a firm that does mostly counseling/compliance and it’s a lot of regulatory counseling. My firm wouldn’t be interested in a corporate associate, but some of the ones mentioned above may be open to it.

However, you may be pigeonholed into doing the transactions for comp and benefits, which isn’t really what you’re looking to do, so there’s always that risk. For example, I know two people at Morgan Lewis and one does ERISA/ACA/IRC counseling for qualified plans and the other one does M&A and exec comp (equity comp, CIC, severance, etc.). They rarely do stuff outside of their lane. You’d probably be interested in the former, but I’d assume you may be stuck doing the latter since your background is corporate. However, if you’re able to land one of those jobs, you may be able to get enough of the regulatory experience that you could end up in a pure counseling role at a tax/benefits boutique after a few years. As I said, it could be a multi-step change, but I think you’d enjoy it.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 11, 2020 10:25 pm

The more junior you are, the easier this will be. Does your deal work interact with heavily regulated industries? I work in healthcare and do healthcare deal work and healthcare regulatory work. I’m not at McDermott, but they’re a large firm that does a lot a lot of healthcare transactions and healthcare regulatory work. You could target the healthcare deal work and then try to learn and grab opportunities to do the regulatory side.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by papermateflair » Tue May 12, 2020 10:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 9:16 pm
Wallfacer wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 7:42 pm
Let's say my current practice area does not offer that sort of regulatory role. Assuming further that my firm will not be interested in having me switch to a regulatory practice area, what are the chances I could lateral to another firm (would be fine taking a class cut) to do regulatory work? I would be fine with going from biglaw to a small law firm and taking a class year cut. Are there any practice areas that would be most likely to give a mid/senior level a shot at back-to-basics retooling?

OP, you should look into employee benefits and executive compensation practices. It might be a multi-step process, but if you’re able to get to a firm that works more on compliance, you may enjoy it. Look into Morgan Lewis, Proskauer, Jones Day, and McDermott. I’m not sure how willing they are to retool, but those firms have a good balance of deal work and counseling.

I don’t work at one of those firms, but I work in employee benefits and executive compensation at a firm that does mostly counseling/compliance and it’s a lot of regulatory counseling. My firm wouldn’t be interested in a corporate associate, but some of the ones mentioned above may be open to it.

However, you may be pigeonholed into doing the transactions for comp and benefits, which isn’t really what you’re looking to do, so there’s always that risk. For example, I know two people at Morgan Lewis and one does ERISA/ACA/IRC counseling for qualified plans and the other one does M&A and exec comp (equity comp, CIC, severance, etc.). They rarely do stuff outside of their lane. You’d probably be interested in the former, but I’d assume you may be stuck doing the latter since your background is corporate. However, if you’re able to land one of those jobs, you may be able to get enough of the regulatory experience that you could end up in a pure counseling role at a tax/benefits boutique after a few years. As I said, it could be a multi-step change, but I think you’d enjoy it.
I also do EBEC work, and a mix of M&A and counseling. I don't think a ton of places are hiring right now, so not having any EBEC experience is probably going to be a barrier if you want to get a new job like, next week, but in a normal economy I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility to convince a firm that you can hit the ground running on their EBEC M&A work. One thing to consider is whether an LLM might be helpful here - normally I think an LLM is a waste of time, but if you want to switch to a completely new area of the law, especially during a pandemic, it could be helpful.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by blurbz » Wed May 13, 2020 6:42 pm

You could also look at in-house roles with a heavy amount of commercial contracting. It's still drafting and negotiating agreements, but they're not as long, heavy and boring as M&A transactions work and, most often, you're solving a specific problem or filling a specific need with a particular contract. Going from broad transactions to a commercial contracting role is less of a practice area shift than trying to make regulatory work happen.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Wallfacer » Fri May 29, 2020 8:37 pm

Thanks for all the advice. I'm seeking out ways to get into regulatory. In-house contracts work doesn't sound as appealing but I'm looking out for those roles.

What about switching to tax (I suppose a switch into tax this late would be fairly unprecedented, but perhaps I could get an LLM to help the transition)? Any thoughts on whether it would be a good fit based on the limited info I provided?

