Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

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Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:30 am

Title says it, taking a top consulting firm over a V25 and thought I might answer questions as the consulting recruiting season enters advanced degree interviewing. TLS generally has a lot of wrong or misunderstood on consulting so I will go ahead and list a few common ones:

Consulting pays less:
First year all-in is actually more than big law before discretionary bonus and has the potential to be significantly more since consulting bonus potential is higher

Consulting exit options are amazing:
Similar to biglaw, exit options vary much more than people think. It's probably true that their is less downside exit risk from consulting but no real way to test that

I need a business background or extensive work experience to get consulting:
The top consulting firms hire a ton of K-PhDs, K-JDs, and MBAs with less than two years work experience. In fact, more experience than that and you would be on the older side and probably be at a disadvantage for hiring.

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bk1
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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby bk1 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:33 am

Were you looking to do corporate if you went into law? Why'd you choose consulting? Assuming this is true: why didn't you do consulting prior to law school?

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:44 am

bk1 wrote:Were you looking to do corporate if you went into law? Why'd you choose consulting? Assuming this is true: why didn't you do consulting prior to law school?


Yep, I was 100% corporate for law. I briefly worked at a F500 prior to law school in a position similar to what a post-undergrad analyst does at a consulting firm.

Ultimately moved to consulting because it better matched my personality, interests and goals. I had really cool work at my firm but when we were fighting over a company I found myself a lot more interested in the implications of the competing companies' differences in business strategy than the actual legal process of a proxy fight or hostile bid or whatever. Basically, didn't really like that as a junior associate knowing about the client's business wasn't essential.

Personality wise, there were a few things. I found that I am just a lot more social than most law students and, while I could do it, not that big a fan of the biglaw isolation. I wouldn't call myself a complete extrovert but I'm definitely more of an extrovert than introvert. I also like consulting firms focus on feedback (especially negative feedback), career development and managing both up and down. I was shocked that some law firms have their yearly reviews conducted by non-attorneys and the level of feedback I saw junior associates getting was just not very helpful or in-depth. It just seemed like many law firm partners and senior associates were not very good managers of people.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby t-14orbust » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:53 am

What school range did you attend? How were your grades? Do you feel that you destroyed the interviews? How much travel are you expecting (is it more of M-Thursday travel and back home on the weekend? Or a few weeks at a time, or a few months at a time)? Sorry, I've had some interest in consulting but I'm not sure if I'd be the right fit.

Also, do you think that your f500 work significantly helped you get hired over your peers?

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Huey Freeman » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:05 am

What band of consulting firm are you at? MBB?

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:08 am

t-14orbust wrote:What school range did you attend? How were your grades? Do you feel that you destroyed the interviews? How much travel are you expecting (is it more of M-Thursday travel and back home on the weekend? Or a few weeks at a time, or a few months at a time)? Sorry, I've had some interest in consulting but I'm not sure if I'd be the right fit.

Also, do you think that your f500 work significantly helped you get hired over your peers?


School was one of HYSCC. Grades were fine but not spectacular. I don't think any consulting firm ever asked for them though. I don't think anyone who is successful really thinks they destroyed the interview. There will always be some kind of insight you later realize you missed in the data or some creative strategy you think of later that you could used on the case. Feeling like this is actually a good sign because it means you really understood the problem. Cases are usually very condensed versions of what happened in real life with a lot of details left out so you should leave feeling uncertain if you really know what you are doing.

Typical travel is M-Thurday at client and back on Friday for a light day in the home office with no weekend work. I have heard of longer stays for international projects. For instance, knew someone who did 4 weeks on in Australia, one week off back home for a total of 10 weeks worked. Those type of projects are usually high-demand though, so you can avoid them if you want.

Prior experience helped in the sense that I knew exactly what consulting was and was able to tell stories that directly showed me ability to do the job. Don't know if I would call the advantage significant. There are a number of other things you can do to drive home the same point.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:11 am

Huey Freeman wrote:What band of consulting firm are you at? MBB?


Yep, one of MBB. Will not get more specific than that though. It's possible for law students to get offers at the firms lower down but their process is a little less formal.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby t-14orbust » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:
t-14orbust wrote:What school range did you attend? How were your grades? Do you feel that you destroyed the interviews? How much travel are you expecting (is it more of M-Thursday travel and back home on the weekend? Or a few weeks at a time, or a few months at a time)? Sorry, I've had some interest in consulting but I'm not sure if I'd be the right fit.

Also, do you think that your f500 work significantly helped you get hired over your peers?


