Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
strawboy1230
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:28 am

Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby strawboy1230 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:22 pm

I know there will be plenty of posters saying that that's impossible, but I'm certain that there are numerous v100 firms that associates and partner love for having a relatively good quality of life. I don't expect any of the top 10 to be in there, but are there any other firms that people really admire for their good work-life balance?

strawboy1230
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:28 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby strawboy1230 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:34 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:Search function = your friend

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=131956#p3485200


So the conclusion of that thread is just to stop whining because you're making 160k a year? That doesn't sound just a little bit pathetic to some people?


edit: the only meaningful post in that thread seems to be- "Again, OP never asked where he can work 9-5 for 160k. OP is asking about the QOL of some firms relative to others. OP seems well aware of the fact that he is going into a "professional career," by virtue of him saying "I find it hard to believe that there would be an easy 40 hour work week at any Big Law firm."

How about some constructive feedback in this thread, instead of everyone jumping at the chance to rant about hours and career advancement??"

After that, it just peters off into nothing. So. any responses?

strawboy1230
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:28 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby strawboy1230 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:57 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote: That those comments do not convey the specific message you were hoping for does not make them unhelpful.


wow. ok forget it.

thanks anyway.

Whoever moderates these forums, please delete/remove this thread.

User avatar
Stanford4Me
Posts: 6047
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:23 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Stanford4Me » Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:59 am

strawboy1230 wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote: That those comments do not convey the specific message you were hoping for does not make them unhelpful.


wow. ok forget it.

thanks anyway.

Whoever moderates these forums, please delete/remove this thread.

TBF I was going to answer the question but all of my information would have come from links mentioned in the thread posted above.

strawboy1230
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:28 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby strawboy1230 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:07 am

Stanford4Me wrote:
strawboy1230 wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote: That those comments do not convey the specific message you were hoping for does not make them unhelpful.


wow. ok forget it.

thanks anyway.

Whoever moderates these forums, please delete/remove this thread.

TBF I was going to answer the question but all of my information would have come from links mentioned in the thread posted above.


Very fair. But once again, all that thread talks about is how it would be easier to simply work in secondary markets. I'm talking about NYC biglaw. Am I just delusional in thinking that there are v60, v80 firms that don't operate like sweatshops? From what i've read on vault, chambers associates, etc. there seem to be v100 firms that are genuinely bearable, even pleasant to work at. No one would ever say that working in biglaw is leisurely. That'd be stupid. I'm just wondering if people know firms that have a reputation for being more collegial, not as over-the-top demanding. The other poster reacted as if I'd just belittled the entire law profession or something.

Is there some unspoken rule about not mentioning specific law firm names? I'm relatively new around here, so I'm trying to learn the rules, but no one seems to ever mention law firms by names other than v10 law firms.

User avatar
Cupidity
Posts: 2214
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:21 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Cupidity » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:09 am

I've heard great things about Bingham Boston. Their lobby looks like it's from Men in Black and I think their chef is solid.

User avatar
Stanford4Me
Posts: 6047
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:23 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Stanford4Me » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:18 am

strawboy1230 wrote:Is there some unspoken rule about not mentioning specific law firm names? I'm relatively new around here, so I'm trying to learn the rules, but no one seems to ever mention law firms by names other than v10 law firms.

No, I just think questions like this expose the weakness of TLS currently, which is that the majority of the posters on this forum are current law students/0Ls who don't have much anecdotal evidence.

I'll give you what little information I have. I know two people who work for Simpson Thacher and both are happy at their jobs. These aren't people who feel the need to sugar coat everything, they're both personal contacts who gave me frank analyses of the firm. Outside of the notorious sweatshops (Cravath, Wachtell, etc.) I can only speculate as to what other firms are like, though general knowledge seems to suggest that firms lower int he rankings (V50-100) have relatively better QOL, and I personally speculate that Texas firms with NY offices (Baker Botts, Fulbright, Vinson Elkins, Haynes Boone) have better QOL, but of course I'm biased.

