The Revolving Door: 6 Tips For Prosecutors Switching Sides

The lure of a well-compensated gig in private practice has for years coaxed many a government lawyer to make the move through the revolving door to the defense side, but former prosecutors say departing public attorneys should be prepared to roll up their sleeves and embrace a different frame of mind.

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White collar attorney Carolyn F. McNiven of Greenberg Traurig LLP, who spent over 13 years as a federal prosecutor in Chicago, said former prosecutors may need to adjust how they speak about cases when talking to clients. Prosecutors tend to be blunt in their assessments about consequences because they’re used to speaking to criminal defendants across a table, McNiven said.

“You have to adopt a very different bedside manner when you’re talking to a client, particularly an individual. Although you may say the same things, you may be saying it in a different way. So tone and delivery are particularly important, particularly around bad news,” McNiven said.

Dealing with an institutional client can bring its own set of challenges. McNiven said you need to consider the practicalities of your advice when talking to a corporate client, and to the greatest extent possible understand how it will be received and make sure it is put in a way that maximizes its potential for actually being followed.

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