How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

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chloe18
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How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby chloe18 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:24 am

Here's a link I found where former associates vent about their experiences with BigLaw firms. The link is just to some of the firms.. I simply put it "LLP" in search terms.

--LinkRemoved--

Do these sound like honest reviews?

If you don't feel like going through some, here's one review about Skadden:
"Skadden has a reputation as a sweatshop and that is an insult to sweatshops. The pay, while seemingly on a par with other large frims is misleading because they want you to be on call 24 hours a day. Management is a joke. There is no leadership just cowering robots who pile on assignment after assigment to fuel their career goals. Their main concern is office space and never, ever advocating for their staffs lest they upset senior management. They don't even seem to understand or care that their staffs have zero respect for them. The work enviornment resembles a gulag. It is amazing that any actual work gets done with all the micromanaging that goes on there. Trying to get a day off is a process that entails notifying no less than 20 people with multiple e-mails. The co-worker competence is all over the board, the staff is quite good and with even a minimally decent manager could be great but the management is so pathetic the staff is never allowed to grow. There is no work/life balance unless you want Skadden to be your life. There is no morale and when this is brought up management quickly sweeps it under the carpet. As a veteran of several top flight firms, Skadden is a mess and for all their self imposed complications the work product is not that impressive. You will get nothing except a pay check from working in this close minded, down beat sweatshop."

So why would anyone want to work in a place like this? What's so great about BigLaw? Even $150k a year doesn't sound appealing if you're expected to work 12 hours a day and be on call 24/7. That's ridiculous.

Fark-o-vision
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Fark-o-vision » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:27 am

Sounds like my last job. Which paid 23K a year. So, that's why, maybe?

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AngryAvocado
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby AngryAvocado » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:30 am

chloe18 wrote:Here's a link I found where former associates vent about their experiences with BigLaw firms. The link is just to some of the firms.. I simply put it "LLP" in search terms.

--LinkRemoved--

Do these sound like honest reviews?

If you don't feel like going through some, here's one review about Skadden:
"Skadden has a reputation as a sweatshop and that is an insult to sweatshops. The pay, while seemingly on a par with other large frims is misleading because they want you to be on call 24 hours a day. Management is a joke. There is no leadership just cowering robots who pile on assignment after assigment to fuel their career goals. Their main concern is office space and never, ever advocating for their staffs lest they upset senior management. They don't even seem to understand or care that their staffs have zero respect for them. The work enviornment resembles a gulag. It is amazing that any actual work gets done with all the micromanaging that goes on there. Trying to get a day off is a process that entails notifying no less than 20 people with multiple e-mails. The co-worker competence is all over the board, the staff is quite good and with even a minimally decent manager could be great but the management is so pathetic the staff is never allowed to grow. There is no work/life balance unless you want Skadden to be your life. There is no morale and when this is brought up management quickly sweeps it under the carpet. As a veteran of several top flight firms, Skadden is a mess and for all their self imposed complications the work product is not that impressive. You will get nothing except a pay check from working in this close minded, down beat sweatshop."

So why would anyone want to work in a place like this? What's so great about BigLaw? Even $150k a year doesn't sound appealing if you're expected to work 12 hours a day and be on call 24/7. That's ridiculous.


Exit options, mainly. Put in a few years, then move to partner track at a smaller firm/boutique, or in-house corporate, or whatever. Very few people stick around places like Skadden long enough to make partner.

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Kohinoor
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:35 am

chloe18 wrote:Here's a link I found where former associates vent about their experiences with BigLaw firms. The link is just to some of the firms.. I simply put it "LLP" in search terms.

--LinkRemoved--

Do these sound like honest reviews?

If you don't feel like going through some, here's one review about Skadden:
"Skadden has a reputation as a sweatshop and that is an insult to sweatshops. The pay, while seemingly on a par with other large frims is misleading because they want you to be on call 24 hours a day. Management is a joke. There is no leadership just cowering robots who pile on assignment after assigment to fuel their career goals. Their main concern is office space and never, ever advocating for their staffs lest they upset senior management. They don't even seem to understand or care that their staffs have zero respect for them. The work enviornment resembles a gulag. It is amazing that any actual work gets done with all the micromanaging that goes on there. Trying to get a day off is a process that entails notifying no less than 20 people with multiple e-mails. The co-worker competence is all over the board, the staff is quite good and with even a minimally decent manager could be great but the management is so pathetic the staff is never allowed to grow. There is no work/life balance unless you want Skadden to be your life. There is no morale and when this is brought up management quickly sweeps it under the carpet. As a veteran of several top flight firms, Skadden is a mess and for all their self imposed complications the work product is not that impressive. You will get nothing except a pay check from working in this close minded, down beat sweatshop."

