03.02 - Choosing Between Corporate and Litigation Practice Areas Which Is the Better Choice for Your Legal Career
[00:00:00] So today's presentation. This is unlike the ones we've done in the past few weeks, it's not a very long one. And it's an important one from the standpoint. It's not just about corporate and litigation. It's actually about transactional versus litigation, which are the two major, kind of practice groups.
It's a transactional practice area, but a lot of times people will think of other transactional practice areas, which are things like real estate and tax and so forth versus litigation. And the most popular practice here in the country of course, is litigation by far, most attorneys are litigators and at various points in time now being one of them, a lot of people are interested in switching between litigation and corporate.
A lot of litigators become interested in switching to corporate when the market gets very when it gets very active and it's in demand. And and then when corporate slows down, which it always does people then become interested in doing something else. So the format of this meeting today is I will give this presentation, which thankfully isn't that long.
And [00:01:00] then after the presentation I'll, we'll take a quick break just for a few minutes and then open it up to questions. People like to ask questions anonymously. All the questions are anonymous, but I will answer whatever questions people do have during the course of the meeting.
Just as many questions as you have, you can start putting them into the the chat and when I'm done with the presentational answer any questions So I'm going to be talking about the proposal prompt cons of being a corporate attorney and a litigator. And this is really an important career choice.
It's one of the most important career choices that attorneys make. And that's what I'm going to be talking about today, and it can really have a major impact on your future and your future as an attorney. Be much different if you become a corporate attorney versus a litigator and vice versa.
And so you really have to know what it is you're choosing. And I do want to make one a brief. Observation before I start fundamentally when you talk about corporate versus litigation people that go into corporate tend to be people that are have always been good at math and science for credit [00:02:00] gravitate towards that.
And people that, that go into litigation tend to be people that have always enjoyed writing history and so forth. So that's the overall way to think about it. And if you're better at one or the other, and you have a natural inclination towards one another, meaning you've always enjoyed history and English and things like that more than you're probably more suited to be a litigator, not always, but probably, and if you're more interested in things like.
Math or science or finance and things along those lines. That's a different style of thinking and and you're probably more suited to corporate, but those are just that's the 30,000 foot view. And that now start talking to you guys a little bit about the differences and corporate right now, of course, is a very active practice area.
A lot of people are interested in it. When the economy is strong, a corporate is just an awesome practice area. Right now even if you're a corporate attorney at a very small firm, because it's a very active market if you have decent experience your law school and other stuff is not as important as your experience.
And and it's a very good [00:03:00] practice here at corporate attorneys. I know they're marketable. They can pretty much, in this market do very well, but you can move. But to other parts of the country very easily. So you can move from, New York or Chicago to Palo Alto, or you can move from Palo Alto to New York.
You can move to Texas, you can move all over. And when the market's good, you're typically in demand of the largest cities and it's always been that way. I had the fortune to get involved in this business. In the corporate market was very strong, which is, and I don't know, over 20 years ago.
And because that market was so strong it really powered my start in this business particularly in the bay area. And it can be a really good practice here when the markets could. The difference between corporate and mitigation is a lot of the work that corporate attorneys do is the same.
And regardless of what state you're in or even country. If you're doing us capital markets work, you could work in London, you could work in Hong Kong, you can work in New York, Miami, whatever. And the work is very similar, whereas the litigator needs to understand local rules and state law and it's a different [00:04:00] type of skill, and there's actually a lot more litigators out there.
So it makes it much more difficult for litigators to get positions. This is just an example of the early two thousands. And in, in 19 99, 19 98, even it wasn't uncommon for people to be a corporate attorney, maybe working at a three-person law firm in New Jersey to get moved across the country, to work at a major firm in Silicon valley.
I had one instance where I remember, and this is a true story. I was working with a corporate attorney in a three person law firm that had three or four person, years of experience. And he got an interview at one of the top firms in the country in Silicon valley. And when he came out for the interview, they also flew out his wife and they put them in a suite and everything, and this is not.
The kind of stuff you would normally see you would look at firms very good firms Sherman and Sterling and things that were, would typically be very, have very high bars to get into. And they would be hiring people out of schools like, pace law school and stuff, which they normally wouldn't in New York.
That weren't first in their class and paces a great law school. And there are [00:05:00] a lot of people that get jobs in New York, if you do very well there, but certainly it's very rare to get a job at a firm like Sherman and Sterling, which is a great firm, but there was that much demand in the market.
And these firms were hiring very aggressively back then and when it was very strong and it wasn't uncommon for this kind of stuff to happen. And and this is pace law school exactly. There were a lot of graduates of pace and so forth. They were getting very good jobs and and again what happens during those times is a lot of attorneys, then we'll start trying to switch practice areas.
So they'll see people that are getting all these offers. They'll see people that are doing very well and and they will and and getting, going in house and getting stock options and everything. And it can be a very good ticket ticketing ahead. If you're a corporate attorney in the right place at the right time, one thing to understand about corporate compared to litigation corporate is of course, very strong in New York and the bay area.
But in other areas of the country it's definitely not as active of a practice area. So there's much fewer corporate attorneys and many areas of the country than there are in certain areas. So if you look at like a typical[00:06:00] firm in Washington, DC, we'll have.
Very few corporate people and a lot of people with litigation background same thing in most LA firms. And but if you look at firms in New York, it's mainly corporate and then a few litigators. And it depends. But the main thing is that there's far fewer corporate attorneys and good ones with specialized experience than there are litigators.
You learn how to be a litigator in law school when you're doing appellate briefs and on the court and stuff you don't necessarily learn about how to be a corporate attorney in order to be a corporate attorney, you need to get a job in a firm that does it, and then you need to be trained. And there's a lot of supply and demand.
Where there's much fewer corporate attorneys than there are litigators. And so it makes them much easier to get a position typically, even if you don't have the best qualifications and one of the smartest things you can do, if you don't have the best qualifications is often to do your best to get on the ground floor of a corporate firm.
