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

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

Postby Lasers » Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:48 am

any input on how biglaw is in CA? i'm sure it depends on firms, but how comparable is it to NYC?

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

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:34 am

Lasers wrote:any input on how biglaw is in CA? i'm sure it depends on firms, but how comparable is it to NYC?

Hours wise SF, LA and SV are all almost as bad as if not as bad as NYC most places. Sacramento is much calmer but you take a pay cut.

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

Postby Old Gregg » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Lasers wrote:any input on how biglaw is in CA? i'm sure it depends on firms, but how comparable is it to NYC?

Hours wise SF, LA and SV are all almost as bad as if not as bad as NYC most places. Sacramento is much calmer but you take a pay cut.


Am willing to bet cold hard cash that that isn't true.

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

Postby Objection » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:50 am

People still focused only on hours. Good little ostriches.

I'll give an example from LA big law. A couple friends were asked to write an article for publication. They were told they'd get co-authorship credit with the partner. When they finished, the senior associate who had passed the assignment down to them said "thanks. Unfortunately, we were mistaken about you getting authorship credit. Only the partner and I will be listed. But thank you so much for your hard work."

This attitude and treatment is the norm.

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unc0mm0n1
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby unc0mm0n1 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:55 am

Objection wrote:People still focused only on hours. Good little ostriches.

I'll give an example from LA big law. A couple friends were asked to write an article for publication. They were told they'd get co-authorship credit with the partner. When they finished, the senior associate who had passed the assignment down to them said "thanks. Unfortunately, we were mistaken about you getting authorship credit. Only the partner and I will be listed. But thank you so much for your hard work."

This attitude and treatment is the norm.


That sucks, I'd probably had lost my job that day.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:59 am

I have also heard the top firms in LA, SF and SV are close to as bad hours-wise as NYC. Though, I have heard that there is a larger variance between firms in those cities than firm in NYC. My firm has offices in at least one of these cities and the associates have decent lives (comparatively, of course); however, I know people in these cities who keep brutal schedules. It's completely firm/department specific.

Above-poster makes a great point. The hours are no fun, but they do not totally crush your soul. Planning an important event outside of work and having to miss it will crush your spirit. Being expected to answer a steady flow of emails on a daily basis on your honeymoon (even on your wedding day), working for significant portions of any vacation, not making friends/family members birthday parties, workig during important holiday gatherings (not work), sleeping 8 hours total over 3 days... these experiences will crush your spirit. Not to mention the anxiety of knowing a big event is coming up and not knowing whether work will interfere (and constantly hedging plans with friends/family). A steady diet of 12-14 hour days M-F is not fun, but it's manageable.

Writing articles/chapters of books and getting no authorship credit is absolutely the norm.

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

Postby danitt » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:50 am

Objection wrote:People still focused only on hours. Good little ostriches.

I'll give an example from LA big law. A couple friends were asked to write an article for publication. They were told they'd get co-authorship credit with the partner. When they finished, the senior associate who had passed the assignment down to them said "thanks. Unfortunately, we were mistaken about you getting authorship credit. Only the partner and I will be listed. But thank you so much for your hard work."

This attitude and treatment is the norm.

I'm sure quite a few people have heard you (and others) both ITT and the other one and now have a more realistic picture of big law. Who knows, you may have even changed someone's mind about law school.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:40 am

People still focused only on hours. Good little ostriches.

I'll give an example from LA big law. A couple friends were asked to write an article for publication. They were told they'd get co-authorship credit with the partner. When they finished, the senior associate who had passed the assignment down to them said "thanks. Unfortunately, we were mistaken about you getting authorship credit. Only the partner and I will be listed. But thank you so much for your hard work."

This attitude and treatment is the norm.


TBF, it certainly isn't the norm that someone is told that they will get authorship credit and then the partner reneges. Too much of a risk that the associate will throw a stink, which is fatal for the associate's career but also a hassle for the partner. It IS the norm for associates to be told that they won't be given authorship credit from the get-go but will be acknowledged in the author's footnote. (This is my experience, at least, and I've written/published several articles in both situations.)

