Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

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fats provolone
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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby fats provolone » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:28 pm

yea i suspect the people who feel "crushed" by biglaw are the people foolishly hanging on to some sense of self-worth and personal autonomy. it's possible there is some correlation with K-JDs as they haven't had it beaten out of them by previous employment. but it probably varies from person to person.

Cogburn87
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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Cogburn87 » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:The firm looks at you as a billing machine. It does not look at you as a human being.

Yeah. It's a real mystery why people might feel crushed in this kind of environment. I don't get it either.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:40 pm

Autumnb13 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Don't quit, be smart and coast til you get fired like many others do. Employ a rule to leave the office everyday before 7:00 pm no matter what. If you get called out say you had family obligation and need someone to step in. People can laugh but I was being worked to death and literally started employing this strategy religiously and have refused and been late on a ton of projects. I have been doing it for two years now and honestly biglaw is not so bad anymore. Lawyers are insanely passive aggressive and will keep you around forever to avoid firing you. At worst you will last to your second year doing this.

There is no reason to not follow this line of advice, the fifth years in this post will be shown the door just the same as the slackers. Start taking advantage instead of being taken advantage of. I know all the top associates at my firm bill 800 hours more than me, have mental health issues, but will be fired just the same and have no leg up in interviews because nobody can talk to your references anyway. In order to make biglaw work you have to get selfish.

The firm does not give one shit about you and you shouldn't give one shit about your firm.


Do other firms/companies not ask for references when you try to lateral/apply for something new?


Do you think any biglawyer would ever apply for any new job if they had to go to a partner and admit they are thinking of leaving? Of course not. What's pretty hilarious is I have gotten interviews over people who are better at the job and spend 6 more hours a day at the office probably because I sound like I am not severely depressed on the phone (it is really not that hard for recruiters to tell). Some of the very worst associates at our firm have been the ones getting the best exits.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:4th year associate here. When I see posts like this I think of a few questions.

I'm just trying to get a sense of why the hours and inflexibility of Big Law seem like such an insurmountable shock to some people. If one is involved in law school (journal, moot court, actually doing one's coursework rigorously and making one's own outlines) one works a similar number of hours as at a firm; and if one worked for an employer before law school, one should be used to the idea of full-time inflexibility.


do you really think putting in hours for law school and working long hours at a big firm involve similar pressures and stresses on a day-to-day basis. law school is stressful and/or anxiety-inducing for about 2 weeks a semester.

also, i'd say most jobs aren't as stressful as biglaw. i worked for a few years before law school and it was a joke compared to this.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:4th year associate here. When I see posts like this I think of a few questions.

I'm just trying to get a sense of why the hours and inflexibility of Big Law seem like such an insurmountable shock to some people. If one is involved in law school (journal, moot court, actually doing one's coursework rigorously and making one's own outlines) one works a similar number of hours as at a firm; and if one worked for an employer before law school, one should be used to the idea of full-time inflexibility.


do you really think putting in hours for law school and working long hours at a big firm involve similar pressures and stresses on a day-to-day basis. law school is stressful and/or anxiety-inducing for about 2 weeks a semester.

also, i'd say most jobs aren't as stressful as biglaw. i worked for a few years before law school and it was a joke compared to this.


I hear you. Everyone's experience is different. I "grinded" all the way through law school, in terms of doing all the work and extracurricular activities. Of course it was "inefficient" (in that I could get the same grades by grinding for only "2 weeks a semester"), but it did give me stamina.

I also worked as a paralegal before law school, so I knew exactly what I was getting into.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:48 pm

Cogburn87 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:The firm looks at you as a billing machine. It does not look at you as a human being.

Yeah. It's a real mystery why people might feel crushed in this kind of environment. I don't get it either.


The point is that once you realize it's not an evaluation of you as a human being the stakes are lower and that could lead to less stress. Just my outlook.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:57 pm

I feel you OP. Ironically, that's part of why I'm in law school. I realize that the feeling you have can occur in pretty much any career (and I also experienced a milder version in my previous career). Sure, there are some that get lucky and find a great place to work but I've learned that those people are far and few between. For the majority of us, we have to work at a place we don't like essentially because we feel we have to.