School was one of HYSCC. Grades were fine but not spectacular. I don't think any consulting firm ever asked for them though. I don't think anyone who is successful really thinks they destroyed the interview. There will always be some kind of insight you later realize you missed in the data or some creative strategy you think of later that you could used on the case. Feeling like this is actually a good sign because it means you really understood the problem. Cases are usually very condensed versions of what happened in real life with a lot of details left out so you should leave feeling uncertain if you really know what you are doing.

Typical travel is M-Thurday at client and back on Friday for a light day in the home office with no weekend work. I have heard of longer stays for international projects. For instance, knew someone who did 4 weeks on in Australia, one week off back home for a total of 10 weeks worked. Those type of projects are usually high-demand though, so you can avoid them if you want.

Prior experience helped in the sense that I knew exactly what consulting was and was able to tell stories that directly showed me ability to do the job. Don't know if I would call the advantage significant. There are a number of other things you can do to drive home the same point.


Thanks for the reply!

Can you explain that last point in more detail? Exactly what is consulting, beyond advising on strategy lol? What other things might I be able to do to drive home that point if I never really had significant business experience?

Also, what are the hours like?

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby AFS » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:21 am

For someone with no experience in a consulting-type job, how would I get ready for something like this?

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Postby 06162014123 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:26 am

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:35 am

t-14orbust wrote:
Thanks for the reply!

Can you explain that last point in more detail? Exactly what is consulting, beyond advising on strategy lol? What other things might I be able to do to drive home that point if I never really had significant business experience?

Also, what are the hours like?


Consulting is really being a problem solver and advisor extraordinaire. On problem solving: You want to show you have the ability to break problems down into their core elements, diagnose the problem area(s), prioritize where to focus resources, and then think of both practical and creative solutions. As an advisor: You want to show ability to deal with delicate situations, the ability to identify and reconcile goals of multiple parties and just the general ability to be a good member of a team. Often companies have political infighting and often employees are upset consultants were brought in instead of leaving a problem in-house. In those cases, you have to be good with relationships. Cases show problem solving, for the advisor part you just focus on your experiences in school, life, organizations, or at work.

Almost every single job that offers entry-level salaries exceeding 120k has sucky hours. Thats just a fact. Consulting hours are typically in the 55-70 range with the hours being skewed towards M-thurs. If you want to do PE, I've heard horrible stories of the diligence project with a 100 hour week (relatively rare). Basically, there is no hours advantage to doing consulting. You will, however, have more paid vacation time, free weekends, and you will get tons of air miles and hotel points you can use for killer vacations.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby wiz » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:36 am

You mentioned that consulting actually pays more than big law. What is the salary range like (before and after discretionary bonuses) for the first year? And how does salary progression compare to big law (i.e., lockstep model with market bonuses)?

Thanks for doing this.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby quakeroats » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:38 am

Do you mind lots of travel to flyover country?

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:44 am

RedShift wrote:Since you were at a top 5 school, did the consulting firm conduct on-campus interviewing? How long do you realistically expect to stay at MBB before moving on? Do the post-grad school consulting positions have the same kind of "up-or-out" structure big law is known for? What kind of a role do you hope to transition into afterward?

This is something I looked into extensively in college, but it didn't pan out. I've been keeping the idea in the back of my mind as an option after law school, though I don't know nearly as much about the opportunities available after grad school.


Average tenure at all of MBB is in the 3-4 year range. Definitely up-or-out but much more explicit about it than biglaw and the transition benefits are amazing. Realistically I am expecting promotion up one level and then out after that, which would put me in the 3-4 year range. I have no clue what is next and it would be silly for me to really speculate. The cool thing about consulting is the exposure so I'm really looking to learn a lot more before I chart a path.

wiz wrote:You mentioned that consulting actually pays more than big law. What is the salary range like (before and after discretionary bonuses) for the first year? And how does salary progression compare to big law (i.e., lockstep model with market bonuses)?

Thanks for doing this.


This year first-year guaranteed comp (base, signing and retirement contribution): is in the 175-185 range with slight variation by firm. Add in relocation of 4-10k depending on distance and bonus of 15-45k (average performed gets ~20k. All-in first-year comes to an expected 200k +/-, with max comp in the 215-225 range. Salary progression varies by performance but probably similar on average.

ETA: Also note that MBB pays this nationwide. My home office will be in what is considered a secondary market (not NYC/DC/SF).

quakeroats wrote:Do you mind lots of travel to flyover country?


MBB doesn't do as much ops work as some of the other firms so less of this than you think. Also, I'm from flyover country so wouldn't mind it at all.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby thesealocust » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:50 am

I've always been under the impression that consulting at the MBB level was comparable if not superior for compensation. Do you know how that stacks up at other levels of consulting (related point: are there other levels of consulting? and just how big are MBB?) I guess I don't fully understand the size or scope of consulting firms.

