[00:00:00] Today I'm talking about choosing between corporate and litigation for your practice area. And this actually, I think is an extremely important thing to talk about for every attorney. And you could actually make this a little broader, you could say choosing between transactional work and litigation practice areas which is better for your career and every attorney makes this choice at some point in their career.
And then a lot of people later on are interested in switching practice areas. Also, it's not always the best idea. Once you start doing one of these and I'm going to talk like a lot about this and when I'm done, you can, we can take questions and as many questions as anyone has I'm more than happy to answer.
One of the things that I would offer related to this today is that when you ask questions, you can ask certainly about this or anything that you want related to this topic. But this is something that all attorneys and law students really struggled with. And they struggled with it for a lot of reasons.
On [00:01:00] the one hand some people have a vision of litigation where they're going to be the star of the show and get to go into court and argue. And and it's almost the opposite. You have to be very deferential to courts and you and clients and to be good at it.
And and then other people, have the opinion that they're going to become corporate attorneys and get to work with important corporations and do all sorts of deals and that sort of thing. And and the truth of the matter is regardless of your background, you're going to be more suited to one or the other.
And and it's almost, I think the types of people that fit in, and I'll talk about this later on, but I just wanted start with all this the types of people that are good with corporate tend to be that are natural fits for corporate tend to be people that are more in, in terms of their thinking and stuff really seem to enjoy things like.
Math, science economics like those sorts of disciplines get them excited. And and talking about things like their problems or what education, what, characters are doing and novels or the [00:02:00] history of different civilizations isn't really, or anthropology.
Isn't the kind of stuff that appeals to them. They're more interested in facts and and things that, information that they feel can be controlled which is a good characteristic. Being able to control things is what companies need and real estate and all sorts of different practice areas related to transactional work is controlling information at the same time, people that like litigation tend not to be as interested in a rules.
They're interested. People and problems and they're interested in social sociology and English and history and things like that. And they like reading and arguing and and thinking that way. And and sometimes they, most of the time they like conflict. So the problem is most attorneys go into things for the wrong reasons.
So a lot of times attorneys will go into litigation because they think that it's exciting or they want to do personal injury or who knows. But they go into it because it's the only job of that. Most jobs out there, the highest percentage are litigation. And [00:03:00] then a lot of people will go into corporate because they're more interested in they think that there's more opportunities.
They know more people are getting jobs in it. And and that's true. And then the final point I want to make before I kind of world into the formal introduction is a lot of people will go into corporate because they've decided at the beginning of their careers or before they even get into a law firm are before their careers even start that they want to go in-house and it's, it definitely is easier to go in house as a corporate attorney.
And and you definitely, it's easier to get jobs in big cities. Like New York is a corporate attorney. And there's just a lot of benefits to being a corporate attorney, but if you're not suited to that practice area you're not the way I say like a math and science type person or an economic.
Then you may not do well. And that's just the problem and the same thing with corporate attorneys going into litigation. They think all these problems and things that people arguing about are stupid. And they often don't like the conflict and people, enjoying making arguments against them and turning them on their head.
So I'm going to go into the [00:04:00] presentation now, but I did want open up with that. This is a topic that I've personally struggled with and I see attorneys struggle with all the time and it's an important topic and is going to have a major effect on your happiness and what happens to you in your career?
A lot of people just when they choose a practice here and sometimes most of the time they don't even choose it. They just get put in that practice area. They don't give a lot of thought to their. A lot of times attorneys will choose litigation for the reasons I gave earlier.
They think they enjoy writing and arguing and some attorneys choose corporate because they like business and they want to maybe go into business. And I'm just going to tell you today the pros and cons of each and and how it's going to impact your future employability.
And but keep in mind. The big thing is just, in all of this is your happiness. If you are a natural fit for something you will do well. And if something comes to you naturally, you will do well. If you're not a natural fit for something and you have to [00:05:00] and then you won't do well.
And a lot of people go into things that they're not natural fits for. And and they're competing against people that are natural fits. You typically will be either a math and science type person or an English type person. And I'm not going to go into a ton of detail about that today, but there's so much research and things out there that show that, by the time, someone is in a first or second grade, even that, that is written in stone.
What their dominant type of thought patterns in the way, the things that interest them the most. And you may be able to make yourself interested in corporate and math and science and get great grades and go to great colleges. But when it comes down to it, the types of things that you gravitate towards naturally are really going to be what you should be doing.
And and again, math and science type people typically will gravitate towards corporate naturally litigation. People will gravitate to. Writing and reading and writing and things naturally. And the reason I bring this up so much, it's just because it doesn't matter who, [00:06:00] what practice area you do, but if you do something that you're going to have be a natural fit for, you're going to go farther because you're going to be more interested in learning things.
And it's going to be fun for you, as opposed to, you're watching the clock. Have you ever been in a job where you have to watch the clock? It's horrible. I have to watch the clock to, to stop working because I'm so excited about what I do, because I know that I need to get sleep in order to be effective the next day.
And I know I have to spend time with my family at night, but, but if you have to watch the clock because you're so bored and you leave at the same time, then you're not on the right practice here. So you just need to think about, what interests you and where you're where your main interests lie.
And I just, I can't emphasize that enough because regardless of what practice area you're in if it's a bad fit for you. Then that's bad now. I want to make one final point and that's you could be unhappy in a job because you're on the wrong employer and there's a whole separate discussion about that, which is finding your tribe and stuff, which is a webinar that I'll do in the near future.
Okay. So corporate, so here are the positives [00:07:00] of being a corporate attorney when the economy is strong corporate is among the best areas out there. So at the time I'm recording this webinar, corporate is as good as it's ever been. There if you're a corporate attorney, even if you're not at a large firm, you can probably get into a large firm in some city in the country.
If you have pretty decent experience when corporate is strong corporate attorneys can pretty much get jobs all over the country. There's just so much demand for them. The more specialized ones there tends to be even more demand. And you can move very easily between states and different regions often without the bar.
