BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

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onesundaymorning

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BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by onesundaymorning » Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:17 pm

A bit of an unusual question, but...

Are there any BL firms where work from home is an accepted practice? Or firms which are moving towards almost predominantly WFH? I currently live in Italy and while I of course want to return home to NYC one day I couldn't possibly foresee a future wherein I am not in Italy at least for a few months out of every year.

I am mostly interested in tax/capital markets as a practice area. I would love to be hired full time as an American attorney in Italy, but I'm not sure how difficult that would be to do.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by Sackboy » Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:27 pm

onesundaymorning wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:17 pm
I couldn't possibly foresee a future wherein I am not in Italy at least for a few months out of every year.
You picked the wrong profession. Law is not well suited to taking months off at a time, and most law firms will not be cool with you doing work in another country for moths at a time, because I'm sure there are employee benefit/compensation/tax consequences. I do know some folks though who are in technical practice areas like tax/exec comp who have done a decade or so in biglaw and moved on to a part-time/4 day of the week WFH schedule for drastically reduced/stagnant compensation.

onesundaymorning

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by onesundaymorning » Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:52 pm

I'm not talking about taking months off at a time though. I'm talking about working from home or, if that's not possible, being hired as an American attorney abroad. I would much prefer being hired abroad over working from home :D

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Sackboy

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by Sackboy » Fri Aug 07, 2020 8:47 pm

onesundaymorning wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:52 pm
I'm not talking about taking months off at a time though. I'm talking about working from home or, if that's not possible, being hired as an American attorney abroad. I would much prefer being hired abroad over working from home :D
Like I said, you're going to struggle to find a firm that lets you WFH in a different country that is eight (or however many) time zones away.

As for getting hired as an American attorney abroad, it is incredibly hard outside of Capital Markets and International Arbitration, and neither are centered in Italy. You'd be better off getting an Italian law license, but my guess is you want to practice as an American to get paid as one. Unfortunately, that's just not a remotely realistic option.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by DreamShake » Sat Aug 08, 2020 6:09 am

Yeah...you’re not going to get any work from a US office while in Italy, especially in capital markets. I’m sure there are a tiny handful of biglaw offices in Italy, but I have never with or worked across from someone in an Italian office, and air have a hard time picturing Italy as a biglaw market. Maybe if you got hired from an office in another EU country and proved extremely valuable over the long term; still seems very unlikely. Not to be a jerk, but your posts hint strongly that you have no clue what you’re getting into/asking about and could afford to do some more basic research.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by onesundaymorning » Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:40 am

What is the purpose of a forum if not to ask questions? I mean...

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by Yugihoe » Sat Aug 08, 2020 10:17 am

Hmm as others have said, it will be tough. Only thing I can think of is some sort of digital nomad type law firm. I don't think you would be doing sophisticated work but I know of large legal service providers who seem to have lawyers spread out around the world. What I've noticed is that most of them are ex-big law so this plan really works if you're willing to subject yourself to like 2-3 years of big law and the restrictive hours and locations that come with it.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by papermateflair » Sat Aug 08, 2020 11:23 am

Even if you found a firm that would let you WFH all the time (who knows how flexible firms will be in the future!), working in another country where your firm doesn't have an office is going to cause permanent establishment issues, and there's no way a firm is going to mess up their taxes for an associate.

If you want to live in Italy, not sure becoming a US qualified lawyer is the best way to get there, especially early in your career.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by onesundaymorning » Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:11 pm

Thanks for the replies. :)

I don't necessarily want to permanently be in Italy. But I do want to be able to "digital nomad" it up for like... 3 weeks at a time, a few times a year.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by RunnerRunner » Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:22 pm

onesundaymorning wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:40 am
What is the purpose of a forum if not to ask questions? I mean...
This is true OP. Don't feel bad for asking questions. I think what you're looking for is rare (though maybe won't be as rare in the future/maybe is not as rare now that many WFH because of COVID-19). I will say this though: I got pitched to work at a new-ish lit boutique which supposedly both (1) pays above market and (2) is totally fine with you working from home for the majority of your time. So there are firms out there that do this. But not sure whether any are in your desired practice areas.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by onesundaymorning » Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:52 pm

Thank you for your encouraging reply!

