First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

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thesealocust
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby thesealocust » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:33 pm

sfhaze wrote:Seems nobody's really mentioned working from home via VPN, etc., as a solution to accommodate home life, especially on nights/weekends. Why is this?


Because deadlines are often tight, you're often working with a group such that your presence is necessary in the office as things go forward, and sometimes work needs to be done on a time frame such that you can't really just stop, go home, and finish it there.

Most people work remotely as much as possible, it's just hardly a silver bullet to the demands of the job. Totally firm/practice area dependent, as well as dependent on what matters you have going on.

Lastly, you can't work remotely from a bar, concert, etc. so even when you can manage your schedule that way it's still a big constraint on how you're spending your time.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:57 pm

As to working from home - I thought it'd be something that one could take advantage of and greatly reduce in-office time. However, there are some major considerations. In addition to the ones spelled out above, most of us will be working in NYC and as most of you know or will soon come to realize, real estate sucks. Most likely we will be living in a tiny apartment with minimal space - space that you don't/can't utilize for a formal desk. Granted some of you are probably great at working in any kind of space, I need a desk to sprawl out papers, etc. Additionally, depending on your firm, working from home can be a real drag. The software that my firm used was super slow and made for a pretty miserable experience. Granted, you don't have to necessarily remotely login to do work, but you would need it in order to access documents from worksite, run blacklines, etc. The last issue that comes to mind is resources. Going hand in hand with the lack of an actual desk/office at home, it is unlikely you'll have a printer/scanner (or at least one that works quickly) at your disposal. As someone who prefers to read physical copies of things, this is another constraint.

All in all, add these seemingly small difficulties to the fact that you may very well have to collaborate with coworkers in-person and that most of us, i presume, would be more efficient working in the office than at home where distractions abound, and you and I will most likely find ourselves trekking to the office more often than not.

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Objection
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Objection » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:56 pm

Work from home you get left behind, because no one will know who the hell you are.

Once again, if you want to maintain any sort of a healthy family life, kiss making partner good bye, and once you're doing that, there's no reason to put in the 80 hour weeks in the first place.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:
That being said, to bill 60 hours a week most likely you'll be working 80 hours, and even that's pretty efficient.


This isn't right. That's a 75% yield, which is pretty crappy. It's normally in the 85% range, at least in my experience. And when you get really, really busy, it usually goes up to 95%. Which makes sense if you think about it -- if you're going to be at work until 2:00 AM, it's not going to be because you're twiddling your thumbs or doing something similarly non-billable.


I agree - and it depends on your practice. For example I'm transactional and when I'm staffed on 4-5 ongoing deals it's literally 95% efficiency because I go from one task to another and am multitasking the entire day. I only take a break to grab food and use the bathroom. It's too bad you can't double bill since I'm usually on a conference call for one client while responding to emails from another.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:47 am

Objection wrote:Work from home you get left behind, because no one will know who the hell you are.

Once again, if you want to maintain any sort of a healthy family life, kiss making partner good bye, and once you're doing that, there's no reason to put in the 80 hour weeks in the first place.


Making partner is a crapshoot for everyone, not just people with family lives. I know a ton of single grinders at my firm who have been passed over for partner.

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slawww
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby slawww » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:06 am

Wow, so biglaw sounds absolutely awful.

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thesealocust
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby thesealocust » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:29 am

slawww wrote:Wow, so biglaw sounds absolutely awful.


Pays the rent. Pop out of law school with no skills, pop into a 6-figure job... you're primarily selling your pain tolerance.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby sfhaze » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:30 am

thesealocust wrote:Pays the rent. Pop out of law school with no skills, pop into a 6-figure job... you're primarily selling your pain tolerance.

I like the way you put that. 8)

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slawww
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby slawww » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:19 am

thesealocust wrote:
slawww wrote:Wow, so biglaw sounds absolutely awful.


Pays the rent. Pop out of law school with no skills, pop into a 6-figure job... you're primarily selling your pain tolerance.


Definitely true, but I feel like the money isn't worth it with that kind of quality of life, unless you have significant debt. Not hating, but after reading this I know biglaw is certainly not for me.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Georgia Avenue » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:26 am

slawww wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
slawww wrote:Wow, so biglaw sounds absolutely awful.


Pays the rent. Pop out of law school with no skills, pop into a 6-figure job... you're primarily selling your pain tolerance.


Definitely true, but I feel like the money isn't worth it with that kind of quality of life, unless you have significant debt. Not hating, but after reading this I know biglaw is certainly not for me.


which the vast majority of law school graduates have.

also, exit options.

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Objection
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Objection » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:13 am

slawww wrote:Wow, so biglaw sounds absolutely awful.


It is.

The money is not worth it.

And I probably have more loan debt than anyone in this thread.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby spondee » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:Yeah, I always assumed it would vary by what you get assigned to.

You say your group is small: is the lit group at your firm small or are you in a niche group? Did you just start working for those partners or was that where you were assigned?


It's a niche litigation group at one of the typical big NYC firms. General lit is much bigger. I chose this firm for its strengths in this area of law, did almost all my summer work for the niche group, and continue to work almost exclusively with them. I was "assigned" to the group, but I've done everything I could to be a part of it.

I picked firms based on practice area strengths and reputation for substantive experience, but I've also really lucked out in that it's a good group to work in. My personal experience is that big law is a great job - definitely not awful.

