How tough is it working at BigLaw? (doing transaction work)

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Re: How tough is it working at BigLaw? (doing transaction work)

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 06, 2011 12:40 am

nealric wrote:I'm a first year Tax associate. Tax is 90% transactional at my firm (we only do a touch of controversy work).

The hours are much, much better than what other people are talking about. Most of my weeks are between 50-60 hours, with a few 45 hour weeks and a few 65 hour weeks. That's good enough to be on track to bill in the low 2000s for the year (which is considered completely acceptable). One thing I've noticed is that the corporate first years have to spend a lot more time waiting around for work than I do. For the most part, If I am at work and not at lunch or taking a break I am billing. I rarely have to work weekends. When I do, it's just a few hours in the morning. Although I'm "on call" via blackberry, I've never had to disrupt my plans because of it. At worst, I have to spend five minutes to respond to an email.

People who want "lifestyle" and biglaw should be advised to pick a niche practice area. Do IP, ERISA, Tax, Trusts & Estates, Labor, or whatever else your firm might offer.


Do you think most people with the grades to land firm jobs can intellectually handle tax practice? (Genuinely curious.) I'm interested in tax, but haven't taken corporate tax yet. (I took tax 1 and it's honestly my favorite class in law school.) Most people I know who took corporate tax in law school ended up pursuing another field because they found it too confusing/difficult, even though they loved tax 1. It's also hard to know if a firm is hiring in most niche areas, as most of these practice areas are tiny, so I think people are hesitant to express interest in these areas at interviews/during the summer.

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FantasticMrFox
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Re: How tough is it working at BigLaw? (doing transaction work)

Postby FantasticMrFox » Fri May 06, 2011 12:43 am

FlanAl wrote:tagging and thanking you guys for the fantastic insight!

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quakeroats
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Re: How tough is it working at BigLaw? (doing transaction work)

Postby quakeroats » Fri May 06, 2011 7:46 am

nealric wrote:
People who want "lifestyle" and biglaw should be advised to pick a niche practice area. Do IP, ERISA, Tax, Trusts & Estates, Labor, or whatever else your firm might offer.


Did you just encourage someone to voluntarily deal with ERISA?

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblaw ... -dies.html

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Re: How tough is it working at BigLaw? (doing transaction work)

Postby alumniguy » Fri May 06, 2011 10:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:
nealric wrote:I'm a first year Tax associate. Tax is 90% transactional at my firm (we only do a touch of controversy work).

The hours are much, much better than what other people are talking about. Most of my weeks are between 50-60 hours, with a few 45 hour weeks and a few 65 hour weeks. That's good enough to be on track to bill in the low 2000s for the year (which is considered completely acceptable). One thing I've noticed is that the corporate first years have to spend a lot more time waiting around for work than I do. For the most part, If I am at work and not at lunch or taking a break I am billing. I rarely have to work weekends. When I do, it's just a few hours in the morning. Although I'm "on call" via blackberry, I've never had to disrupt my plans because of it. At worst, I have to spend five minutes to respond to an email.

People who want "lifestyle" and biglaw should be advised to pick a niche practice area. Do IP, ERISA, Tax, Trusts & Estates, Labor, or whatever else your firm might offer.


Do you think most people with the grades to land firm jobs can intellectually handle tax practice? (Genuinely curious.) I'm interested in tax, but haven't taken corporate tax yet. (I took tax 1 and it's honestly my favorite class in law school.) Most people I know who took corporate tax in law school ended up pursuing another field because they found it too confusing/difficult, even though they loved tax 1. It's also hard to know if a firm is hiring in most niche areas, as most of these practice areas are tiny, so I think people are hesitant to express interest in these areas at interviews/during the summer.


While not a tax associate, I don't think any particular group is viewed as any more intellectually challenging than any other. For example, there will be extremely complex litigation matters and plenty of run-of-the-mill tax work. I wouldn't recommend going into tax if you don't have an interest in tax, but at least at my firm, tax associates aren't known to be any more bright than any other associates (perhaps a bit quirkier, but that is another story).