And then once you do that try to move to. The idea of the corporate that's very interesting about it is there's some very specialized nations in it. If you look at the BCG website, you can see all these different types [00:07:00] of corporate, if you do a job search there's, different types of securitization, there's M and a there's there's all sorts of finance-related practices and they're part of corporate.
You could also call them finance and and the more specialized you get the more you have skills that are very rare. So when I was a summer associate, for example, I was in a like a large New York firm. And and there were people in that firm that were actually responsible for only, one aspect of certain types of corporate contracts, like not even the whole contract, just one aspect of them.
And it's very common to see things like that. So attorneys become very specialized in corporate firms many times. And that's something that can make you very marketable. The larger markets tend to have the most specialized people.
If you look at corporate attorneys in large New York firms, They're typically in a niche part of corporate. So they may be doing one aspect of M and a, like an example they may do healthcare M and a, but not other types of M and a, whereas if you look at people in smaller markets, if you were to go to I don't know, [00:08:00] Memphis or something, and look at attorneys in a large firm there, they might do securities M and a general corporate and things like that.
So in the larger firms, there's typically a lot of specialization and the more specialized people are the more marketable they are. And assuming that the work's out there, because there's just not a lot of people that can do this kind of work. And assuming that you have that kind of expertise.
The other thing that's really cool about being a corporate attorney when you have that expertise is a lot of times because clients have to pay a lot of money for that. There's always, usually a market to go in house and do that sort of thing with your expertise. That, is rare.
So if you have expertise in something very rare law firms are always very interested in that type of expert. Law firms are extreme, but in companies may also be interesting to, to. When you're a corporate attorney, it's also much easier to build a book of business. The thing about corporate that's so cool is that a lot of corporate attorneys will be working directly with clients all day, especially when you're in smaller more general practice firms.
The clients [00:09:00] will call about, filing documents, they'll call about it, various things that happened. And they'll also call when they get sued and things, their corporate attorney. And so they tend to talk to their corporate attorneys on a daily basis. Whereas a lot of times, if you're a litigator you're only getting called when someone's getting sued or wants to Sue someone.
And they're often privy to other issues like real estate leases litigation stuff, tax IP issues. And then they will refer that to other departments and get credit for bringing in the client. They'll also go out and meet clients a lot as part of their work and that kind of forced contact with the corporate attorney makes corporate attorneys very much in demand.
So it's very common for me to get calls. Law firms. And just say, we just want you to get us a corporate attorney with a certain amount of business and it doesn't have to be a lot. And they're very excited about that because they know that it's not just the business, that the a corporate attorney, but it's the other departments that will get fed.
The law firms love corporate attorneys and they're very marketable. If they have business, I know people that are corporate attorneys that if you're a corporate attorney of a business, you can often very [00:10:00] easily move firms. And it's not very difficult.
And litigators is just a different thing because litigators are dependent on, having people to Sue or getting sued and so forth. And corporate attorneys, the book, the work that you have typically, the longer you service a client and the more referrals you get the more work that the client, the corporate attorney has given you and the work can repeat on and on, which is very helpful meaning that if a client needs to file certain paperwork every year, they'll do it the next year and so forth, and then they'll continue doing it.
The other thing that you should understand about corporate attorneys is that credentials really aren't as important for corporate attorneys as they are for litigators They're more concerned with kind of the quality of your writing, how smart you are, how many times, whether or not they believe you have trial experience could stick up to people and your smarts and how things look on paper, because there's just so many litigators out there.
So they become very concerned with things like law review, what kind of judge you clerk for, if you clerk if your order, the coy your school [00:11:00] and other things like that, which a lot of law firms are the only way they really have to distinguish your litigators history, that sort of thing.
And then firms are hiring corporate attorneys that the most important thing is typically their deal sheet. A corporate attorney will put together a deal sheet and sale the type of work that they've done in many times, even the best firms are more interested in that than they are the quality of the person's education.
It's certainly important. And law firms do use education as screening criteria, but at the same time it's much more important to have. Really good experience as a corporate attorney. Then there's a litigator and and lots of law firms won't hire a litigator if they weren't at law review or if they were an order of the COI and all that sort of thing.
And you can probably see that in the qualifications of a lot of w litigator, a lot of litigators and a lot of litigation, what takes, I there's. Litigation boutiques out there that are, people that all, almost all of them did appellate clerkships or worked in the Supreme court and so forth.
It's definitely a different types of screening that happens for litigators versus corporate attorneys. The other thing about being a corporate attorney that's really cool is it can [00:12:00] be. It's much easier to go in house. So a lot of times many attorneys are not interested in building a book of business.
They're not interested in the long hours and the stress. And so they decide they want to go in house. And if that's one of your long-term goals, it's always much easier to do that. If you're a a corporate attorney than if you're a litigator, it's very difficult to do that.
It's not impossible. It's much more difficult to do as a lawyer litigators go in house all the time, which we'll talk about in a few minutes, but it's much easier to do it as a corporate attorney because law firm companies need people inside of them that can help with corporate filings that can help with, buying businesses or selling businesses and all those sorts of things that companies do.
And so they, they always want attorneys on staff to help them with that and negotiating contracts all that sort of thing. And a lot of attorneys after a few years especially with large firms wanting to go in-house after a few years. And if that's what your long-term career goal is, and being a corporate attorney is often much better.
And typically, If a big company like apple or something is sued. There certainly, [00:13:00] but they want to Sue someone. They're certainly not going to have their in-house counsel do it. In most cases they hire a big law firm to help them. And it almost never happens in house.
The in-house attorney and litigation often their job is to review legal bills, to find outside counsel, to track down questions that the company should ask answer during the litigation to answer questions and all that sort of thing. And then to maybe proofread pleadings and things that are coming in and make sure that the company's interests are represented.