If you're a 2L (sounds like you already have a firm), maybe try to find out which practice areas at your firm are the best to work in. If you don't have strong preference for the type of law you want to practice, you are free to try for a good group. If you're a 3L, well... good luck and drink a lot now when you can.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Big Dog » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:28 am

Seems nobody's really mentioned working from home via VPN, etc., as a solution to accommodate home life, especially on nights/weekends. Why is this?


REALLY bad idea (for your professional growth). Look up the arguments (pro and) con under Yahoo, which Marrissa Mayer just dropped work from home. If you are the type who wants to work from home, Big Law is not for you.
Last edited by Big Dog on Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

Theopliske8711
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Theopliske8711 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:30 am

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.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Big Dog » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:34 am

if you really want to make big bucks. ...our economy is geared toward sadists.


Sure, why else would they pay you the big bucks?

Think about it critically. A T14 grad is just a liberal arts major with another degree and, for the most part, no additional, marketable skills than that s/he had previously.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby citylawyer1010 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:43 am

I was an English major. Took a year off in between college and law school and the most I could do was file clerking.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Objection » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:45 am

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.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby citylawyer1010 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:48 am

Grubbs haa
Last edited by citylawyer1010 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:41 pm

spondee wrote:If you're a 3L, well... good luck and drink a lot now when you can.


Yeah, 3L. Pretty sure I know what group I'm going to get unless my firm throws a curveball at me. I went the "try everything" route my 2L summer, but looking back I wish I had been a little more strategic and just tried to focus primarily on a couple things... but I think I'll be okay. Just trying to figure the best ways to approach things so I can be one of the people who doesn't hate my job and has a good plan B, C, D, etc. for the future. (I worked before law school and didn't hate that, so maybe there's hope).

Objection - sorry you hated BigLaw so much. Did you think you would before you started? How long did you last? And where did you end up going?

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Objection » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
spondee wrote:If you're a 3L, well... good luck and drink a lot now when you can.


Yeah, 3L. Pretty sure I know what group I'm going to get unless my firm throws a curveball at me. I went the "try everything" route my 2L summer, but looking back I wish I had been a little more strategic and just tried to focus primarily on a couple things... but I think I'll be okay. Just trying to figure the best ways to approach things so I can be one of the people who doesn't hate my job and has a good plan B, C, D, etc. for the future. (I worked before law school and didn't hate that, so maybe there's hope).

Objection - sorry you hated BigLaw so much. Did you think you would before you started? How long did you last? And where did you end up going?


I did not think I would like big law, so perhaps that colored my perspective from the start. I'm not comfortable answering the latter two questions publicly quite yet, but if you're really curious, you can PM me.

Suffice it to say that I lasted for a much shorter time than the four years I gave myself.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:34 pm

Thank you for this thread. It is awesome.

I'm also first year out of law school (clerking) and have been surprised at how easy it is to tolerate long-ish hours (8-6:30, basically), though I fear that it will be worse when I move on to a firm. 10 hours a day is cake, but more than that and I feel like the workday gets asymptotically more difficult to get through without being irritated.

To those in biglaw, what are some strategies for making sure you get enough gym time? I've gone from 6 workouts a week to 2-3 and it sucks.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby spondee » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:To those in biglaw, what are some strategies for making sure you get enough gym time? I've gone from 6 workouts a week to 2-3 and it sucks.


Yeah, I think the answer is to go in the morning. Sucks to have to get up early, but you get used to it. That's the time a day you're least likely to be getting many emails. I go 4-6x a week that way.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:58 pm

spondee wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:To those in biglaw, what are some strategies for making sure you get enough gym time? I've gone from 6 workouts a week to 2-3 and it sucks.


Yeah, I think the answer is to go in the morning. Sucks to have to get up early, but you get used to it. That's the time a day you're least likely to be getting many emails. I go 4-6x a week that way.

Yeah, that's been my approach when it works. Getting up early is rough, but I just don't have enough gas in the tank at the end of a workday.

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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby sfhaze » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:09 pm

Big Dog wrote:
Seems nobody's really mentioned working from home via VPN, etc., as a solution to accommodate home life, especially on nights/weekends. Why is this?

REALLY bad idea (for your professional growth). Look up the arguments (pro and) con under Yahoo, which Marrissa Mayer just dropped work from home. If you are the type who wants to work from home, Big Law is not for you.

I love what Marissa Mayer did at yahoo. But, as I understand it, that was an extreme situation as many there were abusing the system by never coming in, not doing their work, and becoming detached from the co. over time. Plus she knows her unique industry very well, what works and doesn't -- I found the 'debate' whether her decision was right or wrong absolutely moot. I was just asking about working from home to supplement presumably 8+ hr weekdays in a law office on nights & weekends. Still not a great solution in general, I gather.

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thesealocust
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby thesealocust » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:54 pm

I never understood people bitching about the $ vs. time in biglaw. You know there are people who work multiple nearly minimum wage jobs just to get by, right? And you know $160K pre-tax is smaller than the biggest fortunes, but puts you at like top 2% of wage earners in the country, right?

There are alternatives and I personally believe happiness is more important than anything else in this life, so follow your heart etc. - but the opportunity to earn big law bucks is a major one, even with brutal stress and hours.




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