Managing a Relationship in Big Law

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Desert Fox
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Postby Desert Fox » Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:14 pm

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:35 pm

I'm a very new associate so my substantive experience is being a summer so it's not very substantive. From what I've seen and from my limited experience:

1.) You have to be up front about what the relationship will be: limited time together but that you'll try to make your limited moments with them all high quality. They also have to "get it," which many people won't. Everyone thinks they work hard.

2.) They can't be insecure. If they think working on a deal to 2 AM is code for you banging someone else then the relationship is over. Even as a summer, a girl I met was very insecure about my not being available most of the time and I had to break it off. Most of our generation is very spoiled so doesn't understand work isn't only 9-5. You also can't be insecure, and probably want to date someone who has an active social life outside of you/encourage your SO to have an active social life. As a guy who was once cheated on by a girl with a lot of male friends and acknowledges his own scars, I only consider women who have a lot of girlfriends, which is unfair to other women but works for me. The people who make their romantic relationships their entire universe would never be happy with a lover in big law.

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 29, 2015 1:55 pm

Obviously managing a relationship is a lot of face time/actual time spent together- but what are the realistic problems with keeping in touch via texting, email, other ways to not completely cut off communication while chained to a desk?

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 29, 2015 10:48 pm

Difficult if working 1800 hours a week at midlaw? Or doable?

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Danger Zone
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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Danger Zone » Tue Sep 29, 2015 11:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Difficult if working 1800 hours a week at midlaw? Or doable?

I imagine 1800 hours a week would put a strain on even the strongest of relationships.

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Nebby
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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Nebby » Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:12 am

Danger Zone wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Difficult if working 1800 hours a week at midlaw? Or doable?

I imagine 1800 hours a week would put a strain on even the strongest of relationships.

Hell, it would strain reality itself.

umichman
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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby umichman » Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:20 am

captainwasabi09 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:
BarbellDreams wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:
This recurring story, people tell this story as if we should feel bad, or that they system sucks. No one said you have to throw away your life to practice law. I'm sorry but if you work a job where keeping a wife is known to be difficult, what does it say about you that you CHOSE TO WORK THERE ANYWAYS. If you can land a job paying $160k, you can land one making $100k and have a family. It just doesn't make sense to me, or at least, I guess the type of people who want biglaw are the type of people for whom success in career outweighs contentment of soul.


Literally laughed out loud at this. You truly are clueless about the state of the legal market friend.


I live it bro. 1950 per year is not insane. That's 39 billable hours per week with two weeks off. You stack up some huge weeks or bill on the occassional weekend, you can take even more time off, or go home at a normal time. And culturally - if you need to leave early to go to Timmy's baseball game, thats ok, makeup the time later (so long as you're not blowing a deadline or something). No one here, at least at my firm, will bust your chops for that.

One clarification though - I didn't suggest these jobs were plentiful. I merely said that if you have the credentials to land a $160k biglaw job, you also have the credentials to land a $100k mid-west style big/mid-law job if you really wanted. I know we're seeing, for example, tons more UofMich applicants, because they aren't focusing on NYC anymore. Great for us. But I never said you WILL get one of these jobs, just that you could.

If your only option in life is to either take biglaw at $160k or nothing, of course you take the job. If students were to get savvy and realize it's not only biglaw or bust, and send an app or two to the large firms in mid-west markets, you might be surprised at the interest you'd recieve, especially if your resume is good enough to get you that $160k NYC biglaw position. Good enough for them? Good enough for us.

And I'll conclude by just saying good luck everyone - I'm aware it's difficult out there. I'm just saying that in a buyer's market like this, where there are too many law students and not enough jobs, the top students can enter markets they might otherwise not have considered and push out the regional students who normally get those jobs.

And love, it's a motherfucker, eh?


For me, I would have to assume that you have longevity at these firms. Is that true? There would have to be some real expectations I would make partner or otherwise I wouldn't do it.

Over the course of 4-5 years, you would be talking substantial pay differences. Sure, the hours tremendously suck. But if your career at either place (midwest or NYC) is 4 years tops, and the pay difference can be as high as $240K, why not live hell on earth for 4 years (before you turn 30) and get out?

Associates at the midwestern firms I met with didn't seem any happier than the NYC ones. Instead, they were making less money.


FWIW, a firm in Michigan told me there was an expectation of longevity at the firm, especially if you come from a top-ranked school. With the cost of living in suburban Detroit/Grand Rapids, you could easily buy a house in your early-mid twenties. (And personal opinion -- I think the men are better there too.) Turning that type of life down is a decision I rethink every other day.


