Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

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Objection
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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Objection » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:23 pm

KidStuddi wrote:
Objection wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I don't know how correct or incorrect the information is or how well I will deal with the stress or how big law will wear me down. I do know this though: Nobody in my family has had any level of career success, at least not financially, except for two uncles, who I estimate earn roughly $200k. One runs a supermarket and one works in real estate management. None of them have it easier than a big law lawyer. Both are on call 24/7, both have intense jobs with demanding clients and insane hours during particular seasons, and neither of them have exit options that are anything other than moar pie. The bottom line is that if you are happy bringing home 80k between you and your SO, then you can find a job working 9-5 and keep it from recession to recession. But if you want to be able to pay your kids' college tuition or pay for their braces, summer camps, and weddings without jeopardizing your retirement, you have to do a little more and whatever that is, it's unlikely to be soul-nourishing.


Aw, that's cute, you think big law is that job.

Talk to me after 4 years of big law when you don't have a wife to come home to, or kids (at least ones that don't mistake your wife's booty call for their dad and you for her booty call), and the only things that will listen to your sobs are TLS, your pillow, and maybe the prostitute you brought up for the evening just to have someone to talk to.

Talk to me after 5 when you're being suggested out the door and you find yourself a burnt out doc reviewing contract attorney getting paid hourly.

Talk to me after 6 when you find out that only one of your class of 50 summers is still at the firm and likely to make partner, while the most successful of the rest are desperately trying to concoct an interesting e-harmony profile to attract someone, anyone, into their web since they wasted the past 6 years in an all consuming, tedious, thankless job.


So much hyperbole and melodrama. Not everyone is built the same way and not everyone's story will end the same way.


Nope. Not everyone's will. But do me a favor: keep a tally of how many big law associates years 2+ have a ring on their finger. I guarantee you the number will be low, and the number will decrease from year to year.

We get that BigLaw was not for you, but from the sound of it, any career that requires abnormal amounts of dedication would not have been for you. You might place a premium on being able to chillax with your bros every weekend, but that's not everyone's goal in life. I can only imagine what your posts would sound like had you signed up for a surgical residency (think five years of BigLaw hours, but you're standing on your feet 75% of the day and making 40-55k).


Yes, that's clearly it. I hate big law because I don't want to work hard. :roll:

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los blancos
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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby los blancos » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:33 pm

KidStuddi wrote:So much hyperbole and melodrama. Not everyone is built the same way and not everyone's story will end the same way.

We get that BigLaw was not for you, but from the sound of it, any career that requires abnormal amounts of dedication would not have been for you. You might place a premium on being able to chillax with your bros every weekend, but that's not everyone's goal in life.



There was definitely some hyperbole and melodrama, but this comparison...

I can only imagine what your posts would sound like had you signed up for a surgical residency (think five years of BigLaw hours, but you're standing on your feet 75% of the day and making 40-55k).


... is so ridiculous I don't even know where to start.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Davidbentley » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:41 pm

Insightful thread.
TL;DR version:
Life sucks, and then you die.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:53 pm

I love how none of these discussions ever touch on what the ALTERNATIVES to big law are. Honestly, the biglaw rants ring ALL the bells for me, working in consulting. Brutal hours especially if you factor in travel, extremely unhappy alcoholic coworkers all cheating on their spouses with each other, bullshit management who only care about their bonus and the Audi they're going to buy with it, extremely tedious work that makes me feel like an invisible, incompetent cog with a quickly atrophying brain. Why the hell wouldn't I quit, go to law school, and do biglaw? Same bullshit, more money. I think about it as I eat dinner alone in my cubicle every night looking over spreadsheets, barely making 60K. As it is, I'm in a long distance relationship and only see my partner of 6 years on the weekends anyway. How could law be any worse?

