Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

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danielwebster
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Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby danielwebster » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:44 pm

Hi everyone,

I've got a question for any biglaw associates who could help me out. I'm currently 2 years out of undergrad working at a big consulting firm in their private equity due diligence practice. Our deal flow is strong, so the hours are consistently about 70-85 a week. To clarify, this typically means 9-11 M-TH, 9-6 Friday, 10-5 Saturdays, with some cleanup if necessary on Sunday, though usually not. If we're working for a key/new client or there are special circumstances, those hours could increase by one or two across the board.

As you get to senior levels (director, partner), you spend more of your "hours" traveling to talk directly to clients, selling new business, and meeting with consultant teams to give feedback on the decks they create and the analysis they've done. Partners definitely "work" less - they're on the phone talking to big clients, their teams, and potential clients all the time, but this can be and often is just as easily done from an event with their children. If they need to get in at 11, they do, and even if they're on the phone with you and your team all night, they almost never miss having dinner with the family.

My work is mostly analyzing data, interviewing experts, doing research, and putting together powerpoint decks that clearly communicate well-supported business and investment conclusions. Of course, at the end of the day, my opinion is subordinate to my manager's, and his to the partner's, so there's a bit of playing "guess what the boss is thinking" all the time, which is frustrating. But there's also the knowledge that as you rise, you'll be the boss who gets to make the decisions. Because our clients are mostly private equity firms, the travel is minimal (they only care about the answer).

How does this compare to your experience in biglaw? I'm interested in commercial litigation, antitrust, and financial law (M&A, capital markets, bankruptcy). I recently got my LSAT score back and my stats place me squarely in the T10 excluding YHS range. I currently make 85k, with b-school that would go up to around 110-135k (not that money is everything, but just giving you a reference point in terms of my personal "professional pain tolerance"). I'd appreciate any advice, thanks.

Anonymous User
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:59 pm

danielwebster wrote:Hi everyone,

I've got a question for any biglaw associates who could help me out. I'm currently 2 years out of undergrad working at a big consulting firm in their private equity due diligence practice. Our deal flow is strong, so the hours are consistently about 70-85 a week. To clarify, this typically means 9-11 M-TH, 9-6 Friday, 10-5 Saturdays, with some cleanup if necessary on Sunday, though usually not. If we're working for a key/new client or there are special circumstances, those hours could increase by one or two across the board.

As you get to senior levels (director, partner), you spend more of your "hours" traveling to talk directly to clients, selling new business, and meeting with consultant teams to give feedback on the decks they create and the analysis they've done. Partners definitely "work" less - they're on the phone talking to big clients, their teams, and potential clients all the time, but this can be and often is just as easily done from an event with their children. If they need to get in at 11, they do, and even if they're on the phone with you and your team all night, they almost never miss having dinner with the family.

My work is mostly analyzing data, interviewing experts, doing research, and putting together powerpoint decks that clearly communicate well-supported business and investment conclusions. Of course, at the end of the day, my opinion is subordinate to my manager's, and his to the partner's, so there's a bit of playing "guess what the boss is thinking" all the time, which is frustrating. But there's also the knowledge that as you rise, you'll be the boss who gets to make the decisions. Because our clients are mostly private equity firms, the travel is minimal (they only care about the answer).

How does this compare to your experience in biglaw? I'm interested in commercial litigation, antitrust, and financial law (M&A, capital markets, bankruptcy). I recently got my LSAT score back and my stats place me squarely in the T10 excluding YHS range. I currently make 85k, with b-school that would go up to around 110-135k (not that money is everything, but just giving you a reference point in terms of my personal "professional pain tolerance"). I'd appreciate any advice, thanks.


The risk of not making top grades at even a T10 school - and thereafter not being able to secure a biglaw job - makes leaving your current job seem like a poor financial decision.

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RMstratosphere
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby RMstratosphere » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
danielwebster wrote:Hi everyone,

I've got a question for any biglaw associates who could help me out. I'm currently 2 years out of undergrad working at a big consulting firm in their private equity due diligence practice. Our deal flow is strong, so the hours are consistently about 70-85 a week. To clarify, this typically means 9-11 M-TH, 9-6 Friday, 10-5 Saturdays, with some cleanup if necessary on Sunday, though usually not. If we're working for a key/new client or there are special circumstances, those hours could increase by one or two across the board.

As you get to senior levels (director, partner), you spend more of your "hours" traveling to talk directly to clients, selling new business, and meeting with consultant teams to give feedback on the decks they create and the analysis they've done. Partners definitely "work" less - they're on the phone talking to big clients, their teams, and potential clients all the time, but this can be and often is just as easily done from an event with their children. If they need to get in at 11, they do, and even if they're on the phone with you and your team all night, they almost never miss having dinner with the family.

