Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:56 pm

rpupkin wrote:
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.


...but then you realize that you can copy and paste the vast majority of assignments from past examples and massage them a bit without complaint from the partners

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby rpupkin » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:09 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
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.


...but then you realize that you can copy and paste the vast majority of assignments from past examples and massage them a bit without complaint from the partners

And the partners will be even happier if you bill it as if you wrote the whole thing from scratch. Everyone wins! (Well, except the client.)

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:18 pm

rpupkin wrote:
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.


I definitely wasn't competent re: legal research when I started. But I learned quickly.

Law school made me a better writer. Other than that I'd say I started the job completely unprepared. It's nerve-wracking.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby SFB222 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:25 pm

First of all, this talk about law schools doing a good job at preparing you for legal research and writing is inaccurate. I think most law students take one legal research/writing class, maybe do moot court, some journal (which is cite checking for the most part). How is that sufficient training? Second, the legal research issues handed out by senior associates/partners are incredibly difficult and will absolutely make you feel incompetent. That's just the nature of litigation and every "biglaw" attorney would know that. I'm wondering if we have law school students in here giving advice they're not supposed to.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby mvp99 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:29 pm

SFB222 wrote:First of all, this talk about law schools doing a good job at preparing you for legal research and writing is inaccurate. I think most law students take one legal research/writing class, maybe do moot court, some journal (which is cite checking for the most part). How is that sufficient training? Second, the legal research issues handed out by senior associates/partners are incredibly difficult and will absolutely make you feel incompetent. That's just the nature of litigation and every "biglaw" attorney would know that. I'm wondering if we have law school students in here giving advice they're not supposed to.


are the assignments difficult because juniors are incompetent? or just difficult?

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby rpupkin » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:33 pm

SFB222 wrote:First of all, this talk about law schools doing a good job at preparing you for legal research and writing is inaccurate. I think most law students take one legal research/writing class, maybe do moot court, some journal (which is cite checking for the most part). How is that sufficient training?

I think it's adequate training. As with anything, you won't get efficient and good at it until you have to do it regularly as part of your job.

Second, the legal research issues handed out by senior associates/partners are incredibly difficult and will absolutely make you feel incompetent.

Some research assignments are difficult, some are easy. It varies.

That's just the nature of litigation and every "biglaw" attorney would know that. I'm wondering if we have law school students in here giving advice they're not supposed to.

Did it ever occur to you that your perspective isn't necessarily representative of every big law lawyer? I have a year of experience in big law, a year as a clerk, and a few months at a lit boutique. What's your experience?

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby SFB222 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:38 pm

From what I hear, that's the general understanding. Three years at a respected midlaw.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:06 am

SFB222 wrote:First of all, this talk about law schools doing a good job at preparing you for legal research and writing is inaccurate. I think most law students take one legal research/writing class, maybe do moot court, some journal (which is cite checking for the most part). How is that sufficient training? Second, the legal research issues handed out by senior associates/partners are incredibly difficult and will absolutely make you feel incompetent. That's just the nature of litigation and every "biglaw" attorney would know that. I'm wondering if we have law school students in here giving advice they're not supposed to.


If by difficult you mean asks for something that doesn't exist, then yes, lots of research assignments are difficult. Couple that with the fear of coming back empty-handed ("I couldn't find anything"), and it sucks.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:07 am

MarkRenton wrote: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.


This is incredibly accurate across all firms and across pretty much every group. You have no way of knowing if you actually pick the right group during your summer or the right firm at OCI. It's luck. There was a group at my firm that was incredibly popular when I was a summer. I'm a second-year now, and most of the people who ended up in that group have already left the firm.

Honestly, I've found that the best way to deal with BigLaw in general is to not be invested in anything you, and to try make as much time as you can to do stuff you enjoy outside of work. But that's mostly if you don't end getting stuck with the "partner from hell" that makes everyone quit.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby SFB222 » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:
SFB222 wrote:First of all, this talk about law schools doing a good job at preparing you for legal research and writing is inaccurate. I think most law students take one legal research/writing class, maybe do moot court, some journal (which is cite checking for the most part). How is that sufficient training? Second, the legal research issues handed out by senior associates/partners are incredibly difficult and will absolutely make you feel incompetent. That's just the nature of litigation and every "biglaw" attorney would know that. I'm wondering if we have law school students in here giving advice they're not supposed to.