Early on, that concept was hard for me to adjust to. It just felt meaningless. But then I realized that I was also looking for my job to define me, to help me feel a certain way that I was not already feeling. Once I figured it out, I figured out that I'd likely feel the way I felt in any job. Sure the job sucked; but I wasn't where I needed to be psychologically either. I was not mentally ill and you likely are not either. I just had to learn to detach from work because my job should never and could never define me.

Once this happened, work was MUCH less stressful and the quality of my work improved. I saw work as a place to attain skills not to impress people. I didn't care if people were disappointed in me as long as I knew I tried my best.

And then I figured, well, if work is likely gonna suck pretty much in any field, why not do something that gives me a chance to actually use my head a little and get paid well for it? So I came to law school lol.

Anyways, hang in there. You may not need to quit. But be careful though, it might not change in other places of employment.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:16 pm

I think honestly some of this comes down to expectations-vs-reality, and some of it just comes down to the particular firm/practice group not fitting with a specific personality. So with respect to OP, for someone in your position, I think it's important to isolate where the misery is coming from and whether changing jobs, firms, office locations, etc. will really address those issues.

To all you 1Ls and 0Ls coming up on OCI and etc., I don't feel like this should be a warning against biglaw in general. Rather, I think it's really important to choose your firm carefully. I can't stress this enough. I've seen so many people pick their employers by Vault rankings or prestige, or the strength of particular practices (which is a very valid metric). But at the end of the day, most of these large firms will give you a similar caliber of work. So there's a lot of merit in picking a place where you mesh with the culture, where you like the people in your group, and where you feel like you'll have an opportunity to grow as a lawyer. These are all things you can get a good feel for on callbacks (and yes, I know callbacks are about winning the firm over, but it's also a chance for you to evaluate them). You're spending a large amount of your life at work - so for the majority of newly minted grads, going in with the attitude that you'll just "pay your dues" and take the exit options will probably yield a rough few years.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby ymmv » Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think honestly some of this comes down to expectations-vs-reality, and some of it just comes down to the particular firm/practice group not fitting with a specific personality. So with respect to OP, for someone in your position, I think it's important to isolate where the misery is coming from and whether changing jobs, firms, office locations, etc. will really address those issues.

To all you 1Ls and 0Ls coming up on OCI and etc., I don't feel like this should be a warning against biglaw in general. Rather, I think it's really important to choose your firm carefully. I can't stress this enough. I've seen so many people pick their employers by Vault rankings or prestige, or the strength of particular practices (which is a very valid metric). But at the end of the day, most of these large firms will give you a similar caliber of work. So there's a lot of merit in picking a place where you mesh with the culture, where you like the people in your group, and where you feel like you'll have an opportunity to grow as a lawyer. These are all things you can get a good feel for on callbacks (and yes, I know callbacks are about winning the firm over, but it's also a chance for you to evaluate them). You're spending a large amount of your life at work - so for the majority of newly minted grads, going in with the attitude that you'll just "pay your dues" and take the exit options will probably yield a rough few years.


This is impossible to know based on superficial OCI impressions of "culture," and plenty of associates here have noted there are individual cultures within practice groups or certain partners that you might have zero exposure to in interviews but wind up getting stuck with later.

Sure, you can weed out the obvious worst offenders like Skadden who have literally worked people to death and and almost seem to take pride in their dog-eat-dog mentality, but for 99% of firms you have no fucking idea and only tend to meet the friendliest, most sociable and outwardly likable people during OCI and callbacks anyway. And of course everyone has a great work-life balance, there are no screamers, they don't plan to leave, etc.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:07 pm

ymmv wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I think honestly some of this comes down to expectations-vs-reality, and some of it just comes down to the particular firm/practice group not fitting with a specific personality. So with respect to OP, for someone in your position, I think it's important to isolate where the misery is coming from and whether changing jobs, firms, office locations, etc. will really address those issues.

