Bullish caught up with Bill to talk about how he got his start in the meme world, how his day-to-day compares with his online persona and why he chose to pursue a career in law. As a big law attorney at a V5 firm and the brains behind the @NonEquityPartner Instagram page, Bill has a lot to share on his corporate (as well as online) experiences and successes.
Bill’s career in law was not pre-planned, having studied business during his undergrad. Like your average eager-eyed business kid, Bill intended to get into banking; however, it wasn’t until he went through the recruitment process that he realized banking was not the career for him.
Let’s get into this Bullish Q&A with Bill Moore (pro bono of course):
What path led you to where you are in your career today? Why did you choose to go into law?
Law didn’t cross my mind until my senior year of college. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for my career: I only knew that transactions fascinated me, and I wanted to be involved in the world of M&A somehow. I studied business in undergrad, which led me to participate in the banking recruitment process while simultaneously trying to get a startup business off the ground with my friends. However, I went to a non-target college and I found the Wall Street recruitment process grating and difficult for all the wrong reasons.
By a chance of fate, my business ethics and law professor randomly reached out to me to ask if I had considered law as a career. Apparently, I had performed exceptionally well on her final despite not having attended a day of class and she encouraged me to seriously consider law school. I’ll forever be grateful to that professor. That fortuitous stroke of my ego was enough for me to dabble with a few practice LSAT questions during class and eventually I started noticing the letters “JD” on the titles of many of the business magnates I studied in my other courses. I began to wonder if my role in the M&A industry would involve more Microsoft Word than Excel.
Eventually I took the LSAT and scored in the 94th percentile at the time and far better than I had hoped given my lackluster preparation. My application strategy had been remarkably unremarkable. I couldn’t be bothered to approach my applications seriously, so I just took a shotgun approach and blanket applied to all of the top 20 schools (in most cases on the absolute last day they would accept applications). Despite this, I got accepted or waitlisted at most schools. However, none of these prospects were compelling enough for me to seriously consider three more years of school and the looming monster of debt. But then I received a call from a program I had previously written off as a foregone rejection and they made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Ranking, scholarship and geography of the school aside – I was guaranteed a spot in a program that would accelerate my exposure in the world of big law M&A. I was all but guaranteed my dream career. I accepted the offer on the spot and the rest is history.
What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when they are considering a law school?
The biggest mistake students can make is choosing to attend law school as their fallback plan. These students are a dime-a-dozen in law school: aimless young adults who grew disenfranchised with their initial career choice and vied for law school under the assumption that it’s a 1-way ticket to a prestigious, lucrative career. This is often far from the truth, and the grim reality disproportionately impacts these students. If you’re on the fence about law or don’t have a deeply compelling reason (like an outrageously generous offer), then stay away.
The other thing I’d encourage potential candidates to avoid is online forums and chat rooms on law blog websites and Reddit. Those places are simply toxic. The people who take the time to contribute on those threads are not the kinds of people you want influencing you. Most of them are lying, bitter and will give you a warped sense of the true admissions landscape. Keep your head down and stay focused on your efforts.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into or just starting out in law?
Nobody will advocate for you like yourself.
I went “straight through” to law school. That is, I applied for law school during my final year of undergrad as opposed to working for a couple years before law school. There are benefits to both approaches, but one advantage people with real work experience have is that they have first-hand experience with the divorce of the reward-feedback loop that takes place between academia and the “real world.” It’s a sink or swim environment, and many suffer from quick burnout as a result of arrested development and failure to adapt accordingly.
My advice is to take control of your own career quickly and decisively. Realize that no one is looking out for you anymore (unless you’re really lucky with your mentor) and the burnout graveyard is always looking for new applicants.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a lawyer?
Operating a winery.
Why did you start @nonequitypartner?
Mostly as a creative outlet, but it’s actually a longer, weirder story. In law school, a classmate started a website for prototype law memes that featured a feed of user-submitted GIFs with funny captions (think BetchesLoveThis, if you were around for that era). I quickly became the site’s lead contributor and the founder let me take over the site when he graduated, but it never went anywhere. I figured my law school themed content was too niche and short-lived to go anywhere so I forgot about it. A few years of bar studying and late-night diligence sessions would change all that when I realized I needed to reignite my creative side before I rage-quit.
Fast forward to 2018, when being tagged in finance-themed memes (“finmeme”) comments became a daily occurrence. I figured that lawyer life (especially big law) was just as ripe for satire as finance, and that I could make memes just as well, if not better, than anyone.
I started sending a few meme drafts to a friend who immediately saw the potential to reach a broader audience. I give him full credit for encouraging me to pull the trigger and just start my own account. After a few brainstorming sessions I came up with a name to perfectly capture my flavor of satire: “Bill Moore, the Non-Equity Partner.” To this day, I sometimes wonder how many people have searched “Bill Moore” on the NY State Bar’s directory wondering if it’s more than a character
Anyway, I never expected the account to go anywhere – I had less than 100 followers for probably three months. I’ve seen a lot of new content creators get discouraged and quit when they reach this wall. What’s sad is that the rewards creators seek are usually just on the other side of that initial wall – if they would just push through. It’s been well documented that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and some of my best inspiration comes at the end of a horrible engagement streak when I feel that I’ve lost “it.” It’s why I always respond to new accounts by encouraging them to keep making content and refining their voice, with a promise to promote their work down the line (and then honoring that promise).
Pulling back the curtain on my own path a bit, I probably wouldn’t have built-out NEP so aggressively had it not been for an unfortunate medical complication that left me hospital-bound for 2 weeks with nothing to do but play on my phone. I went from 100 to 1,000 followers during that short time and the growth has snowballed since then. NEP isn’t a huge account by influencer standards, not even the biggest in its category. But if it had ever been about the numbers I would have given up a long time ago. Being able to push through and keep making content despite the lack of critical acclaim – that’s the difference between someone who’s passionate about what they do and someone who’s just chasing a fad.
Top three meme accounts you follow?
Besides @WallStreetConfessions? (Started by one of our own Bullish content strategists, so safe to say Bill has good taste in memes.)
What kind of lawyer would I be if my response was anything other than: it depends. In fact, please define “top.”Of course, I’m biased because I started my account about the same time as a wave of other new accounts that were inspired by the OG finmeme accounts on Instagram like @finance_god and @litquidity. My account kind of grew up with some of these finance-adjacent accounts like @biglawboiz and @mba_mikey so I have a special place in my heart (and DMs) for our little meme cohort.
What’s your favorite meme from your account?
This is my favorite question because it’s so vain. I love all my content equally – how could a mother be expected to pick a favorite amongst her children?
Just kidding; I live for a good Sophie’s Choice. Ironically enough, my personal favorite memes often perform the worst in terms of follower engagement. These are usually posts where the punchline rests on the understanding of an extremely niche topic or a horribly stupid pun. If my final draft makes me laugh out loud before posting it, it’s usually a solid indicator that the post will tank.
That level of self-awareness is commendable.
What’s one thing you always have in your wallet?
I usually joke that I have a printout of my first ever “thank you” email from a partner. In reality, I maintain an armada of credit cards and a driver’s license from my hometown in a swing state for voting purposes.
Despite his professional and online success, Bill does not seem to take himself too seriously (something we rarely see on Wall Street where by this point most people either suffer from main character syndrome or have completely lost their marbles). Instead, Bill remains relatable and stays true to his niche.
To sum it all up of course, we asked Bill the most important question of all.
Are you actually a non-equity partner?
Isn’t every employee a non-equity partner?