If by difficult you mean asks for something that doesn't exist, then yes, lots of research assignments are difficult. Couple that with the fear of coming back empty-handed ("I couldn't find anything"), and it sucks.


Yes, difficult and sucks. Sums it up well. Drafting discovery responses are probably the worst though...

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby SFB222 » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:
MarkRenton wrote: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.


This is incredibly accurate across all firms and across pretty much every group. You have no way of knowing if you actually pick the right group during your summer or the right firm at OCI. It's luck. There was a group at my firm that was incredibly popular when I was a summer. I'm a second-year now, and most of the people who ended up in that group have already left the firm.

Honestly, I've found that the best way to deal with BigLaw in general is to not be invested in anything you, and to try make as much time as you can to do stuff you enjoy outside of work. But that's mostly if you don't end getting stuck with the "partner from hell" that makes everyone quit.


Ever have moments sometimes where you're like "oh wow, this work is actually kinda cool" and then in the next moment you're worrying about how its taking too long ("oh crap, partner is gonna be annoyed that - how can you have spent so long on this?") or the fact that none of your work really ultimately matters anyway. Sometimes, I really try to get excited about the work but then the reality of the law firm environment brings me back to earth. So perhaps, yes the solution is to be disengaged but kinda sucks to go through 8-10 hours a day of your day like that. Grinds on you. Wish there was a better solution?

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby JCougar » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:28 am

rpupkin wrote: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.


Trust me, I've had the exact same thing happen to me. Just take 5 minutes to ask them for a similar motion that someone has filed in the past that you can copy off of and use that as a template. I'm sure big firms have a bank of these somewhere. Also, you can find all kinds of stuff with google...often the exact same kind of thing filed in a similar case that for whatever reason is archived on some site online. And, especially if it's federal practice, you can find examples in some of the Practice Series stuff on Westlaw for some very specific types of stuff.

As for finding out about the case itself, a lot of times there's been previous motions filed and orders issued in the very same case...and if you're lucky, it will show up on Westlaw/Lexis. With any luck, one of the orders will list a procedural history and a number of key facts in the case. I've done this a number of times. They'll be impressed with all the great ideas you come up with and how intuitive/familiar you are with stuff. "How did you think of that?" "I don't know, I'm just good at this stuff." Little do they know some other attorney with 20 years of experience thought of it and put it in a similar motion either in that very same case or a similar one.
Last edited by JCougar on Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby JCougar » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:If by difficult you mean asks for something that doesn't exist, then yes, lots of research assignments are difficult. Couple that with the fear of coming back empty-handed ("I couldn't find anything"), and it sucks.


This is the worst part. When they ask you a question and it hasn't been answered yet at all by any published opinion. You look and look and look, and nothing addresses that. You think "either there's no answer, or I am an incompetent moron." A lot of times you can tell on its face that a question is so obscure that no court is likely to have addressed it and then it was an issue on appeal so you can read about it. But "there's no answer" is something that happens a lot. Sometimes I think people just come up with stuff just to keep you busy because they have nothing else to give you--and they're like 99% sure you won't find anything, but they want to be 100% sure.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby mmelittlechicken » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:51 am

JCougar wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If by difficult you mean asks for something that doesn't exist, then yes, lots of research assignments are difficult. Couple that with the fear of coming back empty-handed ("I couldn't find anything"), and it sucks.


This is the worst part. When they ask you a question and it hasn't been answered yet at all by any published opinion. You look and look and look, and nothing addresses that. You think "either there's no answer, or I am an incompetent moron." A lot of times you can tell on its face that a question is so obscure that no court is likely to have addressed it and then it was an issue on appeal so you can read about it. But "there's no answer" is something that happens a lot. Sometimes I think people just come up with stuff just to keep you busy because they have nothing else to give you--and they're like 99% sure you won't find anything, but they want to be 100% sure.

