Alternative Careers for big law refugees

(Share and discuss thoughts and stories on Dropping out of law school, entering a graduate school program, Career changes, Similar/ related career options)
Anonymous User
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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 27, 2019 6:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Compliance! I’ve done it for years and know a lot of biglaw refugees who’ve moved into it at close to biglaw salary. I started out of law school at 100k and then moved to 125k and then 140k now as a 4th year with a 30k bonus. Obviously this isn’t biglaw salary but it’s reasonable that I could move somewhere and bump my base to 170k.

Banks and institutions typically pay less than funds but banks are better hours. At a bank I worked 9-5 and more senior folks worked more like 9-6 and then answered emails on blackberry at night. It can be stressful at more senior levels. At a private fund I worked 8-6 with occasional late hours.

The main difference form biglaw is that you are not expected to be constantly available outside of market hours and your vacations and weekends are almost completely respected. Compliance is actually pretty interesting. I preferred being at a smaller shop because the role is broader, while at a large institution you may be doing just policies or just filings. In a typical fund role you are doing a pretty dynamic job that involves a lot of problem solving and judgment calls in the moment. Every decision you make can carry serious regulatory risk. The question we most frequently ask is how we can defend a decision in front of the SEC.

Regulatory knowledge is just as important as soft skills and it can be tough to develop unless you work in a related field now. A typical day on a small team at a hedge fund might involve a call with outside counsel on regulatory questions related to Regulation M, working on a major filing like Form ADV, sitting on a valuation committee meeting, reviewing marketing materials, and assisting with wall crossings from brokers.
Do the big law refugees come from a regulatory practice? Feel like even doing banking and finance in big law won't really help or cross-over with compliance type roles. 9-5 for 170k sounds pretty great to be honest. Also it seems likely that there will consistently be a need for compliance folks given our current financial system.

Anonymous User
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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Sep 28, 2019 5:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Compliance! I’ve done it for years and know a lot of biglaw refugees who’ve moved into it at close to biglaw salary. I started out of law school at 100k and then moved to 125k and then 140k now as a 4th year with a 30k bonus. Obviously this isn’t biglaw salary but it’s reasonable that I could move somewhere and bump my base to 170k.

Banks and institutions typically pay less than funds but banks are better hours. At a bank I worked 9-5 and more senior folks worked more like 9-6 and then answered emails on blackberry at night. It can be stressful at more senior levels. At a private fund I worked 8-6 with occasional late hours.

The main difference form biglaw is that you are not expected to be constantly available outside of market hours and your vacations and weekends are almost completely respected. Compliance is actually pretty interesting. I preferred being at a smaller shop because the role is broader, while at a large institution you may be doing just policies or just filings. In a typical fund role you are doing a pretty dynamic job that involves a lot of problem solving and judgment calls in the moment. Every decision you make can carry serious regulatory risk. The question we most frequently ask is how we can defend a decision in front of the SEC.

Regulatory knowledge is just as important as soft skills and it can be tough to develop unless you work in a related field now. A typical day on a small team at a hedge fund might involve a call with outside counsel on regulatory questions related to Regulation M, working on a major filing like Form ADV, sitting on a valuation committee meeting, reviewing marketing materials, and assisting with wall crossings from brokers.
Do the big law refugees come from a regulatory practice? Feel like even doing banking and finance in big law won't really help or cross-over with compliance type roles. 9-5 for 170k sounds pretty great to be honest. Also it seems likely that there will consistently be a need for compliance folks given our current financial system.
Most I have encountered come from a regulatory practice or a private funds practice but I don’t think it’s out of the question that a banking or finance lawyer could find a way into the field. Firms and institutions doing that type of work also have compliance folks. A passing familiarity with regulatory considerations (if any?) for those type of deals could be parlayed into something more. I know cap markets lawyers who go into IB compliance. Like you said, there’s a big demand for people in the field. It’s also very much networking driven, probably more so than big law, and heavily uses recruiters. A lawyer who is a third or fourth year could come in relatively junior too so not a huge amount of regulatory knowledge would be required.

waytoplant

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by waytoplant » Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:50 am

