Mid law or Big Law

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Mid law or Big Law, more details in first post.

Big Law (145k, typical biglaw hours)
36
57%
Mid Law (90k, 1500 billables)
27
43%
 
Total votes: 63

Anonymous User
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Mid law or Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:31 pm

Lucky enough to have 2 options. Can't pick. What would you choose?

1. NLJ250. 145k. Summered there. didn't hate it. major market (DC, Chi, NY, LA), Hours are typical big law.
2. Mid law (25-30 attorneys). 90k. same market. same practice area. people seemed nice. Only 1500 billables. At CB, partners/associates say everyone is out of the office by 530p unless something is imminent.

about me: only 10k debt. Fiance has 90k(ish) college debt and 85k salary. I hope to go in-house or government after a few years. I care about exit options. Love my practice area- so I wouldn't necessarily mind super long hours, though I obviously would rather spend time with my family.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mvp99
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby mvp99 » Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Lucky enough to have 2 options. Can't pick. What would you choose?

1. NLJ250. 145k. Summered there. didn't hate it. major market (DC, Chi, NY, LA), Hours are typical big law.
2. Mid law (25-30 attorneys). 90k. same market. same practice area. people seemed nice. Only 1500 billables. At CB, partners/associates say everyone is out of the office by 530p unless something is imminent.

about me: only 10k debt. Fiance has 90k(ish) college debt and 85k salary. I hope to go in-house or government after a few years. I care about exit options. Love my practice area- so I wouldn't necessarily mind super long hours, though I obviously would rather spend time with my family.


Don't drink the kool aid.. 1500 hours is really = big law hours

Anonymous User
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:52 pm

mvp99 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Lucky enough to have 2 options. Can't pick. What would you choose?

1. NLJ250. 145k. Summered there. didn't hate it. major market (DC, Chi, NY, LA), Hours are typical big law.
2. Mid law (25-30 attorneys). 90k. same market. same practice area. people seemed nice. Only 1500 billables. At CB, partners/associates say everyone is out of the office by 530p unless something is imminent.

about me: only 10k debt. Fiance has 90k(ish) college debt and 85k salary. I hope to go in-house or government after a few years. I care about exit options. Love my practice area- so I wouldn't necessarily mind super long hours, though I obviously would rather spend time with my family.


Don't drink the kool aid.. 1500 hours is really = big law hours

OP here.
Hmm interesting. do you think the CB interviewers were lying when they said they usually get out at 530?

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rpupkin
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby rpupkin » Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hmm interesting. do you think the CB interviewers were lying when they said they usually get out at 530?

I worked in a big law office where almost everyone was always out at 5:30. Most were later working from home for 2 - 4 hours after dinner.

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Desert Fox
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Desert Fox » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:00 pm

mvp99 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Lucky enough to have 2 options. Can't pick. What would you choose?

1. NLJ250. 145k. Summered there. didn't hate it. major market (DC, Chi, NY, LA), Hours are typical big law.
2. Mid law (25-30 attorneys). 90k. same market. same practice area. people seemed nice. Only 1500 billables. At CB, partners/associates say everyone is out of the office by 530p unless something is imminent.

about me: only 10k debt. Fiance has 90k(ish) college debt and 85k salary. I hope to go in-house or government after a few years. I care about exit options. Love my practice area- so I wouldn't necessarily mind super long hours, though I obviously would rather spend time with my family.


Don't drink the kool aid.. 1500 hours is really = big law hours


Not necessarily.

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transferror
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby transferror » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:21 pm

OP, why do you want to go in-house or gov after a few years? If it's for nothing other than a better work-life balance, it sounds like you already have that option. That's assuming the job is legit 8:30-5:30 or whatever.

lawschoolftw
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby lawschoolftw » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:26 pm

Is it 1500 hours billable, or 1500 actually billed?

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emptyflare
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby emptyflare » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I hope to go in-house or government after a few years. I care about exit options.


This should make the decision much easier, no? The Biglaw firm will almost assuredly have better exit options. Also, because you're in a major market, the opportunity to go in-house or government from a Biglaw firm will usually be much easier.

Something else to consider: if you maintain positive connections with the Midlaw firm attorneys, you could potentially even head there after a stint in Biglaw.

Hutz_and_Goodman
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:46 pm

My big law firm most people were gone from office by 6pm, but then almost everyone working 2-4 hrs from home
I would be skeptical that the mid law firm is telling you the truth in terms of hours, but it might be true.