My work is mostly analyzing data, interviewing experts, doing research, and putting together powerpoint decks that clearly communicate well-supported business and investment conclusions. Of course, at the end of the day, my opinion is subordinate to my manager's, and his to the partner's, so there's a bit of playing "guess what the boss is thinking" all the time, which is frustrating. But there's also the knowledge that as you rise, you'll be the boss who gets to make the decisions. Because our clients are mostly private equity firms, the travel is minimal (they only care about the answer).

How does this compare to your experience in biglaw? I'm interested in commercial litigation, antitrust, and financial law (M&A, capital markets, bankruptcy). I recently got my LSAT score back and my stats place me squarely in the T10 excluding YHS range. I currently make 85k, with b-school that would go up to around 110-135k (not that money is everything, but just giving you a reference point in terms of my personal "professional pain tolerance"). I'd appreciate any advice, thanks.


The risk of not making top grades at even a T10 school - and thereafter not being able to secure a biglaw job - makes leaving your current job seem like a poor financial decision.


Woops. Not supposed to be anon. Apologies.

danielwebster
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby danielwebster » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:02 pm

I would be getting a JD/MBA - meaning even if my JD grades are awful, there's always the option of just taking my MBA and going back into consulting. I know biglaw employment prospects are tough, but if I can get biglaw (big if, but not substantially bigger than getting a major consulting firm/I-bank out of undergrad - need to be top 33% of an Ivy undergrad), how would it compare?

Thanks

SpiteFence
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby SpiteFence » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:10 pm

I can only speak from my SA experience, but it doesn't sound like your experience right now is too far off from a Biglaw associate, although your hours do seem particularly brutal. You seem like the perfect candidate for a part-time MBA, if your firm will let you take the time to do that. If you're looking for a major change in lifestyle, don't go to LS.

Bravo on the LSAT with that schedule too.

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BunkMoreland
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby BunkMoreland » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:11 pm

What do you make as a partner in bigconsulting? From my impressions thus far as an SA, the life of biglaw associates seems somewhat less time-consuming than your current schedule, but not overly so (probably more like 60-70 hours a week, on average) with greater fluctuations.

danielwebster
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby danielwebster » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:29 pm

Partnership track in bigconsulting looks like this, with the names of positions sometimes changed:

Consultant -> [gap; either you get promoted or you go to business school... either way, the next step is] -> senior consultant -> engagement manager/team leader -> principal/senior manager -> Partner/Principal -> Senior Partner/Director

Generally, you move into the engagement manager role based on how good of a consultant you are (ie, how good you are with the numbers, with the logic, with client skills), and you move up from there when you become an in-demand enough commodity that your clients start asking for you specifically. From there, once you go from being the client's favorite to actually owning the client relationship, you're in striking distance for partnership.

This track usually takes around 7-10 years. Partnership is and has never been a sure thing in consulting - unlike law, in which everyone with good grades from a top school used to be able to reasonably expect to make partner SOMEWHERE, in consulting you can be a genius and have your career cap out well before partner. Lots of people stall at the principal level or earlier, and they're fine with it. Since job skills are more transferable in consulting, being locked out of partnership isn't a huge deal because if it really bothers you, you can just go take a top management position at a client (oh no!).

Consulting doesn't have to be this bad in terms of time, but any job - banking, law, consulting - that's linked to the deal cycle will inevitably be brutal. Since I've chosen to focused on PE due diligences, this is the case for me. Of course, in theory I have a much higher chance of going to private equity than a biglawyer; but in reality, that chance is, maybe, 5% instead of 1%. Not enough to justify the massive paycut and, as I suspected, the worse hours.

I've always wondered what law associates and law students mean when they talk about "brutal" biglaw hours. Most of my friends out of college went into investment banking; I went into PE consulting. "Brutal" hours are what my friend at Lazard works - consistently 100-120 hour weeks. Working 70-80 a week is hard, not brutal; in fact, I find it ridiculous that people expect to make deep six-figures in their 20s for any less. So from what I'm hearing, "brutal" is in the eye of the beholder, and I shouldn't be scared of biglaw hours coming from my current background.