Whereas with corporate attorneys, they may actually be doing a lot of the work in the law firm that the law firm would normally be fine. And then I mentioned this earlier, but there's the corporate attorneys definitely are not a diamond. Dustin. The skill of being a corporate attorney is much more specialized.
You can go to any town in America, you can go to a middle-class suburb, you can go to any street and there'll be litigation attorneys. They're pretty much all over anywhere you turn there's litigation attorneys.
And so what that means is that, if you're a corporate attorney, there's just very few of you there could be an opening in a market like Reno, Nevada, and there might only, I don't know, [00:14:00] but, I've had instances where I've had corporate openings and Reno, Nevada, and there was hardly anyone to even recruit there.
There's for a specialist type of corporate person. So if you are a corporate attorney, that's a very marketable skill. If it's not marketable in your market, it's marketable elsewhere. I had a woman that I was working with a couple of years ago. They should just give you some insight into how marketable corporate attorneys are.
She was fired or quit her job at a pretty good size firm in San Francisco. It might've been, I don't know, it wasn't, it was an animal. W one 50 from, I dunno how big it was, but it wasn't a huge firm. But she had only worked for five months as a corporate attorney, but when she lost her job.
And so the market in San Francisco was a much more difficult market to get a job in because the law firms, there are certainly confined people that haven't been unemployed for six months and only have five months worth of experience. And so she wasn't making a lot of progress at, besides from she wanted to work at, but when she started looking at a state meaning the Midwest and, other Arizona, other markets like that she got tons of [00:15:00] interviews.
I think she got, she got at least 15 or 20 interviews and at that point was overwhelmed and, wasn't even showing up to some interviews and and that sort of thing. So that the point is that you can have all sorts of black marks on your record and issues. And and even if you're not employable in most major markets, as a corporate attorney, you can often get jobs and and smaller markets very easily whereas someone would just, that same litigation experience wouldn't be able to do that.
Corporate is a very good market for. And the other thing is, when you're a corporate attorney you're often involved in and people enjoy this in strategic decisions, running companies. So lots of companies rely on their corporate attorneys to help them make all sorts of decisions related to running them.
So they'll seek their advice and counsel about acquisitions selling businesses and all sorts of things as the corporate attorneys are, negotiating with people they're they're helping to build the company. There's a lot of sense of accomplishment that many field when they get involved in those sorts of things.
And and it makes them feel like they're on the business side of things and they become [00:16:00] very trusted. You can find corporate attorneys in the CEO role and the CEO role at the largest companies in the country. And in contrast, I litigators are often defending companies when they've done something wrong or they're suing and then losing half the time.
And if you're a corporate attorney, you actually get business experience, you can be involved in the branding of the companies, and it can be exciting. Corporate attorneys are often asked to go work inside of companies when they're working for companies. They can get all sorts of really cool jobs.
I've had instances where. I can think of one, a couple of years ago where I was working with someone from I dunno from SCAD on or something and had gotten him a job in the market. He wanted to work in, I mean that a few jobs, but then a few days before he was going to leave after giving notice.
He got some call or something from the assistant of some multi-billionaire in Palm beach or something. And they flew him out there and gave him some job, managing some things for some roles for that billionaire, which I thought was for him was exciting. Cause I think that he was, had been [00:17:00] looking in Syracuse, New York or something which is where his family was from.
And then all of a sudden he was in another market. Litigators don't necessarily get that kind of opportunity. So companies we'll often use a corporate trencher CEO or another role. And corporate attorneys learn about business. They understand how things work, they can provide good advice.
And a lot of times corporate attorneys, you often find them in house setting up businesses and all sorts of exciting things or, they often go and set up their own business after going in house, or sometimes they do it after working in law firms and, they're taught and they see opportunities and things that can be very exciting.
I heard of an instance once where. A corporate attorney was representing a chain of exterminators extermination businesses, to kill bugs or something. And and saw what an incredible business it was and just realized that it was just pretty much all profit. I guess you have to buy the chemicals and stuff, but he couldn't believe how much money this business was making.
So he decided to set one of them up themselves. I don't know, you can do all sorts of things when you're a corporate attorney, and it's very exciting that you might not be able to do in [00:18:00] other types of businesses. The other thing about being a corporate attorney though, is there are a lot of negatives and this is something you really need to be aware of if you choose corporate and Sitting in my role, I find these negatives extremely scary.
And so you should be aware of those. The first one is that when the economy's in bad shape, corporate attorneys lose their job like very rapidly. There's firms in Silicon valley where they'll actually that Volvo, they let go, their entire first year, entire second year class and so forth.
And it's not because the firms have done anything wrong just because they don't have to work. And corporate attorneys lose their jobs all over. For 2011 and all of these different economic things that happen when the economy slows Corporate attorneys lose their jobs very fast and it hits very fast.
The deal flow just stops, man. And it's scary. There's a lot of firms very big firms the top names, vault 10 firms that, have, let people go very quickly, and you never thought would lay people off. They did. I've seen people.
That have been done. Things like work. I'm not saying like in walk-ins, I don't know, like people off, but I've seen [00:19:00] people that have worked late from walk-ins in the past, and you've gone to top 10 law schools, and then I may have done something else and working at another firm and then losing their job when the company and having a very difficult time finding a new job when it goes bad.
It can be very bad and it can be very devastating for the self-esteem of these attorneys. Even the best attorneys often lose their jobs. And in the junior ones often move home with their parents. Some of them filed for bankruptcy. I've seen people get cars, repossessed and things, and so it's not good.
And the other thing is that I've also noticed is that many times when you become very specialized in corporate sometimes the niche that you're in can just disappear. So I've seen people that spent their entire career doing one type of niche and they're, 10, 15 years out and all of a sudden, like some regulation changes or something and that niche is no longer around. And so the firm doesn't need them. And then it's very difficult for them to find a job. And so that can be tough if you're very specialized, I've seen it happen to people with a lot of experience and making much more than $250,000 [00:20:00] a year because work can just disappear overnight.
