Desert Fox wrote:Can someone from a non-v10 non-nyc explain how brutal your life is?
I'm at a V20-100 in DC (lit). Although I don't think I work as hard as my friends at New York firms, my job does have its brutal moments. Today, for instance, I billed 10 hours, and I will probably bill 10 more tomorrow. 36 hours ago I didn't anticipate doing any weekend work, but a deadline was moved forward for reasons unknown to me, so here I am.
Overall I have no regrets. I'd obviously prefer to have more free time, but the salary provides a nice lifestyle. I pay my rent, make payments on my loans (well above the minimum), spend whatever I feel like on clothes, food, alcohol, and entertainment (without keeping a budget), and my savings still rise by a large amount every two weeks. Soon I'll be debt free, have a nice pile of money saved up, and will have good experience should I want to lateral somewhere else (which will be useful, since right now I have no clue what I want to do long term). Below are just a few things to consider:
- Firms: Although there's no such thing as a "lifestyle firm" within the V100, some firms are less brutal than others. Some partners are pleasant people who will do their best to avoid giving you weekend work (but sometimes it's unavoidable); others have absolutely no concern for your well-being and will routinely give you urgent assignments on evenings and weekends, even though they could have easily assigned the work the previous week when it was far less urgent. I'd recommend finding a firm (and practice group) where most partners fall into the former category. When you're considering a firm, read all you can about it on Chambers, Vault (including every survey response), and Above the Law, search its name on TLS and AutoAdmit (one of the few times I'd advise going to that site), reach out to attorneys there (especially after you have an offer), and speak to former summers at your school.
- Families/Relationships: If your significant other isn't comfortable with you being away many nights and weekends, and frequently having to cancel plans, I can't imagine things will end well. And I still have no idea how associates with kids manage. One of the associates who started with me wasn't even able to continue taking care of her dog. If you have a family, look for firms where most partners and many associates have families. In my practice group, for instance, most of the partners have kids, which means they leave the office at 5:30 or 6 unless something is truly urgent. This enables the associates to leave then as well. Even if they still have work, they can at least do it from home.
- Debt: If you lack a scholarship, savings, wealthy parents, or some combination thereof, think carefully before going to law school, or at the very least, consider taking a scholarship from a lower-ranked school. If you graduate with $200k in debt, you'll be paying about $15k in interest per year. Big law can be an absolutely terrible experience for some people, and if you have never worked in a similarly demanding job before, you probably can't predict whether you'll be able to stand it for six months or six years. Law school can
be a great investment--even assuming you borrow to the max to pay for it--but not if it is followed by several years of misery. Of the associates I know who graduated with at least $150k in debt, the ones who are older and worked for several years before attending law school are generally happier; the ones who attended straight out of undergrad are often depressed (although many are doing fine).