V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

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Anonymous User
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:59 pm

What's it like to bill +2500 hours? Is it possible to do this and have a healthy family life?

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Why were you able to arrive with your eyes wide open? Was it just that you didn't buy into the "collegiality" BS that they sell in recruiting? Or was it a situation where you got there and quickly understood what was really going on?
It was more the latter than the former. I think what I did right is that I believed my lying eyes over what I was hearing. To hear big law partners tell it, they all just worked really long hours with a cheerful disposition, mastered the law, perfected their networking skills, and voila, they made it. Except what I noticed very early on is that almost half of the partners I came across were either lazy, mentally ill, possessing poor written/oral communication skills, ignorant of basic tenets of law, violent etc. Not all of them had connections either. So, how did these people manage to make it in this so-called meritocracy? Yea, it isn't a meritocracy. You'd be shocked by how long it takes some associates to get out of denial and accept that fact. Meanwhile, they've been bent over, pushed out, or held back. Extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics are the two traits that I have noticed all the partners and senior associates on the rise have in common. Developing those traits is how you'll survive or at least leave on your own terms.

Note: This is V10 anon.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What's it like to bill +2500 hours? Is it possible to do this and have a healthy family life?
Depends on what "healthy" is to you. Billing 2500+ hours averages out to at least 210 or so hours per month. In reality, it means 280 hours one month, 190 the next month, 300 the third month, 150 the fourth month (maybe because the deal closed midway or the case settled) etc. Some months, you might actually be able to see your family regularly and even take one or two weekends off. Other months, you'll get to work at 9am and leave at 3am at least a couple of weeks in a row. If your spouse understands that it doesn't mean you're lying/having an affair/being an ass when you can't do dinner a single day this month even though you were doing dinner three times a week last month, then your family life can be very healthy. If you have a demanding significant other, however, then you will be miserable. Also, if you have a very involved idea of "healthy" (home for dinner most days, leaving work at work so you can be attentive at home, and splitting household tasks), then you're probably going to find billing 2500+ to be very unhealthy. For me, contributing to relationship "health" has come to mean being loyal, loving, and bringing home a good paycheck, with less emphasis on being available (because, frankly, I can't be most days).

Note: This is V10 anon.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Coco_Local
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Coco_Local » Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:37 pm

Extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics are the two traits that I have noticed all the partners and senior associates on the rise have in common. Developing those traits are how you'll survive or at least leave on your own terms.


So fucking true. I left biglaw as a midlevel (for the government) and found this point to be the most true. It's not smarts, legal writing skills or actual ability to lawyer that makes a career in biglaw. It's luck and the above. People need to get over the whole big law is the best of the best because quite honestly many, many talented people (I am thinking litigators as I am one) are run off or run for the hills for better opportunities like working as an AUSA.

anon168
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby anon168 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:59 pm

Coco_Local wrote:
Extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics are the two traits that I have noticed all the partners and senior associates on the rise have in common. Developing those traits are how you'll survive or at least leave on your own terms.


So fucking true. I left biglaw as a midlevel (for the government) and found this point to be the most true. It's not smarts, legal writing skills or actual ability to lawyer that makes a career in biglaw. It's luck and the above. People need to get over the whole big law is the best of the best because quite honestly many, many talented people (I am thinking litigators as I am one) are run off or run for the hills for better opportunities like working as an AUSA.


Those same traits apply at the USAO, if not more.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:09 pm

anon168 wrote:
Coco_Local wrote:
Extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics are the two traits that I have noticed all the partners and senior associates on the rise have in common. Developing those traits are how you'll survive or at least leave on your own terms.


So fucking true. I left biglaw as a midlevel (for the government) and found this point to be the most true. It's not smarts, legal writing skills or actual ability to lawyer that makes a career in biglaw. It's luck and the above. People need to get over the whole big law is the best of the best because quite honestly many, many talented people (I am thinking litigators as I am one) are run off or run for the hills for better opportunities like working as an AUSA.


Those same traits apply at the USAO, if not more.

Assuming you were at a top USAO (I would imagine that the offices in random states are low stress because of low competition), what's the environment at the USAO like?

anon168
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby anon168 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
anon168 wrote:
Coco_Local wrote:
Extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics are the two traits that I have noticed all the partners and senior associates on the rise have in common. Developing those traits are how you'll survive or at least leave on your own terms.


So fucking true. I left biglaw as a midlevel (for the government) and found this point to be the most true. It's not smarts, legal writing skills or actual ability to lawyer that makes a career in biglaw. It's luck and the above. People need to get over the whole big law is the best of the best because quite honestly many, many talented people (I am thinking litigators as I am one) are run off or run for the hills for better opportunities like working as an AUSA.


