Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

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gothamm
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby gothamm » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:21 pm

Patriot1208 wrote:
gothamm wrote:Let me fix your title:

Why are so many people on TLS are people obsessed with $$$?

Let me think really hard about this.....


don't hurt yourself :P

die Zauberflote
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby die Zauberflote » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:23 pm

deltasigbn wrote:This is off topic, but why are so many TLS forum posters obsessed with biglaw?


For me, it's pretty much the only way I can attain my dreams: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfYFnQaGXEI&feature=related.

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Wade LeBosh
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby Wade LeBosh » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:59 pm

$$$$

I got bills to pay

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Kohinoor
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby Kohinoor » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:06 pm

Why are so many people facing crushing debt obsessed with one of the only viable models for emerging from that debt?

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Stupendous_Man
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby Stupendous_Man » Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:15 pm

It's not just the $. It's that we like keeping our options open, and in general, it's a lot easier to do biglaw, find out it's not for you, and move onto better things with that brand name on your resume, than it is to go do PI or gov't work, or a small/mid firm, and then try to push your way into biglaw. From what I've been told and what I've seen, your first firm is the biggest firm you will work for.

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BruceWayne
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby BruceWayne » Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:34 pm

romothesavior wrote:
dkt4 wrote:this is a direct quote from an AUSA who is sitting on the couch next to me right now...

"No I don't work better hours, and I work fucking every day"

gonna trust that over what the federally scheduled holidays are. but good game man, seriously. i can tell you did your research

Almost all lawyers work a lot of hours, and almost all lawyers work some on the weekends. There's no disputing that.

But very few non-biglaw people work as many hours as biglaw folks. A lot will try to make it sound like they do (some of my friends call it small firm syndrome), but most people who worked biglaw and left will say they work far less hours now. Your AUSA friend/spouse/SO may be right. Maybe he/she works as many hours as a biglaw associate. But the vast, vast majority of non-biglaw people don't work as much as those in biglaw, so it is just something to keep in mind.


Seriously. Any non biglaw lawyer telling you that they are working biglaw hours is probably 1. Doing it voluntarily because they are able to make more money that way or 2. They're exaggerating. The likelihood of you working biglaw hours in other legal fields is not very high for a variety of reason. Those claiming that they work like that for the fed government are particularly suspect.


And to dk4t who quoted their "AUSA buddy sitting next to them on a couch" as if it was concrete solid evidence; that's a new low for "support" of an argument--and that's saying a lot for this website. Really that's pretty stupid considering that would mean that they worked on Christmas Day etc. but they're employed by the fed government. On average people working for DOJ definitely do not work equivalent hours to biglaw.

dkt4
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby dkt4 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:54 pm

lol okay, guy. continue to believe what you will.

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snowpeach06
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby snowpeach06 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:55 pm

1. $
2. Everyone in law school likes to be the best. It is perceived that people in big law are the best. Hence, people go for it.

Today though, for our last day of class our civ pro teacher gave us a whole big speech about following our hearts and not selling out. It was cute.

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Stupendous_Man
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby Stupendous_Man » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:05 am

One major complaint with biglaw is not just the hours, but it's what you are doing during those hours. Big firms handle matters of such magnitude that they simply can't trust their young associates to take a case all the way to court. So you start at the bottom and you do grunt work and doc review while they develop you as an attorney through pro bono stuff and find out if you have what it takes to take on more responsibility. Especially as a first year associate, everyone is turfing their grunt work down to you, so you are working many, many assignments and only see a small mundane part of any one thing you're working on, which is probably pretty taxing. The trade off is, as you get more and more senior, you start taking on the exciting parts of huge cases/deals, and turf the grunt work down to the people below you. Partners at big firms handle famous and valuable matters, and have the resources behind them to see them through to the end.