I am amenable to any practice area that is not litigation, really. What I am actually interested in would be tax (number one choice), trusts and estates (number 2), and capital markets (3). I could happily see myself doing IP, M&A, real estate, etc. or anything else as long as it doesn't involve slogging it away in court. :mrgreen: I'm coming into this with an open mind, really.

It would be a total dream of mine to open up an office in Italy to exclusively help HNWIs move to the US or Italian companies set up US operations...

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by KM2016 » Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:54 pm

Don't mean to be a wet blanket, but frankly I think you're hunting for a unicorn.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:44 pm

I disagree with alot of these posters. I know of some big law firms non-nyc that let associates wfh. Now I don't think you can right off the bat as a first-year, but I know it is 100% possible. And firm is V30, so it's not some no-name firm.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:52 pm

I'm anonymous because I'm revealing information about an associate in my office who is in an extremely unique situation.

OP is a 0L. I'm surprised TLS hasn't been more vicious...

OP, it's not that being a digital nomad isn't a good desire to have. It's just that biglaw isn't particularly amenable to doing so. If such a thing existed as traipsing around Europe nearly a few months out of the year while advising clients who could demand your undivided attention at any moment for days at a time, I'm pretty sure 90% of attorneys would be doing exactly that.

You're after first to working internationally in an unusual location, second for an extended period of time, third without burning vacation days, and fourth, in some less than mainstream practice areas. What you're demanding isn't impossible, but you'll need be a really good associate who:
1. has no desire for partnership;
2. in a really highly demanded practice area; and
3. be willing compromise two or more of those demands.

I've only seen what you describe happen a couple of times, and even then, associates were at least within the US and even then, within a few hours drive from an office of the firm. I worked in a secondary market, and there was an associate who was at lunch with me who was technically associated with our office but working almost exclusively for partners in another state. This was pre-COVID too. He was well-liked by partners from both offices. His work was mostly in probably the hottest practice area both now and then. He also told us that he had no intention to make partner and would never do what he does if he did have such intent. He pumped out 2,200 hours per year of really high quality work consistently and went out to become the GC of a small innovative company after leaving as a 5th or 6th year. The guy was awesome in almost every respect as a biglaw associate.

Your thinking is optimistic, and that's a good thing for most situations, but here's the reality of what most T14 students get in a good economic environment. Assuming that they finish 1L with decent to good but not great grades. They get 1 to 3 offers from firms of completely random strengths in terms of flexibility with regard to remote work, practice areas, social fit, and financial performance. A lot of times (probably close to 50% of the time), there is not anywhere near a guarantee of a practice area. A lot of lower-to-middling V100s have you rank a few areas and then try to fit your preferences to what the attorneys in those groups thought of you or are straight up mum about it until a couple months before you're due to start, at which point, they hit with you the "you are working in X area" email. Even elite firms like Davis Polk famously has many juniors trying to rotate through both in M&A and Capital Markets, but many if not most are forced to do a rotation in Finance. Some are then placed into Finance against their desires and are told by the firm to "flourish where we plant you."

When I summered, we had 5-7 serious contenders for specialists slots--and we're not even talking about something as obscure as T&E; just general tax and funds. The firm didn't even tell us that they picked specialists this early in the game. You just heard via word of mouth that if you wanted one of those slots, you need to fight for a very limited number of offers. One of the groups held a special meeting that was meant to be an introduction to that group but only invited summers whom they liked based on 2 weeks of social interactions. It was basically giving those summers "the nod" to try out for that group. You could technically ask to join the meeting, but most understood that if you weren't invited in the first place, you weren't really in the running. The serious contenders slugged it out for most of the summer by asking for work from specialist groups, doing well, and attending every event hosted by the those groups. At the end, 1 of them was offered a specialist slot.

