Why Big Law?

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bceagles182
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby bceagles182 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:14 pm

Aeroplane wrote:
nealric wrote:
I'm no economist, but doesn't it seem like this would work?:

Firm A employs 100 first-year's a year, each required to bill 2000 hrs, each making 160k, thus getting 200k hrs of billable work for $16 million.

Firm B employs 125 first years, each required to bill 1500 hrs, each making 110k, thus getting 200k hrs of billable work for $13.75 million.


Ignores the fixed costs of the associate (which are substantial)

This. Also ignores the inefficiencies & personnel issues that come with managing and delegating to more people. In theory, my pre-law school job could've been done by 4 people, each working 11-12 hours/week. In practice, it would've probably been a mess.


There are a lot of thing wrongs with it. In addition to those mentioned above, it would also make firms more vulnerable to changes in work flow. If a firm goes through a dry spell, you'll more have people doing nothing if more people are employed.

At the same time if people are working too many hours their work becomes less efficient as they become fatigued and disenchanted. By now, I'm sure that firms have worked their business models to maximize profits through the proper equilibrium of hours billed per associate.

legalized
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby legalized » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:18 pm

Drake014 wrote:
hannah87 wrote:men and watches? that is something i don't get. :P

When you're trying to balance a 70 hour a week job, a wife, kids, a mistress, and a prostitute, being able to check the time at a moments notice becomes extremeley important.


(This is legalized...i see a warning about anonymous posting as I type this and did not intend to hide, not sure how that happened).

That said.

LMAO!

As to OP...I don't hate on people who have that burning desire to do biglaw. I am not gung ho about it, but neither am I like "absolutely REFUSE." Basically I rather not but I am definitely open to the opportunity if it happens. I think we need to stop demonizing people's choices. Even if their reasons are ridiculous, as long as they are GOOD at whatever they are doing, let's cut them some slack. Good meaning able to handle the work AND the lifestyle that goes along with it. Some people can't stand the thought of making a measly 60k per year after law school. Some can't stand the thought of working 60-80 hours per week on corporate paperwork.

And some go directly to solo practice after school and say to hell with answering to anyone else ever again.

Law is beautiful in that it allows all this and more. :-)

CordeliusX
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby CordeliusX » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:20 pm

Anyone have an answer for this?

If these huge firms have offices all over, why is NYC the big law capital? Do you get paid more, or get more prestige/opportunities, to be an associate in NYC over LA or DC? I was under the impression these firms only existed in NYC.

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ihurtmyselftoday
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby ihurtmyselftoday » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:26 pm

CordeliusX wrote: If these huge firms have offices all over, why is NYC the big law capital? Do you get paid more, or get more prestige/opportunities, to be an associate in NYC over LA or DC? I was under the impression these firms only existed in NYC.


1. Proximity to wall street
2. New York=Global center for trade and commerce
3. Large, international population

These things are all tied together but I think you get the idea.

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beesknees
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby beesknees » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:27 pm

I'm 3 pages late on this thread, but can we just back up to what Donkey said and end the thread?

Why biglaw? 2 things, baby:

--ImageRemoved--

and

--ImageRemoved--

imchuckbass58
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:32 pm

I'm really surprised that nobody has mentioned one of the big reasons people go into biglaw, namely that for some people the work is a lot more interesting and attractive.

I realize this isn't true objectively for everyone, but if you are the type of person who actually likes M&A, or antitrust, or bankruptcy (yes, these people exist) the work done by bigger firms is more attractive because it is 1) higher profile (bigger deals, more visible impact, etc.), and 2) more complex/intricate/interesting than the work done by smaller firms. Your local midlaw firm isn't going to be handling the Lehman bankruptcy (which is enormously interesting for people into that type of law), it's going to be handling bread and butter bankruptcies of small-time manufacturers and trucking companies.

A lot of people seem to think that PI or government work is unequivocally more rewarding/interesting. Depending on your preferences this may be true, but it can also be tedious, frustrating, and smaller in terms of impact. If you're a PD, for example, most people forget that your job isn't arguing interesting points about constitutional or criminal law and forming bonds with your clients, but rather negotiating a plea as quickly as possible by getting someone into and out of jail as quickly as possible so you can move one of the 200 cases on your desk through the system. Not all PI/gov't jobs are like this (think ACLU, or DOJ antitrust), but the vast majority are.

Again, I'm not criticizing PI or gov't work, but I'm merely pointing out that jobs outside of biglaw have their downsides too, and depending on your preferences you might find it less interesting/rewarding. It's not just a matter of money or prestige (not that money doesn't matter, but it's not the only reason).

legalized
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby legalized » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:35 pm

romothesavior wrote:
STA0815 wrote:
Posner wrote:
STA0815 wrote:Regarding prestige, who are you trying to impress? Whose validation are you seeking? Regarding $, what do you want that you can't afford with a more modest (i.e. non-BigLaw) salary?