When you start at a government office or a small firm, the cases may not be worth so much that your f-up just cost a client (and the firm) millions or billions. These places can just throw you their smaller matters and let you take them all the way up, but as a consequence you aren't paid nearly as much because the clients you're dealing with don't have as much at stake or to work with. At a lot of these places, you will quickly be handling whole cases from start to finish, grunt work included, and continuing to do so no matter how senior you are. You get a lot of valuable experience, but the brand name just isn't there to lateral into anything too different, and your pay ceiling is way, way lower.

It's a question of what lifestyle you want and what it's worth to you, and of course, what options your credentials allow you.

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BruceWayne
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby BruceWayne » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:13 am

dkt4 wrote:lol okay, guy. continue to believe what you will.


No I think I'm going to convert to listening to some random internet poster over those who work at DOJ themselves/common knowledge.

FiveSermon
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby FiveSermon » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:21 am

ITT: Bunch of 0L 1L 2L 3L who haven't worked in biglaw speculate.

jeremysen
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby jeremysen » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:23 am

FiveSermon wrote:ITT: Bunch of 0L 1L 2L 3L who haven't worked in biglaw speculate.


SA's?

slacker
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby slacker » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:43 am

You can also generally go from Biglaw to other legal professions and not the other way around. Seems stupid to pass up the opportunity, especially considering some people do actually enjoy it.

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Stupendous_Man
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby Stupendous_Man » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:05 am

It's just like law school. It's not for everyone. But it also is for some. I wouldn't cast judgment on someone else's personal decision either way, and if they made a mistake getting into it, it's easier to get out than the other way around.

dkt4
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby dkt4 » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:11 am

BruceWayne wrote:
dkt4 wrote:lol okay, guy. continue to believe what you will.


No I think I'm going to convert to listening to some random internet poster over those who work at DOJ themselves/common knowledge.


i think what makes you clever is your ability to post words without actually adding anything.

alumniguy
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby alumniguy » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:53 am

Stupendous_Man wrote:One major complaint with biglaw is not just the hours, but it's what you are doing during those hours. Big firms handle matters of such magnitude that they simply can't trust their young associates to take a case all the way to court. So you start at the bottom and you do grunt work and doc review while they develop you as an attorney through pro bono stuff and find out if you have what it takes to take on more responsibility. Especially as a first year associate, everyone is turfing their grunt work down to you, so you are working many, many assignments and only see a small mundane part of any one thing you're working on, which is probably pretty taxing. The trade off is, as you get more and more senior, you start taking on the exciting parts of huge cases/deals, and turf the grunt work down to the people below you. Partners at big firms handle famous and valuable matters, and have the resources behind them to see them through to the end.



I'm not sure I agree with your statement that you are working on many cases/deal to see only a mundane part of what the deal is about. That isn't how cases/deals flow. My background is a transactional attorney, so it is difficult for me to know exactly whether this is the case for litigation, but my experiences in talking to fellow associates is that this isn't true either.

As a junior transactional attorney, you stay on a deal typically from start to finish. A large amount of the work on any deal is going to be fairly standard (i.e., you won't be drafting anything novel, but simply adapting precedent to the specific deal terms). You'll be doing due diligence and drafting corporate resolutions and other ancillary documents that require little to no knowledge of the law. You're essentially filling in the blanks with company names, pulling language from primary deal docs into ancillary docs, etc. The reasons why juniors do this work is two fold: (i) juniors are much cheaper than midlevels/seniors and (ii) it allows the juniors to understand the scope of the deals. As a junior you won't be drafting the credit agreement or purchase agreement (in fact you likely won't even be involved in the negotiation of these documents), but at the very least you know they exist and if your midlevel is good, they'll try to explain bits and pieces along the way. But, you definitely see the deal through to the end. There is so much preparation work for a deal to close that the junior never checks out prior to closing (in fact, the junior is likely the one wrapping up the deal and attending to the post-closing items that need to be resolved - once the deal has closed and the bill has been paid, partners and midlevels tend to move on to the next case while the junior finishes things up and gets a deal bible in the works).

