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

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
jd20132013
Posts: 997
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:41 pm

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

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:51 pm

Would you mind staying in that job for 2-3 more years and then letting me have it?

Jesus, topping out at 160 working for the feds? sign me up :shock:

shock259
Posts: 1737
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:30 am

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

Postby shock259 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:59 pm

Thanks to all of the biglaw associates that have stuck around despite the distractions. There's a lot of good info in here.

User avatar
Lasers
Posts: 1576
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:46 pm

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

Postby Lasers » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Would appreciate advice on my current situation

Currently working for the Feds. I graduated debt free. Current take home is just over $90k. I can probably top out at 160 or so, but that will take about 5 years. Would I be stupid to give this up and try to move into Big Law? I graduated #2 in my class from a school ranked around 50 or so (it bounces around in the rankings). Not sure if it is even a possibility. I would like to make more money, but it sounds like those who are making the bigger dollars generally do not think it is worth it.

Other info - I took and passed the Patent Bar - but I have never actually worked in Patent law. Currently I do a lot of litigation.

are your hours 9-5 or close to it? during my 1L summer, i worked with a fed agency with a similar pay grade (though the attorneys in the office started lower); each morning, they started at 9-ish and left everyday at 5-6 with extremely rare instances of weekend work. seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me; i think it's a better situation on the whole than biglaw, but if you want dat cash money + exit options or you don't like your current job, then i can see why you would consider moving on.

others more far more experienced and knowledgeable will chime in, but i would probably stick with the feds.

User avatar
tfer2222
Posts: 358
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:20 pm

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

Postby tfer2222 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:32 pm

tag. good info up in here.

kenji
Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:17 am

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

Postby kenji » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:38 pm

I like how the only ways to respond to Objection are "LOL you are stoopid" or completely distort what he is saying.

Good to know that retarded TLS personalities continue even when you're an associate.

User avatar
ExBiglawAssociate
Posts: 2094
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:06 pm

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

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:40 pm

kenji wrote:I like how the only ways to respond to Objection are "LOL you are stoopid" or completely distort what he is saying.

Good to know that retarded TLS personalities continue even when you're an associate.


Meh, law is a field dominated by the same anti-social, aspie grinders who got good grades in law school. The only way to escape them is to leave law altogether.

User avatar
Old Gregg
Posts: 5413
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:26 pm

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

Postby Old Gregg » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:25 am

kenji wrote:I like how the only ways to respond to Objection are "LOL you are stoopid" or completely distort what he is saying.

Good to know that retarded TLS personalities continue even when you're an associate.


Even more ironic is that when he makes that defense, he accuses the person of having Stockholms syndrome. Talk about fighting fallacies with fallacies.

Look, I know objection. He's an obviously smart person and has an interesting perspective on things. I don't agree with 99% of what he's saying, but I respect him. At the end of the day, whether or not he had legitimate reasons, he just wasn't happy in biglaw. He is now happy.

Ultimately, whether or not you will like biglaw depends on whether you can be happy doing it. We can all tell you our experiences, but you can only know when you do it yourself.

Some people have a high tolerance for bring unhappy too. If you're that person (and you need to be honest with yourself), you don't need to read this thread.

User avatar
Nickg415
Posts: 290
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 4:31 pm

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

Postby Nickg415 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:46 pm

Fresh Prince wrote:
kenji wrote:I like how the only ways to respond to Objection are "LOL you are stoopid" or completely distort what he is saying.

Good to know that retarded TLS personalities continue even when you're an associate.




Ultimately, whether or not you will like biglaw depends on whether you can be happy doing it. We can all tell you our experiences, but you can only know when you do it yourself.

Some people have a high tolerance for bring unhappy too. If you're that person (and you need to be honest with yourself), you don't need to read this thread.