Sup Kid
Posts: 557
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:49 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Sup Kid » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:33 am

strawboy1230 wrote:Is there some unspoken rule about not mentioning specific law firm names? I'm relatively new around here, so I'm trying to learn the rules, but no one seems to ever mention law firms by names other than v10 law firms.

You won't get many posters commenting about firms by name, since most of us haven't actually worked at a firm yet. However, there are resources that you can look at to find out some more information about firms -- Vault surveys and the ATL Career Center's firm bio pages are both good places to start. For example, here are the general Vault survey descriptions for "Associate Life" for 4 firms in the low 30s; while they are all "positive", you can tell immediately that each firm is different. You can search the entire V100 and see these type of reviews, as well as individual associate feedback. HTH.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP (#32): "Most associates enjoy working at Milbank. Its' beautiful offices and friendly employees promote a comfortable, yet busy, work environment."

Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP (#33): "Paul Hastings scores well across the board here, from an uncommonly high associate satisfaction rate to some truly encouraging efforts to reduce energy consumption and the use of disposables. Quite simply, the firm offers associates a superb quality of life."

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (#34): "Complex, demanding assignments and a high degree of social integration across the hierarchy allows Akin Gump associates to strike a meaningful balance between work and play."

Allen & Overy LLP (US) (#35): "The firm’s global nature breeds an interesting and uniquely open work environment, replete with mouthwatering perks and social fare."

strawboy1230
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:28 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby strawboy1230 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:41 am

Thanks a bunch. I really appreciate the posts above. Will definitely check the other sites.

User avatar
Kohinoor
Posts: 2756
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:51 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Kohinoor » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:57 pm

Sup Kid wrote: while they are all "positive", you can tell immediately that each firm is different.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the firm's description on its website and 10 being an impartial third party with years of experience at that and other firms, how much weight would you award those reviews?

User avatar
IzziesGal
Posts: 764
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 6:11 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby IzziesGal » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:03 am

strawboy1230 wrote:

Very fair. But once again, all that thread talks about is how it would be easier to simply work in secondary markets. I'm talking about NYC biglaw. Am I just delusional in thinking that there are v60, v80 firms that don't operate like sweatshops? From what i've read on vault, chambers associates, etc. there seem to be v100 firms that are genuinely bearable, even pleasant to work at. No one would ever say that working in biglaw is leisurely. That'd be stupid. I'm just wondering if people know firms that have a reputation for being more collegial, not as over-the-top demanding. The other poster reacted as if I'd just belittled the entire law profession or something.

Is there some unspoken rule about not mentioning specific law firm names? I'm relatively new around here, so I'm trying to learn the rules, but no one seems to ever mention law firms by names other than v10 law firms.


Yes - V50 through V100 can be much more work-life balance friendly - and this is usually a product of a lower billable hours requirement. I personally was more attracted to the end of the V100 range particularly for this reason. Your best bet on getting the inside scoop ---> reaching out to alums who work at the firms. I found that alums did not hesitate to give me the dirt on their firms. They were very forthcoming with both the good and the bad. Sorry if this is incoherent - I'm still on campus and am barely functioning.

Edit: A good starting point would be searching the Vault guide for billable hours requirements and/or how many hours on average attorneys actually billed in the previous year.

Sup Kid
Posts: 557
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:49 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Sup Kid » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:34 am

Kohinoor wrote:
Sup Kid wrote: while they are all "positive", you can tell immediately that each firm is different.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the firm's description on its website and 10 being an impartial third party with years of experience at that and other firms, how much weight would you award those reviews?

Maybe a 3, probably at most a 4. However, some information is still better than no information (and that's what the poster was looking for), as long as you remember that the sources are just anonymous associates who decide to fill out a survey.

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby blsingindisguise » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:48 am

strawboy1230 wrote:I know there will be plenty of posters saying that that's impossible, but I'm certain that there are numerous v100 firms that associates and partner love for having a relatively good quality of life. I don't expect any of the top 10 to be in there, but are there any other firms that people really admire for their good work-life balance?


