Advice

How can I best prepare for life at a ‘notoriously busy’ US firm?

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I’m moving from a mid-tier outfit and want to hit the ground running

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one newly qualified solicitor needs advice on how to best prepare for life at the London office of a “notoriously busy” US law firm.

“I completed my training contract in a mid-tier firm, but I have accepted an NQ offer in a notoriously busy US firm’s Dispute Resolution team. I’m looking forward to the challenge, but I’m expecting a huge culture change and increase in tempo. I have three months before I start. How can I best prepare myself so I can hit the ground running? For example, should I memorise the structure of the White Book/contract and tort basics/revise my LPC litigation notes / read all the cases on BAILII which the firm has recently been involved in / all of the above / anything else? Thanks for any advice you can offer.”

If you have a career conundrum, email us with it to careers@legalcheek.com.

64 Comments

Kirkland NQ

Congratulations! There are a number of steps I would suggest taking but, first things first, get yourself on over to Coutts and tell them the good news!

(38)(6)

Anonymous

How’s the Lambo?

(4)(4)

Anonymous

The shtick ran its course mate. Now calm down, get back to your textbooks and make sure to have a good nights’ rest before your exams. Those first year marks count, don’t let them tell you different!

(17)(11)

Kirkland NQ

So much jealousy. I actually skipped my first year at uni because much like the ‘land partners, the lecturers knew raw talent when they saw it. Any lack of sleep I have now is down to my model girlfriend 😉

(7)(0)

Anonymous

I bet “the ‘land partners” share these kind of bants all day long. You just destroyed any trace of credibility you might have had.

(1)(1)

Legal yoda

That all seems like a good way to burn yourself with overwork and anxiety before you’ve even begun! Best take the time to relax, do some exercise, clear your mind so you can go in feeling fresh and stress free on day one. Then, just be prepared to sponge up information (which will inevitably happen with the hours and exposure to content), maybe take some time over weekends to follow up on anything that you feel requires further attention for your own learning and development. No partner was an expert from day 1, so don’t pressure yourself, these things will come with time.

(48)(0)

Anon

underrated comment!

(0)(0)

US Trainee

The best preparation would be to get beaten up for 24 hours straight by two people wearing placards saying ‘client’ and ‘partner’. Then at the end of the pummelling, get them to throw dollar bills at you.

(160)(0)

Thanks for the laugh

Hahahaha

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Don’t forget the mental emails from Chad J Willoughby III at 3 am

“Can I get a handle on whether regulation 5(c)(2) applies to the attached bond or whether that is Korean law? Need it by 8am”

(54)(0)

Anonymous

Poppers too

(1)(0)

Anonymous

It probably won’t be as bad as you think it will be.

I moved from regions to magic circle, and it’s fine.

(4)(7)

Anonymous

Liar ^

(13)(4)

Anonymous

I’m not you prick.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Which department? Mail room?

(44)(5)

Anonymous

Better call Saul!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

US firms work longer hours than MC. Billable hours targets are c. 200 a year more, then US firms don’t have anywhere near as much support so there’s additional hours on top of billable for administration and grunt work that an assistant or paralegal would deal with at a MC or a regional firm.

(3)(1)

Jaded

(1) [Insert obligatory comment about getting repeatedly rojered. It is true.]

(2) [Insert obligatory comment about how much money you are going to earn. It is true.]

(3) [Receive butthurt replies from MC employees “But what about the prestige?”, people who work at firms that claim to be as good as the MC but aren’t “But what about working for a firm that punches above its weight?”, and everyone else “But what about the work-life balance? $130,000+ isn’t that much money when you think about it…”]

(16)(6)

Anonymous

Not to sound like a disgruntled employee but you do work on crap work at US firms. You get pigeonholed into working with only one partner on one type of repetitive matter. I’d rather have the prestige of working in a top ranking team and benefiting from working with a variety of partners. Also, definitely better work/life balance at MC. I wouldn’t mind the 200 extra billable hours a year if there wasn’t additional hours on top of that for work an assistant would do at an MC, because US firms have no support structure.

(4)(3)

Anonymous

Go and sit on a beach for three months. You’ll be glad you did it afterwards.

(25)(0)

John salmon

Buy modafinil (lots of it)

Buy pro plus (342 at boots)

Practice micro-dosing flake.

(18)(0)

Anonymous

Reach out to Magic. He’ll supply all your powder needs.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Slow day at Squires?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Get back to work slave.

(1)(2)

Curious

Are there any downsides to modafinil? It’s available legally with a prescription, and there was an interesting Tatler article about it a while ago which made it sound both quite normal, and ideal for anyone working long hours in law. Clearly it wouldn’t obviate the need for sleep, but it might help you fight through until the weekend? Hence my question about downsides.

