Is it worth pursuing VC (vs Biglaw in UK)?

I'm currently in university in the UK and have the aim of becoming a corporate lawyer (working in biglaw). But recently as I'm learning more about the career, the more I realise that it is made up of boring and mundane tasks (doc review a lot of paperwork, etc.).

In VC, however, it appears as if the work itself is more interesting at every level (even the more mundane and iterative tasks). 
The pros and cons for each would probably look something like this: 

BigLaw: 

Pros:

  • no 'law school' here in the same sense as in the US, so there is no extra cost or time sacrifice that I'd have to make, and salaries in biglaw here are quite high: 
    • (Y1, Y2) Trainee - £45k-60k ($55k - $80k)
    • (Y3) NQ - £90k on the lower end to £175k on the very highest end - ($110k - $215k)
    • (Y4+) £110k+ - £200k+ ($140k - $250k+)

Cons: 

  • in-house (something I'd strongly consider early on) salaries are quite low here. 
  • Bad international optionality 
  • limited exit opps

VC: 

Pros: 

  • (more) interesting work (?) 
  • better international optionality 
  • exit opps may be wider (?) 

Cons: 

  • Basically no data on salaries but almost 100% guarantee that biglaw out earns VC until partner (if that's even possible to reach) 
  • Harder to access: would have to come from MBB/T2 (?) which is harder to attain in London than biglaw (as there are a lot more firms compared to like 5/6 strat consulting firms) 
  • Stagnant progression 

With everything considered, what would you guys choose? While biglaw seems like the more sensible choice, ideally I don't wanna do something I find very boring for the rest of my life. Also, is VC even worth pursuing in London?

Any data/advice much appreciated  

 
Most Helpful

Hi, don't work in VC so can't be sure of much but I'd say a few points to consider:

1) I think you may be slightly underestimating the VC comp. There's quite a bit of variability obviously but the top firms pay very well

2) Another point I didn't see mentioned was hours ? This is very firm dependent for both professions but my understanding (from lawyer friends) is that the higher end of junior comp for law is at the American firms that work you to the bone. VC at a great paying firm is also gonna be longer than average but I'd imagine more digestible, particularly if you find the work less tedious as you said

3) In terms of industry I feel like law is getting some pretty good tailwinds, regulation keeps piling up, there's little cyclicality and as legal/regulatory becomes a bigger problem for businesses, I wonder if exit ops for lawyers aren't going to keep improving, as people able to navigate this logic turn into a more important asset in other areas. This can be contrasted with (some not all obviously) pretty shit returns for certain VC firms

 

Hi, thanks for the comment. 

While I understand that VC comp isn't necessarily bad, the (very few) data points I've had (Like this and this) lead me to conclude that it will almost invariably be lower than biglaw in the UK. Those salaries are for the US, and it's quite unlikely that you're going to get paid more in London compared to NYC or SF. I understand your point on the top firms though,

Regarding hours, pretty much every firm in the pay range I mentioned above will expect around 55+ hrs (from talking to people from a range). I've heard some mixed things about hours at US firms in London, some have told me it's 'not that bad', while others have told me they have consistently worked till AM + weekends for a few weeks. No clue on hours for VC tho, so any data would be appreciated! 

And yeah I agree, advancements in recent have made the prospect of law a little less boring. But overall I guess the problems with exit ops in law is that they aren't very appealing if you fundamentally dislike the (legal) work you do. But I guess that's to be expected. 

 

 

My ex is a PE lawyer at one of the white-shoe firms in the City. I cannot imagine ever doing her job plus the brutal hours even though they get compensated really well. 

 

You really gotta narrow the scope.

Firstly not a lot of VC’s exist at an undergrad / near graduate level - you’ll come in as an associate and shops worth pursuing in London that matches BigLaw are few and far between. PE / IB would’ve been a more reasonable comparison given the institutionalisation of BigLaw vs the relative decentralisation / comp variability of London-based VC.

My 2c is if you have a Kirkland offer versus some crappy no-name VC…. Pretty sure you know the difference. Friend of mine’s boss is a K&E Non equity partner and he’s clearing half a mill before bonus and such before 30. Not to mention equity prospects…

Make your pick properly

 

I agree the comparison of BL and VC isn't exactly apt, but I am not interested in IB/PE. From what I've seen, VC is kinda distinct from IB, more so than PE. I suppose that distinction is what I like about VC + the other things listed. If I were to enter vc it would probably be from a post strat consulting angle rather than straight analyst level. 

BL hours are seemingly unsustainable (even more so at a firm like Kirkland...) and doing it for 5/6+ years is not something I see myself doing. Not to mention exits to inhouse pay significantly less than if I were to stay in private practice. Though I have no idea about wlb or exits (if any) for VCs...

 

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