Moving from a silver circle to a US firm? Watch

Palmyra
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#21
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#21
(Original post by The West Wing)
Unlikely to go from SC to MC at NQ level if you weren't kept on. Don't think I've ever seen that happen. MC don't tend to recruit much laterally for NQs unless something has gone wrong internally but do recruit laterally from 1 PQE onwards. You'd probably have a chance at the US firms that don't have trainees of their own or going down a tier but then you'd compete with that firm's own trainees (who unless they're truly **** will have priority over laterals)
So what do all the non-retained SC trainees do (given retention rates of 70-90% that's not a unsubstantial number of trainees)?
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The West Wing
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(Original post by Palmyra)
So what do all the non-retained SC trainees do (given retention rates of 70-90% that's not a unsubstantial number of trainees)?
My magic circle intake had quite a low retention (below 80%) and the people that weren't kept on went to US firms, lower tier firms, in house, to law firms from their home countries or left law completely (i.e. the full spectrum of available options).
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Palmyra
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(Original post by The West Wing)
My magic circle intake had quite a low retention (below 80%) and the people that weren't kept on went to US firms, lower tier firms, in house, to law firms from their home countries or left law completely (i.e. the full spectrum of available options).
Cheers, be interesting to see how/if that varies for SC trainees (I'd guess it's pretty similar, but with fewer moving up to US/MC firms and more moving across the SC and 'down').
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The West Wing
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(Original post by Palmyra)
Cheers, be interesting to see how/if that varies for SC trainees (I'd guess it's pretty similar, but with fewer moving up to US/MC firms and more moving across the SC and 'down').
To be honest the people that weren't kept on are probably having some of the best lives of my intake at the moment (definitely compared to the people I know still slogging it out at that firm) so I wouldn't worry about it.
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jacketpotato
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(Original post by Palmyra)
Firstly, how common is it to move from SC to MC post-NQ? (I get your point and agree that the boundaries between MC/SC firms are ambiguous at best, but I was wondering if the reason for SC NQs/PQs being able to move to US firms is the US firms' extremely high turnover of associates - given the MC firms have a much lower turnover does this translate into SC NQs/PQs being less likely/able to move to MC firms?)

Secondly, do you know anything about how common/possible it is to at least semi-permanently move to another jurisdiction (either within the same firm or otherwise)?

Thanks
The premise of your question is not really true. The MC firms also have an extremely high turnover of associates. Most of the trainee intake will have left by the time people get to around 2-3PQE. A&O and CC have been placing ads to recruit 2-5 PQE corporate lawyers for many months now. It is entirely common and not difficult to move from SC to MC.

It is very easy to move to certain jurisdictions (BVI, Cayman, UAE, to an extent Singapore) if you qualify into an international practice area such as finance, corporate or international arbitration. It is much more difficult to work overseas if you qualify into a domestic focussed practice area such as employment or real estate. It is also much more difficult to move to other jurisdictions (though there are exceptions - e.g. international arbitration in Paris, competition law in Brussels are common enough).
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ProfHealth
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(Original post by The West Wing)
Umm not sure about what it's like on the ground but those are firmly 'mid-market' firms

Broadly speaking of the UK firms in my opinion (though there are nuances depending on practice area, e.g Herbert Smith would be top tier for litigation)

Tier 1 - Magic Circle
Tier 2 - Herbert Smith, Ashurst, NRF, Macfarlanes
Tier 3 - Hogan Lovells, BCLP, Travers
Tier 4 - CMS, Simmons, Bakers, Taylor Wessing
Tier 5 - Clyde, Addleshaws, Eversheds, Dentons, DLA and others
Okay, cool. And what would you say about the exit opportunities for tier 3 - 5 firms? Good chance of moving in-house, IB, etc?
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flatlined
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(Original post by Palmyra)
Cheers, be interesting to see how/if that varies for SC trainees (I'd guess it's pretty similar, but with fewer moving up to US/MC firms and more moving across the SC and 'down').
Everything depends on practice area. Not so much the firm. Students here don’t understand what lawyers even do so they think in terms of big high level concepts which are fairly meaningless like ‘magic circle’ and think they know something. If you can’t name 10 practice areas and have some sensible answers as to where these guys might go after a few years, you need to research. A funds lawyer isn’t going to leave private practice to become GC at Astrazeneca.
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Palmyra
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#28
(Original post by flatlined)
Everything depends on practice area. Not so much the firm. Students here don’t understand what lawyers even do so they think in terms of big high level concepts which are fairly meaningless like ‘magic circle’ and think they know something. If you can’t name 10 practice areas and have some sensible answers as to where these guys might go after a few years, you need to research. A funds lawyer isn’t going to leave private practice to become GC at Astrazeneca.
I've got a TC and know about practice areas and tasks etc of course, but I do need to do more research on potential exit paths etc so you're correct there.