Those same traits apply at the USAO, if not more.

Assuming you were at a top USAO (I would imagine that the offices in random states are low stress because of low competition), what's the environment at the USAO like?


You have a small group of people that have been there forever and they've either lost all gumption for power, or are simply waiting it out until their full pension kicks in.

You have a group (much smaller) of people who just want to work 9-5, do their work, and never really have to worry about getting fired, or laid off. They have no itch to leave.

Then you have the rest who are basically gunners. They are there to (1) get trial experience then lateral out "to make partner at biglaw"; (2) become a judge; (3) or run for political office of some sort; or (4) a combo of all three. For them, the USAO is a stepping stone to something bigger and better.

Regardless of what group you are in, there's always back-biting, political horse-trading and coalition forming (yes, it's essentially, Lord of the Flies in real life). People are always trying to position themselves in the best possible position to get whatever they want every time there's a change in administration, which for many offices could be happening sooner rather than later.

But the above is true basically in life generally. The old adage comes to mind, "In life it's less about what you know, and more about who you know."

Coco_Local
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Coco_Local » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:02 pm

I'm actually an AUSA and honestly this job is not political. In fact, it's illegal to make politically motivated hiring decisions here. Moreover, institutional attrition is not built into the business model of a US Attorney's Office. It's a difficult job to land but I've found my office to be the sort of place you could spend working on interesting cases and doing complex trial work until retirement.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:14 pm

Coco_Local wrote:I'm actually an AUSA and honestly this job is not political. In fact, it's illegal to make politically motivated hiring decisions here. Moreover, institutional attrition is not built into the business model of a US Attorney's Office. It's a difficult job to land but I've found my office to be the sort of place you could spend working on interesting cases and doing complex trial work until retirement.

Can you please share your perspective in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=196716&p=6000122#p6000122

Thanks in advance!

wildhaggis
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby wildhaggis » Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:17 pm

Coco_Local wrote:
Extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics are the two traits that I have noticed all the partners and senior associates on the rise have in common. Developing those traits are how you'll survive or at least leave on your own terms.


So fucking true. I left biglaw as a midlevel (for the government) and found this point to be the most true. It's not smarts, legal writing skills or actual ability to lawyer that makes a career in biglaw. It's luck and the above. People need to get over the whole big law is the best of the best because quite honestly many, many talented people (I am thinking litigators as I am one) are run off or run for the hills for better opportunities like working as an AUSA.

Could you guys elaborate a bit more on what you mean by extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics? I know both concepts are fairly straightforward, but I was wondering if you could put them in a bit more context or even provide some examples to illustrate what you mean. Thanks for all the advice you've provided.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:31 pm

I will be starting at a V20. Have you known anyone who has started their own firm or gone solo after leaving your firm? This is probably the least common Vault exit, but I'm curious to hear your perspective on people who have done it, what areas they've gone on to practice in, and how they've fared. Thanks.

anon168
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby anon168 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I will be starting at a V20. Have you known anyone who has started their own firm or gone solo after leaving your firm? This is probably the least common Vault exit, but I'm curious to hear your perspective on people who have done it, what areas they've gone on to practice in, and how they've fared. Thanks.


I know several that have done it.

The most successful example that I can think of were two guys who left a V10 firm to do soft IP. They didn't go solo in the strictest sense, but partnered up with each other. Still going strong as we speak, and growing.

It's definitely possible. When you leave you need a business plan in place, that should consist of at least a bit of portable business (i.e, clients that will give you work), a defined niche area, and a bit of working capital to get you through the first couple of billing cycles before the A/P becomes A/R.

You should also look at your state Bar, there should be what's called "solos in a box" -- it's essentially everything you need from a logistical standpoint to hang your shingles, from getting office space to billing software to malpractice insurance to the do's and don'ts of lawyer ads.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:25 pm

A fellow midlevel associate here. How do you survive and keep motivated? I'm coming off of a brutal year of billing and am watching associates in my department leave by the droves for greener pastures because of lifestyle issues. It's amazing how much we are hemorrhaging good associates from my department, whom were my mentors and I consider friends... all are leaving by their own choice... my department is super busy so it's not stealth layoffs or anything of that nature.

Why haven't you, personally, left to go in-house?

Morale is low, to say the least.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:10 pm

V10 anon here.
wildhaggis wrote:
Coco_Local wrote:
Extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics are the two traits that I have noticed all the partners and senior associates on the rise have in common. Developing those traits are how you'll survive or at least leave on your own terms.


