V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:55 am

Following up on your post regarding health - how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle? I have avoided most of the pitfalls of biglaw, but sleep deprivation due to an overload of work has been unavoidable for me. The only way I see around it is to not have a personal life - any tips are very much appreciated.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Following up on your post regarding health - how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle? I have avoided most of the pitfalls of biglaw, but sleep deprivation due to an overload of work has been unavoidable for me. The only way I see around it is to not have a personal life - any tips are very much appreciated.

Similarly, how common are in-office cat naps? I really don't function well with less than 5 hours of sleep, but a nap will usually keep me sharp. Sounds like it must be pretty well-accepted if you've got a blanket and pillow ready to use.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:38 am

You mention that most emotionally healthy people leave relatively quickly - what do they typically go on to do?

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby mr_toad » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:08 am

Thanks for all the helpful tips and answers!

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:01 am

westphillybandr wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Torney12/V10 anon here

Clicked Anon by accident.


Anonymous User wrote:How's your health and that of fellow associates? Partners at my firm seem to be relatively unhealthy...cancer seems fairly prevalent.

Is adderall/ritalin usage rampant for those late nights? I've had a prescription for many years and have been needing to rely on it pretty regularly for those super late nights. Before starting work, I had significantly cut down my use of it because I don't like how it makes me feel. I'm not a fan of using it again... I feel like it can't be good for me. I'm curious whether this is pretty typical or whether other associates are just tough as nails and can swing 4 hours of sleep on a regular basis at times without performance enhancers.
My health is excellent. I arrived in big law fully intending to survive this place intact and so far, I have. I do not smoke, do not use any drugs (prescription or otherwise), rarely drink alcohol, and almost never drink coffee. I have never in my life used adderall, ritalin, or any other "performance-enhancer." When I cannot sleep more than five hours in a night, I try to take cat naps throughout the day (I keep a pillow and blanket in my office.). My sole vice is food. I eat far too many sweets and have been known to comfort myself with a muffin upon receiving a distressing call from a partner or client, lol. My cholesterol/BP/triglycerides are either normal or excellent, however, and I am not medically or visually overweight.

Most of my colleagues, especially those who last more than three years (most emotionally healthy people leave quickly, honestly), do not live the way I do. Sleep deprivation is a problem, but I wouldn't say it is their biggest problem. Poorly managed stress is what will ruin your life if you let it. Take the usual overachiever's type A personality and multiply it by a constant fear of being sabotaged, scapegoated, lied on, railroaded, and fired. These people - including partners...especially partners - are constantly on high alert as if they are locked up in San Quentin and waiting to be shivved by a prisoner or executed. That sort of perpetual watchfulness and (sadly, justified) paranoia takes its toll very quickly. My colleagues not only eat too much, but also smoke, drink too much alcohol, drink too much coffee, and do legal and illegal substances. Many, if not most, of them are propped up by ill-advised mixes of anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, sleeping pills, and stimulants. Many of them are overweight and I have long noticed that within a year of arriving at the firm, most associates gain 15-20 pounds. On top of all of this, many, if not most, of my colleagues make bad choices in who they date and marry. They choose significant others for their looks, wealth, connections and other reasons related to keeping up with the Joneses. As a result, they have no meaningful emotional support and no one to talk them down from the ledge when they are doing terrible things to themselves out of self-loathing, depression, and stress.

Big law is a mess and if it was my job to help the sorry people here, I wouldn't know where to start. The money and annual 10-15% pay increases are great, however, especially considering that ours may be a dying or at least rapidly declining profession.

What is your view as to why and how law is a declining profession?
I misspoke. I should say that big law is a declining area of the industry. People tell me that other parts of the industry are declining too, but I can't speak to that firsthand. In big law though, the partnership track, fee structure, client relationships, job security, associate development, exit options, and basically every other aspect of have all changed for the worse from the perspective of associates and partners. Since this downward decline predated the financial crisis (though it was exacerbated by the crisis) and has to do with more than just finances, I don't think that a better economy will change it much. I feel sorry for myself when I look at the tattered state of big law life, but I feel even sorrier for associates junior to me and the poor suckers in law school now. What previous generations were promised - partnership or at least associate development - is effectively foreclosed to us.

