Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

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Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:08 pm

I'm a 2L at a strong regional school. I am top 10%, strong secondary journal. I'm finishing up my 1L summer in the appellate division of a local state office. I’ve been watching the biglaw field with some trepidation.

My fiance and I regularly debate whether it is wise to wade into the waters of OCI and possibly work at a large firm after law school. My biggest fear is that I will get a job at a large firm, and then receive a pink slip in two years when the company downsizes, leaving me and several colleagues out in the wash with no relevant experience for other areas. My fiance belives that the pay is worth the risk, while I am more circumspect.

Would anyone recommend that a young lawyer start at a biglaw firm after graduation at this point in time, given the recent stability issues? Or would they recommend perhaps finding a modest (but more stable) job, perhaps in state government?

(Anonymous because someone would be able to ID me by some of this information.)

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IAFG
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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby IAFG » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:15 pm

I don't know why you think you're going to get a full time offer in state government. The nice thing about large law firms is that they're actually hiring people.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby NYstate » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L at a strong regional school. I am top 10%, strong secondary journal. I'm finishing up my 1L summer in the appellate division of a local state office. I’ve been watching the biglaw field with some trepidation.

My fiance and I regularly debate whether it is wise to wade into the waters of OCI and possibly work at a large firm after law school. My biggest fear is that I will get a job at a large firm, and then receive a pink slip in two years when the company downsizes, leaving me and several colleagues out in the wash with no relevant experience for other areas. My fiance belives that the pay is worth the risk, while I am more circumspect.

Would anyone recommend that a young lawyer start at a biglaw firm after graduation at this point in time, given the recent stability issues? Or would they recommend perhaps finding a modest (but more stable) job, perhaps in state government?

(Anonymous because someone would be able to ID me by some of this information.)


Why not bid, interview and get an offer first? Is this state government job a sure thing? I don't see how not doing OCI benefits you. At the very least you will get a lot of practice interviewing.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:26 pm

OP here. The government job I'm at regularly hires clerks fulltime, and I have a fall work offer from them. I've been told by some people there there that they want me to stay around and help out. Everyone has been pleased with my work.

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IAFG
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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby IAFG » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:29 pm

Do you have any reason to believe doing a biglaw summer would negatively impact your getting the state govt offer?

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby nucky thompson » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L at a strong regional school. I am top 10%, strong secondary journal. I'm finishing up my 1L summer in the appellate division of a local state office. I’ve been watching the biglaw field with some trepidation.

My fiance and I regularly debate whether it is wise to wade into the waters of OCI and possibly work at a large firm after law school. My biggest fear is that I will get a job at a large firm, and then receive a pink slip in two years when the company downsizes, leaving me and several colleagues out in the wash with no relevant experience for other areas. My fiance belives that the pay is worth the risk, while I am more circumspect.

Would anyone recommend that a young lawyer start at a biglaw firm after graduation at this point in time, given the recent stability issues? Or would they recommend perhaps finding a modest (but more stable) job, perhaps in state government?

(Anonymous because someone would be able to ID me by some of this information.)



this reads like a journalistic inquiry or something, like youre trying to get the pulse of TLS re current market conditions. the following sentence is most suspect: "would anyone recommend that a young lawyer start at a biglaw firm after graduation . . . given the recent stability issues"

anyway, you have been watching the big law field with trepidation, so now you're debating whether or not to avoid OCI altogether - why not decide if biglaw is right for you first. If you want to work biglaw, then you should research law firms looking for info regarding health of the firm, this info will allow you to choose an employer rationally, after rationally evaluating your options.

Also, assuming the firm you have rationally chosen goes under two years later - how come you think two years in a big law firm would leave you with no relevant experience?

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:35 am

OP here. Not a journalist, just a worried 2L with the tendency to write weirdly.

I apologize if I was unclear in how I wrote the first post. I am seeking advice on whether I should pursue a career in biglaw given the current market economy. If I get an offer at a biglaw office as well as the government office, which should I take?

I have no reason to assume that taking the biglaw summer would negatively affect my state govt offer.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby badaboom61 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:41 am

Legal employment >>> not having legal employment.