And then those people are out now, the thinking process that you learn as a corporate attorney and so forth makes them employable eventually even if they don't have that experience with the niche, but it's extreme. It's difficult. And it's not a good thing.
And the other thing this is the, about the hours of a corporate attorney can be very long and the work is quite tedious. Litigation can be tedious as well, but corporate is a different type of thinking and it's very precise a lot of it.
And it's not uncommon as I'm sure there's plenty of people on this webinar can attest to to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week for months on end with no end in sight. Often very time sensitive companies that are completing sales.
They're doing things that are going to affect stock prices. They're all sorts of things are happening. So they need to work, nonstop until things are done. And a lot of people find the work not that interesting. Some people do but are most people that do it do, but a lot of people don't and you can become very burned out as a corporate attorney.
And that's another thing in terms of diversity it tends to be a [00:21:00] male dominated practice area. There's a lot more men and women do very well in corporate and certainly encourage women to go into it and there's definitely need for them, but there's definitely not as much diversity in corporate.
There's a lot of other practice areas and a real need for it. And but that's just something to be aware of. Okay now litigation the positives of litigator being a litigator as litigators can almost always stay employed. There's a lot of demand for litigators in all economies and actually what happens a lot of times.
That's when the economy starts having problems people start suing people more and that can actually have a real effect on what happens to litigators. So litigators will often be able to stay employed and that will actually increased during recessions.
And because some of them Sue because they're trying to recover money or, or whatever that things had happened during a much better economy. And then those cases will often take years to play out and they continue through recessions and all sorts of things and they can be emotional.
So [00:22:00] people put their emotions in the cases and it's just not the greatest thing. The other thing is that when the economy is bad, people filed lawsuits, so it's just, you have to understand that. And so that, can create a lot of litigation works. It's funny how law firms work, but, when the economy is doing very well and the corporate trainers are bringing in all their money , they're always saying, oh, we're paying our litigators too much.
So there's a lot of stress there for litigation and having as much work. And then when the economy crashes the litigators and the one I remember the best of course has been IP litigation got very busy several years ago and it's not anymore, but it was extremely busy before.
And so the IP departments were really supporting IP litigation and that kind of litigation we're supporting the corporate departments and a lot of firms. And then the IP litigators because they were generating so much profit, I became resentful of giving money to corporate attorneys that were bringing as much money and they started moving firms and so forth.
That can end a lot of drama, but that's the thing to understand. That's cool is that litigation and corporate, like in a law firm, they balance each other out. One will do well one time of year, that will do well. And so that's one of the reasons that's can be good to be at [00:23:00] general practice firms.
And the flaw firms become too heavy one way or another. They can experience problems. I Law firms have actually gone out of business. One of the oldest firms in California Heller, and I think it was started in the 18 hundreds. Actually went out of business with three of its cases, set up in the rapid fashion.
And they couldn't pay their bills. So the other thing is there's a lot more litigation jobs and corporate jobs. There's litigation jobs, honestly, all over. Regardless of where you live there's courthouses and litigation work the quality and pay of litigation jobs often varies, but there's really litigation jobs just about everywhere.
There in small towns or in large towns. Every market, every zip code, there's probably a litigator in it somewhere. You could apply to work at I don't know what this is funny. There was a picture there, but there's dog bite firms. There's all sorts of different firms.
So that's one of the nice things about being a litigators, there's always people that are being sued. There's always people that want to Sue and there's just a lot of work out there in general. The other thing about being a litigator that I think is a positive thing because of the salaries and the hours and so forth is there's some very good [00:24:00] jobs in the government.
There's a lot of appointments to billing the government, their state government, there's federal government, there's municipal government. And there's those sort of opportunities everywhere. You can be a judge, you can be a prosecutor. I've seen people become a judge after only a couple of years of practice, which is fairly funny, but it happens in smaller markets.
There's all sorts of jobs you can do as a litigator. And and those jobs, aren't the kind of things that corporate attorneys do. So if you're not interested in, I'm taking over the world and making tons of money the government jobs can be very good. A lot of politicians of course are former litigators.
And so that's just another thing to remember. It's also much easier to set up your own law firm and work for yourself if you're a litigator. A lot of times at different points in their careers, a lot of attorneys will decide that they want to work for themselves. And to set yourself up as a litigator, doing with your own firm is actually a lot easier.
We've been doing that as a corporate attorney. There's solo practitioners all over doing litigation work there in major markets and smaller markets and all you need is clients willing to pay for it. And you can [00:25:00] do it. I know people. I could go on and on.
I know someone that was at the very top, I'm actually meeting them tonight. There was at the very top of their class at Harvard law school that started a personal injury firm after being working a big firm I dunno what it was solving a Cromwell or Skadden or something like that.
And I know tons of litigators that have become out of big firms, major firms, Quinn, Emanuel, and so forth. It'd become family law attorneys because those skills you learn as a litigator and then do very well doing that can be a tremendously valuable. It's generally much more difficult to establish yourself as a solo practitioners, corporate attorney, because the work you do as a litigator, people are looking to save money or have your expertise there.
It's fairly easy. Most corporate attorneys per for companies and most companies can afford to pay litigators, but they pay corporate attorneys. And, for litigation, they may often are interested in saving money and there's a lot of smaller clients also that use buddy Gators as well.
So I've seen lots of attorneys try to set up their own practices. I've seen corporate attorneys do it. And most of them fail almost all [00:26:00] litigators I've seen do it, tend to do do okay or very well. That's the difference. It's if you want to have your own practice you're much better off.
The other thing about being a a litigator is you can make incredible amounts of money. If, as a litigator especially doing plaintiff's related work, but even defense, if you can grow a firm and levels that are just impossible to make, I've, I was in a, I was in a, I had a, like an employment dispute once I had an office in Pasadena and there was an attorney down the hall and I was having to do it with, he was just one guy and a girl that did employment disputes.
