May 09, 2024

BigLaw restructuring associate - MBA path to distressed debt?

3rd year Restructuring associate within a EU based magic circle law firm here. Would love to transition into a finance role. Have decided to go get an MBA to further my transition chances (I know that the switch from restructuring BigLaw to a DD finance role is doable in the US without having to go to b-school, but seems to not be the case in the EU).
Question to you guys: assuming I would get into a top MBA program (think H/S/W, Columbia, Booth or Kellogg), do you think I would be able to make the switch to a DD fund directly WTHOUT having to go through IB (LevFin) first?
Keen to have your thoughts on this!

 

Yeh most likely. There are a few people with your background at the top restructuring shops (i.e. PJT, HL, EVR)

 
RxingInTheWild

Thank you for your reply! Sorry if I hadn’t made myself clear, I would like to transition into a buy side role at a DD shop (e.g. Oaktree, Angelo Gordon, etc.), not restructuring advisory! What do you think my chances are? Would I have to go through IB LevFin (or EB Rx at one of the shops you mentioned)?

Why not go to a restructuring bank / distressed desk analyst for reps and then move to a distressed fund?  

Biggest issues with lawyers trying to move over (I made this move years ago) generally is whether they can model / do business diligence which is the core part of the job.  The people in the US who move directly over tend to have that skill set already or aren’t normal distressed analysts and are primarily legal focused. 

For example if you were given 48 hours to do a write up with an investment recommendation, a fully linked model with scenarios on say Intrum, Altice France, or Ardagh how comfortable would you be?

 

Thank you very much for your input, much appreciated. I’m not against it! I’m just trying to weigh my options. And you are right, I have weak modeling / business diligence skills. The question is though, why is an investment bank more likely to hire me than a DD fund?

And assuming I would be fine to do a stint in IB first (which I’m fine with), would I need an MBA to do the switch from BigLaw to IB?

 
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RxingInTheWild

Thank you very much for your input, much appreciated. I’m not against it! I’m just trying to weigh my options. And you are right, I have weak modeling / business diligence skills. The question is though, why is an investment bank more likely to hire me than a DD fund?

And assuming I would be fine to do a stint in IB first (which I’m fine with), would I need an MBA to do the switch from BigLaw to IB?

A bank is resourced enough to train you. Most buyside shops run way too lean to train someone up on what is effectively table stakes for them. Also distressed credit seats are much more competitive to get than IB / RX seats. 

You can make the move without an MBA in the tier of firms you are at (magic circle in London) though if you wanted to move to say the US, a MBA would make things easier.
 

One other thing to note is that an equity partner at the tier of firms you are at will likely make more money over a ten year period vs. a partner analyst at the average distressed credit funds given how returns have compressed.  Both still will do fine but biglaw and banking comp has caught up to credit HFs.  

 

For example if you were given 48 hours to do a write up with an investment recommendation, a fully linked model with scenarios on say Intrum, Altice France, or Ardagh how comfortable would you be?

How did you develop the business skills when you were a lawyer to the level where you would have been able to complete such an investment write up?

 

For example if you were given 48 hours to do a write up with an investment recommendation, a fully linked model with scenarios on say Intrum, Altice France, or Ardagh how comfortable would you be?

How did you develop the business skills when you were a lawyer to the level where you would have been able to complete such an investment write up?

I had prior experience with a highly acquisitive corporate development department / a family office doing co-investments while in school which helped build alot of the basics around writing up businesses / modelling / laying out business risks & weaknesses etc. and also asked a few friends for examples.  

Frankly my first two cases I did for interviews were terrible both from a produced output perspective / case presentation but I learned from mistakes.  Lifetime I have gone 3 for 6 on take-home case studies for what its worth or 3 for 4 after my first couple so not perfect but hit rate is okay and now sit on the other side of the table for some as well. 

 

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