Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

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Series70
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Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Series70 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:23 am

I'm really excited to be going to law school next year, but my biggest anxiety is that, after 3 years of intensive studying and six figures of loan debt, I'll be working insane hours that totally ruin my quality of life. It's not that I'm adverse to hard work: I'm willing to give my all for, say, 50 hours a week or so. But family is important to me, as are my hobbies and interests. After all, those people and things are why we have jobs in the first place, right?

So I was wondering: what are some interesting and challenging careers that nonetheless enable one to actually have a life?

My situation is a bit particular since I'm set on staying in NYC. My initial plan after graduation was to become an ADA at one of the city's offices. I want to help put criminals behind bars and make the city a safer place. (I've even considered becoming a cop at one point.) But I've heard such conflicting statements about hours per week. Someone posting on this forum earlier (http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=85874) said that, as a big city ADA, you only work 8 hours a day M-F, maybe a bit more to prepare for a trial. I've heard one ex-ADA confirm this, but she had worked for 15 years, and might have only been thinking about the latter years. Another ex-ADA told me life was completely insane, and a former paralegal told me you can expect to work 60 hours a week.

Which made me think: if I'm going to work 60 hours/wk and make under $60,000, why not try for a job in Big Law that requires a few more hours but that pays 2-3 times as much? A friend working for a firm here in the city usually does 9-8, plus maybe another 8 hours or so on the weekends, usually at home. Sure, things can get crazy at times, and you'll get maybe a few all-nighters a year, but is there really that much of a difference between how much you work as an ADA or as a Big Law associate?

I had thought that, after working as an ADA, I'd consider applying to become an AUSA. But, I'm reading newly appointed Oregon Attorney General John Kroger's Convictions now (which is a great book, by the way), and he tells of working 18 hours A DAY, 7 days a week, for six months (!), on a big case. Again, I'd love to serve the public, and law enforcement truly interests me, but, I'm not willing to destroy myself (and possibly my family) in the process.

Anyone else having similar thoughts? Any experienced attorneys have any real-life experience they can share? I assume this is a question that affects a lot of us, so I thought I'd put it out there. Thanks!

Renzo
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Renzo » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:35 am

Series70 wrote:I'm really excited to be going to law school next year, but my biggest anxiety is that, after 3 years of intensive studying and six figures of loan debt, I'll be working insane hours that totally ruin my quality of life. It's not that I'm adverse to hard work: I'm willing to give my all for, say, 50 hours a week or so. But family is important to me, as are my hobbies and interests. After all, those people and things are why we have jobs in the first place, right?

So I was wondering: what are some interesting and challenging careers that nonetheless enable one to actually have a life?

My situation is a bit particular since I'm set on staying in NYC. My initial plan after graduation was to become an ADA at one of the city's offices. I want to help put criminals behind bars and make the city a safer place. (I've even considered becoming a cop at one point.) But I've heard such conflicting statements about hours per week. Someone posting on this forum earlier (http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=85874) said that, as a big city ADA, you only work 8 hours a day M-F, maybe a bit more to prepare for a trial. I've heard one ex-ADA confirm this, but she had worked for 15 years, and might have only been thinking about the latter years. Another ex-ADA told me life was completely insane, and a former paralegal told me you can expect to work 60 hours a week.

Which made me think: if I'm going to work 60 hours/wk and make under $60,000, why not try for a job in Big Law that requires a few more hours but that pays 2-3 times as much? A friend working for a firm here in the city usually does 9-8, plus maybe another 8 hours or so on the weekends, usually at home. Sure, things can get crazy at times, and you'll get maybe a few all-nighters a year, but is there really that much of a difference between how much you work as an ADA or as a Big Law associate?

I had thought that, after working as an ADA, I'd consider applying to become an AUSA. But, I'm reading newly appointed Oregon Attorney General John Kroger's Convictions now (which is a great book, by the way), and he tells of working 18 hours A DAY, 7 days a week, for six months (!), on a big case. Again, I'd love to serve the public, and law enforcement truly interests me, but, I'm not willing to destroy myself (and possibly my family) in the process.

Anyone else having similar thoughts? Any experienced attorneys have any real-life experience they can share? I assume this is a question that affects a lot of us, so I thought I'd put it out there. Thanks!