Good point. Everyone's take on what big law life is like will cater to his/her individual bias. None the less, I still love hearing personal experiences and I think the main reason is because we all hope to find what differentiates those who hate, love, and are indifferent towards big law life so that we can try to project into which camp we will likely fall.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273479
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

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

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:43 pm

Lurking non-NYC V15 transactional associate here with a few minutes spare time --

No one (and especially not type-A law students/attorneys) like to admit it, but there is a lot of luck involved in your happiness/unhappiness as a young associate. Everyone who started with me has had completely different experiences, and very little of that can be attributed to each person's choices, talents, or even attitudes. A lot depends on what you get staffed on when you first get there, how nice/helpful the 3-4th year associates are (who were likely not people you interviewed with two years ago, and are often not even the people you worked with last summer), and a bunch of other stuff that you have very little control over. You're firm can be 95% full of amazing people who are more than willing to explain big-picture issues and concepts to you, show you the ropes, and put up with your 1st-year questions, but you could get stuck doing most of your work for the one asshole partner or for one mid-level associate that keeps you completely in the dark about anything.

As you're at the firm for longer, you get more and more control over who you're working for and with, but, no matter what your firm might say about being free market, there's still measures of luck involved. I believe it when some people say they just couldn't put up with it anymore and had to quit for their own sanity/happiness, because I've seen the vastly different experiences that can come out of the same associate class, but I also think there's some merit in sticking it out past one or two bad experiences, since there are some associates I know who were absolutely miserable in December but are much happier in March. That being said, I can also understand how quitting seems like the best option when you're stuck on one or two doc review matters that have no end in sight.

User avatar
Objection
Posts: 1272
Joined: Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:48 am

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

Postby Objection » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:25 pm

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsm ... america/2/

CareerBliss compiled a list of the 10 happiest jobs based on analysis from more than 65,000 employee-generated reviews in 2012. Employees all over the country were asked to evaluate ten factors that affect workplace happiness. Those include one’s relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work one does on a daily basis.

...

If you happen to be a customer service associate, marketing coordinator or legal assistant and you’re constantly down in the dumps—you’re not alone.

These are three of the nation’s unhappiest professions, according to CareerBliss.

But associate attorney is the unhappiest of all, with an index score of 2.89 out of 5.

UndecidedMN
Posts: 151
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:05 pm

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

Postby UndecidedMN » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:02 pm

Figured I would share this as I have concerns about BigLaw as well. I went today and talked to a professor who left biglaw within the past few years but also still has friends there as well. The law firm he worked for is an extremely big one.

First, NY/DC is a different animal than everywhere else. The reason is that you are expected to be there 8 AM - 9/10PM on weekdays and atleast one weekend day. Those horror stories about getting a call at 6PM that a partner needs something for tomorrow morning are true. Especially if you are on the transactional side. But he also noticed that associates were very inefficient about doing work during the day. The reason is that they knew everyday they were there very late, so they spent more time on the internet and whatever compared to other places he had seen (Chicago, Texas).

Regardless of what market you are in, you are there 10 hours a day and also bringing work home on the weekend. Transactional law had the really big swings of going insane hours and deadlines, then for a few weeks nothing. For some people that is very good. But for others, you might be worrying about making billable hours when times are slow. For litigation, you have deadlines but they are not sprung at you. Yes you will have the occasional 6PM call from a partner to get something for the morning. But, they are far less than in transactional. He is a very structured guy that averages about 8 billable hours for every ten worked. Most people average about 7-7.5 hours for every ten. Big difference with litigation is that there is pressure, slow and constant. While transaction can hit you hard for a week or two, then nothing for another week or two. He averaged about 1950 hrs a year.

A great point he made about biglaw is that if you don't like working with someone you don't have to. Yes, there are assholes in every BigLaw firm. But if you are making your hours and have work to do, you can refuse work from jerks you don't want to work for. You can't do that in a small/mid size firm generally. Another great point is that yeah the work is tough, but you are getting paid 2-3 times what others are working for at the 9-5 gov't job. He basically said that you need to value 10-15 hrs work a week for that great pay. Yeah its stressful and it can be nerve racking but the benefits are unsubstantial.