I don't mean to sound like a prick, but I wanted to lay out exactly what I'm thinking. I'm sure there's someone out there more than ready to tell me that I'm being naive and missing something that will quickly bring me back down to earth. This is exactly what I'm looking for - can someone please tell me what I'm missing? I've heard and believe that biglaw is awful. Is it the boring work? The abusive superiors? Because the simple realities of corporate life - tons of mindless work, hierarchy, long hours, "dry" subject matter if you don't like corporate work - don't bother me.

sebastian0622
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby sebastian0622 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:35 pm

I have a handful of friends who do what you do, and their lives suck more than the friends I have who are in biglaw. The consultants' hours are worse, some of them travel quite a bit (and not good travel...I mean driving to Omaha at the drop of a hat on a Thursday evening and staying until Saturday morning type of travel), they work more on weekends, their work is less interesting/varied, a good portion of their income is tied up into bonuses that, while generally given, are not guaranteed, and they generally hate their jobs and would leave if not for the fact that the job market is shit right now and people with a B.A. and consulting experience are a dime a dozen, even moreso than lawyers. The result is that any job they can get that would have better hours would pay roughly half of what they make now.

This has led me to the conclusion that anything would be better than their jobs, even biglaw.

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englawyer
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby englawyer » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:38 pm

sounds like you would be fine in biglaw. I think the problem is the transition from 30-40 hours a week as a starbucks barista when you realize your liberal arts degree is worthless -> biglaw. Your job sounds equally or more strenuous than a law firm.

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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:39 pm

danielwebster wrote:Partnership track in bigconsulting looks like this, with the names of positions sometimes changed:

Consultant -> [gap; either you get promoted or you go to business school... either way, the next step is] -> senior consultant -> engagement manager/team leader -> principal/senior manager -> Partner/Principal -> Senior Partner/Director

Generally, you move into the engagement manager role based on how good of a consultant you are (ie, how good you are with the numbers, with the logic, with client skills), and you move up from there when you become an in-demand enough commodity that your clients start asking for you specifically. From there, once you go from being the client's favorite to actually owning the client relationship, you're in striking distance for partnership.

This track usually takes around 7-10 years. Partnership is and has never been a sure thing in consulting - unlike law, in which everyone with good grades from a top school used to be able to reasonably expect to make partner SOMEWHERE, in consulting you can be a genius and have your career cap out well before partner. Lots of people stall at the principal level or earlier, and they're fine with it. Since job skills are more transferable in consulting, being locked out of partnership isn't a huge deal because if it really bothers you, you can just go take a top management position at a client (oh no!).

Consulting doesn't have to be this bad in terms of time, but any job - banking, law, consulting - that's linked to the deal cycle will inevitably be brutal. Since I've chosen to focused on PE due diligences, this is the case for me. Of course, in theory I have a much higher chance of going to private equity than a biglawyer; but in reality, that chance is, maybe, 5% instead of 1%. Not enough to justify the massive paycut and, as I suspected, the worse hours.

I've always wondered what law associates and law students mean when they talk about "brutal" biglaw hours. Most of my friends out of college went into investment banking; I went into PE consulting. "Brutal" hours are what my friend at Lazard works - consistently 100-120 hour weeks. Working 70-80 a week is hard, not brutal; in fact, I find it ridiculous that people expect to make deep six-figures in their 20s for any less. So from what I'm hearing, "brutal" is in the eye of the beholder, and I shouldn't be scared of biglaw hours coming from my current background.

I don't mean to sound like a prick, but I wanted to lay out exactly what I'm thinking. I'm sure there's someone out there more than ready to tell me that I'm being naive and missing something that will quickly bring me back down to earth. This is exactly what I'm looking for - can someone please tell me what I'm missing? I've heard and believe that biglaw is awful. Is it the boring work? The abusive superiors? Because the simple realities of corporate life - tons of mindless work, hierarchy, long hours, "dry" subject matter if you don't like corporate work - don't bother me.


My friend, you are far from naive. In fact, you have a perspective from the real working world that, sadly, almost all law students lack. You would be wise to stay in your current career, unless you have a burning desire to practice law. If more law students had lived experience like you, there would be far less crying and whining.

danielwebster
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby danielwebster » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:45 pm

^Yep, this is what I'm thinking. I'm doing very interesting work - strategy/diligence work from a financial perspective is both very cool and often very impactful, more on this later - but A) the pay is poor, B) the hours are bad, and you don't even get to bill extra because you had to stay in the office until 3am, and C) the travel can be challenging, and, as you pointed out, is not the sexy fly-to-Dubai-then-London image that's often perceived from the outside.

My big questions really center around the following points: advancement and work quality. I've heard partnership is very difficult, though far less so if you're willing to look outside the V50. More importantly, I've heard the work is dull as can be, and I've seen this in practice. The work we do can and has stopped multi-billion-dollar deals because we add valuable insight into the viability of a company. I compare this to the way my bosses, the bankers, and our clients routinely abuse our lawyers, who are universally seen as "contract monkeys" - and the lawyers on our deals are ALWAYS big, prestigious firms. I realize this is probably different in litigation, but I'd still like some thoughts from someone who can speak to the quality of the work itself in biglaw.