AUSA's put in long hours, especially in the NY/NJ area. I'm not sure how to answer your question more generally, because a 60hr work week doesn't seem that excessive to me. If you are looking for something that is really just a 40ish hour work-week, I think you're going to be limited to a few government jobs. I have heard from interns that the Office of the Labor Solicitor's attorneys don't work real long hours, and I've heard the same about the NYC Law Dept. I'd imagine (but don't know) many of the regulatory agencies are the same way.

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Veyron
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Veyron » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:49 am

Series70 wrote:Which made me think: if I'm going to work 60 hours/wk and make under $60,000, why not try for a job in Big Law that requires a few more hours but that pays 2-3 times as much? A friend working for a firm here in the city usually does 9-8, plus maybe another 8 hours or so on the weekends, usually at home. Sure, things can get crazy at times, and you'll get maybe a few all-nighters a year, but is there really that much of a difference between how much you work as an ADA or as a Big Law associate?


The road to hell, so easy, so tempting to follow.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:46 pm

There's no form of law other than certain state jobs - usually the ones not in any way related to litigation - that keeps a version of factory hours. With realistic billable ratios and no fraud, your BigLaw junior associates in New York are probably working ~ 3000. But that only *averages* out to around 60 a week or 12 per day per five day work week, 8:00-8:00. It's not actually distributed like that.

As far as ADA - I have no idea how this is supposed to be low stress or predictable. Anytime you get adversarial litigation, who the hell knows. There was an excellent documentary several years ago on what it was actually like to be an ADA in Boston and it looked like something out of a sci-fi hive world.

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Series70
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Series70 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:05 pm

^ Do you happen to know the title of the documentary? That sounds like exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. I know being an ADA will be stressful and unpredictable, and it sounds interesting to me precisely for those reasons, as long as I have my weekends free and can get home in time for dinner.

Renzo wrote:a 60hr work week doesn't seem that excessive to me.


Really, why is that? If you do 9-9 M-F, or 9-7 M-Saturday, how does that allow you any time for the people that matter to you? I mean, if you have a child, you'd probably only see him/her on the weekends, if you were working until 9pm every day, or only for a few hours a day and then during the day on Sunday. I'm not trying to be hostile or anything, but I'm just curious as to why so many intelligent people are willing to spend the majority of their time at work, especially at a relatively low-paying government job. Life's pretty short.

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kittenmittons
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby kittenmittons » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:07 pm

Series70 wrote:^ Do you happen to know the title of the documentary? That sounds like exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. I know being an ADA will be stressful and unpredictable, and it sounds interesting to me precisely for those reasons, as long as I have my weekends free and can get home in time for dinner.

Renzo wrote:a 60hr work week doesn't seem that excessive to me.


Really, why is that? If you do 9-9 M-F, or 9-7 M-Saturday, how does that allow you any time for the people that matter to you? I mean, if you have a child, you'd probably only see him/her on the weekends, if you were working until 9pm every day, or only for a few hours a day and then during the day on Sunday. I'm not trying to be hostile or anything, but I'm just curious as to why so many intelligent people are willing to spend the majority of their time at work, especially at a relatively low-paying government job. Life's pretty short.


Who goes into work at 9 anyway? 8am ftw

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AlanShore
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby AlanShore » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:13 pm

Series70 wrote:^ Do you happen to know the title of the documentary? That sounds like exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. I know being an ADA will be stressful and unpredictable, and it sounds interesting to me precisely for those reasons, as long as I have my weekends free and can get home in time for dinner.

Renzo wrote:a 60hr work week doesn't seem that excessive to me.


Really, why is that? If you do 9-9 M-F, or 9-7 M-Saturday, how does that allow you any time for the people that matter to you? I mean, if you have a child, you'd probably only see him/her on the weekends, if you were working until 9pm every day, or only for a few hours a day and then during the day on Sunday. I'm not trying to be hostile or anything, but I'm just curious as to why so many intelligent people are willing to spend the majority of their time at work, especially at a relatively low-paying government job. Life's pretty short.

I sympathize, Series. I share your concerns.... It seems like there aren't too many good law jobs that don't require long hours especially in the first few years. I think our best bet is to do big law for 3 years max (hopefully only 2) and then move into a smaller firm, a corporation or something else that requires less hours and still good money.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:27 pm

Series70 wrote:^ Do you happen to know the title of the documentary? That sounds like exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. I know being an ADA will be stressful and unpredictable, and it sounds interesting to me precisely for those reasons, as long as I have my weekends free and can get home in time for dinner.


