I know the initial answer will be “whatever you want” or “whatever you’re good at” or “whatever your personality traits fit, etc.” But overall, what’s better for a person’s career/career options, big firm transactional or big firm litigation? And what type of transactional, etc. is better to go into? Thank you.
Great question. And my answer is definitely not “whatever you want” or “whatever you’re good at.” The choice between litigation and transactional comes down to this: Do you want to be a lawyer for the rest of your life? If you don’t, I’d definitely suggest focusing on corporate (non-litigation) work. If you do, and you don’t like business or enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal, you should become a litigator. Sounds simplistic, I know. But I promise you this: If you don’t like reading the Journal, you’re definitely not going to like drafting a proxy statement.
In my opinion, the major advantage of corporate law versus litigation is that it’s much easier to transition out of law into business since the skill set you develop is more readily transferable to non-legal, business jobs, such as investment banking, private equity, and real estate development. As far as what type of transactional work you should focus on… That’s up to you. It also depends on the size of the firm where you work. At the big firms, there tends to be several distinct departments (e.g., Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate Finance and Financial Institutions), while at the mid-size and smaller firms, things are far less structured and specialized.
But if you don’t have a so-called business mind and you actually want to be a a real lawyer, you should definitely become a litigator. It’s where the rubber meets the road in the legal world. It’s real law. Research, writing, motions, and every once in a while, an actual jury trial. Plus, it’s recession-proof. While corporate work slows down in an economic downturn, litigation doesn’t. People sue each other in good times and bad. Fact. You might be writing and researching your ass off, but at least you won’t have to worry about getting laid off.
Hope that helps.
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