On the banking side, I know comp can be higher (and get much higher) at the best performing banks, but at the smaller banks or banks that repeatedly and comically lose money (* cough *) comp can be way less - biglaw seems pretty unique in having a very flat and very uniform compensation structure.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Jsa725 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:53 am

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby ajr » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:21 pm

wiz wrote:You mentioned that consulting actually pays more than big law. What is the salary range like (before and after discretionary bonuses) for the first year? And how does salary progression compare to big law (i.e., lockstep model with market bonuses)?

Thanks for doing this.

This year first-year guaranteed comp (base, signing and retirement contribution): is in the 175-185 range with slight variation by firm. Add in relocation of 4-10k depending on distance and bonus of 15-45k (average performed gets ~20k. All-in first-year comes to an expected 200k +/-, with max comp in the 215-225 range. Salary progression varies by performance but probably similar on average.

ETA: Also note that MBB pays this nationwide. My home office will be in what is considered a secondary market (not NYC/DC/SF).


Not sure how you claim this is more compensation that biglaw. You add signing, relocation, etc. to your pay, which means biglaw should be adding bar prep payout etc.

A fair comparison would be simply base + guaranteed bonus. Biglaw is still way ahead there. There is this b-school mentality of fudging the line between salary and other compensation and adding all sorts of crap to first year pay.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:42 pm

ajr wrote:
wiz wrote:You mentioned that consulting actually pays more than big law. What is the salary range like (before and after discretionary bonuses) for the first year? And how does salary progression compare to big law (i.e., lockstep model with market bonuses)?

Thanks for doing this.

This year first-year guaranteed comp (base, signing and retirement contribution): is in the 175-185 range with slight variation by firm. Add in relocation of 4-10k depending on distance and bonus of 15-45k (average performed gets ~20k. All-in first-year comes to an expected 200k +/-, with max comp in the 215-225 range. Salary progression varies by performance but probably similar on average.

ETA: Also note that MBB pays this nationwide. My home office will be in what is considered a secondary market (not NYC/DC/SF).


Not sure how you claim this is more compensation that biglaw. You add signing, relocation, etc. to your pay, which means biglaw should be adding bar prep payout etc.

A fair comparison would be simply base + guaranteed bonus. Biglaw is still way ahead there. There is this b-school mentality of fudging the line between salary and other compensation and adding all sorts of crap to first year pay.


That's a terrible comparison. One of the best parts of MBB consulting is the retirement matches, which law firms, on the whole, do not have any more.

Not to mention, so many of your meals can likely be expensed (can't do Seamless 3 meals a day on the law firm side). You absolutely need to add in the "non-base/bonus" compensation to get a clear picture here.

EDIT: free weekends are also huge. Definitely agreed it's not a compensation factor, but it's a "better than biglaw" factor for sure.

EDIT 2: sorry, don't know why i was anonymous. this is gchatbrah.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby t-14orbust » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:45 pm

How early into LS did you know you wanted consulting? What is the application timeline like? What did you do to prepare for the interviews, and how early did you start preparing not only for interviews but to be a future consultant?

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:46 pm

ajr wrote:
wiz wrote:You mentioned that consulting actually pays more than big law. What is the salary range like (before and after discretionary bonuses) for the first year? And how does salary progression compare to big law (i.e., lockstep model with market bonuses)?

Thanks for doing this.

This year first-year guaranteed comp (base, signing and retirement contribution): is in the 175-185 range with slight variation by firm. Add in relocation of 4-10k depending on distance and bonus of 15-45k (average performed gets ~20k. All-in first-year comes to an expected 200k +/-, with max comp in the 215-225 range. Salary progression varies by performance but probably similar on average.

ETA: Also note that MBB pays this nationwide. My home office will be in what is considered a secondary market (not NYC/DC/SF).


Not sure how you claim this is more compensation that biglaw. You add signing, relocation, etc. to your pay, which means biglaw should be adding bar prep payout etc.

A fair comparison would be simply base + guaranteed bonus. Biglaw is still way ahead there. There is this b-school mentality of fudging the line between salary and other compensation and adding all sorts of crap to first year pay.


Now that you mention it, consulting pays bar expenses too.

But let me put this in a way you understand. My law firm guaranteed me only 160. No stipend (only advance that has to be repaid), no retirement contribution, no signing bonus, no guaranteed bonus.

Consulting GUARANTEES me about 180 before even considering discretionary bonus or relocation. Sure, it's structured differently but still results in more money. They make a retirement contribution (something I would be doing on my own), even if I contribute zero dollars myself. They give me a signing bonus in cash. This cash increases my ability to consume in the exact way it would if I got it in base. It is taxed exactly the same results in the exact same compensation as it were base.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby wiz » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:48 pm

Also interested in hearing about the application timeline. Is consulting like biglaw in the sense that it's generally 2L OCI or bust? Or do you have a shot doing interviews as a 3L?