I believe it was Frontline: Real Justice.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/bostonda/

Flanker1067
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Flanker1067 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:42 pm

I am really glad there are other people on this forum who actually value LIVING. So many people seem so interested in Big Law it's outrageous. You really want to work like that for a shot at being 'the best'? What happens if you give up 3 or 4 of your best years and don't make partner? Now, I am not writing off the possibility, because who knows what will happen. I will tell you that if I get a Big Law job, I will live like a monk in order to pay off loans, and save for whatever the next step in life will be.

Oban
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Oban » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:01 pm

we work way to much in the united states.

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pleasetryagain
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby pleasetryagain » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:06 pm

Oban wrote:we work way to much in the united states.


Truth. Any job that is going to pay you 6 figures is going to require long hours and some of your personal time. Hell, I worked in a call center where people made $15/hour and were there from 7-8/9 5 days a weeek with two 15 minute breaks and 30 minutes for lunch. Those guys took shit from angry customers all day every day.. 125k/year for legal work seems pretty appealing compared to that.

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Genki
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Genki » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:10 pm

Oban wrote:we work way to much in the united states.


My wife is from Japan where the work hours are generally higher than the United States. She was surprised when she found that there are so many jobs in the US that pay six figures and only require 65 or so hours a week.

Oban
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Oban » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:14 pm

Genki wrote:
Oban wrote:we work way to much in the united states.


My wife is from Japan where the work hours are generally higher than the United States. She was surprised when she found that there are so many jobs in the US that pay six figures and only require 65 or so hours a week.


People also have to pay a non refundable deposit on apartments in Japan too. bummer.

Renzo
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Renzo » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:47 pm

Series70 wrote:^ Do you happen to know the title of the documentary? That sounds like exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. I know being an ADA will be stressful and unpredictable, and it sounds interesting to me precisely for those reasons, as long as I have my weekends free and can get home in time for dinner.

Renzo wrote:a 60hr work week doesn't seem that excessive to me.


Really, why is that? If you do 9-9 M-F, or 9-7 M-Saturday, how does that allow you any time for the people that matter to you? I mean, if you have a child, you'd probably only see him/her on the weekends, if you were working until 9pm every day, or only for a few hours a day and then during the day on Sunday. I'm not trying to be hostile or anything, but I'm just curious as to why so many intelligent people are willing to spend the majority of their time at work, especially at a relatively low-paying government job. Life's pretty short.

Before I left the workforce for school, a 60-hr work week meant either having breakfast or dinner with my family everyday, but not both. I worked some from home either at night while my wife watches TV, or on weekends while hanging out with the family. I had plenty of time to do the things I wanted, but I did have to schedule things (no impulse trips to the zoo).

Life is short, but what are you going to do with all your precious free time? Watch Judge Judy? Make hobby jewelry? I'd rather have something challenging and meaningful to do.

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jay115
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby jay115 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:51 pm

Series70 wrote:^ Do you happen to know the title of the documentary? That sounds like exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. I know being an ADA will be stressful and unpredictable, and it sounds interesting to me precisely for those reasons, as long as I have my weekends free and can get home in time for dinner.

Renzo wrote:a 60hr work week doesn't seem that excessive to me.


Really, why is that? If you do 9-9 M-F, or 9-7 M-Saturday, how does that allow you any time for the people that matter to you? I mean, if you have a child, you'd probably only see him/her on the weekends, if you were working until 9pm every day, or only for a few hours a day and then during the day on Sunday. I'm not trying to be hostile or anything, but I'm just curious as to why so many intelligent people are willing to spend the majority of their time at work, especially at a relatively low-paying government job. Life's pretty short.


thank god ill never have children. working as a waiter at a restaurant in high school will do that to you.

ConsideringLawSchool
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby ConsideringLawSchool » Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:57 pm

Honestly, 60 hours a week sounds like a big number, but it is not all-consuming in the real world. My last job was 100 hours a week, and we still made time to hang out with friends/family and to do (occasional) other things. 60 hour work weeks really leave you with plenty of time for everything else (think 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM, weekends off).