If you're a litigator at a major firm in Chicago and you want to move to Silicon valley or Los Angeles you're not going to get a very warm reception if you don't have the California bar. But if you, even, if you don't have the California bar, you will probably get a pretty warm reception in those areas right now.
If you're at a, if you're a 10 person firm, you're probably. Okay. So it's just, the reason for that is, is that it's a very specialized practice area. [00:08:00] It takes a lot of learning to do. You don't learn necessarily how to be a corporate attorney when you're a law school. And so that's a problem.
And and the, a lot of in, in litigation that understanding local rules, local filing requirements, how things are done locally tends to be very important. But it's less important with corporate law and corporate lawyers don't need to sign pleadings in local courts. And so you can actually, they're happy at many times they'll let you practice while you're trying to pass the bar.
Yeah, so that's fine. An example would be the corporate market is almost at this level right now, but in the early two thousands, corporate was so active. I had things happening w which just blew my mind. I saw at the very peak of it, I saw people like coming from three person law firms in, in small markets suburbs and things that had, mainly corporate experience, but not always a lot of corporate experience and may not have gone to top law schools.
Getting moved across the country, interviewing. Great firms in Silicon valley, for example, or [00:09:00] even New York and firms running them sweets when they came out because, it's just ridiculous stuff and and so it can get very active and and the reason is because it moved corporate moves in cycles and and it's just, that's how it works.
And I remember during this period, lots of graduates of pace law school and other smaller law schools, even if they weren't at the top of their class were getting hired by the most prestigious law firms in New York. The top names, I maybe not Wachtell and things or Sullivan Cromwell, but they were getting hired at most of the rest of them.
So there was that much demand. And and when the economy is strong, there's always a lot of demand for corporate attorneys and unlike litigators when there's a higher demand for litigators for whatever reason corporate is just it gets very active. Now the problem with corporate is when it gets very active, the people get jobs in house.
People start getting better job offers. If there are smaller to mid-size firms and the blows everyone went away. So it's not uncommon, for someone to come out of say a local law school in their market. So let's take a market like Los Angeles, you graduate from Loyola, [00:10:00] which is a great law school, but it's certainly not UCLA or USC or Berkeley or Stanford or all these kind of other great law schools around here.
And maybe they get a job and 10 person law firm making, 75 or $85,000 a year and get a one or two years of experience. It's not uncommon for those people to walk in. All of a sudden you get a job paying 200,000 or more per year. So imagine if you're a litigation attorney and one of these.
You suddenly think I really want to switch practice areas because there's so much demand and that's what people try to do. If you which is a whole separate thing, then I'll discuss it a little bit, but it's extremely hard to switch practice areas added going by going to a new firm.
You can certainly do it here, existing. But the thing is when corporate is strong, it can definitely be taken to work in a large law firm, law firms, unlike litigation don't care as much about where you went to school. I think that corporate clients don't really look at your school assists much, whereas when they're managing litigation, they do.
It's very common. If you're pitching a, if a law [00:11:00] firm is pitching a client that's been sued or wants to Sue someone, they say these are all the people we have and they run this law review and went to this clerkship and this order of the coy at this school and where they don't really do that as much with corporate, it's just kinda simpson Thatcher, and this is, we securitize auto leases and people aren't as concerned about your background. So if you have experience doing a corporate, it can be a very good opportunity and you can move to better firms. Your law school pedigree becomes less important, almost unimportant, to be honest with you to some extent and may, there's certainly always going to be snobby firms out there, but for the most part you can get into the upper runs of the legal profession, even to some extent, regardless of how you did in law school.
There's that much opportunity. You can move from small markets to large markets when the economy is good. There is a lot of opportunity if you're a corporate attorney, but if you're not cut out for that type of work then you know, it certainly can be tough. I personally would not like it's [00:12:00] it's the kind of work that, people like accountants would be good at, or people that enjoy sitting down and doing puzzles for a long time.
It's clerical type work and a lot of cases, and it can also be but it's extremely difficult clerical work that requires an attorney to do it and requires a lot of detail and a certain way of thinking that can be tough. And there's some types of corporate law also that can give you a lot of employment security.
There's certain types of securitization that are so specialized. You might be among just a few of the attorneys in the whole world that had that expertise. And it could be securitizing airbases. Double Decker, air buses. Literally there's probably an attorney that does nothing but that and that sorta thing.
Securitizing leases of double Ducker airbases and and I, when I talked to attorneys in New York I counter ones that have extreme niche experience all the time. And they generally will get very specialized experience with large institutional clients and and are generally very much in demand when they get senior [00:13:00] whether or not they want to work in house or anything.
These niches can give you a lot of employment security. You can work many times in a niche, your entire career. And and those nieces are so specialized that there's just very few people that do them. So when the jobs open up, you have the ability to move. It can actually be very good if you are specialized and even general corporate attorneys are marketable as well, but that, that specialization can be helpful.
The big thing that I would say about being a corporate attorney, though, that is very interesting is that you can easily if you're a corporate attorney compared to litigation, build a huge book of business it's, you can start small and then you can go from there, but typically most companies will have a corporate attorney that they call and that corporate attorney will do things like file corporate papers for them or help them with contracts or help them with buying companies or selling companies or the, they may help them with I don't know all sorts of anything you can imagine.
The corporate [00:14:00] attorney would be called for. The companies, even small companies are talking to corporate attorneys on an ongoing basis and have a very close relationship with them. So if you get one corporate client, which is pretty easy to do, all the attorney needs to do as a corporate attorney is meet some people in business and give out their card and be there for some advice now, and then the person will start using them.
And then you can develop huge books of business. It's not uncommon for people that are working in smaller to mid-size markets, where they're not working on huge clients to, to develop a multi-day million dollar book of business three or four years out of law school. It's just you can definitely do it.
