In house opportunities as a litigator Forum

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In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Dec 08, 2022 1:40 am

Junior litigation associate at a NY V20 firm. I have dabbled in various areas of litigation and would like to stay here for as long as possible (at least until loans are paid off and I have saved up a nest egg). For next steps from the firm, I want to move in house. I haven't seen too many litigators leave for in-house positions though--is there a particular practice area though that I should focus on? I don't plan on leaving for a while, but want to start thinking more carefully about what practice areas to build substantive knowledge in.

I don't really have a preference for what kind of company I leave for. My firm focuses on bank clients and I'd be happy to move to a big bank, but am open to other industries. I love litigation and would ideally like to be in any role that would let me practice the skills litigation emphasizes, but am very compensation-sensitive (thus excluding government/midlaw positions.) I would either want to stay in New York or move to the SF area.

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Dec 08, 2022 12:07 pm

Definitely can be done, but it’s a grind because there are so few positions. Network aggressively so you can get internal referrals.

But also if you like litigation you might not enjoy in-house. Most of my friends/clients are just traffic cops for their matters. They aren’t writing briefs, taking deps, etc.

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Dec 10, 2022 6:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Dec 08, 2022 1:40 am
Junior litigation associate at a NY V20 firm. I have dabbled in various areas of litigation and would like to stay here for as long as possible (at least until loans are paid off and I have saved up a nest egg). For next steps from the firm, I want to move in house. I haven't seen too many litigators leave for in-house positions though--is there a particular practice area though that I should focus on? I don't plan on leaving for a while, but want to start thinking more carefully about what practice areas to build substantive knowledge in.

I don't really have a preference for what kind of company I leave for. My firm focuses on bank clients and I'd be happy to move to a big bank, but am open to other industries. I love litigation and would ideally like to be in any role that would let me practice the skills litigation emphasizes, but am very compensation-sensitive (thus excluding government/midlaw positions.) I would either want to stay in New York or move to the SF area.
Exists but harder to get than corporate jobs by a good stretch. Agree with the above poster as well - you're more of a project manager - you're not really doing most of the lawyering (per my former colleagues now in-house).

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by thisismytlsuername » Sun Dec 11, 2022 8:30 am

You're also not going to be close to your current biglaw comp until you're 10-15 years out of law school (with a few exceptions).

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Dec 11, 2022 11:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Dec 08, 2022 12:07 pm
Definitely can be done, but it’s a grind because there are so few positions. Network aggressively so you can get internal referrals.

But also if you like litigation you might not enjoy in-house. Most of my friends/clients are just traffic cops for their matters. They aren’t writing briefs, taking deps, etc.
+1 to the second part here. As a biglaw litigator who did a stint in-house at a public company last year, the hours are amazing but it can be painfully boring and not really that close to litigation. It sounds great but not something I could do long term. The grass isn’t always greener imo

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Dec 11, 2022 11:28 am

Don't mean to derail the thread here, but the comments have me concerned. When does this career stop being a miserable hellscape? I'm a T6 grad, COA and Dct Clerk, and currently in my third year of biglaw. Does this just mean there's no better option than working all day on Christmas?

Sorry for the rant, I'm just starting to worry that biglaw is the best QOL job I'll ever have again. I have no debt, so a job in the low 6-figures would be totally fine by me.

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Prudent_Jurist » Sun Dec 11, 2022 12:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Dec 11, 2022 11:28 am
Does this just mean there's no better option than working all day on Christmas?
I think the point is that it’s mostly a choice between (a) work on Christmas, i.e., work insane hours but have “challenging” (whatever that means to you) work, or (b) have reasonable hours in-house as a litigator but a chill or boring (depending on your preference) job.

If you’re looking for good QOL, okay with low six figures, and want substantive work, try government work: state or federal.

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Dec 11, 2022 12:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Dec 11, 2022 11:28 am
Don't mean to derail the thread here, but the comments have me concerned. When does this career stop being a miserable hellscape? I'm a T6 grad, COA and Dct Clerk, and currently in my third year of biglaw. Does this just mean there's no better option than working all day on Christmas?

Sorry for the rant, I'm just starting to worry that biglaw is the best QOL job I'll ever have again. I have no debt, so a job in the low 6-figures would be totally fine by me.
Rare specimen here who loves the legal profession despite being in it for well over a decade. I've done it all, including private practice, inhouse, and government. Will try to both field this comment plus address the OP's question.

Biglaw will be the worst QOL job you'll ever have, not the best. Since you have no debt, your options are limitless for enjoying a fun and fulfilling long career. Do the biglaw thing for however many years you want to build up your cash reserve and build your reputation as a young lawyer (which you need, because young lawyers are deemed to be basically clueless for anywhere from 5-10 years). But there will be a limit to those years. 3 or 4 is typical. Maybe you'll choose to do 5 or 6. If it sounds kind of like doing time in prison, it is. Once you get out, you in particular should probably pursue a federal career at DOJ (and/or at a local USAO). The financial outcomes of experienced federal lawyers over the long run are pretty comparable to lawyers who tried to stick it out in private. If you're making $200,000 a year (in 2022 dollars) as a 25-year federal lawyer, you've kept up just fine with private colleagues, especially if they had to endure a divorce or two (many successful law firm partners I know have had 3 or 4 divorces; I swear I am not exaggerating), plus a few zero-revenue years because they tried to go solo or start a new firm and didn't succeed, etc.

