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Breaking Into Aviation Law  
User currently offlineCactus742 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 240 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 8000 times:

I know that this may not deal directly with civil aviation but I have seen a few other people post job questions so hopefully this isn't out of order.

I just graduated from law school in May, took the Bar exam and am back in DC looking for a legal job, hopefully in the aviation field. I worked in the DOT for a semester which was a great experience but it's tough trying to find things. If anyone has any advice or ideas, they would be much appreciated.

Thanks very much.

Alex


Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.
28 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineGte439u From Canada, joined Nov 2003, 361 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 7976 times:

I'll have the same problem next July after the NY bar.

Have you considered an LL.M. in aviation law? McGill and Leiden have well respected programs. (Apply for 2009 so that our applications are not in the same pile!)

However, just as I say that, I still don't know if doing one of those extra years in school will really making a difference in getting a job. I know at McGill, you have the opportunity to network with IATA and ICAO people. I've also met lawyers up here in Canada who are working in risk management or in private equity who did the Air and Space Law program at McGill.

Maybe someone else will have something to add...


User currently offline102IAHexpress From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1156 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 7950 times:

It maybe too late as you have already graduated, but have you looked into the Judge Advocate General’s office in the Air Force? After your commitment is up, it shouldn’t be too hard finding a job in the private sector or public sector for that matter.

User currently offlineDeaphen From India, joined Jul 2005, 1428 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 7905 times:

Guys, look up DePaul in ORD, they apparantly are opening a branch of Leidens Aviation and Space law masters.

I am also a law student who is graduating from law school next year in may. It would be cool to stay in touch specially since i also want to specialise in aviation and space law.

We should PM each other, i dont come across many people who want to do their LLM in aviation and space law. I may be interning with Airbus somewhere in the world next Feb.

I also just finished a months long internship with Pepper Hamilton LLP in PHL.

regards from India
Nitin



I want every single airport and airplane in India to be on A.net!
User currently offlineCitrusCritter From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1129 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 7896 times:

I'm also in law school. I personally want to go to work for an airline directly, either in their in-house legal dept. or even in another part of the corporate operation. I've noticed that many airline executives have law degrees and not business degrees even though they are in ops, market planning, and other similar areas.

User currently offlineAvek00 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4410 posts, RR: 19
Reply 5, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 7865 times:

Given that I just graduated from law school last May, and inquired in-depth into this very question, I'll offer my input on the subject:

1. Aviation Law is VERY hard to break into successfully fresh out of law school because it is so highly specialized. My Airline/Aviation Law professors from my 3L year of law school -- one of whom effectively crafted the post-deregulation DOT airline legal framework (David Kirstein), the other doing major aircraft financing deals (Thatcher Stone), both strongly suggested building some expertise in a broader area of law (e.g., secured finance, commercial litigation) BEFORE making a move into the AvLaw world.

2. Few large corporations hire in-house counsel fresh out of law school. A notable exception is Boeing. That company aside, airlines generally want 3-4 years of BIGLAW experience in a relevant field before they'll consider hiring for in-house counsel -- they cannot afford the training costs and learning curves of new attorneys,.



Live life to the fullest.
User currently offlineCactus742 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 240 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 7865 times:

I'd like to get in as general counsel of an airline as well. It's interesting, CitrusCritter, that you mention that about airline execs having JDs and not MBAs. I think that is just one example of how valuable the JD is as a degree and how it can take a person beyond just practicing law. Yes, I may be biased, but as students in law school learn decision-making and reasoning skills along with knowledge of the law, the degree should be respected more than it is, as should attorneys (cue the attorney jokes... now!).

Anyway, I'd rather not go the LLM route but hopefully get in with a firm that deals with FAA/DOT regulatory issues on behalf of pilots, airlines, charter carriers, etc. I have quite a bit of loans to pay off.



Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.
User currently offlineAvek00 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4410 posts, RR: 19
Reply 7, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 7853 times:

Quoting Cactus742 (Reply 6):
Anyway, I'd rather not go the LLM route but hopefully get in with a firm that deals with FAA/DOT regulatory issues on behalf of pilots, airlines, charter carriers, etc. I have quite a bit of loans to pay off.

To an extent, more schooling in the near term would work AGAINST your goal -- you have to start building some time in practice before the airlines will begin to bite for in-house positions.