To all you 1Ls and 0Ls coming up on OCI and etc., I don't feel like this should be a warning against biglaw in general. Rather, I think it's really important to choose your firm carefully. I can't stress this enough. I've seen so many people pick their employers by Vault rankings or prestige, or the strength of particular practices (which is a very valid metric). But at the end of the day, most of these large firms will give you a similar caliber of work. So there's a lot of merit in picking a place where you mesh with the culture, where you like the people in your group, and where you feel like you'll have an opportunity to grow as a lawyer. These are all things you can get a good feel for on callbacks (and yes, I know callbacks are about winning the firm over, but it's also a chance for you to evaluate them). You're spending a large amount of your life at work - so for the majority of newly minted grads, going in with the attitude that you'll just "pay your dues" and take the exit options will probably yield a rough few years.



This is impossible to know based on superficial OCI impressions of "culture," and plenty of associates here have noted there are individual cultures within practice groups or certain partners that you might have zero exposure to in interviews but wind up getting stuck with later.

Sure, you can weed out the obvious worst offenders like Skadden who have literally worked people to death and and almost seem to take pride in their dog-eat-dog mentality, but for 99% of firms you have no fucking idea and only tend to meet the friendliest, most sociable and outwardly likable people during OCI and callbacks anyway. And of course everyone has a great work-life balance, there are no screamers, they don't plan to leave, etc.


Earlier anon here. I don't think it's necessarily impossible, though you're right in that you probably won't be able to accurately gauge culture at every firm. Certain firms hire into practice groups and certain firms run their summer programs as a rotation, so for the latter it's all that much more of a crapshoot. I know the OCI process is pretty murky as it is - but I think there are definitely steps that can be taken to minimize the chances of misery. Talking to alums, or "friends of friends" at specific firms is one way to get a (more) unbiased perspective - I don't think a single alum from my school touted "great work-life balance" and I didn't go in expecting that from any firm that I interviewed with. It doesn't really matter if people claim they don't plan to leave - you can still get a general idea of what the turnover rate is. And sure, most firms try to send their friendliest, most sociable people but between firm receptions, OCI interviews, and callback interviews that's still a significant amount of people you end up talking to. I would say after the OCI stage alone (~30 interviews), I didn't have a specific impression of culture of 60% of the firms, absolutely hated 20%, and absolutely loved another 20%.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:
ymmv wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I think honestly some of this comes down to expectations-vs-reality, and some of it just comes down to the particular firm/practice group not fitting with a specific personality. So with respect to OP, for someone in your position, I think it's important to isolate where the misery is coming from and whether changing jobs, firms, office locations, etc. will really address those issues.

To all you 1Ls and 0Ls coming up on OCI and etc., I don't feel like this should be a warning against biglaw in general. Rather, I think it's really important to choose your firm carefully. I can't stress this enough. I've seen so many people pick their employers by Vault rankings or prestige, or the strength of particular practices (which is a very valid metric). But at the end of the day, most of these large firms will give you a similar caliber of work. So there's a lot of merit in picking a place where you mesh with the culture, where you like the people in your group, and where you feel like you'll have an opportunity to grow as a lawyer. These are all things you can get a good feel for on callbacks (and yes, I know callbacks are about winning the firm over, but it's also a chance for you to evaluate them). You're spending a large amount of your life at work - so for the majority of newly minted grads, going in with the attitude that you'll just "pay your dues" and take the exit options will probably yield a rough few years.



This is impossible to know based on superficial OCI impressions of "culture," and plenty of associates here have noted there are individual cultures within practice groups or certain partners that you might have zero exposure to in interviews but wind up getting stuck with later.

Sure, you can weed out the obvious worst offenders like Skadden who have literally worked people to death and and almost seem to take pride in their dog-eat-dog mentality, but for 99% of firms you have no fucking idea and only tend to meet the friendliest, most sociable and outwardly likable people during OCI and callbacks anyway. And of course everyone has a great work-life balance, there are no screamers, they don't plan to leave, etc.