I think it's important to distinguish "quality of life" from "work-life balance." Some people are devoted to their work, and some offices are more enjoyable to WORK in than others, hence a person who is work-oriented can have a better "quality of life" in some places than others. This is not the same thing as having a lot of free time. If you are looking for a life with a lot of time to pursue other interests, don't work in biglaw. Biglaw means work at the center of life, period. Not to say you'll never take a vacation or see your SO, just that you're going to work plenty of evenings and weekends and have to cancel social plans and probably won't make it to the gym as much etc., regardless of what firm you're at.

User avatar
reasonable_man
Posts: 2200
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:41 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:04 am

I have no experience in biglaw. I am your local TTT grad... However, my experience includes:
175 Lawyer international firm as a paralegal during college in NYC
Single Lawyer firm in the mountains in New England (I'm serious) as a law clerk during law school
80 Lawyer NYC litigation firm as a law clerk and then as an associate
Current Associate at a very small wall street - old school firm where all bosses are biglaw alums


Having had those experiences and having interviewed at many places and read reviews and looked up profiles and so on and so on, I can tell you exactly this... You have no clue what any firm is about until you interview and then and only then, you have a marginal understanding of the firm "culture." To fully know a firm, you must work there. That said, your initial gut reactions to the people you meet (when you shed out the bias and truly evaluate the interview after the fact), is probably pretty close to being on target. You, essentially, pick a firm (when you are lucky enough to have choices), based on finances and the feel of the firm.

At my current firm, I knew within minutes of my first of 2 interviews that I wanted to be there... It just felt right. Right from the start.. The feel of the office, the aesthetic, the location, the interviewer, the practice... everything. It just worked for me. And I'm there a year now and I love it. I am beyond happy at my job. My hours are still tough (but not insane), and I certainly do not earn biglaw money, but I love what I do and I'm pretty well compensated for it. I get up every day looking forward to going to work and I drag myself out of my office at the end of the day to go home (often times only leaving because I realize its just getting too late to stay). Hours are always going to blow (mostly), as a lawyer, no matter where you work.. I've billed over 600 hours in the first quarter of this year alone. But if you love what you're doing and who you are working with, its not that bad.

So my advice... Read some profiles, find ones you like and hopefully, you'll get to interview at a few of those. If that happens and you're lucky enough to get some offers, listen to your gut and hope you're right. Mistakes happen. As a lawyer, you kinda just have to suck that up and wait it out a bit and then try to fix it...

User avatar
Julio_El_Chavo
Posts: 803
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:09 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:15 am

reasonable_man wrote:I have no experience in biglaw. I am your local TTT grad... However, my experience includes:
175 Lawyer international firm as a paralegal during college in NYC
Single Lawyer firm in the mountains in New England (I'm serious) as a law clerk during law school
80 Lawyer NYC litigation firm as a law clerk and then as an associate
Current Associate at a very small wall street - old school firm where all bosses are biglaw alums


Having had those experiences and having interviewed at many places and read reviews and looked up profiles and so on and so on, I can tell you exactly this... You have no clue what any firm is about until you interview and then and only then, you have a marginal understanding of the firm "culture." To fully know a firm, you must work there. That said, your initial gut reactions to the people you meet (when you shed out the bias and truly evaluate the interview after the fact), is probably pretty close to being on target. You, essentially, pick a firm (when you are lucky enough to have choices), based on finances and the feel of the firm.

At my current firm, I knew within minutes of my first of 2 interviews that I wanted to be there... It just felt right. Right from the start.. The feel of the office, the aesthetic, the location, the interviewer, the practice... everything. It just worked for me. And I'm there a year now and I love it. I am beyond happy at my job. My hours are still tough (but not insane), and I certainly do not earn biglaw money, but I love what I do and I'm pretty well compensated for it. I get up every day looking forward to going to work and I drag myself out of my office at the end of the day to go home (often times only leaving because I realize its just getting too late to stay). Hours are always going to blow (mostly), as a lawyer, no matter where you work.. I've billed over 600 hours in the first quarter of this year alone. But if you love what you're doing and who you are working with, its not that bad.