For example: I've heard it's becoming more common for trainees to go in-house straight after qualification, are there some areas where that is less possible (i.e. antitrust)? I don't know much about in-house secondment possibilities for antitrust, but if they are less common (compared to say finance/banking, as I imagine it is) then I guess that would translate to being less common at the NQ level too.
Last edited by Palmyra; 3 months ago
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The West Wing
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This is a really astute post which impressed me so I will help you with your questions.

1. Very sensible to think about exits. Most people can't hack the hours and pressure and competitive colleagues and leave within a few years of qualification. In house law isn't right for everyone and comes with its own frustrations (like it can be repetitive and progression paths can be challenging) but the hours are usually stable (can be long depending on the company but rarely do you have random ups and downs where you work for 30 hours in a row or have nothing to do all week and then have your whole weekend ruined). You can definitely go in house as an NQ as companies have been increasing their in house legal functions and NQs are cheap but the largest amount of roles come up around 2-4 PQE (a very in demand band across all legal jobs).

2. Most transferable in terms of exits are probably general corporate, general banking, general real estate etc (notice the word general appears in each of these) but also some areas like regulation and funds punch above their weight in terms of in house roles. Very few companies will have in house antitrust capability but there are a few that do (including banks) or in house litigation capability but some do (insurance, banks, pharmaceuticals to name a few types of companies). You can probably transfer from corporate in a law firm to front office banking for example (but may take a step down in seniority) but fewer similar exits are available for more niche areas of law.



(Original post by Palmyra)
I've got a TC and know about practice areas and tasks etc of course, but I do need to do more research on potential exit paths etc so you're correct there.

For example: I've heard it's becoming more common for trainees to go in-house straight after qualification, are there some areas where that is less possible (i.e. antitrust)? I don't know much about in-house secondment possibilities for antitrust, but if they are less common (compared to say finance/banking, as I imagine it is) then I guess that would translate to being less common at the NQ level too.
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flatlined
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There’s a lot more detail you need to know. Go to toplawschools forums and review the exits threads for a starting point. There are dozens of them. And the day in the life threads. What WestWing says is always correct but only a starting point. Also on the UK side there’s a truck load of advice flying around going in house and why and when and I can’t be bothered to repeat. Again it depends on practice area. Whatever you’ve heard about secondments is firm and client and practice area specific. You’re not going to do a 6 month client secondment as an NQ if you’re in restructuring. Unless you ask a specific, ‘ok so I want to go in house at 3PQE, how easy is that in lev finance?’ (Heh) the advice will be generic and crap. But the answers are available online, just research.
And don’t do law, it sucks. Yes absolutely critical to think exits if you do end up doing it. You also have limited control over seat options in reality.
You’d do worse than going to HR before you start saying, I want these 4 seats and I don’t care when I do them, just as long as I do them.
Sorry if I’m sharp, just trying to help. You can only help yourself by going away and researching the hell out of this, most people don’t. I knew a trainee who went into all her seat change discussions with HR saying she didn’t know what to do, what would you recommend? Pathetic and not taking responsibility for own career. She ended up with all the dud seats no one wanted.

(Original post by Palmyra)
I've got a TC and know about practice areas and tasks etc of course, but I do need to do more research on potential exit paths etc so you're correct there.

For example: I've heard it's becoming more common for trainees to go in-house straight after qualification, are there some areas where that is less possible (i.e. antitrust)? I don't know much about in-house secondment possibilities for antitrust, but if they are less common (compared to say finance/banking, as I imagine it is) then I guess that would translate to being less common at the NQ level too.
Last edited by flatlined; 3 months ago
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Palmyra
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#31
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#31
(Original post by The West Wing)
This is a really astute post which impressed me so I will help you with your questions.

