Balance

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JeromeApple
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Balance

Postby JeromeApple » Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:02 pm

Which legal jobs offer (in your opinion) the best balance between lifestyle and compensation.

As a benchmark - is there anything that pays ~100k with the expectation of working ~60 hours a week? Or is that simply a pipe dream?

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Mozart Lacrimosa
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Re: Balance

Postby Mozart Lacrimosa » Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:12 pm

"Is there anything" - Yes.

Plenty of secondary market firms won't require you to pull 6 12 hour days in a row. A lot of those jobs touch six figures for first years too. Problem is smaller markets are notorious for requiring connections/ties to the area/firm.

JeromeApple
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Re: Balance

Postby JeromeApple » Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:33 pm

Interesting - what about in federal gov't? Someone mentioned the DOJ pays ~100k starting, in some places?

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UnicornHunter
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Re: Balance

Postby UnicornHunter » Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:52 pm

JeromeApple wrote:Interesting - what about in federal gov't? Someone mentioned the DOJ pays ~100k starting, in some places?


Not for AUSAs or for almost any other gov position, at least at first. I'm pretty sure new non-AUSA federal attorneys come in somewhere from GS-9 to GS-11. But most get promoted to GS-14 pretty quick.

http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversigh ... 15/DCB.pdf (this includes DC locality pay)

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chuckbass
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Re: Balance

Postby chuckbass » Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:54 pm

Generally, salaries are bimodal i.e. biglaw paying 160k (or less in smaller markets) and everything else paying ~50k. Emphasis on generally.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Balance

Postby blsingindisguise » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:04 pm

The kind of job you describe is most likely to be available to someone who has biglaw-ish grades but doesn't want biglaw. Anything other than government is going to have its bad weeks (or months), especially in major markets, and especially in NYC, but there is still a difference between a lot of mid-sized firms and biglaw firms. Alternatively, it's more likely to be available if you spend a few years somewhere and really distinguish yourself, make yourself valuable/attractive somehow, whether it's by having a client base or doing outstanding work. Basically, the 120k 9-6 midlaw jobs are in demand, so you have to be competitive for them.

You might also look at something like p-side class actions -- no billable hours in some cases means better balance. You'll still work hard but not biglaw hard.

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bearsfan23
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Re: Balance

Postby bearsfan23 » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:17 pm

blsingindisguise wrote:The kind of job you describe is most likely to be available to someone who has biglaw-ish grades but doesn't want biglaw. Anything other than government is going to have its bad weeks (or months), especially in major markets, and especially in NYC, but there is still a difference between a lot of mid-sized firms and biglaw firms. Alternatively, it's more likely to be available if you spend a few years somewhere and really distinguish yourself, make yourself valuable/attractive somehow, whether it's by having a client base or doing outstanding work. Basically, the 120k 9-6 midlaw jobs are in demand, so you have to be competitive for them.

You might also look at something like p-side class actions -- no billable hours in some cases means better balance. You'll still work hard but not biglaw hard.


I work with plaintiff side class action lawyers and this is awful advice. Plaintiffs side class action is almost 100% eat what you kill. Sure there are some people/weeks where attorneys work very little, but there are others where they work 16-18 hours a day.

If you want to make money doing plaintiffs class action work, you both have to find lucrative cases and work a ton

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AreJay711
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Re: Balance

Postby AreJay711 » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:22 pm

scottidsntknow wrote:Generally, salaries are bimodal i.e. biglaw paying 160k (or less in smaller markets) and everything else paying ~50k. Emphasis on generally.


The bimodal salary isn't as bad as it looks though. Law students and lawyers just don't understand integration.

OP: Federal clerks get a sweet deal. If I get the option to do a career clerkship, I'm going to take it.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Balance

Postby blsingindisguise » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:57 pm

bearsfan23 wrote:
blsingindisguise wrote:The kind of job you describe is most likely to be available to someone who has biglaw-ish grades but doesn't want biglaw. Anything other than government is going to have its bad weeks (or months), especially in major markets, and especially in NYC, but there is still a difference between a lot of mid-sized firms and biglaw firms. Alternatively, it's more likely to be available if you spend a few years somewhere and really distinguish yourself, make yourself valuable/attractive somehow, whether it's by having a client base or doing outstanding work. Basically, the 120k 9-6 midlaw jobs are in demand, so you have to be competitive for them.