And then he came to me and he said, actually, I'm sorry, I'm quitting. I just won this. I know he sued for back wages for dock workers or something and got I don't know, 40 or $50 million from them. And he got a percentage of it. So he was like, I'm just quitting this, cause he made all this money very quickly and this, there was nothing special about this attorney.
He just Got a very good case and I made a lot of money retired. So these sorts of things happen. There was another guy. This is a pretty funny story that I worked with that when I [00:27:00] was there, he was an LLM didn't even speak very good English. And one day he got a after he left Quinn, you got a phone call from someone asking for litigation help.
It was a client from his country, Taiwan he was from, and that ended up being a referral. And then he referred something out. And I think he just for the referral, he got $30 million. So this stuff I've seen a lot of and and enough that I could tell stories about this all day long. But you can make incredible amounts of money as a litigate, your if that's what you want.
And there is definitely a lot of potential and to make money if that's what you're after, whether it's through.
Outside the liquid store, I had a guy that used to work for me as a, my in-house counsel and he decided he wanted to start his own personal injury firm.
And I think, I think last year he, he settled something, the neighborhood of No, I don't know, 50 to $75 million in auto accidents. I don't know what that would have gotten him in terms of fees, but it's a lot. And when you're talking about millions of dollars for someone that, went into that with no formal experience, so you can do well in these, to these [00:28:00] jobs.
If you if that's what you're after in terms of money or whatever. The thing about litigation though that, and these are some of the negatives is if you do want to work in a large law firm or a very prestigious law firm, sure. Your credentials may hold you back your whole career. Unless you graduate at the top of your class from a lower chair law school, meaning, very high up it's very difficult to get into a large prestigious firm.
You're going to be hindered as a litigator. I had a case where I was very surprised and it wasn't too long ago where I was working with someone that went to a local law school in Chicago and worked at a good size of firm in Chicago, like a Chicago based firm, and then wanted to work in other parts of the country.
And I think she was first in her class at the school. It's not a well-regarded law school, but she still first in her class. And she wasn't really getting any interest from other, similar sized firms. Whereas if she had been a I'm looking at other markets besides Chicago, she had been A corporate attorney, she would have.
So you can be very held back by your qualifications as a [00:29:00] litigator. There's a lot of reasons for that. But it's very difficult to get into to large law firms as a litigator. I almost hate to say this, because I'm out of a litigation background your smarts as a litigator really do matter because someone can outsmart you, they can think you, they can see angles that you wouldn't see and so forth.
So it's all these things that the L sat tests, the puzzle solving ability, or I don't know, arguments and stuff. I think do have some bearing on how well people do as litigator. If you are a litigator and you've come up against people that aren't good litigators. They almost look like the phones because there's just lots of people can do it.
And I'm sure the same thing happens for corporate attorneys, but the quality of. Can often make a very big difference in terms of how well they do and corporate attorneys typically a lot of that is the skills don't , I don't know enough about corporate to say it in a definitive way, but but I will say that, your ability to do certain types of work, as opposed to the, bringing a ton of thought into it meaning the, being able to make [00:30:00] very good arguments so far, like a litigated us, it's just a different type of skill.
So a lot of the skills that some corporate attorneys do can be wrote. And if you can do that, then you're in good shape. Whereas the litigator, you have to constantly, do things that are a little bit different. It's very difficult for litigators about stellar credentials to move to more prestigious law firms.
It's just the way it is. And I see. Corporate attorneys all day long that are just, moving to more prestigious law firms. But it's very rare for litigators to get picked that many moves in that. A corporate attorney, many times people that are working at in the space of 10 years, they may work at seven or eight law firms as a corporate attorney.
And good law firms, I top law firms and you never see that sort of thing. As litigators, there's just too many people in the market. Typically litigated, we'll start at a very prestigious firm and it's very rare for litigators to move to much more prestigious firms that certainly happens, but it's much more common with corporate attorneys to move to more prestigious firms than it is litigating.
As a litigator, it's also much more difficult to get business. Corporate attorneys are interacting with [00:31:00] clients all day on a regular basis. They're trusted business advisors and litigators law firms. The clients do not like them as much because the expenses can be very high without any corresponding benefit, meaning you're just fighting a lawsuit or something and understanding these giant bills.
And whereas if you do a merger, there's some kind of value that's perceived. And the other thing is corporate attorneys are just very involved in daily aspects of the client's business. So they have the ability to bring in different types of work that are litigate or may not. So that's helpful and litigators are often called when someone's ensued or it's going to be sued litigation litigate herself, some have a much more difficult time to get business many times than corporate attorneys because corporate attorneys always talking to the law firm and I've been talking to candidates and litigators clients and litigators, not as much.
So that was another thing. If you're interested in going in house almost all in house positions, not all of them but a lot of them Are for people that are doing transactional related work, which is things like corporate IP and so forth. And so there's [00:32:00] very few of those sorts of positions for litigators.
Lots of litigators want to go on house but don't have as many opportunities to do so there definitely are in-house opportunities, but I get calls from people. Our inquiries every day are people that want to go in house. And it's very difficult for them. And companies that are sued, they want to have a team of people that are, associates and other people that help them.
So that's the thing. So the other thing is litigators are just, there's a lot of them, most attorneys are litigators and they're just everywhere. There's a lot of competition. I've seen law firms do all sorts of things like offer giant signing bonuses.
I've seen them but I very rarely seen or do things like, offer special fees if a recruiter brings in a corporate attorney, but I've never seen a law firm do that with litigators and then litigate. So as I said earlier, it's very hard. Even if you're at the top of your class from from a major law school it can be very hard.
