Page 1 of 6

BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:06 am
by yossarian
I've been speaking with some attorneys/former attorneys with an especially bleak outlook. They seemed to indicate that biglaw is really just the first employment hurdle and that finding a job after being pushed out of biglaw is actually much harder.

I've read a lot of discussion on here that indicates that after being pushed out (or running out the door willingly cuz the loans are paid off), the available jobs definitely pay less and are not really a move "forward" career-wise. However, I haven't seen much on here to indicate that just finding employment post-biglaw is impossible. It makes sense when these firms could take associates fresh out of their local school (Lord knows there are enough) for less.

Can anyone speak to this? Biglaw folks, are you seeing people at least land on their feet even if they are making less?

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:08 am
by JustHawkin
Count me in on this discussion. Particularly interested in this subject WRT: lateralling to a different, smaller market (From a NYC, DC, Etc.)?

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:30 am
by rayiner
You're not seeing much discussion about it because most people on TLS haven't gotten to that stage yet. I imagine you'll see such discussion pick up in the next few years as TLS big lawyers bail, just as you saw more employment-related discussion as TLS-ers who started on the board as 0L's stayed on through OCI and graduation.

Ultimately, big law is a short stint for most people. It's a place to get training and pay off your loans. Generally, when you exit you'll go to a place making less money, at least at first. It's also almost certainly true that getting a good exit is harder than getting big law in the first place, for the simple reason that getting big law is, for the vast majority of people, simply a function of school rank and class rank. But that's not true of exit options. Those are going to be determined by what sort of work you did, what experience you got, and what connections you made.

People that I know who left my firm (from litigation) seem to mostly land on their feet. One fifth year became an AUSA. A couple of third or fourth years went to smaller firms. A very senior associate went in-house at a bank. Several juniors did a one-year stint then went to clerk.

But yeah, law is an over-saturated profession. You've got 5,000-6,000 new lawyers entering the NLJ 250 each year, and the overall NLJ 250 headcount grows by half or a third of that each year. So each year several thousand big law trained lawyers leave the NLJ 250 looking for exit options. With state government hiring tepid, and in-house hiring not exactly booming, it can be a rough road to hoe.

The only ray of hope I'll grant you is that the job situation will probably be a bit better for those hired post-recession than it is for the C/O 2005-2008 associates who are looking for exits now. Those are boom-year classes now looking for jobs in a bust economy. At least the incoming associate classes for subsequent years was smaller.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:39 am
by ph14
Associates with a few years experience at the firm I worked at had headhunters calling/emailing them frequently and seemed to be in demand. People who left ended up in a variety of different jobs, but the most common landing spot seemed to be smaller firms and boutiques with less pay but better hours. I do know some people who lateraled to other biglaw firms too, as well.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:44 am
by rayiner
ph14 wrote:Associates with a few years experience at the firm I worked at had headhunters calling/emailing them frequently and seemed to be in demand. People who left ended up in a variety of different jobs, but the most common landing spot seemed to be smaller firms and boutiques with less pay but better hours. I do know some people who lateraled to other biglaw firms too, as well.


Oh, mid-levels are in very high demand, but almost all of that is from other big law firms. Many firms, especially outside of NYC, are cutting back on entry-level hiring and trying to poach attorneys with a few years of experience from the shops that still have big classes. But finding a non-big law landing spot isn't as easy.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:49 am
by apples89
Is it likely that one can go from BigLaw to perhaps, in-house at a corporation or university? What are the chances if you decide to go into some sort of gov't post or smaller law firm to in-house? Getting that gig straight out of law school?

I assume that the pay will be less, but the hours should be more like a traditional 9-5 at that point.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:47 am
by ExBiglawAssociate
rayiner wrote:
ph14 wrote:Associates with a few years experience at the firm I worked at had headhunters calling/emailing them frequently and seemed to be in demand. People who left ended up in a variety of different jobs, but the most common landing spot seemed to be smaller firms and boutiques with less pay but better hours. I do know some people who lateraled to other biglaw firms too, as well.


Oh, mid-levels are in very high demand, but almost all of that is from other big law firms. Many firms, especially outside of NYC, are cutting back on entry-level hiring and trying to poach attorneys with a few years of experience from the shops that still have big classes. But finding a non-big law landing spot isn't as easy.