My parents are highly educated engineers, have both been laid off multiple times in their careers, and in their 50s they barely make in the low 6 figures. Are you really telling me that's a better way to live? Be real.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Objection » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I love how none of these discussions ever touch on what the ALTERNATIVES to big law are. Honestly, the biglaw rants ring ALL the bells for me, working in consulting. Brutal hours especially if you factor in travel, extremely unhappy alcoholic coworkers all cheating on their spouses with each other, bullshit management who only care about their bonus and the Audi they're going to buy with it, extremely tedious work that makes me feel like an invisible, incompetent cog with a quickly atrophying brain. Why the hell wouldn't I quit, go to law school, and do biglaw? Same bullshit, more money. I think about it as I eat dinner alone in my cubicle every night looking over spreadsheets, barely making 60K. As it is, I'm in a long distance relationship and only see my partner of 6 years on the weekends anyway. How could law be any worse?

My parents are highly educated engineers, have both been laid off multiple times in their careers, and in their 50s they barely make in the low 6 figures. Are you really telling me that's a better way to live? Be real.


Ignoring the irrelevance of saying "other things suck too" and the false dichotomy of saying that getting laid off multiple times and making low 6 figures is the only alternative to big law...

Alternatives to big law, in no particular order:

1. Solo (high stress, high control, high responsibility, risky financially, very achievable)
2. Boutique (high stress, medium control, high responsibility, safe financially, achievable)
3. Government (low stress (depending), high control, high responsibility, risky financially, limited achievability)
4. Public Interest (depends, depends, depends, you'll be broke, depends)

When I say responsibility, I mean the type, not the quantity of assignments.

Big law (high stress, low control, low responsibility, safe financially*, very achievable)

*for the first 5 years, and when they're not performing stealth layoffs, and if you maximize the stress and lack of control for those 5 years

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Coco_Local » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:09 pm

As someone nearly 10 years out, I find it shocking that law students and young biglaw folks don't realize that biglaw is a losing proposition in so many ways.

Things are insanely hearchical in biglaw and most firms have an entire class of "partners" who are basically associates since they have no business. This prevents upward mobility/training/mentoring because the service partners want to stay relevant to the partner with the book of business. An associate, if they become too skilled, is basically their competition. So, the associate gets railroaded out before they learn too much to be dangerous to income/salary partners. You also (surprise) lack sufficient skills to lateral to shops that expect a fully functioning attorney -- not a memo writer. In light of the slow down in biglaw, capital partners are now pulling out the knives against the income partners. It's a bit karmatic but still troubling. It's not like they're promoting new partners to replace the incomes. They are just finding cheaper models for the work, like staff attorneys or counsel.

After seeing so many friends' careers railroaded for stupid things and watching the mess of stealth layoffs (mostly at the hands of service partners who were desperately trying to keep their own jobs) at my old firm (and firms across the country), I left biglaw to clerk and then to work in the government as an AUSA. I also was able to pay off my debt prior to leaving (literally, I made the last payment using my last paycheck). I'm lucky and know the odds of landing this sort of position are fairly small, but I always stress to young attorneys. Have an exit plan. As a biglaw attorney, you have to expect that you will, inevitably, be fucked by the system. Because there is a 90 (plus) percent chance you will.

I've seen so many bright, talented people get pushed out of the industry for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. One thing I wasn't prepared for after graduating law school is that to a great degree, your future as a lawyer is driven by luck as much as talent, ambition, and smarts. I am incredibly humble and grateful for my fortunate circumstances because but for the grace of God...

I don't think it's smart to risk the huge amount of debt on an industry that is set up to chew you up and spit you out -- especially if it's before you can take the time to pay off debt and make an exit plan. I was lucky. Many, many people are not.
Last edited by Coco_Local on Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

rad lulz
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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby rad lulz » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:20 pm

I wish more old people poasted here regularly to share experiences like these

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby KidStuddi » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:22 pm

Objection wrote:
Nope. Not everyone's will. But do me a favor: keep a tally of how many big law associates years 2+ have a ring on their finger. I guarantee you the number will be low, and the number will decrease from year to year.