And companies are eager to have an attorney on their side and that can help them with small matters. If you work for a midsize firm, You can always get clients fairly easily or a small firm, and then larger clients may want, public companies and things as are larger firms may want that.
But for the most part it's very easy and compared to litigation, for example. And most of the people that I know that went [00:15:00] into corporate law and stuck with it and worked, and have books of business that are processed unless they, get off track doing something wrong or they go in house or they I don't know what a lot of things can happen, but th this contact and these relationships are very interesting.
I, I had not too long ago, I had, and I had dinner with a group of corporate attorneys I don't know, six or seven of them at a restaurant. And every single one of us. Came to the dinner from a client meeting. So they're out meeting clients and talking to them about their matters and billing for that time all the time.
It's a cool job and you can definitely develop large books of business and things compared to other things. And the thing is that when you're a corporate attorney, law firms love hiring corporate attorneys for that reason, because the other thing that also happens is those clients are constantly contacting the corporate attorneys about things like if I have a real estate lease.
So they'll contact our corporate attorney about that. And the corporate attorney will refer the matter to a real estate attorney, or if the corporate attorney gets sued, though, they'll contact their attorney [00:16:00] about the, the litigation matter, the tax matter, the IP matter or whatever. So the corporate attorney becomes the conduct.
And refers the work to all the other departments. So law firms love corporate attorneys. That's one of the things as you develop relationships with corporate attorneys, and they'll ask you for business advice, they'll ask you for, advice about who to contact for different problems and maybe outside.
So the corporate attorney almost is selling access to the Rolodex. I It's just, there's a lot of cool stuff that corporate attorneys do. And and in contrast, if you're like a litigator, for example it's much harder for litigators to develop clients because they may only represent a client once.
And and that's when the client is sued and then they go out and when they contact people when they're sued and yeah. But they don't always get jobs. So in one example would be, how do you get job of corporate attorney? I know a lot of firms you ask him, that's a good question.
First of all, you have to develop relationships with people and hope they get sued, but those people aren't going to be contacting me for ongoing advice or you to hope they want to Sue someone and you con you [00:17:00] do that. But in another way, they get clients as they one law firm that I used to work at would purchase these list of companies that are being sued.
And then they would call up the person being sued in the company and pitched them. And that's what all the new partners would do. And they would do that all day long every day and to try to get business. And it works. It's one way to get business, but it's not like you don't get necessarily the, it's something you have to build in to what you do.
And corporate. As a general rule, because of that reason, I have more business than litigators, but not always law firms when they hired litigators, as I said earlier, they tend to be very concerned about things like law review judicial clerkships or the coy the quality of the law school attended and other things that make them their resumes look good.
And at the risk of upsetting a lot people I'll just make a couple of quick points because I've been doing this for so long and I am a litigator and I've done actually corporate too, but nothing like the litigation I'm done when a very smart litigator goes up against a [00:18:00] litigator, that's not as smart.
The litigator that can argue better that can intimidate better, that can think through problems better that can interpret cases better, that can reach conclusions better, that can influence the judge better wins. And that's the thorough west that writes the best that rice Crispus.
And so these are all factors that can be measured. If you are in law review is typically assigned that you got really good grades and know how to write well or, depending on the school. But if you had a judicial clerkship, you were probably trained very well there.
If your order, the quite a few got the best grades. So you typically will understand things better than other people are quicker. Meaning you're more on your feet. If you went to a really good law school the sign, you probably worked hard when you were an undergraduate and then impressed professors and things to write you.
Good recommendations. And and if you worked at a better firm, you were able to get into a better firm. If you you did well on your L stats and that shows aptitude. So these sorts of things will determine in many cases the quality of the litigator. I'm not, I [00:19:00] don't like it and not saying that it's better than that I, but these are things that the best law firms are concerned with.
But if a law firms hiring corporate attorneys the experience is really the most important criteria that these things aren't as important. You can be very good at clerical related type work, which is corporate to some extent, not always. And I don't want to, but you can be very good at that type of work without having these types of smarts different people have different types of smarts and but it just doesn't matter as much for corporate attorneys.
Law firms love corporate attorneys with good qualifications, but it doesn't matter. I've seen law firms refuse to hire people that were on law review or didn't go. Top Los core have a clerkship and all the stupid stuff. And I'm not saying this stuff stupid. I'm just saying that they put up all these things for litigators that they don't care as much about for corporate attorneys.
So that's just something to think about. If you're litigating where you don't have these sorts of things you're always going to be to some extent if, unless you take longer to catch on than others, you're always to some extent going to be you have to take that as a sign that, that you're probably going to [00:20:00] be beaten down by better attorneys, a lot of the time and that have these sorts of skills.
And and I say that only, a quarter century of experience in the legal profession and watching this and being a litigator and having, hired litigators. Very well credentialed and smart lit litigated with good social skills and personal skills goes up against someone that's not as smart that person.
That's not as smart without those skills almost always looks at it's not all the time. They may have if they have a much better case, I can personal injury and stuff, a personal injury attorney can generally, the fact is someone injured? That's all you're litigating.
But if you have complicated fact patterns and commercial litigation and stuff then the then the litigator with a better background almost always wins. And I'll tell you some stories about that later today, but that's just how it works. So that's why that stuff's important.
That's why I like corporate because it's much easier to get a job. And and your qualifications once you learn this stuff as a corporate attorney and you learn to be thorough and so forth, you can do better. The other thing that's cool about [00:21:00] in-house that people love is most in-house positions are for corporate attorneys, not litigators.
That, and that's just a fact, most companies need in-house corporate attorneys but they certainly smaller companies and mid-sized companies get sued much less often. It's much easier to get a job as a corporate attorney in house. As a matter of fact, I've had situations where I recommended that an attorney that I know send their resume out to a hundred companies small to mid-sized companies and basically advertising themselves as a corporate attorney and they get, 10 interviews which is pretty fricking good considering the companies don't even have openings.