Do you kind of see the point I'm getting at here? When you say "I want biglaw," you are joining a game where the financial rewards are bountiful but the rules are equally uncompromising. Only the best get to play outside those rules, and increasingly, even the best are getting burnt (see V10s not giving return offers to clerks).

In the nicest way possible (I hope that you can see from the length, tone, and detail that I'm offering that I really am trying to help), if you truly don't see yourself living a life where you don't spend at least a few months of the year in Italy, you don't belong in biglaw (which may very well be a good thing).

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by onesundaymorning » Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:58 pm

That very well may be! I thank you for your candor and your thoughtful reply.

I'm fine with no BL. My fear is that I just don't want to end up making sub $50,000 a year (there is NOTHING wrong with the salary objectively) with loans to pay off. I'd be okay with anything $100,000 and above, not even necessarily BL. I just want to live a comfortable middle class life and not be a slave to the loans!

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by Sackboy » Sat Aug 08, 2020 5:36 pm

onesundaymorning wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:58 pm
That very well may be! I thank you for your candor and your thoughtful reply.

I'm fine with no BL. My fear is that I just don't want to end up making sub $50,000 a year (there is NOTHING wrong with the salary objectively) with loans to pay off. I'd be okay with anything $100,000 and above, not even necessarily BL. I just want to live a comfortable middle class life and not be a slave to the loans!
$100,000+ is not a small ask in the legal field. If this is possible, which I peg you as a 99.9% chance of failure, you're probably going to have to (1) start in biglaw, (2) have fluent Italian skills, (3) grind away for several years as an exceptional associate, (4) probably get yourself an Italian law license in addition to your U.S. one., (5) take yourself completely off partnership track, and (6) be insanely lucky.

I've tried to be relatively gentle in my initial posts, but this isn't going to happen. The best you could probably get is working 1/2 the year in the U.S. with one employer and 1/2 the work in Italy with another employer. The quality of work you'd have would probably be quite low, and your combined salary very well could be significantly under $100,000. You're going to have to deal with either owning property in both countries or finding short-term leases. You're also going to need to find a partner who can sustain this sort of career and tolerate it. Good luck having kids. You'll either have to abandon half of the year or constantly uproot their lives. Considering you're working 1/2 at each firm, you'll probably be one of the first on the chopping block to get fired, or you might find yourself in a situation where Italy or the U.S. economy goes to shit and you lose half your income while having unusually high expenses due to your split living. This is just such a poorly conceived pipe dream.

People aren't upset that you're asking a question. Forums are like classrooms. They're made for questions. If, however, you rolled up into calculus class and asked questions that drew into question if you knew basic algebra, you'd probably get some snark there too.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by beepboopbeep » Sat Aug 08, 2020 6:08 pm

Sackboy is being appropriately harsh on this idea. It's just not going to happen in biglaw. Maybe you could pull it off as a legal academic -- with law licenses in both countries, fluent Italian skills, and being a sufficiently-rockstarish academic that your institution is willing to put up with you peacing out for a quarter or more of the year. And I know some court of appeals judges have done something similar; before he died, Judge Farris on the 9th had houses all over the place and would work from them between sittings. I would say the odds that you can pull this off are about the same as the odds of being a superstar legal academic or federal court of appeals judge, which is to say: not literally zero, but close enough to round down.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by TatteredDignity » Sat Aug 08, 2020 6:11 pm

RunnerRunner wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:22 pm
onesundaymorning wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:40 am
What is the purpose of a forum if not to ask questions? I mean...
This is true OP. Don't feel bad for asking questions. I think what you're looking for is rare (though maybe won't be as rare in the future/maybe is not as rare now that many WFH because of COVID-19). I will say this though: I got pitched to work at a new-ish lit boutique which supposedly both (1) pays above market and (2) is totally fine with you working from home for the majority of your time. So there are firms out there that do this. But not sure whether any are in your desired practice areas.
I was pitched on a boutique with roughly this profile (Reichman), and it turned out to be "actually, we'd like you to mostly work from the office for a few years to establish yourself, and then you can WFH." That was disappointing but not surprising--I had a hard time seeing how anyone could onboard a new associate in a WFH setting and actually meaningfully integrate them. Of course, that was all pre-COVID...