To take one example, look at the state of partnership. The merits of partnership are increasingly dubious nowadays and I shudder at the position that my friends who are junior partners at my firm and peer firms are in. Making partner is nearly impossible and requires tremendous personal and professional sacrifices. Presumably, these sacrifices are worth it for those who can "hack it", but in reality, when one has fought one's way to the top of the heap, bloodied with fangs bared and ready to claim one's prize, one is rewarded with a partnership greatly changed from what it used to be. Long gone are the days when making partner meant you were set for life and on the same side as other partners. Nowadays, it is not unheard of for partners to be fired or to have their share of profits reduced until they are making barely more than senior associates and counsel. Associates and law students often forget that per partner profits measure how much each partner would make if the profits were spread evenly. Profits are not spread evenly, however, and it is not at all unusual for the most powerful partners to be making seven to ten times what the less powerful partners are and to be trying to gobble up ever more of junior partners' profits. Mentorship of junior partners used to be the norm - because people aren't born knowing how to generate clients - but nowadays, even well-intentioned senior partners are often too busy trying to keep their own footing steady in the face of clients who try every trick to avoid paying their bills. Junior partners are on their own and usually end up being glorified senior associates - doing all the grunt work and actual lawyering for senior partners' clients, but receiving comparatively meager pay. Even if junior partners were inclined to fight back (and they'd better not), most partners can't control how much of the profits they receive because the norm at big law firms is for a small group of the most powerful partners to determine in private what everyone else is paid.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Torney12/V10 anon here

Clicked Anon by accident.


Anonymous User wrote:How's your health and that of fellow associates? Partners at my firm seem to be relatively unhealthy...cancer seems fairly prevalent.

Is adderall/ritalin usage rampant for those late nights? I've had a prescription for many years and have been needing to rely on it pretty regularly for those super late nights. Before starting work, I had significantly cut down my use of it because I don't like how it makes me feel. I'm not a fan of using it again... I feel like it can't be good for me. I'm curious whether this is pretty typical or whether other associates are just tough as nails and can swing 4 hours of sleep on a regular basis at times without performance enhancers.
My health is excellent. I arrived in big law fully intending to survive this place intact and so far, I have. I do not smoke, do not use any drugs (prescription or otherwise), rarely drink alcohol, and almost never drink coffee. I have never in my life used adderall, ritalin, or any other "performance-enhancer." When I cannot sleep more than five hours in a night, I try to take cat naps throughout the day (I keep a pillow and blanket in my office.). My sole vice is food. I eat far too many sweets and have been known to comfort myself with a muffin upon receiving a distressing call from a partner or client, lol. My cholesterol/BP/triglycerides are either normal or excellent, however, and I am not medically or visually overweight.

Most of my colleagues, especially those who last more than three years (most emotionally healthy people leave quickly, honestly), do not live the way I do. Sleep deprivation is a problem, but I wouldn't say it is their biggest problem. Poorly managed stress is what will ruin your life if you let it. Take the usual overachiever's type A personality and multiply it by a constant fear of being sabotaged, scapegoated, lied on, railroaded, and fired. These people - including partners...especially partners - are constantly on high alert as if they are locked up in San Quentin and waiting to be shivved by a prisoner or executed. That sort of perpetual watchfulness and (sadly, justified) paranoia takes its toll very quickly. My colleagues not only eat too much, but also smoke, drink too much alcohol, drink too much coffee, and do legal and illegal substances. Many, if not most, of them are propped up by ill-advised mixes of anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, sleeping pills, and stimulants. Many of them are overweight and I have long noticed that within a year of arriving at the firm, most associates gain 15-20 pounds. On top of all of this, many, if not most, of my colleagues make bad choices in who they date and marry. They choose significant others for their looks, wealth, connections and other reasons related to keeping up with the Joneses. As a result, they have no meaningful emotional support and no one to talk them down from the ledge when they are doing terrible things to themselves out of self-loathing, depression, and stress.

Big law is a mess and if it was my job to help the sorry people here, I wouldn't know where to start. The money and annual 10-15% pay increases are great, however, especially considering that ours may be a dying or at least rapidly declining profession.


Thanks for this. It might be the most insightful comment in the thread.

