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Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 11 posts ] 
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 Post subject: what's it like to be a lawyer
PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 3:11 am 

Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 2:46 pm
Archived Posts: 89
Hi, can anyone here tell me, what kind of job options you get straight out of a top law school like columbia, Harvard, NYU? What are the range of hours. pay, is it feasable to do a lot of work from home? I'd really appreciate any advice here that is based on real information, not just hunches, before I spend three years in school, go way into debt etc.

thanks


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:30 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:00 am
Archived Posts: 99
I'm not a lawyer yet, but the link below might give you a little insight. It gives a lot of information about the BigLaw firms in the US. It also shows what campuses they interview on, and what thier 1 year and summer salaries are.

http://www.nalpdirectory.com/


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 Post subject: depends
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:15 am 

Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:04 am
Archived Posts: 1
you have several career options but it all depends on your personality, what kind of person you are ...
Becoming a lawyer could be quite a good choice, nut keep in mind that there are two types of lawyes as payment is concerned: low-paid and 'partners' ...
If you choose to be a lwayer, make sure you have the potential to be a good one.

DeySot
An Idea Ahead


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:24 pm
Archived Posts: 5
[plants tongue firmly in cheek]

For another insight into life as a lawyer you may want to consider reading this blog:

http://anonymouslawyer.blogspot.com/

[/removes tongue from cheek]


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 Post subject: Hours
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 8:58 pm 

Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:59 am
Archived Posts: 1320
What I'm really wondering is, are attorneys hours really as bad as everyone makes them out to be? I've been looking around on nalpdirectory.com and it seems like the hours listed for a lot of major firms average out to be 40-45 hours per week. Is it only the very ambitious who want to quickly make partner who end up working the strenuous hours?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:49 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:00 am
Archived Posts: 99
jeff2486,

What you need to be able to correctly interprit those numbers is the difference between billable hours and non-billable hours. That 40-45 hour/wk mark is a billable target. Every hour you work during the day is not going to be billable. In fact I have seen the billable percentace of work hours for different attorneys vary widely. In some areas where there is a lot of business, attorneys can bill at nearly 90% consistently. This would mean that to bill 45 hours during the week, the actually working hours would be closer to 50 hours per week... and that is a very good ratio. In some areas it can be much lower, even down in the 50-60% when business is slow.

I am currently working in IP litigation, and I can tell you that in this field the workload is very cyclic. When we are preparing for a trial or submitting a court filing, it is typical that we billupwards of 80 hours/week for a weeks or months leading up to the event, but when there are no deadlines bearing down, the workload is very light, and strugle to find work to fill 20-30 billables/week (Still working 40 though) . In our field, the billable rate usually averages out to about 50/week at years end.

I have seen other area's to be more consistent, like IP Transactional work (prosecution). When a group has established clients, they tend to be able to bill at a high rate (85-90%), and usually can keep very consistent hours, (typical 8-10 hr/day).

In summary it really depends a lot on your field and firm. Every culture is a little different. Even different parts of the country have different cultures when it comes to this kind of stuff.

If I step away for a minute and compare what I have seen in the firm I work in (Main Office for Top 20 National Firm in Atlanta), and compare it to what I was working as an Engineer, the workload seams to be comparable. Especially when compared to a production environment, but attorneys do tend to be under a little more stress. In industry, there is always an additional signature to get on something, so the responsiblity for a failure or a success tends to be spread out onto more shoulders. As an attorney, many times you are standing on an island by yourself hoping that you made the right decision.

Hope this helps!


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 Post subject: Thanks
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:19 pm 

Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:59 am
Archived Posts: 1320
Thanks, this does give me an insight into whats typical of the IP field, a field which I am very interested in. However on nalpdirectory.com they list both billable hours and actual work hours and neither seems to be anywhere near what people make claims about (55-60+).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 10:53 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 4:32 pm
Archived Posts: 200
I'm curious about the work-life balance issues as well. I have to admit, this is the one thing that bothers me about the legal path. I can handle long hours for a limited time -- I worked 60+ hours a week throughout my last year of graduate school -- but reading things like Yale's "Truth About Billable Hours" document is pretty scary. 8am - 8 pm every weekday and three Saturdays a month? Yikes!! Do most lawyers actually live on this schedule?

I'm totally fine with the idea of working 80 hour weeks in preparation for a deadline, but the idea of having to have that "live at the office" mentality indefinitely terrifies me. Isn't there a middle ground between 9-5 government work at $50K and 8-8 private firm work at $150K?

Yale's document:
(http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/CDO_Public/cdo-billable_hour.pdf#search=%22yale%20truth%20billable%20hours%22)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:39 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:19 am
Archived Posts: 919
I currently work in a large corporate law firm in New York. We are one of the top 10 law firms in the nation. I'm not an attorney, but I can safely say that 8 AM - 8 PM every weekday and three Saturdays a month would be a walk in the park for many of my attorneys.

In fact, it's not unusual for my attorneys to work 12+ hour work days every single day of the week, especially around deposition/hearing/trial preparation time.

Even as a paralegal, I can easily bill 50+ hours a week, not including weekends when my case load gets heavy.

Basically, if you're planning to work in a large corporate law firm, be prepared to work long hours. And since you're gonna be on the bottom of the firm totem pole, the expectation for you to work longer and harder is high.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:48 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 4:32 pm
Archived Posts: 200
Wow. I mean I knew there was a time crunch, but somehow I didn't think it was that extreme.

What are the differences with smaller firms? I've read that their requirements tend to be lower, but so does their pay. But what does that mean in real terms? Are we talking a compromise of $20K or $50K a year? For what differential in hours?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 3:18 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:19 pm
Archived Posts: 995
I'm not a lawyer either, but when I worked at a small firm (personal injury cases) in New Mexico, the attourney worked less hours than I did as a receptionist. That is, I was doing 8-5 and he would come in half an hour to an hour after me, take a longer lunch, and we'd leave around the same time. I have no idea how many of those hours he billed, all that mattered to me at the time was getting my salary raised from $5/hr to $5.50/hr :) (not kidding, it really was that low).

I also don't have any idea how much money he made annually, but I know the business was doing really well and he and his wife had the requisite two-story house, three cars, two kids, etc. Also the attourney he bought the firm from retired quite cosily.

Yes, all this is very subjective, but the way I look at it, if you really want to go out there and be a high-powered notorious lawyer, you'll have to put in the hours. If all you really want is a nice house in the 'burbs, you don't have to 'live at the office,' so to speak.


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