Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

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Cavalier91
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Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by Cavalier91 »

Hi folks,

I’ve received a ton of great advice on this forum on investments so I figured I’d poll the group on career advice as well. I imagine some forum members have been in my spot before, and I’d welcome any advice.

I’ve been working in big law (V20 firm / corporate practice) for 5 years. While the job is tough at times, I generally enjoy it and like my colleagues a lot. Folks also seem to like me, but it’s probably too early to really have a firm grasp on whether partnership is realistic. I also did not enter big law really thinking about grinding it out to make partner. I always figured I’d leave to go in-house at some point (just not right now necessarily).

Recently, I was approached for a in-house job by a GC at a recently IPO’ed public tech company that used to work at my firm. Since I was not looking for a job at the time, my first instinct (before even hearing about the position/comp) was that I’d probably just stay at the firm, but once I learned more about the position I thought I needed to give it a hard look.

Basically the new position checks all the boxes—and if I was not happy at the firm—I’d pretty much say it’s a dream position. It’s the type of work I want to do, hours will be less, and the comp all in is about what I’ll make this year as a fifth year (about 30% is stock based so that is obviously a bit risky and it’s a tech company so the stock is taking a hit now)—but once I make the jump I expect my comp will stagnate compared to the normal raises in big law.

I’m struggling with the decision though. The thing is, that I always assumed when It was time to walk away I’d be thrilled to leave. Did not expect it would be a tough decision. I guess what is really holding me back is the big law comp gravy train—I wonder if I should stay a couple of more years to milk it. The flip side is that folks I’ve talked to have expressed how strong an offer this is, and said they don’t come up all that frequently (so I may be ready to leave down the road and not have such great options).

Other metrics, we have an 8 month old, so weighing work life balance as well.

I’d welcome any thoughts.
sleepy06
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by sleepy06 »

I'm not in your industry, but downshifted around 2 years ago when our kids were 4 and 2. The increased time with them has been incredible. Pay took a big hit but we have not missed it. If you ask my wife (or me), she has says having me around more is great and the kids love it. It is crazy what us humans can get used to and consider normal with regard to hours, work load, etc. I find now that I am living this lifestyle I would not go back. We are now expecting a third and so it is even more important to have this time. It has also allowed more frequent visits with grandparents and I had time last year to really be there when my mom was sick. I would not trade that for anything.
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ClevrChico
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by ClevrChico »

Tech worker, not a lawyer, but I wouldn't leave a job I was happy with. I'd much rather have cash instead of stock/variable comp. Tech is not doing so great either.

Also, it's likely a recently IPO'd tech company is going to have some difficult personalities that just received windfalls. You have to experience it to believe it.
imfocusedman
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by imfocusedman »

Not ex-Big Law, but generally in client services where the pay scale is dramatic there are several inflection points relative to industry leveling/compensation. You are likely right at a breakpoint with respect to the “in house” market where you will be for 2-3 years until you reach the next inflection point. So it looks attractive now, but next year it will be the same offer and look like a pay cut. The year after they “won’t be able to afford you”, but you won’t have enough experience for them to give you the next level up yet. That’s how it works coming from Consulting at least.

Given that, this offer looks attractive since you are flat relative to your current comp. My guess would be if you pass on this offer, you would be facing a comp hit upon exit for the next ~3 years, until you reach that next level of experience. At some point, if you keep at it, you will essentially price yourself out of the “in house” market, so the decision to leave will end up being for non-financial reasons. Or more likely you will have made enough money that you are comfortable taking a step back for lifestyle choices. Sounds like you aren’t there yet.