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Suits47 » Sat May 30, 2020 9:13 am

Op, you should consider healthcare law at a big law firm. It’s a mix of regulatory work and transactions, but heavy on the regulatory work. I’m a junior healthcare associate at one of the best big firms for healthcare law. What you describe that you want to do, advise clients on the application of regulations or contracts to facts, is exactly what I do almost everyday. I would say my practice right now consists of 65% regulatory work and 35% transactions.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by hulunetflix » Sat May 30, 2020 12:33 pm

Suits47 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 9:13 am
Op, you should consider healthcare law at a big law firm. It’s a mix of regulatory work and transactions, but heavy on the regulatory work. I’m a junior healthcare associate at one of the best big firms for healthcare law. What you describe that you want to do, advise clients on the application of regulations or contracts to facts, is exactly what I do almost everyday. I would say my practice right now consists of 65% regulatory work and 35% transactions.
Sorry to hijack OP's thread, but I am currently in a transactional specialist role (e.g., tax/EBEC/ERISA) and want to get into healthcare. It seems like firms are only hiring people with experience. What are the usual ways to get into healthcare as a first year? Would getting an LLM in healthcare be helpful?

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 30, 2020 2:40 pm

hulunetflix wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 12:33 pm
Suits47 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 9:13 am
Op, you should consider healthcare law at a big law firm. It’s a mix of regulatory work and transactions, but heavy on the regulatory work. I’m a junior healthcare associate at one of the best big firms for healthcare law. What you describe that you want to do, advise clients on the application of regulations or contracts to facts, is exactly what I do almost everyday. I would say my practice right now consists of 65% regulatory work and 35% transactions.
Sorry to hijack OP's thread, but I am currently in a transactional specialist role (e.g., tax/EBEC/ERISA) and want to get into healthcare. It seems like firms are only hiring people with experience. What are the usual ways to get into healthcare as a first year? Would getting an LLM in healthcare be helpful?
If you’re in EBEC/ERISA, try to find a firm that does more health and welfare compliance instead of getting an LLM. I interviewed for a few healthcare jobs that I considered (I would’ve had to take a haircut in class year). At my prior firm, I did a lot of health care work since our EBEC team (the team I was on) was small and our healthcare team was massive (and significantly busier). So I did a lot of privacy (HIPPA, HITECH, GINA, GLB, etc.) work and some FCA stuff. Obviously it’ll take time to find a firm that will provide that kind of work since it’s normally handled by senior attorneys anyway but it’s better than paying for an LLM.

These firms will probably be lower ranked vault firms or firms that aren’t ranked on vault but are still large (regional) firms. I’m thinking Nelson Mullins, Polsinelli, etc. Once you’re in that role, you may be able to transition to healthcare.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by hulunetflix » Sat May 30, 2020 5:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 2:40 pm
hulunetflix wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 12:33 pm
Suits47 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 9:13 am
Op, you should consider healthcare law at a big law firm. It’s a mix of regulatory work and transactions, but heavy on the regulatory work. I’m a junior healthcare associate at one of the best big firms for healthcare law. What you describe that you want to do, advise clients on the application of regulations or contracts to facts, is exactly what I do almost everyday. I would say my practice right now consists of 65% regulatory work and 35% transactions.
Sorry to hijack OP's thread, but I am currently in a transactional specialist role (e.g., tax/EBEC/ERISA) and want to get into healthcare. It seems like firms are only hiring people with experience. What are the usual ways to get into healthcare as a first year? Would getting an LLM in healthcare be helpful?
If you’re in EBEC/ERISA, try to find a firm that does more health and welfare compliance instead of getting an LLM. I interviewed for a few healthcare jobs that I considered (I would’ve had to take a haircut in class year). At my prior firm, I did a lot of health care work since our EBEC team (the team I was on) was small and our healthcare team was massive (and significantly busier). So I did a lot of privacy (HIPPA, HITECH, GINA, GLB, etc.) work and some FCA stuff. Obviously it’ll take time to find a firm that will provide that kind of work since it’s normally handled by senior attorneys anyway but it’s better than paying for an LLM.