Thanks

Anonymous User
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:46 pm

The risk of not making top grades at even a T10 school - and thereafter not being able to secure a biglaw job - makes leaving your current job seem like a poor financial decision.[/quote]

Not true - I am below median at a low Top 14 - have a big law offer at a very good NY firm, and had around 8 callbacks. Grades are not everything (in the Top 14). In my experience, the Top 14 law school opens the door to the interview, and once you have the open door to the interview, you have to sell yourself (with your proven track record)

Big law firms like applicants like yourself that have solid business work experience (especially since your work is very similar to what junior associates do). Apply to the top 14 and go from there. Good Luck!

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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:48 pm

danielwebster wrote:Partnership track in bigconsulting looks like this, with the names of positions sometimes changed:

Consultant -> [gap; either you get promoted or you go to business school... either way, the next step is] -> senior consultant -> engagement manager/team leader -> principal/senior manager -> Partner/Principal -> Senior Partner/Director

Generally, you move into the engagement manager role based on how good of a consultant you are (ie, how good you are with the numbers, with the logic, with client skills), and you move up from there when you become an in-demand enough commodity that your clients start asking for you specifically. From there, once you go from being the client's favorite to actually owning the client relationship, you're in striking distance for partnership.

This track usually takes around 7-10 years. Partnership is and has never been a sure thing in consulting - unlike law, in which everyone with good grades from a top school used to be able to reasonably expect to make partner SOMEWHERE, in consulting you can be a genius and have your career cap out well before partner. Lots of people stall at the principal level or earlier, and they're fine with it. Since job skills are more transferable in consulting, being locked out of partnership isn't a huge deal because if it really bothers you, you can just go take a top management position at a client (oh no!).

Consulting doesn't have to be this bad in terms of time, but any job - banking, law, consulting - that's linked to the deal cycle will inevitably be brutal. Since I've chosen to focused on PE due diligences, this is the case for me. Of course, in theory I have a much higher chance of going to private equity than a biglawyer; but in reality, that chance is, maybe, 5% instead of 1%. Not enough to justify the massive paycut and, as I suspected, the worse hours.

I've always wondered what law associates and law students mean when they talk about "brutal" biglaw hours. Most of my friends out of college went into investment banking; I went into PE consulting. "Brutal" hours are what my friend at Lazard works - consistently 100-120 hour weeks. Working 70-80 a week is hard, not brutal; in fact, I find it ridiculous that people expect to make deep six-figures in their 20s for any less. So from what I'm hearing, "brutal" is in the eye of the beholder, and I shouldn't be scared of biglaw hours coming from my current background.

I don't mean to sound like a prick, but I wanted to lay out exactly what I'm thinking. I'm sure there's someone out there more than ready to tell me that I'm being naive and missing something that will quickly bring me back down to earth. This is exactly what I'm looking for - can someone please tell me what I'm missing? I've heard and believe that biglaw is awful. Is it the boring work? The abusive superiors? Because the simple realities of corporate life - tons of mindless work, hierarchy, long hours, "dry" subject matter if you don't like corporate work - don't bother me.


First, could not agree more about your hours talk. On the other hand, I haven't spent years at a firm working under a deplorable partner doing monotonous work. Hopefully, I never have to.

Second, why aren't you considering SBS, Wharton, HBS, Sloan instead? With the strong likelihood that your employer will pay for your education, leaving you with thousands of dollars of monopoly money, in exchange for a couple more years, this seems like a no brainer to me. What is this fascination with the law?

Third, you are working under a dangerous assumption that your successes in consulting will automatically transfer to law school grades. I'm sure you are more than capable, but you never know particularly at a top school. Going 100+K in the hole to find out is a risky proposition. So how much are you willing to bet?

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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:The risk of not making top grades at even a T10 school - and thereafter not being able to secure a biglaw job - makes leaving your current job seem like a poor financial decision.

Not true - I am below median at a low Top 14 - have a big law offer at a very good NY firm, and had around 8 callbacks. Grades are not everything (in the Top 14). In my experience, the Top 14 law school opens the door to the interview, and once you have the open door to the interview, you have to sell yourself (with your proven track record)

Big law firms like applicants like yourself that have solid business work experience (especially since your work is very similar to what junior associates do). Apply to the top 14 and go from there. Good Luck!