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DoubleChecks
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Re: How tough is it working at BigLaw? (doing transaction work)

Postby DoubleChecks » Fri May 06, 2011 10:46 am

alumniguy wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
nealric wrote:I'm a first year Tax associate. Tax is 90% transactional at my firm (we only do a touch of controversy work).

The hours are much, much better than what other people are talking about. Most of my weeks are between 50-60 hours, with a few 45 hour weeks and a few 65 hour weeks. That's good enough to be on track to bill in the low 2000s for the year (which is considered completely acceptable). One thing I've noticed is that the corporate first years have to spend a lot more time waiting around for work than I do. For the most part, If I am at work and not at lunch or taking a break I am billing. I rarely have to work weekends. When I do, it's just a few hours in the morning. Although I'm "on call" via blackberry, I've never had to disrupt my plans because of it. At worst, I have to spend five minutes to respond to an email.

People who want "lifestyle" and biglaw should be advised to pick a niche practice area. Do IP, ERISA, Tax, Trusts & Estates, Labor, or whatever else your firm might offer.


Do you think most people with the grades to land firm jobs can intellectually handle tax practice? (Genuinely curious.) I'm interested in tax, but haven't taken corporate tax yet. (I took tax 1 and it's honestly my favorite class in law school.) Most people I know who took corporate tax in law school ended up pursuing another field because they found it too confusing/difficult, even though they loved tax 1. It's also hard to know if a firm is hiring in most niche areas, as most of these practice areas are tiny, so I think people are hesitant to express interest in these areas at interviews/during the summer.


While not a tax associate, I don't think any particular group is viewed as any more intellectually challenging than any other. For example, there will be extremely complex litigation matters and plenty of run-of-the-mill tax work. I wouldn't recommend going into tax if you don't have an interest in tax, but at least at my firm, tax associates aren't known to be any more bright than any other associates (perhaps a bit quirkier, but that is another story).


btw alumniguy, do you feel like the difference in hours is more a result of practice area (tax vs. corp/lit) or firm?

alumniguy
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Re: How tough is it working at BigLaw? (doing transaction work)

Postby alumniguy » Fri May 06, 2011 11:07 am

Primarily practice group.

All firms have billable targets - even if bonuses are lockstep and not tied to hours. Whether a firm has a 1950 target or a 2050 or a 2200 target doesn't really answer the question. It does to an extent since firms with higher targets expect their associates to bill more hours and thus, work more hours. However, no associate has the luxury of billing every minute spent in the office to a billable matter.

The real issue is efficiency. My experience has shown that it is much easier to be more efficient in litigation and niche areas - at least while a junior associate. Litigation provides massive amounts of document review, research and drafting. These are activities that associates have control over. For example, juniors assigned to document review projects are typically provided either hour milestones or document number milestones. So, if you are on the case, you will be expected to do X number of hours per week or X number of documents per week. If you want to leave work at 7pm one night because you have dinner plans, then you can easily stay later the next night or come in earlier a few days to "make up" the required work. The typical document review timeline allows for this to happen. In a niche area, you are typically involved in a number of deals, which means that you'll have far more billable work sitting on your desk than you can possibly get to. So you end up billing most of the day and you go home after you've put in a good amount of hours. There isn't as much waiting around for stuff to happen in these niche areas because you have the ability to work on other matters to fill in the down time.

From a general corporate junior perspective, you are typically assigned only a few deals at a time (potentially only one if it is a major deal or it is a slow period). There will always down time on any deal/case, and if you don't have other matters to work on, then you end up waiting around more and you don't have the opportunity to bill to other matters. At my firm, M&A seems to be the most up and down group. Associates will have weeks go by where they only work to 5pm and then for two months they are working like dogs to get the deal done.

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almightypush
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Re: How tough is it working at BigLaw? (doing transaction work)

Postby almightypush » Fri May 06, 2011 11:19 am

FantasticMrFox wrote:
FlanAl wrote:tagging and thanking you guys for the fantastic insight!


+1

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WVUCelticFan
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Re: How tough is it working at BigLaw? (doing transaction work)

Postby WVUCelticFan » Fri May 06, 2011 11:32 am

FantasticMrFox wrote:
FlanAl wrote:tagging and thanking you guys for the fantastic insight!




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