Go do OCI. If you get an offer, great, go make some money for a summer. If the state government offers to hire you on graduation, you can politely decline going into biglaw. If they don't offer you (and they probably won't), you'll be really glad you have a job.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby Great Satchmo » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:35 pm

Or you can make $30k during the summer...

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby IAFG » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:38 pm

Unless you have a reason to think summering will spoil some alternative, you should give both paths a try. Biglaw being less secure than it once was doesn't mean it isn't still a more secure path than alternatives.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:51 pm

I work in a big law firm in NYC, and have been here for under a year. Exactly three days after my name went public on my firm's website, I started getting phonecalls and emails from recruiters. I have never seen somebody I know leave my law firm for anything other than impressive alternative employment opportunities or to be a full time parent.

Large law firms are viewed as incredible training in the legal industry, and a great many job openings never look beyond the ranks of current large firm associates to be filled.

Your post and concerns constitute a fundamental misunderstanding of the legal model. Law firms have high turnover, but the people leaving do not wind up on the streets. The profession is very club like, and once you're "in" you tend to be in for life. Former associates turn into clients or colleagues at other firms, and businesses are reluctant to burn bridges where unnecessary.

Even when firms collapse, if you do your diligence you'll find an awful lot of the people fired summarily land on their feet.

Obviously not all outcomes will be good, but the high turnover rate simply does not imply a high rate of negative outcomes for those who don't stick around to make partner.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby johndhi » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:56 pm

The most recent poster nailed this pretty much, but here it is again:

Dude. The relative instability of biglaw over the last few years pales in comparison to the instability of almost every other marketplace or every other job in existence. Biglaw is one of the most stable jobs out there. Don't go to biglaw because of the crazy hours or because you don't like the subject matter; but certainly don't skip it because you think you'll be hung out to dry by it. There is really no safer route to take as a first year lawyer than biglaw - it keeps your options open for many other legal jobs, pays a ton, and is very likely to keep you around for at least a few years.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:20 pm

OP here. Thanks for the honest responses. It's given me a lot to think about.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby aces » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:48 pm

I don't know if I agree entirely with the above two posts. I agree that law firms in general are no more unstable than any other profession and that most associates land on their feet at good jobs even if they leave a firm or get pushed out. But most large law firms still operate under an implicit up-or-out philosophy, and it's not a job you can ever really stay too comfortable or complacent in. You really have to **** up to get pushed out as a second year, but you are expected to master new skills and develop new competencies every year. Once you reach the fourth or fifth year or so, you'll be expected to start taking real responsibility on deals/cases, and if you fall behind, your job security may be at risk. But associates at that level generally have good exit options, and as I mentioned above, I don't think too many get pushed out before that point.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby shock259 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:56 pm

aces wrote:I don't know if I agree entirely with the above two posts. I agree that law firms in general are no more unstable than any other profession and that most associates land on their feet at good jobs even if they leave a firm or get pushed out. But most large law firms still operate under an implicit up-or-out philosophy, and it's not a job you can ever really stay too comfortable or complacent in. You really have to **** up to get pushed out as a second year, but you are expected to master new skills and develop new competencies every year. Once you reach the fourth or fifth year or so, you'll be expected to start taking real responsibility on deals/cases, and if you fall behind, your job security may be at risk. But associates at that level generally have good exit options, and as I mentioned above, I don't think too many get pushed out before that point.


Mostly agree. Like you said, I think it is fairly easy to coast to at least your third year without people catching on that you are a shitty lawyer. By fourth or fifth year, you'll probably start getting more flak, but you can (and a lot of people do) jump ship to other firms then. And your new firm is going to have a very hard time telling if you are a good lawyer or a shitty lawyer.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby Jimbo_Jones » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:35 pm

aces wrote:I don't know if I agree entirely with the above two posts. I agree that law firms in general are no more unstable than any other profession and that most associates land on their feet at good jobs even if they leave a firm or get pushed out. But most large law firms still operate under an implicit up-or-out philosophy, and it's not a job you can ever really stay too comfortable or complacent in. You really have to **** up to get pushed out as a second year, but you are expected to master new skills and develop new competencies every year. Once you reach the fourth or fifth year or so, you'll be expected to start taking real responsibility on deals/cases, and if you fall behind, your job security may be at risk. But associates at that level generally have good exit options, and as I mentioned above, I don't think too many get pushed out before that point.