Earlier anon here. I don't think it's necessarily impossible, though you're right in that you probably won't be able to accurately gauge culture at every firm. Certain firms hire into practice groups and certain firms run their summer programs as a rotation, so for the latter it's all that much more of a crapshoot. I know the OCI process is pretty murky as it is - but I think there are definitely steps that can be taken to minimize the chances of misery. Talking to alums, or "friends of friends" at specific firms is one way to get a (more) unbiased perspective - I don't think a single alum from my school touted "great work-life balance" and I didn't go in expecting that from any firm that I interviewed with. It doesn't really matter if people claim they don't plan to leave - you can still get a general idea of what the turnover rate is. And sure, most firms try to send their friendliest, most sociable people but between firm receptions, OCI interviews, and callback interviews that's still a significant amount of people you end up talking to. I would say after the OCI stage alone (~30 interviews), I didn't have a specific impression of culture of 60% of the firms, absolutely hated 20%, and absolutely loved another 20%.


This strikes me as wrong for 2 reasons.

First, the firms I know to be the biggest hellholes generally from classmates (Kirkland, Irell, Quinn, Orrick, Sullcrom) all have EXCELLENT pitches and appearances. These firms literally hire personell just to make sure the pitch is as perfect as possible. Quinn is probably the worst place you can possibly work (have a friend there, no exaggeration would take personal injury shitlaw over it) and you can check out the postings this spring of hundreds of TLSers trying to get an early offer there an getting excited about what a great firm it is. Don't take my word for it, take the word of this 474 post thread of people fooled by how amazing it would be to work there: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=230626. It's easy to say in hindsight about these trap firms, but people constantly fall for it.

Second, you cannot determine which partners you work for. I work at literally one of the chillest satellite offices of a major firm and its been pretty solid. But one of the 6 partners in my group is straight from hell and everyone who works for her quits. No matter where you go, you may be placed with the partners from hell, which are anywhere from 15-95% of the firm. At my firm, we have people stay a while, but people who work for this one partner average a tenure of literally nine months.

There is literally no way for 2ls to know any of this without having the ability to stare into the future or have personal contacts at every firm.

I am glad you like biglaw but you have to admit you are in the minority. I went to a T14 and am two years out, and I have not talked to one person who likes their job. My classmate breakdown is:

10% Quit Biglaw with no backup plan
20% Quit biglaw for another job
30% Transferred firms and still hate Biglaw
40% At original firm and hate it

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Phil Brooks » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:20 am

The above points to the need for students to obtain a realistic idea of the type of law they want to do and the type of law firms they want to work at before law school. I can't stress how valuable it is to work as a paralegal at one of these firms before law school. You see realistically what the lifestyle is and how happy the lawyers are. And you might get exposure to a field of law that sparks your interest. The bottom line is before becoming a 1L you need to be informed about the legal industry. If you go into law school with no idea about the type of law you want to do or the type of firm where you will want to work, you will indeed end up delegating an incredibly important life decision to a commercial rankings magazine.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:34 am

Phil Brooks wrote:The above points to the need for students to obtain a realistic idea of the type of law they want to do and the type of law firms they want to work at before law school. I can't stress how valuable it is to work as a paralegal at one of these firms before law school. You see realistically what the lifestyle is and how happy the lawyers are. And you might get exposure to a field of law that sparks your interest. The bottom line is before becoming a 1L you need to be informed about the legal industry. If you go into law school with no idea about the type of law you want to do or the type of firm where you will want to work, you will indeed end up delegating an incredibly important life decision to a commercial rankings magazine.

I get the above points, but it also seems like someone could do all these things, and still end up working for the partner from hell with whom no one lasts a year.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby gk101 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:46 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Phil Brooks wrote:The above points to the need for students to obtain a realistic idea of the type of law they want to do and the type of law firms they want to work at before law school. I can't stress how valuable it is to work as a paralegal at one of these firms before law school. You see realistically what the lifestyle is and how happy the lawyers are. And you might get exposure to a field of law that sparks your interest. The bottom line is before becoming a 1L you need to be informed about the legal industry. If you go into law school with no idea about the type of law you want to do or the type of firm where you will want to work, you will indeed end up delegating an incredibly important life decision to a commercial rankings magazine.