Staying with one biglaw firm is just so emotionally exhausting and such a massive drain on your physical health and social relationships that very few people can do it for the entire decades-long tenure that is needed to become a multimillionaire.

About going inhouse: the other comments pretty much have it right. Inhouse positions where you are handling litigation are simply less frequent, so it's harder to compete to get one. But with enough years of experience, especially if you've established your litigation chops for a good 10 years or so, it's very doable. Former AUSAs applying for those litigation inhouse jobs tend to be shoo-ins.

Is inhouse litigation management as fun as being a litigator? Depends on your personality. No, you won't be the primary author of an appellate brief ever again, or argue to an appellate court, etc. But, you can redline your outside counsel's appellate brief to your heart's content, and make big picture strategy decisions. And you never have to go through a box of 800 pages of medical records ever again. It can be fun, there's still plenty of strategery in the job, but less of the tedious hassle that real litigators have to deal with. You might love the idea of being a litigator now as a young lawyer, but by year 15 you might decide that you've had enough.

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Dec 14, 2022 6:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Dec 11, 2022 12:04 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Dec 11, 2022 11:28 am
Don't mean to derail the thread here, but the comments have me concerned. When does this career stop being a miserable hellscape? I'm a T6 grad, COA and Dct Clerk, and currently in my third year of biglaw. Does this just mean there's no better option than working all day on Christmas?

Sorry for the rant, I'm just starting to worry that biglaw is the best QOL job I'll ever have again. I have no debt, so a job in the low 6-figures would be totally fine by me.
Rare specimen here who loves the legal profession despite being in it for well over a decade. I've done it all, including private practice, inhouse, and government. Will try to both field this comment plus address the OP's question.

Biglaw will be the worst QOL job you'll ever have, not the best. Since you have no debt, your options are limitless for enjoying a fun and fulfilling long career. Do the biglaw thing for however many years you want to build up your cash reserve and build your reputation as a young lawyer (which you need, because young lawyers are deemed to be basically clueless for anywhere from 5-10 years). But there will be a limit to those years. 3 or 4 is typical. Maybe you'll choose to do 5 or 6. If it sounds kind of like doing time in prison, it is. Once you get out, you in particular should probably pursue a federal career at DOJ (and/or at a local USAO). The financial outcomes of experienced federal lawyers over the long run are pretty comparable to lawyers who tried to stick it out in private. If you're making $200,000 a year (in 2022 dollars) as a 25-year federal lawyer, you've kept up just fine with private colleagues, especially if they had to endure a divorce or two (many successful law firm partners I know have had 3 or 4 divorces; I swear I am not exaggerating), plus a few zero-revenue years because they tried to go solo or start a new firm and didn't succeed, etc.

Staying with one biglaw firm is just so emotionally exhausting and such a massive drain on your physical health and social relationships that very few people can do it for the entire decades-long tenure that is needed to become a multimillionaire.

About going inhouse: the other comments pretty much have it right. Inhouse positions where you are handling litigation are simply less frequent, so it's harder to compete to get one. But with enough years of experience, especially if you've established your litigation chops for a good 10 years or so, it's very doable. Former AUSAs applying for those litigation inhouse jobs tend to be shoo-ins.

Is inhouse litigation management as fun as being a litigator? Depends on your personality. No, you won't be the primary author of an appellate brief ever again, or argue to an appellate court, etc. But, you can redline your outside counsel's appellate brief to your heart's content, and make big picture strategy decisions. And you never have to go through a box of 800 pages of medical records ever again. It can be fun, there's still plenty of strategery in the job, but less of the tedious hassle that real litigators have to deal with. You might love the idea of being a litigator now as a young lawyer, but by year 15 you might decide that you've had enough.
not OP but this was very helpful, thank you

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Anonymous User
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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Dec 15, 2022 11:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Dec 11, 2022 11:28 am
Don't mean to derail the thread here, but the comments have me concerned. When does this career stop being a miserable hellscape? I'm a T6 grad, COA and Dct Clerk, and currently in my third year of biglaw. Does this just mean there's no better option than working all day on Christmas?

Sorry for the rant, I'm just starting to worry that biglaw is the best QOL job I'll ever have again. I have no debt, so a job in the low 6-figures would be totally fine by me.
Government or private practice in smaller markets

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Dec 19, 2022 1:40 pm

Former biglaw litigator who moved in house this year. Struck out on 80 or so applications for "litigation counsel" type roles. Expanded the search to include regulatory, privacy, compliance, and product. Now a product counsel at a tech company. I have time for my family now and miss nothing about biglaw lit.

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Dec 19, 2022 7:47 pm

Nice. What advice would you give others looking to make a similar switch from lot to something like your new role?

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Re: In house opportunities as a litigator

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Dec 19, 2022 8:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Dec 19, 2022 7:47 pm
Nice. What advice would you give others looking to make a similar switch from lot to something like your new role?
We tend to hire litigators who have experience representing consumer-facing technology companies. Consumer protection, data privacy, and IP are common areas of focus.

Product counseling is much more business facing than litigation. Instead of dealing with disputes directly, it's about working with cross-functional teams (product, engineering, policy, privacy) to develop and launch products.

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