Since you’re enjoying the ride, my vote is to stay another 3-4 years and then look for another window then at that next level.
Nowizard
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by Nowizard »

Two comments to put in the hopper for your thinking: 1. It does sound like you would eventually receive higher compensation at your present job, though "grinding" is included in getting there. What are your financial goals? Are they to obtain the greatest amount of assets possible? Perhaps more importantly, how is your financial status compared to that of your upbringing? Some strive to achieve a similar level as part of seeking balance, some a higher level with "balance" being what is left after achieving a higher level financially. Defining "balance" as you view it may be the key, and this is influenced by childhood experience; 2. Many people go through a transition as they gain vocational experience, and you seem to be quite content with practicing law. There are many ways to do that, a beginning one for most being adequate compensation, the definition of which may change as other major events beyond the major one of vocational choice has been achieved.

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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (career advice).

Cavalier91 - You originally posted this in the non-US investing forum. Are you outside the US?
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citygirldc
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by citygirldc »

Take my advice for what it's worth as someone who skipped happily out of biglaw as soon as I got another offer, but I would recommend taking the in-house position. Biglaw will always be there. You may not necessarily be able to go back to your specific firm (but if you're bringing a big client with you then you probably could), but you could lateral back to another firm, maybe as counsel, maybe a little further down the partner track...but if you bring that client maybe you'd come in as non-equity partner or even full partner.

In-house is a lot harder to get, especially an in-house that won't be as much of a time commitment as biglaw or more. This is a great chance to beef up your resume. Tech has so much new business creation that you should be able to become GC at another company within a reasonable amount of time, if that's your goal. That's harder in other industries where the barrier to entry is higher so the supply of GC positions is more constrained.

I can't tell if you're being modest about your partner prospects and I don't know what specific firm you're at, but as a fifth year if you do not yet have a sponsor partner yet who is specifically grooming you to be partner, I would be uncomfortable with your odds. You're around three years out from that decision? If you were in line you'd likely know, and would be told what you need to do to get there in terms of firm committees and other "soft" non-billables, as well as direct client relations. There is a big benefit to leaving on your own terms.

Admittedly, this isn't the best economic time to jump to a tech firm. But if you feel reasonably secure with the firm's fundamentals, I would go for it.
jg12345
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by jg12345 »

Hi there,
I think you'd like to provide more information, although I am an analyst type person, and I am very structured. Relevant things: age, amount saved until now, current saving rate, choices regarding family.

This is a multi-faceted decision which generally boils down to what you need vs. what you get in each position. I cannot say what to do, but I can note some things you might want to consider in taking the decision.

1) Money: is the lower long-term compensation important? in other words, do you need the money? Two points here:
- If you are a person who spend a lot, like branded expensive stuff, fancy cars/clothes, etc. then it would push big law up
- If you have already 1m stashed in your portfolio and you are 30, then this would push big law down, as you might not need the money

One point: IMHO and experience, small firms usually have to give a decent salary increase to attract people from big firms, because they know the long-term salary/career opps will not be matched. The fact that they do not do that might be considered a bad sign in terms of motivation/culture/HR practices.

2) is time important to you? Here there are lifestyle consideration to be made. Do you need the time, and if so, for what? If you have kids already, and you'd like to spend time with them, this would push big law down. How you'd like to spend that time?

3) Is the job stability something important to you? only you can know your risk aversion. But if your skills are highly demanded in the market, then maybe you do not need the stability of big law.
4) Is having a job you like important to you? in this case it seems you like both jobs, so that's a wash. People I know really cannot care less about what they do: working for a motivating/fun job or working for demotivating/boring job does not make a difference and what makes the difference is the salary. That's an acceptable position, but I do not know whether that's your case.

There may be other criteria of course, and there is another element: feelings :) some people place more weight on "how they feel like" about the new position, some less.

