Anyone blagged their way to get a role they’re not technically qualified for???

MC qualifier here. 2PQE.


Of course, everyone knows in private practice it’s all about how many years PQE you are. I’ve managed to secure a role (in house, financial services) looking for a person who is 4+ PQE. They’ve also agreed to meet me at my current salary which is pretty good for an in-house role (6 figures).


Have I punched way above my weight? My biggest fear is being caught out or getting fired on the basis they need someone more experienced than me… then I’m left with nothing… do I just stay in the job which I hate because of the fear of the unknown?! People have said that training at MC firms prepares you a lot more than average firms but I don’t know how true that is.

I’m an ambitious person and want to be successful in life but I’m so over the politics that comes with being at a law firm.


Assuming you didn't lie (which I am sure you didn't!) then just go for it.  You'll almost certainly be fine.  The difference between 2 years pqe and 4 years pqe is much less than the difference between being inherently decent at the job and not... 

If its a VP role or an AVP role you will be fine - very similar life to being a MC associate and tbf a baby MC lawyer is basically the key hire you are looking for in a more senior position in a FS shop like that.

Being a head of legal or director would be a stretch straight out the MC creche, but some do survive and enjoy the "sole practice head of legal" at a smaller shop vibe. 

also PQE is more irrelevant inhouse - no on ever asks its more about how much do you know and how effective are you.

usually 1 - 3 is AVP, 3-7/8 is VP and 8+ is D roughly but you can make VP at 2 or 3 if you are slick. 

You’ll be surprised at how many people you will work with know (and care) less than you, even when more experienced. With your background and training you’ll be fine if you have the right attitude. And I speak as a blagger of over 20 years’ practice.

in-house is far less obsessive than PP over # PQE.

ime in the case of banks at least, it's rare that they are explicit about / insistent upon an exact PQE they are targeting (although ofc the corporate title will be indicative of the range they are looking for), it's more about the candidate having the relevant experience.

so, they (knowing your PQE) have decided that you have what they are looking for - have some faith in their decision. a little imposter syndrome is normal and will pass once you get into the swing of things (i'm assuming you haven't gratuitously over-egged your CV or been less than honest in the interviews, obvs)

Also remember in house you can actually beat MC equiv sallies when you first move but the profession is slower once you are in so they win out over time (also obvs if they make partner they smash you all over). 

but its a much better work life balance depending on area (unless you are in transactional derivs like deal contingent hedging or something cray cray) 

Perfect. Thanks so much for the quick responses! And nope I didn’t like about my PQE. It’s a very flat structure so no labels like AVP/VP. But I interviewed for a big bank recently and they tried to tell me that I could only come in at an associate level (the role advertised was at VP level) and be on circa 90k… I said no.

So long as I can negotiate things like remote working and other benefits…. I’m outta this place!!!!!!!!!!!

As long as you didn't lie, you'll be fine.  As someone said above, no-one cares about PQE in house.  

Oh, and to answer the question:  yes.  I was a GC at 3 years.  No-one ever rumbled me as an imposter.

I'm in-house and when getting PP people in there is inevitably a learning curve regardless of PQE, so no-one is probably going to notice and you will have time to adjust.  Also you will rapidly get to a position where you can ask for things from senior panel firm members to cover any gaps - they will be overjoyed to have the opportunity to build a relationship with you.  Also promotion & responsibility (which leads to bonuses) in-house is based on ability not PQE.    

Looks like there is plenty of push and pull factors in this one

Take the gig 

There will be stuff to learn. Obviously. 

I’ve managed to secure a role (in house, financial services)

I’m so over the politics that comes with being at a law firm

Erm. Hate to break it to you...

"But I interviewed for a big bank recently and they tried to tell me that I could only come in at an associate level (the role advertised was at VP level)"

while a bank might decide e.g. that a 2 PQE candidate could do the role that they originally thought might be filled by someone of say 4 PQE, they would still offer the 2 PQE candidate a title commensurate with their PQE. using BBBB's breakdown above, bringing the 2 PQE candidate in as a VP would disrupt the hierarchy i.e. piss off all those 3/4 PQE AVPs waiting for their turn in the promotion merry-go-round.

but if you're going somewhere with a flat structure, you don't need to worry about promotions. your value to the company will be measured/displayed through your bonuses rather than corporate titles.