You might also look at something like p-side class actions -- no billable hours in some cases means better balance. You'll still work hard but not biglaw hard.


I work with plaintiff side class action lawyers and this is awful advice. Plaintiffs side class action is almost 100% eat what you kill. Sure there are some people/weeks where attorneys work very little, but there are others where they work 16-18 hours a day.

If you want to make money doing plaintiffs class action work, you both have to find lucrative cases and work a ton


I know, because I do it. But it's not like every associate has to personally be bringing in cases left and right in order to have a job -- firms have different models for business generation depending on what they do. In some it's an entirely separate operation.

There are 16-18 hour days for sure, that's just called being a litigator. I'm just saying that whenever I compare notes with my biglaw pals, I have a lot more work-free weekends, a lot more nights when I'm home for dinner, etc.

JeromeApple
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Re: Balance

Postby JeromeApple » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:07 pm

Awesome - thank you everyone for the replies.

Its a bit sad that bimodality seems to be the dominant archetype. Two other questions:

1) For those doing plaintiff's side work - what are some interesting Firms to work at? I know of Susman, but not sure that fits my need for 'balance'.

2) With respect to Mid-Law firms - are you in trouble if you start there because exit options are really limited?

Thanks!

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Balance

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:12 pm

TheUnicornHunter wrote:
JeromeApple wrote:Interesting - what about in federal gov't? Someone mentioned the DOJ pays ~100k starting, in some places?


Not for AUSAs or for almost any other gov position, at least at first. I'm pretty sure new non-AUSA federal attorneys come in somewhere from GS-9 to GS-11. But most get promoted to GS-14 pretty quick.

http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversigh ... 15/DCB.pdf (this includes DC locality pay)

The honors programs all start at GS-11 at least, I think (maybe GS-12 with a clerkship). And the SEC starts people around $95k, I think. But they have their own fancy pay scale, I believe.

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starry eyed
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Re: Balance

Postby starry eyed » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:22 pm

AreJay711 wrote:
scottidsntknow wrote:Generally, salaries are bimodal i.e. biglaw paying 160k (or less in smaller markets) and everything else paying ~50k. Emphasis on generally.


The bimodal salary isn't as bad as it looks though. Law students and lawyers just don't understand integration.

OP: Federal clerks get a sweet deal. If I get the option to do a career clerkship, I'm going to take it.


can you elaborate on this?

JeromeApple
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Re: Balance

Postby JeromeApple » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:23 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
TheUnicornHunter wrote:
JeromeApple wrote:Interesting - what about in federal gov't? Someone mentioned the DOJ pays ~100k starting, in some places?


Not for AUSAs or for almost any other gov position, at least at first. I'm pretty sure new non-AUSA federal attorneys come in somewhere from GS-9 to GS-11. But most get promoted to GS-14 pretty quick.

http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversigh ... 15/DCB.pdf (this includes DC locality pay)

The honors programs all start at GS-11 at least, I think (maybe GS-12 with a clerkship). And the SEC starts people around $95k, I think. But they have their own fancy pay scale, I believe.


Do you know what "step" in the scale DOJ starts at?

EDIT - the website (http://www.justice.gov/legal-careers/at ... d-benefits) says Step 1....but wondering if that is negotiable...?

JeromeApple
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Re: Balance

Postby JeromeApple » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:45 pm

starry eyed wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:
scottidsntknow wrote:Generally, salaries are bimodal i.e. biglaw paying 160k (or less in smaller markets) and everything else paying ~50k. Emphasis on generally.


The bimodal salary isn't as bad as it looks though. Law students and lawyers just don't understand integration.

OP: Federal clerks get a sweet deal. If I get the option to do a career clerkship, I'm going to take it.


can you elaborate on this?


I think he / she is saying that because lawyers are likely to hold jobs in both the low and high spectrum of the distribution, the average (over time), is somewhere in the middle.