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15 styx
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby 15 styx » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:47 pm

With both firms in the same market.... a 55k difference is HUGE! $3.2k a month (after taxes)…. talking Ferrari in your garage (maybe used, but nevertheless!).

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Lacepiece23
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Lacepiece23 » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:52 pm

I'd ask some more questions. But if legit I'd pick the Midlaw option personally. You have minimal debt, so why not enjoy your life. People go into biglaw because they have to. 90k is a great outcome for a 50 hour a week job. If those hours are true.

Anonymous User
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:58 pm

15 styx wrote:With both firms in the same market.... a 55k difference is HUGE! $3.2k a month (after taxes)…. talking Ferrari in your garage (maybe used, but nevertheless!).



LOL at buying a Ferrari on 145k salary in a major market any time soon. That said, as someone working at a firm that starts at 160k, 55k is a huge difference for doing what will probably be the same amount of work. If you plan to build a career, you will have to do good work, which will generally be rewarded with more work. That will translate to being busy no matter where you are.

legends159
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby legends159 » Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:01 pm

Try talking to junior people at the midlaw firm to gauge the lifestyle a little better. At the end of the day you're still a firm which means you serve clients and operate on their schedule.

Job security could be another factor to consider - easier to keep your head down and stay employed at a bigger firm where you're not noticeable; a bit harder when there's only ~25 attorneys.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:02 am

Small firm is way too risky.

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Avian
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Avian » Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:12 am

I'd say biglaw. Probably better exit options all things being equal. Best case scenario assuming what the midlaw firm has said about hours is actually true, you'd be working roughly a third more hours in biglaw but making over 75% more money.

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baal hadad
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby baal hadad » Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:17 am

By same practice area is it REALLY the same practice area

Jchance
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Jchance » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:09 am

Anonymous User wrote: Only 1500 billables. At CB, partners/associates say everyone is out of the office by 530p unless something is imminent.


I call marketing bs.

Even assuming if this is true, what do you think would happen after you hit your target 1500, they'll let you take 3 months off? As a young associate, they'll make you work then give you a nominal flat bonus ($10k max?)...

I also agree with the above poster, no such thing as same practice area.
Last edited by Jchance on Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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los blancos
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby los blancos » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:51 am

emptyflare wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I hope to go in-house or government after a few years. I care about exit options.


This should make the decision much easier, no? The Biglaw firm will almost assuredly have better exit options. Also, because you're in a major market, the opportunity to go in-house or government from a Biglaw firm will usually be much easier.

Something else to consider: if you maintain positive connections with the Midlaw firm attorneys, you could potentially even head there after a stint in Biglaw.


These are good considerations, but the bolded isn't always true. If you're sitting there doing doc review for 3 years no one in gvmt/in-house is going to be interested in you. That said, it seems that biglaw juniors do more not-docreview work than they used to.

Also, biglaw -> midlaw isn't a guaranteed exit option by any stretch. I know you're not saying that, but if OP's long term vision was "partner in a law firm" I'd tell him to choose the midlaw option.


OP: get a better understanding of the hours at the midlaw shop and the type of work they do, and a concrete understanding of what associates do at the biglaw shop. You're working with imperfect and incomplete data points otherwise.

Anonymous User
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:45 am

OP Here. THANK YOU ALL for your comments and for voting. Ya'll have really helped me break down what I need to be thinking about.

baal hadad wrote:By same practice area is it REALLY the same practice area


Pretty much. Big law has bigger clients (obviously).

transferror wrote:OP, why do you want to go in-house or gov after a few years? If it's for nothing other than a better work-life balance, it sounds like you already have that option. That's assuming the job is legit 8:30-5:30 or whatever.


Good question. Honestly, I want to go gov. (enforcement side) to catch bad guys. And then I just listed in-house because it sounds cushy haha. You're totally right though, I didn't think the in-house thing through.

los blancos wrote:
emptyflare wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I hope to go in-house or government after a few years. I care about exit options.


This should make the decision much easier, no? The Biglaw firm will almost assuredly have better exit options. Also, because you're in a major market, the opportunity to go in-house or government from a Biglaw firm will usually be much easier.

Something else to consider: if you maintain positive connections with the Midlaw firm attorneys, you could potentially even head there after a stint in Biglaw.


These are good considerations, but the bolded isn't always true. If you're sitting there doing doc review for 3 years no one in gvmt/in-house is going to be interested in you. That said, it seems that biglaw juniors do more not-docreview work than they used to.