So there's just a lot of demand for corporate attorneys in house. If you know how to find a job, most corporate attorneys do not know how to find jobs in house. Do the wrong things, which is a whole separate thing, which I probably should do a webinar on how to find a job in house, which I will. But that's something to think about, but it's much more difficult to get a job in house as a litigator and a corporate attorney.
And the thing is most attorneys, after few years [00:22:00] of practice, they don't like documenting all their time. They don't like the stress of a law firm. They and and they, the quality of work required in the biggest law firms can be very stressful. The hours required can be stressful.
So a lot of attorneys will always entertain the idea of going in house. I don't think it's a good idea going in house most of the time, but if you want to then you're much better off doing so as a corporate attorney. And and most companies, when they want, if they have serious litigation they don't want to do a litigation in house because they were.
These kinds of people that have these really good qualifications representing them. And and they can't necessarily attract the best litigators to their company with the types of salaries they want to pay. And they can't be assured that the work will be of the best quality that there'll be people for around to debate ideas and the stress of having the litigation inside of the company while it's going on.
Meaning, who wants to have your in-house attorney popping in your office? If you're the CEO or I, telling you about discovery, motions and things [00:23:00] happening all the time, they don't want to be Bob, the in-house litigation. In most companies reviews legal bills SIS with small legal banners and so forth.
Whereas the corporation corporate attorney is typically involved in day to day operations of the company, negotiating contracts negotiating deals talking to outside counsel. It's just a different type of advisory role where the corporate attorney learns all about the company becomes an in-house advisor.
And whereas the in-house attorney doing litigation is much more rare. It's common in insurance and it's common in other matters, but that's pretty much how it works. And then the other thing about the makes corporate attorneys marketable is that there's just not a lot of them.
The you can learn to be a litigator when you're in law school. I've seen tons of litigators that have never been trained in a law firm. They just come out. Start practicing on their own. And they often have very good career with SOA practices or even start law firms.
So you don't necessarily need to be trained in a law firm to be a litigator you're trained in law school. I All the stuff they do in [00:24:00] law school moot court. And the learning and stuff is there's a lot of times related to that. But you don't necessarily learn how to be a corporate attorney.
And if you look at a map and you go, you do a search for almost any city in the United States, you're going to find people set up that have set up a shingle or law firms there or whatever. They're there. If I were to do a search for litigation attorney litigation law firms in Los Angeles on Google, the results I get, there'll be more of them or less of them.
The next day when I searched, I there's just so many litigators, as a general rule corporate attorney are very much rare. There's just not a lot of them. And and so that makes them much more marketable than what a Gator, the thing that people like as well about being a corporate attorney is being involved in strategic decisions or running companies.
So most companies really are relying on their corporate attorneys to help them make decisions related to running those companies. And and they call the corporate attorney and they asked for advice about the major issues going public stock options [00:25:00] compensation for employees mergers going bankrupt.
All these different things that, that affect the company and opening offices internationally cutting corners and doing something that maybe isn't a little weird. They asked the companies, corporate attorneys, all these things and and the best quick corporate attorneys really get a lot of satisfaction out of that because they are giving a lot of input to how companies run and how they work.
And that's very exciting to a lot of companies and and they liked that. And a lot of attorneys and and then and so they, th there's a real sense of accomplishment and they're talking to the CEO or the executives all the time. They're given a lot of power in big companies. They can make millions of dollars a year as a general counsel where they're monitoring everything.
And some of them make walk away with hundreds of millions of dollars when, there's stock and stuff. So it can be a very good job. And the contrast litigation attorneys really are Dealing with disputes and people in the company doing stuff wrong. They're seeing the bad side of the companies, they're seeing [00:26:00] the negatives.
And and they're dealing with a lot of toxic stuff. And and because of that they're almost not liked as much by the company because I'm the only time they hear from them. Litigation attorney is when litigation attorney delivering bad news. Sometimes a litigation attorney, assuming people too, but that's just kinda bad.
And then litigation attorneys often aren't as respected as the outside litigators. So that's just something to think about. Corporate attorneys also get a lot of business experience. They're being involved in all these corporate strategic decisions and and many times corporate attorneys become the CEO of companies.
It's much more common to make a corporate attorney, a CEO than it is. To make a litigate or the CEO and inside of a company mean corporate attorneys often do that because they're so close to the decision-makers. And and many of them also go in house after they've been working inside of a company.
So there's just a lot of going to business for themselves and start companies because they learn how these businesses work and they see issues with things that they could fix and how to make the companies better. It's, there's a lot of stuff that can [00:27:00] happen with a corporate attorney now obviously being a corporate attorney is not the perfect job and there are a lot of negatives to it, which I'm more than happy to share and that you should be aware of the of what I said made you excited about being a corporate attorney.
You also need to realize that there's a lot of. Big problems with it. The first thing is what happens is during economic booms and the economy goes in cycles. They used to say it was every eight years. So if the economy is doing, say, it's doing very well right now, and it's been doing well for several years.
The idea would be that at some point people over, they get overexuberant, they make dumb investments and the economy crashes, it happens all the time. Since I've been doing what I do there was a crash in 2000, then there was another crash in 2008, then there was I'm sorry, there was a crash in 2000 and 2001 and part of 2002, then there was a crash in 2007, probably through wow.
It might've been, it was going on a while to some extent it was going on all the way to 2011, for at [00:28:00] least from 2007 to nine, and then now the economy has been doing well for them. And there'll be another crash. And that's just how it works, it's, you have crashes that happen and they move in cycles and they happen for various reasons and who knows what's going to cause each success to crash, but they typically go and crashes.
And so what happens, and this is actually very important to understand from a business perspective, what happens is everybody gets very excited about investing and spending money on certain things, whether it's real estate or stocks, and then everyone throws money at it. And then the values of these things go up and they get higher and higher and they're worth more than they should be smart investors like Warren Buffett and people like that.