Also, would a JD/MBA be helpful in securing a consulting gig?

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby ajr » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
ajr wrote:
wiz wrote:You mentioned that consulting actually pays more than big law. What is the salary range like (before and after discretionary bonuses) for the first year? And how does salary progression compare to big law (i.e., lockstep model with market bonuses)?

Thanks for doing this.

This year first-year guaranteed comp (base, signing and retirement contribution): is in the 175-185 range with slight variation by firm. Add in relocation of 4-10k depending on distance and bonus of 15-45k (average performed gets ~20k. All-in first-year comes to an expected 200k +/-, with max comp in the 215-225 range. Salary progression varies by performance but probably similar on average.

ETA: Also note that MBB pays this nationwide. My home office will be in what is considered a secondary market (not NYC/DC/SF).


Not sure how you claim this is more compensation that biglaw. You add signing, relocation, etc. to your pay, which means biglaw should be adding bar prep payout etc.

A fair comparison would be simply base + guaranteed bonus. Biglaw is still way ahead there. There is this b-school mentality of fudging the line between salary and other compensation and adding all sorts of crap to first year pay.


That's a terrible comparison. One of the best parts of MBB consulting is the retirement matches, which law firms, on the whole, do not have any more.

Not to mention, so many of your meals can likely be expensed (can't do Seamless 3 meals a day on the law firm side). You absolutely need to add in the "non-base/bonus" compensation to get a clear picture here.

EDIT: free weekends are also huge. Definitely agreed it's not a compensation factor, but it's a "better than biglaw" factor for sure.

EDIT 2: sorry, don't know why i was anonymous. this is gchatbrah.


If those kinds of "benefits" attract you, great. To me the value of those fringe benefits should be much lesser than their $ value. Maybe most of you haven't really worked in these kinds of jobs before, but all this travelling, expensing your meals, frequent flier etc. gets very unattractive after a while. Cash compensation means a lot more, however much companies try to "sell" their awesome benefit packages.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:52 pm

thesealocust wrote:I've always been under the impression that consulting at the MBB level was comparable if not superior for compensation. Do you know how that stacks up at other levels of consulting (related point: are there other levels of consulting? and just how big are MBB?) I guess I don't fully understand the size or scope of consulting firms.

On the banking side, I know comp can be higher (and get much higher) at the best performing banks, but at the smaller banks or banks that repeatedly and comically lose money (* cough *) comp can be way less - biglaw seems pretty unique in having a very flat and very uniform compensation structure.


There are about 10 or so "legit" big consulting firms. Pay varies but exceeds MBB at some places.

t-14orbust wrote:How early into LS did you know you wanted consulting? What is the application timeline like? What did you do to prepare for the interviews, and how early did you start preparing not only for interviews but to be a future consultant?


Should prep at least a month or so but will vary based on ability. Timeline varies but advanced degree candidate recruiting is like right now.

I knew from the beginning consulting was a possibility and options contributed to the selection of my law school vs scholarships.

Can apply for a summer position as 2L or full-time as 3L. Not unreasonable to go directly to full-time without a summer.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby Nelson » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:57 pm

ajr wrote:If those kinds of "benefits" attract you, great. To me the value of those fringe benefits should be much lesser than their $ value. Maybe most of you haven't really worked in these kinds of jobs before, but all this travelling, expensing your meals, frequent flier etc. gets very unattractive after a while. Cash compensation means a lot more, however much companies try to "sell" their awesome benefit packages.

Especially since you can't use those non-cash forms of compensation for loan service.

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Re: Taking BigConsulting over BigLaw, Answering questions

Postby thesealocust » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:57 pm

Is there any kind of summer program associated with consulting? If you really want to do apples to apples, you'd have:

Generic Biglaw: ~$35K to $40K comp for a summer of minimal expectations and maximizing boozing, bar expenses + relocation (some firms/markets give a flat stipend while others do an advance, relocation depends on if you need to relocate, etc.), $160K first year salary and $170K second year salary plus a market bonus ($35K at height, $10K all but guaranteed for first years and $14K all but guaranteed for second years last year). No retirement match.

Consulting firm: Signing bonus? Relocation? Bar expenses? ____ first year salary? ___ second year salary? ___ bonus, how much variation year to year or individual to individual? What's the second year salary and bonus?

I don't know the inputs for consulting so I have no opinion/dog in this fight, just think it wold be interesting to get a true / comprehensive comparison.




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