Do you feel pressured to keep up with the Joneses? Would it be a bad career move to not care about NYC wealth, prestigious schools for your kids, nice cars, etc. just in terms of personal branding and signalling?
You can't walk around looking like you shop at discount stores and haven't updated your closet in years. That is a fact. Your personal brand will often take a hit if you don't look the part because people judge your competence as much by your clothes and grooming as by your actual work (Consider, however, that slovenly, rumpled elite attorneys like the late Arthur Liman abound...but you'd better be genius level to get away with that). If you're well dressed, well spoken, and cultured, however, your brand is not going to suffer merely because you didn't buy an apartment in the best part of town, get your wife a multicarat diamond necklace for Christmas, or send your kids to the ultraelite private kindergarten with the years-long wait list. I feel pressure to keep up with the Joneses but I don't bend to that pressure because I know where it leads. I have many colleagues who are struggling financially. They have hefty student loans, hefty mortgages, hefty tuitions for their kids, and hefty car loans, not to mention what they spend on clothes, food, entertainment, silly wives who think money grows on trees, and all the accoutrements of being "successful." As broke law students dreaming of big law riches, they would have never imagined that they would still be teetering on the edge financially while making over 300k, yet here they are. I can't say categorically that their lifestyles are wrong because it's really a matter of taste and preference, but I can say that their lifestyles are stressful, unhealthy, and panicked. The way these people wait on edge to find out what bonuses will be stresses me out sometimes. I'm in big law because I want the money, but I could afford not to work for 3, 4, maybe even 5 years at this point without changing my lifestyle. Knowing that my entire lifestyle is not at the mercy of any partner ensures my stress levels never rise too high and enables me to say no when I have to and take risks when I want to because even if they push me out, I can look for another job at leisure.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:Given the environment you described, would you recommend someone follow your path or accept a job at a firm in a secondary market where the hours seem much more palatable, the work seems not to suffer in terms of sophistication, and there is very little, if any, anticipated attrition? The advantages to your path appear to be market, exit strategies and whatever the delta is between salary and cost of living in your market and in that in a secondary market.

Am I looking at it wrong?
I would have to know more details about the person. For deeply ambitious students who come from middle to lower income backgrounds with no connections and little parental help, are in massive law school/undergrad debt, and aim to be one of the big fish one day, big law represents the opportunity not only to pay off that debt but also make useful connections and build the sort of career that used to be available only to scions of wealthy families. Unfortunately, especially for students who don't have the sort of safety net that wealth and connections afford, big law also represents the opportunity to destroy your mental state, alienate yourself from your values and family, get beaten down by just how entrenched and near insurmountable class differences are in America, and end up demoralized and broken before you've even finished the first decade of your career. Whether big law is for you depends on your ambition, emotional stability, social support, career goals, financial standing, and social standing. Of course, if you are deeply in debt and the secondary market isn't offering enough to get you out of debt any time, then I'd advise you to come on over to big law before you end up defaulting on those loans and really find out just how ugly life can get.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Following up on your post regarding health - how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle? I have avoided most of the pitfalls of biglaw, but sleep deprivation due to an overload of work has been unavoidable for me. The only way I see around it is to not have a personal life - any tips are very much appreciated.
I actually suggest the opposite: maintain a personal life. I maintain a healthy lifestyle first and foremost by keeping healthy friends and loved ones around me. No matter how mentally strong you are, your values and sense of what is normal will shift over time to match those of the people who surround you. If you do not have warm, loving, healthy people in your life to counter the mercenary, type A people in big law, you will wake up one day and be that burned out, drug-addled, overeating, hateful trainwreck you once shuddered at. Now, you might not see the people you love very often, but between e-mails, texts, quick coffees/drinks/lunches, holiday dinners, and lots of hanging out packed into the occasional short lulls in work, you can maintain strong connections. Sometimes, just knowing that so and so will nag the hell out of me if I've still not gone to the dentist next time we hang out, or I'll owe such and such $100 and bragging rights if I don't get to the gym at least twice this week, encourages me to take care of myself. Some people smoke or pop a xanax when stressed out, but I call up a good friend to rage against the world for 5 minutes, then I breathe and I can keep going for the rest of the day.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Following up on your post regarding health - how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle? I have avoided most of the pitfalls of biglaw, but sleep deprivation due to an overload of work has been unavoidable for me. The only way I see around it is to not have a personal life - any tips are very much appreciated.