To move markets as a litigator there's just litigators are expected to assign pleadings and go to court. And and then you take the bar and,[00:33:00] corporate attorneys, many times can do work. Even if they're not necessarily don't need to sign pleadings, but a law firm can hire them.
And some time can go by before they are expected to do anything. And most litigators, need to understand local rules, case law, and all sorts of things in the state that they're in and that can take years to learn. And so it's much harder for litigators, many times to move because of that. And and think about it.
Moving out of state, there's so many litigators out there. There's literally litigators on pretty much every street in America. And there are just lots of them. If there's a risk to hiring someone from out of state, it's not worth it. So those are some of the negatives and positives.
I think corporate is very risky. I just said, that you should always understand that it can get very bad and litigation can be very limiting as well. I honestly don't know which is the better practice here, but I think it's important to understand these points.
I'm gonna take a quick break just for two minutes and then I'll come back and answer everyone's questions. Thanks.
Spirit of questions. Give me one second here.
First question. Thanks for the helpful presentation. What about antitrust? Is this [00:34:00] considered corporate or litigation? What are the main upsides and downsides of choosing antitrust concerning job stability credentials needed career progression and chances of making partner among other aspects you may consider worth mentioning?
Okay. That's a great question. The thing about antitrust is it's a very kind of serious, as a good way to put it branch of litigation and people that are good at antitrust typically. It's you know you have to be very smart. The work happens many times in large law firms most of the time in large law firms.
And but that, but the problem with the antitrust is it can be dependent on. The administration. So sometimes you'll have very pro-business administrations that would never think of bringing an antitrust, which would be, I guess maybe in different types of I don't want to get to Republicans versus Democrats, but you have different types of administration.
So different types of administrations will either be very interested in bringing the antitrust actions, her others won't. So that's one of the things. So if it's an administration where there's not a lot of pressure in the justice department and so forth to bring any interest actions, [00:35:00] then then that can slow down Antitrust And so that's one of the negatives. The other thing is the credentials for defense antitrust work tend to be. Pretty good credentials. A lot of antitrust work also happens at firms in DC, which is probably no surprise but there are certainly at old large law firms all over. your chances of making partner in antitrust tends to be a little bit more difficult than it might be in other types of practice areas.
If your timing is bad Now, the thing that's good about antitrust is if your timing is right, meaning you're doing it at the right time, when, then your chances can be very good. But I think antitrust is a a very difficult practice area in a lot of respects, but what I do like about it is the fact that that's a very specialized practice area and there's not as many people doing it.
what I have noticed is that it's also a practice area where it can be very difficult to bring in clients. And so a lot of times in, law firms, the people [00:36:00] that are antitrust tend to be very senior and have national reputations and the people that they make partner who are bringing along in their coattails and then hopefully they get business later.
those are just few things about Antitrust and I I think that's a great question. And I that's one of those practice areas where it's very cerebral. You need to be very smart. I did want to make one other observation about antitrust but I think that you should understand is I do feel like that there's a lot of people compared to other litigation practice areas that are able to be senior associates and of counsel and get jobs in major law firms.
The largest law firms there are and stay there for a long time, even without business, if the firms have the work. So I have noticed that law firms will often keep people around in Antitrust much longer than they would keep just regular litigators. And and so that's something I think, to just keep in mind.
Okay. I absolutely despise my big law job that I lateraled to a few months [00:37:00] ago, my main partner is an absolute nightmare screamer, and she literally haunts my dreams and waking hours. I just can't handle it anymore and it's not worth it for me. I have a that I basically spent next to zero time with, since I've been absurdly busy since the pandemic started.
Okay. Let me just see if that's a phone. I lateraled a few months ago because I thought it would make things better. And they've just gotten so much worse. I'm planning on quitting taking six month or so sabbatical to spend time with my son that I never got after he was born, but I want to see if anyone had ever done.
So what problems would this cause? Okay, so there are two issues here. You, I don't know if you're a man or a woman but there is some sexism in the legal profession. If you're a woman and say, you need to take time off because you're, for family to raise for your child or something.
I think that's probably okay. And but there's an article called why you should never leave the practice of law for more than a few months or something that I've written. And the problem is when you leave the practice of law or you leave. Unfortunately like the [00:38:00] blame is put on you.
So the law firms will say something like they, it becomes much more difficult for you to get hired by another law firm after that, because they have to choose between people that are employed and unemployed. So if you're unemployed, it sends a message that, you may have lost your job.
You may have had these kinds of problems and you may not be able to fit in or, who knows, or you're not doing good work. And so they don't. So that's almost like how they evaluate that. And then the other thing is, the law firms just want people to be working all the time and never quit.
And I don't know why that is. I think it's, I think it's because when you leave for a few months or six months, and then you come back because of all these things, you're dealing with, a lot of people just don't stick with it. So that's just something to think about it. It's the pilot that landed that that famous landed the plane in the Hudson.
They always say when a pilot stops flying for a short period of time, they never fly. again he never flew again after that landing No, a lot of times when attorneys leave the practice, of law, and then they come back they're just not up for it. And there's [00:39:00] nothing wrong with you not liking it.
And you may not have liked the place you're at before. You may be in the wrong firm. You may be having the wrong demands, put on you. You may have the wrong stress. I can tell you that. I did litigation when I, for a federal judge. And I thought that was a very pleasant job.
Meaning I just did a clerkship and there was so many positive things about that. And then and then after working firms, I didn't fail about the same. You may be happier in another practice setting and and it doesn't have to be big law. Big law is just different. There are different pressures, there's higher billing rates.
There's, it's more difficult to keep clients The standards are higher. And that may not be the practice setting for you. And there's nothing wrong with that. Everyone has to go, where they're happy and there's no sense spending every day being unhappy and it's like a bad relationship.
And regardless of whether it's caused by you or caused by the firm, if it's not working out for you then then my advice would be to try to find something else. I, if it was me, I would try to find a different practice setting, one that you're happy with, I There are so many jobs out there that you can do.