1. Very sensible to think about exits. Most people can't hack the hours and pressure and competitive colleagues and leave within a few years of qualification. In house law isn't right for everyone and comes with its own frustrations (like it can be repetitive and progression paths can be challenging) but the hours are usually stable (can be long depending on the company but rarely do you have random ups and downs where you work for 30 hours in a row or have nothing to do all week and then have your whole weekend ruined). You can definitely go in house as an NQ as companies have been increasing their in house legal functions and NQs are cheap but the largest amount of roles come up around 2-4 PQE (a very in demand band across all legal jobs).

2. Most transferable in terms of exits are probably general corporate, general banking, general real estate etc (notice the word general appears in each of these) but also some areas like regulation and funds punch above their weight in terms of in house roles. Very few companies will have in house antitrust capability but there are a few that do (including banks) or in house litigation capability but some do (insurance, banks, pharmaceuticals to name a few types of companies). You can probably transfer from corporate in a law firm to front office banking for example (but may take a step down in seniority) but fewer similar exits are available for more niche areas of law.
(Original post by flatlined)
There’s a lot more detail you need to know. Go to toplawschools forums and review the exits threads for a starting point. There are dozens of them. And the day in the life threads. What WestWing says is always correct but only a starting point. Also on the UK side there’s a truck load of advice flying around going in house and why and when and I can’t be bothered to repeat. Again it depends on practice area. Whatever you’ve heard about secondments is firm and client and practice area specific. You’re not going to do a 6 month client secondment as an NQ if you’re in restructuring. Unless you ask a specific, ‘ok so I want to go in house at 3PQE, how easy is that in lev finance?’ (Heh) the advice will be generic and crap. But the answers are available online, just research.
And don’t do law, it sucks. Yes absolutely critical to think exits if you do end up doing it. You also have limited control over seat options in reality.
You’d do worse than going to HR before you start saying, I want these 4 seats and I don’t care when I do them, just as long as I do them.
Sorry if I’m sharp, just trying to help. You can only help yourself by going away and researching the hell out of this, most people don’t. I knew a trainee who went into all her seat change discussions with HR saying she didn’t know what to do, what would you recommend? Pathetic and not taking responsibility for own career. She ended up with all the dud seats no one wanted.
Thanks guys, really helpful stuff. I appreciate the (brutal) honesty, always better to have a clear picture of what I'm getting into. Luckily I took a year out before starting my TC so I've also been able to hear directly from friends at the top city firms how bad the slog is (but obviously they can't tell me much about post-NQ stuff).

I can sympathise with that trainee you mention because I always thought of TC seats as an opportunity for you to find out what seat you want to qualify into, which removes the need to think about that at the pre-TC stage. From my VSs, friends and academic experiences I feel competition law would be my preferred area (I have some experience in capital markets, banking, life sciences, IP/media and corporate and basically not keen on any of them - especially corporate), but I'm also keen to get experience in litigation/arbitration. Obviously Brussels is big for competition, but I've spent a lot of time in Brussels and I feel it's pretty similar to London in many ways so don't particularly fancy it. Moving in-house to the CMA could be very nice if that's possible, but doesn't seem that there are many other big in-house opportunities for competition law.

I definitely have a lot more research to do - I'll start by checking out the forums you recommended, thanks again.
Last edited by Palmyra; 3 months ago
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The West Wing
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#32
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(Original post by flatlined)
Pathetic and not taking responsibility for own career. She ended up with all the dud seats no one wanted.
Lol I want to play this game. Were the four seats:

Structured Finance, Equity Capital Markets, Asset Finance and Banking Disputes


To be fair the worst seat I did was construction and procurement. I wanted to cry with boredom every day - there's no amount of money that would make me want to review those massive standard form contracts
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The West Wing
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The in house competition roles will be extremely competitive just because of the smaller number and you'll compete with large numbers of ex-Magic Circle lawyers. If you do general corporate you can probably move to any large company in the whole country.

(Original post by Palmyra)
Thanks guys, really helpful stuff. I appreciate the (brutal) honesty, always better to have a clear picture of what I'm getting into. Luckily I took a year out before starting my TC so I've also been able to hear directly from friends at the top city firms how bad the slog is (but obviously they can't tell me much about post-NQ stuff).