I want career options so I have the best shot at choosing a job that will challenge me intellectually and allow me to provide for my family and nonprofit causes. Plus, my area of interest pretty much necessitates big law.

What can't I afford with a non-biglaw salary? Well, private school (should children need it) and the best college my children can get into (growing more and more expensive). After that? Provide for aging parents who worked hard to put me through school but are of modest means. Provide for nonprofit pet projects. I'll enjoy a moderately comfortable lifestyle as well, but my personal tastes aren't expensive.

Money provides options.


interesting perspective, my man. i'm only 22, so i haven't thought much about children. i feel what you're saying about parents and non-profits.


+1 to everything people are saying. Recent law grads are usually in the most financially unstable position they will ever be in (especially if you factor in the fact they are likely buying a car and possibly taking out a mortgage for a home). It makes sense for a 25 year old recent grad to want to quickly repay those loans and return to some sort of financial stability. For many people, from a financial standpoint it would be awesome to work big law for a few years, repay those loans, put a little coin in the bank, and then get out and work a more stable in-house job with fewer hours while maintaining decent pay. Then you get to provide opportunity to your children and be an active part of their lives.


Interesting points of view...I never considered some of these aspects of why TO work for biglaw. That's why I like this site. :-)

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Drake014
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Drake014 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:37 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote: I'm really surprised that nobody has mentioned one of the big reasons people go into biglaw, namely that for some people the work is a lot more interesting and attractive.

I realize this isn't true objectively for everyone, but if you are the type of person who actually likes M&A, or antitrust, or bankruptcy (yes, these people exist) the work done by bigger firms is more attractive because it is 1) higher profile (bigger deals, more visible impact, etc.), and 2) more complex/intricate/interesting than the work done by smaller firms. Your local midlaw firm isn't going to be handling the Lehman bankruptcy (which is enormously interesting for people into that type of law), it's going to be handling bread and butter bankruptcies of small-time manufacturers and trucking companies.

A lot of people seem to think that PI or government work is unequivocally more rewarding/interesting. Depending on your preferences this may be true, but it can also be tedious, frustrating, and smaller in terms of impact. If you're a PD, for example, most people forget that your job isn't arguing interesting points about constitutional or criminal law and forming bonds with your clients, but rather negotiating a plea as quickly as possible by getting someone into and out of jail as quickly as possible so you can move one of the 200 cases on your desk through the system. Not all PI/gov't jobs are like this (think ACLU, or DOJ antitrust), but the vast majority are.

Again, I'm not criticizing PI or gov't work, but I'm merely pointing out that jobs outside of biglaw have their downsides too, and depending on your preferences you might find it less interesting/rewarding. It's not just a matter of money or prestige (not that money doesn't matter, but it's not the only reason).

Actually, that's the most common reason people list. And its bullshit. There are plenty of jobs you could get that fit your interests or that are hard. You pick the one that pays a lot because it pays a lot.

Money is the one some people list because its more honest and less pretentious.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:43 pm

Drake014 wrote:Actually, that's the most common reason people list. And its bullshit. There are plenty of jobs you could get that fit your interests or that are hard. You pick the one that pays a lot because it pays a lot.

Money is the one some people list because its more honest and less pretentious.


If you are interested in large corporate bankruptcies, or cross-border M&A, name one place you can practice that type of law outside of a large law firm.

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Drake014
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Drake014 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:44 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
Drake014 wrote:Actually, that's the most common reason people list. And its bullshit. There are plenty of jobs you could get that fit your interests or that are hard. You pick the one that pays a lot because it pays a lot.

Money is the one some people list because its more honest and less pretentious.


If you are interested in large corporate bankruptcies, or cross-border M&A, name one place you can practice that type of law outside of a large law firm.


Government.

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ggocat
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby ggocat » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:53 pm

Aeroplane wrote:
nealric wrote:
I'm no economist, but doesn't it seem like this would work?:

Firm A employs 100 first-year's a year, each required to bill 2000 hrs, each making 160k, thus getting 200k hrs of billable work for $16 million.

Firm B employs 125 first years, each required to bill 1500 hrs, each making 110k, thus getting 200k hrs of billable work for $13.75 million.


Ignores the fixed costs of the associate (which are substantial)

This. Also ignores the inefficiencies & personnel issues that come with managing and delegating to more people.

Which likely includes more partners, as well, and more partners = less profits per partner.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:58 pm

Drake014 wrote:
imchuckbass58 wrote:If you are interested in large corporate bankruptcies, or cross-border M&A, name one place you can practice that type of law outside of a large law firm.


Government.