[/quote]
This is great advice, but one caveat. With your WE, you can still dip below the T14. I am at a T50, below T25, with median grades, but due to my very significant WE, also have an offer from an excellent CA firm in IP lit--exactly where I wanted to be.

Usually, with WE like yours, you've probably interviewed people, so you will be a much better interviewer than most law students. Having a sophisticated business perspective is really valuable and partners recognize it when they see it.

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:54 pm

I don't know how banking works, but lawyers often describe their work weeks in billable hours, not hours worked. 70-80 billable hours is brutal. That said, most of the lawyers I know aren't billing that most weeks; your hours do sound slightly worse.

SuperCool23
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby SuperCool23 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:00 pm

Quick question, how do I break into consulting? I'm undergrad and majoring in political science.

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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:03 pm

Another anecdote for OP:

I am a 2L. Many of my friends are biglawyers. My sig-O went to LS too last year, and dropped out after first semester. Now she is a bigconsultant. Couldn't be happier.

Think it's kindof crazy to go bigconsulting to biglaw, unless you are desperate to be a laywer. With bigconsulting, as you mentioned, you can go bigin-house or leapfrog to director/vp roles at startups or raise VC money easily. You got it made dude -- no need to switch it up.

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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:12 pm

It's such a difference in work/life balance preferences down here in the South vs. up in NYC. Here, if someone worked 70, 80, 90 hour weeks they'd be seen as insane, missing out on life, or utterly neglectful of their family as bad as an alcoholic might be. Then again, we are paid much less. I wonder which lifestyle makes one happier...

danielwebster
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby danielwebster » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
danielwebster wrote:Partnership track in bigconsulting looks like this, with the names of positions sometimes changed:

Consultant -> [gap; either you get promoted or you go to business school... either way, the next step is] -> senior consultant -> engagement manager/team leader -> principal/senior manager -> Partner/Principal -> Senior Partner/Director

Generally, you move into the engagement manager role based on how good of a consultant you are (ie, how good you are with the numbers, with the logic, with client skills), and you move up from there when you become an in-demand enough commodity that your clients start asking for you specifically. From there, once you go from being the client's favorite to actually owning the client relationship, you're in striking distance for partnership.

This track usually takes around 7-10 years. Partnership is and has never been a sure thing in consulting - unlike law, in which everyone with good grades from a top school used to be able to reasonably expect to make partner SOMEWHERE, in consulting you can be a genius and have your career cap out well before partner. Lots of people stall at the principal level or earlier, and they're fine with it. Since job skills are more transferable in consulting, being locked out of partnership isn't a huge deal because if it really bothers you, you can just go take a top management position at a client (oh no!).

Consulting doesn't have to be this bad in terms of time, but any job - banking, law, consulting - that's linked to the deal cycle will inevitably be brutal. Since I've chosen to focused on PE due diligences, this is the case for me. Of course, in theory I have a much higher chance of going to private equity than a biglawyer; but in reality, that chance is, maybe, 5% instead of 1%. Not enough to justify the massive paycut and, as I suspected, the worse hours.

I've always wondered what law associates and law students mean when they talk about "brutal" biglaw hours. Most of my friends out of college went into investment banking; I went into PE consulting. "Brutal" hours are what my friend at Lazard works - consistently 100-120 hour weeks. Working 70-80 a week is hard, not brutal; in fact, I find it ridiculous that people expect to make deep six-figures in their 20s for any less. So from what I'm hearing, "brutal" is in the eye of the beholder, and I shouldn't be scared of biglaw hours coming from my current background.

I don't mean to sound like a prick, but I wanted to lay out exactly what I'm thinking. I'm sure there's someone out there more than ready to tell me that I'm being naive and missing something that will quickly bring me back down to earth. This is exactly what I'm looking for - can someone please tell me what I'm missing? I've heard and believe that biglaw is awful. Is it the boring work? The abusive superiors? Because the simple realities of corporate life - tons of mindless work, hierarchy, long hours, "dry" subject matter if you don't like corporate work - don't bother me.


First, could not agree more about your hours talk. On the other hand, I haven't spent years at a firm working under a deplorable partner doing monotonous work. Hopefully, I never have to.

Second, why aren't you considering SBS, Wharton, HBS, Sloan instead? With the strong likelihood that your employer will pay for your education, leaving you with thousands of dollars of monopoly money, in exchange for a couple more years, this seems like a no brainer to me. What is this fascination with the law?

Third, you are working under a dangerous assumption that your successes in consulting will automatically transfer to law school grades. I'm sure you are more than capable, but you never know particularly at a top school. Going 100+K in the hole to find out is a risky proposition. So how much are you willing to bet?