The only time you're getting to see a piece of the deal is if you are a "service" attorney on a particular deal. You may be called in to help with due diligence for a week, you may be asked to help out while others are out on vacation or you may be asked to help as the closing approaches because the deal has not moved as fast as people originally anticipate and their is a ton of work to finish by closing. You're probably seeing this type of work at most 1/3 of your total billables. The majority will be working on "your" deals.

As a junior litigator, it is probably a little more accurate to say that you're working on portions of a case. The fact of litigation is that there is usually a ton of document review and not all of the juniors doing the doc review will be kept around to do research/drafting of memoranda and motion papers. At my firm though, most junior litigators have "their" cases and then they are asked to do additional one-off projects to fill up their days (i.e., additional document review). If you're good, you'll be assigned to be the junior on cases and will have less of the one-off projects. If you aren't good, then you'll probably be on mostly document review. With litigation, again at my firm, it is about cultivating relationships with the seniors who will ask that you be the main junior on the case.

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Stupendous_Man
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby Stupendous_Man » Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:15 pm

^^^ Really helpful info from someone who knows a lot more about what they're talking about than I do. Thanks.

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Veyron
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby Veyron » Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:42 pm

alumniguy wrote:
Stupendous_Man wrote:One major complaint with biglaw is not just the hours, but it's what you are doing during those hours. Big firms handle matters of such magnitude that they simply can't trust their young associates to take a case all the way to court. So you start at the bottom and you do grunt work and doc review while they develop you as an attorney through pro bono stuff and find out if you have what it takes to take on more responsibility. Especially as a first year associate, everyone is turfing their grunt work down to you, so you are working many, many assignments and only see a small mundane part of any one thing you're working on, which is probably pretty taxing. The trade off is, as you get more and more senior, you start taking on the exciting parts of huge cases/deals, and turf the grunt work down to the people below you. Partners at big firms handle famous and valuable matters, and have the resources behind them to see them through to the end.



I'm not sure I agree with your statement that you are working on many cases/deal to see only a mundane part of what the deal is about. That isn't how cases/deals flow. My background is a transactional attorney, so it is difficult for me to know exactly whether this is the case for litigation, but my experiences in talking to fellow associates is that this isn't true either.

As a junior transactional attorney, you stay on a deal typically from start to finish. A large amount of the work on any deal is going to be fairly standard (i.e., you won't be drafting anything novel, but simply adapting precedent to the specific deal terms). You'll be doing due diligence and drafting corporate resolutions and other ancillary documents that require little to no knowledge of the law. You're essentially filling in the blanks with company names, pulling language from primary deal docs into ancillary docs, etc. The reasons why juniors do this work is two fold: (i) juniors are much cheaper than midlevels/seniors and (ii) it allows the juniors to understand the scope of the deals. As a junior you won't be drafting the credit agreement or purchase agreement (in fact you likely won't even be involved in the negotiation of these documents), but at the very least you know they exist and if your midlevel is good, they'll try to explain bits and pieces along the way. But, you definitely see the deal through to the end. There is so much preparation work for a deal to close that the junior never checks out prior to closing (in fact, the junior is likely the one wrapping up the deal and attending to the post-closing items that need to be resolved - once the deal has closed and the bill has been paid, partners and midlevels tend to move on to the next case while the junior finishes things up and gets a deal bible in the works).

The only time you're getting to see a piece of the deal is if you are a "service" attorney on a particular deal. You may be called in to help with due diligence for a week, you may be asked to help out while others are out on vacation or you may be asked to help as the closing approaches because the deal has not moved as fast as people originally anticipate and their is a ton of work to finish by closing. You're probably seeing this type of work at most 1/3 of your total billables. The majority will be working on "your" deals.

As a junior litigator, it is probably a little more accurate to say that you're working on portions of a case. The fact of litigation is that there is usually a ton of document review and not all of the juniors doing the doc review will be kept around to do research/drafting of memoranda and motion papers. At my firm though, most junior litigators have "their" cases and then they are asked to do additional one-off projects to fill up their days (i.e., additional document review). If you're good, you'll be assigned to be the junior on cases and will have less of the one-off projects. If you aren't good, then you'll probably be on mostly document review. With litigation, again at my firm, it is about cultivating relationships with the seniors who will ask that you be the main junior on the case.