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

Postby thisiswater » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:To answer the person who asked about Boston firms, I think it really depends. The pure billables are obviously not as bad as New York; however, my experience is that I work on a lot of smaller deals (I'm transactional) than associates in NY. My day is broken up by juggling 3-5 deals at once rather than 1 or 2 really big deals. I would almost always prefer to be on one or two big deals because then you can bill most of your time at the office.

Last year I billed about 75% of my work hours because of the transition time between matters and I did a lot of marketing/firm meetings/mentoring/etc. Some may say that I chose to participate in these activities...but the firm strongly encourages it to the point where I really do not have a choice if I want to keep myself in the good graces of the powers that be. So, while I ended up billing around 2100 for the year, it was a very painful year hours-wise.

From stories I have heard from classmates and acquaintances associates at v10 firms or NYC firms tend to not have the same requirements for extra curricular activities. I'm sure some of you will say I'm just inefficient, but I'm senior enough to know ths is not uncommon for my firm and many of my peer firms. I'm burnt out as hell, so maybe my efficiency could be a little higher, but not by much. I am perpetually tired.

My advice is to do transactional work for a few years, save money, work hard so you get good experience and get the hell out. Gunning for partnership is not worth the money unless you have very expensive tastes, are prestige hungry or are in a smaller market. Never being able to make plans with any certainty really, really sucks...and taking a vacation but then having to work all vacation really, really sucks.


Do partners even really get to stop working while on vacation/weekends/etc.?

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

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:47 pm

Re: partners and vacation:

It seems like those who make partners, are the ones who love their work enough that they don't mind working over a vacation. For example, a partner at my firm mentioned how his son began to dread whenever "Opposing Counsel John" called during their 2-week beach vacation because it meant that Dad would be away for most of the day on the phone.

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

Postby Old Gregg » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:12 pm

I think we need to quantify things, objections weird example aside.

At a top NYC firm, 2700+ is the norm if you want to make partner. I've heard and seen some make it with 2400, but it's hard to tell when everyone above me tells me I'm average for my class and I am above 2700.

Some CA firms are sweatshops for sure. But at most firms, the hours are a little lower. Expectations, if you want to make partner, are around 2400. And you can last pretty long by doing 2200. I even know firms where 2000 is considered a "bad year."

Now, to some, 2,400 might seem "bad" or "tough," but sadly it isn't. There's a substantial life quality difference between 2,700 and 2,400, and it just increases by several orders of magnitude the wider the disparity becomes.

Bottom line: If you're billing 2100 and makin market, you have zero right to complain. If you're billing 2800 and getting market, lord help yourself and get the fuck out of there. That is unless you enjoy it, of course.

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

Postby Objection » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:18 pm

My example may be weird, but it typifies the attitude that senior members of big law firms have toward low level associates.

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

Postby danitt » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:19 pm

Objection wrote:My example may be weird, but it typifies the attitude that senior members of big law firms have toward low level associates.

Are you still in big law or have you gotten out already? Also did you go into it eyes wide open or was it definitely culture shock?

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

Postby Objection » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:28 pm

danitt wrote:
Objection wrote:My example may be weird, but it typifies the attitude that senior members of big law firms have toward low level associates.

Are you still in big law or have you gotten out already? Also did you go into it eyes wide open or was it definitely culture shock?


I left.

I expected it to be bad. Oddly enough, my actual experience wasn't all that bad, but only because I drew lines in the sand that I wouldn't budge on because I knew I was done (e.g. being asked to work on super bowl sunday, and refusing to do so). I wasn't going to last long doing that though, so it was either join the herd or leave. I left.


Bottom line: If you're billing 2100 and makin market, you have zero right to complain. If you're billing 2800 and getting market, lord help yourself and get the fuck out of there. That is unless you enjoy it, of course.