So, for example - if you had a graph where time is the X-axis and income the Y-axis, with the following values: first 5 years at 160k, the last 5 at 50k...and you integrated the graph, you'd get an area under the curve of (5*160) +(5*50) = 800 + 250 = 1.05M - which is a salary of 105k each year (somewhere in the middle of the original bimodal distribution).

I push back against the integration as a helpful metric, however, because what I'm looking for is day-to-day balance.

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AreJay711
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Re: Balance

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:10 pm

starry eyed wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:
scottidsntknow wrote:Generally, salaries are bimodal i.e. biglaw paying 160k (or less in smaller markets) and everything else paying ~50k. Emphasis on generally.


The bimodal salary isn't as bad as it looks though. Law students and lawyers just don't understand integration.

OP: Federal clerks get a sweet deal. If I get the option to do a career clerkship, I'm going to take it.


can you elaborate on this?


Sure. Actually, there was a post about this from some other TLSer way back. Here's the link: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=147597

And here's the post:

RPK34 wrote:Everyone always brings up how law school salaries, at least in the first year after graduating, are really bimodal, pointing to this:

--ImageRemoved--

AreJay Note: This post was from 2011, so I assume the poster was using this graph from the 2010 year.

Image


From this, everyone generally points out that if you miss the 160k, then you're pretty much stuck in 35k-60k range. But this really isn't true. In fact if you integrate the area under the curve, it actually looks very much different. In reality, a little under half of the graduating class working in firms will make a salary that is NOT in one of those salary ranges

Here's a rough breakdown of how the numbers look:

0-55,000: 35.2%
60,000-100,000: 28.7%
105,000-155,000: 14.1%
160,000+: 23%

(By the way, if you add these numbers up, it comes up to 100.9%. This wasn't an oversight, its toughing dealing without the raw data so there is a small margin of error).

There are a few caveats worth throwing out here:
1. This is firm data reported to the NALP (which, from what I've gathered, will not have reporting bias issues since it is reported by firms in the NALP directory). This means that those who are unemployed, working in retail for 8.50/hr, clerking, etc. are not counted in this data
2. The 28.7% of those making 60k-100k is slightling skewed towards the bottom of that pile. But still, just over 14% of those working in firms make between 75k-100k.
3. The 105k-155k is still probably largely dependent on market. For instance, there's a noticeable spike in the graph at 145k (see graph), which I believe is the biglaw salary in a few secondary markets. Unless you're going to school in one of these markets or grew up there, you're probably shut out of them.
4. Finally, just to reiterate, this is not the salary distribution of law school students. This is data for those who make it into a law firm in the NALP directory in their first year. This is more to suggest that those who talk about the "mythical 85k law firm" as if only a small percentage of students who get into firms are able to get these jobs.


The image is removed, so I'll just take the 2013 data.

Image From here: http://www.nalp.org/salarydistrib



So what you want to do is find the area under the curve. That's the integral. The website says that salaries were rounded to the nearest $5k, so we can sum it at every $5k interval. You'll see there that roughly 4% of grads are making $75. Not a lot, right? But 3% are making $80k; 2% are making $85k; 2% are making $90k; 1.5% are making $95k; 2.5% are making $100k. So 15.5% are making between $75k and $100k. If we just say $100k-145k is a constant 1.3% (for ease of calculation), that's another 11.7%. So over 25% of new grads fall between $75k and $145k (or $72.51k and $147.49k, really).

I'm not sure that changes every much, but it's not like EVERYONE is making $45k or $160k.
Last edited by AreJay711 on Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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starry eyed
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Re: Balance

Postby starry eyed » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:15 pm

AreJay711 wrote:
starry eyed wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:
scottidsntknow wrote:Generally, salaries are bimodal i.e. biglaw paying 160k (or less in smaller markets) and everything else paying ~50k. Emphasis on generally.


The bimodal salary isn't as bad as it looks though. Law students and lawyers just don't understand integration.

OP: Federal clerks get a sweet deal. If I get the option to do a career clerkship, I'm going to take it.


can you elaborate on this?


