BigLaw - Worth it?

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Law Student 2848
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BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Law Student 2848 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:43 am

I am married and enjoy spending time with my wife, but also want to work in biglaw so as to have money, psy iff debt, get a big house, and have a big family. But there's obvious trade offs as I would work a lot. So, wondering from anyone working in biglaw with similar goals if it's worth it?

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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:58 am

Disclaimer: I'm still in law school, so I can't speak to working in biglaw full-time, but here's what I have.

My SA firm sets billable at 1800 for my group and it's a V50 biglaw while all the mid-sized firms I interviewed with had it set at 1950/2000. The atmosphere of my biglaw also seemed more laid back and less intense than some mid-sized I interviewed with. I've heard similar things from friends who lateraled from biglaw into mid-sized. MOST of the time they say biglaw is more stressful, longer hours, etc., but I've also heard it go the other way around.
Moral of the story: not all biglaw firms are alike. I think it's possible to find a biglaw firm that would fit in with your desired work/life balance.

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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:08 am

i am an associate with two kids and a spouse that doesn't work. First, ignore the law student above.

Whether it is worth it or not will come down to personal preferences. The one constant in biglaw is sacrafice. For example, my firm/group has been busy since the day I started. What I sacrifice in lifestyle I gain in job security.

To me, biglaw is worth it. My spouse would probably say it isn't worth it.

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homestyle28
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby homestyle28 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:09 am

I'm only a first year, so take this for what it's worth. I'm married to kids and at big firm in major market. Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not.

So far I've had a number of weekends taken up with work, missed taking my kids trick-or-treating, worked on Thanksgiving day etc. On the flipside, my firm is pretty flexible regarding where I work, so I can be home at a reasonable hour (read home around 7pm) and work there when needed. If you look around some you'll see that the worst part of biglaw, esp for new lawyers, is the unpredictability. I've had weeks where I billed 50 hours (busy, but not underwater) and days where I've sat here for 7 hours without much to do (which feels bad). I usually run on 6 hours sleep during the week so I can fit in a workout and put my kids down for bed before working some more.

We're also in process of buying a big house in a good burb with good schools that I can only afford b/c I work here. My law school debt (like 270k!) will be gone in 6 years or so. My wife works a lot so she understands when I get busy or have to stay late. Her job is flexible enough that she's able to pick up our kids from daycare most days.

PM me if you have specific questions.

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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:40 am

I have wife/kids and decided to do Federal Government instead based on quality-of-life considerations. Of course, it is all personal. Here are some questions that I found relevant to my own decision, though these are skewed to those with kids already.

1) Does it work for you to delegate to another person (i.e. spouse, nanny, etc.) a large number of family-type responsibilities? For example: bed-time reading (kids need to get to bed early), homework help, extracurricular activity and appointment scheduling and transportation. Age of children will play into this. One thing to think about--you can buy your kids a lot of awesome stuff and great experiences like cool classes and expensive camps, etc. with money, but the years you can't buy back.

2) What do you think your kids will need from you? Some kids I think need more attention than others. I suppose this question might be more applicable to those with kids, and it is related to the question of how involved a parent you want to be.

3) Same question as (2) but this time for spouse.

4) What are your goals or aspirations regarding creature comforts (expensive house, car, restaurants, private schools/camps)?

Law Student 2848
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Law Student 2848 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:32 pm

Thanks for the responses, interested in more perspectives too. In terms of the money, I'm not as interested in it to be able to drive an expensive car or sending my kids to private school or expensive camps. Financially I just want to be able to buy a fairly large house in a good town with a good/great school district and to never be constrained by money - i.e. number of kids, where they can go to college, family vacations, etc.

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Desert Fox
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Disclaimer: I'm still in law school, so I can't speak to working in biglaw full-time, but here's what I have.

My SA firm sets billable at 1800 for my group and it's a V50 biglaw while all the mid-sized firms I interviewed with had it set at 1950/2000. The atmosphere of my biglaw also seemed more laid back and less intense than some mid-sized I interviewed with. I've heard similar things from friends who lateraled from biglaw into mid-sized. MOST of the time they say biglaw is more stressful, longer hours, etc., but I've also heard it go the other way around.
Moral of the story: not all biglaw firms are alike. I think it's possible to find a biglaw firm that would fit in with your desired work/life balance.