I'd have no problem billing 2800 hours under the following conditions:

1. Vacations are yours and respected, as are plans you made out of work.
2. You receive credit for the work you do (signing the brief if you wrote it, getting authorship credit on other things, bonuses for exceptional work).
3. Bonuses are merit based rather than lockstep.
4. Small team sizes with direct partner involvement in the day to day of the case.
5. Opportunities to do things like depos, hearings, etc. Even if it means the firm taking small cases they wouldn't usually take just to give to first years to run and get experience (some boutiques do this).
6. 2800 hours isn't expected.
7. Respect your time at work. There's no reason to consistently wait until midnight the day of the filing deadline to file. It's a lack of respect for the time of those actually in the trenches doing the writing, researching, etc. There were times when I was in big law where the sr associate would say something like "It'll be a late night...2 or 3 AM...but we don't need to start doing anything until this afternoon." No, that makes no sense.
8. Fuck the market. If you're super profitable, pay salaries and give bonuses accordingly. Don't beat your associates over the head with how profitable you are and how you're having your best year ever, and then follow the market.

There's probably more, but off the top of my head, these would address a lot of the intangible yet soul crushing elements of big law. Well, getting rid of the billable hour would fix a lot of them too.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:34 pm

A few points based on personal experience, in the Bay Area at a firm/office with a pretty well-deserved rep as a sweatshop.

1. Being at a firm where working at home is normal/accepted for weekends, evenings, and occasional weekdays makes a huge difference.
2. Being at a firm where people are respectful and protective of each other is also a really big deal, since even the "nicest" firms have huge assholes or big stressors, and in the end the loyalty of co-workers to each other and senior people to their favorite junior people. And this means playing politics and being conscious of how you present yourself is key.

In general, being on-call all the time, having to work during vacations, and having to adjust plans at the last minute or not make them at the last minute, is a normal thing for people who have either high-end professional jobs, high-level executives, or entrepreneurs -- and people who just love what they do at work and want to do more of it.

My profession before law would be one that most people on this forum would think was amazing (and a lot of my colleagues now think the same thing). But I knew people who were desperately unhappy (still do), others who burned out, and many who ultimately left it just like the people who quit BigLaw. There are a lot of forums and blogs with people who have just as many lurid horror stories as BigLaw. I'm pretty sure other professions are the same way.

I have a lot of armchair psychoanalysis theories about this like how people who get advanced degrees have trouble dealing with being subordinates & end up being terrible bosses later, etc., but the bottom line is that BigLaw isn't special. No one should read this thread and not do BigLaw just because they read about people who are unhappy.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:37 pm

This is a great thread, thanks for all the input.

Any advice on how life at Atlanta biglaw firms compares to NYC firms? Is there a significant difference?

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

Postby Objection » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A few points based on personal experience, in the Bay Area at a firm/office with a pretty well-deserved rep as a sweatshop.

1. Being at a firm where working at home is normal/accepted for weekends, evenings, and occasional weekdays makes a huge difference.
2. Being at a firm where people are respectful and protective of each other is also a really big deal, since even the "nicest" firms have huge assholes or big stressors, and in the end the loyalty of co-workers to each other and senior people to their favorite junior people. And this means playing politics and being conscious of how you present yourself is key.

In general, being on-call all the time, having to work during vacations, and having to adjust plans at the last minute or not make them at the last minute, is a normal thing for people who have either high-end professional jobs, high-level executives, or entrepreneurs -- and people who just love what they do at work and want to do more of it.

My profession before law would be one that most people on this forum would think was amazing (and a lot of my colleagues now think the same thing). But I knew people who were desperately unhappy (still do), others who burned out, and many who ultimately left it just like the people who quit BigLaw. There are a lot of forums and blogs with people who have just as many lurid horror stories as BigLaw. I'm pretty sure other professions are the same way.

I have a lot of armchair psychoanalysis theories about this like how people who get advanced degrees have trouble dealing with being subordinates & end up being terrible bosses later, etc., but the bottom line is that BigLaw isn't special. No one should read this thread and not do BigLaw just because they read about people who are unhappy.



No one should read this thread and not do BigLaw just because they read about people who are unhappy.


So whose career services office do you work for?

Being unhappy in big law is the norm, not the exception.

One simply needs to spend one, non-summer associate week there to see that.

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

Postby NYstate » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A few points based on personal experience, in the Bay Area at a firm/office with a pretty well-deserved rep as a sweatshop.