This sounds horrible. . . and I'm trying so hard to keep an open mind about transactional law heading into OCI.

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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby alumniguy » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:05 pm

Veyron wrote:This sounds horrible. . . and I'm trying so hard to keep an open mind about transactional law heading into OCI.


I MUCH prefer transactional over litigation. It isn't that horrible either (and it much more collaborative than litigation). I find myself being a bit negative about biglaw on these boards but I think that is primarily to counter all of the biglaw hype. Biglaw, if you are working with the right people, can be a great working experience most of the time.

The pure and simple fact is that law school doesn't teach you anything about the practice of law - especially in the transactional world. Biglaw transactional work is complex stuff that requires a litany of documents. You may understand the concept of a loan agreement, but you have no idea how much additionally paperwork is involved (much of it is pretty useless in my opinion) - we are talking massive amounts of schedules attached to the loan agreement, a security agreement, guarantees, corporate resolutions, amendments to corporate formation documents, shareholder agreements, warrant subscriptions, etc. If you are like the average first year, then it'll take you a few "deals" to get to know what all if involved. You job as a junior is to get to know these documents intimately so you know both what they do and how to draft/negotiate them. For the primary documents (e.g., a loan agreement) it will take you a few years before you are even ready to draft/negotiate and even then, you'll need a bunch of hand holding your first time through.

The same goes for a real estate transaction or an M&A transaction. You will be amazed at the type (and number) of documents required to close many biglaw deals.

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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby Magnificent » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:09 pm

deltasigbn wrote: why are so many TLS forum posters obsessed with biglaw?

Enlighten me please


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kValaG55kUk

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BruceWayne
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby BruceWayne » Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:40 am

dkt4 wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:
dkt4 wrote:lol okay, guy. continue to believe what you will.


No I think I'm going to convert to listening to some random internet poster over those who work at DOJ themselves/common knowledge.


i think what makes you clever is your ability to post words without actually adding anything.


What makes you particularly amusing, is that you're arguing for a point that's essentially commonly known to be patently false. Which essentially makes you a fool.


viewtopic.php?f=23&t=153344

'm a civil AUSA, which basically means I defend the US whenever it's sued.

I went to Chicago, did decently but not spectularly, went to a big firm, paid off debt, left to clerk, and came here right after.

My preference from interviewing in criminal and civil divisions across the country was that I do civil work. But that is also due to me liking the folks I work with.

From talking to friends who had issues getting clearance, yes, any drug use in law school was a problem.

The Honors Program is an entirely different animal from being an AUSA. 90 percent of the offices will not hire without good work experience ~3-5 years.

The best thing about my job is that I truly run my own cases. From top to bottom. I think working in a big litigation firm, most associates spend their entire tenure working to help the partners practice law. What little experience they do get is usually crumbs. I put in serious hours but nothing like firm life. I usually work 8-6:30 and one day a weekend when things are normal. Trial is 16 hour days easy. There's a lot in between these extremes, though.


But there's no filler work. I'm running from dep. to hearing to writing dispositive motion. There's no make work, which I enjoy. But you truly are the person on the line. All. The. Time. It's a big responsibility.




It depends. Main justice is a cush gig. AUSA's tend to work more/heavier case loads. We have one former Honors person in our office. A lot of those people go to agencies which is even more cush.

The law school thing depends. My office is changing from being local grads to top 10 grads from firms who've completed district court clerkships. Grades need to be good, but you need work experience and a federal clerkship. It's pretty competitive. We were hiring before the freeze and got ~4000 applications. For one spot.