TBF, most careers are like this (up or out). I think that's just the nature of having a career.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby ZyzzBrah » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My fiance belives that the pay is worth the risk


i feel bad for you

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby unlicensedpotato » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:15 pm

ZyzzBrah wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My fiance belives that the pay is worth the risk


i feel bad for you


Good point that no one else had brought up. I agree with above posters that should worry about hours, stress, etc. before you worry about instability (4 or 5 years at a job is an enternity in the present compared to a lot of similar options to big law). But your fiance shouldn't be making the decision (or really, in my opinion, giving much input). It would be one thing if they were worried that you shouldn't take it because they won't see you as much and it will damage the relationship. It's a very different thing for a fiance to push you to take a job where you will be the one under stress, you will be the one working the hours, because, from the fiance's perspective, the pay is worth it.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby TooOld4This » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:53 pm

unlicensedpotato wrote:
ZyzzBrah wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My fiance belives that the pay is worth the risk


i feel bad for you


Good point that no one else had brought up. I agree with above posters that should worry about hours, stress, etc. before you worry about instability (4 or 5 years at a job is an enternity in the present compared to a lot of similar options to big law). But your fiance shouldn't be making the decision (or really, in my opinion, giving much input). It would be one thing if they were worried that you shouldn't take it because they won't see you as much and it will damage the relationship. It's a very different thing for a fiance to push you to take a job where you will be the one under stress, you will be the one working the hours, because, from the fiance's perspective, the pay is worth it.


In defense of the fiancé: if OP had said this job is too stressful and I really don't want to work this lifestyle and their fiancé said the pay is worth it, then yes fiancé is an ass.

But OP gave a stupid argument for choosing between the two. The fiancé is right--if the concern were stability, BigLaw money makes it worth the risk. State gov't jobs pay a fraction of BigLaw. Even if OP only made it one year before getting fired (an unlikely scenario), they would have to be out of work for more than a year or two before they broke even on the state gov job. When you argue that a job that pays $45k/year is superior because it is more stable, it is logical to counter that making $160k sufficiently makes up for the risk.

Now my guess is that OP really doesn't want to work in BigLaw and cooked up the "it's more stable" argument to avoid admitting it. If so, just own it. Life is too short to kill yourself at a job you don't like for money you don't care that much about. If you and your fiancé don't see eye to eye on this, better to get it out there now.

But from a risk/reward context, OP's argument is counter factual. If OP is concerned about risk, live like you are making the state gov salary and save the rest. It won't be long before you have several years of income to cushion any up or out blow.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby unlicensedpotato » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:58 pm

Oh, I completely agree. In a downturn those gov't or PI jobs will probably be gone just as quickly, if not quicker, than a biglaw position. Best job security (staying at your current position) is probably a small firm although I have nothing to back this up. Big Law is the best way to get experience though and it seems like in most cases they give you a chance to line something else up before yould get the boot.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:09 am

Go with biglaw if you can. State gov't will always be there. Try to match you interest at the state level with your practice area in biglaw so you have that as an exit option later, and stay in touch with your colleagues in the state gov't. Get lunch at least a couple times a year with one or two of them that you click with and would enjoy spending time with.

The hours do suck, but it's just a few years and hopefully you will have good longterm career stability. Even the shitty/slacker lawyers I know at my firm who left after a year or two landed decent jobs (albeit not legal jobs). It looks great on a resume.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:19 am

OP here. Once again, thank you for the replies. I'm definitely going to try out for OCI.

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Re: Biglaw ambitious or more modest expectations?

Postby jitsrenzo » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:00 am

I think the key is actually getting a Biglaw offer. Depending on what a "strong regional school" is, it could be very difficult to get biglaw. Heck, a lot of T6 kids have a hard time.




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