Sit on the sidelines, then everything crashes and goes down and and it never stays there forever, but then tons and tons of people lose money. And then the people that are very good at making money like Warren buffet stepped in and buy. Much cheaper than they are. And then when they go up in value, they're gazillionaires, that's just basically the cycle.
And so that, that cycle happens. [00:29:00] The problem is when the economy is very good what happens and that's pretty much how most people a lot of people that become very wealthy buying and selling companies and things real estate always have become a wretch. No one that's super rich would be interested in buying real estate right now, for example, or, when the economy is doing well and the values are going up, they wait until things crash.
But the idea is that when the economy is in bad shape, though corporate attorneys are lose their jobs in numbers that would astonish you it's beyond bad. And and that's typically what always happens. The reason for this is that when the economy is doing well and there's all this exuberance, every person coming on a law school wants to go into corporate law firms, want everyone coming out of Moscow to do corporate law firms bulk up and they hire laterally, corporate people everywhere they can.
And there's just a lot of demand. And and then when all that demand goes away, which it always does at one to 10 years usually. Then it's, not one to 10 years, but every eight to 10 years. And it's been the, [00:30:00] run's been a little bit longer this time, but it'll happen then you will lose your job if you're working for a company, or if you're working for a law firm, you will almost, everybody loses their job.
Some people keep their job, but it just gets really fricking bad. And and if you haven't been through it, you won't believe it. I know people that have said stuff like, oh, the California real estate model. This is something my father said is oh, the California real estate park will always go up.
And then basically lost my entire inheritance. It's just, what are you going to do? It's just when you believe it, so that's just what happens. People get very excited and they think that the party is going to go on forever and they don't really think they don't plan.
They don't want to like process the idea that things will ever change, but they do. And in 2001 you almost every law firm let go pretty much every fricking and late 2000 every person they possibly could in corporate and there weren't jobs for at least a couple of years.
Nothing. [00:31:00] Hardly anybody was getting hired, everybody's losing their job. And there were huge layoffs, same thing in 2007, 2008. New York was like fricking zombie land. It was just, people were, there was no jobs. There was, it didn't matter, you know what your qualifications were, no one was hiring.
And and then, and what happens when the economy gets a bad shape, is companies start doing deals, stop doing deals. They don't hire outside corporate attorneys to help them with anything. They cut back on their money. They companies are going out of business. So they don't need people.
They don't want to spend money. And then law firms won't hire corporate attorneys. They let them go. I've seen law firms rent outside offices to put their entire corporate class in saying, oh, we want all our corporate attorneys to work in one building now because they're just letting so many people go.
They don't want to affect. It's very hard to survive these and that, and it's hard to get a job in house and that happens, and I don't mean helping thing, but I mean that having witnessed that firsthand it gets so bad and I may have told this story before but it gets so bad. I once hired a recruiter.
I don't know if it was in [00:32:00] 2008 or maybe it was 2000 and he saw all these people just coming into our company in droves, looking for corporate jobs. And he was a very talented attorney from a top law firm had been, it was a recruiter, but he's at the top of his class at I dunno USC, like number one or two or something.
And and he started and within 60 days he must have lost, 40 or 50 pounds of weight. I was doing nothing, trying to send all these people out and work with them and get them interviews. And it was like the myth of Sisyphus. I He was just rolling this rock up the hill and nothing was happening.
And because he was blown away by the qualifications of people, when you see people at the best firms with a top logical and all them were getting laid off and losing their jobs and he thought it was something that he can control, you can't control it's that bad. And he ended up pretty much going crazy.
Because he thought he'd never failed at anything in his life. And he thought why can't I get these people to interviews? And I was like you can. It's, but he didn't understand it because he thought it was a question of something he was doing wrong and that's how [00:33:00] bad it gets.
It gets really bad. And and I just need you to understand that if you're going to go into corporate or if you're incorporated, now, you should always be working on a backup plan. I've seen. It doesn't matter. I Letham, walk-ins is a great firm. And as a matter of fact, they really do take care of their people.
And I have nothing bad to say about that firm. And I don't know why that name is in here, but when the economy goes sour, like if you were a corporate attorney and say you left Latham and Watkins voluntarily you would probably have a very hard time getting a job anywhere else, even if you went to a top 10 law school and and that sort of thing.
It's devastating. And and it's really bad. These attorneys when the economy goes bad, lots of things happen. They often move in with their parents, so imagine you're making, 200 plus thousand dollars a year and all of a sudden you need to move in with your parents.
You lose your house, you I've seen them turn in their cars to the bank or get them repossessed. I've seen them file for bankruptcy. I see divorce. I see substance abuse. I saw one woman become a crystal meth. I can go in and. I could talk about this forever, but it's really freaking scary, man.
And and that's what happens and [00:34:00] it happened. It doesn't matter what your qualifications are. You're almost better off if you're working in a smaller firm, it's not paying a lot, but it's really bad. And I just need to warn you of that because there's always in a good economy, a lot of overcapacity and they will let people go.
And the people didn't have the best qualifications by the way are often the first to go. So if you think you really struck, if you went to a fourth year law school and somehow you get into you're working in an AmLaw 50 firm and you think you've really made it you'll be one of the first people to go many times.
And I don't, unless you're like the ha I don't, that's just what I say. I'm not trying to be rude here. But that's what happens. And it's, of course, if you're the, if you have business, then you're safe. If you have and you're able to hold on your clients, if you have you have the highest hours, maybe say if you have people supporting, you may be safe, but it's scary.
You have to really be on top of stuff and I'm sorry to be so dramatic about this particular point. I really don't like being so dramatic. I but I just, I need to overemphasize that [00:35:00] because it's really bad and you need to be aware of that before you choose corporate, because you will, you need to save money because things can go back and you need to have a backup plan.