I left biglaw after a little over 4 years for greener pastures in-house at a company (not a bank or fund), which has been great so far. Pay is about 65-70% of what I was making before but I work about 50% of what I was working before, so I think the trade off has been great. It was not a client or through connections, but something I just found on LinkedIn and applied for directly. Otherwise, I've seen mainly exit options you've listed (in-house, recruiter, coding camp, no plans/travel, freelance writer/blogger). Before I went in-house I was looking at some "Knowledge Management" or "Practice Management" jobs, which I think are one step up from a legal librarian and similar to a paralegal but not often working directly on deals. I've heard the salaries are pretty good and WLB is great, but I moved in-house before I got any specific details. Of course, the tough part is that you're no longer a "practicing" lawyer so if you try to get back into practicing it may be tough. Also if there is a recession KM positions are probably the first to go. Good luck!

Here are some podcasts that include former lawyers (some of whom were in biglaw): https://thehappylawyerproject.com/the-podcast/; http://www.lessonsfromaquitter.com/

shock259

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by shock259 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:20 pm

I am in house as well in a large company. I initially thought I wanted to leave law altogether but decided to give in house a shot. It's been perfect. Like ~50% of what I do is administrative in nature anyway, the salary is much higher than I would be getting if I was in a purely non-legal job at the company, and I am keeping strict 8-4 hours (with no expectation of responding to emails after 4).

I think I got lucky in a lot of respects. But some folks here might want to try an in house gig before they give up on law entirely.

waytoplant

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by waytoplant » Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:42 pm

shock259 wrote:I am in house as well in a large company. I initially thought I wanted to leave law altogether but decided to give in house a shot. It's been perfect. Like ~50% of what I do is administrative in nature anyway, the salary is much higher than I would be getting if I was in a purely non-legal job at the company, and I am keeping strict 8-4 hours (with no expectation of responding to emails after 4).

I think I got lucky in a lot of respects. But some folks here might want to try an in house gig before they give up on law entirely.
I had a similar experience. I thought about leaving the law altogether and trying to be something else like a real estate agent, journalist, vlogger, writer or some other career, but luckily I got an in house job and it has been pretty good so far. I'm not sure it is my forever job, but it's good for now.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Oct 24, 2019 9:27 am

shock259 wrote:I am in house as well in a large company. I initially thought I wanted to leave law altogether but decided to give in house a shot. It's been perfect. Like ~50% of what I do is administrative in nature anyway, the salary is much higher than I would be getting if I was in a purely non-legal job at the company, and I am keeping strict 8-4 hours (with no expectation of responding to emails after 4).

I think I got lucky in a lot of respects. But some folks here might want to try an in house gig before they give up on law entirely.
This is really great to hear. I'm at this stage now, where I've been considering leaving practice but also considering trying in-house as a last-ditch effort to use my degree. What did you not like about firm work that you felt was fixed by going in-house? Was it mostly the improved working hours/lack of billables, or was there something else?

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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:24 am

I really want to leave (just became a third year last month since the new class joined) but I can't even go in-house because my practice is lev fin/banking and I'm too junior to go to a bank (and I don't want to do that in any case). Feel really stuck. Have considered making a lateral big law move to stick it out a year somewhere and try to re-orient my skillset to be more desirable to going in-house at a company. Should I try to salavage my HY debt capital market experience and segway into a broader capital markets practice?

Anonymous User
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Re: Alternative Careers for big law refugees

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I really want to leave (just became a third year last month since the new class joined) but I can't even go in-house because my practice is lev fin/banking and I'm too junior to go to a bank (and I don't want to do that in any case). Feel really stuck. Have considered making a lateral big law move to stick it out a year somewhere and try to re-orient my skillset to be more desirable to going in-house at a company. Should I try to salavage my HY debt capital market experience and segway into a broader capital markets practice?
Pro-tip: make sure as many people a possible at the bank you work with know your name and appreciate the value that you as an individual bring. Also suck up to the supervising partner.

I know several specialist boutique financial firms that sprung up when the MD at the bank left to start something of their own. Typically, they'll take the 1-3 best and brightest of their underlings with them, and an attorney or two they've worked with. The vast majority I'm familiar with, they took the law firm partner in as a co-founder / co-owner of the business, who may or may not take a favorite associate along.

Yes, it's completely out of your hand when or if the banker has an opportunity to do something like that, but you want to position yourself as someone they bring along for the ride.

edit: this really didn't need to be anonymous. sorry

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