Managing a Relationship in Big Law

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

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

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
User avatar
manofjustice
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 10:01 pm

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby manofjustice » Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:53 pm

Stinson 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.


Hey bro, I hear BIGFED is going to be hiring MASSIVELY once the whole shutdown / debt ceiling debacle / limping from self-imposed crisis to self-imposed crisis / perpetual political lockdown caused by ruinously gerrymandered electoral districts / likely decades of economic malaise thing passes.


A new term professional economists now use to describe us: The Lost Generation.

Hei Guiz...we're the "lost generation." How does it feel?

edit: Here's a fuller picture of things from the WSJ.

WSJ wrote:Mr. Wetherell is a member of a lost generation, a group that is only now beginning to gain attention of many economists and employment experts...

[T]he recovery has left many young people behind. The official unemployment rate for Americans under age 25 was 15.6% in August, down from a peak of nearly 20% in 2010 but still more than 2½ times the rate for those 25 and older—a gap that has widened during the recovery. Moreover, the unemployment rate ignores the hundreds of thousands of young people who have taken shelter from the weak job market by going to college, enrolling in training programs or otherwise sitting on the sidelines. Add them back in, and the unemployment rate for Americans under 25 would be over 20%.

Even those lucky enough to be employed are often struggling. Little more than half are working full time—compared with about 80% of the population at large—and 12% earn minimum wage or less. The median weekly wage for young workers has fallen more than 5% since 2007, after adjusting for inflation; for those 25 and older, wages have stayed roughly flat.

This generation's struggles have few historical precedents, at least in the U.S.
Last edited by manofjustice on Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous Associate
Posts: 159
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:54 pm

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous Associate » Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:59 pm

guano wrote:This is fucking bullshit. As long as your SO understands the requirements, things will work out. There are plenty of people who have succesful relationships.

The problem is that most people are not understanding of the life. If you have an SO who expects you to always be home for dinner, you're fucked. If you gave an SO who understands when you cancel attending your son's little league game or your daughter's dance recital half an hour before it's time, because that's what keeps the kids in private school and mommy in Louis Vuitton, then you're less likely to have problems


Bingo. My SO gets this. If he didn't, it would be a problem. I am a biglaw attorney, my SO works a cushy in-house job, admittedly less than 40 hours a week and works from home more than half the time. Awesome, he can actually do stuff to help me out and enjoy his free time and explore his own interests. He realizes and appreciates that if I didn't work the sort of job I do, we wouldn't be living in the neighborhood we live in, we wouldn't be taking week long luxury vacations, and he wouldn't have all of his cool sports gear. And since I absolutely love my job and am completely happy with my chosen path, and he loves his job and his independent interests, it works out swimmingly.

That being said, managing expectations is important. Don't feel pressured to say yes to things that you don't know if you can do or not. Warn in advance as soon as things come up that mean you will work late, work weekends, or be out of town. It keeps everyone happy and low stress. Not to sound insensitive, the last thing I need during an 80 hour week or while traveling for a last minute depo is someone whining at me about not spending time with them.

User avatar
manofjustice
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 10:01 pm

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby manofjustice » Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:05 pm

Anonymous Associate wrote:
guano wrote:If you [have] an SO who understands when you cancel attending your son's little league game or your daughter's dance recital half an hour before it's time, [it's] because that's what keeps the kids in private school and mommy in Louis Vuitton[...]


[T]he last thing I need during an 80 hour week or while traveling for a last minute depo is someone whining at me about not spending time with them.


What romance.

User avatar
Blindmelon
Posts: 1708
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Blindmelon » Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:21 pm

This thread doesn't apply to everyone. I'm in a long-term relationship and its never been a problem balancing life and big firm. I'm a second year. I go out 2 nights a week, get in 10-15 hrs/week of video games, sleep 8 hours a night, and almost never have to cancel plans (although I've had to once or twice). Sometimes I work all weekend but you can see it coming miles away (like trial starting in 2 weeks means weekends = shot. Trial weeks are rough, but you can plan). While I don't have the freedom that people in non-big law jobs have, the hours and expectations vary widely by firm/practice area. If you're in an M&A practice, then lol free time. If you're litigation, life is really not so bad (until you realize unlike you're transaction friends you have no exit options whatsoever).