And if you think it can't happen to you, you're wrong. It's like dying. You don't think you're going to die or get hit by a bus or or your, someone from your family is going to get in an auto accident today. And you don't think those things are gonna happen. But they, these are the things that happen.
You have to pretend like they won't, but in this particular instance, they actually will happen and they do happen. And it's just how it happens. So you need to be prepared for that. The other thing about corporate is it can be, the hours can be very extreme. The work can be tedious and often leads to burnout.
And it can be beyond difficult sometimes. So when the economy is doing well many corporate attorneys will work 16 hour days, seven days a week. They'll do that for weeks or months on end. And then then the work that the corporate attorneys do is often much more time-sensitive than work that litigators do.
If you're a company and you have to Mer, you have to, go on the stock exchange at a certain day and they [00:36:00] need to have farms ready. That's just how it works. And and that stuff will be due at a certain time, so you need to have everything done by that. And and that's where it can be very tedious and boring.
And so it, it can lead to burnout. I It's very difficult. Imagine doing a crossword puzzle across your posts, not a good example. I imagine doing math problems for, 18 hours and not being able to make a mistake. And if you make a mistake, the entire math equation goes down.
People get very burned out and the work can be very difficult as a as a corporate attorney. And so that's something that you need to be aware of then and and something I really would recommend just making sure you understand as you go into it.
And because. I do get very burned out as corporate attorneys and leave. And the other thing too is when you're doing things that are low level, you're not interfacing with the clients, you're just doing the kind of tedious busy work. And so that makes it even more unpleasant for a lot of junior corporate attorneys, especially, or mid-levels and large law firms where you're just, you're not taking it out to roll and interfacing with clients.
The work is also very male dominated. I don't know why that is. [00:37:00] But it's traditionally been more male dominated there's always been more men than women. Certainly that's changing, but that's just kinda how it is. So I've given you a lot of information about corporate I would there's a lot of positives and negatives, but I think that, you go into it understanding those and being aware.
The final, only final point I would make is the same one I made in the beginning that if you want. Litigation or corporate, just keep in mind the idea between people that are better at math and science and people that are better at reading and writing, if you're better at reading and writing than you.
And if that comes naturally to you and you enjoy that more, you're probably more suited to do litigation and you're going to go farther and have more options and stuff than you would if you're corporate, just because it's natural for you and you enjoy it because anything you're throwing yourself into doing for a long period of time is going to result in you being better at it.
Okay. So the next practice area is litigation. So here's some positives of being a litigation attorney the, as a litigator you can generally stay employed in all economies. The [00:38:00] nice thing that the reason litigators can stay employed. It's the first thing is when the economy gets bad people start suing.
And because they're worried that they think that someone ripped them off when the economy was good and breach of contract is four years in California, for example. So people remember things and we'll Sue years later to try to recover the money that they lost. Also it doesn't cost anything in many cases to file a lawsuit because you can do things within a contingency fee and so forth.
So it's, it's imbalanced in that perspective. Big companies will always hire attorneys to help them not when they're sued and and employees will Sue, class actions or groups of aggrieved consumers will Sue. And so there's just, there's always lots of work and and it doesn't matter what the economy is.
Most cases take years to, to play themselves out. And long cases will continue through recessions. Typically we'll start settling them to save legal fees during recession. And, but, they just keep going. So a lot of times what happens is during recessions large law firms will rely more on the work coming in from [00:39:00] the litigators.
Then the work coming in from the corporate attorneys and the corporate attorneys will often be suddenly dependent on the revenue of the the litigators to get their salaries and so forth paid or their, their draws with partners. And and then the litigators will become resentful and leave and go to other firms where they think they can make more money and not have to support the corporate attorneys.
And this is another kind of thing that's been playing itself out for a long time. There are a lot more litigation jobs in corporate jobs. Like I said regardless of where you live you could probably if you had a If you could probably in most in you could apply almost every city in the country, you can find lots of litigators.
I, you could go to almost any suburban neighborhood. Middle-class suburban neighborhood and probably within as far as you could with a baseball bat in a baseball, definitely probably hit a litigator's house. If you wanted to, or throw a baseball in a, in in an apartment building, you're probably going to have multiple litigators, just, there's just so many of them there.
You can apply to find a job anywhere as litigated. You there's there's so many jobs out there. There's [00:40:00] people and there's an in this article that this is based on there's there's just a ton, there was a picture of some people some women that are having.
Business, suing people for biting dogs. I don't know, but it's just, there's just so many positions and and there's small firms, there's solo practitioners, there's large firms, there's just tons and tons of work. It's very easy to find jobs as a litigator. If you know what you're doing you can if I lived in it doesn't really matter.
Any city in the country, you can pretty much find a job as a litigate. If you have the skills and you know how to look for one if you're not finding one, then you're not looking correctly. Cause there's a lot of litigators and need help. There's also some really good jobs for litigators and the government there's government offices all over the country hire people that have law degrees and litigation skills.
Every city has litigators working for it pretty much in the country. Every city has judges that need litigators to help them prosecutors us attorneys people defending against lawsuit. That's just it's just lunacy. How many litigation jobs there are, there's in those [00:41:00] jobs exist in the economy, regardless of what it is and when the economy if the different types of administrations come in, that are taxing people more than there's more litigation jobs and it's for the government, it's just, you can get jobs with the government.
You can get jobs in big cities and small cities. I lived in a city once when I was clerking in bay city. And there were tons of litigation jobs there. I don't even know how many, but probably if this is a small city in a, basically a beet farming town that used to be a place.
Recycled do lumber in the 18 hundreds. And it, it also had the the distinction of having more bars per capita than any city in the United States. But anyway, the point is that there's so many fricking opportunities for litigators that I could have gotten probably 20 jobs in that city as a litigator.
And I don't think they're more, I don't know how many people were there, but it's not, it's not a major city. It's a very kind of, small city and it's like that in cities all over the country. So if you're a litigator it doesn't matter where you went to law school. You can get a job with a small firm.