My own two cents, I owned a business before that hired alot of attorneys. I worked with big law firms, small law firms and sole props. One day while at a closing in NYC, I was talking to the attorney from an old prestigious law firm that banks love to hire because of the name and the office. He was a young nice guy doing transactional stuff (In NY, you are required to have a bank attorney to close a loan). He lived in Greenwich in a really nice house, with a wife you stayed at home with a young daughter. He left on a train to NYC at 6 AM and got home at 10. He saw his family on Sundays and wife for an hour each night to watch the late show if he didn't bring work home. He took the train to do work on the train. But he lived in a million dollar house in Greenwich, had a rolex with a really nice suit and car. One sole prop I worked with was home almost every night for dinner. He had an ok office in Mt. Vernon (not the best town in new york), one secretary, drove a kia and had a decent house. But there were times I knew he was hurting. He had to try and collect from clients on a weekly basis to make payroll or pay his rent. He would have worked harder and longer, but clients are tough to come by. He had been an attorney for 25 years. When he didn't bring home money, his wife would freakout about the mortgage. That kind of pressure is just as hard as BigLaw if not worse.

In the end of all this rambling, I am hoping to make biglaw. I have a family of my own and I need to make the mortgage payment. I have prepared my wife for it and hopefully I will get a job (never know but grades are very good with good softs). But we both know it is not going to be ideal. Nothing is. There is a great Cosby show scene (yeah I know I am old). Probably illustrates the benefits of biglaw better than anything I have ever said. Link is below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... ivU#t=145s

User avatar
wert3813
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:29 pm

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

Postby wert3813 » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:09 pm

UndecidedMN wrote:Figured I would share this as I have concerns about BigLaw as well. I went today and talked to a professor who left biglaw within the past few years but also still has friends there as well. The law firm he worked for is an extremely big one.

First, NY/DC is a different animal than everywhere else. The reason is that you are expected to be there 8 AM - 9/10PM on weekdays and atleast one weekend day. Those horror stories about getting a call at 6PM that a partner needs something for tomorrow morning are true. Especially if you are on the transactional side. But he also noticed that associates were very inefficient about doing work during the day. The reason is that they knew everyday they were there very late, so they spent more time on the internet and whatever compared to other places he had seen (Chicago, Texas).

Regardless of what market you are in, you are there 10 hours a day and also bringing work home on the weekend. Transactional law had the really big swings of going insane hours and deadlines, then for a few weeks nothing. For some people that is very good. But for others, you might be worrying about making billable hours when times are slow. For litigation, you have deadlines but they are not sprung at you. Yes you will have the occasional 6PM call from a partner to get something for the morning. But, they are far less than in transactional. He is a very structured guy that averages about 8 billable hours for every ten worked. Most people average about 7-7.5 hours for every ten. Big difference with litigation is that there is pressure, slow and constant. While transaction can hit you hard for a week or two, then nothing for another week or two. He averaged about 1950 hrs a year.

A great point he made about biglaw is that if you don't like working with someone you don't have to. Yes, there are assholes in every BigLaw firm. But if you are making your hours and have work to do, you can refuse work from jerks you don't want to work for. You can't do that in a small/mid size firm generally. Another great point is that yeah the work is tough, but you are getting paid 2-3 times what others are working for at the 9-5 gov't job. He basically said that you need to value 10-15 hrs work a week for that great pay. Yeah its stressful and it can be nerve racking but the benefits are unsubstantial.

My own two cents, I owned a business before that hired alot of attorneys. I worked with big law firms, small law firms and sole props. One day while at a closing in NYC, I was talking to the attorney from an old prestigious law firm that banks love to hire because of the name and the office. He was a young nice guy doing transactional stuff (In NY, you are required to have a bank attorney to close a loan). He lived in Greenwich in a really nice house, with a wife you stayed at home with a young daughter. He left on a train to NYC at 6 AM and got home at 10. He saw his family on Sundays and wife for an hour each night to watch the late show if he didn't bring work home. He took the train to do work on the train. But he lived in a million dollar house in Greenwich, had a rolex with a really nice suit and car. One sole prop I worked with was home almost every night for dinner. He had an ok office in Mt. Vernon (not the best town in new york), one secretary, drove a kia and had a decent house. But there were times I knew he was hurting. He had to try and collect from clients on a weekly basis to make payroll or pay his rent. He would have worked harder and longer, but clients are tough to come by. He had been an attorney for 25 years. When he didn't bring home money, his wife would freakout about the mortgage. That kind of pressure is just as hard as BigLaw if not worse.