Similarly, how common are in-office cat naps? I really don't function well with less than 5 hours of sleep, but a nap will usually keep me sharp. Sounds like it must be pretty well-accepted if you've got a blanket and pillow ready to use.

I don't know how well accepted cat naps are because I certainly don't publicize that I take naps and I keep my blanket and pillow out of sight in a drawer. If others aren't taking cat naps though, then that's on them for being stupid. As soon as you get your own office, I would advise you to bring a duffel bag containing a blanket, pillow, sleep mask, advil (monster headaches when not sleeping enough), hanger (for your suit jacket, if you're wearing one), and lint remover (in case your clothes pick up lint from the blanket). Close the door every 5 hours or so and enjoy 15-30 minutes of heaven under your desk or on top of your desk, if your desk is long enough.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:21 pm

Several people have said that "grades matter" in terms of lateral/etc. opportunities. I am a 3L at a T14 with a V100 firm offer for after graduation, but my grades are overall pretty mediocre (around median if not a little below). If I'm doing litigation, am I totally going to be screwed by my grades if I try to move firms/jobs in the future? My firm didn't ask for grades when giving offers and I certainly didn't "mail in" 2L/3L year, but other attorneys here have said something to that effect and it worries me.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby desertlaw » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:39 pm

The idea of getting paid $160k/year and laying on top of your desk for a "cat-nap" is just wonderful.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:Several people have said that "grades matter" in terms of lateral/etc. opportunities. I am a 3L at a T14 with a V100 firm offer for after graduation, but my grades are overall pretty mediocre (around median if not a little below). If I'm doing litigation, am I totally going to be screwed by my grades if I try to move firms/jobs in the future? My firm didn't ask for grades when giving offers and I certainly didn't "mail in" 2L/3L year, but other attorneys here have said something to that effect and it worries me.
Grades definitely matter in terms of lateral opportunities. If you have heard something different, let me assure you that information was wrong. How could grades not matter? The hiring process from an employer's perspective requires whittling candidates down by their credentials until the employer is left with the best candidate. Everything that can be considered a credential is relevant and important: school, journal, grades, course work (substantive classes versus nonsensical seminars), clerkship (since you will be a litigator), quality of work experience, and firm. Grades and school are especially important because, presumably, you and law students in your class year competed on an even playing field and the best people got into the best schools and then got the best grades. Therefore, grades and school are perceived as "objective" measures of your intelligence and work ethic.

Grades and school are even more important for students graduating post-2008 because faced with huge numbers of desperate, talented people during the recession, firms were able to make their grade requirements even more stringent. For instance, firms that I know for a fact used to eagerly hire people with ~3.2 GPAs from lower T14s now won't look at anyone with less than a 3.6 from at least a top 7 school. Unless a miracle happens in the next few years and legal jobs suddenly start materializing from thin air in numbers large enough to radically increase the demand for associates and laterals, law firms are not going to go back to the less strict grade cut-offs of the pre-2008 era. Your poor grades will definitely hurt your lateral opportunities unless you can make up for them with another credential.

At this point, the only credential you can control is the quality of your work experience (unless you can network/nepotism your way into a clerkship despite your grades). I would advise you to aim to stay at your firm for 4 to 5 years. The longer you stay at your current firm, the more time you have to gain valuable work experience before going on the hiring market. The more valuable work experience you have, the less your grades will matter, especially since you come from a top law school. If you get unusually valuable work experience - lots of depositions taken and second-chairing a trial or two - then you might even have better luck as a lateral than those with top grades who are doc review specialists. It should go without saying that the law of diminishing returns applies here. As a midlevel with excellent experience, you are at your peak attractiveness as a lateral. As an 8th year, you are less attractive. So, aim to stay longer than your peers with better grades, but don't stay too long unless you're on partner track.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:28 am