What Kingfaff said, and it also depends on the particular corporate hierarchy.  A director at UBS is not the same as a director at Barclays.  A VP at GS or State Street is not the same as a VP at Morgan Stanley or Citi.

BAML/JP/CITI/Barclays/CS/MS all have a similar structure i think?

You are right UBS the D title is more like VP at the above. Goldies doesnt really have a D title for legal - you are VP/Executive Director all the way up to MD if you make it (no gating) State Street and BONY have different structures.

You can make a grade early (people dont tend to talk about PQE inhouse anyway), but yeah you can occassionaly get angst from incumbents if that happens - trick is to just be glorious and ignore. 

BAML/JP/CITI/Barclays/CS/MS all have a similar structure i think?

Not directly equivalent.  UBS's D is not the same as an ED, whereas Barclays (broadly) is.

Makes complete sense. Was at GS and this place has a flat structure.

The main issue was the pay cut. I know things are slower in house but I didn’t want to take a hit straight away. Worst case I will go back into PP after a few years but highly doubt that. My thought process is if I can work my way up in house early then I don’t have to worry about taking a pay cut as a senior associate or something.

Arguably taking the pay cut as early as possible is the best way.

Still making great wedge but haven't decided your lifestyle on your SA/partner wedge. Which is very difficult for you (and your family) to walk away from.

Nononono don't do flat structure!!!! That would be my first tip for younger players in the in-house game.

This just means you get better and better yet get a haircut to inflation every year so you end up paid like a VP as an effective ED. And then you can't move because you have no title to leverage and they assume that you must be shit because you are paid shit.

Also when looking at comp, take into account the benefits package which should jizz all over any law firm.

I'm keen to explore in house corporate roles. Anyone have much experience here?

Can't imagine the hours are anything like PP? 

Work similar to M&A transactional stuff?

Ok wait…. But I’m talking hedge fund/PE kind of company. I thought that might be a good in house step and then give me a broad range of experience.

Didn’t really think those titles meant anything! Also there’s someone that will be above me (in the snr management team) but other than that I can make the role into what I want…

All these other companies care about PQE and are looking for people 5PQE +. I can’t stay that long….



re the OP, I reckon it'll be fine. My wife went from PP to inhouse, and is still there (albeit different outfit). 

as for being too young/old/under/overqualified etc, meh. Life's too short for all that bunk

If you want out of MC you could try a smaller firm. Might be better, might be worse.

But if you have got offered a job you want I can't see why you wouldn't take it?

Everyone gets nervous they will be found out before they start a new job. It happens occasionally but not very often. Put your adult trousers on, chin up and accept it.

Didn’t really think those titles meant anything!

They do, but it depends on what you want to do for your next job.  If you want to shift to the sell side, FiL is right.  

If you are looking to get out of PP to avoid politics, in all seriousness, moving in-house rarely solves this.

Don’t get me wrong, I know politics and crazy people are everywhere, I’m just tired of being in the private practice rat race. It’s so toxic. If thinking about an alternative career in law, in house seems sensible/the norm and people seem slightly more sensible.


Maybe I just need a change of environment and I will move back to private practice later but I won’t know what I like until I try… I just don’t want to become one of those silly people who stay in a job at an MC firm for years because they are scared of exploring other things or they are just too comfortable (even though they hate their job and have no life)


am I crazy?

It’s so toxic

The most toxic place I have ever worked is in-house FS. There is nothing wrong with going in-house, and I agree it is a mistake to stay too long. But it sounds like you are assuming the grass is greener, which may be a mistake.

If you'd find it helpful to chat off-board, email me at [email protected].

If it’s PE/Hedgie, the actual financial services/regulatory bit is not that much actually. 

If PE, you can be helpful, but the investment guys will go with what external advice is and you likely won’t have much chance or need to get involved beyond quite a superficial level of detail.

If hedgie, there might be some creative thinking going on (esp if activistish) and there might be some need for random blue sky thinking, but there’ll also be a lot of quite dull prime broker grind and maybe some quite complex derivatives that aren’t bang in the wheelhouse of your average MC M&A lawyer.