In the end of all this rambling, I am hoping to make biglaw. I have a family of my own and I need to make the mortgage payment. I have prepared my wife for it and hopefully I will get a job (never know but grades are very good with good softs). But we both know it is not going to be ideal. Nothing is. There is a great Cosby show scene (yeah I know I am old). Probably illustrates the benefits of biglaw better than anything I have ever said. Link is below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... ivU#t=145s


Objection explaining how this is bullshit in 3...2..

User avatar
Objection
Posts: 1272
Joined: Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:48 am

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

Postby Objection » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:20 pm

The poster who posted that isn't in big law. And if his professor just left big law into a professorship, I'd bet he was a partner.

Not that that discounts his experiences, but I don't think I've ever disputed that some people can be happy in big law. I've said most won't be.

User avatar
wert3813
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:29 pm

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

Postby wert3813 » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:26 pm

Objection wrote:The poster who posted that isn't in big law. And if his professor just left big law into a professorship, I'd bet he was a partner.

Not that that discounts his experiences, but I don't think I've ever disputed that some people can be happy in big law. I've said most won't be.


Yeah. I usually actually appreciate your opinion ITT. It's a little annoying when you discount others experiences, but for an internet message board the quality is pretty high, your included.

TopLawHopeful
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:55 pm

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

Postby TopLawHopeful » Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:03 pm

Fav TLS thread eva

NYstate
Posts: 1566
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:44 am

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

Postby NYstate » Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:06 pm

Objection wrote:The poster who posted that isn't in big law. And if his professor just left big law into a professorship, I'd bet he was a partner.

Not that that discounts his experiences, but I don't think I've ever disputed that some people can be happy in big law. I've said most won't be.


If he left biglaw in the past few years, I wonder if he was pushed out? Maybe he was a service partner of some kind? I can't think of a single partner that I could envision voluntarily giving up biglaw to be a professor. They are just too hardcore, making too much money and too much in love with their work.

Anyway, FWIW, I have never known transactional work to have "a few weeks off," that is unheard of. Also, I have never known an associate to successfully turn down work over an extended period of time. You don't get to pick what you want to work on or who you want to work with, not if you plan to stay very long.

I know people who are happy in biglaw but I know more who are miserable. If having a house in the suburbs, commuting on the train so you can work, and expensive watch is what you want, I'm not going to judge you. I think law is a risky and uncertain field for making money and career longevity- but it does work out for some people.

My only concern is that people have some idea what biglaw practice means before they borrow a couple of hundred thousand dollars to get there.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22865
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

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

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:43 am

NYstate wrote:
Objection wrote:The poster who posted that isn't in big law. And if his professor just left big law into a professorship, I'd bet he was a partner.

Not that that discounts his experiences, but I don't think I've ever disputed that some people can be happy in big law. I've said most won't be.


If he left biglaw in the past few years, I wonder if he was pushed out? Maybe he was a service partner of some kind? I can't think of a single partner that I could envision voluntarily giving up biglaw to be a professor. They are just too hardcore, making too much money and too much in love with their work.

Honestly, the way academia is these days, I highly doubt the professor was a partner - I'd be surprised if the prof had more than 4 years at a firm, tops.

User avatar
thesealocust
Posts: 8448
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

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

Postby thesealocust » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:37 am

Objection wrote:And if his professor just left big law into a professorship, I'd bet he was a partner.


I'm not so sure. I know several professors whose resume was basically law school -> clerk -> 1 or 2 years at a firm -> professorship.

User avatar
sublime
Posts: 15417
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:21 pm

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

Postby sublime » Fri Mar 29, 2013 2:07 am

..

Anonymous User
Posts: 273479
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

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

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:19 am

NYstate wrote:
Objection wrote:The poster who posted that isn't in big law. And if his professor just left big law into a professorship, I'd bet he was a partner.

Not that that discounts his experiences, but I don't think I've ever disputed that some people can be happy in big law. I've said most won't be.


If he left biglaw in the past few years, I wonder if he was pushed out? Maybe he was a service partner of some kind? I can't think of a single partner that I could envision voluntarily giving up biglaw to be a professor. They are just too hardcore, making too much money and too much in love with their work.