I get the above points, but it also seems like someone could do all these things, and still end up working for the partner from hell with whom no one lasts a year.

well yeah. I don't think there is a way to get perfect information all the time. Anything requiring law students to critically think about their decisions beyond vault rankings would be a positive step

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:47 am

gk101 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Phil Brooks wrote:The above points to the need for students to obtain a realistic idea of the type of law they want to do and the type of law firms they want to work at before law school. I can't stress how valuable it is to work as a paralegal at one of these firms before law school. You see realistically what the lifestyle is and how happy the lawyers are. And you might get exposure to a field of law that sparks your interest. The bottom line is before becoming a 1L you need to be informed about the legal industry. If you go into law school with no idea about the type of law you want to do or the type of firm where you will want to work, you will indeed end up delegating an incredibly important life decision to a commercial rankings magazine.

I get the above points, but it also seems like someone could do all these things, and still end up working for the partner from hell with whom no one lasts a year.

well yeah. I don't think there is a way to get perfect information all the time. Anything requiring law students to critically think about their decisions beyond vault rankings would be a positive step

Yeah, that's absolutely true. I'm just kind of a pessimist who likes to point out the things you can't control.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby MarkRenton » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ymmv wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I think honestly some of this comes down to expectations-vs-reality, and some of it just comes down to the particular firm/practice group not fitting with a specific personality. So with respect to OP, for someone in your position, I think it's important to isolate where the misery is coming from and whether changing jobs, firms, office locations, etc. will really address those issues.

To all you 1Ls and 0Ls coming up on OCI and etc., I don't feel like this should be a warning against biglaw in general. Rather, I think it's really important to choose your firm carefully. I can't stress this enough. I've seen so many people pick their employers by Vault rankings or prestige, or the strength of particular practices (which is a very valid metric). But at the end of the day, most of these large firms will give you a similar caliber of work. So there's a lot of merit in picking a place where you mesh with the culture, where you like the people in your group, and where you feel like you'll have an opportunity to grow as a lawyer. These are all things you can get a good feel for on callbacks (and yes, I know callbacks are about winning the firm over, but it's also a chance for you to evaluate them). You're spending a large amount of your life at work - so for the majority of newly minted grads, going in with the attitude that you'll just "pay your dues" and take the exit options will probably yield a rough few years.



This is impossible to know based on superficial OCI impressions of "culture," and plenty of associates here have noted there are individual cultures within practice groups or certain partners that you might have zero exposure to in interviews but wind up getting stuck with later.

Sure, you can weed out the obvious worst offenders like Skadden who have literally worked people to death and and almost seem to take pride in their dog-eat-dog mentality, but for 99% of firms you have no fucking idea and only tend to meet the friendliest, most sociable and outwardly likable people during OCI and callbacks anyway. And of course everyone has a great work-life balance, there are no screamers, they don't plan to leave, etc.


Earlier anon here. I don't think it's necessarily impossible, though you're right in that you probably won't be able to accurately gauge culture at every firm. Certain firms hire into practice groups and certain firms run their summer programs as a rotation, so for the latter it's all that much more of a crapshoot. I know the OCI process is pretty murky as it is - but I think there are definitely steps that can be taken to minimize the chances of misery. Talking to alums, or "friends of friends" at specific firms is one way to get a (more) unbiased perspective - I don't think a single alum from my school touted "great work-life balance" and I didn't go in expecting that from any firm that I interviewed with. It doesn't really matter if people claim they don't plan to leave - you can still get a general idea of what the turnover rate is. And sure, most firms try to send their friendliest, most sociable people but between firm receptions, OCI interviews, and callback interviews that's still a significant amount of people you end up talking to. I would say after the OCI stage alone (~30 interviews), I didn't have a specific impression of culture of 60% of the firms, absolutely hated 20%, and absolutely loved another 20%.