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by sparty99 » Sat Aug 08, 2020 6:16 pm

delusional law student asking stupid questions...

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by 2013 » Sat Aug 08, 2020 9:12 pm

No employer would allow this from a first year associate.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by Daboose » Sat Aug 08, 2020 9:32 pm

I could see someone doing this at my firm for a few weeks if you are willing to use vacation days.

A two week vacation is pretty normal. If you offer some level of availability, I could see three weeks being fine. Some associates at my firm take 3-4 week vacations if they’ve had a particularly rough year.

But as other poster have said, WFH won’t be possible. If you want to go home to Italy, plan to use vacation. Or just get licensed in Italy and work there.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by lfa » Sun Aug 09, 2020 12:45 am

Hi OP,

Don‘t be discouraged!

The majority of posters on this forum don‘t seem to be very familiar with the European market for US big law attorneys. And I don‘t blame anyone because it is niche and small and given the huge US big law market, going abroad simply isn’t on the radar for most US law grads.- That being said, there is a lot of wrong information about big law opportunities
abroad on this board.

Better than looking at WFH, consider the following: Milan has a very small market for US big law attorneys who speak Italian and handle NY law governed capital markets offerings of Italian companies (mostly bonds but also the US law aspects of local IPOs).

Firms who employ US lawyers in Milan are eg Latham & Watkins.
There may be 1 or 2 other firms too. The market is tiny though and does not consist of more than a dozen people. A lot of this work is also done by US lawyers working in London.

As far as I know they pay NY rates.

I am not aware of other cities with US lawyers in Italy.

A job like the above would probably be more desirable then trying to work from home for months as - pointed out correctly before - this may have tax implications for your firm.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by Sackboy » Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:33 am

lfa wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 12:45 am
Hi OP,

Don‘t be discouraged!

...

Firms who employ US lawyers in Milan are eg Latham & Watkins.
There may be 1 or 2 other firms too. The market is tiny though and does not consist of more than a dozen people. A lot of this work is also done by US lawyers working in London.
OP should be discouraged.

No 0L should attend law school on the prayer that they land at not just a V5, but a very specific one, and have the opportunity to practice internationally in a very specific segment of capital markets work in a market that has barely more attorneys than I can count on my hands doing that work.

This is all setting aside the fact that the above plan in no way remotely conforms to the "digital nomad" lifestyle that OP is dreaming of, which is even more of a pipe dream.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by RunnerRunner » Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:39 am

Sackboy wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 1:33 am
lfa wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 12:45 am
Hi OP,

Don‘t be discouraged!

...

Firms who employ US lawyers in Milan are eg Latham & Watkins.
There may be 1 or 2 other firms too. The market is tiny though and does not consist of more than a dozen people. A lot of this work is also done by US lawyers working in London.
OP should be discouraged.

No 0L should attend law school on the prayer that they land at not just a V5, but a very specific one, and have the opportunity to practice internationally in a very specific segment of capital markets work in a market that has barely more attorneys than I can count on my hands doing that work.

This is all setting aside the fact that the above plan in no way remotely conforms to the "digital nomad" lifestyle that OP is dreaming of, which is even more of a pipe dream.
OP said they are open to more than just the “digital nomad” life. They would also “love to be hired full time as an American attorney in Italy.” That is what Ifa is describing.

As to how feasible obtaining that kind of position is... I will leave that to others.

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Re: BigLaw and working from home: what will be my options?

Post by onesundaymorning » Sun Aug 09, 2020 3:15 am

sparty99 wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 6:16 pm
delusional law student asking stupid questions...
Arrogant know it alls offering nothing of substance. :roll:

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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