Gorki
Posts: 772
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:41 pm

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Gorki » Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:56 pm

ITT: A bunch of anons, from anon firms, discuss how shitty/wonderful their firm is in regards to work-life balance, with many 2L anons w/no w/e and 3Ls who went through a summer recruiting program weighing in with their thoughts.

Yeah this thread is a bad example of what Anon does. I am from the Midwest, and even here there are firms that work you to death, and firms that are pretty much 7a-5p M-F. Likewise, there are many spouses who require a lot of intimacy and attention, and many spouses who really are fine with you never being around.

That said, do not for a second believe that there are 250 NALP firms with "a work life" initiative and therefore every Biglaw Associate in the world is just a crying baby. There is a reason they pay over $100,000 a year to a 25 y/o with limited to no work experience at all... They are buying your life. At a pretty damn good salary, but that is what they are paying for.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:34 pm

Bronx Bum wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:So, I'm the one who posted about being an SA and not thinking big law is necessarily terrible. I'm not denying what you have said about big law. I'm just saying you can't paint a broad picture necessarily. It depends on the geographical market, it depends on how far up the ranks you go, it depends on the firm, it depends on whether you go part-time there as a mother or something, it depends on many factors. I could certainly turn out to be wrong, I'll admit that, but given that I often saw associates leaving at 5 PM, I can't think it's miserable 100% of the time. Given how many careers are demanding of your time (having a restaurant, doing I-banking, being a doctor), it's good to have some perspective... working in America and having a decedent income and balancing a family aren't easy no matter where you go.

I'll also add that I have friends who graduated a couple of years before me in law school and do big law in my geographical market. They also claim that it hasn't been stressful. They never leave later than 7 PM. They have only worked on the weekend a few times, and they have gone on vacations. They are first and second-year associates, sure, but I'm saying you can't paint overly broad pictures of your entire time in big law.


Well no one asked, "Hey guys! What does your idiot friend in biglaw have to say about managing a relationship in biglaw??" The fact that the op took the time to write out the OP implies that he wanted to hear from people who know, not SAs.


Oh, I'm sorry... I didn't know that ONLY big law associates have a monopoly on this conversation. I thought we are all hear to share our perspectives and thoughts in a civil manner. At least I was humble enough to explain my limited qualifications, unlike the tons of other anonymous users on this site that pontificate stuff without even qualifying how they know that. But given that others have at least echoed my message, I don't think it can be dismissed so plainly offhand. Tons of people here have insights into big law, whether through conservations they have had with relatives, mentors, or friends who are lawyers... how does that make one unqualified?

Stinson
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:01 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Stinson » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:59 pm

Just get into a relationship with a doctor doing residency. They won't miss you because they won't know you're gone. :D Plus they understand about urgent deadlines (which they call "codes!")

User avatar
OneMoreLawHopeful
Posts: 1191
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2012 6:21 pm

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby OneMoreLawHopeful » Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:44 pm

Gorki wrote:ITT: A bunch of anons, from anon firms, discuss how shitty/wonderful their firm is in regards to work-life balance, with many 2L anons w/no w/e and 3Ls who went through a summer recruiting program weighing in with their thoughts.

Yeah this thread is a bad example of what Anon does. I am from the Midwest, and even here there are firms that work you to death, and firms that are pretty much 7a-5p M-F. Likewise, there are many spouses who require a lot of intimacy and attention, and many spouses who really are fine with you never being around.


TITCR.

I would actually even go farther and say it's not just the firm, it's also the partner. There are partners that will email you at 1am and not understand why you didn't have the assignment ready to go at 8am when they got into the office. There are other partners that won't email you after midnight and don't expect any assignment due after 10am. Both types of partners can exist at the exact same office of the exact same firm. A whole bunch of anons saying "At my firm UR FUCT" and "What are you talking about, I get hella shorties!" isn't really giving a useful picture of anything.

There's probably also a huge difference between lit and corporate which doesn't really get discussed on these boards.

My girlfriend is a lit associate in biglaw, and 90% of he time she knows when the 100-hour weeks are coming long enough in advance that we can plan for them (filing and court dates are planned months in advance). Sure, sometimes the other side and/or the judge does something out of the blue, but it's the exception, not the rule.

From what I've heard, it's totally different in corporate, where a client could call you any time, out of the blue, and ask about a wide variety of topics that you may or may not have seen coming.

