East Coast Vs. West Coast  

"Considerations in Choosing a Firm and Practice Areas"

Harvard Law School Podcast | 02.25.16


Looking for advice about making the move between the East Coast and West Coast as a law student or junior associate? Sean spoke with Sara Dana at Harvard Law School's Office of Career Services about what kind of firm you should start at, what areas of practice transfer well, what your daily practice looks like on either coast and more . 



What should law students be thinking about when picking a firm out of law school?


“Students and junior associates, more often than they used to, are thinking about exit opportunities. Most students nowadays, they’re not thinking about making partner, they’re thinking about if I go to this firm, how is it setting me up in my career for whatever my next move is, whether it’s making partner or going in-house.”

Sean Burke circle


What's the trajectory for if you want to come from an East Coast firm to West Coast in-house?


“It can be hard to switch straight from an East Coast top practice to West Coast in-house. A lot of the time those people are going to need to consider making a move to a West Coast law firm before they can make the move to go in-house.”


What areas of practice transfer well from the East Coast to the West Coast?


“Outside of M&A, if you’re doing things that are speciality practices that are more prevalent outside of New York, that’ll be helpful as well. Those would be software licensing agreements, outsourcing, privacy, trademark and copyright… things that are specialty IP practices that when you picture clients like Facebook or Google, attorneys with those skill sets out of New York might have more options when they move to the West Coast.”


Final advice?


“At the end of the day, what’s going to help your career the most is going to a place where there’s a great culture fit, where you’ve identified people that you think could be great mentors, where the firm is really good in the space that you’re interested in, and where the firm is representing the type of clients you want to go to. All those things are more important than the prestige of the firm and whether it’s considered a ‘top firm.’”




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