We get that BigLaw was not for you, but from the sound of it, any career that requires abnormal amounts of dedication would not have been for you. You might place a premium on being able to chillax with your bros every weekend, but that's not everyone's goal in life. I can only imagine what your posts would sound like had you signed up for a surgical residency (think five years of BigLaw hours, but you're standing on your feet 75% of the day and making 40-55k).


Yes, that's clearly it. I hate big law because I don't want to work hard.


Okay let's try it this way. You're speaking with a certainty that's wholly unwarranted. You write as if your definition of happiness is universal and applies to everyone. You talk in your posts about the improbability of having a thriving social life and a leave-it-to-beaver wife and kids to go home to at age 33 (or however old you would be 6 years out) and how that's a huge sacrifice you have to make to go into BigLaw.

Here's the thing, that's not everyone's definition of happiness. Married with children is not where everyone wants to be within six years of graduating law school. Not everyone thinks of being single in their early thirties as a "sacrifice," and many of us would choose it regardless of where we work.

You can disparage it and call it stockholm syndrome all you want, but not all of us went K-JD and came to law school with visions of Boston Legal running through our heads. Some of us did the 70 hour a week grind for 45k a year and we know what it's like to cancel on our friends because of work obligations. And guess what? We chose to do it anyway. We signed up for three more years of school and a mountain of debt to do it again.

Is it really so hard for you to accept that maybe it's you and your goals that are incompatible with BigLaw? That you made a bad choice as you are clearly a bad match for the profession? Why are you so keen are arguing that because you (and many others) aren't/weren't happy in BigLaw, that no one can or will be happy in BigLaw?

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:30 pm

I'm heading to a big firm in Kansas City (regional biglaw/midlaw/whatever). I read this thread and hope (naively?) that it doesn't apply to me... at least to the same degree.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Objection » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:35 pm

KidStuddi wrote:
Objection wrote:
Nope. Not everyone's will. But do me a favor: keep a tally of how many big law associates years 2+ have a ring on their finger. I guarantee you the number will be low, and the number will decrease from year to year.

We get that BigLaw was not for you, but from the sound of it, any career that requires abnormal amounts of dedication would not have been for you. You might place a premium on being able to chillax with your bros every weekend, but that's not everyone's goal in life. I can only imagine what your posts would sound like had you signed up for a surgical residency (think five years of BigLaw hours, but you're standing on your feet 75% of the day and making 40-55k).


Yes, that's clearly it. I hate big law because I don't want to work hard.


Okay let's try it this way. You're speaking with a certainty that's wholly unwarranted. You write as if your definition of happiness is universal and applies to everyone. You talk in your posts about the improbability of having a thriving social life and a leave-it-to-beaver wife and kids to go home to at age 33 (or however old you would be 6 years out) and how that's a huge sacrifice you have to make to go into BigLaw.

Here's the thing, that's not everyone's definition of happiness. Married with children is not where everyone wants to be within six years of graduating law school. Not everyone thinks of being single in their early thirties as a "sacrifice," and many of us would choose it regardless of where we work.

You can disparage it and call it stockholm syndrome all you want, but not all of us went K-JD and came to law school with visions of Boston Legal running through our heads. Some of us did the 70 hour a week grind for 45k a year and we know what it's like to cancel on our friends because of work obligations. And guess what? We chose to do it anyway. We signed up for three more years of school and a mountain of debt to do it again.

Is it really so hard for you to accept that maybe it's you and your goals that are incompatible with BigLaw? That you made a bad choice as you are clearly a bad match for the profession? Why are you so keen are arguing that because you (and many others) aren't/weren't happy in BigLaw, that no one can or will be happy in BigLaw?


OK, so let's try it this way, and I'll even ignore your strawmen:

This is a thread where people are giving their opinions on life in big law.