Let me take a real life example. Someone I advised who moved from big corporate to the international development/health sector early 30s. I did not provide a reco, but only made sure the person was not forgetting things. Using a similar framework:
- time: hours remained similar or went slightly down. this was not very important to the person (limited intention about having a family)
- job enjoyment: very high (before: working for the profit of a shareholder, after: working for people's wellbeing) and this was very important to the person
- money: salary went substantially down but definitely not to "poor level", there were savings to start with, and the person is frugal.
- job stability: job is less stable, but old and new job skills look like they will be in demand for a long time.
- feelings: strong feel that the move would be a good one

For what I am told, the person is happy with the choice made.
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The Man with the Axe
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by The Man with the Axe »

Suggestion: Seek out a couple of headhunters who work in your part of the country. Ask them what they think about this.

Good luck!
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Cavalier91
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by Cavalier91 »

LadyGeek wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 8:25 am This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (career advice).

Cavalier91 - You originally posted this in the non-US investing forum. Are you outside the US?
Nope, thanks for correcting! I posted on my phone, and clicked the wrong forum—personal finance (not investing) was the intention!
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Cavalier91
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by Cavalier91 »

The Man with the Axe wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 9:48 am Suggestion: Seek out a couple of headhunters who work in your part of the country. Ask them what they think about this.

Good luck!
Thanks for this advice (and to everyone else for all of the other advice).

To answer a number of questions/provide more detail:

- I’ve talked to a few headhunters that I’ve kept in touch with over the years (they were the ones that told me this offer was 99th percentile in terms of in-house comp at my level—and these are folks that would have loved to place me for a fee, so I tend to believe them). Without getting overly specific comp is roughly $300k cash $100k in equity (at today’s price). I agree that I am at an inflection point, and that staying longer will likely result in a bigger pay cut down the road.

- Company culture seems very good and I'm not particularly worried about that piece. I've done my DD on that point. In terms of job security, since they did their IPO last year, they have a lot of cash on the balance sheet—which generally makes me feel like job security should be okay for a while. I’ll also primarily be working on transactions which will drive growth of the business, so my hope is I won’t be looked at as a complete cost center (maybe false hope).

- I’m 31 years old, 1 child, and will probably have one more someday soon. My current portfolio is roughly $800 (maybe a bit less right now with markets the way they are). I come from an upper-middle-class family and I don’t “need” the money, but I would be lying if I did not say money motivated me (it is one of the things that drove me to big law in the first place).

- On partnership prospects—I’m 4 years out, and my mentor partners have said “all the right things,” but I am still not sure how attractive I find partnership. The money is great, but it seems like even upper-level partners are on call 24/7 365. I don't think I want that forever.

- If I took this job, the goal would probably be a GC position someday. I am the type of person that needs something to chase. I admittedly have a hard time being content.

- For folks not familiar, associate comp at big laws firms is pretty much lock-step, with guaranteed increases to base and bonus every year--so the pay cut is pretty much a sure thing. The only thing that would remedy that is the stock bouncing.
joechristmas
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by joechristmas »

With 5 years under your belt you are in the ideal spot to move inhouse. And, if you continue to wait, it will probably be harder to do so as you get more and more senior. If you wait until year 7 or 8, you may find it really difficult--even coming from a V20. It is unlikely that hiring will be as hot as it has been over the last 18 months a few years down the line. You also mention that you do not see yourself being a partner. If that's true, do not dismiss that feeling lightly.
You already have one child and are thinking of another one. If you want to have a family and see them you should be thinking about what you need to do to facilitate that. Staying at a V20 and gunning for partner may not be the best move for you.
I think it would also be helpful to think about what your long term goals are. Where do you want to be in 5 years and where do you want to be in 10 years. If the answer to those questions is "not in my law firm" then you should get out while you have the chance.
jg12345
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by jg12345 »

Cavalier91 wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 10:42 am
The Man with the Axe wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 9:48 am Suggestion: Seek out a couple of headhunters who work in your part of the country. Ask them what they think about this.

Good luck!
Thanks for this advice (and to everyone else for all of the other advice).