I'm definitely doing B-school, for a JD/MBA. A couple of reasons - if I don't go into law, management consulting and finance actively recruit JD/MBAs; worst case scenario, if my JD grades are truly miserable, I'll find work with my MBA alone. Also, having worked in a private partnership model, I really want to take a leadership position in my partnership at some point if I can, assuming I go into law (this is where the management degree comes in). Also, chances are I'll be doing M&A, restructuring, bankruptcy work anyway, so the MBA can only help.

My employer won't pay for my MBA. The fascination with the JD/MBA is because it actually adds a lot to a consultant/investor because of A) the analytical skills and B) the knowledge of contracts and legal issues surrounding them. The fascination with law is because I'm interested in working on the mechanics of the deal (instead of just being an outside consultant).

I realize that I could very easily bomb my grades in law school - I know law school is a hard, strange animal that often devours even the best-prepared. That's where the MBA comes in. Cost isn't an issue for my education.

What about partner lifestyle? I hear a big downside of law is that your hours don't improve as you get more senior. See my first post - this is similar in consulting, but you get significant schedule flexibility. How's it in law?

danielwebster
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby danielwebster » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:15 pm

SuperCool23 wrote:Quick question, how do I break into consulting? I'm undergrad and majoring in political science.


Lol, I guess in a way this is my answer to "should I go biglaw" - PM me with your undergrad school and I can answer questions.

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rayiner
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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby rayiner » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:33 pm

danielwebster wrote:More importantly, I've heard the work is dull as can be, and I've seen this in practice. The work we do can and has stopped multi-billion-dollar deals because we add valuable insight into the viability of a company. I compare this to the way my bosses, the bankers, and our clients routinely abuse our lawyers, who are universally seen as "contract monkeys" - and the lawyers on our deals are ALWAYS big, prestigious firms. I realize this is probably different in litigation, but I'd still like some thoughts from someone who can speak to the quality of the work itself in biglaw.


How interesting legal work is depends a lot on what you do and what position you're in. Associates do a lot of bitch work: due diligence, cover your ass type stuff. Partners, at least at the top firms, can and do handle much more interesting matters. When AIG needed to be bailed out, everyone phoned up the top NYC firms asking for advice.

The judgment of whether particular work is ultimately useful or not depends on your perspective. Ultimately consulting, finance, and law are all just overhead. Clients only hire consulting firms to cover their ass in case of shareholder lawsuits, bankers to get the money to implement their business ideas, and lawyers to make sure their counter-parties don't screw them in the transaction. My dad is an executive in a company that works with a major consulting firm and regularly laments how they don't know how to do anything other than make PowerPoint presentations. So talking about how what you do affects the deal is in my opinion pretty pointless. At the end of the day it's the people actually doing business that add value to the economy. What's more important is the work, and it's not clear why due diligence in a consulting firm should be any more interesting than due diligence in a law firm. And as you rise past your first year or two you don't spend much time doing diligence. You negotiate, you implement the agreement by drafting contracts. In certain practice areas, like lending transactions, you spend a lot of your time just serving as an intermediary between the various parties. If you're a detail-oriented type of person the work itself can be reasonably interesting and enjoyable.

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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby rayiner » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Another anecdote for OP:

I am a 2L. Many of my friends are biglawyers. My sig-O went to LS too last year, and dropped out after first semester. Now she is a bigconsultant. Couldn't be happier.

Think it's kindof crazy to go bigconsulting to biglaw, unless you are desperate to be a laywer. With bigconsulting, as you mentioned, you can go bigin-house or leapfrog to director/vp roles at startups or raise VC money easily. You got it made dude -- no need to switch it up.


There are a range of consulting career trajectories just as there are a range of legal career trajectories. Your typical consultant that flames out of BIGCONSULTING after a few years (consulting firms are up-or-out just like law firms) isn't going to have startups clamoring for him to come on as a VP. He's going to look for middle-management or operational roles. The folks that end up at MBB and manage to last awhile surely have good options, but then again the folks that end up at Wachtell/Cravath/etc and last awhile have some pretty good options too.

Lawyers are some of the most grass-is-greener folks on the planet. They live in a world where every guy who works in "finance" is on a sure track to make managing director at Goldman Sachs for $2 million/year. Every person who works in consulting is either going to make partner at MBB or exit to become VP at an F500. The truth is that even non-profits aren't going to be clamoring to offer some Deloitte burnout a VP level position based on his PowerPoint skills.