Thank you for the above response. I was afraid of that. I will try to get as much substantive work at my firm as possible since I do not have the credentials to clerk. (Though FWIW, I've taken very very few BS seminars, which also partly explains my GPA). My firm is not particularly grade selective and people seem to do okay on the lateral market but I definitely understand that it's a numbers game and that people want experience and not doc-review monkeys and if you don't have the former, they're going to judge you on your grades.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thank you for the above response. I was afraid of that. I will try to get as much substantive work at my firm as possible since I do not have the credentials to clerk. (Though FWIW, I've taken very very few BS seminars, which also partly explains my GPA). My firm is not particularly grade selective and people seem to do okay on the lateral market but I definitely understand that it's a numbers game and that people want experience and not doc-review monkeys and if you don't have the former, they're going to judge you on your grades.
Better to be honest with yourself about where you stand and what you have to do than to go into denial. I should have also added that a lot depends on where you want to lateral to, but across the board, grade requirements have tightened simply because it is (and likely will be for a long time) an employer's market.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:56 am

Out of curiosity, what advice would you give to someone trying to break back in to biglaw after practicing with the government? Assume a decade out of law school, decent resume -- good grades from a T6, federal clerkship, good stint at the headquarters of a non-NYC V20, lots of substantive experience with the government (multiple lead or co-lead counsel reps, a dozen or so published decisions).

(The long story short is that we had an unexpected kid a couple of years back and have been forced to subsidize the government salary with savings -- but that's not going to be there forever.)

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:25 pm

Torney12 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thank you for the above response. I was afraid of that. I will try to get as much substantive work at my firm as possible since I do not have the credentials to clerk. (Though FWIW, I've taken very very few BS seminars, which also partly explains my GPA). My firm is not particularly grade selective and people seem to do okay on the lateral market but I definitely understand that it's a numbers game and that people want experience and not doc-review monkeys and if you don't have the former, they're going to judge you on your grades.
Better to be honest with yourself about where you stand and what you have to do than to go into denial. I should have also added that a lot depends on where you want to lateral to, but across the board, grade requirements have tightened simply because it is (and likely will be for a long time) an employer's market.


Thanks again :). Although if you can elaborate a little on this it would be helpful (do you mean type of job? Or market? If market, I'm starting in NYC).

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:57 pm

Torney12 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Several people have said that "grades matter" in terms of lateral/etc. opportunities. I am a 3L at a T14 with a V100 firm offer for after graduation, but my grades are overall pretty mediocre (around median if not a little below). If I'm doing litigation, am I totally going to be screwed by my grades if I try to move firms/jobs in the future? My firm didn't ask for grades when giving offers and I certainly didn't "mail in" 2L/3L year, but other attorneys here have said something to that effect and it worries me.
Grades definitely matter in terms of lateral opportunities. If you have heard something different, let me assure you that information was wrong. How could grades not matter? The hiring process from an employer's perspective requires whittling candidates down by their credentials until the employer is left with the best candidate. Everything that can be considered a credential is relevant and important: school, journal, grades, course work (substantive classes versus nonsensical seminars), clerkship (since you will be a litigator), quality of work experience, and firm. Grades and school are especially important because, presumably, you and law students in your class year competed on an even playing field and the best people got into the best schools and then got the best grades. Therefore, grades and school are perceived as "objective" measures of your intelligence and work ethic.

Grades and school are even more important for students graduating post-2008 because faced with huge numbers of desperate, talented people during the recession, firms were able to make their grade requirements even more stringent. For instance, firms that I know for a fact used to eagerly hire people with ~3.2 GPAs from lower T14s now won't look at anyone with less than a 3.6 from at least a top 7 school. Unless a miracle happens in the next few years and legal jobs suddenly start materializing from thin air in numbers large enough to radically increase the demand for associates and laterals, law firms are not going to go back to the less strict grade cut-offs of the pre-2008 era. Your poor grades will definitely hurt your lateral opportunities unless you can make up for them with another credential.

At this point, the only credential you can control is the quality of your work experience (unless you can network/nepotism your way into a clerkship despite your grades). I would advise you to aim to stay at your firm for 4 to 5 years. The longer you stay at your current firm, the more time you have to gain valuable work experience before going on the hiring market. The more valuable work experience you have, the less your grades will matter, especially since you come from a top law school. If you get unusually valuable work experience - lots of depositions taken and second-chairing a trial or two - then you might even have better luck as a lateral than those with top grades who are doc review specialists. It should go without saying that the law of diminishing returns applies here. As a midlevel with excellent experience, you are at your peak attractiveness as a lateral. As an 8th year, you are less attractive. So, aim to stay longer than your peers with better grades, but don't stay too long unless you're on partner track.