To answer a number of questions/provide more detail:

- I’ve talked to a few headhunters that I’ve kept in touch with over the years (they were the ones that told me this offer was 99th percentile in terms of in-house comp at my level—and these are folks that would have loved to place me for a fee, so I tend to believe them). Without getting overly specific comp is roughly $300k cash $100k in equity (at today’s price). I agree that I am at an inflection point, and that staying longer will likely result in a bigger pay cut down the road.

- Company culture seems very good and I'm not particularly worried about that piece. I've done my DD on that point. In terms of job security, since they did their IPO last year, they have a lot of cash on the balance sheet—which generally makes me feel like job security should be okay for a while. I’ll also primarily be working on transactions which will drive growth of the business, so my hope is I won’t be looked at as a complete cost center (maybe false hope).

- I’m 31 years old, 1 child, and will probably have one more someday soon. My current portfolio is roughly $800 (maybe a bit less right now with markets the way they are). I come from an upper-middle-class family and I don’t “need” the money, but I would be lying if I did not say money motivated me (it is one of the things that drove me to big law in the first place).

- On partnership prospects—I’m 4 years out, and my mentor partners have said “all the right things,” but I am still not sure how attractive I find partnership. The money is great, but it seems like even upper-level partners are on call 24/7 365. I don't think I want that forever.

- If I took this job, the goal would probably be a GC position someday. I am the type of person that needs something to chase. I admittedly have a hard time being content.

- For folks not familiar, associate comp at big laws firms is pretty much lock-step, with guaranteed increases to base and bonus every year--so the pay cut is pretty much a sure thing. The only thing that would remedy that is the stock bouncing.
To me everything you say is pointing to "move". I cannot comment as I have 0 knowledge about whether it is too soon/too early to leave. But you don't need the money a lot, have substantial savings, would enjoy the time off work with your kids/wife, and the time on work as well. It might be just down to how you feel about it, at this point.
spickups09
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by spickups09 »

I made the jump a few months ago from a small, specialized law firm to an in-house gig. The big difference between your position and mine was that due to the firm size, I received a substantial pay BUMP to move in-house. However, a lot of the other decision-making factors were the same. I was very content at my firm and close with the partners, and overall liked the work I was doing. And in fact, I had turned down prior offers to go in-house because of how content I was at the firm. However in the long run, I just did not really see myself being a partner at a law firm and being charged with bringing in money and being at the beck and call of clients, without any ability to unplug. So I took at an in-house job that checked a lot of boxes for me, with the main ones being good compensation for my area and my lifestyle and ability to use the experience I had gained at the firm, together with less hours and a more "corporate" atmosphere including PTO, etc. I also had a 4 month old at the time of my transition, and being able to be home at 545 everyday and see him for a couple hours before he goes to bed has been wonderful. Although the new gig isn't perfect, I remain happy with my decision-making process.

In summary, my advice is to really think about what you want long-term and if this job offer presents better opportunity to continue down your preferred path.
chicagoan23
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by chicagoan23 »

Speaking as a 23-year lawyer and a current equity partner in an AmLaw 150 Firm (not quite BigLaw, but close).

Five years in BigLaw means you have no idea what a down legal market looks like. The past five years, and especially the past three years, have been tremendous. If the market turns, your position is at risk unless you have billing responsibility for stable revenue generation. Without that, you are in jeopardy. It's not like the old days where you stay in one spot for 40 years in both fat or lean years. In market downturns I've seen many excellent lawyers, on partner track, Stanford Law School or Harvard Law School grads, etc......all become immediately expendable.

