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Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:47 pm
by Anonymous User
Can you own a business while in biglaw? How does that work out? I'm headed to a firm, but I didn't really think about the side hustles I have going on. They are very niche, and they don't require a lot of my time, but they do pull in some solid money that I'd prefer not to lose. Plus, if I burn out, I could potentially exit and build them out more.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:54 am
by 2013
Some (most?) firms don’t allow you to do any work for any other venture other than the work at the firm. Others limit it to other legal work.

I’d look at your firm’s manual to see the parameters.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:02 am
by Anonymous User
Obvious anon but I and some others I know do this. Many firms will not like it. Its none of their business until you are seriously up for partnership. They can fire you at any time, and you're too unimportant to have real conflicts anyways.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:44 am
by 2013
Anonymous User wrote:Obvious anon but I and some others I know do this. Many firms will not like it. Its none of their business until you are seriously up for partnership. They can fire you at any time, and you're too unimportant to have real conflicts anyways.


While I agree it shouldn’t matter, it’s a stretch to say it’s “none of their business...”

FWIW, I know an associate who is a residential property manager on the side and his firm doesn’t really care since it’s mostly passive income.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:19 am
by corplateral
Law firms want all of your attention, time and availability dedicated to their clients. That's why biglaw pays so much money and also why some firms don't allow they lawyers to have sidelines or outside ventures, except when such involvements are for the firm's business development strategies (i.e. being a board member of some nonprofit organization, etc.).

However, if the business you are involved in does not require much time from you and runs on its own (i.e. something that generates passive income), it should not be a problem for your firm unless this business puts your or your firm in conflicts of interests. On the other hand, if that business requires many hours of your time each week, your firm might not like it as this may impact your availability in peak times or when there are emergencies in a file.

Best advice is to have a look at your firm's policies / guidelines and, if any, your employment contract.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:13 pm
by Anonymous User
I think it depends on what the side hustles are. Agree with others that if it's something passive (like consumer-side real estate investing, for example), your firm shouldn't care. More active side hustles, or side hustles where you have real commercial counterparties can be a problem, as they can create conflicts for the firm and (rightly or wrongly) create the impression that you're not fully committed to your job.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 5:49 pm
by notinbiglaw
A lot of it depends on your ability to manage time and the nature of the business. If you don’t manage time well or business is one that demands your time, you will have a rough time. But for the most part firms don’t mind much if you disclose and still prioritize the firm’s claim on your time and attention.

The big no nos are businesses where you could be looking at your firm’s clients as clients of your own business. Even the potential for that is frowned upon.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:12 pm
by Anonymous User
2013 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Obvious anon but I and some others I know do this. Many firms will not like it. Its none of their business until you are seriously up for partnership. They can fire you at any time, and you're too unimportant to have real conflicts anyways.


While I agree it shouldn’t matter, it’s a stretch to say it’s “none of their business...”

FWIW, I know an associate who is a residential property manager on the side and his firm doesn’t really care since it’s mostly passive income.


It's more of a stretch to say it is their business. 99.99% of the time it is not. Lawyers always focus on that .01% and harp on it. There's a greater than .01% chance they'll push you out in the next 5 years. I say you do you and worry about how you disclose this shit later on if you find out in year 9-10 that you are indeed up to be partner.

Fucking hell our president doesn't even disclose his own personal business dealings.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:43 pm
by RedGiant
Anonymous User wrote:Obvious anon but I and some others I know do this. Many firms will not like it. Its none of their business until you are seriously up for partnership. They can fire you at any time, and you're too unimportant to have real conflicts anyways.


Two things-many firms have strict anti-moonlighting policies. Also, it _is_ the firm's business (and yours) because of conflicts. You will need to disclose your business as well as any parties involved for conflicts reasons.

I don't think that means you cannot categorically have side hustles, but know that you and the firm have ethical responsibilities around them. IT IS their business.

Last, to the poster above who is using Trump as any kind of disclosure or ethical barometer. Aim higher. Shame on you. The bar is higher for attorneys. Period.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:09 am
by Thom
I'm sure that you already thought about this, but my first thought would be to any future conflicts (however unlikely) which might be higher odds for some ventures than others. As far as time invested I suspect most lawyers at a minimum own stock in a variety of companies, albeit you likely mean a more active role.

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:16 pm
by JHP
RedGiant wrote:Last, to the poster above who is using Trump as any kind of disclosure or ethical barometer. Aim higher. Shame on you. The bar is higher for attorneys. Period.

And we all stood up and clapped.

(No sarcasm.)

Re: Owning a business while in biglaw?

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:59 pm
by Anonymous User
I used to run a prop trading shop and worked at a PE fund before that.

If we saw anyone that worked with us or for us running a business that could even give an ounce of suspicion of impropriety, we raised it and I know for a fact people were fired at times though usually less drastic measures were taken.