Just to fill in a little more context. There is ONE big firm that pays close to big law wages in Detroit and its not even that close (115k). (i know there are satellite offices that pay more but there are maybe like 3 jobs per year available there). the other firms start around the same salary (105k) but move up only 5-10 k per year while the big law salaries move up much faster than that. The ONE firm that moves wages up quickly works you just as much as a NY firm. I personally know people billing over 2500 hours there. The reason there is more longevity is because there are fewer legitimate exit options. From a large NY or CHI firm, you can easily lateral back to a great firm in a secondary market and have "longevity" at that firm. Though, I do know partners at the "bigger" Detroit firms earning under 400k. Yes they work 10 hours less per week, but a lot of the partners there started in big law. THe associates at those firms often end up just going to small law.

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby OklahomasOK » Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Difficult if working 1800 hours a week at midlaw? Or doable?


Assuming you mean 1800 hours/ yr, this is easily doable. I'm in a boutique but end up working as much as my mid-law brethren. I usually aim to work 7a-7p and get 8-10 billables/ day and typically leave about 5pm on Friday. Helps my fiancee is equally as busy and sometimes works later than I do.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Big Shrimpin » Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:16 pm

havent read thread but if u arent w someone who is also a grinder/striver and/or someone who lives 4 u and not themselves, good luck

gf in the beginning was like wtf but shes also a grinder/striver so while she wishes i was home more, she gets it

like for me probs not sustainable over a lifetime but ill prob get fired/killself in a few years so its nbd

Animal_Activist
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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Animal_Activist » Fri Oct 09, 2015 5:11 am

It is funny, because reading this confirmed my views on career and family life. Think about it. You work your butt off trying to get a perfect LSAT score to go to the top law school in the nation, then maybe get in and work like crazy to get top of the class which is also extremely difficult, and sacrifice everything for that nice salary that makes you this bad ass successful lawyer. So now your work is your life and you have no time for family or friends and either you dedicate the remainder of this life of sacrifice to your work to just see a bunch of cash flowing to your account and flowing into your material goods, or you get burned out and have to leave the position to work somewhere more bearable.

And then we come back to TLS where everyone says as an advice to retake LSAT until you follow some similar path. I mean is it really worth it? I don't think so. I rather be a poor lawyer doing something I love and struggling than be like the top lawyer and lose everything else that I love just to have a lot of money. You live once so you better enjoy your life.

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:58 am

Animal_Activist wrote:It is funny, because reading this confirmed my views on career and family life. Think about it. You work your butt off trying to get a perfect LSAT score to go to the top law school in the nation, then maybe get in and work like crazy to get top of the class which is also extremely difficult, and sacrifice everything for that nice salary that makes you this bad ass successful lawyer. So now your work is your life and you have no time for family or friends and either you dedicate the remainder of this life of sacrifice to your work to just see a bunch of cash flowing to your account and flowing into your material goods, or you get burned out and have to leave the position to work somewhere more bearable.

And then we come back to TLS where everyone says as an advice to retake LSAT until you follow some similar path. I mean is it really worth it? I don't think so. I rather be a poor lawyer doing something I love and struggling than be like the top lawyer and lose everything else that I love just to have a lot of money. You live once so you better enjoy your life.

Having worked with public interest lawyers doing what they love - the good ones work just as hard. They're also answering emails at mignight. Their work is even more all-encompassing, in fact, because they give a shit.

If you're the kind of type a person who wants to be excellent at your job, then any area of the law can take over your life.

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SemperLegal
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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby SemperLegal » Fri Oct 09, 2015 9:11 am

Extremely relevant to me starting tomorrow. Newly Wed to a resident.

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby FSK » Fri Oct 09, 2015 9:31 am

My fiance is in med school. My plan is to cop that BIGSTAYATHOMEDAD job when she finishes fellowship may years down the line.

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Danger Zone » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:06 am

flawschoolkid wrote:My fiance is in med school. My plan is to cop that BIGSTAYATHOMEDAD job when she finishes fellowship may years down the line.

Awww yeeeah that'd be the life

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby FSK » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:09 am

Danger Zone wrote:
flawschoolkid wrote:My fiance is in med school. My plan is to cop that BIGSTAYATHOMEDAD job when she finishes fellowship may years down the line.

Awww yeeeah that'd be the life


Not even flame though, this our current agreement.