If you see a clear path to billing responsibility for your own clients, then you should stay. You're good at what you do and are on track to long-term security and wealth. Otherwise I would consider taking the offer while you have it in hand.
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CloseEnough
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by CloseEnough »

OP, as I'm sure you are aware, one of the biggest differences from being in a firm to being in-house is that when you go in-house you become an expense rather than a revenue generator, and you have one client, rather than a diversified group of clients. I know of one situation where someone made a move similar to what you describe and shortly after making it the company was going through reductions in force, including potentially cutting in the legal department. The new in-house lawyer was asked by the GC whether they could return to the firm (obviously, not, or not in a good way usually), to avoid being on the layoff list. It all worked out in the end, but was a startling revelation for the new in-house lawyer. I am not saying don't do it, this may be a great opportunity and the time to jump may be now. These positions don't come along every day, with what sounds like good career potential. And that brings me to another point, if this position is the number 2 lawyer in a 2 person department, there may be very limited opportunities to advance to the GC spot (the GC would have to leave), so if that is your goal, you would need to keep that in mind. This could be a good next step, but also could be a dead-end if you find yourself in a small department, can't advance internally and are not able to find a position to advance at another company.

Good luck, I know these are difficult decisions.
ragstochamois
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by ragstochamois »

Cavalier91 wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 6:55 amI’d welcome any thoughts.
Similar career path (corporate V5 to in-house position at one of MAANG after ~4 years).

For me, the decision came down to three factors.

1. The nature of the work. In-house was much more engaging than what I was doing at the firm.

2. Autonomy. I got very little at the firm. I have much more in-house.

3. Exit options. The exact moment I realized I never wanted to become a partner at a firm was late in the evening during a deal, listening to a 20 something year old tech founder verbally abuse the partner I was working with (who had 30+ years of experience and had done absolutely nothing wrong. The partner had to sit there and take it, client was too big to lose. Just not something I personally aspired to. Going in-house at a good company opens a lot of doors.

My biggest piece of advice is to make absolutely sure that there is a culture of respect around the legal department at your new company. What I mean by that is, are attorneys seen as a valued part of the company and critical to growth, or are they there to check a box?

If the former, it'll be a nice place to work. If the latter, it can truly be worse than a firm. There are some serious cultural differences even between the MAANG companies, so make sure that a culture that will actually support work-life balance is in place, otherwise you're going to find yourself working just as much as you did at the firm, if not more. I know more than one person who went back to a firm because they felt like they were working the same hours for half the pay.

Similarly, if compensation is a big deal for you, make sure you understand the policies around equity refreshes. Total compensation can look a lot different at the 4+ year mark depending on how that shakes out. For not being a MAANG company, I agree that looks like quite a strong offer, provided the re-ups are in place.

Good luck!
Circe
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by Circe »

Good advice above. I was faced with a similar choice years ago at a Big 4 CPA firm. The good thing is that you have a great resume and will be in demand for some years to come. There will be other opportunities. Is this the one that you want?

One other consideration is the economy. Jerome Powell yesterday in an NPR interview said that a soft landing is less likely than thought before.

How risky is the new firm? Which position would be most likely to survive a downturn?

Hard to predict but you have to make the best decision for you.
Chicagogal
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by Chicagogal »

Hello! I have received a lot of great
Advice on this forum so feel compelled to share my story.

I was biglaw (corporate) in the mid 2000s and left when I was a sixth year. Back then firms were more brutal to their associates, and not giving the things like huge stay bonuses that they are now. The economy wasn’t as strong, I had a young child and I was desperate for work life balance as I had a young child. I took almost a $100k paycut to leave.

I have corporate and Securites experience and this type of experience commands a premium in house and puts you in GC track. I have moved up over the years and make as much if not more than an equity big law partner.

I love being in house, and helping one company and working on complex legal issues. The work life balance is great, although there are of course times I have to work a lot still.

I can remember being an associate and looking at partners who were working a deal at 2 am and realizing at partner track can actually be worse from a work life balance perspective than an associate.

I have been trying to hire a corporate associate out of biglaw and you are not unique, no one wants to leave. I think firms are now kinder, gentler and more appreciative of associates.

I share my story because I am suspicious that the law firm shift of kindler / Gentler is permanent. Look at the partners you work for and ask yourself if that is the type of life you want to live, with pressure to originate, etc., and working the hours they do.

