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Would I be happier in Lit?

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:43 am
by Anonymous User
I'm a first year in a corporate specialist/support group in the main office of a NYC V10. And, by and large, I hate it.

Like countless others, the thing I hate most is the stress. Because we're specialists, we're staffed on 10-20 deals at a time, but a smaller piece of each deal. This makes tracking things difficult, exacerbates the unpredictability of the day-to-day, and keeps everyone actively or passively stressed out all the time. I also strongly dislike most of the types of work I do. I don't like drafting, which most people in my group seem to think is the best type of assignment. If I had to chose, I'd take diligence over drafting. But whatever interest I get out of diligence is usually stomped out by the countless emails and requests I start getting the moment I settle in to try to calmly review a diligence binder. I actually like the area of law I'm in right now, but it feels very hard to learn the substance of the law because I'm constantly doing other unrelated tasks.

If I'm being honest with myself, I'd say that my performance has probably been perceived as pretty mediocre compared to the other first years in my group. I put in the hours required of me, but I'm not great at juggling deals and maintaining the speed of light email responsiveness expected of us. I try to check all the boxes before turning in an assignment, but often I don't do that last proofread or look up that final thing in the purchase agreement to confirm whatever, because usually this assignment sucks and I want it to end. I'm not the mids and seniors favorite junior to work with (we get along pretty well, it's just my middling enthusiasm), but I'm pretty sure I could keep trudging at this pace until at least the start of my third year without getting fired.

But I've already planned that I'm going to start networking/looking for something else this summer with the goal of jumping after I finish off the year in September or sometime later that fall. I've have been looking at two types of opportunities: (1) non-deal/non-M&A corporate work at a couple of mid-sized specialist firms I'm familiar with/have connections to; (2) government, NGO or human rights/international development type work, hopefully leveraging my legal training and T14 degree (admittedly a more vague idea, but student loans aren't an issue).

More recently, though, I've been wondering: maybe it's just corporate that's the problem. Maybe I don't need to make such a drastic career change so fast. Maybe I should give lit a try first. My background in law school and undergrad was more research heavy anyway. The main reason I picked corporate was wanting more flexibility to work outside a law firm environment. But I know I can't stick it out the requite 3-5 years at this pace to get a sleepy in house job that I can clock in and out of. The lit juniors at my firm are all pretty busy, but it seems, at least from casual chats with them, that they have more predictable routines and fewer fire-drills. My question is: would it be any better for my on the lit side of biglaw? Would I actually get a less chaotic day-to-day and the opportunity to do some substantive research and writing and maybe even learn the law? Or would I likely just hate it too because biglaw just isn't for me. I'd really appreciate any thoughts or advice.

Re: Would I be happier in Lit?

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:59 pm
by jd20132013
nothing you dislike about what you do now is absent from junior lit

Re: Would I be happier in Lit?

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:14 am
by Anonymous User
For what it's worth, I have experience both as a corporate specialist and as a litigation. I think your description of being a corporate specialist matched mine a lot; a lot of the problem wasn't necessarily huge tasks I had to do, but being on a lot of deals at a time and getting these smaller, one-off but time-sensitive assignments and having my phone constantly ringing for the dozen deals I was on. I absolutely hated that. And even though it was a lot of shuffling back and forth between deals, none of the assignments were so time-consuming that they allowed me to bill for a lot of time, so I felt like my hours weren't reflecting of how busy I actually was.

I switched to litigation, and there definitely isn't the email traffic I experienced before. I am actually busier now, but the tasks I have are usually longer and less time sensitive; I might have to review thousands of documents, but I'm given weeks to do it, so I can space it out and do it when I'm not busy with more time sensitive stuff. Although I will say that, at least in my experience so far, there have been far more quick, one-off assignments (research and drafting pretty simple documents) than I was expecting. Still, nothing as bad as corporate.

I switched practices because I always wanted to do litigation and find the work much more engaging and enjoyable. But it's still biglaw, and I still have nights/weekends unexpectedly ruined by surprise assignments, and there are still really quick deadlines on projects that create stress. I think if your main goal is to have more predicability in your schedule, in-house jobs are the best. But if you're not interested at all in the work, then I don't know if a cushy in-house job is worth it, or attainable if you're not engaged in the work you're currently doing.

So, overall, I would say that so far my experience in lit has been less chaotic than corporate by a noticeable amount, but it can still be really stressful/unpredictable. Such is the nature of the beast that is biglaw. Maybe try lit before a more drastic change if you can swing it, but some of the issues with corporate might still be there. But personally I think lit is a lot better.

Re: Would I be happier in Lit?

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:27 pm
by Anonymous User
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a first year in a corporate specialist/support group in the main office of a NYC V10. And, by and large, I hate it.

Like countless others, the thing I hate most is the stress. Because we're specialists, we're staffed on 10-20 deals at a time, but a smaller piece of each deal. This makes tracking things difficult, exacerbates the unpredictability of the day-to-day, and keeps everyone actively or passively stressed out all the time. I also strongly dislike most of the types of work I do. I don't like drafting, which most people in my group seem to think is the best type of assignment. If I had to chose, I'd take diligence over drafting. But whatever interest I get out of diligence is usually stomped out by the countless emails and requests I start getting the moment I settle in to try to calmly review a diligence binder. I actually like the area of law I'm in right now, but it feels very hard to learn the substance of the law because I'm constantly doing other unrelated tasks.