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nealric
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby nealric » Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:52 pm

General unfocused observations from a biglaw 1st year:

Why I Chose Biglaw:

I choose biglaw because it is the best way to get into my practice area (tax). If you want broad based tax experience and good money, biglaw is the way to go.
Besides bigaw, the other options for tax are:

Big4: Less interesting work for much less money. Hours the same or worse than biglaw.
IRS Chief Counsel: A good opportunity, but it forces you to either specialize right away or go to a field office and do less high profile work.
Small firms: Mostly do estate planning or niche practices like condo/co-op work.
DOJ Tax: More litigation experience than substantive tax experience.

The Hours

Even here in NYC, the hours stories are mostly overblown. I work 50 hours a week on slower weeks and 60 on busy weeks. That's a lot of work, but it's not an all consuming amount. I've never run into associates at my firm who have pulled 70+ hours a week for more than a very short period of time. I'm sure there are associates who work those hours (probably more prevalent in the v10), but they are a minority. My friends working other professional type jobs work similar hours or worse. The 40-hour work week has been an endangered species for a while now (government work being the exception).

Grunt Work

Tax and other specialty practices (IP, ERISA) are much less prone to producing grunt work. The majority of my work is of the research and writing variety. The people who say that law school doesn't prepare you for practice don't work in tax. I'm applying knowledge from law school and my llm program every day on the job.

Besides the research and writing, high stakes tax matters are a team sport. The partners genuinely want to hear your thoughts on an issue after you do research because they are looking to get every piece of input they can before making a call. My department is quite small, and has very low leverage, so there isn't room for the traditional hierarchy of Sr. Partner/Jr. Partner/Sr. Associate/ Mid Level Associate/Jr. Associate. Work gets assigned based on what the partners need and what they think you can handle.

My peers in corporate/lit often have to do less interesting work, but much of it still requires thoughtfulness. Also, doing relatively mindless things like assembling closing documents can still be valuable to understanding how a deal works. My firm does weekly CLEs targeted at translating such experience into substantive understanding of the underlying deal.

Clients and Types of Matters

One thing that I really like about biglaw is the high-profile matters you get to work on. I spent time in law school interning at both smaller firms and in the federal government. In those settings, the majority of the matters are very routine. It's rare that a truly novel legal issue that comes up, so most of the work is just focused on moving the matter along procedurally. At my firm now, I see very interesting and novel issues every week. At least in tax, the majority of my time is spent helping the partners to figure out those issues. I also must admit that it's fun to see deals you have worked on mentioned in the newspaper.

Screaming partners/mistreatment

From my experience and that of my law school classmates at other firms, the mistreatment horror stories are rare. My firm has a pretty healthy culture that does not tolerate truly misanthropic types. People tell you when you do good work, and are genuinely appreciative. You may get things like weekend work on Friday at 5:00pm, but most people are sincerely apologetic when it happens.

FiveSermon
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby FiveSermon » Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:58 pm

Nealric, your hours sound absolutely fantastic. But it doesn't sound representative. My friend is a 2nd year associate at a V15. He tells me 60-70 hours a week is typical.

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nealric
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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby nealric » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:07 pm

Nealric, your hours sound absolutely fantastic. But it doesn't sound representative. My friend is a 2nd year associate at a V15. He tells me 60-70 hours a week is typical.


It's true that tax can produce better hours. But I think a lot of people exaggerate their hours. I have no doubt your friend has worked plenty of 70 hour weeks, but what I'm saying is that it would be exceedingly rare for someone to be working 70 hours a week every week for months on end. At my billing efficiency rate, 70 hour weeks every week with two weeks vacation would produce 3,000 billable hours. People do bill 3000 hours, but such people are extremely rare outside of the Cravath/Wacthell/S&C type firms.

I would also say that sometimes the 60 hour weeks feel much worse because they aren't necessarily consistent. I worked about 60 hours a week last week, but it wasn't 12 hours a day for 5 days. It was 15hrs/14hrs/13hrs/10/9. You are pretty exhausted by Wednesday after a week like that.

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Re: Why are so many people on TLS obsessed with Biglaw?

Postby dkt4 » Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:26 pm

bruce wayne

[ ] gets it
[x] doesn't get it




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