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Danger Zone
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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Danger Zone » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:10 am

Nice bro I'm jelly. I'd love that, but my woman's a teacher, so I wouldn't get to enjoy the fruits of her labor until retirement and dat sweet sweet pension.

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:36 am

Animal_Activist wrote:It is funny, because reading this confirmed my views on career and family life. Think about it. You work your butt off trying to get a perfect LSAT score to go to the top law school in the nation, then maybe get in and work like crazy to get top of the class which is also extremely difficult, and sacrifice everything for that nice salary that makes you this bad ass successful lawyer. So now your work is your life and you have no time for family or friends and either you dedicate the remainder of this life of sacrifice to your work to just see a bunch of cash flowing to your account and flowing into your material goods, or you get burned out and have to leave the position to work somewhere more bearable.

And then we come back to TLS where everyone says as an advice to retake LSAT until you follow some similar path. I mean is it really worth it? I don't think so. I rather be a poor lawyer doing something I love and struggling than be like the top lawyer and lose everything else that I love just to have a lot of money. You live once so you better enjoy your life.

Pretty much agree with this sentiment. I've been meaning to write a "You Don't Have to Follow the TLS/Big Law Circlejerk" post for quite some time now. Among other things, PAYE/IBR have completely changed the game, and I'd say maybe 10-20% of TLSers understand it.

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby homestyle28 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:41 pm

Jr. Assoc. married w/2 kids. Shit's hard and there's no such thing as balance really. When I'm slammed I see my kids for 30 minutes in the morning and some on the weekends. When I'm not slammed I see them 30 minutes in the morning and an hour at night, and some on the weekends. But, I can afford a house in a decent area with good schools my kids like and can pay off my debts in 5-6 years.

As best I can tell the whole gov/midlaw being better is mostly a myth. Either you're working in some state gov office where everyone leaves at 5 b/c they don't give a shit about work, or you're working in an AUSA office with a bunch of strivers who care, but work biglaw hours for less pay. Every recruiter says "at Firm X they really do only bill 2000 hours tops" but the inside scoop just laughs that off.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:48 pm

I think you're painting government work with an overly broad brush (for one thing, you can care about your work and still leave at 5 pm).

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby bruinfan10 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 10:42 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I think you're painting government work with an overly broad brush (for one thing, you can care about your work and still leave at 5 pm).

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:32 pm

From my short experience and those of others, it may be easier to manage an existing relationship than it is to start a new one. If you're upfront with your partner and they knew the deal before hand then they can deal with it. In addition, they may be mature enough to appreciate what you've committed to support your life with them. Obviously you would prefer to be with your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend than be typing a brief at 9 PM. Conversely, people are so programmed to interpret a last minute cancelation as a sign of disinterest that it can be an issue. If someone is insecure they might assume they're second fiddle. While everyone says they work hard, the reality is that you've chosen a business where your work can impact tens of millions of dollars, and you need someone who can understand that.

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:45 pm

I did about 5 years at a big law firm. I began engaged and exited still married. The key was a fundamental understanding that I valued our relationship and wanted to spend time with my spouse. The was a genuine feeling, which, of course, helps. My spouse understood that if I worked late, cancelled plans or had to jump on a call in the middle of something we were doing, it wasn't because I valued work over my spouse - it was required and I had no choice if I wanted to continue working in big law. I also kept the lines of communication open. On at least a yearly basis, I'd check in how the spouse was doing with my career path and whether the spouse could endure another year (ultimately, most of the time, it was my plan to leave firm life eventually for a better work/life balance once I got sufficient experience and could find a good in house job). There were bumps in the road, frustrations, etc., but, overall, it was pretty smooth. I'd say that we have a very strong relationship, are both relatively secure and trust each other. I've very lucky to have a supportive spouse. I also didn't have kids, so that made it a little easier too. Last, around year 3-4, I also made a point to try to make it home for dinner almost every night, even if dinner was at 9pm. Sometimes, that required me plugging in again after dinner, but at least I got to see my spouse most nights.

It's doable, but you need to have open lines of communication with your signature other, and an understanding significant other. If your significant other/spouse doesn't understand big law requires a big work/life balance sacrifice, buy in and support your decision, I don't imagine it will be easy to make the relationship last. If you plan to stay for a set number of years, it makes it easier to endure because your spouse knows that there is an eventual end in sight. It also helps to set forth specific pros of the job and goals (e.g., recognizing the incredible paycheck, and that you can save up a downpayment in X years or pay-off loans in Y years, etc.). You also need to regularly thank your spouse for enduring your hectic lifestyle - expressing genuine appreciation for the spouse's sacrifices to support you makes a big difference (and, for my spouse, flowers never hurt).