So my advice... Read some profiles, find ones you like and hopefully, you'll get to interview at a few of those. If that happens and you're lucky enough to get some offers, listen to your gut and hope you're right. Mistakes happen. As a lawyer, you kinda just have to suck that up and wait it out a bit and then try to fix it...


We need more posters like you on TLS and less know-it-all 0Ls talking to each other about how to make partner at Wachtell.

User avatar
acrossthelake
Posts: 4432
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 5:27 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby acrossthelake » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:26 am

blsingindisguise wrote:
strawboy1230 wrote:I know there will be plenty of posters saying that that's impossible, but I'm certain that there are numerous v100 firms that associates and partner love for having a relatively good quality of life. I don't expect any of the top 10 to be in there, but are there any other firms that people really admire for their good work-life balance?


I think it's important to distinguish "quality of life" from "work-life balance." Some people are devoted to their work, and some offices are more enjoyable to WORK in than others, hence a person who is work-oriented can have a better "quality of life" in some places than others. This is not the same thing as having a lot of free time. If you are looking for a life with a lot of time to pursue other interests, don't work in biglaw. Biglaw means work at the center of life, period. Not to say you'll never take a vacation or see your SO, just that you're going to work plenty of evenings and weekends and have to cancel social plans and probably won't make it to the gym as much etc., regardless of what firm you're at.


Yes, this. The point people are trying to emphasize is that if work-life balance truly matters to you, then you shouldn't be pursuing big law, especially not in NYC. If you're asking about the culture and how pleasant the long hours you put in are going to be, that's a different question to pose and you might consider rewording your question.

User avatar
XxSpyKEx
Posts: 1741
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:48 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:29 am

reasonable_man wrote:You have no clue what any firm is about until you interview and then and only then, you have a marginal understanding of the firm "culture." To fully know a firm, you must work there.


This isn’t completely true. You contact alum that work at the firms that you are considering. I guess it’s a little bit different in your situation RM (having graduated from a TTT and your experiences not being at a biglaw firm), but when you are at a t13 where over half your class (in the past) went into firms 500+, you have a pretty big alumni base you can tap (and it seems like most people on this board go to t13 schools). A lot of alums are surprisingly loyal to their schools and more than happy to talk to you about the firm they work at.

Try to set up an informational interview with them if you can (even just grabbing a cup of coffee or a drink is very useful). If you ask the right questions, a lot of these alums will be pretty honest with you about everything you want to know about the firm. I, personally, this is a great way to learn a lot about the firm. And you also get the benefit of being able to name drop that person’s name during the screening interview with the firm and/or it might even help you get the screening interview in the first place (I know people at my school with terrible grades who got interviews with firms that they had no business getting interviews with simply through networking).

User avatar
Kohinoor
Posts: 2756
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:51 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Kohinoor » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:55 am

Sup Kid wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
Sup Kid wrote: while they are all "positive", you can tell immediately that each firm is different.

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the firm's description on its website and 10 being an impartial third party with years of experience at that and other firms, how much weight would you award those reviews?

Maybe a 3, probably at most a 4. However, some information is still better than no information (and that's what the poster was looking for), as long as you remember that the sources are just anonymous associates or HR reps who decide to fill out a survey.

User avatar
Noval
Posts: 252
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:33 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Noval » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:04 pm

If work/life balance is such as issue for you, then you shouldn't go to LS in the first place.

160k = Big salary = Big expectations...

+ Most midsized firms are just like most BigLaw firms but with shittier salaries.