Live life to the fullest.
User currently offlineRJpieces From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 7827 times:

Interesting thread, I'm also intrigued by avation law...

What law school do you go to? There are a few firms that have aviation law practices that basically represent all the major airlines....If you look through any DOT application, you will see their names at the end and can look up their info...Have you gone through the process of interviewing for big firms?

I found one for you to look through...Look at the list on Page 5...Pay close attention to the lawyers at Crowell, Pillsbury Winthrop, Hogan Hartson, and WilmerHale....
http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/p103/487730.pdf

[Edited 2007-09-27 05:51:30]

User currently offlinePlanespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3531 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 7812 times:

I didn't realize we had so many JD's here on a-net.


Do you like movies about gladiators?
User currently offline777law From Monaco, joined Jul 2006, 203 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 7800 times:

I graduated from GW Law in '03 and would love to get into the commercial-law of aviation transactions -- drafting, negotiating and vetting contracts for the sale and purchase of aircraft. Right now I'm working in-house in Singapore in the shipbuilding and offshore energy industry -- vetting, drafting and negotiating contracts for offshore oil & gas drilling rigs, oil tankers, drillships any other vessel that drills or transports oil and natural gas.

The reason I bring this up is it seems that there is a great deal of overlap between transactions for things like oil rigs and drillships and aircraft. From what I've read of aviation transactions (admittedly very little) the contractual concepts and risks are almost exactly the same -- and the transaction amounts are almost identical. Basically, both an oil rig and aircraft are large capital investments that require a great deal of negotiation and risk management.

If you can't get into the aviation industry right away and you're interested in aviation transactions, you may think about looking at other industries that deal in heavy and expensive commercial transactions -- ships, trains or even engineering transactions -- all the concepts in those type of contracts also come together in aviation transactions.

Finally, if you have the opportunity, I would HIGHLY recommend going overseas, particularly the Middle East or Asia, after law school. The opportunities in Asia and the Middle East are amazing; you'll do things as a first year law school grad that you'd never come close to doing in the states. Within 6 months of graduating from GW and moving to Asia, I was negotiating $500m contracts for oil rigs with major US oil companies. You think any 1st year associate at any firm in the US would do that? I know this is easier said than done, but if you see an opportunity any where overseas, take it. It will open up amazing opportunities for you and probably fast track you into the commerical side of aviation law -- if that's what you want.

Best of Luck!



UA- Premier Platinum, AF / KL - Flying Blue Petroleum, BA Executive Club Silver
User currently offlineDeaphen From India, joined Jul 2005, 1428 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 7775 times:

Quoting 777law (Reply 10):
would HIGHLY recommend going overseas, particularly the Middle East or Asia, after law school. The opportunities in Asia and the Middle East are amazing; you'll do things as a first year law school grad that you'd never come close to doing in the states. Within 6 months of graduating from GW and moving to Asia, I was negotiating $500m contracts for oil rigs with major US oil companies

Your right, i am in law school in India at the moment and plan on doing my LLM n aviation law next year or the year after. It is taken for granted that i would be moving back with that specialization, since, its knd of a new field in India and secondly the financial opportunities in all fields in India are tremendous.

Its qutie interesting to be at this point in my life... it would be great if we could contact each other and work things out. I think it would be great.

I am sure there are many other law students/lawyers from other countries who are interested in the same field. Talk about global economy, it doesnt get more international/global than the sphere of aviation.

regards from india
nitin



I want every single airport and airplane in India to be on A.net!
User currently offlineFXramper From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 7317 posts, RR: 85
Reply 12, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 7772 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

I frequently see posts for corporate lawyer on JCATS and Prizim at FX. Hit me up if interested.


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User currently offlineGte439u From Canada, joined Nov 2003, 361 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 7693 times:

Quoting 777law (Reply 10):
Finally, if you have the opportunity, I would HIGHLY recommend going overseas, particularly the Middle East or Asia, after law school.

How did you get a job outside of the US after law school?

Did you go to the SIN/HKG offices of big Ameircan firms or to the local firms?


User currently offlineCactus742 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 240 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 7676 times:

Quoting RJpieces (Reply 8):
What law school do you go to?

American University. Graduated May '07.

Quoting 777law (Reply 10):
I graduated from GW Law in '03

Did you contemplate staying in DC and working within the US regulatory structure, working on DOT/FAA administrative issues?



Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.
User currently offline777law From Monaco, joined Jul 2006, 203 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 7648 times:

Quoting Gte439u (Reply 13):
How did you get a job outside of the US after law school?

Did you go to the SIN/HKG offices of big Ameircan firms or to the local firms?

No, I was actually set to go to DOJ after law school -- Environment and Natural Resources Division, General Litigation. I was pretty non-plussed about it, so was looking around for something else more interesting. I worked in Thailand for my 2nd summer, doing in-house work at a small environmental services company. I wanted to go back to Asia so I was looking for any opportunity I could find.

Just after the Bar, I saw a posting on my law school jobs board for an in-house position with a Korean shipbuilder in Seoul. I applied, wrote a decent writing sample, had a good interview and told DOJ thanks-but-no-thanks and moved to Korea. If you look for them, those positions -- in house with large Asian companies aren't that hard to find. You just have be willing to move to the other side of the world without knowing anyone -- although that makes it pretty exciting too. So, I've never worked for a big American firm -- or any law firm for that matter, I've been in-house in Asia since I graduated from law school.



Quoting Cactus742 (Reply 14):
Did you contemplate staying in DC and working within the US regulatory structure, working on DOT/FAA administrative issues?

Yeah -- I actually interviewed with two very small aviation firms while I was in law school. I was offered a job at one, but turned it down, just didn't get a good vibe about the place. There is another firm I interviewed with in DC with offices in MD-- can't remember what it's called -- that does a lot of civil aviation issues. During the interview one of the perks they kept coming back to was that all the attorneys have their pilots licenses and they would pay for it if I wanted to get one after I joined the firm. I turned that down b/c the firm was basically a glorified property law firm -- doing property issues for civil airfields on the east coast -- didn't really interest me at the time.



UA- Premier Platinum, AF / KL - Flying Blue Petroleum, BA Executive Club Silver
User currently offlineAcquittal From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 18 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (7 years 1 month 4 weeks ago) and read 7639 times:

Aviation negligence ( crash/injury/death/products liability ) can be very lucrative, if you can get the clients.

I seem to remember a story about a member of the Clergy ( think he was posing as one ) handing out an Atty's card at the scene of an airliner crash here in the US. Needless to say, that lawyer caught some heat when it was discovered that the "Priest" was sent to the scene at the lawyer's behest to try and drum up some cases. Can't remember which incident this occurred at. Not gonna get flamed for a wrong guess either!!

Those of us in the profession KNOW this occurrs ALL of the time even though it is VERY improper to even consider. Still, there are always those who find a need to skirt the law.

I, too, found it difficult to get an aviation related legal position, even with both Government ( legal ) and Airline ( no legal ) experience in the MIA area in the mid 90's.

Some things are meant to be a hobby, others a career. Usually fate plays a big part. Being in the right place/right time.


User currently offlineMichlis From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 737 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 7605 times:

You might also consider applying to the FAA or doing an internship there. FAA enforcement actions are a sizable chunk of aviation law and you do not have to belong to the bar of a particular state to defend/prosecute an enforcement action. My other suggestion would be to contact AOPA and see if you could be put in touch with one of their referal lawyers to discuss opportunities in aviation law. I believe AOPA has chapters in every state. My experience has been that most aviation lawyers are also pilots, so they have the extra passion for subject.

From my own experience of having to make a referal, finding a good aviation lawyer can require a bit of work and it does help to have some connections.



If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the outcome of a hundred battles.
User currently offlinePresRDC From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 663 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7571 times:

I am in-house counsel (staff attorney level) with a large aerospace company. I joined the company after three years of law firm practice. I provide legal support to our commercial sales force, drafting and negotiating sales and joint venture contracts and settling disputes with airlines in East Asia, Oceania and the Middle East (our department is organized by region). I spend quite a lot of time in China, but have also supported on-site negotiations in Istanbul and Seoul (and will likely be going to Cairo in the next few weeks).

My advice is to consider not just the airlines, but also the broader aerospace industry.


User currently offlineFoxBravo From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 3005 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7560 times:

As an in-house lawyer at an aircraft leasing company, I thought I'd chime in with some thoughts.

First, the term "aviation law" is a bit misleading, as there are various areas of the law that relate to aviation in different ways. So the first step is really deciding which area you'd like to specialize in. Some examples are leasing/finance, litigation and regulatory.