Anyway, FWIW, I have never known transactional work to have "a few weeks off," that is unheard of. Also, I have never known an associate to successfully turn down work over an extended period of time. You don't get to pick what you want to work on or who you want to work with, not if you plan to stay very long.

I know people who are happy in biglaw but I know more who are miserable. If having a house in the suburbs, commuting on the train so you can work, and expensive watch is what you want, I'm not going to judge you. I think law is a risky and uncertain field for making money and career longevity- but it does work out for some people.

My only concern is that people have some idea what biglaw practice means before they borrow a couple of hundred thousand dollars to get there.

Concurring that transactional does not get weeks off... I'd be worried if I did. I will get slow periods where I work 50-55 hours a week... most people would not consider that as "off", though it will (and does) feel like a cakewalk after a hard stretch.

You can absolutely turn down work long term at a large law firm. You just need a sponsor/protector who is encouraging you to do so. Plenty of people will get into a groove with a partner and becomes the partner's go-to associates...or when you are more junior you may be the senior associate's go-to junior and the senior associate is the partner's go-to associate. If this partner has power and enough work, he will want you to be available for HIS billable work, not someone else's. He will flex on other partners, tell you to turn down their work and essentially have a turf war with some partners. This can be good and it can be bad.

As a junior associate, I think working with one or two partners/senior associates stunts your development. Each partner/senior associate has their respective strengths in mentoring and bringing you up the knowledge ladder. If you work with several partners, it broadens your skillset, in my opinion. I find that there tend to be 2 very big camps - those who micro-manage and give lots of feedback but maybe limited responsibility and those who give you a ton of responsibility but not much feedback. You want to work with both camps because you will grow in different ways working with each. If this happens later in your development (4-5 year) this is probably not as big of a deal, though I still think working with maybe 4-5 partners regularly is best for exposure to a broader client base and to more broadly develop as an associate.

As a final aside, if a partner does try to "protect" you by scaring off other partners from giving you work, it can be uncomfortable. Ultimately, you need to steer your own career. If you want to work with other people, find a way to do it if you can... though sometimes you really have no choice in the matter except to leave.

Seek out good work above working with good people. Someone can be an asshole but gives good work and cares about your development (at least for his own gain). Ultimately, you will probabaly leave big law. When you go on interviews, you do not want to be the 5th year M&A associate that has never drafted a Purchase Agreement. Unfortunatley, the amount of responsibility you get will have a lot to do with how much work is available and how many associates leave. Associating leaving can be a great way for you to step up your responsibility level, which will be stressful but long term it will probably give you better exit opportunities. Always keep in mind that you will likely need an exit. Big law long term really sucks. Short term it sucks but it gets your career off of the ground (for many) and then you go do other jobs that are better suited to you... at least that's what I am hoping for. :)

User avatar
ph5354a
Posts: 1599
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:40 pm

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

Postby ph5354a » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:39 pm

Noob question: when do you normally start at a big law job after your 3L?

User avatar
Cavalier
Posts: 1994
Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:13 pm

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

Postby Cavalier » Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:17 pm

ph5354a wrote:Noob question: when do you normally start at a big law job after your 3L?

September - November are typical start dates. A small handful of firms have January start dates. Some firms give you a choice of start dates, others don't.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273479
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

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

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:24 pm

Cavalier wrote:
ph5354a wrote:Noob question: when do you normally start at a big law job after your 3L?

September - November are typical start dates. A small handful of firms have January start dates. Some firms give you a choice of start dates, others don't.


Is September the earliest possible given when most people get bar results?

How would you compare bar prep to 1L in terms of intensity/time spent studying? (interested in NY in particular) Are you able to find time to relax or do other activities between graduation and starting at your firm?

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22865
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

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

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:28 pm

A lot of people - most? - start work before they get their bar results. (A lot of firms won't fire you if you fail once. At least, that used to be the case - don't know if it's changed ITE). Also, bar study is a huge PITA and the last 2 weeks are way worse than any LS studying. But it's over by the end of July, that's lots of time to relax (hence why the "bar trip" is a thing - vacation after the bar). The only people I know who started work right after the bar were PDs.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273479
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

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

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:29 pm

TYFT. So theoretically the months Cavalier listed could get pushed up (but probably won't because of ITE)?

-5:24




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.