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.’”




Corporate Counsel (M&A) @ Better.com

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Counsel, Legal & Business Affairs @ Global Entertainment Agency

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In House M&A Counsel @ Top Private Equity Fund

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Associate General Counsel, Product and Regulatory @ Intersection of FinTech and PropTech

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Associate General Counsel @ Late-stage Industry Disruptor

Very Tech-y

Product Counsel @ Blockchain Platform

The Solution

Commercial Counsel @ Healthcare Data Startup

Fight Diseases with Data

Director, Legal & Business Affairs @ Digital Entertainment Leader


Corporate Counsel @ Alternative Investment Platform

Democratizing Investments

Deputy General Counsel - Corporate Development & Governance @ Heavy-hitting Unicorn

IPO Bound

Commercial AGC @ Iconic Fine Jewelry Brand

Put a Ring On It

Sr. Corporate Counsel @ OwnBackup, high-growth data techco

SaaS in Hypergrowth Mode

1st Legal Hire @ Alpaca - Series B FinTech

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M&A Counsel @ Tech-y Venture Capital Fund (Portuguese Speaker)

VC is Heating Up

AGC, Payments Product Counsel @ FinTech "Unicorn"

Parlez vous MTL, KYC, & AML?

M&A Counsel @ Tech-y Venture Capital Fund

Unicorn Hunters

Private Funds Counsel @ Private Equity & Venture Capital Group

Break into VC

M&A Transactions Counsel @ Private Equity & Venture Capital Group

The Mathletes of PE

Commercial Counsel @ Video Gaming Unicorn

Ready Player One?

Litigation Counsel @ International Gaming Company

Rarer than Rare

Corporate Counsel, Tech & SaaS @ Social App

Put Yourself Out There

Corporate M&A Counsel @ E-Commerce Unicorn

Career Launcher

Data & Product Counsel @ Zocdoc

First Name in Health-Tech

Legal Counsel @ The Hut Group (Beauty & Wellbeing E-Commerce)

Bevy of Beauty

Life Sciences Associate @ Top Startups Firm

The Antidote to Big Pharma

Associate Attorney @ Leading Investment Firm

For the Apex Preditors

Corporate Counsel @ Pharmaceutical Heavy-Weight

Hard Sciences Background not Required

General Counsel @ FinTech SaaS Startup

Go Digital

VP of Legal @ E-Commerce Consumer Lending Platform

Add to Cart

CFIUS Compliance @ Elite Tech Client

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Emerging Companies Associate @ Elite Startup-Focused Firm

Keep EC/VC Weird

Futures Trading Compliance @ Crypto Trading Platform

The Brand Name in Crypto

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FinTech Fix

Emerging Companies Capital Markets Associate @ Startups Focused Firm

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Senior In-House Counsel @ Digital Health Leader

Not Your Grandma's Healthcare

In-House Commercial Transactions Attorney @ Digital Health Leader

Healthcare Meets Tech

In-House Life Science Corporate Counsel @ Pharmaceutical Company

Future of Pharma

Exclusive: ECVC Associate at Elite Firm's LA Office

Best Partner Opportunity in SoCal

Program Lawyer / Event Content Director @ TechGC

By GCs, For GCs

In-House Corporate Counsel at Venture Fund

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Startup & Media Associate @ Arts & Entertainment-Focused Boutique

Très Chic

Director of Business & Legal @ Media Streaming Company

Binge Worthy

Privacy Counsel @ International Gaming Company

The Next Big Thing in Gaming

IP & Tech Litigation opp at a Silicon Valley tech Firm

The Move Before You Go In House

Privacy Partner @ Bay Area AmLaw 50 Firm

Plug and Play

Biotech Late Stage/Cap Markets Partner

Use Your Expertise

In-House FinTech Bankruptcy Counsel

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Senior In-house Counsel @ Edgy FinTech Shop

Global Platform

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The Good Life

Legal Recruiter

New York or Los Angeles