There's [00:40:00] people I know I could talk about forever, like alternative legal careers. This is one of them what I do for a living, but there's also, you can work in law schools, you can work in. Government offices, you can work in for businesses you can you can do, you can start real estate.
If it doesn't have to be legal related, you can do all sorts of things. And and doing those things, I think would be very helpful for you to try to do something that you like better. And and that's really what I would recommend is you just need to be everyone, if it's too difficult for you, then you should push on.
And then the other thing that I always recommend doing is It's this person screaming, the person that may be about them or maybe about you. Ultimately it doesn't matter if you're happy or unhappy and you shouldn't, no one should expose themselves to what you're dealing with.
That regardless of whether you're causing it or they're causing it or whoever, it's just, it's not healthy for your sanity. And I, I will say just this, just an aside to everyone on this call I've been doing this for so long, but I keep seeing attorneys, especially ones that work in like large skyscrapers and stuff [00:41:00] coming down with all these auto immune problems and, not just psychological problems, but all these kinds of, issues.
And so this can take a big toll on your, not just your psychological health, but obviously your physical health. And you deserve, and I know a lot of attorneys who have died very early because of this kind of stuff that can, and there are, I had one attorney working for me and I just said he was rents space from me and an that office space isle And and he was a litigator and he was in his early forties and, and found him in his bathroom. He's been dead for a couple of weeks. It's just, this kind of stuff happens all the time and. So you shouldn't be this sort of bad things for your health and stuff can be very harmful and it's not a good thing.
And it's something that you should be aware of him if you're experiencing all this psychological stress. I It's probably not going to get better. It's, yeah.
Okay. When lateraling to a new firm when do they need your official transcripts and reference letters in general? At my old firm, it took my transcripts like six months to get there and they never contacted my references. Didn't seem to bother them My buddy's firm required [00:42:00] official transcripts for an interview and contacted his references like the day after.
Is it okay to ask interviewers to wait to contact references? until you have an offer. I don't want to shoot myself in the foot at my current firm. My current firm didn't require official transcripts. I only needed the unofficial one for an interview and they still haven't asked about my official one years later and only contact with my references.
Once they told me I basically had the. offer Okay. So yeah, it is firm specific I don't, the larger, the firm meaning like large institutional firms with lots of procedures and processes will dot their I's and cross their T's with this stuff. The smaller firms are the ones that are very busy and so forth long.
If it's a, if it's one of the largest firms in the country, they probably have very good systems and stuff in place to make sure this stuff happens because it's actually funny. But what happens with a lot of young upstart firms is they will hire people. who didn't go to law school and never took the bar.
I'm serious and, or who knows, who, who forged transcripts, all that kind of stuff. [00:43:00] And and I've been kind of terms where that's happened before, not to my candidates, but where they, told me the stories. And so that's what happens a lot at the young firms.
And then what happens is the firm gets more older and established. They put all these processes and bureaucracy and stuff in place to make sure that doesn't happen. I think that in terms of reference checks there's all sorts of ways reference checks can be done. They can be done by the law firm, or sometimes law firms will hire companies that whose job is to go and do that sort of thing.
And so when the company goes and does that sort of thing, they will they typically will ask questions like, would you hire the person again, if you had an opening, would did the person work here where the states and so forth, but it's okay to ask wait until you have an offer.
The other thing that you didn't mention that's important is to wait until conflict checks, clear So what conflict checks are, meaning if you worked on behalf of one client and your new firm is adverse to that client or something, then the law firm typically needs to do, what's called a conflict check.
And that's just to make sure that there are no conflicts with the existing firm and [00:44:00] with the, from. With that firm cause They don't want you to be able to have information that are that they can use the kinship. Okay. So what are some chips ships?
Some tips for quitting, a biglaw job. Okay. So the big thing to remember, one of the big things to remember and this is something that everyone should remember is the person you are today is not going to be a person slash attorney. You are today. It's not likely that you'd be the same person
you are and by twenty-five years. So right now you may be who knows, you may be angry. You may be you may have a sense of entitlement. You may not be angry. You may be grateful. Who knows, but the person you are in 5 to 25 years may not be the same person.
The people that you've met in your current firm in terms of associates and also partners may become a general counsel of companies that could give you business in the future. They may go to work at other firms. where you want to work out in the future, they may have better work in other companies you want to work at in the future.
None of this stuff is anonymous, and that means [00:45:00] that that that everything you do will follow you like it or not into your future. And some in some way now the attorneys one of the nice things about the legal profession and especially a lot of the larger law firms and the most prestigious law firms is there's almost like an invisible code where people will not talk negatively about each other to other attorneys outside the firm.
And this is a lot of firms, because they don't want to destroy that person's reputation, but you can't control that, but that's the kind of unspoken rule. So what that means is, if you do something horrible or bad in your job the attorneys for the most class and stuff at your firm, and are probably not going to talk about people, to people about that in the future, if you're at a smaller law firm and there's a little bit more maturity and stuff there or, even from a larger firm with immaturity that may happen.
But I've seen, some of these, major law firms that are just very classy places and they would never they may, behave horribly in litigation, but when it comes to protecting even their former people but the point you need to mention, remember when you're quitting a job are [00:46:00] all of those people who will potentially be references in the future. And you want them to say nice things about you and even if they don't say nice things about you. Again, there are questions they can ask if someone asks would you hire them again? And they say no, then that, that's not a bad reference, but that's basically a bad reference or they say it's just you want these people to defend you.
So the best way to quit a biglaw job is to go to whoever you're working with and say, listen I I'm leaving and I'm happy to stick around as long as you want. And then after you leave, send thank you notes to everyone for hiring you and for giving you the opportunity and what you learned.
And maybe some nice notes and people that do that are really leave the employer feeling good. Cause no one does that. And so telling everyone you appreciated them hiring you, you appreciate the opportunity if you really enjoyed it. And all those sorts of things is typically the best thing you can do now.