This strikes me as wrong for 2 reasons.

First, the firms I know to be the biggest hellholes generally from classmates (Kirkland, Irell, Quinn, Orrick, Sullcrom) all have EXCELLENT pitches and appearances. These firms literally hire personell just to make sure the pitch is as perfect as possible. Quinn is probably the worst place you can possibly work (have a friend there, no exaggeration would take personal injury shitlaw over it) and you can check out the postings this spring of hundreds of TLSers trying to get an early offer there an getting excited about what a great firm it is. Don't take my word for it, take the word of this 474 post thread of people fooled by how amazing it would be to work there: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 3&t=230626. It's easy to say in hindsight about these trap firms, but people constantly fall for it.

Second, you cannot determine which partners you work for. I work at literally one of the chillest satellite offices of a major firm and its been pretty solid. But one of the 6 partners in my group is straight from hell and everyone who works for her quits. No matter where you go, you may be placed with the partners from hell, which are anywhere from 15-95% of the firm. At my firm, we have people stay a while, but people who work for this one partner average a tenure of literally nine months.

There is literally no way for 2ls to know any of this without having the ability to stare into the future or have personal contacts at every firm.

I am glad you like biglaw but you have to admit you are in the minority. I went to a T14 and am two years out, and I have not talked to one person who likes their job. My classmate breakdown is:

10% Quit Biglaw with no backup plan
20% Quit biglaw for another job
30% Transferred firms and still hate Biglaw
40% At original firm and hate it


The bolded is so true. I summered at a firm and wanted to work in a specific group because all the partners and associates seemed really cool. Well they intentionally don't expose you to the terrible partners during your summer. And partners from hell have no desire to work with summers. I was placed in that group and working for that partner was a nightmare. the thing that was incredible was how miserable everything could be even when you're getting no work from him. He would just stalk the halls, terrorizing everyone. He'd be peaking in your office to see if you're there etc. Everyone who gets any work from him ends up quitting. So I agree with the above post considering that, as a 2L, there's just no way to know this.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:32 am

Anyone have experience working with a partner who "protects" associates? This summer a particular partner had the reputation of protecting associates (ex. making sure they did not get stuck with bad partners, all boring work, etc.), and I noticed that the people working with him/her got substantive work and seemed relatively happy, and a lot of the associates were trying to network with this person. I worked with the partner and he/she told me on a certain assignment not to kill myself because they were almost positive there was no contrary law, which I appreciated because I had other projects at the same time. So obviously I am going to try and work with this person when I go back because she/he practices in an area I'm interested in.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby sundance95 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:43 pm

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:Anyone have experience working with a partner who "protects" associates? This summer a particular partner had the reputation of protecting associates (ex. making sure they did not get stuck with bad partners, all boring work, etc.), and I noticed that the people working with him/her got substantive work and seemed relatively happy, and a lot of the associates were trying to network with this person. I worked with the partner and he/she told me on a certain assignment not to kill myself because they were almost positive there was no contrary law, which I appreciated because I had other projects at the same time. So obviously I am going to try and work with this person when I go back because she/he practices in an area I'm interested in.

Just curious: What's leverage like at your firm? Is it free-market or siloed?

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby smallfirmassociate » Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:03 pm

The big secret that the senior people don't tell you is that none of us know what the fuck we're doing.

Seriously.

Everything is distinguishable, everything is new, nothing is a slam dunk. We spend [tens of] thousands of dollars of labor arguing over shit that nobody--sometimes not even the client--cares about. Just embrace the chaos.

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rpupkin
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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby rpupkin » Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:30 pm

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:Anyone have experience working with a partner who "protects" associates? This summer a particular partner had the reputation of protecting associates (ex. making sure they did not get stuck with bad partners, all boring work, etc.), and I noticed that the people working with him/her got substantive work and seemed relatively happy, and a lot of the associates were trying to network with this person. I worked with the partner and he/she told me on a certain assignment not to kill myself because they were almost positive there was no contrary law, which I appreciated because I had other projects at the same time. So obviously I am going to try and work with this person when I go back because she/he practices in an area I'm interested in.