This is so cute. You fell hook, line, and sinker for the SA pitch. SA is a 10 week party to trick you into working here. This is legitimately hilarious.

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Desert Fox
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:49 pm

It definitely is not worth going to law school for. Too much risk for a fairly shitty outcome. You get money, but it probably won't make up for the debt and 3 years you wasted in school.

The job really sucks.

If you already went down the law school path:

Federal Gov. is way better. Less hours, more interesting, more dignity. Less money too but still pretty damn good. You won't be able to have a stay at home wife or a nice home in the city.

Everything else sounds worse to me.

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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:56 pm

Law Student 2848 wrote:Thanks for the responses, interested in more perspectives too. In terms of the money, I'm not as interested in it to be able to drive an expensive car or sending my kids to private school or expensive camps. Financially I just want to be able to buy a fairly large house in a good town with a good/great school district and to never be constrained by money - i.e. number of kids, where they can go to college, family vacations, etc.


Anon from post 3 above.

Can you define what you mean by good/great schools? are you talking about the best school district in your metro area? Above average school in mostly upper middle class areas?

Biglaw is worth it for paying off loans, gunning for partnership, and setting yourself up for your next job. I would suggest thinking of your time as an associate as a transitory period that will position you for your future earnings/career. It's not really the kind of job where you start thinking about a lifestyle that is not constrained by money.

If you make partner/counsel, then start thinking about all the kids/vacations/square footage you want.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:36 pm

Lol, it is not worth gunning for partnership. WTF? There are legitimate reasons to work in biglaw, but gunning for partner is not one of them. The chances of making equity partner are tiny at most biglaw firms, and equity partner is really the only kind of partnership that anyone should be gunning for. Non-equity partners are often fungible with of counsel and senior associate types.

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rpupkin
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:46 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Lol, it is not worth gunning for partnership. WTF? There are legitimate reasons to work in biglaw, but gunning for partner is not one of them. The chances of making equity partner are tiny at most biglaw firms, and equity partner is really the only kind of partnership that anyone should be gunning for. Non-equity partners are often fungible with of counsel and senior associate types.

Yes. Also, junior equity partners work incredibly hard. I think some law students have this idea that you've "got it made" when you're a partner and then you can just coast along delegating all your work out. Partners have to bring in business, do administrative stuff for the firm, and do a ton of billing (particularly if they're junior). The money is good, but it's very much a workaholic lifestyle.

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rpupkin
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:47 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Disclaimer: I'm still in law school, so I can't speak to working in biglaw full-time, but here's what I have.

My SA firm sets billable at 1800 for my group and it's a V50 biglaw while all the mid-sized firms I interviewed with had it set at 1950/2000. The atmosphere of my biglaw also seemed more laid back and less intense than some mid-sized I interviewed with. I've heard similar things from friends who lateraled from biglaw into mid-sized. MOST of the time they say biglaw is more stressful, longer hours, etc., but I've also heard it go the other way around.
Moral of the story: not all biglaw firms are alike. I think it's possible to find a biglaw firm that would fit in with your desired work/life balance.


This is so cute. You fell hook, line, and sinker for the SA pitch. SA is a 10 week party to trick you into working here. This is legitimately hilarious.

You don't understand. His firm is different.

mvp99
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby mvp99 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:50 pm

I think it might work for me b/c I don't really have much of a life anyway.

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rpupkin
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:55 pm

mvp99 wrote:I think it might work for me b/c I don't really have much of a life anyway.

Then what do you need money for?

mvp99
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby mvp99 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:01 pm

rpupkin wrote:
mvp99 wrote:I think it might work for me b/c I don't really have much of a life anyway.

Then what do you need money for?


My goal in life is to have positive net worth.

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Desert Fox
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:01 pm

I'm not sure that being a biglaw associate is even the best way to become a biglaw partner, at least for litigation. Firms are content to hire laterals instead of build new partners organically. So that means there is a skills gap that is hard to cross. You never develop the skills to run a case yourself. So how the fuck would you ever get your own clients.

You can't even fake it til you make it because the firm won't let you run your own case.