It's also all about understanding. I knew what I was getting into when my girlfriend went biglaw. She knows what she's getting into when I graduate and start in biglaw next year. If we didn't know, it would probably be harder. But I don't think it would be impossible. There are many jobs that require "biglaw hours," someone already mentioned medical residency, and I can think of several finance positions that are just as bad too. People with all of these careers regularly date, form relationships, and yes, even families. It's not easy, but it's not impossible.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:People really need to stop using their SA experience to tell people on the board what biglaw is like. Most firms instruct us to only give positive feedback on assignments no matter how bad your work is. We are in recruitment mode the entire summer when we tell you about our great lives. When you go out to lunch with us, we are not going to tell you the truth because we do not want to get fired for having an SA reject an offer because of us.

Wait until you get to the firm to tell people what is going on. That assignment you turned in as a summer really sucked. The wonderful boyfriend or girlfriend we said we had is threatening to leave us if we keep frequently returning home at 10:00 PM no matter what we make. After you start as a first year, go ask people how things are really going, it is a whole different story than what you were fed as a summer.


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.


I don't think the bolded is true. If there are $100K legal jobs with decent work/life balance I think everyone on here would like to hear about them. Please share.


12:52 here. I'm a decade+ lawyer with a plum government job. It's six figures and you don't want to know how ridiculously awesome our vacation policy is. I could go home at 5 every day but I actually love my work so much that I stay over most days. I had the sniffles about a month ago. Know what I did? Used one of my (2 weeks worth of) sick days. That's on top of the (you don't want to know) weeks of vacation time I get.

I'm not bragging, friends. I paid dearly to get here as a miserable law firm schlub. Worth it in the end? Yes. But THIS should be the objective. Not becoming a partner at these soulless divorce-ridden law firms. (No divorces for me. I was single until I left firm life and got married late in life.)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:53 pm

sort of in the vein of above anon, but i mean, in all sincerity

what if you just go into it deciding you won't give a fuck

like, you won't be totally useless. you will do your best to be responsive and turn things in on time and do good work. but you enforce boundaries -- i made this plan, i made that plan. especially if (as i already did see as a summer happen to other summers) the deadline is a bullshit one manufactured by a partner that has nothing to do with the client's needs. what if you don't care about making partner? or even for hanging around for more than say, 1.5-2 years? or even for lateraling to another slightly less terrible firm? or even for going in house, because maybe you see yourself switching to public interest, or leaving law eventually. is it easier then?

i mean, unless you literally leave early the day the deal is closing, no one's going to fire you on the spot, right?

LegalReality
Posts: 38
Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:08 pm

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby LegalReality » Fri Oct 11, 2013 11:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:sort of in the vein of above anon, but i mean, in all sincerity

what if you just go into it deciding you won't give a fuckYo

like, you won't be totally useless. you will do your best to be responsive and turn things in on time and do good work. but you enforce boundaries -- i made this plan, i made that plan. especially if (as i already did see as a summer happen to other summers) the deadline is a bullshit one manufactured by a partner that has nothing to do with the client's needs. what if you don't care about making partner? or even for hanging around for more than say, 1.5-2 years? or even for lateraling to another slightly less terrible firm? or even for going in house, because maybe you see yourself switching to public interest, or leaving law eventually. is it easier then?

i mean, unless you literally leave early the day the deal is closing, no one's going to fire you on the spot, right?


You cannot both be responsive and turn things on time and enforce boundaries.

Biglaw projects are not like getting an assignment on Monday and having to turn it in Friday. Most assignments are "emergencies" where the client needs something right away. For instance you will routinely be emailed asking to do something at 5:00 which must be done by tonight. There is no way for you to both respect your plans and be responsive, you are probably the only junior associate on the deal and this has to get done. Having personally pushed back and let the firm know I have plans and explained them, I have cancelled dinner plans, dates, friends bdays, holidays, etc. You are paid top dollar to make the firm your only priority.

Most of these deadlines actually come from clients and not partners. For paying us such an absurd amount, clients like to feel like they are getting their money's worth by having attorneys work impossible periods and I have to say most bullshit deadlines are client created rather than partner related, making them impossible to escape. Clients also create emergency deadlines to reduce possible attorney time and the bill, thats just how it goes. You are paid a lot both by the client and the firm to be their bitch period.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:40 am

Excellent points made in both of the posts above this one. Both have some validity.