So why would anyone want to work in a place like this? What's so great about BigLaw? Even $150k a year doesn't sound appealing if you're expected to work 12 hours a day and be on call 24/7. That's ridiculous.
Skadden has an onsite full-service kitchen.

roadkilllaw
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby roadkilllaw » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:42 am

Kohinoor wrote:
chloe18 wrote:Here's a link I found where former associates vent about their experiences with BigLaw firms. The link is just to some of the firms.. I simply put it "LLP" in search terms.

--LinkRemoved--

Do these sound like honest reviews?

If you don't feel like going through some, here's one review about Skadden:
"Skadden has a reputation as a sweatshop and that is an insult to sweatshops. The pay, while seemingly on a par with other large frims is misleading because they want you to be on call 24 hours a day. Management is a joke. There is no leadership just cowering robots who pile on assignment after assigment to fuel their career goals. Their main concern is office space and never, ever advocating for their staffs lest they upset senior management. They don't even seem to understand or care that their staffs have zero respect for them. The work enviornment resembles a gulag. It is amazing that any actual work gets done with all the micromanaging that goes on there. Trying to get a day off is a process that entails notifying no less than 20 people with multiple e-mails. The co-worker competence is all over the board, the staff is quite good and with even a minimally decent manager could be great but the management is so pathetic the staff is never allowed to grow. There is no work/life balance unless you want Skadden to be your life. There is no morale and when this is brought up management quickly sweeps it under the carpet. As a veteran of several top flight firms, Skadden is a mess and for all their self imposed complications the work product is not that impressive. You will get nothing except a pay check from working in this close minded, down beat sweatshop."

So why would anyone want to work in a place like this? What's so great about BigLaw? Even $150k a year doesn't sound appealing if you're expected to work 12 hours a day and be on call 24/7. That's ridiculous.
Skadden has an onsite full-service kitchen.


does that make things better?

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A'nold
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby A'nold » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:49 am

Fark-o-vision wrote:Sounds like my last job. Which paid 23K a year. So, that's why, maybe?


TITCR, but 30k for me. I hate the sound of micromanaging going on in big firms. I kind of naively guessed that lawyers didn't have as many problems with that as like the typical incompetent middle managers at large corporations since as an attorney you are pretty much only one level down from the top (partners).

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ConMan345
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby ConMan345 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:49 am

chloe18 wrote:Here's a link I found where former associates vent about their experiences with BigLaw firms. The link is just to some of the firms.. I simply put it "LLP" in search terms.

--LinkRemoved--

Do these sound like honest reviews?

If you don't feel like going through some, here's one review about Skadden:
"Skadden has a reputation as a sweatshop and that is an insult to sweatshops. The pay, while seemingly on a par with other large frims is misleading because they want you to be on call 24 hours a day. Management is a joke. There is no leadership just cowering robots who pile on assignment after assigment to fuel their career goals. Their main concern is office space and never, ever advocating for their staffs lest they upset senior management. They don't even seem to understand or care that their staffs have zero respect for them. The work enviornment resembles a gulag. It is amazing that any actual work gets done with all the micromanaging that goes on there. Trying to get a day off is a process that entails notifying no less than 20 people with multiple e-mails. The co-worker competence is all over the board, the staff is quite good and with even a minimally decent manager could be great but the management is so pathetic the staff is never allowed to grow. There is no work/life balance unless you want Skadden to be your life. There is no morale and when this is brought up management quickly sweeps it under the carpet. As a veteran of several top flight firms, Skadden is a mess and for all their self imposed complications the work product is not that impressive. You will get nothing except a pay check from working in this close minded, down beat sweatshop."

So why would anyone want to work in a place like this? What's so great about BigLaw? Even $150k a year doesn't sound appealing if you're expected to work 12 hours a day and be on call 24/7. That's ridiculous.


The site is called "JobVent,"--not "JobRave." People there are going to, by and large, be pissed. It doesn't mean they're lying, but I wouldn't take it as a representative random sample. I know lots of lawyers who were fine in BigLaw, some actually really liked it.

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby quickquestionthanks » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:31 am

oh no!
ConMan345 wrote:The site is called "JobVent,"--not "JobRave." People there are going to, by and large, be pissed. It doesn't mean they're lying, but I wouldn't take it as a representative random sample. I know lots of lawyers who were fine in BigLaw, some actually really liked it.


