Dear Ex-Bitter: I am currently a 1L at a top-20 school. Because I have a language fluency and a connection to Asia, I was very lucky to receive a Summer Associate offer at the Asia office of a large US firm. Eventually, I want to work and live in Asia long-term.
During my experience, I’ve been receiving mixed messages. In both the Asia office and the New York office where I originally interviewed, the managing partners said they would prefer that I start right away in Asia (assuming everything went well during the summer) after law school. However, other partners throughout the firm have suggested that I spend at least a couple of years working in the US before making my move to Asia. They said I will get better training in the US and that a lawyer’s advantage to working in Asia is being a US lawyer with US law capabilities and experience, which, coming out of law school, I have none. They also say working in NY or CA will look better in terms of my credentials (to the clients and other opposing lawyers).
Given the economy, if I get an offer, I may not have the opportunity to choose the particular office in which I’d like to work. I’d prefer the option to stay in the US when I graduate in 2011, but the offer may be exclusive to an Asian location. Assuming I do get an offer and have a choice in office locations, what is your take on this situation? Is it better for a fresh law grad to start in Asia right away as opposed to spending a couple of years in the US? Thanks!
From a purely practical standpoint, it’s better to start in the United States than Asia.
First off, the power base of all American firms is based in the United States. If you start in Asia, you’ll have a hard time making a name for yourself with the people that actually matter. It’s like working in satellite office – times 10.
Second, if you start in Asia and want to move back to the US, firms may question your training/experience, making it difficult to relocate. Some firms may even balk at giving you full credit for time served.
Having said that, if you intend to live in Asia permanently (as you suggest), then it’s a no-brainer. Take the gig and don’t look back.