You [00:42:00] can get a job with the government and you just needed to how to look. And so a lot of times, you should work on your research skills, but you can find every city. If there an example would be, if there are and I don't know how many cities are. And I'm just going to use an example of a big state, which is Ohio.
I'm guessing there's thousands of cities in Ohio. And but if not that, if there's a thousand cities, a new search litigation attorneys or whatever in each of those cities, you're going to come up with a lot of places you can work and litigators always have work if you just apply to them.
And there's no jobs many times they'll just bring you in because they need help. If you're a litigator you can always get jobs. If you're if you want to set up your own law firm you can always set up your job as a litigator. You can do. So as a solo practitioner, everybody wants to Sue somebody.
Lots of people are getting sued. I'm not saying everybody wants to somebody, but everyone has different legal issues. They're solo practitioners all over. I once made us meet a solo [00:43:00] practitioner in Los Angeles. Had managed to convince a bunch of very wealthy people to give him $10,000 retainers for to, to guarantee that if they got sued, he would give them I don't know, $50,000 a year in free legal services in a year.
And he got over a hundred people, which is a million dollars to give him that work. And typically was only working at three or four lawsuits at a time and had so much time on his hands. He decided to become a financial advisor in addition to that. So the minister all sorts of games and he was actually from a big firm.
I think he was from like Kaye Scholer or something. And he figured this out. So you can do very well as a litigator as a soul. And he was a solo practitioner. You can do, you can be a solo practitioner. You can you can do work for people from all sorts of different backgrounds. You can establish a, from fairly easily.
I, once when I was considering leaving a large law firm, I took out an advertisement in the back then the yellow pages just advertising myself as a litigator and within a month, because I was just [00:44:00] wanting to see what kind of response I had enough work to keep me busy, 40 hours a week, Billy, not at a couple hundred dollars an hour, which was just lunacy.
It's that easy. So you don't have to really if you don't think it's easy, you're just not researching how to do it and you need to do it. If you try to go out and advertise yourself as a corporate attorney, it's going to be very difficult to get jobs because the many large companies are going to our companies are going to be the ones that need that want corporate attorneys.
And they're going to want someone either working for a law firm and their resources that they can, that they feel comfortable. Or someone that's in house. But I've seen countless attorneys set up their own practices that are litigators. I see attorneys all the time inside of law firms lose their job as litigators and then set up their own practices.
And the ones that are, have a little bit of are hungry always build up, make more money always than they were making when they were in a law firm, even as a partner making three or $400,000 a year or more, they almost always make more money if they're hungry and [00:45:00] aggressive enough to go out and most litigators can survive.
The other thing about being a litigator that a lot of people don't consider, and I think this is. If some people are motivated by different things. Some people are motivated by money. Some people are motivated by doing a good job. Some people are motivated by working with groups of people.
Some people are motivated by being happy and content, having hours that match whatever. But if you want to make money, wow. Litigators, you can make a lot of money. You can make hundreds of millions of dollars when you take cases on a contingency fee and and a lot of them do, if you're smart, you can do it.
I don't know anything about that, but you, there's people that do this and make more money than you can even believe. And and that doesn't matter where they went to law school. It just matters being able to get the cases and and do them efficiently. And I don't know, it's not something I understand, but I wrote a book about this by the way, when I was in law school.
And then I co-taught a class. When I was in law school towards class towards two with a [00:46:00] professor, there is no longer alive, but and I didn't want to say co caught. I didn't plan the syllabus or anything. He just had me I don't know, maybe 20 classes and I got to present it like three or four of them or something like that.
So I didn't really tote co teach it, but I talked about my book and so point is you can make a lot of money and it can be a lot of fun and and people can do. So some of the negatives of being a litigation attorney are and I said about talking about this early, but if you do want to work in a large law firm then your credentials will often hold you back for most of your career.
Unless you are at the very top of your class from a T over to your law school, it's very difficult to work in large procedures firms. Frankly, a lot of litigators wouldn't want to work in large proceeded firms, but if you do then it could hold you back. And and that's something and as I said earlier, corporate attorney you can typically know, it's not as important people don't really advertise clerkships and law schools and stuff as much or are concerned about with corporate attorneys.
They certainly want corporate attorneys that are motivated. Yeah, it's just not as important. So [00:47:00] that's something to think about and it's not uncommon by the way to see corporate attorneys that have been at like 10 firms and keep getting hired by big firms and even 10 firms in 12 years.
And that sort of thing, I don't know. But if you do that as a litigator you're often not going to be hired. I think a lot of the reason for that is if you're a corporate attorney, you can just be plugged in to certain work that's been done. And if you're a litigator it's a little bit more intimate and you have to get up to speed on cases and things.
And then and then if you leave, then they don't like you. But w corporate attorneys you typically see starting at a firm and moving to more prestigious or equally prestigious position so they'll start off at a small firm and then, move to a better firm and a better firm or a small market and better market and bigger market.
But unfortunately with litigators what you tend to see is they start off in a like a very prestigious firm and then moved to a less prestigious and less prestigious. I don't know why that is. But I think it's just it's much more there's, there tends to be downward movement with litigators and upward movement with corporate attorneys.
And that's [00:48:00] a pattern that I'm just telling you that as someone that's looked at I've looked at in terms of BCG over, I don't know, six or 700,000 resumes over the past several years. That should give you an idea of the, how many times I've seen that pattern. And and the pattern is not always there, but it's my impressions.
It's much more difficult by the way, to get a job as a, to get businesses a litigated. As I said earlier, corporate attorneys are interacting with clients on a daily basis. And the clients are calling them with short questions that they can bill an hour here or there and an hour there.