This.

The complaints about management are fairly typical and the work load doesn't sound too different than i-banking or a med student's residency. Except with the latter, you're working 48 hour shifts.

Some people like working long hours. The types of people that get into BigLaw.

Anonymous User
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:39 am

It's always humorous to me when I hear about people bitching and moaning at the prospect of working 60-70 hour weeks. Anyone who ever wants to get somewhere has to put in that kind of work for at least a portion of their lives. There are rare exceptions, but hard work usually comes with the territory.


EDIT: whoops, accidentally wrote this anonymously. If one of the mods wants to remove my cloak, no objections.

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los blancos
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby los blancos » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:41 am

quickquestionthanks wrote: the work load doesn't sound too different than i-banking or a med student's residency. Except with the latter, you're working 48 hour shifts.


i-Banking is far, far worse than Big Law.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:44 am

A: Some people like working a lot.
B: Even if you literally break your availability down to "24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year", you're getting paid $18.30 for literally every hour of your existence. $18.30 is a hell of a lot more than a lot of people make only for the hours that they... you know, actually work. Of course, 24/7 is an absolutely ridiculous overstatement, even around trial prep time. If you cut 6 hours a day out, and only have yourself "on call or working" 18 hours a day (still a ridiculous overstatement,) you're at $24.35 for every waking moment of your life.

4,000 hours a year (billables + non billables) is an overstatement--but not quite as ridiculous (works out to 77 hour weeks--which there are certainly some of in biglaw, and some weeks with far more) puts you at $40/hour starting pay, plus ridiculously good benefits (people underestimate how much good insurance and a matching 401k are worth; most firms have both).

If someone wants to go through the math and figure out what your hourly pay is after student loan payments (say $1,300/month there) and taxes compared to a 40 hour/week, $55k just-UG job (which is much, much higher pay than most post-UG jobs, by the way,) they're welcome to, but biglaw really does pay well, even when you're considering hourly pay and opportunity costs. Are there better paying jobs? Sure.

C: Eventually, the kind of work you do in big firms really is "better work" than smaller firms, though you do have to put in your gruntwork time, as with any office heirarchy aside from the top management consulting firms.

The bigger thing: IF someone wants to be a lawyer, and they're not PI bound, how can anyone NOT want biglaw? Small firms work you to the bones too, and pay 1/5 as much.

270910
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby 270910 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:15 am

Also, worth pointing out that the Skaddens, Cravaths, and Wachtells of the world (along with a select few others) squeeze just a bit more blood out of their stones than other big firms, as confirmed by anecdotal reports and hours surveys.

See: http://www.averyindex.com/longest_hours.php

Skadden isn't on the list, but it's a safe bet that if it were it would be top 5.

And note that the difference between averaging mid-60s work weeks and high 50s can be the difference between 'little life outside of work' and 'no life outside of work'.

The 'best' and 'most pretigiousest' firms get to be that way through leverage and long hours. Unless you're seriously type-A and dedicated to the firm cause, a place like that will either burn you out or show you the door long before you would be considered for partner - but your exit options will be great. Cravath and Skadden make heads turn in the legal employment world kind of like Harvard and Yale do in the law school world - it's a proxy for being about as well credentialed coming out of law school as it is possible to be.

So for some people firm work is the cat's meow. For others, big firm work is soul crushing but there are firms out there - either smaller (even if only slightly) or less nose-to-the-grindstone billable-hours-race oriented - that are workable. Note too that it's possible to lateral from a top / grinding firm to a less-top / less-grinding firm (often smaller boutique type places). And for others still the whole firm world sucks, but they pay down their debt and have a great springboard into government work, substantially smaller firms, or public interest work.

Xiaolong
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Xiaolong » Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:59 am

chloe18 wrote:Here's a link I found where former associates vent about their experiences with BigLaw firms. The link is just to some of the firms.. I simply put it "LLP" in search terms.

--LinkRemoved--

Do these sound like honest reviews?