Finding an in house job as a litigator is almost impossible. It's a lot easier for transactional folks, though.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:22 pm
by HRomanus
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
rayiner wrote:
ph14 wrote:Associates with a few years experience at the firm I worked at had headhunters calling/emailing them frequently and seemed to be in demand. People who left ended up in a variety of different jobs, but the most common landing spot seemed to be smaller firms and boutiques with less pay but better hours. I do know some people who lateraled to other biglaw firms too, as well.


Oh, mid-levels are in very high demand, but almost all of that is from other big law firms. Many firms, especially outside of NYC, are cutting back on entry-level hiring and trying to poach attorneys with a few years of experience from the shops that still have big classes. But finding a non-big law landing spot isn't as easy.


Finding an in house job as a litigator is almost impossible. It's a lot easier for transactional folks, though.


What are exit options for a litigators? Are they more or less secure than exit options for a transactional attorney?

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:46 pm
by chem
HRomanus wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
rayiner wrote:
ph14 wrote:Associates with a few years experience at the firm I worked at had headhunters calling/emailing them frequently and seemed to be in demand. People who left ended up in a variety of different jobs, but the most common landing spot seemed to be smaller firms and boutiques with less pay but better hours. I do know some people who lateraled to other biglaw firms too, as well.


Oh, mid-levels are in very high demand, but almost all of that is from other big law firms. Many firms, especially outside of NYC, are cutting back on entry-level hiring and trying to poach attorneys with a few years of experience from the shops that still have big classes. But finding a non-big law landing spot isn't as easy.


Finding an in house job as a litigator is almost impossible. It's a lot easier for transactional folks, though.


What are exit options for a litigators? Are they more or less secure than exit options for a transactional attorney?


Talked with my career services about this the other day. Exit options from most common to least seem to be other biglaw, other firms, biggov, ausa, in house at companies that do a large amount of reg/lit work (think pharma). He was a biglaw litigator -> partner, so he could only say what he saw the associates and colleagues at his firm doing

He also echoed that mid level attorneys do get calls from head hunters pretty frequently, and that the best lateral time where you have the most options is 4-6 years out

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 1:34 am
by echooo23
chem wrote:Talked with my career services about this the other day. Exit options from most common to least seem to be other biglaw, other firms, biggov, ausa, in house at companies that do a large amount of reg/lit work (think pharma). He was a biglaw litigator -> partner, so he could only say what he saw the associates and colleagues at his firm doing

He also echoed that mid level attorneys do get calls from head hunters pretty frequently, and that the best lateral time where you have the most options is 4-6 years out


Interested in this. Aside from pharma, what other companies do a lot of regulatory litigation stuff that would be a decent lit exit option?

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:17 am
by ExBiglawAssociate
HRomanus wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
rayiner wrote:
ph14 wrote:Associates with a few years experience at the firm I worked at had headhunters calling/emailing them frequently and seemed to be in demand. People who left ended up in a variety of different jobs, but the most common landing spot seemed to be smaller firms and boutiques with less pay but better hours. I do know some people who lateraled to other biglaw firms too, as well.


Oh, mid-levels are in very high demand, but almost all of that is from other big law firms. Many firms, especially outside of NYC, are cutting back on entry-level hiring and trying to poach attorneys with a few years of experience from the shops that still have big classes. But finding a non-big law landing spot isn't as easy.


Finding an in house job as a litigator is almost impossible. It's a lot easier for transactional folks, though.


What are exit options for a litigators? Are they more or less secure than exit options for a transactional attorney?


Most litigators go to other firms (either big or small law). After you get to be more senior and you don't make partner (like the vast majority of senior associates), no one wants you. That's when things get really dicey. I've spoken to several recruiters who say it's nearly impossible to place a 9th+ year commercial lit associate who was passed over for partnership. I know a few of these super senior associate types who have left law altogether or taken quasi-non-law jobs like career counseling, headhunting, associate "coordinators" (i.e., coordinating work assignments to associates at a firm, kind of like a mid-level management position in a law firm (but not really practicing law)), etc.

In summary, there's a decent likelihood that you won't even be practicing law at all in 10 years if you're a junior litigator. And even though most ex-biglaw litigators who are no longer practicing would say they left the law "by choice" (because lawyers are usually pretty prideful people, in my experience), the truth of the matter is that most of them probably had no choice.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 8:39 am
by rayiner
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
HRomanus wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
rayiner wrote:Oh, mid-levels are in very high demand, but almost all of that is from other big law firms. Many firms, especially outside of NYC, are cutting back on entry-level hiring and trying to poach attorneys with a few years of experience from the shops that still have big classes. But finding a non-big law landing spot isn't as easy.


