Would it be possible to lateral out of the employment litigation practice to a different type of litigation (in a different firm) practice?
Yes, but don't stay long; 3 years tops. And even then, I'm not sure if you can switch directly, depending on what you seek; probably much better to launder yourself through a generalist position first, such as doing a clerkship or serving as an AUSA.
I tend to agree with this but I think three years might be too long
. It will depend on the firm but there is a good chance you wonít get any meaningful litigation experience until year 4, that seems to be the point at which real responsibility is given to most associates. It could be that you spend three years doing doc review and working on small bits of larger cases the conclusion of which you never see. If you then try to move departments you donít yet have any real litigation experience to offer, but you cost the new department a 3rd years salary for work that could be done cheaper by a 2yr or a 1yr. The only thing you have to offer is the grunt work you did in employment law which will likely not be applicable to the new department.
I would try to switch quickly, 1.5 years max before you become too expensive or typecast. Switch first within the firm then lateral outside in the new practice area once you get some hands on litigation experience. That being said once you have a few years of litigation experience under your belt it wonít matter as much what its in, your trial skills will still be marketable, assuming you are good at it.