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 12, 2015 11:56 pm

I'm reluctant to post this here and seek advice on my personal life from strangers on an internet forum, but figured its worth hearing from experience. I'm about to accept a nyc biglaw SA position and am almost certain my acceptance will be the de facto end of my relationship. Been dating my SO for 4 years, we're both from the mid-atlantic. My firm is pretty much 100% offer rate, and I would gladly accept an offer at the end of the summer … but my SO is adamant about not moving to nyc with me b/c of her own career interests. The firm I am going to is a v10 firm (only say this for exit-ops), I have no ambition to stay for longer than 3-4 years, but even this will do things for my career that smaller, more regional firms simply cannot provide. My questions, or solicitation for advice, are: (a) is it possible to not only have a relationship in biglaw, but to have a long-distance relationship in biglaw?; (b) am I selfish for pursuing opportunities to further my career at the expense of an important personal relationship? [context FWIW: she has already asked me as I would do reading at 8:30 on a Tuesday night, "is this what our life is going to be like…"] :roll:

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby AVBucks4239 » Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm reluctant to post this here and seek advice on my personal life from strangers on an internet forum, but figured its worth hearing from experience. I'm about to accept a nyc biglaw SA position and am almost certain my acceptance will be the de facto end of my relationship. Been dating my SO for 4 years, we're both from the mid-atlantic. My firm is pretty much 100% offer rate, and I would gladly accept an offer at the end of the summer … but my SO is adamant about not moving to nyc with me b/c of her own career interests. The firm I am going to is a v10 firm (only say this for exit-ops), I have no ambition to stay for longer than 3-4 years, but even this will do things for my career that smaller, more regional firms simply cannot provide. My questions, or solicitation for advice, are: (a) is it possible to not only have a relationship in biglaw, but to have a long-distance relationship in biglaw?; (b) am I selfish for pursuing opportunities to further my career at the expense of an important personal relationship? [context FWIW: she has already asked me as I would do reading at 8:30 on a Tuesday night, "is this what our life is going to be like…"] :roll:

This is pretty analogous to a lot of situations that you might have already experienced. If you dated in high school, was it more important to go to your number one college or to a college that was geographically close to your SO's school of choice? Same decision for work after undergrad and choosing your law school. What did you decide then?

Things are theoretically a little more complicated because of the work/life demands of big law (of which I admittedly and gratefully have no experience). But the bottom line question is still the same--do I place my own personal preferences over the existence of my relationship? It sounds like you have answered yes to that question and that you've already mentally prepared for the end of your relationship. And that doesn't make you selfish; that's just life.

I say this as somebody who had a long distance relationship for about 10 months. My SO and I went to the same high school and got re-acquainted over my 3L Thanksgiving break. There's a novelty at first--facetiming before bed, texting your SO a thoughtful morning text that they wake up to, sending them a card, etc. But that wears off after a while. What keeps the spark going is (a) actually seeing each other and (b) having a long term plan to end the "long distance" preface to "relationship" (i.e., you need to have a plan to physically get back together).

For me, I saw my SO (and now GF) over Christmas break, winter break (that four day weekend in February), spring break, and the break between finals and bar study; while she came to see me in between all those visits. And more importantly, the plan was always for me to come back home and get a job there (which luckily happened).

Meanwhile, my twin brother was in a relationship for 3 years before he and his SO went to the same undergrad on athletic scholarships. My brother got hurt freshman year and then transferred to a school four hours away. They tried to make things work but, after a while, it became apparent that she wanted to go to grad school in North Carolina and stay there after graduation. My brother had no interest in that and, even after really trying to make the LDR work, they eventually broke up. Note that neither of them were "selfish"--that's just life.

I use both of those anecdotes to say that it sounds like you're looking at things from too broad a perspective (whether LDRs are generically possible in Big Law is irrelevant). You need to focus on you and your SO and how you would plan to make it work. Would you be willing to set aside a time every night to facetime him/her? Would your SO visit you in NYC? If so, how often? Would they be okay with you cancelling? And more importantly, what's the long game? Would you go back to the Mid-Atlantic once you were done in Big Law?

TL;DR: no LDR works without a lot of effort to keep the spark going and a plan to get re-acquainted; you need to have a heart to heart with your SO about the long game.

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Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby North » Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:06 pm

^cosigned




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