1. Being at a firm where working at home is normal/accepted for weekends, evenings, and occasional weekdays makes a huge difference.
2. Being at a firm where people are respectful and protective of each other is also a really big deal, since even the "nicest" firms have huge assholes or big stressors, and in the end the loyalty of co-workers to each other and senior people to their favorite junior people. And this means playing politics and being conscious of how you present yourself is key.

In general, being on-call all the time, having to work during vacations, and having to adjust plans at the last minute or not make them at the last minute, is a normal thing for people who have either high-end professional jobs, high-level executives, or entrepreneurs -- and people who just love what they do at work and want to do more of it.

My profession before law would be one that most people on this forum would think was amazing (and a lot of my colleagues now think the same thing). But I knew people who were desperately unhappy (still do), others who burned out, and many who ultimately left it just like the people who quit BigLaw. There are a lot of forums and blogs with people who have just as many lurid horror stories as BigLaw. I'm pretty sure other professions are the same way.

I have a lot of armchair psychoanalysis theories about this like how people who get advanced degrees have trouble dealing with being subordinates & end up being terrible bosses later, etc., but the bottom line is that BigLaw isn't special. No one should read this thread and not do BigLaw just because they read about people who are unhappy.


Are you crazy? Most of these 0Ls have no idea what working as a lawyer mean and have even less of a clue about biglaw. They are considering borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars which will require them to get a job they know nothing about to justify. Every 0L should rethink biglaw after being informed of the hours, stress and personal unhappiness.

What your other job was in is irrelevant to what these 0Ls have to decide.

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

Postby Keasbey » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:46 pm

Thanks for participating in this, it's been very informative. Would anyone here know much about the Philadelphia Big Law market and how it compares to an NYC or LA?

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

Postby thesealocust » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:48 pm

Keasbey wrote:Thanks for participating in this, it's been very informative. Would anyone here know much about the Philadelphia Big Law market and how it compares to an NYC or LA?


Everyone asking questions like this should know that it's a great question to ask but a hard one to answer. If you want to be proactive, look up associate bios at firms in your non-NYC region. I guarantee you many will be refugees from NYC mega firms, and probably great sources of information - especially if you can find some other common connection (school interest, whatever).

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

Postby sfhaze » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:49 pm

What does it mean when a firm is described as a "sweatshop?" Are most posters here working for sweatshops since experiences appear relatively so similar?

Which firms have reputations for being sweatshops? Or is biglaw basically a sweatshop one way or another regardless?

v20lawyer
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Re: First year at a big firm; brutal hours; like the job. AMA.

Postby v20lawyer » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:50 pm

This thread has devolved into way too much crying. Yes, biglaw can be tough (at times, very tough). Regardless, it's a great start to a career and generally isn't that bad all things considered.

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

Postby Objection » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:54 pm

v20lawyer wrote:This thread has devolved into way too much crying. Yes, biglaw can be tough (at times, very tough). Regardless, it's a great start to a career and generally isn't that bad all things considered.


This thread has evolved into the dose of reality that the Always Sunny in Big Law crowd on TLS needed.

Just because you've been beaten into accepting willingly bought into the system doesn't change that most people who value anything other than work should not want to do big law.

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

Postby nealric » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:56 pm

Objection wrote:People still focused only on hours. Good little ostriches.

I'll give an example from LA big law. A couple friends were asked to write an article for publication. They were told they'd get co-authorship credit with the partner. When they finished, the senior associate who had passed the assignment down to them said "thanks. Unfortunately, we were mistaken about you getting authorship credit. Only the partner and I will be listed. But thank you so much for your hard work."

This attitude and treatment is the norm.


Not my experience at all. Juniors at my (NYC) firm almost always get credit as one of the authors.

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

Postby Objection » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:57 pm

nealric wrote:
Objection wrote:People still focused only on hours. Good little ostriches.

I'll give an example from LA big law. A couple friends were asked to write an article for publication. They were told they'd get co-authorship credit with the partner. When they finished, the senior associate who had passed the assignment down to them said "thanks. Unfortunately, we were mistaken about you getting authorship credit. Only the partner and I will be listed. But thank you so much for your hard work."

This attitude and treatment is the norm.


Not my experience at all. Juniors at my (NYC) firm almost always get credit as one of the authors.


How about the briefs you write?

Are you included in the signature block?




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