I would urge you to make the decision based on where you want to be in 5-10 years as you move up. Don’t worry about the money, if you are a smart, articulate and hard working person the money will come either way.

Good luck! Moving in house was one of the best things I ever did! But I know some people who have stayed and they love it too. It’s one of those things where you really have to look in your heart and decide what you want long term!
Good luck!
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Watty
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by Watty »

Not in law abut a few things that may not have been mentioned yet.

1) Do all your calculations in after tax dollars. Doing a dummy tax return for different scenarios may be worthwhile. Be sure to understand the way that the stock will be taxed.

2) Take a hard look at the commute and how much travel there will be. If the tech company has a lot of locations or is expanding then you may be constantly be traveling to the locations when you are needed there. Some of that travel may be on short notice when there is a problem to deal with. If they are international then there are a lot of countries that I would not really want to travel to.

3) Do not underestimate the important of how much vacation and sick time you get. Some tech companies have a unlimited vacation plan with sounds great but in reality you may be pressured to take even less vacation.

4) With the tech company now would be a good time to negotiate for a couple of month sabbatical every seven to ten years.
WestCoastPhan
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by WestCoastPhan »

I left a big law firm at the 5 year mark. Took a much riskier path (series of venture-backed startups) and ended up moving 100% to the business side. I would absolutely make the move if I were you.
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Cavalier91
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by Cavalier91 »

Thanks all. Really glad I made this post. The advice here is excellent (unsurprisingly).

Think I’m leaning towards taking the new gig. As many folks have suggested, when I look around at partners I work for, I do seriously question if I want that lifestyle of being always on. I like to work hard, and I’m confident I could stiff it out, but it would undoubtedly come at the expense of other things.

To the person who recommended factoring in commuting time/taxes—that is on the top of my mind. It’s a hybrid/remote gig so I can pretty much work remote whenever I want. Will take a closer look at taxes.
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The Man with the Axe
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by The Man with the Axe »

An old colleague with a lot of experience once described the move from BigLaw to In-House Counsel as "trading one set of issues for another set of issues." Based on personal experience, that was probably a reasonable assessment in terms of the day-to-day experience.

It appears you are at a career crossroads, but you can take some comfort in the knowledge that there is no perfect answer here. Either path could work out fabulously (and either one could end up a disaster) -- but whatever the outcome is, that outcome will not necessarily have anything to do with the quality of your decision-making process or of the decision itself. There are countless factors that will influence how you will feel about this decision in hindsight -- and most of them are unknowable in advance and/or beyond your control: The colleagues, clients and other people you will interact with regularly; ups and downs in big-picture factors like the economy, the industry and the client's business; where you choose to live; how the move impacts your spouse and children; etc. There are no guarantees. Every job situation is different and always changing. No two people have the same experience, even people working at the same time in the same big firm or the same in-house legal department. In the end, just make your best educated guess as to what you think will be best for you and your young family.

On that last point, there is one thing you should definitely regard as essential: Talk this over in detail with your spouse and listen carefully when they tell you how they feel about the options.
Philip_Marlowe
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by Philip_Marlowe »

Cavalier91 wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 6:55 am

I’d welcome any thoughts.
I went through this about a year ago and decided to leave. I have not regretted it for a second.

I was a 6th year doing M&A at a V10 when I left last year, one kid, also about 8 months old at the time. I'd come into biglaw with no hard plans to make partner but no plans to do the 'three years and then leave at the first chance' approach that a lot of people take. I stumbled into a terrific job in-house that checked all my boxes and decided to go for it despite knowing I was leaving significant comp on the table.