Finding an in house job as a litigator is almost impossible. It's a lot easier for transactional folks, though.


What are exit options for a litigators? Are they more or less secure than exit options for a transactional attorney?


Most litigators go to other firms (either big or small law). After you get to be more senior and you don't make partner (like the vast majority of senior associates), no one wants you. That's when things get really dicey. I've spoken to several recruiters who say it's nearly impossible to place a 9th+ year commercial lit associate who was passed over for partnership. I know a few of these super senior associate types who have left law altogether or taken quasi-non-law jobs like career counseling, headhunting, associate "coordinators" (i.e., coordinating work assignments to associates at a firm, kind of like a mid-level management position in a law firm (but not really practicing law)), etc.

In summary, there's a decent likelihood that you won't even be practicing law at all in 10 years if you're a junior litigator. And even though most ex-biglaw litigators who are no longer practicing would say they left the law "by choice" (because lawyers are usually pretty prideful people, in my experience), the truth of the matter is that most of them probably had no choice.


That's the big flame about the profession. QoL is higher in lit, but long term prospects are worse. Though I don't recommend doing transactional just for the exit options. Sounds miserable if you're not really into deals.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 8:52 am
by englawyer
I've seen many people from lit change over to smaller "midlaw" type firms that seem to focus on a smaller businesses. I guess if you were worth $500/hr or whatever to Wall St banks, it is relatively easy to convince some small-ish business owner you are worth $200/hr to them?

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 9:59 am
by HRomanus
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Most litigators go to other firms (either big or small law). After you get to be more senior and you don't make partner (like the vast majority of senior associates), no one wants you. That's when things get really dicey. I've spoken to several recruiters who say it's nearly impossible to place a 9th+ year commercial lit associate who was passed over for partnership. I know a few of these super senior associate types who have left law altogether or taken quasi-non-law jobs like career counseling, headhunting, associate "coordinators" (i.e., coordinating work assignments to associates at a firm, kind of like a mid-level management position in a law firm (but not really practicing law)), etc.

In summary, there's a decent likelihood that you won't even be practicing law at all in 10 years if you're a junior litigator. And even though most ex-biglaw litigators who are no longer practicing would say they left the law "by choice" (because lawyers are usually pretty prideful people, in my experience), the truth of the matter is that most of them probably had no choice.


Well damn. Are BigLaw transactional attorneys likely to be practicing law in 20+ years after LS?

On a side note, if BigLaw Exit Options are the Vale, does that mean BigLaw litigation is the Moon Door?

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 10:04 am
by rayiner
There's a relevant article about going in-house as a litigator: http://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/ ... house.html.

There used to be a perception that a lawyer could stay at a firm too long before making an in-house move, but this may no longer be the case. Karen says that at both her current and previous in-house jobs, the companies “actively looked for fairly senior people to hire—young partner level and above, if they could get it.


For litigators, Rubinstein notes that “companies generally want an attorney who at a minimum has taken and defended depositions, argued motions in court, conducted internal investigations, and ideally participated in a meaningful way in trials and/or administrative hearings.”


I think there's an important take-away from these points, which is that the optimal early career plays for litigators should be different than that of transactional lawyers. Transactional lawyers get relatively early hands-on experience even at top V10-type firms, and benefit from being in NYC. Their doing "premium work" brings value to their post-firm job search. But for a litigator, "premium work" often means work where clients are willing to pay V10 rates for document review. Great for the firm, not so great for the junior associate.

I think people who are interested in litigation, some of the TLS conventional wisdom is sub-optimal. For example, TLS generally frowns on going to satellite offices. But during my stint at a V10, 90% of the meaningful work I did was sourced out of our satellite offices, and were lower-profile. In contrast, on the "headline" cases I worked on, the junior and mid-level associates were mostly occupied with document review. I think there's value, as an associate, to being in a firm that has a workload that is not amenable to 5:1 leverage and has clients that aren't willing to pay exorbitant rates for mid-levels to do document review. And I think it can be worth taking quite a "haircut" in terms of Vault ranking to get to such a firm.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 10:23 am
by FattyMcFatFat
echooo23 wrote:
chem wrote:Talked with my career services about this the other day. Exit options from most common to least seem to be other biglaw, other firms, biggov, ausa, in house at companies that do a large amount of reg/lit work (think pharma). He was a biglaw litigator -> partner, so he could only say what he saw the associates and colleagues at his firm doing

He also echoed that mid level attorneys do get calls from head hunters pretty frequently, and that the best lateral time where you have the most options is 4-6 years out


Interested in this. Aside from pharma, what other companies do a lot of regulatory litigation stuff that would be a decent lit exit option?


