Question:

I am currently a second-year associate and have decided I want to switch my practice from litigation to corporate law. My current firm does not have a strong corporate practice, so I am thinking of accepting an offer to join the litigation practice of another firm that has a really strong corporate practice. While I did not say this on the interview, of course, my goal is to make a practice-group switch from litigation to corporate after I join this new firm. My question is this: Assuming I accept my offer at this new firm, how long should I wait before I disclose to the litigation partners that I plan to switch to the firm's corporate group? (R.J., New York City)

Is it possible to change practice areas in big law firms?

Answer:

Dear R.J.,

I selected this particular question this week because it speaks directly to a common misconception that a number of junior associates have regarding practice-area switches.

One particular comment in your question caught my attention: "...how long should I wait before I disclose to the litigation partners that I plan to switch to the firm's corporate group." This comment stuck out because your use of the words "disclose" and "plan to switch" implies that you are expecting that your request will be automatically granted.