I've given mine repeatedly, and pointed out the many things that big law is incompatible with.

People are certainly free to draw their own conclusions from that. Maybe their goals are different.

So if people read my posts and say "you know, if big law is incompatible with those things and Objection is right, who cares, because I don't want those things," then more power to them. My point is not to convince anyone to change their goals, but instead point out the things that they'll almost certainly be giving up. To some the trade off will be worth it; to most, I imagine, it won't. But I'm less interested in the results of the equation than I am in adding to the calculus.

Also, lol at you equating "big law" with "the profession."
Last edited by Objection on Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Coco_Local » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:36 pm

We signed up for three more years of school and a mountain of debt to do it again.


You, dear, are a moron. If you don't have a plan to aggressively pay down said mountain within two years of biglaw employment (I say two because lately firms have starting laying off even juniors), you are going to be fucked. And I base this comment on the long odds you are even landing in biglaw.

But who knows. I bet you are going to be the next David Boies. Ha.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Objection » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:37 pm

Coco_Local wrote:
We signed up for three more years of school and a mountain of debt to do it again.


You, dear, are a moron. If you don't have a plan to aggressively pay down said mountain within two years of biglaw employment (I say two because lately firms have starting laying off even juniors), you are going to be fucked. And I base this comment on the long odds you are even landing in biglaw.

But who knows. I bet you are going to be the next David Boies. Ha.


To be fair, with all of the loan repayment programs out there, student loan debt affects you only as much as you let it.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Coco_Local » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:42 pm

To be fair, with all of the loan repayment programs out there, student loan debt affects you only as much as you let it.


Oh I agree. Except that IBR is going to equal a massive tax burden unless you are lucky enough to move to a public employer/non-profit employer. That alone is going to be difficult in this market. Our office gets thousands of apps per spot. Even less competitive public employers, like DA/defender offices are picky and want someone dedicated to their cause -- not biglaw burnouts.

Oh, and here is the most awesome thing about biglaw. If you are lucky enough to find yourself laid off -- many times the firm will take the position that no partner can provide a reference to the unlucky soul! Yes. I had several friends in the unlucky position where partners wanted to help but faced serious consequences if they spoke out of the party line (namely that X associate couldn't hack it). If a firm is really dickish they will issue a press release or respond to press inquires and refer to the layoffs are cutting under performers. Makes job hunting that much more fun! Ugh.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby KidStuddi » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:44 pm

Coco_Local wrote:
We signed up for three more years of school and a mountain of debt to do it again.


You, dear, are a moron. If you don't have a plan to aggressively pay down said mountain within two years of biglaw employment (I say two because lately firms have starting laying off even juniors), you are going to be fucked.

But who knows. I bet you are going to be the next David Boies. Ha.


Uh. I was speaking in general terms about those of us who came to law school and chose BigLaw fully informed. I personally have $0 in debt (full ride + live at home with my parents). I made about 37 before taxes during my SA last summer and will earn about the same this summer. So, no, buddy, I won't be fucked. But thanks for your patronizing and sarcastic concern. I'm sure it really would have stung if I were the self-conscious twit you seem to think I am.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Coco_Local » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:53 pm

{Redacted Drag race humor}.
Last edited by Coco_Local on Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:18 pm

Um, that escalated quickly...

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:19 pm

Coco_Local wrote:
We signed up for three more years of school and a mountain of debt to do it again.


You, dear, are a moron. If you don't have a plan to aggressively pay down said mountain within two years of biglaw employment (I say two because lately firms have starting laying off even juniors), you are going to be fucked. And I base this comment on the long odds you are even landing in biglaw.

But who knows. I bet you are going to be the next David Boies. Ha.



ugh. Please stop saying that law school needs to have paid for itself in 2 years. That's so dumb it's not even funny. Why should an educational investment have to pay for itself in such a short period of time? It makes no sense at all. This is a career. You pay for 3 years to work in a certain profession for a career.