That's a nice story, but it's worth keeping in mind that it's a lot easier to "protect" a summer associate than an actual associate. Many partners--sometimes especially the "partners from hell"--don't even want to work with summers.

If a partner-from-hell brings in a lot of business and needs a first- or second-year associate to work on his or her shit, there's only so much other partners can do to keep that associate protected.

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prezidentv8
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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:35 pm

smallfirmassociate wrote:The big secret that the senior people don't tell you is that none of us know what the fuck we're doing.

Seriously.

gulcregret
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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby gulcregret » Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:41 pm

The people who burn out here are those that need to be told they are doing a good job. And overwhelmingly those who hate biglaw are those who were K-JD in my small sample size. I worked on the Hill and got 1/10 of what I make now and dealt with worse people and similar if not worse hours. I know it's been said before but what other job could you be utterly incompetent at for at least like 4 years and get paid close to $850,000 over that span?

And really the best advice was up near the top, which was "try to care less."

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MarkRenton
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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby MarkRenton » Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:06 pm

It's not all K-JD's who hate biglaw. Non trads like me also tend to hate it because we've been in other fields and industries. This really gives you perspective that law firms are (often) miserable places.

I think what makes lots of law firms terrible places is that they are self-managed. I mean this in the sense that all of the non-lawyers in a law firm typically have very little to do with associate life. If an associate is having serious problems with an abusive partner, the appropriate committee is constituted by other partners--or even that very partner. Many of whom are that partners' friends. In contrast to most other professional organizations and businesses, there's really very few means to rectify a bad situation

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JCougar
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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby JCougar » Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:09 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:2. Even senior people are incompetent. You'd be shocked how often partners might be wrong about basic points of law, procedures, what strategy they should take, etc. There's a lot to know. No one gets this stuff right all the time.


I'm not in Biglaw, but I do litigate against them, and both where I work and in the stuff I see filed against us, there are mistakes. The law is complex, and even the simpler stuff has complexities, burdens of proof, caveats, exceptions, and sometimes seemingly contradictory and/or overlapping rules. No one gets it right 100% of the time. That's why the best thing to do when working on complex cases is to collaborate with others--it's easier to spot someone else's mistake rather than your own.

Law school tends to make you terrified of making a mistake, which in a way, is a good motivator, but it has negative consequences if this terror ends up driving you insane where your expectations are that you have to be perfect. Even partners make mistakes. Just do your best and believe in yourself, and if you did well at a good law school, you're probably competent enough at your job to make less mistakes than average.

Even the best judges/lawyers end up coming to different conclusions on things. That's why you have stuff like circuit splits, dissenting opinions, battles between the legislature and the court system over what's constitutional, etc. The only thing you can really blame yourself for is slacking off and making some obvious mistakes because you put in 50% effort.

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rpupkin
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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby rpupkin » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:54 pm

JCougar wrote:Even the best judges/lawyers end up coming to different conclusions on things. That's why you have stuff like circuit splits, dissenting opinions, battles between the legislature and the court system over what's constitutional, etc. The only thing you can really blame yourself for is slacking off and making some obvious mistakes because you put in 50% effort.

I don't want to speak for the OP, but "legal research" is not an area in which I (or most young associates) feel incompetent. Law schools actually do a decent job of preparing you for that part of the job.

The stress of the job generally does not come from a fear of "getting the law wrong" or something like that. The stress comes when, for example, a partner asks you to draft a discovery motion for a case. And you haven't worked on the case so you aren't familiar with the parties, the nature of the dispute, or the docs that have been produced so far. Oh, and you've never drafted a discovery motion before; in fact, you have only a vague sense of what "discovery" is. Oh, and the partner wants the draft by 9 a.m. tomorrow.

Trust me, you'll feel fucking incompetent. Yeah, on some level, you know it's the firm's fault not training you. And, on some level, you know that you won't get fired if you fuck up the assignment. But it still really, really sucks.




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