Stay in London or return stateside Forum

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Stay in London or return stateside

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Nov 15, 2021 9:55 am

I'm a third year associate doing capital markets at a US firm. The work sucks: I don't enjoy it at all, it's rote, devoid of any intellectual satisfaction, etc. But somehow, my hours have been quite doable. I bill around 1800 a year, I work maybe 10% of my weekends a year and maybe 10 all nighters. My colleagues are generally quite nice. The pay is higher (I think post tax I have an additional $40k or so per year thanks to the COLA, as compared to doing the same job in the US).

Recently, my firm has indicated they are looking for someone to go to the NY office. My initial goal was to always return to the US (only went to London as I struck out at OCI) but in a lot of ways, London has become an unexpected gift (weekend trips to continental Europe, higher salary, less work, etc.).

However, my goal is still to settle down in the US, get a 9-5 job there for a company of for the government, buy a house in the suburbs, pop out some kids in three years from now, and maybe get a job in Europe or Asia around the time my kids should be going to middle school as I don't want to be paying through the nose for a good level of education (although I have to do more research on this anyway). So in a lot of ways, my life in London has and continues to be that of an expat, where I don't really lay down many roots. I think that is one of the main reasons I'd want to move sooner rather than later, so I can feel more "settled." Additionally, I used to have somewhat of a pipedream of switching practice areas (again, I hate my area of law and one can only do capital markets in London), which used to be a prime reason for me want to move back early, but I think as I'm a third year already, it's too late for me to jump into any firm and go like "hey, how about I do some regulatory stuff?!" but do let me know if I'm wrong on this.

Now, I am wondering if it is time to go back to the US already. I have some worries that being a third year already, I am becoming less marketable to US government and company employers by the day. On the other hand, and I have no clue how hard people work in the US (but I see figures floating around of like 2400 hours a year), but I think I am basically working less hours for more money in London, which I'm quite happy about. I think a part of me is saying it would be insane to give this up, only to work harder for less money and risk burning out sooner.

Just wanted to see what others think: should I go to New York already or stay put in London for another year?

Anonymous User
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Re: Stay in London or return stateside

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:46 pm

Sounds like you are living the dream. I used to work 2000+ hours on a local wage doing levfin at a magic circle firm in London. Honestly, most biglaw work is unexciting...Plus, boring means less intellectually taxing, which I reckon is an advantage in the long term. If I were you, I would stay put while all things remain equal. Take advantage of your good fortune.

TheoO

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Re: Stay in London or return stateside

Post by TheoO » Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:54 pm

If you are thinking of switching practices, you should move now. 3rd year switch doable but gets less so after that. If on the otherhand you want to stay in your practice, then seems like youre in good position.

Separate question: what is the WFH situation in London currently and how is it looking going forward? I have continental life dreams with me and my wife, but it seems hard to find a firm there, compared to London.

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Re: Stay in London or return stateside

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Nov 15, 2021 1:40 pm

As one more data point on this, I was in a very similar position to you and moved back to NY after three years in London. The COLA was nice, and I enjoyed London as a city, but unlike your situation I barely ever left the UK because I had so few weekends that were free. 1800 was definitely not an acceptable number of min hours, and I was told as much in explicit terms. I found it very easy to come back to the States, but I was not changing practice areas. Now I'm going in-house in the States and I suspect that would not have been nearly as easy if I were still working abroad (although in all fairness, it was all zoom interviews, so they'd never have known where I was). I doubt I would have come back to the States as soon as I did if I had what your lifestyle sounds like, but I'm happy with the opportunities it generated. Just general comments for you to consider when weighing.

Anonymous User
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Re: Stay in London or return stateside

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 16, 2021 7:06 am

TheoO wrote:
Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:54 pm
If you are thinking of switching practices, you should move now. 3rd year switch doable but gets less so after that. If on the otherhand you want to stay in your practice, then seems like youre in good position.

Separate question: what is the WFH situation in London currently and how is it looking going forward? I have continental life dreams with me and my wife, but it seems hard to find a firm there, compared to London.
I think it depends a bit per firm. Most US firms have implicit vaccine and mask requirements now to get back in and so I think the implicit requirement is that you better go and get the vaccine as you're expected to come in 4 out of 5 days. Under UK law you cannot have these mandates, which is why I say "implicit." No clue yet on what happens if you don't come in on these grounds.

UK firms, from what I heard, don't care as much: You have to come in half of the week, but if you don't feel comfortable that is completely fine, so you can have WFH 100%. No vaccine or mask mandates, just a recommendation.

Overall, I'd say UK firms are the way to go, as the work culture is more humane across the board (from what I heard) and it also seems people who choose those firms are more likely to want to stay in the UK long-term. A lot of people I know at the U firms basically came to London because they (like me) struck out at OCI and London was their only option and they are simply using it as a means to eventually get back to the US again.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Stay in London or return stateside

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:09 am

Does anyone have any insights on how easy/difficult it is to return stateside as a 6th/7th year?

I've heard it's not too difficult to move back to the US as a junior (perhaps even as a 5th year) but not sure about the prospect as a midlevel/senior.

Anonymous User
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Re: Stay in London or return stateside

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:09 am
Does anyone have any insights on how easy/difficult it is to return stateside as a 6th/7th year?

I've heard it's not too difficult to move back to the US as a junior (perhaps even as a 5th year) but not sure about the prospect as a midlevel/senior.
i know someone who did it as a 6th year in capm but they stayed in the same practice group at the same firm. they were also substantively behind since the breadth of capm transactions in london is more narrow than what we were doing in the us.

Anonymous User
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Re: Stay in London or return stateside

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Nov 23, 2021 3:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 11:19 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:09 am
Does anyone have any insights on how easy/difficult it is to return stateside as a 6th/7th year?

I've heard it's not too difficult to move back to the US as a junior (perhaps even as a 5th year) but not sure about the prospect as a midlevel/senior.
i know someone who did it as a 6th year in capm but they stayed in the same practice group at the same firm. they were also substantively behind since the breadth of capm transactions in london is more narrow than what we were doing in the us.
I know a 5th year M&A associate who was upset because the firm reclassified her as a local hire and eliminated her COLA. She applied for, and received, several offers back in the States, and told the firm as much. The firm didn't back down and called her bluff. This was all pre-pandemic.

malibustacy

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Re: Stay in London or return stateside

Post by malibustacy » Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:59 pm

With capital markets experience at a big firm, you can always come back to the US pretty easily whenever you want.

I'd ride the gravy train while you can.

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