If you don't feel like going through some, here's one review about Skadden:
"Skadden has a reputation as a sweatshop and that is an insult to sweatshops. The pay, while seemingly on a par with other large frims is misleading because they want you to be on call 24 hours a day. Management is a joke. There is no leadership just cowering robots who pile on assignment after assigment to fuel their career goals. Their main concern is office space and never, ever advocating for their staffs lest they upset senior management. They don't even seem to understand or care that their staffs have zero respect for them. The work enviornment resembles a gulag. It is amazing that any actual work gets done with all the micromanaging that goes on there. Trying to get a day off is a process that entails notifying no less than 20 people with multiple e-mails. The co-worker competence is all over the board, the staff is quite good and with even a minimally decent manager could be great but the management is so pathetic the staff is never allowed to grow. There is no work/life balance unless you want Skadden to be your life. There is no morale and when this is brought up management quickly sweeps it under the carpet. As a veteran of several top flight firms, Skadden is a mess and for all their self imposed complications the work product is not that impressive. You will get nothing except a pay check from working in this close minded, down beat sweatshop."

So why would anyone want to work in a place like this? What's so great about BigLaw? Even $150k a year doesn't sound appealing if you're expected to work 12 hours a day and be on call 24/7. That's ridiculous.


Oh, so you thought Skadden pays you 160K plus 40K bonus at year end for a smooth 40hrs a week kind of gig? It really surprises me how surprised people are when they find out about the life of biglaw lawyers.

Flanker1067
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Flanker1067 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:10 am

AngryAvocado wrote:
Exit options, mainly. Put in a few years, then move to partner track at a smaller firm/boutique, or in-house corporate, or whatever. Very few people stick around places like Skadden long enough to make partner.


This is right. Not many people go into Biglaw with the intention of enjoying the lifestyle. That's why most leave after a few years. The ones who stay are most like "the hobbyless assholes"(to quote the guy selling his diploma) that lawyers are often known to be.<---This is a gross generalization. I am sure some are nice people who for whatever reason want to stay in it. However, if you work 70 hours a week you obviously don't do too much else, so they are just hobbyless and not assholes. I "want" biglaw because I know that in 2-3 years I can pay back my loans and secure a better life.

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Kiersten1985
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Kiersten1985 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:29 am

Because some people aren't afraid of hard work?

And some people genuinely enjoy the work that they do. Sure, document review for months on end isnt' appealing to anyone but there's always the chance you'll go to trial or pick up a sweet pro bono case. If you generally like law and find it interesting, it's not bad.

Let's face it, you're not scrubbing toilets 24/7.

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Hammurabi
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Hammurabi » Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:17 am

24/7 on call...mehh I'd just ask for a cot in my office. To the OP, people around the world and here in the US work just as hard for a lot less. For them it's not a lifestyle choice, for a lot us it will be. Different strokes for different folks.

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nealric
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby nealric » Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:51 am

I'm not sure why the OP thinks Skadden represents all biglaw firms.

You will work quite a bit at any biglaw firm, but 55-60hrs a week (though often more like 45 one week and 65 the next) is more typical.

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Bauer24
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Bauer24 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:08 am

This is a reason why I'm sort of crossing my fingers for a scholarship. I wouldn't be pressured to go into biglaw just to pay off my debt! :shock:
However, regardless... biglaw is very tempting.

BetterCallSaul
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby BetterCallSaul » Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:34 am

It's not the long hours that scare me about biglaw--it's the bloatedness.

Every current and former biglaw lawyer I have talked to has some horrendous/comical stories like--

The white collar crime case in which no less than 8 equity partners are trying to steer the case independently from each other. And there are at least 50 associates across 3 offices essentially doing the same work 3 times over. (senior associate assigned to the case told me this)

Or how about the time that a New York merchant (observant jew) lost few million in merchandise in a train crash in rural Virginia. Initially he had a V25 firm handling the case--he moved his suit to a litigation boutique before it had even been filed, but by that time the V25 had already billed 200 hours on the question of "Which is the best jurisdiction for this case--New York (EDNY), rural Virginia or Miami?" And the answer they came up with was rural Virginia--despite the fact that the area was so rural that the judge only sat in the district 2-3 days a month *and* the law would be the same where ever the case was brought.

Yeah, it's not the hard work part that would make me hate biglaw, it's the pointless work that would make me hate it.

jitsrenzo
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby jitsrenzo » Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:56 am

I think a lot of the people who complain about biglaw have a bad attitude and probably came straight from UG. The most common complaints I hear are about 1) hours 2) work that "a high school kid" could do - doc review, due diligence.

1) To be honest, an average of 60 hours a week (80 or 90 is an exaggeration) is not all that bad. You do 8 AM - 8 PM Mon-Fri and you're done. THAT"S PRETTY GOOD FOR A KID WITH NO PRACTICAL SKILLS OR EXPERIENCE EARNING 160K.