And as you later admitted, there are different ways to pay off your debt. Yes, the longer you take to pay, the more you will ultimately pay but so what? That total amount should still be measured against what you earn in your career. Not 2 years.

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5ky
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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby 5ky » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:20 pm

This thread was interesting, and now is ruined. So was the other thread 'first year, brutal hours, love the job' for the exact same reasons.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby florida1949 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:41 pm

5ky wrote:This thread was interesting, and now is ruined. So was the other thread 'first year, brutal hours, love the job' for the exact same reasons.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby thesealocust » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:55 pm

florida1949 wrote:
5ky wrote:This thread was interesting, and now is ruined. So was the other thread 'first year, brutal hours, love the job' for the exact same reasons.


Let it be a lesson: this is why we (groups of lawyers/law students) can't have nice things.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby los blancos » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm heading to a big firm in Kansas City (regional biglaw/midlaw/whatever). I read this thread and hope (naively?) that it doesn't apply to me... at least to the same degree.


Probably not - seems like most of the folks here complaining about biglaw worked at megafirms in NYC/other big metro areas.

But ultimately it's impossible to know for sure, and it likely depends a lot on the firm even within smaller markets, and even depends on which partners you're working for within a firm.

Midlaw/regional biglaw seems a bit like beating the system (good to great pay depending on CoL; reasonable hours; interesting work; good partnership prospects), but it does also have its drawbacks (the jobs being relatively few/really hard to get to begin with; work isn't as glamorous; less preftige/exit options; etc).

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los blancos
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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby los blancos » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:48 pm

Elston Gunn wrote:Um, that escalated quickly...


Image

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby thesealocust » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:55 pm

los blancos wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm heading to a big firm in Kansas City (regional biglaw/midlaw/whatever). I read this thread and hope (naively?) that it doesn't apply to me... at least to the same degree.


Probably not - seems like most of the folks here complaining about biglaw worked at megafirms in NYC/other big metro areas.

But ultimately it's impossible to know for sure, and it likely depends a lot on the firm even within smaller markets, and even depends on which partners you're working for within a firm.

Midlaw/regional biglaw seems a bit like beating the system (good to great pay depending on CoL; reasonable hours; interesting work; good partnership prospects), but it does also have its drawbacks (the jobs being relatively few/really hard to get to begin with; work isn't as glamorous; less preftige/exit options; etc).


It's just really hard to paint with a broad brush. I know somebody at a stereotypical 'regional midlaw' firm, pulling a 6 figure but well below market salary, who was at the office every weekend and billing 10-12 hour days during the week when last we spoke. Likewise I know people at major firms who have had very long slow stretches where they billed well under 200 hours per month consistently.

It's probably true that on average mega firms in NYC have the most unpredictability and the longest hours waiting for their associates. But you get your career and not the region's average career, so there's no certainty NYC will screw you and no certainty regional firms will save you.

Basically, your firm is at the mercy of its clients. You'd bet the clients of major NYC commercial law firms will have more demanding needs more frequently than the firm in [random city], [less populated state] but you never know, and everyone in biglaw is likely to have bad days/weeks/months. Sometimes stuff just piles up.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby sfhaze » Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:00 am

5ky wrote:This thread was interesting, and now is ruined. So was the other thread 'first year, brutal hours, love the job' for the exact same reasons.

Both threads demo the chicken or the egg problem quite well.

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Re: Fascinating thread on life in biglaw on a financial forum

Postby desertlaw » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:04 am

Go to a market that self-selects having families instead of the experience that Objection got.

I guarantee that your Biglaw experience on average is going to be more (who knows how much) humane in a place like Phoenix, Dallas, Orange County, San Diego, or another similar place where family-life is just a culture thing in the area.

When interviewing with west coast firms, being married and having kids was basically the norm. In NYC? Married people were the odd ones.




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