Question I asked before:

Anonymous User wrote:Asked this question in another thread, but I wanted various perspectives:

I'm a current 3L. I have a job lined up. Many of my classes this semester are pass/no pass. In fact, I only have one regular graded class. Will this look bad? Will it limit my lateral opportunities? I have a pretty good GPA overall (at least top 25%), but I don't want this to hold me back.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Asked this question in another thread, but I wanted various perspectives:

I'm a current 3L. I have a job lined up. Many of my classes this semester are pass/no pass. In fact, I only have one regular graded class. Will this look bad? Will it limit my lateral opportunities? I have a pretty good GPA overall (at least top 25%), but I don't want this to hold me back.

If you've been acing really tough, substantive courses throughout law school and are just taking a break for one semester to work on your law review note while keeping vigil over a sick relative, then your semester doesn't look as bad. Unless you have compelling reasons for phoning it in this semester (which is what you are doing), however, your pass/fail classes will make you look like you were so lazy that even the easy "law & [insert something stupid]" courses that other 3Ls take were beyond you. You never want to distinguish yourself as being especially lazy, so this is not good. I can't say this, in itself, will limit your lateral opportunities because I don't know what the rest of your resume looks like or what you'll have done by the time you want to lateral. This semester certainly won't help your chances though.

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Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Out of curiosity, what advice would you give to someone trying to break back in to biglaw after practicing with the government? Assume a decade out of law school, decent resume -- good grades from a T6, federal clerkship, good stint at the headquarters of a non-NYC V20, lots of substantive experience with the government (multiple lead or co-lead counsel reps, a dozen or so published decisions).

(The long story short is that we had an unexpected kid a couple of years back and have been forced to subsidize the government salary with savings -- but that's not going to be there forever.)
What do you mean by "government"? As you probably know, state and city government experience are treated very differently than federal government experience, unless you're doing something particularly respected like working as an ADA in Manhattan.

You can always just send firms your resume and hope for the best, but to maximize your chances of re-entering big law, you need a rabbi (a well-connected person with credibility who is willing to advance your cause). I assume you don't already have one because if you did, you'd be going to him/her. At your level, lateral hiring is rare and hires are scrutinized very closely. If hired, you would be coming in at a very high salary and entrusted with a very high level of responsibility. A firm would have to trust that you are already almost the equivalent of a brilliant junior partner and that kind of trust is best instilled by a respected voice speaking up for you. Otherwise, regardless of your credentials, you risk being easily dismissed as too old, or too government, or too lacking in the client-oriented skills that big law would have developed in you (firms are vain about the often nonexistent training they're supposedly providing associates at every step in the 8 or 9 year partnership track). You are an unknown quantity compared to associates who have been climbing the ladder since they were summers and that alone can lead firms to assume you are inferior. If you have any contacts left in big law, now's the time to call them (preferably senior or junior partners, but maybe even just people from your class year who are now well-connected senior associates/counsels). You should also look around you and figure out who at your current government job might know people and be able/willing to put you in touch with contacts. If you are not already active in your local bar association, then you should definitely make that a priority. Basically, network.
Last edited by Torney12 on Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:02 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Bobnoxious
Posts: 157
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:47 pm

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Bobnoxious » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:56 pm

I've asked this before, but I'd love to get your thoughts.

I'll be 51 when I graduate. I've spent the last 20+ years in my family's small contracting business, and exit strategies have been worked out and I'm not really included in the plans, so it's time for me to do what I've been putting off for decades. Have you ever interviewed someone coming out of law school who is in their 50s? What advice would you give someone in my position?

Regarding why I'm even looking at law school at this time in my life when I know what the market is like:
It will allow me to practice law, which is something I've wanted to do for over 20 years (small business litigation, insurance recovery, B2B collections, and more). To be honest, it's also more than just a bit of an ego/pride/promise thing. I promised my mom a long time ago that one of these days I'd be an attorney. She died of leukemia December 2009, and while I wish I'd have done this so she could have seen it while she was still alive, it's still a promise I intend to keep, consequences be damned. The timing could have been better and I didn't do this when it would have been ideal, but it darned sure won't get any better considering my age.