User avatar
BruceWayne
Posts: 2032
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:36 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby BruceWayne » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:12 pm

People need to have realistic/mature expectations. No one is paying you 160K straight out of law school with absolutely not sort of legal experience to work a "balanced/leisurely" lifestyle. Another thing that really puts this into context is the idea of a billable hour. Think about what a billable hour is, then think about where your 160K fresh out of law school salary comes from. Once you put that together the answer to this question becomes very apparent very quickly.

strawboy1230
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:28 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby strawboy1230 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:35 pm

BruceWayne wrote:People need to have realistic/mature expectations. No one is paying you 160K straight out of law school with absolutely not sort of legal experience to work a "balanced/leisurely" lifestyle. Another thing that really puts this into context is the idea of a billable hour. Think about what a billable hour is, then think about where your 160K fresh out of law school salary comes from. Once you put that together the answer to this question becomes very apparent very quickly.


Word, I'm pretty sure at this point people understand that I mistitled the thread. Clearly what I meant to ask is the cultures of different firms and whether or not there were firms were people actually liked going to work. Some people really need to lay off on the oh-stop-whining-about-having-to-work-hard-in-a-nyc-biglaw-firm. I don't even know if it's a matter of getting off your high horse or just a matter of not having read the thread all the way through, but it's frustrating to get the same responses.

User avatar
Kohinoor
Posts: 2756
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:51 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Kohinoor » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:06 pm

strawboy1230 wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:People need to have realistic/mature expectations. No one is paying you 160K straight out of law school with absolutely not sort of legal experience to work a "balanced/leisurely" lifestyle. Another thing that really puts this into context is the idea of a billable hour. Think about what a billable hour is, then think about where your 160K fresh out of law school salary comes from. Once you put that together the answer to this question becomes very apparent very quickly.


Word, I'm pretty sure at this point people understand that I mistitled the thread. Clearly what I meant to ask is the cultures of different firms and whether or not there were firms were people actually liked going to work. Some people really need to lay off on the oh-stop-whining-about-having-to-work-hard-in-a-nyc-biglaw-firm. I don't even know if it's a matter of getting off your high horse or just a matter of not having read the thread all the way through, but it's frustrating to get the same responses.

100% partner and peer driven.

User avatar
crazycanuck
Posts: 3041
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:04 pm

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby crazycanuck » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:08 pm

I HATE HATE HATE the term Work-life balance. It implies that the two are seperate and that is not true. Work is a part of life, a big part of life, so don't choose a career that you are not comfortable having as a large aspect of your life. It's about life balance, not work-life balance. There are many aspects to life, and many activities in life, don't try to seperate it out. You won't be successful and you will hate your "work" hours since it's not part of your "life".

Just my $0.02

User avatar
nealric
Posts: 2391
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:53 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby nealric » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:02 pm

Work-life balance is much more dependent on the partners you work for and the department you are in than the firm itself.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273269
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Biglaw firms with best work-life balance?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:43 am

I'm currently an SA at a big firm, and from what I've seen, you kind of have to let go of the idea of "work-life balance". It's totally out of balance. Even as a summer, I rarely see my SO, and when I see her, we fight about how little I see her. Occasionally I'll take an evening off or a weekend day off, and then we really get to enjoy the perks of getting paid what I do, but even that feels like borrowed time because you always have something going on. I'm thinking that the ability to balance this kind of work with some sort of life comes with age and experience.

All that said, I love what my firm does, and the people are fantastic. If this weren't the case, there's no way I could do this. I think a lot of people try hard to get into big law not knowing what they're getting into, and that's why retention is low. If you want to do big law, be prepared for it to be the center of your life. In school, you have moments where you think, "Ok this week is just crazy, but if I can just power through these few nights I'll get it done and it'll be next week." The difference when you are an associate is that that mode doesn't have an end date. That's just how it's going to be, indefinitely.

I don't know how this compares to mid- or small- firms. I imagine the "less billable hours" thing is largely fiction. As an SA, I'm easily exceeding my (low) billable hours requirement, but that's just how long it takes me to get the work done. This isn't a job where you see that the clock has struck 5 and you peace out. You need to finish what you're doing and do a good job, and however long that takes you is how long it takes you.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.