Governments do not negotiate M&A deals (let alone cross-border ones), nor do they do restructurings. Even to the extent they were involved in the Lehman/AIG bailouts and the GM bankruptcy, the treasury/federal reserve was represented by outside counsel.

"When it came to the financial meltdown, however, Hoyt reached outside the department for extra help. He decided to bring in the Wachtell team to help on the Fannie and Freddie bailout, saying he needed lawyers with expertise in scrutinizing securities contracts. "That's not a skill set you would expect to find in the government," he says."

http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC. ... 2424720012

"On Sept. 19, 2008, two days after the rescue, e-mail messages between the Fed's outside counsel, Davis Polk partner Marshall Huebner, and New York Fed lawyer Richard Charlton, said "almost everything" was wrong with a securities filing AIG's ( AIG - news - people ) internal lawyers had prepared and that the AIG lawyers had been told future filings, "press releases and other significant communications should be run by" Davis Polk first."

http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/25/aig-tr ... ilout.html

Posner
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Posner » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:03 pm

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Last edited by Posner on Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Drake014
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Drake014 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:05 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
Drake014 wrote:
imchuckbass58 wrote:If you are interested in large corporate bankruptcies, or cross-border M&A, name one place you can practice that type of law outside of a large law firm.


Government.


Governments do not negotiate M&A deals (let alone cross-border ones), nor do they do restructurings. Even to the extent they were involved in the Lehman/AIG bailouts and the GM bankruptcy, the treasury/federal reserve was represented by outside counsel.

"When it came to the financial meltdown, however, Hoyt reached outside the department for extra help. He decided to bring in the Wachtell team to help on the Fannie and Freddie bailout, saying he needed lawyers with expertise in scrutinizing securities contracts. "That's not a skill set you would expect to find in the government," he says."

http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC. ... 2424720012

"On Sept. 19, 2008, two days after the rescue, e-mail messages between the Fed's outside counsel, Davis Polk partner Marshall Huebner, and New York Fed lawyer Richard Charlton, said "almost everything" was wrong with a securities filing AIG's ( AIG - news - people ) internal lawyers had prepared and that the AIG lawyers had been told future filings, "press releases and other significant communications should be run by" Davis Polk first."

http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/25/aig-tr ... ilout.html


Regulatory agencies do work in the same fields. Do they do the exact same thing? Of course not, typically they're trying to stop mergers, not encourage them, when they get involved. However, if working for the SEC paid 160k and working for a firm paid 60k with the same hours they have now, which do you think people would be working for?

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Drake014
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Drake014 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:08 pm

Posner wrote:
Drake014 wrote:
imchuckbass58 wrote:
Drake014 wrote:Actually, that's the most common reason people list. And its bullshit. There are plenty of jobs you could get that fit your interests or that are hard. You pick the one that pays a lot because it pays a lot.

Money is the one some people list because its more honest and less pretentious.


If you are interested in large corporate bankruptcies, or cross-border M&A, name one place you can practice that type of law outside of a large law firm.


Government.

Not even comparable. Apples to oranges.

It's like saying that someone who is interested in criminal law would be happy working as a public defender or a DA.


You're the one comparing apples to oranges. Public defender and DA both pay shit. Government regulatory pays shit while Biglaw pays big bucks. Its a lot easier to say someone picked DA over public defender because of the content of the work. Its not as easy to say that's why someone picked Biglaw over a government regulatory agency.

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bk1
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby bk1 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:12 pm

romothesavior wrote:
bk1 wrote:
amyLAchemist wrote:
STA0815 wrote:"Forgive me for raising the subject, but someday--no matter how young you are now--you are going to die. (Yes, it's true. Trust me: I'm a lawyer.) If and when you know your time is up, you will no doubt look back on your life. When you do, what will you think of it? Will you feel smug because you made it to the top in some prestigious law firm? Will you take satisfaction that the net worth of your estate will perhaps be in the millions of dollars? Will you be proud that your actions--and inactions--helped to make the world a worse place?"


That's just silly.


That is to be expected when you quote somebody who interchanges "effect" and "affect."


Oh my god, what is with some of you posters? Note: No one thinks it is cute when a new poster comes in and starts criticizing someone's grammar or spelling. You just look like a giant d-bag.


You do realize that I am criticizing the author of PLS and not the poster who is quoting him? After having read that book I wanted to throw it across the wall for the ungodly amount errors and affronts to the English language. I wonder if he has ever heard of an editor.

Posner
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Posner » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:17 pm

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Last edited by Posner on Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:30 pm

Drake014 wrote:You're the one comparing apples to oranges. Public defender and DA both pay shit. Government regulatory pays shit while Biglaw pays big bucks. Its a lot easier to say someone picked DA over public defender because of the content of the work. Its not as easy to say that's why someone picked Biglaw over a government regulatory agency.


Sure it is - how about the fact that regulatory practice and actually doing M&A are completely, totally different areas of practice.

