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Author Topic: mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)  (Read 1330 times)

snapjack543

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mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)
« on: 12-08-17 at 01:19 am »

I've been a trader for 10+ years at a large trading firm.  I graduated 6 years ago from law school and I'm now trying to figure out a way to go into law.  To the extent it still matters, I was in the top third of my class at a 2nd tier law school (known for IP) with a certificate in IP; B.S. in Computer Science from a top top 5 engineering school; did decently in a few moot court competitions (won best brief a couple times), did a patent clinic while back in school. 

Upon graduating, I was offered a spot on a trading team and took it in lieu of starting my career in law.  I've always been interested in IP, but getting married and having kids in addition to my day job since law school really prevented me from keeping up to speed.  I'm now at a crossroads where my team might be winding down and I don't feel any desire to attempt to continue as a trader.

The trading firm I work at has a sizable in-house legal department that deals with everything from IP issues with start-ups to capital markets compliance.  It feels to me (perhaps naively so) the easiest way to change career paths is to attempt to transfer to that department in any capacity and hopefully taking on some ip work if available.  I'm friendly with a few of the staff-attorneys in my office, most know I'm also an attorney, but I'm curious what kind of pitch I might give to convince them that I would be valuable to their team.  As a quantitative trader for more than 10 years, I know the trading industry and its technology backwards and forwards having traded nearly every major asset class and every exchange around the world, but I'm not sure how I can leverage this experience.  How might I be able to pitch my experience/skillset into something that anyone in the legal field cares about?  :-\
« Last Edit: 12-08-17 at 01:25 am by snapjack543 »
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Tobmapsatonmi

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Re: mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)
« Reply #1 on: 12-08-17 at 11:43 am »


... I'm curious what kind of pitch I might give to convince them that I would be valuable to their team.  As a quantitative trader for more than 10 years, I know the trading industry and its technology backwards and forwards having traded nearly every major asset class and every exchange around the world, but I'm not sure how I can leverage this experience.  How might I be able to pitch my experience/skillset into something that anyone in the legal field cares about?  :-\


A lot depends on corporate culture, and in particular the culture in the legal dept.  I've worked for a few companies where there were a lot of qualified attorneys in other roles (procurement, trade compliance, contracts management, etc.) but there was an absolute bar against people trying to "back door their way into the legal department". 

The thinking was if they started letting JDs jump from these roles into legal, they'd suspect future applicants who had a JD of not really being interested in the position except as to a potential foot in the door of the legal department.

Your situation is not on par with what I've described above, and I'd hope that even if your company has one of those "no back dooring your way in to legal" cultures, they could readily see the difference as well.

As for selling yourself, the part of your OP that I quoted above is your best asset.  You may have some learning curve and need some training from a legal standpoint, but there's no learning curve about your company, what it sells, how it does it, and what technology it uses.  Also you have longevity with the company that should provide some comfort about how long you'll likely remain.  It's a real PITA to spend 8 to 10 months to hire a new attorney and have them walk out 2 years later.

Best of luck to you.

Edit to add: I should mention that I doubt that anyone will care about the school "2nd tier LS being known for IP" (which is kind of a sad joke, and I am not trying to be offensive, just realistic), nor the IP certificate, nor moot.  Don't bring these up, but it's probably fine to leave on your resume in case you get to the point where formally they feel like they need to have a resume on record.  If the IP attorneys there are patent attorneys, it probably wouldn't hurt to let slip the name of your UG, as they'll recognize it as one of the best.  If the "IP" attorneys there are poly sci majors who drifted into doing software licenses, copyright, TM work, they probably won't know top engineering school from a top.... uh whatever.  You know what I mean.
« Last Edit: 12-08-17 at 11:55 am by Tobmapsatonmi »
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PatentNugget

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Re: mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)
« Reply #2 on: 02-05-18 at 03:41 pm »

I'm curious - why do you want to leave trading?  I'm trying to exit law and get into trading?  :D
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abc123