I was inhouse for a while. The one time I remember truly screwing an outside counsel with a last minute emergency that got dumped on him, I felt horrible. I did it and had to, but I hated doing it. So I can't relate to the image of some inhouse guy intentionally torturing a lawyer just for the heck of it. The corporate environment is much less forgiving of sadistic, irrational psychopaths than law firm environments, so I would not expect to see someone like this last long as inhouse counsel.

Law firms, on the other hand, allow egomaniac fascists to rise to the top of their pyramid schemes, because all that matters is their book of business. And this is why law firms by nature have toxic environments.

Can you make some cash and squeak by for a few years without killing yourself? Absolutely. Many have done this successfully. The worst firm I ever worked at required about 2200 hours a year. My attitude? Fuck them. I worked hard, achieved good results on my cases, analyzed the issues before me in earnest, and billed less than 2000. I had no long-term future there but I didn't get fired either. I'm still friends with the senior managing partner.


Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:52 am

LegalReality wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:sort of in the vein of above anon, but i mean, in all sincerity

what if you just go into it deciding you won't give a fuckYo

like, you won't be totally useless. you will do your best to be responsive and turn things in on time and do good work. but you enforce boundaries -- i made this plan, i made that plan. especially if (as i already did see as a summer happen to other summers) the deadline is a bullshit one manufactured by a partner that has nothing to do with the client's needs. what if you don't care about making partner? or even for hanging around for more than say, 1.5-2 years? or even for lateraling to another slightly less terrible firm? or even for going in house, because maybe you see yourself switching to public interest, or leaving law eventually. is it easier then?

i mean, unless you literally leave early the day the deal is closing, no one's going to fire you on the spot, right?


You cannot both be responsive and turn things on time and enforce boundaries.

Biglaw projects are not like getting an assignment on Monday and having to turn it in Friday. Most assignments are "emergencies" where the client needs something right away. For instance you will routinely be emailed asking to do something at 5:00 which must be done by tonight. There is no way for you to both respect your plans and be responsive, you are probably the only junior associate on the deal and this has to get done. Having personally pushed back and let the firm know I have plans and explained them, I have cancelled dinner plans, dates, friends bdays, holidays, etc. You are paid top dollar to make the firm your only priority.

Most of these deadlines actually come from clients and not partners. For paying us such an absurd amount, clients like to feel like they are getting their money's worth by having attorneys work impossible periods and I have to say most bullshit deadlines are client created rather than partner related, making them impossible to escape. Clients also create emergency deadlines to reduce possible attorney time and the bill, thats just how it goes. You are paid a lot both by the client and the firm to be their bitch period.


I have heard anecdotal advice that it is possible to set boundaries. My mentor became partner at a big law firm while insisting from day 1 that he wouldn't work Sundays, which would be devoted to family and religion. He worked hard the other days, and people respected it. He mentioned that the boundary setting wasn't always easy... he once went on vacation and didn't tell anyone where he was going, but the client still found him and mailed him stuff there. So he decided to charge 3 times his billing rate to work on vacation, and clients stopped doing that.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:
LegalReality wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:sort of in the vein of above anon, but i mean, in all sincerity

what if you just go into it deciding you won't give a fuckYo

like, you won't be totally useless. you will do your best to be responsive and turn things in on time and do good work. but you enforce boundaries -- i made this plan, i made that plan. especially if (as i already did see as a summer happen to other summers) the deadline is a bullshit one manufactured by a partner that has nothing to do with the client's needs. what if you don't care about making partner? or even for hanging around for more than say, 1.5-2 years? or even for lateraling to another slightly less terrible firm? or even for going in house, because maybe you see yourself switching to public interest, or leaving law eventually. is it easier then?

i mean, unless you literally leave early the day the deal is closing, no one's going to fire you on the spot, right?


You cannot both be responsive and turn things on time and enforce boundaries.

Biglaw projects are not like getting an assignment on Monday and having to turn it in Friday. Most assignments are "emergencies" where the client needs something right away. For instance you will routinely be emailed asking to do something at 5:00 which must be done by tonight. There is no way for you to both respect your plans and be responsive, you are probably the only junior associate on the deal and this has to get done. Having personally pushed back and let the firm know I have plans and explained them, I have cancelled dinner plans, dates, friends bdays, holidays, etc. You are paid top dollar to make the firm your only priority.