These firms will probably be lower ranked vault firms or firms that aren’t ranked on vault but are still large (regional) firms. I’m thinking Nelson Mullins, Polsinelli, etc. Once you’re in that role, you may be able to transition to healthcare.
Thank you. This is extremely helpful!

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 30, 2020 10:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 2:40 pm
hulunetflix wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 12:33 pm
Suits47 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 9:13 am
Op, you should consider healthcare law at a big law firm. It’s a mix of regulatory work and transactions, but heavy on the regulatory work. I’m a junior healthcare associate at one of the best big firms for healthcare law. What you describe that you want to do, advise clients on the application of regulations or contracts to facts, is exactly what I do almost everyday. I would say my practice right now consists of 65% regulatory work and 35% transactions.
Sorry to hijack OP's thread, but I am currently in a transactional specialist role (e.g., tax/EBEC/ERISA) and want to get into healthcare. It seems like firms are only hiring people with experience. What are the usual ways to get into healthcare as a first year? Would getting an LLM in healthcare be helpful?
If you’re in EBEC/ERISA, try to find a firm that does more health and welfare compliance instead of getting an LLM. I interviewed for a few healthcare jobs that I considered (I would’ve had to take a haircut in class year). At my prior firm, I did a lot of health care work since our EBEC team (the team I was on) was small and our healthcare team was massive (and significantly busier). So I did a lot of privacy (HIPPA, HITECH, GINA, GLB, etc.) work and some FCA stuff. Obviously it’ll take time to find a firm that will provide that kind of work since it’s normally handled by senior attorneys anyway but it’s better than paying for an LLM.

These firms will probably be lower ranked vault firms or firms that aren’t ranked on vault but are still large (regional) firms. I’m thinking Nelson Mullins, Polsinelli, etc. Once you’re in that role, you may be able to transition to healthcare.
I both agree and disagree with this post. I agree that finding the firms discussed in the previous post could work in terms of getting into healthcare.

I disagree in terms of it being better than getting a tax LLM for OP (and maybe even for the healthcare person). The Gtown LLM program has great EBEC/ERISA classes, including an employee benefits certificate where pretty much everyone who does it gets a job (COVID makes everything tough though). While you would not get the same experience as working for those firms, the LLM will open doors to better firms and opportunities if you do well. Two of my classmates turned good performances in our EBEC class into jobs at major firms, and several others went to either big law firms or boutique firms (think places like Groom). Plus, you might decide you like other areas of tax instead (OP, not healthcare person), while that wouldn't be great if you figured that out while working at a new job.

In terms of the question about switching to tax that was posted by OP, that is exactly what I did. I worked in a different area of law for several years and had to change tracks due to changed circumstances. Fortunately, tax made for a pretty seamless transition as it touches everything.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 30, 2020 11:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 10:08 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 2:40 pm
hulunetflix wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 12:33 pm
Suits47 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 9:13 am
Op, you should consider healthcare law at a big law firm. It’s a mix of regulatory work and transactions, but heavy on the regulatory work. I’m a junior healthcare associate at one of the best big firms for healthcare law. What you describe that you want to do, advise clients on the application of regulations or contracts to facts, is exactly what I do almost everyday. I would say my practice right now consists of 65% regulatory work and 35% transactions.
Sorry to hijack OP's thread, but I am currently in a transactional specialist role (e.g., tax/EBEC/ERISA) and want to get into healthcare. It seems like firms are only hiring people with experience. What are the usual ways to get into healthcare as a first year? Would getting an LLM in healthcare be helpful?
If you’re in EBEC/ERISA, try to find a firm that does more health and welfare compliance instead of getting an LLM. I interviewed for a few healthcare jobs that I considered (I would’ve had to take a haircut in class year). At my prior firm, I did a lot of health care work since our EBEC team (the team I was on) was small and our healthcare team was massive (and significantly busier). So I did a lot of privacy (HIPPA, HITECH, GINA, GLB, etc.) work and some FCA stuff. Obviously it’ll take time to find a firm that will provide that kind of work since it’s normally handled by senior attorneys anyway but it’s better than paying for an LLM.

