blow off big law job for the cause

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Anonymous User
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blow off big law job for the cause

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:47 pm

So I recently graduated. I have a Big Law job offer with a firm that pays the standard top end big law salary. I also recently got an offer with a small firm that pays about half that.

My thoughts on big law firm job:
-I don't think I'll get my first choice practice group (they haven't told us yet), and I'm really worried I am going to get stuck in a niche practice group. If that happens, I don't know what my exit strategy. E.g., if I get assigned the job of writing investment prospectuses...well, I don't want to do that as a career.
-The People. I love some of the people at the firm. But some of them (including some partners) I thought were insecure jerks who frankly lacked the intellectual horse power to justify their arrogance. I got along with those people well, but every time I talked them I wanted to be like "what is with you? is your dick tiny, or does it just not work?" One partner used to brag about his luxury car or other similar shit all the time...who gives a fuck.
-The work. It was almost always interesting or intellectually stimulating. It's just...sometimes I despised our clients, and therefore despised myself for working for them. Rich well educated people who broke the law because they were trying to get richer...did I really work hard to get on law review and graduate with honors so I could help those assholes? When the work was moral neutral (e.g. business suing another business, providing regulatory compliance advice) I was happy enough with it.
-Environment: It was stressful, but I don't know if that's because of my summer associate peers. I felt like I was under a microscope. If I didn't wear a tie another SA would be like "oh my god you're not wearing a tie?" or "Oh my god, you're getting a 3rd beer?" or "oh my god, you're going home already?" (I got into the office at 8AM asshole, I can leave at 6). I felt like I couldn't have a real conversation with anyone but a couple of people all summer long...the rest of the time it was "say the right thing, praise the firm, praise the firm." It was exhausting.
-My reviews: For the record, I got sterling reviews. "Everyone really likes you, and you're one of the best, if not the best, writers in your class [of summer associates.]" I was the guy they called to go to OCI to glad hand 2Ls. I was the guy they asked to go to lunch with 2Ls they made offers to.
-Location: the big law job is not in my first choice city.

The small firm job:
-The work: It would be helping/defending middle/working class people. Not really any doc review, it'd be writing briefs for partners. The firm has fewer than 10 people. For the first 2 years, I would be assigned to a partner and basically I would go every where with that guy. Depositions, hearings, oral arguments, arbitration. I write briefs, partner reviews them with me. I think I would hate myself less.
-Supposedly the hours would be much better.
-Location: it's in the city I want to live.
-Future: Direct quote "Some of us partners are getting older, and down the reason why we're hiring is to have someone take over the business."
-The business model: very large, stable client base.
-The pay: about half of big law, but after doing the numbers I think I would be fine if I took income based repayment on loans.

Basically, aside from the money, I am pretty sure I'd be happier at the smaller firm...but man...it's a lot of fucking money. I know I could leave the big firm after a couple years, but to go do what? Like if I am a securities regulation attorney for 2 years...what do I go do after that?

I'm sure there will be trolling, but ya know, helpful comments would be great too. I've got nothing against big law per se, just not sure if it's a good fit.

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prezidentv8
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby prezidentv8 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:leave the big firm after a couple years


That's probably what I would do if I were you. Pay your loans, and see if you end up liking the work. Worst case scenario, you end up free of debt and with a few years of marketable experience.

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jessuf
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby jessuf » Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:55 pm

Half of biglaw salary is $80k. Depending on the city, that can be still a really nice salary. COL is pretty low where I live, so $80k would go a long way.

anonymcoffee
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby anonymcoffee » Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:59 pm

I wish I had your options.

But if I did, I'd do big law. Not everyone can get that, it will be on your resume forever, you never know how it will help you down the line in your long term career, plus you pay off your loans. You have the rest of your life to do things "for the cause."

sigh...wish you could give me that big law job

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:05 pm

Jessuf wrote:Half of biglaw salary is $80k. Depending on the city, that can be still a really nice salary. COL is pretty low where I live, so $80k would go a long way.