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Re: mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)
« Reply #3 on: 02-05-18 at 05:02 pm »

I harbored that thought.....till mid-afternoon. :)
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PatentNugget

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Re: mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)
« Reply #4 on: 02-05-18 at 05:18 pm »

ha

see SPXS, however.
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NJ Patent1

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Re: mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)
« Reply #5 on: 02-05-18 at 05:30 pm »

snapjack:  Welcome.  I’d generally echo Tobma’s comments, I just add comment or two, maybe put a spin on what’s been typed.
• Money.  You have a 10yo law degree and no substantive legal experience.  If you are successful internally, even with potentially useful non-legal experience, you’d probably take a decent hit in AGI.  Odds of sliding from a Hay level ## in trading into a Hay level ## in legal would IMO be slim to none.  OK with this if I’m right? 
• The corollary here is from legal department’s side.  Why is this person willing to take a (presumed) AGI hit?  Don’t mean to be a “downer” here, just something that immediately popped into mind.  Be prepared to deal with this.  Like many in life sciences, I’m a “second career” IP attorney and had to deal with; “why did you hang-up your lab coat and go to law school”?
• If your life situation allows you to absorb a (presumed) AGI hit, how about a “legal reporter”, writing on IP issues that affect the securities trading business?  Bloomberg and Crain’s come to mind. 
• A small-to-medium law firm / boutique that specializes in securities-related litigation?  Knowing how things “really work” could be a leg-up on freshly minted JDs of which there are many. 
• As for perceived value of your acquired experience to present employer, I can’t really comment.  In life sciences, a PhD and some years at the bench – “in the real world of R&D” - has some value.  You can talk to inventors at their level.  If you really know technology inside out, could be value in patent prosecution (do trading firm do that?), or in researching / advising on IP issues in, say, an IPO or M&A.  But in my experience, the latter gets farmed-out to IP law firms. Have been beneficiary of that.  Apparently your employer does it differently? 
Good luck and best, NJP1
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NJ Patent1

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Re: mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)
« Reply #6 on: 02-05-18 at 08:41 pm »

abc:  I admit to being dense at times (ok often).  Help me understand how your post relates to the OP?  Or are you just trolling? 
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friendofafriend

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Re: mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)
« Reply #7 on: 02-06-18 at 01:48 am »

abc:  I admit to being dense at times (ok often).  Help me understand how your post relates to the OP?  Or are you just trolling?
I believe that abc123 was resonding to the comment immediately prior to his, that "PatentNugget" was considering switching from law to trading.  About noon today, the market (measured by Dow, DJIA) started to fall and closed with the WORST OVERALL point drop in the history of the DJIA, about 1600 points, ending the day about 1175 in the negative, almost 5% drop in a single day.  So, up until that happened, the market was humming along nicely and becoming a trader would have been a great career.  But the near future for traders may not be all that great.
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This post is on an anonymous internet forum, and does not represent the views of the PTO, any law firm, or any other entity, and is not legal advice.

abc123

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Re: mid-life career change (via internal transfer?)
« Reply #8 on: 02-06-18 at 04:01 am »

I embellished about PatentNugget's remark about the market in a post that accidentally got deleted, but no matter.

It sounds like you already know the answer to your question. Why not just ask where they could use some extra help, and then say you would be willing to volunteer for a (short) while, if you can spare the time. Or find out from someone where they need help, then study up on the area, then offer to help on a project, if this is feasible.

For the patent route, If I had your experience, I would consider focusing on business method patents, networks, or some combination of the two, like patenting methods of doing high frequency trading, or some such thing. Maybe self-learning systems, data mining, or a special area of AI that interests you. Then I might get a copy of Sheldon's How To Write A Patent Application and go through it, and find someone who would take you on either paid or unpaid (obviously hopefully paid) to teach you the process of drafting patent applications.

Anyway, sounds like you are in good shape, as you already have your foot in the door, and have good credentials. If you are in the NY area, you will find lots of firms that do patent work. Just a few thoughts.
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