I've only been out for a year now, but a few observations:
- sounds like your comp will be more than enough to live well pretty much anywhere in the country, it's easy to get skewed by thinking biglaw comp levels are needed when that's all you're surrounded with
- the free time, especially as you kid gets older is invaluable. Even if you end up at a busy place, just the knowledge that your nights and weekends aren't going to get blown up at the last second is huge as far as quality of life goes
- the work in house can be very interesting and complex, but typically in a very different way than when you're at a firm. unless you're coming in as a specialist (which it sounds like you might be, from your description reasonable chance you're being tapped to be the "SEC guy" at this place) the variety of issues is nothing like what you deal with at a firm. Your audience is also way different and this might cut both ways depending on your personality. At a firm, you're surrounded by lawyers who by and large all think along the same lines. When you're in-house, most of your interactions will be with business people, it's a really different dynamic and can either be energizing or terrible
- two caveats/concerns I'd raise:
(i) if you're comp is going to be 30% equity, as you well know that might be amazing for you and might be worthless...I'd make sure your budget works with your base and factor any equity in as juicing your retirement; and
(ii) tone matters, big time. not just whether you like and get along with the GC, but more importantly how the GC and the legal team are viewed in the company. If you're at a place where legal is viewed as a roadblock or a place where ideas go to die, it can really suck the joy out of the job.

Lots more thoughts but that's a bit off the top of my head. Happy to chat over PM if you'd like.
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anon_investor
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by anon_investor »

Cavalier91 wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 4:41 pm Thanks all. Really glad I made this post. The advice here is excellent (unsurprisingly).

Think I’m leaning towards taking the new gig. As many folks have suggested, when I look around at partners I work for, I do seriously question if I want that lifestyle of being always on. I like to work hard, and I’m confident I could stiff it out, but it would undoubtedly come at the expense of other things.

To the person who recommended factoring in commuting time/taxes—that is on the top of my mind. It’s a hybrid/remote gig so I can pretty much work remote whenever I want. Will take a closer look at taxes.
I went in-house to a megacorp (not tech) from biglaw about 5 years ago. The best decision I ever made. At the time I had a 3 and 1 year old. The total comp was only a little less than big law, but the improvement of work life balance was amazing. We now have 3 kids, and I have plenty of time to do activities with my kids. Money isn't everything, you can't buy back lost time with family, especially a young child.
TechieTechie
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by TechieTechie »

I'm not BigLaw, but I'm in BigConsulting...similar grind, similar Partner track, similar salary structures (if not a little less in my world).

Be brutally honest with yourself. Look at the Partners (and 1 level below Partner) at yours and other firms. Do you like their work, the hours, the stress, the WLB, travel, the entertaining? To me, I saw the Partnership as 75% sales, 20% resourcing/politics headaches, and 5% of the good stuff. And being on call 24/7. Not for me..so I opted to go inhouse at my BigConsulting Firm.

If you are not 100% committed, now is the perfect time to make a lateral move to industry. You have enough breadth of experience to make industry want you, but you aren't so senior that industry may be skittish taking you on (due to high salary, lack of internal experience). At least if my experience is any guide, it's harder to make the lateral move to industry the more senior you are (most of my peers who want to leave take 1-2 years to find the right fit, often needing to swallow a decent salary hit).

It's also not uncommon, if you leave BigLaw on good terms and 3 years down the road you HATE inhouse, that you could return to BigLaw (in a more senior role). You'll have operational/inhouse experience that 95% of your peers won't have...and it's a BIG advantage.
itispossible
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by itispossible »

Great advice here. Just wanted to add that your kids will grow up only once -- and it happens so fast.
shuchong
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Re: Career Advice (leaving big law for in-house)

Post by shuchong »

I'm an 8th year in big law. I've chosen to stay (so far), but given what you've written, I would take the new job. I completely feel you on looking at partners and not being sure you want that life. Also, I was surprised by how much more stressful it is to be the lead and final decision-maker on a case, even though I have only done so for "small" cases. And of course, being on call 24/7 is exhausting and stressful even when you don't have a kid. I can't imagine doing it with a young family.

But I'll also echo what ragstochamois said: number one thing on my due diligence list would be sussing out whether this company respects its in-house lawyers. When that's not the case, it is hellish.
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