These firms will probably be lower ranked vault firms or firms that aren’t ranked on vault but are still large (regional) firms. I’m thinking Nelson Mullins, Polsinelli, etc. Once you’re in that role, you may be able to transition to healthcare.
I both agree and disagree with this post. I agree that finding the firms discussed in the previous post could work in terms of getting into healthcare.

I disagree in terms of it being better than getting a tax LLM for OP (and maybe even for the healthcare person). The Gtown LLM program has great EBEC/ERISA classes, including an employee benefits certificate where pretty much everyone who does it gets a job (COVID makes everything tough though). While you would not get the same experience as working for those firms, the LLM will open doors to better firms and opportunities if you do well. Two of my classmates turned good performances in our EBEC class into jobs at major firms, and several others went to either big law firms or boutique firms (think places like Groom). Plus, you might decide you like other areas of tax instead (OP, not healthcare person), while that wouldn't be great if you figured that out while working at a new job.

In terms of the question about switching to tax that was posted by OP, that is exactly what I did. I worked in a different area of law for several years and had to change tracks due to changed circumstances. Fortunately, tax made for a pretty seamless transition as it touches everything.

I’m the quoted anon that gave the advice. I think you misread the question that I gave advice to. I think that that OP is already in EBEC/Tax at a top tier firm but wants to switch and was asking about an LLM in healthcare. Top tier firms probably won’t consider OP for a healthcare position. And top tier EBEC/ERISA practices don’t do any health and welfare work (only the DC boutiques do).

So the best way to transition into that practice would be to “trade down” first.

Also, just for the sake of argument, a GT/NYU LLM would still have to do exceedingly well in the LLM program to land “better” firms than Polsinelli and similar firms in this economy.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by sarahbeck10 » Sun May 31, 2020 12:16 pm

Suits47 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 9:13 am
Op, you should consider healthcare law at a big law firm. It’s a mix of regulatory work and transactions, but heavy on the regulatory work. I’m a junior healthcare associate at one of the best big firms for healthcare law. What you describe that you want to do, advise clients on the application of regulations or contracts to facts, is exactly what I do almost everyday. I would say my practice right now consists of 65% regulatory work and 35% transactions.
Do you anticipate an uptick in hiring for biglaw health regulatory and transactions?

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Re: Practice area question

Post by hulunetflix » Sun May 31, 2020 2:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 11:36 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 10:08 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 2:40 pm
hulunetflix wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 12:33 pm
Suits47 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 9:13 am
Op, you should consider healthcare law at a big law firm. It’s a mix of regulatory work and transactions, but heavy on the regulatory work. I’m a junior healthcare associate at one of the best big firms for healthcare law. What you describe that you want to do, advise clients on the application of regulations or contracts to facts, is exactly what I do almost everyday. I would say my practice right now consists of 65% regulatory work and 35% transactions.
Sorry to hijack OP's thread, but I am currently in a transactional specialist role (e.g., tax/EBEC/ERISA) and want to get into healthcare. It seems like firms are only hiring people with experience. What are the usual ways to get into healthcare as a first year? Would getting an LLM in healthcare be helpful?
If you’re in EBEC/ERISA, try to find a firm that does more health and welfare compliance instead of getting an LLM. I interviewed for a few healthcare jobs that I considered (I would’ve had to take a haircut in class year). At my prior firm, I did a lot of health care work since our EBEC team (the team I was on) was small and our healthcare team was massive (and significantly busier). So I did a lot of privacy (HIPPA, HITECH, GINA, GLB, etc.) work and some FCA stuff. Obviously it’ll take time to find a firm that will provide that kind of work since it’s normally handled by senior attorneys anyway but it’s better than paying for an LLM.

These firms will probably be lower ranked vault firms or firms that aren’t ranked on vault but are still large (regional) firms. I’m thinking Nelson Mullins, Polsinelli, etc. Once you’re in that role, you may be able to transition to healthcare.
I both agree and disagree with this post. I agree that finding the firms discussed in the previous post could work in terms of getting into healthcare.