And and unfortunately litigation attorneys don't always have that type of relationship with our clients. The corporate attorneys are, involved in all sorts of things and they can bring in different types of work. So if I'm your friend and I'm calling you. So if I have a corporate attorney, I may call them and say this company is willing to loan me this much money should that our comp business, this much money as a line of credit.
Where do you think about that? And then the corporate attorney would say that's okay, but I know this contact that could do a much better job. Send me the agreement. And then they send the agreement. Their corporate attorney will mark it up and [00:49:00] say, I don't like this. Let me negotiate it. And and so they're talking to their attorneys about things like that all day, every day.
And in contrast, the litigation attorney's only being brought in when there's litigation. And typically the corporate attorney will have a relationship with the business. So the business may call and say, oh, guess what? We just got this lawsuit from this company saying that we're violating their patent.
I don't even know what to make of this. I, what should I do? And and then the corporate attorney will say that's great. I'm going to put you in touch with in our IP litigation department and you can talk to them. So that's how a lot of litigation cases arrive inside of law firms through corporate attorneys or other types of things, tax real estate, everything.
But the problem is litigators. You have to be able to get business in a different way and and it can be much more difficult. And obviously when you're inside a law firm is if anybody that's been following my material you really have to be get business to have employment security litigators.
That's much more difficult to go in house. [00:50:00] Most of the in-house positions are for corporate attorneys IP attorneys that do patent real estate, things like that. There's just not as many in house positions for litigators. There are jobs in insurance companies, there are jobs for litigators in house, but the problem is there's just not as many opportunities the number of opportunities of comparable in terms of pay and things for litigators versus corporate attorneys is probably, I don't know what the number is.
I'm not going to quote, but it's a fraction there's much fewer. And and so the companies that are sued, if you're sued for a serious problem, just to give you some idea how things work. So if you're. If you're general mode if you're like general motors in Detroit and you're sued on a very serious matter, you might think why they'll have, we'll just have our local law firm handle it.
And there's a lot of very good law firms in Detroit. Excellent mines, but that's not what happens. Not only will general motors not handle the case internally because they wouldn't want their litigators involved, but what they'll do is they will they'll refer it and they won't even probably refer the serious case [00:51:00] to attorneys in Detroit.
They'll send it to someone in New York or Los Angeles or something like a big firm there. So most companies just don't want to do the kind of work in-house and and so it's just how it works. And they'll always want to get people that are experts and can help them because they feel like they're going to get better results.
And it's probably right. And the other thing is the reason it's so difficult to get jobs in house is most attorneys are litigated. There's there everywhere. There's some, like I said, you go on to almost any middle-class street. You can, I'm sure you can swing a baseball and a suburban neighborhood and hit hit a litigator's house.
They're everywhere. Every street I've ever lived on, there's been litigators. I'm thinking, I'm just thinking back to the past several years. I when I moved to LA there was a litigator they're everywhere. There's there just so many of them. Law firms go to extraordinary lengths to hire and recruit, the best corporate and patent attorneys and transactions because, and I've even seen them offer him signing bonuses.
But and I've seen litigators of course, coming out of clerkships and [00:52:00] so forth, good signing bonuses, but I've never seen law firms get, give, incredible incentives and so forth. Just most litigators the way they do other practice areas, so that are transactional in nature.
The other thing is it's very difficult to move to one state to another. So litigator. If you're at the top of your class from a great law school, like Harvard and practicing a major firm it's difficult to move unless you pass the bar exam or it's easy to wave in to the bar there.
It's just, as I said earlier, because those litigators need to sign pleadings and corporate attorneys by contrast to move out of state, they can do all this stuff. And I've had instances where, I had one girl that I remember was lost her job at a firm. And I don't know, a corporate attorney and somewhere in California and she got, and she was like, I want to look at all.
I'm going to look at 15 different states. And I was like, that's no problem. And, she got interviews in all 15 states and she wasn't even working. It's definitely much more difficult to get a job if you've lost a job, but she was a corporate attorney and she didn't even have a great law school.
I think she went to some good law school, but it's not like the top. I think she went to Hastings UFC Hastings, [00:53:00] which, is ranked sometimes in the top 25, sometimes on the top 50. I don't know. But so it's just litigation attorneys as much harder. You would never see someone get that many interviews and how many different states and and so out of state firms are often very aware also because they just can't sign pleadings.
Again, there's no reason for most law firms to hire litigators because they're just everywhere. There's the risk of hiring someone from out of state that may not stay. Or, it doesn't have local contacts, local judges or courts and stuff is generally just not worth it.
As I'm wrapping this up and I know this is a longer ish presentation, but there's a lot to it. There's when you choose to practice here, you want to the you have to think about what the risks are and you have to think about how far you can go.
And and you have to think about what your long-term goals are. And I've certainly spent decades thinking about this. And and I don't know what I think is a better choice, but my opinion after, I could tell you 50 reasons you should choose corporate 50 reasons you should choose litigation.
But my biggest opinion is you should do whichever one comes naturally to you. [00:54:00] I know that when I when I was in law school or when I've been in college or when I was young, and even when I can remember being in a first or second grade, or maybe it was third grade, it doesn't matter.
And having to write reports and how excited I would get about doing that. And but then in contrast, if it was doing science, homework and stuff, how little interest I would have in that or math homework. So anything that was like that I never really liked. And same thing when I got into law school, same thing when I was in college anything that was, I would have to push myself to do other stuff.
So some people don't if you give them corporate work or they have to get together and they, and and do put, build spreadsheets and things like that, or it's very exciting to them. And and Throw themselves into that and they become very motivated. So what is it that appeals to you and whatever it is, you're going to do the best 10.
So if you listen to the things I'm saying about what your long-term career objectives are, then you'll do better. And I, these are the things that I'll ask myself, these questions [00:55:00] too, because it's an important decision and what happens to you? Okay. So I'm gonna take a quick break and get some more coffee.
And then when I come back, I'll take as many questions as you guys have about all this and or any other questions you have about your career and and t