My end goal is to do primarily plaintiff-side civil litigation and insurance recovery. Ideally have my own shop doing support for real estate investment companies dealing with catastrophic property losses, public adjusters, and disaster restoration firms. As far as how specifically to get there goes, I only have the vaguest of notions other than the network of restoration contractors and property management companies I've been working with for the past 20+ years (no guarantees, though I'm sure I can count on some hefty collections work), which is why I'm here, there, and everywhere looking for input and ideas.

Thanks!!!
Last edited by Bobnoxious on Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273259
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:49 pm

Government lawyer wanting to lateral here. Thanks for the advice!

EDIT: Took out a few follow-up questions. Too identifying, and I probably already know the answers.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273259
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:11 am

All the stuff in this thread about how soul-sucking big law is is making me really nervous. I spent a summer in it and it wasn't too bad but I know the summer is nothing like the real thing.

I am a 3L who is supposed to start at a V5 next fall but I really wonder if I shouldn't be trying to get something else. I can tell that I will not do well in the kind of environment you are describing. I am sensitive and having real connections with people is very important to me. I don't like fakeness or shallowness. Do you think the value of getting a prestigious firm on your resume is worth all this misery? How long do I need to stay? I have a relatively strong resume now.

I have a very secure financial safety net which makes me think I should just abandon this whole law thing and become a therapist, the other career path I considered. It seems like with law the way it is now you never feel secure in your job, not even when you are a partner unless you happen to be the one with all the control. That was something I observed over the summer....a definite hierarchy of partners with control and power concentrated among very few of them.

Anyway I digress. There is a question in there somewhere....more like fear and concern, I guess. I find your suggestions of keeping close with family and friends and sticking to a healthy lifestyle (no way I am giving up coffee, though!) very helpful since I am sure I am too much of a wuss to renege on big law at this point so I might as well figure out how to survive it. It is sad that this is the "prize" for winning at law school.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273259
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:Torney12/V10 anon here

Clicked Anon by accident.


Anonymous User wrote:How's your health and that of fellow associates? Partners at my firm seem to be relatively unhealthy...cancer seems fairly prevalent.

Is adderall/ritalin usage rampant for those late nights? I've had a prescription for many years and have been needing to rely on it pretty regularly for those super late nights. Before starting work, I had significantly cut down my use of it because I don't like how it makes me feel. I'm not a fan of using it again... I feel like it can't be good for me. I'm curious whether this is pretty typical or whether other associates are just tough as nails and can swing 4 hours of sleep on a regular basis at times without performance enhancers.
My health is excellent. I arrived in big law fully intending to survive this place intact and so far, I have. I do not smoke, do not use any drugs (prescription or otherwise), rarely drink alcohol, and almost never drink coffee. I have never in my life used adderall, ritalin, or any other "performance-enhancer." When I cannot sleep more than five hours in a night, I try to take cat naps throughout the day (I keep a pillow and blanket in my office.). My sole vice is food. I eat far too many sweets and have been known to comfort myself with a muffin upon receiving a distressing call from a partner or client, lol. My cholesterol/BP/triglycerides are either normal or excellent, however, and I am not medically or visually overweight.

Most of my colleagues, especially those who last more than three years (most emotionally healthy people leave quickly, honestly), do not live the way I do. Sleep deprivation is a problem, but I wouldn't say it is their biggest problem. Poorly managed stress is what will ruin your life if you let it. Take the usual overachiever's type A personality and multiply it by a constant fear of being sabotaged, scapegoated, lied on, railroaded, and fired. These people - including partners...especially partners - are constantly on high alert as if they are locked up in San Quentin and waiting to be shivved by a prisoner or executed. That sort of perpetual watchfulness and (sadly, justified) paranoia takes its toll very quickly. My colleagues not only eat too much, but also smoke, drink too much alcohol, drink too much coffee, and do legal and illegal substances. Many, if not most, of them are propped up by ill-advised mixes of anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, sleeping pills, and stimulants. Many of them are overweight and I have long noticed that within a year of arriving at the firm, most associates gain 15-20 pounds. On top of all of this, many, if not most, of my colleagues make bad choices in who they date and marry. They choose significant others for their looks, wealth, connections and other reasons related to keeping up with the Joneses. As a result, they have no meaningful emotional support and no one to talk them down from the ledge when they are doing terrible things to themselves out of self-loathing, depression, and stress.