So fucking true. I left biglaw as a midlevel (for the government) and found this point to be the most true. It's not smarts, legal writing skills or actual ability to lawyer that makes a career in biglaw. It's luck and the above. People need to get over the whole big law is the best of the best because quite honestly many, many talented people (I am thinking litigators as I am one) are run off or run for the hills for better opportunities like working as an AUSA.

Could you guys elaborate a bit more on what you mean by extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics? I know both concepts are fairly straightforward, but I was wondering if you could put them in a bit more context or even provide some examples to illustrate what you mean. Thanks for all the advice you've provided.
I'll give you an example. Shrewd associates figure out early who the powerful people are and work hard for only those people. So, while other associates are killing themselves for bad people who only give bad work, smart associates never work hard for:

1) People with no credibility. Some partners/senior associates have no credibility at all and are just there because their number hasn't come up yet (partners do get pushed out). They can't help you up the ladder because their position on the ladder is shaky at best. They can only hurt your brand because if you become known as xyz idiot's go-to associate, then you are an idiot by association.

2) People who mentally ill or capricious. All your hard work won't save you on the day their bagel is too dry or their coffee too milky and they look at you and decide it's your fault. All of their go-to associates get pushed out sooner or later for incredibly trivial reasons no matter how hardworking and smart they are. Identifying who the nuts are is probably your #1 task as an associate.

3) Idiot work. You need to be learning something that is not only new, but also can be transferred to a new deal/matter/firm. If the work you are doing does not fall into both categories, then you need to get off the case even if you are getting great reviews and being told you're the next big thing. You can be pushed out of big law at any time on short notice and you need to have more on your resume than "can review the heck out of some mindless documents." The more substantive work you have on your resume, the more easily you can lateral, the less afraid you are, the more bold you are in steering your career.

How do you figure out which people/work fall into these categories? I gave pointers earlier in this thread. If you avoid killing yourself for stupid/crazy people on stupid deals, then other associates who bill more than you, know more than you, care more than you do, but work for the wrong people will get pushed out long before you do. This is probably more than half the battle in big law.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:22 pm

V10 anon.
Anonymous User wrote:I will be starting at a V20. Have you known anyone who has started their own firm or gone solo after leaving your firm? This is probably the least common Vault exit, but I'm curious to hear your perspective on people who have done it, what areas they've gone on to practice in, and how they've fared. Thanks.
The only people I know who have done this have been litigators. I can't really say I know any who have done with with great financial success. One is a jack of all trades who takes on a lot of little cases to make ends meet. He's struggling in the financial sense, but he says he's happier. Another is in a very niche area of law and takes on specialized cases. He's making more money than the generalist, but definitely not six figures. Both have been solo for less than ten years. Neither left their firm with a book of business. Networking is really key for both. Like Anon168 said, bar associations are really important for solo practitioners.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:36 pm

V10 anon here.
Anonymous User wrote:A fellow midlevel associate here. How do you survive and keep motivated? I'm coming off of a brutal year of billing and am watching associates in my department leave by the droves for greener pastures because of lifestyle issues. It's amazing how much we are hemorrhaging good associates from my department, whom were my mentors and I consider friends... all are leaving by their own choice... my department is super busy so it's not stealth layoffs or anything of that nature.

Why haven't you, personally, left to go in-house?

Morale is low, to say the least.
I haven't gone in-house primarily because of the pay cut and because advancement in-house isn't like it is in big law. In-house has more job security (assuming the company is stable), but the low attrition rate means you can be stuck in the same position for a decade or longer. You can only really advance when those above you leave. If I'm going to risk being stuck at a position/salary level for a long time, then I'd rather go in as a more advanced associate and start out at a better-paying position that's higher up the ladder. As far as morale goes, I recommend maintaining emotional distance between you and your co-workers/bosses so that you're not so affected by who stays or goes.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:46 pm

What are your thoughts on doing something that's typically considered more general corporate, such as M&A, versus doing something that's more specialized, like bankruptcy? Do you think people are hurting their exit options by choosing the latter?

wildhaggis
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby wildhaggis » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:V10 anon here.
wildhaggis wrote:
Coco_Local wrote:
Extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics are the two traits that I have noticed all the partners and senior associates on the rise have in common. Developing those traits are how you'll survive or at least leave on your own terms.