Pearalegal
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Pearalegal » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:05 pm

Flanker1067 wrote:I am really glad there are other people on this forum who actually value LIVING. So many people seem so interested in Big Law it's outrageous. You really want to work like that for a shot at being 'the best'? What happens if you give up 3 or 4 of your best years and don't make partner? Now, I am not writing off the possibility, because who knows what will happen. I will tell you that if I get a Big Law job, I will live like a monk in order to pay off loans, and save for whatever the next step in life will be.


Have you ever worked in BigLaw? Litigation is in cycles, so you'll have busy periods and dead periods. The vast majority of associates I know and work with are quite pleased with their lives, and spend a lot of time with their families.

Sure, there are periods where you're completely hectic--but I can think of only a handful of professions where that isn't the case (perhaps not to the same level, but still).

But you, and your significant other/children (if applicable), know this going into the law. Those that work like a workaholic are...workaholics. I know one young associate who was on his blackberry while his wife was giving birth. There was no reason for him to be. A partner told him he was a tool.

There are many biglaw attorneys that actually value LIVING, as you put it.

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jcl2
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby jcl2 » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:06 pm

Check out this link: http://www.averyindex.com/shortest_hour_law_firms.php

People tend to overstate the hours lawyers work. Yes there will be weeks or even months of crazy 80-90 hr weeks at big firms and even in many government positions, but when you average things out it is not terrible. Aside from Cravath and Wachtell, at most big firms associates seem to work an average of between 50 and 60 hrs per week and bill 40-45, not bad given the pay and considering that lawyers seem to count their lunch/dinner breaks as part of those hours.

Pearalegal
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Pearalegal » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:11 pm

^

Just checked out my firm. Appox. 55 hours a week, definitely the norm. Most work around 8-6, then a few hours on the weekend from home (maybe). Pretty damn good quality of life when you figure in the money. Yous can do and buy lots of shit.

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AlanShore
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby AlanShore » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:20 pm

is the litigation department known to be the worst department in terms of hours?

Pearalegal
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Pearalegal » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:24 pm

AlanShore wrote:is the litigation department known to be the worst department in terms of hours?


No, not really. Law revolves in cycles, and while litigation can be some of the most up and down, I don't really see it as being any better or worse, hour-wise on my associates.

Renzo
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Renzo » Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:28 pm

Pearalegal wrote:
AlanShore wrote:is the litigation department known to be the worst department in terms of hours?


No, not really. Law revolves in cycles, and while litigation can be some of the most up and down, I don't really see it as being any better or worse, hour-wise on my associates.

Seconded. Impending trials mean long hours the same as big mergers. Besides, the hours suck not because of the work itself, but because the partners make more on those extra hours. Why would a pimp get a second prostitute to feed and clothe when he can just make the first one work longer for free?

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kittenmittons
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby kittenmittons » Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:50 pm

Renzo wrote:
Pearalegal wrote:
AlanShore wrote:is the litigation department known to be the worst department in terms of hours?


No, not really. Law revolves in cycles, and while litigation can be some of the most up and down, I don't really see it as being any better or worse, hour-wise on my associates.

Seconded. Impending trials mean long hours the same as big mergers. Besides, the hours suck not because of the work itself, but because the partners make more on those extra hours. Why would a pimp get a second prostitute to feed and clothe when he can just make the first one work longer for free?


So you can have more hos?

s.hasan546
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby s.hasan546 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:38 pm

Genki wrote:
Oban wrote:we work way to much in the united states.


My wife is from Japan where the work hours are generally higher than the United States. She was surprised when she found that there are so many jobs in the US that pay six figures and only require 65 or so hours a week.


well thats Japan. many places in Europe average better salaries with less hours per week.

Renzo
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Re: Big City Law Jobs with liveable hours?

Postby Renzo » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:44 pm

s.hasan546 wrote:
Genki wrote:
Oban wrote:we work way to much in the united states.


My wife is from Japan where the work hours are generally higher than the United States. She was surprised when she found that there are so many jobs in the US that pay six figures and only require 65 or so hours a week.


well thats Japan. many places in Europe average better salaries with less hours per week.

And they do so by creating huge ghettos of unemployed people.

Edit: I take that back. No, they don't, and the countries that do have more restrictive labor laws have both lower wages and higher unemployment rates.




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