To the extent government regulates M&A, it checks to see if 1) the companies are violating any antitrust laws, and 2) the extent to which the representations in their prospectuses/disclosures violate the 1933/1934 securities acts.

This is very, very different from actual M&A work, which includes negotiating term sheets (who gets what debt/equity positions in the new company, priority, etc.), and devising the ownership structure of the new entity. Totally different.

I can't even believe we're arguing about whether the government does M&A and restructuring.

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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:34 pm

Posner wrote:
My point, which was obviously lost on you, is that M&A work on the government side is as comparable to big law M&A practice as public defender is to DA. Yes they are the same general field, but the work is completely different.


This is correct, but I'd push it even further. With a DA and PD, at least you're dealing with the same issues, even if you're taking a different perspective from different sides of the courtroom. By contrast regulatory work and M&A are totally different skill sets doing totally different types of work.

Equating SEC work with biglaw M&A practice is like arguing that lawyers approving applications for the FDA are doing the same basic work as lawyers defending mass torts suits because they're both dealing with drugs. Or that PTO examiners do the same work as patent litigators who defend infringement suits because they both deal with patents. Same subject matter, completely different work and issues involved.

SEC lawyers would never, ever face off against M&A practitioners. They might deal with securities or antitrust litigators, who would defend an SEC enforcement action or a suit by DOJ antitrust, but they have precious little to do with how the deal is structured and which shareholders get what.
Last edited by imchuckbass58 on Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kochel
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Kochel » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:36 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
Drake014 wrote:You're the one comparing apples to oranges. Public defender and DA both pay shit. Government regulatory pays shit while Biglaw pays big bucks. Its a lot easier to say someone picked DA over public defender because of the content of the work. Its not as easy to say that's why someone picked Biglaw over a government regulatory agency.


Sure it is - how about the fact that regulatory practice and actually doing M&A are completely, totally different areas of practice.

To the extent government regulates M&A, it checks to see if 1) the companies are violating any antitrust laws, and 2) the extent to which the representations in their prospectuses/disclosures violate the 1933/1934 securities acts.

This is very, very different from actual M&A work, which includes negotiating term sheets (who gets what debt/equity positions in the new company, priority, etc.), and devising the ownership structure of the new entity. Totally different.

I can't even believe we're arguing about whether the government does M&A and restructuring.


+1. Real practitioners don't consider gov't attorneys as being in the same field, even if they work with the same subject matter.

Posner
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Posner » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:39 pm

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Last edited by Posner on Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Drake014
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Drake014 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:56 pm

Posner wrote:Logical reasoning fail.

Your original point was that people who say they do big law because of an interest in in certain fields are full of shit. Someone mentioned large scale M&A work is really only available in big law. You said this could be done on the government side. Money was never part of this specific discussion.

My point, which was obviously lost on you, is that M&A work on the government side is as comparable to big law M&A practice as public defender is to DA. Yes they are the same general field, but the work is completely different.

Money is a completely different issue. You tried to make the point that you could work in M&A for the government so there is no way someone needs to work at a big law firm to do so, but you failed miserably.


The bolded was indeed my original point. And your response misses it. Let me go back to the example that, wisely, everyone who has responded to my post has avoided answering. These people who claim they're going into Big Law because its relevant to their interests. How many would still do so at a $60k salary? Yes, I'm sure there are some things about the job that is relevant to their interests. But suddenly doing M&A over regulatory becomes THE determining factor when there's a $160k salary involved. That's bullshit. You're doing it for the money. Again, there are tons of things you could do that are relevant to your interests that don't have a $160k pay check. Don't give me some BS about how you were born to do the very specific aspect of M&A that can only be satisfied by working at Big law.

Posner
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Posner » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:04 pm

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Last edited by Posner on Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Renzo
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby Renzo » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:38 pm

DerrickRose wrote:PR = win, Economics = win, Firm Atmosphere = win.

There's another other problem.

As some posters mentioned, some firms are trying this (like Orrick, for example). However, the whole biglaw model depends on rainmaking partners being around to bring in work for everyone. Under your scheme, associates make less money and work less, but the partners work the same and make less. These days there is pretty much zero loyalty in firms, so no one yet knows if the partners will tolerate making less money, or if they will just take their practices to other firms that follow the lockstep system in order to put more money in their own pockets.

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Why Big Law?

Postby EijiMiyake » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:46 pm

Hm, not sure I agree that the subject matter is completely different.

For litigation, trial attorneys for the regulatory agencies are very much dealing with the same subject matter as defense attorneys. That is, the DOJ attorneys that tried the Microsoft antitrust case were doing the same work as the attorneys who defended Microsoft.

It's definitely different for transactional work - except in special circumstances like in 2008 when the Treasury attorneys were pretty involved in all of the private-sector deals.




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