Big law is a mess and if it was my job to help the sorry people here, I wouldn't know where to start. The money and annual 10-15% pay increases are great, however, especially considering that ours may be a dying or at least rapidly declining profession.



What were the affirmative steps you took to make sure you stayed on top of things like you have?

EDIT:

Also, following up on the cat nap thing: Isn't that dangerous (if someone sees you sleeping and thinks you're lazy, or something)? Forgive my ignorance, obviously you've made it work, I'm just curious how

Torney12
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:14 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:17 pm

Bobnoxious wrote:I've asked this before, but I'd love to get your thoughts.

I'll be 51 when I graduate. I've spent the last 20+ years in my family's small contracting business, and exit strategies have been worked out and I'm not really included in the plans, so it's time for me to do what I've been putting off for decades. Have you ever interviewed someone coming out of law school who is in their 50s? What advice would you give someone in my position?

Regarding why I'm even looking at law school at this time in my life when I know what the market is like:
It will allow me to practice law, which is something I've wanted to do for over 20 years (small business litigation, insurance recovery, B2B collections, and more). To be honest, it's also more than just a bit of an ego/pride/promise thing. I promised my mom a long time ago that one of these days I'd be an attorney. She died of leukemia December 2009, and while I wish I'd have done this so she could have seen it while she was still alive, it's still a promise I intend to keep, consequences be damned. The timing could have been better and I didn't do this when it would have been ideal, but it darned sure won't get any better considering my age.

My end goal is to do primarily plaintiff-side civil litigation and insurance recovery. Ideally have my own shop doing support for real estate investment companies dealing with catastrophic property losses, public adjusters, and disaster restoration firms. As far as how specifically to get there goes, I only have the vaguest of notions other than the network of restoration contractors and property management companies I've been working with for the past 20+ years (no guarantees, though I'm sure I can count on some hefty collections work), which is why I'm here, there, and everywhere looking for input and ideas.

Thanks!!!
Major congrats on having the courage to pursue your goals and I really hope things work out well for you. Unfortunately, I'm not at all familiar with the issues that new graduates who have experience as extensive as yours face nor am I familiar with the areas of the legal industry you want to enter. I don't want to speculate and risk leading you astray.

Torney12
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:14 am

Re: V10 Midlevel Associate. Taking Questions.

Postby Torney12 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:All the stuff in this thread about how soul-sucking big law is is making me really nervous. I spent a summer in it and it wasn't too bad but I know the summer is nothing like the real thing.

I am a 3L who is supposed to start at a V5 next fall but I really wonder if I shouldn't be trying to get something else. I can tell that I will not do well in the kind of environment you are describing. I am sensitive and having real connections with people is very important to me. I don't like fakeness or shallowness. Do you think the value of getting a prestigious firm on your resume is worth all this misery? How long do I need to stay? I have a relatively strong resume now.

I have a very secure financial safety net which makes me think I should just abandon this whole law thing and become a therapist, the other career path I considered. It seems like with law the way it is now you never feel secure in your job, not even when you are a partner unless you happen to be the one with all the control. That was something I observed over the summer....a definite hierarchy of partners with control and power concentrated among very few of them.

Anyway I digress. There is a question in there somewhere....more like fear and concern, I guess. I find your suggestions of keeping close with family and friends and sticking to a healthy lifestyle (no way I am giving up coffee, though!) very helpful since I am sure I am too much of a wuss to renege on big law at this point so I might as well figure out how to survive it. It is sad that this is the "prize" for winning at law school.
Unlike most of your debt-ridden classmates, you are financially secure, so your decision was not forced by circumstance. At the same time, you undoubtedly heard about the sky-high attrition rates, mental and physical health issues, substance abuse, negative impact on relationships, persistent dissatisfaction, and other problems associated with big law before you chose to interview and accept an offer. Yours is a freely-made, fully-informed choice, so why the hand-wringing at this late date? Big law is what big law is and you can either deal with it or not.

Anyway, I can't possibly determine for you if it's all worth it for you and I don't know how long you need to stay because you have provided no details on your goals. I've provided extensive information in this thread on ways to survive big law, so I can only recommend you read the thread.




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