When you quit the biggest tip I can give you, especially at a biglaw job this year, you really need to make [00:47:00] sure that you have another open, another job lined up. So you can't just walk off the job and expect everything to work out for you, you need to do whatever you can to have something else lined up.
So that, that would be my biggest piece of advice to you would be to make sure that if you are quitting a biglaw job, don't just quit because if you leave a biglaw job that pays as much money and isn't much prestige and stuff, without a job lined up, people will assume that you're fired, that you got fired or lost your job, or you have the personality issues that made it makes it difficult for you to get along there and then you will lose those opportunities in the past.
Let's see here. How much does what does this question? This is funny question, but I'll answer it. How much does physical attractiveness matter in biglaw How much does it play a role in the treatment of individuals receive Anecdotes Welcome? I think that, it I personally I mean that this question of course is a landmine because as I don't want to, I don't want to upset anybody, so I'm not gonna take a complete spin on it, but One of the things that I remember my father, you say to me.
It was, my father [00:48:00] was a very short and he believed that being short held him back in his career. And is that true? That, that of course Putin was very short is it true that height and stuff matters? Is height important, for example, for, if you're the tallest man in the room, does that help you?
Maybe it does. I would say that sometimes that sort of stuff matters. If you talk about physical attractiveness, I think that one of the most important things and the most important thing is really the quality of your work that you do. And I think that that is ultimately I, and then your interpersonal skills and those aren't necessarily dependent on how physically attractive someone is those are completely different things.
I would say that when you are the, in the firm, like you should I recommend that people go to interviews and even when they meet clients and stuff to, to look to be to dress well and to be very put together. I told this story, I tell this story quite often in the in the meetings, but w when I was when I was a summer associate in New York [00:49:00] like someone said that a partner.
Part, there was a partner in our firm that had a huge book of business and he just talked to the always talked to the younger associates. And it was like, when you walk into a room, like you have to look like the most impressive person and the most put together and the most polished.
And I don't know, he wasn't necessarily talking about physical attractiveness, but he was talking about how you dress and so forth I don't know that this is a topic anyone really needs to worry about, but I would say that, certain people do want to hire certain types of other people.
And I, it can be, who knows, these people why things happen, but yeah, I, you you just need to put your best foot forward. And I don't really have any anecdotes for this. I would, instead of relying on the thing that I'm saying, I would look up and research studies in terms of how much this stuff matters because one of the whole points of diversity is that diversity is meant to eliminate like all these, preconceptions and allow people to be succeed based on their merits, meaning it doesn't matter your.
Your race, your sexual orientation your background the merits and [00:50:00] how well you do things should matter. Them should matter the most. And and that's where the society is moving towards. Now is it a bad thing to be physically attractive? Probably not, but I would look up and say what studies say about that stuff, but, things are always changing.
And I was, just watching for example, the state of the union address last night and everyone there, I was amazed how different the the makeup of the people the congressmen and the senators and stuff were compared to what they would have been, 30, 40 years ago which is cool.
The country's changing and you don't necessarily need all this stuff to get ahead. And but my advice is always to do your best, people want to hire people that seem put together. And and and that means, I think to some extent, if a newscaster's on if you look at what a newscast, when a news caster's online, they're not going to be wearing.
Sweat pants and so forth, they're going to look their best. And so you just want it and they're going to be well-groomed and stuff. And I do think that stuff is important because you are reflecting the brand of your law firm and your brand. Maybe I'll be about tons of [00:51:00] diversity in different types of people.
And that's great, whatever you think that brand is, you should try to reflect it. But I don't think physical attraction this really matters that much. I think it may have in the past. I don't, but I don't think it's that important, but I do think that pushing and looking like you're doing everything you can to have authority and stuff, which you can connote through your dress and through your how you carry yourself and your manners and things.
And it are important. I have a year long gap between two federal. I hope that answers your question. Again, there was one other thing I wanted to say that I always thought was really funny. There was, and I tell this every week, but because everyone's always asking questions about business generation and bill Urquhart who was one of the founders of Quinn Emanuel.
I remember hearing him say a couple of times that. I'm the biggest nerd in LA was also the one that had the most business. So that should tell you all you need to know. And that was so long time ago about the importance of physical attraction is meaning it doesn't really matter. It could matter in certain firms, and just as other things come out of there too, [00:52:00] I have a year long gap between two federal clerkships currently one-on-one Would it be worth it to apply to firms.
I realize you probably wouldn't want to hire someone and they know will leave in a year. and might not come back. Is it worth it? Or how should I approach the issue? I don't know. If you have a gap between a clerkship, I don't know that if they're going to be that concerned about that. And and you certainly haven't started the clerkship yet.
And so I don't know, you have to either talk about or not. I don't know the ethics of that. If you were my candidate. And I knew about that, I would definitely make sure that I told the firms. But you have to decide, is it possible that you might not take the clerkship?
Is it possible? That after six months you might not take it. So it's just something to think about. The big thing that I always recommend to people is that you do need to look out for yourself. If you do take a year. You may be able to tell the law firm that hires you that you're planning on doing a clerkship.
Could I do it? And if they say, no, you could tell your judge I can't and I'm sorry. And that's it. You have to be very careful I don't know, by the way, if you are doing two federal [00:53:00] clerkships, the only reason I would do two federal clerkships is you're currently in one is if you were doing a federal district clerkship now, and then you have an appellate clerkship, I don't see any reason to go do another district clerkship, unless it's like in the Eastern district of New York or something.
And you're in a very small market right now. There's probably no reason to do that or the Supreme court. It's just you need to decide, do you want to practice law or do you want to be a career clerk? And I do think an appellate clerkship would be useful. If you do have one and if you do have an appelate clerkship, I think listing that in your resume that you're starting on that date after the existing clerkship.
But you have one year off and putting them in your cover letter, I