So fucking true. I left biglaw as a midlevel (for the government) and found this point to be the most true. It's not smarts, legal writing skills or actual ability to lawyer that makes a career in biglaw. It's luck and the above. People need to get over the whole big law is the best of the best because quite honestly many, many talented people (I am thinking litigators as I am one) are run off or run for the hills for better opportunities like working as an AUSA.

Could you guys elaborate a bit more on what you mean by extreme shrewdness and a deep sensitivity to power dynamics? I know both concepts are fairly straightforward, but I was wondering if you could put them in a bit more context or even provide some examples to illustrate what you mean. Thanks for all the advice you've provided.
I'll give you an example. Shrewd associates figure out early who the powerful people are and work hard for only those people. So, while other associates are killing themselves for bad people who only give bad work, smart associates never work hard for:

1) People with no credibility. Some partners/senior associates have no credibility at all and are just there because their number hasn't come up yet (partners do get pushed out). They can't help you up the ladder because their position on the ladder is shaky at best. They can only hurt your brand because if you become known as xyz idiot's go-to associate, then you are an idiot by association.

2) People who mentally ill or capricious. All your hard work won't save you on the day their bagel is too dry or their coffee too milky and they look at you and decide it's your fault. All of their go-to associates get pushed out sooner or later for incredibly trivial reasons no matter how hardworking and smart they are. Identifying who the nuts are is probably your #1 task as an associate.

3) Idiot work. You need to be learning something that is not only new, but also can be transferred to a new deal/matter/firm. If the work you are doing does not fall into both categories, then you need to get off the case even if you are getting great reviews and being told you're the next big thing. You can be pushed out of big law at any time on short notice and you need to have more on your resume than "can review the heck out of some mindless documents." The more substantive work you have on your resume, the more easily you can lateral, the less afraid you are, the more bold you are in steering your career.

How do you figure out which people/work fall into these categories? I gave pointers earlier in this thread. If you avoid killing yourself for stupid/crazy people on stupid deals, then other associates who bill more than you, know more than you, care more than you do, but work for the wrong people will get pushed out long before you do. This is probably more than half the battle in big law.

Thanks for the clarification - the above is great.

Anonymous User
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:20 pm

V10 anon.
Anonymous User wrote:What are your thoughts on doing something that's typically considered more general corporate, such as M&A, versus doing something that's more specialized, like bankruptcy? Do you think people are hurting their exit options by choosing the latter?
As a general rule, if you're early in your career (and as an associate, you are) and your sole consideration is exit options, then you should go with generalist over specialist. There are some nuances though. For instance, a lot depends on the economy. In 2009, bankruptcy lawyers were much more in demand than M&A lawyers because there were so few M&A deals being done while every other company was going belly up. In a good, booming economy (which this is not), M&A is more in demand. A lot also depends on where you want to go. If you want to exit to another big law firm, either bankruptcy or M&A is fine because big law firms have both. If you want to go in-house, M&A is better because more in-house positions are seeking M&A associates than seeking bankruptcy associates.

Watermelon Man
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Watermelon Man » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:46 pm

this thread scares the shit out of me

anon168
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby anon168 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:41 pm

Watermelon Man wrote:this thread scares the shit out of me


Why?

Watermelon Man
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Watermelon Man » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:05 pm

because you guys + the blog article from the former S&C guy make it seem so easy to get fired in big law. it's just a shitty feeling with 200 g's of debt.

anon168
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby anon168 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:10 pm

Watermelon Man wrote:because you guys + the blog article from the former S&C guy make it seem so easy to get fired in big law. it's just a shitty feeling with 200 g's of debt.


Get a grip, dude.

It's called life. I would get used to it. Sooner rather than later.

If you decide to work in BigLaw (and it's your choice, remember that), just have the mentality that if a partner says, "Give me a blowjob" the only thing you should ask is, "Do you want me to swallow in one gulp, or two gulps."

Y'know, I think Sun Tzu's "Art of War" should be required reading for all 3Ls.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:15 pm

Likely that partners you interviewed with during a callback fall into the category of people you would want to work for? Obviously not a shrewd analysis but there was a partner I really got on with during my CB whose group I find really interesting.

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feralinfant
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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby feralinfant » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:19 pm

Watermelon Man wrote:because you guys + the blog article from the former S&C guy make it seem so easy to get fired in big law. it's just a shitty feeling with 200 g's of debt.


to be fair this seems like a pretty good reason to be fearful. I'm looking at sticker and it's frightening to think that even if you land big law its still far from sure that you'll manage to use it to put a dent in the debt.

To the OP- Hours and lifestyle issues aside what do you think of the work you're doing this far into your career? Interesting/challenging?




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