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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:02 pm

I have been in big law going on four years, and just paid off my student loans. My wife is a senior manager at a big four. Big law/big four have been worth it to us because our jobs have enabled us to accumulate wealth. Now that we are looking to start a family, we both are looking for exit strategies. We look forward to working 9-5 jobs and spending time with our future kids.

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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:09 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Lol, it is not worth gunning for partnership. WTF? There are legitimate reasons to work in biglaw, but gunning for partner is not one of them. The chances of making equity partner are tiny at most biglaw firms, and equity partner is really the only kind of partnership that anyone should be gunning for. Non-equity partners are often fungible with of counsel and senior associate types.


I'm not saying gunning for partnership is worth it or that partnership is likely to happen. Just that gunning for p'ship is one of few the legit reasons to pursue biglaw. "worth it" may not be the right wording, here.

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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:19 pm

Biglaw is a stepping stone. I worked 2.5 years in biglaw and paid off all my loans and saved a little over 100K before jumping ship in-house. Now I work normal people hours with no paycut from biglaw. For me it was definitely worth it as a stepping stone as I wouldn't have gotten my current job if I didn't go through biglaw.

Many of my colleagues have also jumped ship - about 1/3 are gone from my starting class. I'd say about 80% have gone to clerkships or other firms with the rest going in-house. I doubt any of them would think biglaw wasn't worth it.

Then again - we do idealize the past. I did bill close to 2400/year while in biglaw so I definitely didn't enjoy my time there.

To OP - I am married and have 2 kids. I had my first kid while in biglaw (paternity leave FTW) and my second after leaving biglaw. It's definitely possible to do biglaw with kids but very hard - and you end up spending A LOT of money on your kids to make up for the fact that you're not there much.

KM2016
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby KM2016 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:14 pm

For those of us without kids, the ability to make big purchases (read: luxury cars) in cash without having to finance makes it worth it 8)

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JohannDeMann
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:34 pm

it depends what your alternatives are for whether or not its worth it. govt employment is a pretty sweet outcome. Especially with PSLF, that's pretty much another 2k of after tax income a month. if govt emplyoment is available, i dont see how you would turn down infinite job security, loans paid off in 10 years, good benefits, and 40 hour work weeks for biglaw. but if you are like most people and only have a biglaw offer on the table compared to another private firm, yeah biglaw is better because more moeny and better exit ops.

if you aren't in law school yet, see what else you can do.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:40 pm

Worth it for the money for a while. Not worth it because it can straight up ruin your life at times and also because you'll wake up one day and realize 75% of the skills you've learned mainly relate to appeasing perfectionist passive-aggressive bosses, which is not without value but not what most of us went to law school for.

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Avian
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Avian » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:14 pm

I talked to someone over the summer who spent three years in biglaw before leaving. They said it was worth it to them because it gave them the financial cushion to do what they wanted and be able to support a family without being saddled with student loans for the rest of their career.

Cogburn87
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby Cogburn87 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:i am an associate with two kids and a spouse that doesn't work. First, ignore the law student above.

Whether it is worth it or not will come down to personal preferences. The one constant in biglaw is sacrafice. For example, my firm/group has been busy since the day I started. What I sacrifice in lifestyle I gain in job security.

To me, biglaw is worth it. My spouse would probably say it isn't worth it.


rofl

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: BigLaw - Worth it?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:26 pm

Desert Fox wrote:It definitely is not worth going to law school for. Too much risk for a fairly shitty outcome. You get money, but it probably won't make up for the debt and 3 years you wasted in school.

The job really sucks.

If you already went down the law school path:

Federal Gov. is way better. Less hours, more interesting, more dignity. Less money too but still pretty damn good. You won't be able to have a stay at home wife or a nice home in the city.

Everything else sounds worse to me.


Depends on location. Granted most attorney federal government jobs are in DC, there are still a lot that aren't. GS-15 caps out at $157k, and you can get to GS-15, step 1, within a few years (around $125k in most major markets). $125k is pretty awesome if you live in a place like Detroit. You could probably buy the city of Detroit for $125k lol. It seems like fed govt in most major cities pay pretty well, and a number of reasonable cities have really cheap cost of living where you could definitely swing a one income household and have a decent home in the city (e.g. Dallas, Chicago, etc.)




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