I disagree in terms of it being better than getting a tax LLM for OP (and maybe even for the healthcare person). The Gtown LLM program has great EBEC/ERISA classes, including an employee benefits certificate where pretty much everyone who does it gets a job (COVID makes everything tough though). While you would not get the same experience as working for those firms, the LLM will open doors to better firms and opportunities if you do well. Two of my classmates turned good performances in our EBEC class into jobs at major firms, and several others went to either big law firms or boutique firms (think places like Groom). Plus, you might decide you like other areas of tax instead (OP, not healthcare person), while that wouldn't be great if you figured that out while working at a new job.

In terms of the question about switching to tax that was posted by OP, that is exactly what I did. I worked in a different area of law for several years and had to change tracks due to changed circumstances. Fortunately, tax made for a pretty seamless transition as it touches everything.

I’m the quoted anon that gave the advice. I think you misread the question that I gave advice to. I think that that OP is already in EBEC/Tax at a top tier firm but wants to switch and was asking about an LLM in healthcare. Top tier firms probably won’t consider OP for a healthcare position. And top tier EBEC/ERISA practices don’t do any health and welfare work (only the DC boutiques do).

So the best way to transition into that practice would be to “trade down” first.

Also, just for the sake of argument, a GT/NYU LLM would still have to do exceedingly well in the LLM program to land “better” firms than Polsinelli and similar firms in this economy.
Yes, I am not OP, but was the one who asked the question about how to transit from tax/EBEC to healthcare.

As someone who literally cannot do tax/EBEC work anymore, I would only recommend tax/EBEC to someone who has a passion about the subject area. For me, I find the subject itself complex and not interesting, but if all I do is client billable work, I could last much longer (it's just another biglaw job that you dont have to love). Unfortunately, a lot of the tax/EBEC groups expect associates to do a lot of writings, i.e., writing articles, blogs, bar reports, etc. It's one thing to write a client memo, where you apply the rules to your client's transactions/facts (which I actually like). It's the other thing to literally work the entire weekend to write a blog post about some new regulations. When I am asked to draft bar reports, partners often yell at me because I couldn't develop good commentaries to the regulations the IRS proposes. Those types of writing are hard because you not only need to understand every aspect of the statute/regulations (no blind spots), but also to have your opinions on things. They require passion. I don't have it, and I honestly don't have the intellectual capacity to develop some in-depth commentaries on the regulations. Every time I am assigned to write these, all I think is "why did I sign up for this", and frankly, I am constantly in fear until the assignment is over.

To be fair, there are a few firms/offices that don't expect you to write these things at all. But, you really can't know until you start working, and they are very rare in NYC/DC/CA.

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:06 pm

sarahbeck10 wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 12:16 pm
Suits47 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 9:13 am
Op, you should consider healthcare law at a big law firm. It’s a mix of regulatory work and transactions, but heavy on the regulatory work. I’m a junior healthcare associate at one of the best big firms for healthcare law. What you describe that you want to do, advise clients on the application of regulations or contracts to facts, is exactly what I do almost everyday. I would say my practice right now consists of 65% regulatory work and 35% transactions.
Do you anticipate an uptick in hiring for biglaw health regulatory and transactions?
I do anticipate an uptick in hiring for big law health practice groups. I get emails and recruiters reaching out to me on an almost daily basis on behalf of big law firms looking to hire healthcare associates.

Edit: accidental anon, this is suits47

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Re: Practice area question

Post by Wallfacer » Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 10:08 pm

In terms of the question about switching to tax that was posted by OP, that is exactly what I did. I worked in a different area of law for several years and had to change tracks due to changed circumstances. Fortunately, tax made for a pretty seamless transition as it touches everything.
Thank you, this is very helpful. It sounds like you did an LLM as well--if so, did you do a specialization within the LLM? Any tips on doing well in the LLM program, or is it pretty similar to doing well in law school?

More generally, any advice on how to "sell" the transition (my plan would be to simply say, with better phrasing, that I found myself enjoying the analytical aspect of law over the transactional)? Do you think the transition would be much harder in this market environment?

Finally, the idea of getting a tax LLM is quite appealing to me, but I also have to admit that cost is a factor, and there is of course a nonzero risk of getting mediocre grades. Is there any realistic/recommended way to make the transition without getting an LLM?

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