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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby danielwebster » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:46 pm

rayiner wrote:
danielwebster wrote:More importantly, I've heard the work is dull as can be, and I've seen this in practice. The work we do can and has stopped multi-billion-dollar deals because we add valuable insight into the viability of a company. I compare this to the way my bosses, the bankers, and our clients routinely abuse our lawyers, who are universally seen as "contract monkeys" - and the lawyers on our deals are ALWAYS big, prestigious firms. I realize this is probably different in litigation, but I'd still like some thoughts from someone who can speak to the quality of the work itself in biglaw.


How interesting legal work is depends a lot on what you do and what position you're in. Associates do a lot of bitch work: due diligence, cover your ass type stuff. Partners, at least at the top firms, can and do handle much more interesting matters. When AIG needed to be bailed out, everyone phoned up the top NYC firms asking for advice.

The judgment of whether particular work is ultimately useful or not depends on your perspective. Ultimately consulting, finance, and law are all just overhead. Clients only hire consulting firms to cover their ass in case of shareholder lawsuits, bankers to get the money to implement their business ideas, and lawyers to make sure their counter-parties don't screw them in the transaction. My dad is an executive in a company that works with a major consulting firm and regularly laments how they don't know how to do anything other than make PowerPoint presentations. So talking about how what you do affects the deal is in my opinion pretty pointless. At the end of the day it's the people actually doing business that add value to the economy. What's more important is the work, and it's not clear why due diligence in a consulting firm should be any more interesting than due diligence in a law firm. And as you rise past your first year or two you don't spend much time doing diligence. You negotiate, you implement the agreement by drafting contracts. In certain practice areas, like lending transactions, you spend a lot of your time just serving as an intermediary between the various parties. If you're a detail-oriented type of person the work itself can be reasonably interesting and enjoyable.


Thanks for this excellent answer. I agree that service professions related to dealmaking - banking, law, consulting - are all overhead. My point, though, is that lawyers literally get no strategic input into a deal. Often, the investors in a deal know as little or less than the consultants helping them buy, say, a restaurant chain. These guys are finance guys, not restaurants guys; similarly, you're a consultant, not a restaurant manager. Consultants and investors together figure out whether a deal is a good idea; bankers provide the money; lawyers draw up the contracts. Meanwhile, the salt-of-the-earth guy who created this huge restaurant chain from nothing waits patiently while a bunch of well-paid, well-educated professionals figure out whether or not his company is worth investing in. Weird, but this is the way the high-finance corporate world works.

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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby rayiner » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:07 pm

danielwebster wrote:
rayiner wrote:
danielwebster wrote:More importantly, I've heard the work is dull as can be, and I've seen this in practice. The work we do can and has stopped multi-billion-dollar deals because we add valuable insight into the viability of a company. I compare this to the way my bosses, the bankers, and our clients routinely abuse our lawyers, who are universally seen as "contract monkeys" - and the lawyers on our deals are ALWAYS big, prestigious firms. I realize this is probably different in litigation, but I'd still like some thoughts from someone who can speak to the quality of the work itself in biglaw.


How interesting legal work is depends a lot on what you do and what position you're in. Associates do a lot of bitch work: due diligence, cover your ass type stuff. Partners, at least at the top firms, can and do handle much more interesting matters. When AIG needed to be bailed out, everyone phoned up the top NYC firms asking for advice.

The judgment of whether particular work is ultimately useful or not depends on your perspective. Ultimately consulting, finance, and law are all just overhead. Clients only hire consulting firms to cover their ass in case of shareholder lawsuits, bankers to get the money to implement their business ideas, and lawyers to make sure their counter-parties don't screw them in the transaction. My dad is an executive in a company that works with a major consulting firm and regularly laments how they don't know how to do anything other than make PowerPoint presentations. So talking about how what you do affects the deal is in my opinion pretty pointless. At the end of the day it's the people actually doing business that add value to the economy. What's more important is the work, and it's not clear why due diligence in a consulting firm should be any more interesting than due diligence in a law firm. And as you rise past your first year or two you don't spend much time doing diligence. You negotiate, you implement the agreement by drafting contracts. In certain practice areas, like lending transactions, you spend a lot of your time just serving as an intermediary between the various parties. If you're a detail-oriented type of person the work itself can be reasonably interesting and enjoyable.


Thanks for this excellent answer. I agree that service professions related to dealmaking - banking, law, consulting - are all overhead. My point, though, is that lawyers literally get no strategic input into a deal. Often, the investors in a deal know as little or less than the consultants helping them buy, say, a restaurant chain. These guys are finance guys, not restaurants guys; similarly, you're a consultant, not a restaurant manager. Consultants and investors together figure out whether a deal is a good idea; bankers provide the money; lawyers draw up the contracts. Meanwhile, the salt-of-the-earth guy who created this huge restaurant chain from nothing waits patiently while a bunch of well-paid, well-educated professionals figure out whether or not his company is worth investing in. Weird, but this is the way the high-finance corporate world works.