Yea it's a bit less than $80k, but supposedly raises the first couple years would be circa 10%. I did the math an estimated my costs on the high end for everything: rent, car payment (might need a second car..i'm married), utilities, loan payments, cable/internet, health insurance, taxes, cell phone, gas, and 10% to 401k (i started with gross pay then took out the pre-tax deductions, then took out taxes at a 30% rate, then all the other expenses). After all that, I'd be left with about $1300 a month for food/clothing/entertainment/whatever.

I should add, before law school, I lived well enough on about $35k a year. Granted, I was younger and single, but my interests are generally cooking, beer, the gym, doing dumb shit with my friends, and playing video games.

Oh, and the wife has a potential job lined up if we moved. Our gross, pre-tax family income would probably be in the $120-130k range...so don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we'll be hard up.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby OperaSoprano » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:10 pm

OP, what are your other goals? Creative pursuits? Desire to start/spend time with a family? Can you find out if you would have flexibility at the former job? Also, if you took the smaller firm job, would you want to stay there long term? Are there good prospects of making partner? Could you have the financial success you need by mid career, without giving up balance? Is the smaller firm more stable (IE: less likely to push you out if you aren't on partner track?) Personal happiness was at the top of my own list during the job search. That isn't to say you can't sacrifice it for a couple of years and be fine, but only you can weigh what's most important to you.

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:15 pm

anonymcoffee wrote:I wish I had your options.

But if I did, I'd do big law. Not everyone can get that, it will be on your resume forever, you never know how it will help you down the line in your long term career, plus you pay off your loans. You have the rest of your life to do things "for the cause."

sigh...wish you could give me that big law job


So that's what I thought, but people fighting for the cause do not always seem so impressed with big law experience. The small firm guys were kinda like "oh that's nice you wrote some research memos at a big law firm...we need someone to interact with clients and write us briefs, we don't really care?" Cause people seem much more interested in my clinic experience than my big law experience. So I am worried after a couple years of big law the cause won't want me...I'll have no experience handling my own cases and I'll come with a hefty price tag.

Plus, there is always the fear of golden handcuffs. But yea, sorry I realize I am in a good position.

Ah...would it change anyone's opinion if I told you big law moved our office's start date from September to January?

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fatduck
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby fatduck » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:21 pm

what's your long-term career goal? is running a small defense shop something you aspire to? if so, how certain are you that it's still what you'll want in 10 years?

if so, i say take the small firm job and work balls out at it. it will be harder but you won't be poor, especially with a second household earner, and it's in the city where you want to be. the real downside is that you'll be narrowing your future career options a great deal early on. if you know where you want to end up, that's fine. if you're not sure, then be careful.

formerbiglawpartner
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby formerbiglawpartner » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:24 pm

No offense, but shouldn't you be talking to "the wife" about these issues and about her dreams and aspirations rather than to a bunch of strangers online?

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:25 pm

OperaSoprano wrote:OP, what are your other goals? Creative pursuits? Desire to start/spend time with a family? Can you find out if you would have flexibility at the former job? Also, if you took the smaller firm job, would you want to stay there long term? Are there good prospects of making partner? Could you have the financial success you need by mid career, without giving up balance? Is the smaller firm more stable (IE: less likely to push you out if you aren't on partner track?) Personal happiness was at the top of my own list during the job search. That isn't to say you can't sacrifice it for a couple of years and be fine, but only you can weigh what's most important to you.



Good question. Yea, we'd like to have kids in a couple years and I'd like to be around to raise them. The small firm job would also put us back in our hometown with a lot of friends and family, whereas right now we haven't got much. It seemed like people at the older job COULD get home to see their kids, but that might have been particular to their work...it also seemed like the people who wanted to get home to kids came in like at 8am or earlier.

There's not set partner tract at the small firm, but yea the explicitly said they were hiring me "to take over the firm as we start to age out of the practice." One partner is maybe 66, another one is 56. There's big age gaps between each lawyer at the firm. They seem to hire someone new. So yea, if I liked it I might stay there long-term. They're adamant that they want me there permanently.