I was at a client meeting earlier this year, and the client’s daughter had been caught with modafinil. He was extremely concerned. While accepting that adults’ choices have different implications to children’s, his reaction made me question my perhaps blasé attitude (which was largely borne of the Tatler article; hardly the New England Journal of Medicine, I realise).

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Have done it for the past 5 years (on and off, take more during busier times). No side affects, just set alarms for food and drink as you won’t remember otherwise.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

I took it at uni during exam season and outperformed my expectations by a ridiculous amount. It felt like I was I was taking the pills from Limitless

I also got pretty bad anxiety in the long run and feel like it was linked

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Get a good therapist

(2)(0)

Anonymous

This has Quinn Emanuel written all over it. If that’s where you’re going, be very very afraid (and grease up twice as much).

(17)(0)

Anonymous

I was thinking Deveboise or Skadden actually.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

True, both could well apply. Quinn is by far the sweatiest though.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

What about AG?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

AG is a non-entity for Arb/Lit in the City. Even CMS is better

Anonymous

where does latham/kirkland rank in hours compared to other MC/US firms?

Inspector Bantz

This is hysterical, 10/10.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

As a general rule, I think it is true to say that US style of disputes is much more aggressive and settlement focused. This changes a bit with industry of course.

i would refresh the CPR stuff if they do much high court litigation and the Rules of the LCIA, LMAA, GAFTA maybe and UNCITRAL if they do arbitration.

Outside the legal stuff consider the industry groups which they serve and those which keep them busy and understand the workings therein and regulations which guide them. If it’s mostly insurance litigation, get up to speed underwriting standards etc, if it’s professional negligence read the accouting or medical professionals’ regulations. Securities based? read up on standard debt terms, rules for selling equities, listing procedures.

Wouldn’t hurt to map out the players in each industry transaction. a lender, a borrower, an underwriter, a servicing entity, the Regulators for a debt deal for example.

good luck

(20)(1)

Original poster

Thank you. As entertaining as the other answers are, this is the sort of constructive advice I was hoping for when I emailed the Legal Cheek team to ask them to post this.

(13)(1)

Anonymous

You came to Legal Cheek for “constructive advice”?

(27)(0)

Anonymous

Don’t stress, enjoy the ride, and remember you can always move.

(6)(0)

JDP

That’s what I told my trainee.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

“For example, should I memorise the structure of the White Book/contract and tort basics/revise my LPC litigation notes / read all the cases on BAILII which the firm has recently been involved in / all of the above / anything else?”

Everything you listed is a waste of time. Those examples read like something a student would think up. I suspect that this was not written by an NQ.

(14)(2)

Anonymous

My thoughts were that it was made up. Top US firms in London only hire really stellar Disputes NQs, the likes of which would not have written to Legal Cheek with those questions – surely they did a seat in Disputes at their firm and would have more than ‘LPC’ notes to go on by their 4th seat! It seems unlikely a mid-tier NQ would be joining a notoriously busy Disputes practice, when there are tons of Magic Circle 4th seaters itching for these opportunities. Maybe in a niche but not straight Com Lit or Arbitration.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Yeah tons of Magic Circle 4th seaters which are often useless shyte. We’ve just had one such joker join our Disputes team in London, total waste

(10)(0)

Anonymous

I know juniors that have moved from Scottish firms to L&W to do PE, it really isn’t as hard as you think to get into a ‘top’ US firm.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Top Scottish firms are easily as good as MC ones. Wilkie Farr used to use Dickson Minto as their GB partner for deals, over London-HQ’d shops.

(12)(1)

Anonyman

Squeaky bum time!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Writing as a soon-to-be graduate, is having a minimum 2.1 in each module of your course a basic requirement for applying for TCs? I mean every type of city firm, not just American ones

I ask this here just because this’ll be where I imagine those best suited to answer the question will be reading, but apologies if this isn’t the right place to ask.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Not for places like Squires or the Shed.

Proper firms will expect that from most fresh grads, less bothered for an internal paralegal hire.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Where’d you get this info mate?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You’ll be laughed at so hard you’ll end up running away to Quality Solicitors Ltd Gatwick office.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

No I got 2:2s in contract and tort but still received offers from 2 magic circle and 1 US firm, just get a 65 average or above overall and it doesn’t matter

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Cut all ties with all loved ones and friends.

Forever.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Just don’t move.

Defy the superficial constraints imposed by a society intent on spreading insecurity, fear and the belief that, above everything, money and success is the key to happiness.

Do something meaningful, where you can actually improve lives and instill happiness in those less fortunate than ourselves.

How sad that the brightest and best join the corporate conveyor belt. What a waste.

(6)(7)

Anonymous

You don’t owe other people a fucking thing

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Don’t do it, you will never recover

(1)(1)

Comments are closed.

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