With some exceptions, as noted above, it's difficult to get a job in-house right out of law school, especially in the aviation industry. So this means, for better or for worse, "doing time" at a firm for at least a few years. And generally speaking, the more law firm experience you have, the higher the position you'll be able to move into.

Any firm will give you legal experience, but some do more aviation work than others (and many don't do any at all), so finding the right firm is pretty important. If you are interested in leasing/finance, a lot of this is done out of NY and London by large firms such as Milbank and Clifford Chance. For litigation, there are firms such as Kreindler & Kreindler that specialize in air accident cases, and others that handle antitrust cases and bankruptcy. For regulatory, such as DOT filings, most of this work is done out of DC (as noted above), although there are also firms in Oklahoma City that specialize in FAA matters. I would say the most important questions to ask when choosing a firm are whether the firm has a dedicated aviation/transportation department, or if you would be doing other work and occasionally getting involved in aircraft deals as they come along, and perhaps even more important, who the firm's clients are (airlines? leasing companies? manufacturers? none of the above?).

It's nice to see so many lawyers and law students here. Please feel free to send me a message if you have any questions or would like more specific advice.

Good luck!



Common sense is not so common. -Voltaire
User currently offlineIADCA From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 1346 posts, RR: 8
Reply 20, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 7509 times:

It's interesting to see how a lot of us interested in aviation law are going to school within reasonable proximity to DC (American, GW, UVA).

Quoting Planespotting (Reply 9):
I didn't realize we had so many JD's here on a-net.

There are a fair number more who haven't posted on this thread, but I'll leave it to them to "out" themselves.

Aviation and law, we must be the biggest damn nerds in the world.

Quoting Avek00 (Reply 5):
1. Aviation Law is VERY hard to break into successfully fresh out of law school because it is so highly specialized. My Airline/Aviation Law professors from my 3L year of law school -- one of whom effectively crafted the post-deregulation DOT airline legal framework (David Kirstein), the other doing major aircraft financing deals (Thatcher Stone), both strongly suggested building some expertise in a broader area of law (e.g., secured finance, commercial litigation) BEFORE making a move into the AvLaw world.

This is a very specific question, but how hard is that course to get into? And how was it? And yes, I do go to the right school.


User currently offlinePlanespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3531 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 7499 times:

Quoting IADCA (Reply 20):
Aviation and law, we must be the biggest damn nerds in the world.

I don't know, I think I may one up you - my preferred jurisprudence topic is Media law. I TA'd for the class for two years in graduate school and now have an MA in Mass Communication...when I end up in law school after a few years in corp comm. I plan on specializing in it. But I sure do love reading supreme court opinions about free speech! woooo



Do you like movies about gladiators?
User currently offlineMAH4546 From Sweden, joined Jan 2001, 33179 posts, RR: 71
Reply 22, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 7489 times:

Quoting IADCA (Reply 20):
It's interesting to see how a lot of us interested in aviation law are going to school within reasonable proximity to DC (American, GW, UVA).

FWIW, UVA is, arguably, the best school for aviation law.



a.
User currently offlineCitrusCritter From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1129 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 7465 times:

I'm really less interested in the legal side as I am in the business side (corporate mgmt, market planning, ops, and other such areas). How's the best to get into that? An externship?

User currently offlinePresRDC From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 663 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 7455 times:

Quoting RJpieces (Reply 8):
What law school do you go to?

Notre Dame Law (Class of 2002). The other attorney in our group who covers Asia also went to NDLS.

The General Counsel of JetBlue is also a Notre Dame Law alum.

IMO, what is most important is going to the best law school that you can. Fairly or not, the better the school is perceived to be, the better you are perceived to be.


25 Post contains images 777law : Absolutely. I was a pretty middle-of-the-pack law student, but the GW name has opened a lot of doors for me -- more so here in Asia than in the US. I
26 IADCA : Which is part of why I want to make sure I can actually take the aviation law seminar we have.
27 Cactus742 : I agree as well. But remember not to get caught in the rankings game. The rankings are not scientific or true indicators of what school is "better" t
28 MAH4546 : For law school, get caught up in the ranking games. It isn't necessarily fair, it's true. Unfortunately, once you are out of "T18"/GW/Fordham, many d
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