Most of these deadlines actually come from clients and not partners. For paying us such an absurd amount, clients like to feel like they are getting their money's worth by having attorneys work impossible periods and I have to say most bullshit deadlines are client created rather than partner related, making them impossible to escape. Clients also create emergency deadlines to reduce possible attorney time and the bill, thats just how it goes. You are paid a lot both by the client and the firm to be their bitch period.


I have heard anecdotal advice that it is possible to set boundaries. My mentor became partner at a big law firm while insisting from day 1 that he wouldn't work Sundays, which would be devoted to family and religion. He worked hard the other days, and people respected it. He mentioned that the boundary setting wasn't always easy... he once went on vacation and didn't tell anyone where he was going, but the client still found him and mailed him stuff there. So he decided to charge 3 times his billing rate to work on vacation, and clients stopped doing that.


This is a really good anecdote about how biglaw has deteriorated just in the past few years. You cannot go on vacation and cut contact with your firm, especially not with blackberrys. In your partner's day, there was a huge demand for such legal services (firms would literally have meetings to select their clients) but now the pie has shrunk significantly and competition for business is vicious. If a partner tried to pull triple billing shit nowadays (not to mention this would be an obvious violation of their engagement agreement), the client would just refuse to pay the bill and find one of the many firms who would gladly answer his questions 24/7/365.

As an associate I do not take vacation in biglaw because of the standards that all partners hold us (and even themselves) to on them. I have routinely been on multiple hour long conference calls while partners are on "vacation" where you can hear the family playing outside at the fancy beach resort suite while the partner gets up to close the door and tell his family he just has a few more hours of work until they can see him.

Having been in firm meetings about retaining clients, clients view firms as interchangeable the moment they are not receiving the highest level of service. Things like not responding on a Sunday do not fly, there are too many firms in the market that will gladly take on that obligation in a market of shrinking demand for services.

User avatar
guano
Posts: 2268
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:49 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby guano » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:As an associate I do not take vacation in biglaw because of the standards that all partners hold us (and even themselves) to on them. I have routinely been on multiple hour long conference calls while partners are on "vacation" where you can hear the family playing outside at the fancy beach resort suite while the partner gets up to close the door and tell his family he just has a few more hours of work until they can see him.

It's the price you pay for the salary you get. It's not unique to biglaw, and my successful friends in accounting, finance, IT and business all have similar stories to tell. Someone I now who was a director at a multinational firm once arrived in Africa for this awesome vacation his family had been planning, only to get a phone call and have to fly out to a weeklong crisis meeting the next day, leaving his family to vacay without him. A friend who was a director at a big 4 accounting firm once spent 3 weeks working non-stop in summer. Don't even ask about IT during a product roll-out, or a hack attack.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:08 am

You'd be amazed at how many people in biglaw get steamrolled because they are afraid to push back. The vast majorities of the deadlines are somewhat artificial and partner-imposed. If you push back strategically and every now and then, you can maintain a very good amount of sanity.

For example, I have been given assignments late Friday that they want on Monday. After doing this a few times, it became clear that Monday was a somewhat arbitrary deadline or the project was a "nice to have" more than a "must have". So I have started just saying, I am going to get it to you Tuesday. Just a dead look in the eye and say that and it has not been a problem. The trick is managing expectations/playing the game but don't be afraid to push back every now and then for the sake of your own sanity- youd be shocked at how rarely it's a problem to extend a deadline it's just the average associate never thinks to ask.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:You'd be amazed at how many people in biglaw get steamrolled because they are afraid to push back. The vast majorities of the deadlines are somewhat artificial and partner-imposed. If you push back strategically and every now and then, you can maintain a very good amount of sanity.

For example, I have been given assignments late Friday that they want on Monday. After doing this a few times, it became clear that Monday was a somewhat arbitrary deadline or the project was a "nice to have" more than a "must have". So I have started just saying, I am going to get it to you Tuesday. Just a dead look in the eye and say that and it has not been a problem. The trick is managing expectations/playing the game but don't be afraid to push back every now and then for the sake of your own sanity- youd be shocked at how rarely it's a problem to extend a deadline it's just the average associate never thinks to ask.