In term of career goals...I dunno, I want to feel like society is in some minuscule way better off for my existence. Or that at least I am helping the type of client I deem worthy of being helped. I don't want to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living...when I was working at big law, I was sometimes embarrassed to admit the type of client I was working for.

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:31 pm

formerbiglawpartner wrote:No offense, but shouldn't you be talking to "the wife" about these issues and about her dreams and aspirations rather than to a bunch of strangers online?



Hahaha, way ahead of you. But she's generally just very supportive, and not a lawyer. So she hasn't got any insight into big law, or the post-big law career prospects. I think she doesn't want to have to overly fret about money, but she also really likes having me around/home. She has never complained when I worked late, but whenever finals is done she tells me how glad she is I am around more after. She hates her current job and thinks if we moved for the small firm, she'd get something she'd like better. She took the job she hates now because it offered a lot more money, and now regrets it.

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fanmingrui
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby fanmingrui » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:43 pm

Dude, take the small firm job and enjoy the quality of life. Seems everything you want is at the small firm. Have the balls to walk away from the 2-3 years of biglaw $ and preftige.

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:47 pm

fatduck wrote:what's your long-term career goal? is running a small defense shop something you aspire to? if so, how certain are you that it's still what you'll want in 10 years?

if so, i say take the small firm job and work balls out at it. it will be harder but you won't be poor, especially with a second household earner, and it's in the city where you want to be. the real downside is that you'll be narrowing your future career options a great deal early on. if you know where you want to end up, that's fine. if you're not sure, then be careful.


It's labor law, not defense per se. Popular, big unions though. If I wasn't running this place, I think I'd be happy trying to go in house or flipping to corporate side for more money. Also, I've got some background/connections in politics. If I want to go back to politics at all, I feel like union background won't hurt.

I'm also not entirely sure how limiting it will be compared to the big firm. If the big firm puts me in a niche, industry-specific practice, will that really leave me with more options? Big law might stick me in some finance industry specific practice, and I've got no interest in doing that 5 years now. Obviously, I'd be a lot less confused if big law would tell me what practice they were going to put me in.

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sunynp
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby sunynp » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:50 pm

fanmingrui wrote:Dude, take the small firm job and enjoy the quality of life. Seems everything you want is at the small firm. Have the balls to walk away from the 2-3 years of biglaw $ and preftige.

I'm going to vote for this too but only for the long term prospects. The small firm job may not be there in a couple of years.

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:00 pm

fanmingrui wrote:Dude, take the small firm job and enjoy the quality of life. Seems everything you want is at the small firm. Have the balls to walk away from the 2-3 years of biglaw $ and preftige.


Hahahahaha, thank you I actually really appreciate that.

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby ruski » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:15 pm

seems like theres too much uncertainty in the small law job. they haven't guaranteed you the business. do they not have senior associates in line as well? what if they have really close relationships with their clients, so once they leave their clients wont feel so obligated to stay with the firm. or maybe the dude just said that because he's old and borderline senile, maybe other partners at the firms have different plans. to me this is an easy chose: 80k job vs. 160k. i wouldn't think of this as 80k job + inheriting successful practice vs 160k.

Yossarian79
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby Yossarian79 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:20 pm

Plenty of people take big money over quality of life and later regret it. Unless I've just been talking to the wrong people, the reverse is rarely true -- with the possible exception of huge house/sports car envy.

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby sunynp » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:30 pm

ruski wrote:seems like theres too much uncertainty in the small law job. they haven't guaranteed you the business. do they not have senior associates in line as well? what if they have really close relationships with their clients, so once they leave their clients wont feel so obligated to stay with the firm. or maybe the dude just said that because he's old and borderline senile, maybe other partners at the firms have different plans. to me this is an easy chose: 80k job vs. 160k. i wouldn't think of this as 80k job + inheriting successful practice vs 160k.