Sure. Actually, there was a post about this from some other TLSer way back. Here's the link: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=147597

And here's the post:

RPK34 wrote:Everyone always brings up how law school salaries, at least in the first year after graduating, are really bimodal, pointing to this:

--ImageRemoved--

From this, everyone generally points out that if you miss the 160k, then you're pretty much stuck in 35k-60k range. But this really isn't true. In fact if you integrate the area under the curve, it actually looks very much different. In reality, a little under half of the graduating class working in firms will make a salary that is NOT in one of those salary ranges

Here's a rough breakdown of how the numbers look:

0-55,000: 35.2%
60,000-100,000: 28.7%
105,000-155,000: 14.1%
160,000+: 23%

(By the way, if you add these numbers up, it comes up to 100.9%. This wasn't an oversight, its toughing dealing without the raw data so there is a small margin of error).

There are a few caveats worth throwing out here:
1. This is firm data reported to the NALP (which, from what I've gathered, will not have reporting bias issues since it is reported by firms in the NALP directory). This means that those who are unemployed, working in retail for 8.50/hr, clerking, etc. are not counted in this data
2. The 28.7% of those making 60k-100k is slightling skewed towards the bottom of that pile. But still, just over 14% of those working in firms make between 75k-100k.
3. The 105k-155k is still probably largely dependent on market. For instance, there's a noticeable spike in the graph at 145k (see graph), which I believe is the biglaw salary in a few secondary markets. Unless you're going to school in one of these markets or grew up there, you're probably shut out of them.
4. Finally, just to reiterate, this is not the salary distribution of law school students. This is data for those who make it into a law firm in the NALP directory in their first year. This is more to suggest that those who talk about the "mythical 85k law firm" as if only a small percentage of students who get into firms are able to get these jobs.


The image is removed, so I'll just take the 2013 data.

Image From here: http://www.nalp.org/salarydistrib



So what you want to do is find the area under the curve. That's the integral. The website says that salaries were rounded to the nearest $5k, so we can sum it at every $5k interval. You'll see there that roughly 4% of grads are making $75. Not a lot, right? But 3% are making $80k; 2% are making $85k; 2% are making $90k; 1.5% are making $95k; 2.5% are making $100k. So 15.5% are making between $75k and $100k. If we just say $100k-145k is a constant 1.3% (for ease of calculation), that's another 11.7%. So over 25% of new grads fall between $75k and $145k (or $72.51 and $147.49, really).

I'm not sure that changes every much, but it's not like EVERYONE is making $45k or $160k.


ok i see what you are saying. ppl usually use that chart to make the opposite point (that it's extremely bimodal)

are there metrics out there gauging salaries 10 years out? (perhaps comparing someone who started at small vs big firm)

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AreJay711
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Re: Balance

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:18 pm

starry eyed wrote:
ok i see what you are saying. ppl usually use that chart to make the opposite point (that it's extremely bimodal)

are there metrics out there gauging salaries 10 years out? (perhaps comparing someone who started at small vs big firm)


It is extremely bimodal, but people take the wrong conclusion from that. I don't know of any data about 10 year salaries.

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: Balance

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:19 pm

JeromeApple wrote:
2) With respect to Mid-Law firms - are you in trouble if you start there because exit options are really limited?


This depends on a lot of factors, but I think it largely depends on when you are leaving. In my experience at my old midlaw-ish firm (~$100k salary in a tertiary market), people who could've gotten biglaw initially based largely on their law school (i.e., people who were above median at T14s) don't have too much trouble lateraling from midlaw to biglaw/government/boutiques if they are trying to do so within the first few years. I know a few people who've done this. But the people who moved into these jobs are mostly people who could've gotten biglaw in the first place if that's what they had been targeting.

People who went to midlaw from regional schools in that market (T50s-T2s) tended to have a harder time getting such gigs (at my firm at least). Even those who would've had a good shot at biglaw in the first place because they were top 1-2% of their class at the local T1 just didn't seem to have quite as much luck when it came to lateral options.

Once people got 5+ years out, people left almost exclusively to go (1) in-house for clients, (2) to plaintiffs' firms, or (3) to similarly-sized firms, but only if they'd built up a book of business by then. Law school/rank/etc. doesn't seem to matter in the slightest once you hit 5+ years.




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