Also, think of it as a chance to learn, to figure out how to be a lawyer. You're surrounded by some of the best lawyers in the country - that's a GREAT learning opportunity.

2) I don't know what kind of work fresh law school grads think they are entitled to or qualified for doing. First chair in a huge M&A trial that settles in your favor for $500MM, dining out and playing golf with Lloyd Blankfein to bring in that big merger? Are you nuts?

Look at all the horror stories involving summer associates and new associates to the big firms on ATL. New law grads are NOT qualified to handle that kind of work or that level of responsibility. To me, this makes a lot of sense, because a screw up will cause the firm millions in losses and more importantly, a huge hit to its reputation.

Simply put, you gotta pay your dues, like with ANY industry. PROVE you're a good worker, you have a good attitude, you're willing to learn, and you'll get more responsibility and more interesting/important assignments.

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Kohinoor
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:06 pm

roadkilllaw wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
chloe18 wrote:Here's a link I found where former associates vent about their experiences with BigLaw firms. The link is just to some of the firms.. I simply put it "LLP" in search terms.

--LinkRemoved--

Do these sound like honest reviews?

If you don't feel like going through some, here's one review about Skadden:
"Skadden has a reputation as a sweatshop and that is an insult to sweatshops. The pay, while seemingly on a par with other large frims is misleading because they want you to be on call 24 hours a day. Management is a joke. There is no leadership just cowering robots who pile on assignment after assigment to fuel their career goals. Their main concern is office space and never, ever advocating for their staffs lest they upset senior management. They don't even seem to understand or care that their staffs have zero respect for them. The work enviornment resembles a gulag. It is amazing that any actual work gets done with all the micromanaging that goes on there. Trying to get a day off is a process that entails notifying no less than 20 people with multiple e-mails. The co-worker competence is all over the board, the staff is quite good and with even a minimally decent manager could be great but the management is so pathetic the staff is never allowed to grow. There is no work/life balance unless you want Skadden to be your life. There is no morale and when this is brought up management quickly sweeps it under the carpet. As a veteran of several top flight firms, Skadden is a mess and for all their self imposed complications the work product is not that impressive. You will get nothing except a pay check from working in this close minded, down beat sweatshop."

So why would anyone want to work in a place like this? What's so great about BigLaw? Even $150k a year doesn't sound appealing if you're expected to work 12 hours a day and be on call 24/7. That's ridiculous.
Skadden has an onsite full-service kitchen.


does that make things better?
yup!

BetterCallSaul
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby BetterCallSaul » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:13 pm

See, I would be content digging ditches all day if I knew I was being useful. What would suck is being told to dig a ditch, then fill it in, then re-dig it, then fill it in...that's biglaw.

It's not that the work isn't "important" enough for my big brain, it's that my work would be useless. I would rather go some place where I'm needed, even if it means taking a pay cut and doing "paralegal" work half the time--so long as I'm actually serving a purpose.

Edit: I don't begrudge anyone who does it for the money. Law school is expensive and money is great. Just not my bag.

jitsrenzo
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby jitsrenzo » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:33 pm

BetterCallSaul wrote:See, I would be content digging ditches all day if I knew I was being useful. What would suck is being told to dig a ditch, then fill it in, then re-dig it, then fill it in...that's biglaw.


How is it that you're so convinced of this?

BetterCallSaul wrote:It's not that the work isn't "important" enough for my big brain, it's that my work would be useless. I would rather go some place where I'm needed, even if it means taking a pay cut and doing "paralegal" work half the time--so long as I'm actually serving a purpose.

Edit: I don't begrudge anyone who does it for the money. Law school is expensive and money is great. Just not my bag.


Where you're "needed"? They don't really NEED you anywhere, especially a place that does lower level "paralegal" work as you say.

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iShotFirst
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby iShotFirst » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:44 pm

I currently work for a charter company with the same hours, same on call, and 60k in a super expensive city. So for the same amount of work I'm doing now and a hell of a lot more money, it seems reasonable. There is also a big prestige factor here.

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Kilpatrick
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Re: How can anyone WANT to do BigLaw? read reviews

Postby Kilpatrick » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:54 pm

I think we should post more funny excerpts from that website:

From a staff member at Nixon Peabody.
"So, my advice to the new NP hire;
As a lawyer; Congrats, you are probably a really big deal and can rest assured that all your needs, no matter how ridiculous, will be tended to for the rest of your life."

This is my new dream firm.




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