I can sympathise with that trainee you mention because I always thought of TC seats as an opportunity for you to find out what seat you want to qualify into, which removes the need to think about that at the pre-TC stage. From my VSs, friends and academic experiences I feel competition law would be my preferred area (I have some experience in capital markets, banking, life sciences, IP/media and corporate and basically not keen on any of them - especially corporate), but I'm also keen to get experience in litigation/arbitration. Obviously Brussels is big for competition, but I've spent a lot of time in Brussels and I feel it's pretty similar to London in many ways so don't particularly fancy it. Moving in-house to the CMA could be very nice if that's possible, but doesn't seem that there are many other big in-house opportunities for competition law.

I definitely have a lot more research to do - I'll start by checking out the forums you recommended, thanks again.
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Palmyra
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(Original post by The West Wing)
The in house competition roles will be extremely competitive just because of the smaller number and you'll compete with large numbers of ex-Magic Circle lawyers. If you do general corporate you can probably move to any large company in the whole country.
Do you mean and then move within that company to a more competition-based role, or just settle for a corporate role in that company and be content with the fact that I've escaped private practice alive and sane...?
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The West Wing
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The latter. You won't be able to easily transfer from being an in house corporate lawyer to being a competition advisor.
(Original post by Palmyra)
Do you mean and then move within that company to a more competition-based role, or just settle for a corporate role in that company and just be content with the fact that I've escaped private practice alive and sane...?
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Palmyra
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(Original post by The West Wing)
The latter. You won't be able to easily transfer from being an in house corporate lawyer to being a competition advisor.
So if I qualify into competition, then 2-3 PQE decide to try to move in-house but find it tough because of the competition you mention, would I then have to switch to a corporate department in private practice for a few years before attempting to go in-house again (this time for corporate)?

Also, given the high turnover of lawyers at the 2-3 PQE level, combined with the competitiveness of moving in-house for competition law, where do all these competition lawyers go if they can't make it in-house?

(Apologies to inundate you with questions of presumably non-insignificant banality.)
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The West Wing
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Well some may eventually find an in house role or go into something else (non-law e.g. teaching) or just work in private practice forever. I don't think many transfer to doing corporate law. Turnover is much lower in the departments other than corporate and finance.
(Original post by Palmyra)
So if I qualify into competition, then 2-3 PQE decide to try to move in-house but find it tough because of the competition you mention, would I then have to switch to a corporate department in private practice for a few years before attempting to go in-house again (this time for corporate)?

Also, given the high turnover of lawyers at the 2-3 PQE level, combined with the competitiveness of moving in-house, where do all these competition lawyers go if they can't make it in-house?

(Apologies to inundate you with questions of presumably non-insignificant banality.)
Last edited by The West Wing; 3 months ago
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Palmyra
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(Original post by The West Wing)
Well some may eventually find an in house role or go into something else (non-law e.g. teaching) or just work in private practice forever. I don't think many transfer to doing corporate law.
Sounds depressing. The things they don't tell us at uni job fairs/networking events... :lol:
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jacketpotato
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"General corporate" at a large city law firm generally means doing M&A or ECM. There are not a lot of corporate in-house roles - there are not that many roles focussing on M&A/ECM. There are some, mostly places like investment banks, some with very large corporates. Most corporates are not doing M&A/ECM on a daily basis.

Probably most in-house roles are focussed on regulatory or commercial contracts issues, not corporate. But corporate lawyers often transition into them because the skillset is similar. Commercial lawyers are even better placed than corporate lawyers for in-house roles.

I am sure that a competition lawyer could get generalist in-house house roles without much difficulty to be honest. It wouldn't have to be just a competition law focussed role. Competition law expertise is useful for contracts and regulatory work.

In-house roles are much less specialist than private practice roles - once you've had one in-house role people often transition to another even in a different area - e.g. in-house you do see people transition from doing something like managing litigation to something completely different like managing an IP portfolio.
Last edited by jacketpotato; 3 months ago
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anonymous lad
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Hey jacketpotato,

Just wondering if you could share some of your insights with us:
1. Do you know if the top US firms still look at academics when recruiting for NQs?
2. What sort of advice would you give someone to boost his chance of being recruited as an NQ or PQE 1 by a top US firm?

Cheers! XD
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