{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "When an associate is “leading” a deal - what does that mean to you? At what year at your firms do associates “lead”? Seeing posts about first years “leading” with little to no assistance, and that seems like basically malpractice…", "post_id": "60fc52c46bd41600245afb0b", "reply_count": 12, "vote_count": 7, "bowl_id": "5df70ed2f7169f002b172d3f", "bowl_name": "Big Law" }

When an associate is “leading” a deal - what does that mean to you? At what year at your firms do associates “lead”? Seeing posts about first years “leading” with little to no assistance, and that seems like basically malpractice…

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For me, it's when they are (1) the most senior associate on the team and more importantly (2) are able to run the procedural aspects of a deal: know when to send what to whom and request from the other side, know the timeline and are able to request things in a timely manner so as to not jam the deal, and, at this point, be able to fully run certain aspects or silos of the dealwork, even if you aren't able to negotiate the details of every agreement. If you're doing all of this, then there's just no way to be on more than 3-4 busy deals at a given moment (and have good strong junior associate support). Probably 3-4th year level. That said, if you aren't getting partner support you'd better actually be able to do the substantive issue spotting and negotiating, too. I can only speak for my group but I can't imagine anyone below an all-star 5th year, or more average 6th year doing this.


As a litigation person I’m here like “so that’s what transactionals do!”


This is crazy. I can’t imagine what first year is “leading” a deal. I guess it depends what they think leading means. Chasing specialists for inserts to diligence memo and comments on other docs is not leading a deal. I interview laterals all the time - juniors and mid-levels claiming they led all aspects of a small deal. They arrive and can’t send a simple email without a senior reading it first…


Heavily depends on deal/practice. I was running smaller, less complicated deals with heavy partner support/looking over my shoulder as a 4th-5th year. Now I actually run deals, like partner has no idea what’s going on sometimes and just answers my questions on the rare occasion I can get a hold of them, otherwise I just use my best judgment. Other partners are more hands on and I’ll run stuff like issues lists by them but still they’re not getting involved in the day to day, they’re not getting on checklist calls etc. You can “run” deals at all levels, with varying levels of senior/partner support as makes sense for you as an individual, your seniors/partners and the particular deal. I agree a lot of firms seem to be engaging in malpractice with MIA partners leaving junior associates to “run” deals and the juniors obviously missing things left and right because they don’t know what they don’t know.


Haha as a first year I 100% agree on this. No idea how people are running deals while learning the substantive law at the same time


The problem with junior/inexperienced people saying you don’t really need to learn the law is that they don’t know what they don’t know. As a specialist, if juniors are running small deals, it’s fairly common to see them ignore certain specialist issues or continue to push things through without understanding them. While issues often work themselves out, sometimes they don’t and they end up jeopardizing the deal or costing the client more money in the long run because they lack the experience to foresee certain issues.


This varies widely by practice. For instance, it wouldn't be uncommon for a second year to lead a simple VC deal, like a Series A. But for something like M&A, hell no.


Leading = it’s my ass on the line until told otherwise. A couple months ago, I had a deal where the partner’s opening line to me was “hey, so who’s the buyer again and what are they buying?” We were days from closing.


“leading” or “running” - whatever term you use


It might be possible if you had two very productive summers, but would be very painful. I don't know any first years who run or ran deals, but I (and others at my firm) started in second year. As a second year, deals were small (<$10M) and I regularly got my butt handed to me... out-negotiated and overwhelmed. Wasn't until I was a 4th year that I started being responsible for more significant and important deals and was the lead on deals worth significantly more. Running a deal means being ultimately responsible with no oversight for the deal negotiations, team management, drafting, closing mechanics, etc. Essentially, you are the person responsible for the deal. Being the lead associate requires being responsible for everything but having a partner available on calls or taking the lead on negotiations or key deal documents. Basically, the Partner is ultimately responsible but leans on you to do all the monkey-work because they trust you.


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