But as usual it rather depends…


Most hedge fund counsel push the prime brokerage and derivatives out to Simmons or McFarlanes or some bucket doc shop because they can't get their heads round a CSA let alone anything more complex.

It just depends. But most in housers are much happier than the average MC associate so I doubt you’ll regret the move. 

And in answer to your first question, your PQE will have been evident from your CV and so they’ve chosen to employ you with their eyes open. They know what the role entails and they chose you. You have no reason to doubt their decision. 

Should have mentioned that it’s not a FS legal role… Employment role. Does that change the dial in any way?

Sarah don’t have imposter syndrome. If you think your Sundays won’t be dominated by angst about whether you can face and do the work ahead of you the next week then go for it 

If it’s Employment, are they planning to fire an awful lot of people?

Or are they so big they actually need employment lawyers in ordinary course?

If it’s like Man Group size, FTSE 100, behemoth, I can see them needing an employment lawyer for all sorts. Relocations, minor disputes, general policy etc.

If it’s a smaller house, they want an employment law hire for a reason, would be my take.

Which may be unduly cynical.

Chap I met once claimed to be a surgeon. He failed his exams. Worked as a choppeur for about 18 months. Went to jail for it. 


Why not an employment role at an FS firm?

small(ish) couple 00 employees but billions of AUM and looking to grow over next few years

Because unlikely they need that much employment law advice unless they’re very active at firing people.

Depends a bit whether they have lots of staff moving around and needing tax and employment-related stuff, in fairness and the real asset in the industry is people and their personal knowledge and contacts (and knowledge of the firm’s strategies and positions), so there is some focus on related terms.

But you don’t need a full time lawyer to fill in template service agreements.

There might be interesting work around diversity and exclusion policy and ESG, I suppose, trendy at the moment.

This was long before that was a thing. Was all internal investigations, UD claims etc.

Wasn't any supporting on transactions but presumably that was done by the external lawyers. And that's boring anyway. TUPE applies!

For a large IB, yes.

not sure there’s a lot of that at your average hedge fund.

maybe some good litigation over people who got stiffed on their bonuses.

Nah, we use external employment lawyers and HR deal.

Not my bag.

I’m frontline transactional and random digging trading desks out of holes of their own creation, mostly.


Thanks very much all.

Will definitely ask more about what I’m going to do and prospects for the future. 

They are posing it as a HR/Employment counsel role and my role has counterparts in the US and another European country (they’ve been there over a year) so don’t think they will be looking to get rid of the role soon…

Just thinking it might be something I don’t want to give up, I been through so many processes. Like I said before - worst case, I will go back to pp or leave law. 

Sarah, assuming you are female, do you really think a man would be worrying about this?

You were honest about your PQE and you got the job. That means they believe you can do it.

My male colleague claimed that he could speak fluent Spanish on his CV.

He can't speak Spanish.

My boss is Spanish.

There have been zero consequences.

I was speaking to someone yesterday who’s 20yr qualified as a GP and is just about to start a job as a junior to mid level HR person in a completely non medical related industry. I was quite impressed.

do you really think a man would be worrying about this?

yes, of course men would worry about this. And about fitting in their work around childcare, whether they sent the kids water bottles to school, how to manage childcare next Tuesday when the childminder is taking a day off, whether they are putting on weight, whether they look silly in a new shirt that’s a bit garish .. and lots of other things 


it’s so funny how women seem to think men sail through professional life effortlessly

HR has a very very serious gender diversity problem

have you ever seen an HR dept which isn’t 99% women?

I have worked in several places and it’s only ever been women in HR

and yet they organise the D&I training!

Maybe they don’t have to do it themselves 

One thing I have noticed is that HR directors are much more often men than are more junior HR people.

Same in teaching - men disproportionately likely to be found in head teacher roles.

it’s probably because men get to sail effortlessly through professional life without ever having to worry about the matters discussed on this thread!

Yes I've noticed this implicit and completely incorrect assumption that middle aged white men get everything they merit from their careers just by virtue of that status.

Funny, I hadn't noticed that.  I had noticed that middle aged white men tend to be subject to less barriers than other social cohorts though, which is not the same thing.