Theopliske8711 wrote:This all sounds painfully, deplorably, intolerably, and immeasurably awful. The thing is, I don't know of any job that doesn't work you to this extent if you really want to make big bucks. Even the accountants I know at Big 4 firms say the hours are brutal, and come tax season, your life is gone. Wall St, same way. I feel like our economy is geared toward sadists.
1. There is a difference between working hard and being worked hard. If you're OK with working hard, but don't like being worked, go solo. You'll work long hours, but it'll be on your terms, you'll have tons of responsibility, and, if you're really, really good at it, you'll make more money than you were ever going to make in big law.
2. The hard work that big law requires isn't the problem. It's the inflexibility, the tediousness of the work, the lack of acknowledgment and appreciation for what you do, being so far removed from the top of the case, etc. If you want to be closer to the top of a case with more responsibility and more acknowledgement and appreciation, go to a boutique. If you want flexibility, go to a firm that doesn't use the billable hour (e.g. plaintiffs firms doing contingency). You can make bigger bucks at either type of place (particularly when you factor in the increased likelihood of making partner at some of these types) than you would in big law.
3. There is a difference between big law big bucks and actual big bucks. $160,000 is a lot of money, but you're not rich. And there's a good chance you'll be making less than $160,000 in 5 years when you burn out and lateral to mid law so you don't hate your life anymore. Even at $160,000, your hourly rate isn't that great. However, if you want the millions that partners or p-side attorneys make, there are generally other ways. For example, DA --> AUSA (ignoring the current hiring freeze) --> Big law partnership. Or go plaintiffs side, learn the ropes earning their $40k but getting a ton of experience, then strike out on your own with a bunch of contacts and knowledge. So on and so forth.
The $160,000 is a lot of money, particularly to someone in debt and fresh out of school. But it's meant to blind you to the realities of what you're doing just long enough for the firm to handcuff you to your BMW payments and your mortgage on your McMansion, destroy your soul, and kick you to the curb a shell of what you were.
Nothing else will pay you $160k up front. But the earning potential 10 years out for the typical big lawyer vs the earning potential for those who choose other paths probably isn't as great as you'd think.