But they don't usually expect an answer when they send you on a wild goose chase, who cares?

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby 15 styx » Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:22 am

JCougar wrote: When they ask you a question and it hasn't been answered yet at all by any published opinion. You look and look and look, and nothing addresses that. .....and they're like 99% sure you won't find anything, but they want to be 100% sure.

I am absolutely 180 with that sentiment.

(Every now and then you do find something that no one else could…which is undeniably cool)

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby JCougar » Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:38 am

15 styx wrote:
JCougar wrote: When they ask you a question and it hasn't been answered yet at all by any published opinion. You look and look and look, and nothing addresses that. .....and they're like 99% sure you won't find anything, but they want to be 100% sure.

I am absolutely 180 with that sentiment.

(Every now and then you do find something that no one else could…which is undeniably cool)


One time I miraculously found something, but it was in an unpublished opinion, and there was a separate rule in the forum about not using stuff from unpublished opinions except in certain circumstances. I then found a case talking about when unpublished opinions should be used, and it fit my circumstance, but the unpublished opinion case itself was unpublished. So then I didn't know what the fuck to do, so I wrote up a section in my motion about both the original issue and the unpublished opinion thing. My boss said it was very good writing, but cut it out of the final version because it basically wasn't worth arguing and too confusing and the original issue wasn't that important anyway. I wanted to just be safe by writing all that shit up. At least I didn't look lazy. When in doubt just write up something a couple of pages long. At least you won't look lazy.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:34 am

People posting this k-jd flame are being absurd. The partner I was referring to from hell went through a ton of paralegal and associates well in their 30s and 40s. These were people who had been through sometimes 5 jobs and 3 different careers. We literally had an of counsel from in house lateral over and quit in 6 months.

In my experience k-jds take it because they assume all work is horrible. The only reason older associates last longer is because it's too late to switch careers or they now have kids. There are a lot of businesses out there who don't treat their employees like shit, not because they are nice, but because employee turnover is undesirable. In biglaw, it's just the name of the game.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby JCougar » Fri Jan 16, 2015 5:13 am

I think almost all of my bosses in law have been great...especially compared to the passive-aggressive boobs I had in my days in big business.

Then again, I don't work in Biglaw. I don't make any money though, so you win some and you lose some.

I'd say about 50% of the Biglaw partners I've met and/or interacted with have been perfectly good, sociable people...including many people I think are outstanding and funny. But 90% of the obnoxious, miserable, anti-social assholes I've meet have also been in Biglaw. I think the government/plaintiff people tend to be much happier people as a group...provided they at least make enough to pay the bills--which isn't all of them, for sure. There's always exceptions, though.

A lot of fields have bad managers, though. Higher education doesn't teach you how to manage people, whether it be business school, other graduate degrees, or medical school. And law school is especially negligent in this regard. And legal employers are far worse. If the #1 and #2 reasons to hire you are your grades and school rank, there's very little screening process going on regarding people skills, especially with regard to how you treat people lower on the totem pole. Therefore, it's quite possible that people who are smart, hard workers--but remain adolescent at the emotional level--find their way up the ranks. And they can prevail because of Biglaw's up n' out model. No one holds you accountable for driving away talent...because it's expected that people quit in droves in the first place.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 17, 2015 4:48 pm

Do not forget that a lot of biglaw partners are perfectly sociable and charming but turn into complete monsters when nobody is watching at the firm. A lot of the worst partners I know are the most affable when around clients.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 17, 2015 4:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do not forget that a lot of biglaw partners are perfectly sociable and charming but turn into complete monsters when nobody is watching at the firm. A lot of the worst partners I know are the most affable when around clients.


Bingo. Don't let them fool you. Many know how to play the politics game and can be charming and affable when they need to, but thats often a facade. Not saying all are like that, but enough are that you will get suckered in from time to time and drop your guard a bit.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby MarkRenton » Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:15 pm

SFB222 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
MarkRenton wrote: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.


This is incredibly accurate across all firms and across pretty much every group. You have no way of knowing if you actually pick the right group during your summer or the right firm at OCI. It's luck. There was a group at my firm that was incredibly popular when I was a summer. I'm a second-year now, and most of the people who ended up in that group have already left the firm.