Telecom?

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 10:36 am
by Blindmelon
Yup to rayiner. I bill 8-9 a day and rarely do weekend/night work. Problem is, if I wanted to leave, I really couldn't. Not that going in house sounds fun (compliance for the rest of your life, yikes), but it sounds better than small firm working reasonably hard and making 40k/year. Some people do become AUSAs, but do not underestimate how competitive it is. They get hundreds of applications from all years of litigators, many with d. ct./circuit clerkships. Government is very, very hard to break into - and they tend to care a lot less about the whole vault ranking BS. I've seen a few litigators do a few years then go into non-legal jobs because the exit options are so terrible - just think of how many fungible bigfirm litigators there are with fancy credentials.

Post removed.

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 1:10 pm
by trombalontana
Post removed.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 1:15 pm
by 09042014
From what I hear, run, don't walk, from GENERAL litigation. Everyone is specializing.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 1:34 pm
by rayiner
trombalontana wrote:How do regulatory exit ops (telecom, antitrust, etc.) compare to those in litigation? Just as bleak?


Way better.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:02 pm
by yossarian
So what I'm gathering in terms of importance for exit outcomes:

market (substantive experience & practice area >> firm prestige >>> everything else)

Oversimplification, obviously, but what are other factors? How do school prestige and grades factor in? Is law a profession of recommendations or is it really just your experience + book?

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:08 pm
by Blindmelon
Desert Fox wrote:From what I hear, run, don't walk, from GENERAL litigation. Everyone is specializing.


Even specialized litigation - its just not great (unless IP Lit + STEM background). School and grades still mater for your next job although not as much as when trying to get the initial job. Connections are king for anything but going to another bigfirm. Some in-house jobs will say top ten schools only, but its usually BS.

Also, recruiter calls/emails are a huge flame. I get them all the time - "I have a great opportunity for you, basically the same job at a less prestigious firm, oh boy!" Or, "how would you like to make half your salary and work similar hours?"

Its funny because everyone hustles to get the bigfirm job only to realize that you need to take hustling to a whole new level (connections-wise, etc) to get your next job for half the pay.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:11 pm
by Theopliske8711
rayiner wrote:
ph14 wrote:Associates with a few years experience at the firm I worked at had headhunters calling/emailing them frequently and seemed to be in demand. People who left ended up in a variety of different jobs, but the most common landing spot seemed to be smaller firms and boutiques with less pay but better hours. I do know some people who lateraled to other biglaw firms too, as well.


Oh, mid-levels are in very high demand, but almost all of that is from other big law firms. Many firms, especially outside of NYC, are cutting back on entry-level hiring and trying to poach attorneys with a few years of experience from the shops that still have big classes. But finding a non-big law landing spot isn't as easy.


Do these come with perhaps better chances of making partner?

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:15 pm
by Blindmelon
Theopliske8711 wrote:
rayiner wrote:
ph14 wrote:Associates with a few years experience at the firm I worked at had headhunters calling/emailing them frequently and seemed to be in demand. People who left ended up in a variety of different jobs, but the most common landing spot seemed to be smaller firms and boutiques with less pay but better hours. I do know some people who lateraled to other biglaw firms too, as well.


Oh, mid-levels are in very high demand, but almost all of that is from other big law firms. Many firms, especially outside of NYC, are cutting back on entry-level hiring and trying to poach attorneys with a few years of experience from the shops that still have big classes. But finding a non-big law landing spot isn't as easy.


Do these come with perhaps better chances of making partner?


No one makes partner. Its harder than it was before when it was nearly impossible.

Re: BigLaw Exit Options: The Vale Part 2?

Posted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:21 pm
by Theopliske8711
Blindmelon wrote:No one makes partner. Its harder than it was before when it was nearly impossible.


I'm just wondering what the point would be of moving to a different firm. What would they negotiate with you on?