If this is true, then I might change my vote. I thought you have a solid deal lined up at the small firm and you would be happy working there the rest of your life. If it is going to fall apart, you might be better off with biglaw experience. I don't think that biglaw experience is going to help you with a small town practice if that is what you want to do.

These are completely different jobs. The biglaw job will not set you on a path to getting a small job back home.

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby 005618502 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:34 pm

Hey OP. I had some experience working in a smaller firm (much larger than what you are talking about) but I will say that those kind of firms dont always make it forever so be careful. One big dispute between the two (or more) big partners and you may not know where to go. I hate to say it because I think COL is important, but I would take the biglaw route and go from there. Good luck with your decision, I am sure you will do well in either case.

lukertin
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby lukertin » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:51 pm

In the end, it's just money.


Pick what makes you happier.

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fanmingrui
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby fanmingrui » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:51 pm

AssumptionRequired wrote:Hey OP. I had some experience working in a smaller firm (much larger than what you are talking about) but I will say that those kind of firms dont always make it forever so be careful. One big dispute between the two (or more) big partners and you may not know where to go. I hate to say it because I think COL is important, but I would take the biglaw route and go from there. Good luck with your decision, I am sure you will do well in either case.

Neither do the big firms. See, e.g., Dewey.

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby lukertin » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:54 pm

fanmingrui wrote:
AssumptionRequired wrote:Hey OP. I had some experience working in a smaller firm (much larger than what you are talking about) but I will say that those kind of firms dont always make it forever so be careful. One big dispute between the two (or more) big partners and you may not know where to go. I hate to say it because I think COL is important, but I would take the biglaw route and go from there. Good luck with your decision, I am sure you will do well in either case.

Neither do the big firms. See, e.g., Dewey.

Yea, not to mention, a few high partners splintering off from a biglaw firm to start their own boutique, and attempting to drag all their associates with them, is a pretty common thing, too. You could be in the same position either way.

Also I'd like to know how much student loan debt we're talking about here?

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:02 pm

lukertin wrote:
fanmingrui wrote:
AssumptionRequired wrote:Hey OP. I had some experience working in a smaller firm (much larger than what you are talking about) but I will say that those kind of firms dont always make it forever so be careful. One big dispute between the two (or more) big partners and you may not know where to go. I hate to say it because I think COL is important, but I would take the biglaw route and go from there. Good luck with your decision, I am sure you will do well in either case.

Neither do the big firms. See, e.g., Dewey.

Yea, not to mention, a few high partners splintering off from a biglaw firm to start their own boutique, and attempting to drag all their associates with them, is a pretty common thing, too. You could be in the same position either way.

Also I'd like to know how much student loan debt we're talking about here?


If I was at the small firm I would do IBR, so the amount is somewhat moot. But ya know...it's soul crushingly large.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
lukertin wrote:
fanmingrui wrote:
AssumptionRequired wrote:Hey OP. I had some experience working in a smaller firm (much larger than what you are talking about) but I will say that those kind of firms dont always make it forever so be careful. One big dispute between the two (or more) big partners and you may not know where to go. I hate to say it because I think COL is important, but I would take the biglaw route and go from there. Good luck with your decision, I am sure you will do well in either case.

Neither do the big firms. See, e.g., Dewey.

Yea, not to mention, a few high partners splintering off from a biglaw firm to start their own boutique, and attempting to drag all their associates with them, is a pretty common thing, too. You could be in the same position either way.

Also I'd like to know how much student loan debt we're talking about here?


If I was at the small firm I would do IBR, so the amount is somewhat moot. But ya know...it's soul crushingly large.


You talk like loans are free when you're on IBR. Do you really want to be paying back loans for 25 years?

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Re: blow off big law job for the cause

Postby seatown12 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:48 pm

fanmingrui wrote:Dude, take the small firm job and enjoy the quality of life. Seems everything you want is at the small firm. Have the balls to walk away from the 2-3 years of biglaw $ and preftige.




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