This is a great approach, keeping in mind that your mileage will vary. Some of the toxic personalities that rise to the top of BIGLAW and may be one of your partners have serious personality disorders. You never know when you've said something that they don't outwardly lash out at but have internally logged as a reason to get rid of you as soon as it's convenient. Of course, if you're someone with a healthy, balanced personality, this is of no consequence because you're not crazy enough to want to stay in BIGLAW more than a couple years anyway.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:Having been in firm meetings about retaining clients, clients view firms as interchangeable the moment they are not receiving the highest level of service. Things like not responding on a Sunday do not fly, there are too many firms in the market that will gladly take on that obligation in a market of shrinking demand for services.


This may be true for New York banks that are trying to structure a derivative or close a trade before the arbitrage gap narrows, but as a general matter clients aren't looking for "the highest level of service," they're looking for service sufficient for the particular need at the lowest possible cost. I worked in-house for a Fortune 100 my 1L summer and was privy to a few of the meetings regarding retention of counsel for a few matters, and there were times where they consciously chose to retain a firm they thought provided worse service, because the expected cost was so much lower. Once the matter was in their hands, we didn't really impose many hard and fast deadlines, so long as they kept us up to speed on what was happening and didn't seem to be lollygagging.

Between my experience in-house, as legal support at a litigation firm before law school, and my discussions with friends working V10 capital markets in NYC, I think the Anon above hits it right on the head when he points out that most deadlines are coming from the partner, not the client (again, New York banks might be different). As long as you can figure out which is which, you can still maintain a decent quality of life.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:49 am

OneMoreLawHopeful wrote:
Gorki wrote:ITT: A bunch of anons, from anon firms, discuss how shitty/wonderful their firm is in regards to work-life balance, with many 2L anons w/no w/e and 3Ls who went through a summer recruiting program weighing in with their thoughts.

Yeah this thread is a bad example of what Anon does. I am from the Midwest, and even here there are firms that work you to death, and firms that are pretty much 7a-5p M-F. Likewise, there are many spouses who require a lot of intimacy and attention, and many spouses who really are fine with you never being around.


TITCR.

I would actually even go farther and say it's not just the firm, it's also the partner. There are partners that will email you at 1am and not understand why you didn't have the assignment ready to go at 8am when they got into the office. There are other partners that won't email you after midnight and don't expect any assignment due after 10am. Both types of partners can exist at the exact same office of the exact same firm. A whole bunch of anons saying "At my firm UR FUCT" and "What are you talking about, I get hella shorties!" isn't really giving a useful picture of anything.

There's probably also a huge difference between lit and corporate which doesn't really get discussed on these boards.

My girlfriend is a lit associate in biglaw, and 90% of he time she knows when the 100-hour weeks are coming long enough in advance that we can plan for them (filing and court dates are planned months in advance). Sure, sometimes the other side and/or the judge does something out of the blue, but it's the exception, not the rule.

From what I've heard, it's totally different in corporate, where a client could call you any time, out of the blue, and ask about a wide variety of topics that you may or may not have seen coming.

It's also all about understanding. I knew what I was getting into when my girlfriend went biglaw. She knows what she's getting into when I graduate and start in biglaw next year. If we didn't know, it would probably be harder. But I don't think it would be impossible. There are many jobs that require "biglaw hours," someone already mentioned medical residency, and I can think of several finance positions that are just as bad too. People with all of these careers regularly date, form relationships, and yes, even families. It's not easy, but it's not impossible.


I don't think you're crediting the knowledge everyone has about firm culture, enough. Yes, the personality types of each individual partner impacts your life. Yes, litigation life can be different than transactional. But you can read studies on behavioral economics to confirm certain realities that just aren't avoidable: the billable hour has an almost cancer-like effect on an organization, that spreads throughout every aspect of its culture. This just doesn't exist at a traditional American corporation that prides itself on happy work cultures, or government agencies which very often do also.

Want to have a work-related and professionally fulfilling event at the office, like bringing in a guest speaker? Well, you can do it at a firm, but the partners will be fixated on the fact that the 4 hours of time times the 25 associates who signed up means approximately $35,000 in lost revenues to the firm. Yeah. (I use this as an example because my government agency is bringing in a Supreme Court justice to sit down and chat with us one afternoon, in a few weeks. Just cuz. Stuff like that just happens, often, when you work in a place run by non-fascists.)

The point is: billable hours reign supreme over all aspects of life, at a firm. There is no escaping that fact, even if there are slight variations from one firm to another, one practice area vs. another, etc.