It's not the lawyers job to answer the question of: buy or not to buy? It's the lawyers job, given a statement of "we want to buy," to figure out how to reify that paper transaction into the real world, all while making sure the client doesn't get screwed by his counter parties. On a simple deal it might just be a matter of writing some contracts. However, when Google hires Cleary to help them buy Motorola, they're not just hiring them to draft some paperwork. They're hiring them to perform creative structuring of the deal to address intellectual property, anti-trust, regulatory, and environmental issues while managing and allocating risk.

Also, the lawyer's role tends more towards contract monkey in m&a. Debtor side bk counsel for example runs the show.

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Re: Lifestye Comparison Question for Biglaw Associates

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:37 pm

OP, I used to work in consulting and am now doing a JD/MBA (posting anonymously because I will share some pretty candid views on careers that I would rather not have traced back - I can PM you if you want to talk more). Here are my thoughts.

The Work Itself
I think the complaints about legal work are mostly overdone, especially if you are a detail-oriented kind of person. Many of the people I know who are truly miserable as lawyers are that way because they really want nothing to do whatsoever with the business world (artsy or literary folks, foreign policy junkies, etc). If you (like me) find the business world and deals actually interesting, I wouldn't worry on that front.

The biggest difference that takes getting used to is the detail orientation and degree of analness that law requires. In consulting, you often hear 80/20 (for those following along at home, that refers to the idea that 80% of the insight comes from 20% of the effort, so you might as well only do that 20%). Law firms pride themselves on being 100/100, or more accurately 100/200, since you'll do a whole bunch of useless work just on the miniscule off chance there's something there. Some people hate this. Some people don't mind this as much. Either way, it tends to be less of a feature of your life as you get more senior.

The other thing is that law, especially litigation (but also corporate) is a very solitary work environment. Sure, you will have calls with your client, or conferences with your team, but the vast majority of time is spent researching, writing, and drafting by yourself. It's nowhere near as interactive as consulting at any level. Some people miss the idea of working with a client day-in and day-out to solve his or her problems. Some don't. Either way, consider that.

Career Trajectory/Exit Options
You need to think about what you want to be long term. The biggest misconception about law is that it helps you do a lot of things. This is not true. You should not become a lawyer unless you think you want to practice law for most of your career, or get involved in a heavily legally-influenced business specialty where legal knowledge is not just helpful, but integral (think bankruptcy, certain types of real estate investing, etc).

This is not to say that lawyers don't end up doing other things, such as transitioning over to a business role in a company, becoming bankers, working for PE funds, etc. But this is usually a fortuitous accident rather than a well-planned trajectory. I have talked to several people in these positions (i.e., former lawyers who now do something else in the business world). While many of them said their legal training was helpful, virtually none recommended becoming a lawyer in order to get where they are - there are much easier ways (if your goal is finance, become a banker, if you want an operating role, stick with consulting, etc).

Consulting is considerably more flexible in terms of exit options (not necessarily better).

Lifestyle/Work-Life Balance
The hours in biglaw are not materially more than consulting, and are considerably less than finance, at least at junior levels. Two caveats, however.

Biglaw hours, particularly on the corporate side, are much more irregular and unpredictable. In consulting, there are rarely total fire drills. You know when the big milestones are, and you'll probably work late the week before, but it's decently easy to plan around. In biglaw, you can do nothing until 4pm then have something explode on your deal, and stay in the office all night. It's largely related to the fact that corporate law is deal-driven work (like banking).

The other thing is there's less of a sense that your hours decrease as you get more senior. Many partners at my summer firm worked as much as the associates. This is because partners at law firms are actually expected to do work. Sure, they also need to sell, but it's not like consulting (at least in my experience), where upwards of 80% of partner time was devoted to sales (and if you're good at sales, that means you don't need to work as much). Work does get more flexible as your get further up in a law firm (dial in to calls from home, mark up documents at home), but it's still a lot.

The obvious upside is biglaw has very little in the way of travel, even at the partner level.

Compensation
Comp is probably a wash within the professions themselves. That is, a partner at a consulting firm probably makes about the same as a partner at a law firm, and your chances of making partner are probably similar. I would say that consulting exit options probably compensate more highly than law exit options, just because it's skewed by the not-insignificant number of consultants who end up at PE firms or hedge funds.


Hope this is helpful. As I said, happy to talk more via PM, just post in the thread if you want to know more.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.




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