If I'm being honest with myself, I'd say that my performance has probably been perceived as pretty mediocre compared to the other first years in my group. I put in the hours required of me, but I'm not great at juggling deals and maintaining the speed of light email responsiveness expected of us. I try to check all the boxes before turning in an assignment, but often I don't do that last proofread or look up that final thing in the purchase agreement to confirm whatever, because usually this assignment sucks and I want it to end. I'm not the mids and seniors favorite junior to work with (we get along pretty well, it's just my middling enthusiasm), but I'm pretty sure I could keep trudging at this pace until at least the start of my third year without getting fired.

But I've already planned that I'm going to start networking/looking for something else this summer with the goal of jumping after I finish off the year in September or sometime later that fall. I've have been looking at two types of opportunities: (1) non-deal/non-M&A corporate work at a couple of mid-sized specialist firms I'm familiar with/have connections to; (2) government, NGO or human rights/international development type work, hopefully leveraging my legal training and T14 degree (admittedly a more vague idea, but student loans aren't an issue).

More recently, though, I've been wondering: maybe it's just corporate that's the problem. Maybe I don't need to make such a drastic career change so fast. Maybe I should give lit a try first. My background in law school and undergrad was more research heavy anyway. The main reason I picked corporate was wanting more flexibility to work outside a law firm environment. But I know I can't stick it out the requite 3-5 years at this pace to get a sleepy in house job that I can clock in and out of. The lit juniors at my firm are all pretty busy, but it seems, at least from casual chats with them, that they have more predictable routines and fewer fire-drills. My question is: would it be any better for my on the lit side of biglaw? Would I actually get a less chaotic day-to-day and the opportunity to do some substantive research and writing and maybe even learn the law? Or would I likely just hate it too because biglaw just isn't for me. I'd really appreciate any thoughts or advice.


If you hate drafting (and I don't really know who can possibly enjoy it) you will never enjoy any type of corporate work. I practiced in a non-deal, non-M&A corporate group for almost two years, which was almost exclusively drafting. It was boring, tedious, uninteresting even at the highest level, etc., all the complaints you hear about the substance of corporate work but with (mostly) none of the schedule-related drawbacks, i.e. it was fairly predictable, almost no weekend work, etc. and I still couldn't wait to get out. I lateraled to a more general corporate group with a focus on M&A and it is just as bad. I thought I would enjoy more deal-oriented work but turns out I don't enjoy the substance of taking a business deal and writing it down, and at the end of the day that's what corporate legal work entails, even at the partner level. Now my daily schedule is just worse and I have a million more administrative tasks to deal with than I did in my former practice.

I don't know if you will enjoy lit better, but based on what you've said, it sounds like you won't ever enjoy corporate work. Don't waste your time moving to a slightly different corporate practice. Figure out if its litigation, or something else entirely, that you will actually enjoy doing, and do that.

Re: Would I be happier in Lit?

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:45 pm
by Anonymous User
OP here. These responses are really helpful.

One more question -- For anyone who has switched from corporate to lit, what are the logistics of that switch like?

I've thought about requesting to move over within my firm. My firm is huge, but I still don't know if I could stomach doing an internal switch. Might be pretty awkward bumping into people or risk getting some kind of bad reputation.

At the same time, it's hard to imagine that many other good biglaw firms would be eager to hire a corporate lateral for a junior litigation spot...

Re: Would I be happier in Lit?

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:25 am
by Anonymous User
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. These responses are really helpful.

One more question -- For anyone who has switched from corporate to lit, what are the logistics of that switch like?

I've thought about requesting to move over within my firm. My firm is huge, but I still don't know if I could stomach doing an internal switch. Might be pretty awkward bumping into people or risk getting some kind of bad reputation.

At the same time, it's hard to imagine that many other good biglaw firms would be eager to hire a corporate lateral for a junior litigation spot...


People switching practice groups within their firm isn't that rare, so I don't think you'll have too much awkwardness or a bad reputation or anything. But I had to switch firms, because there just wasn't space at my old firm's litigation group (hence why I was placed in corporate). The job search process was tough and exhausting, but I eventually found another biglaw firm that hired me and was willing to retool me. It took me over a year though, and I got lucky in a lot of respects.

Re: Would I be happier in Lit?

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:27 am
by thelastlaugh
I didn't switch, but had a friend at my firm (v10) who did. He did a year in corporate, rotating groups once, and decided he didn't really like it. The firm let him switch to lit, but held him back a year (didn't get class raise, unsure about what year bonuses were given at). After a year in lit, and not having been fully taken out of the wheel on some of the corporate deals he was working on, he wasn't any happier, and switched back to corporate. So it was a year-long experiment where he landed back where he started.

I think this guy did as much diligence as he could before he made his decisions. I talked to him extensively about my experience as a litigation associate. I'd suggest having the same conversations if you're going to stay at your firm.

I think if you have a good relationship with your firm that they would be open to the conversation. It's expensive to lose an associate, and at the lower levels, your a useful body on either side. But I would be prepared for there to be some strings; firms need to build in some way to discourage associates from just flipping sides if they don't like the path they are on. I do think that moving to another firm without litigation experiences is a tougher sell, and you might find yourself in a position of having to offer to come in at a class below. I had another friend who left real estate transactional work for litigation and that's exactly what happened.

Re: Would I be happier in Lit?

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:47 am
by Anonymous User
I was told by a recruiter that if I wanted to switch from corporate to lit it would be significantly easier to do within my current firm. Like others have said, if a firm is looking to hire a lateral in lit, they likely don't have a shortage of candidates so it makes no sense to hire a re-tool. You have a better shot at switching internally because of the costs to your current firm associated with losing you. I wouldn't worry about pissing people off - you're a junior and once you make the switch you'll likely rarely see the people from corporate.