User avatar
guano
Posts: 2268
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:49 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby guano » Sat Oct 12, 2013 11:23 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Having been in firm meetings about retaining clients, clients view firms as interchangeable the moment they are not receiving the highest level of service. Things like not responding on a Sunday do not fly, there are too many firms in the market that will gladly take on that obligation in a market of shrinking demand for services.


This may be true for New York banks that are trying to structure a derivative or close a trade before the arbitrage gap narrows, but as a general matter clients aren't looking for "the highest level of service," they're looking for service sufficient for the particular need at the lowest possible cost. I worked in-house for a Fortune 100 my 1L summer and was privy to a few of the meetings regarding retention of counsel for a few matters, and there were times where they consciously chose to retain a firm they thought provided worse service, because the expected cost was so much lower. Once the matter was in their hands, we didn't really impose many hard and fast deadlines, so long as they kept us up to speed on what was happening and didn't seem to be lollygagging.

Between my experience in-house, as legal support at a litigation firm before law school, and my discussions with friends working V10 capital markets in NYC, I think the Anon above hits it right on the head when he points out that most deadlines are coming from the partner, not the client (again, New York banks might be different). As long as you can figure out which is which, you can still maintain a decent quality of life.

Banking is a different matter. There you will have clients literally demanding a same day turnaround. The deadlines can be just as artificial, but pushback will get you in serious fucking trouble.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:49 pm

It would be useful if folks telling horror stories would also name their market. I summered in a secondary market after 1L and the place was a ghost town on weekends and after 6:30 PM during the week. I bet many of the most negative poasters here probably went to NYC out of desperation or insanity.

dixiecupdrinking
Posts: 3139
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:39 pm

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat Oct 12, 2013 2:56 pm

guano wrote:This is fucking bullshit. As long as your SO understands the requirements, things will work out. There are plenty of people who have succesful relationships.

The problem is that most people are not understanding of the life. If you have an SO who expects you to always be home for dinner, you're fucked. If you gave an SO who understands when you cancel attending your son's little league game or your daughter's dance recital half an hour before it's time, because that's what keeps the kids in private school and mommy in Louis Vuitton, then you're less likely to have problems

+1. Underrated post. Life is full of trade offs. If your SO can't accept that, you'll have trouble no matter what.

I do think these things are easier outside NYC, no matter what industry you're in, just because you don't have to bust your ass to have the trappings of what most people consider a normal middle-class life (owning a home a reasonable commute away from work, decent schools for the kids, etc.; you basically have to be rich to do this even in convenient parts of NJ/Long Island/Westchester). In NYC you're competing for this shit with people who are all working 70 hour weeks for biglaw-esque jobs and driving prices up.

ETA: if you're just in your 20s and unmarried/no kids though, then I really don't see how it's so hard as long as you're on the same page with your SO that this is a period where getting your career going, paying down debt, etc. is a priority.

User avatar
ragelion
Posts: 2302
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:14 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby ragelion » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:00 pm

guano wrote:This is fucking bullshit. As long as your SO understands the requirements, things will work out. There are plenty of people who have succesful relationships.

The problem is that most people are not understanding of the life. If you have an SO who expects you to always be home for dinner, you're fucked. If you gave an SO who understands when you cancel attending your son's little league game or your daughter's dance recital half an hour before it's time, because that's what keeps the kids in private school and mommy in Louis Vuitton, then you're less likely to have problems

Wow, dingbat actually said something credited.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273155
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Managing a Relationship in Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:45 pm

Some work, some don't. I think it depends on your personality and the significant other's personality. The ones I've seen that work and well are usually between two practical and fairly independent people. They e-mail and call each other whenever they can, but they don't lose sight of the big picture. If your significant other knows that you love them and you'll be there to care for them in what ways you can, chances are they'll do their best to make it work too. And for the love of god, if you're the SO not in biglaw, be flexible with punctuality and don't push on demands that aren't important in the long run.

The ones I've seen that don't work always involves at least 1 clingy/ unreasonable person, and it's usually the one that's not in biglaw. Biglaw works people to the bone. It tires them out and makes them question their decisions in life. The last thing those people need is the significant other telling them that they're not doing enough. If, as a significant other, that's not good enough or you want more, then maybe it's time to rethink your choices in partnership.

I will say that in one case I can think of, it is the person in biglaw being unreasonable. (Forcing the SO to be depending and then cheating on the SO) In cases like that, there's really nothing you can do but leave. But again, these cases are extreme.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.