Honestly, I've found that the best way to deal with BigLaw in general is to not be invested in anything you, and to try make as much time as you can to do stuff you enjoy outside of work. But that's mostly if you don't end getting stuck with the "partner from hell" that makes everyone quit.


Ever have moments sometimes where you're like "oh wow, this work is actually kinda cool" and then in the next moment you're worrying about how its taking too long ("oh crap, partner is gonna be annoyed that - how can you have spent so long on this?") or the fact that none of your work really ultimately matters anyway. Sometimes, I really try to get excited about the work but then the reality of the law firm environment brings me back to earth. So perhaps, yes the solution is to be disengaged but kinda sucks to go through 8-10 hours a day of your day like that. Grinds on you. Wish there was a better solution?


I never really had much satisfaction ever. That's why I got out in less than a year. I would have stayed indefinitely if I couldn't find something else, but I did. I think i would have done better with litigation. I did transactional work which I learned to detest. You have to be so senior for transactional work to resemble actual lawyer work

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby SFB222 » Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:28 pm

MarkRenton wrote:
SFB222 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
MarkRenton wrote: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.


This is incredibly accurate across all firms and across pretty much every group. You have no way of knowing if you actually pick the right group during your summer or the right firm at OCI. It's luck. There was a group at my firm that was incredibly popular when I was a summer. I'm a second-year now, and most of the people who ended up in that group have already left the firm.

Honestly, I've found that the best way to deal with BigLaw in general is to not be invested in anything you, and to try make as much time as you can to do stuff you enjoy outside of work. But that's mostly if you don't end getting stuck with the "partner from hell" that makes everyone quit.


Ever have moments sometimes where you're like "oh wow, this work is actually kinda cool" and then in the next moment you're worrying about how its taking too long ("oh crap, partner is gonna be annoyed that - how can you have spent so long on this?") or the fact that none of your work really ultimately matters anyway. Sometimes, I really try to get excited about the work but then the reality of the law firm environment brings me back to earth. So perhaps, yes the solution is to be disengaged but kinda sucks to go through 8-10 hours a day of your day like that. Grinds on you. Wish there was a better solution?


I never really had much satisfaction ever. That's why I got out in less than a year. I would have stayed indefinitely if I couldn't find something else, but I did. I think i would have done better with litigation. I did transactional work which I learned to detest. You have to be so senior for transactional work to resemble actual lawyer work


What do you do now, if you don't mind my asking?

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby MarkRenton » Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:29 pm

SFB222 wrote:
What do you do now, if you don't mind my asking?


Already PM'ed ya!

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby Autumnb13 » Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:13 pm

Lincoln wrote:First, you need to find someone to talk to. Your local bar association can likely direct you to some appropriate resources. You need therapy. You should also (not instead) talk to friends or parents or whoever you think will understand and be helpful in supporting you and getting you the help you need.

Second, it gets better. It took me about nine months before I felt like I had a clue what I was doing at work. I felt like my senior associates thought I was mentally handicapped and that I just didn't belong. It sucks, but it changes. It becomes more fun, you get better at it, and you get more confident.

Third, and related to the first point, your job is not your life. You need to take time for the actual important things in life: friends, family, dating, exercise, etc. Try to set a schedule and stick to it. Having something other than work to look forward to makes it seem much less insurmountable and omnipresent. I'm bad at this, but it makes a huge difference.

Fourth, apply for clerkships. There are judges that hire as late as six months in advance, but even if it's further out, it makes a big difference knowing there is an end point to what you're doing right now.

Fifth, if nothing else, just reach out here. There are plenty of people on these boards who have felt overwhelmed, and we'll help if we can.


Thanks for the great advice. I still haven't decided whether or not to quit but it's nice to know others feel similarly.

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Re: Quitting BigLaw after less than one year

Postby SFB222 » Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:20 pm

MarkRenton wrote:
SFB222 wrote:
What do you do now, if you don't mind my asking?


Already PM'ed ya!


lol, sorry about that.




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