Also, biglaw -> midlaw isn't a guaranteed exit option by any stretch. I know you're not saying that, but if OP's long term vision was "partner in a law firm" I'd tell him to choose the midlaw option.


OP: get a better understanding of the hours at the midlaw shop and the type of work they do, and a concrete understanding of what associates do at the biglaw shop. You're working with imperfect and incomplete data points otherwise.


Good advice, I sent an email just now asking for a second look at mid-law place. (I have relatively good understanding of the big law joint having spent tjhe summer there.)

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby JohannDeMann » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:50 am

Didn't read the rest, but I would ask a partner at midlaw firm straight up - I have another offer with a biglaw firm that requires 33% more billables but pays 50% more. If I took this job, it would be for lifestyle purposes for my family. Can I expect to leave the office on average at 5:30 and do good work for you guys?

If he says no or scoffs at the question, go biglaw.
If he says yes, I'd go midlaw.

But also depending on your practice area, depends on how long you'd have to ride out biglaw for a good inhouse position. If you are in tax, I'd do biglaw and peace out inhouse in 2 years.

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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:44 pm

Depends upon the practice area. If you can share, please do. Typically big firms have more sophisticated clients, but this is not always the case.

Based upon what you have said, I would go big law. Training is usually better if the partner/associate ratio is reasonably low (like 1:1 or 1:2). You should be focusing on training. By that, I do not mean bullshit training seminars. Those are pointless in my opinion and are merely marketing tools for firms. You want to get a sense as to which firm will give you more responsibility and support at a younger level. Maybe speak with alum in the area as to how the associates in this practice group are viewed from each of these firms. Your career counselor at your law school may even have a sense of it too but I would definitely tap alum that are in positions that you would ultimately want (sounds like government from what you've said).

Anonymous User
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Depends upon the practice area. If you can share, please do. Typically big firms have more sophisticated clients, but this is not always the case.

Based upon what you have said, I would go big law. Training is usually better if the partner/associate ratio is reasonably low (like 1:1 or 1:2). You should be focusing on training. By that, I do not mean bullshit training seminars. Those are pointless in my opinion and are merely marketing tools for firms. You want to get a sense as to which firm will give you more responsibility and support at a younger level. Maybe speak with alum in the area as to how the associates in this practice group are viewed from each of these firms. Your career counselor at your law school may even have a sense of it too but I would definitely tap alum that are in positions that you would ultimately want (sounds like government from what you've said).


OP here. Practice area is in banking. dOnt' want to say more for fear of outing. There is definitely a difference in the level of clients. Big law clients are Wells Fargo and similar ilk. Mid-law clients are regional banks, though there are a few marquee names listed on the website. To me, I felt like big law would mean bigger clients, but a smaller role as the big law firm's banking practice area is huge. Mid law would be smaller clients but bigger roles.

JohannDeMann wrote:Didn't read the rest, but I would ask a partner at midlaw firm straight up - I have another offer with a biglaw firm that requires 33% more billables but pays 50% more. If I took this job, it would be for lifestyle purposes for my family. Can I expect to leave the office on average at 5:30 and do good work for you guys?

If he says no or scoffs at the question, go biglaw.
If he says yes, I'd go midlaw.

But also depending on your practice area, depends on how long you'd have to ride out biglaw for a good inhouse position. If you are in tax, I'd do biglaw and peace out inhouse in 2 years.


Nice. I'm going to put this in email form and ask some variation.


Also, for someone asked earlier: bonus for first years at mid-law is 7k for hitting minimum billables of 1500 (but not sure if this billables or actually billed time). Then there is a second level for hitting 1600 billables to get an extra 5k for 12k total. Big law bonus was standard 10k.

lawschoolftw
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby lawschoolftw » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Depends upon the practice area. If you can share, please do. Typically big firms have more sophisticated clients, but this is not always the case.

Based upon what you have said, I would go big law. Training is usually better if the partner/associate ratio is reasonably low (like 1:1 or 1:2). You should be focusing on training. By that, I do not mean bullshit training seminars. Those are pointless in my opinion and are merely marketing tools for firms. You want to get a sense as to which firm will give you more responsibility and support at a younger level. Maybe speak with alum in the area as to how the associates in this practice group are viewed from each of these firms. Your career counselor at your law school may even have a sense of it too but I would definitely tap alum that are in positions that you would ultimately want (sounds like government from what you've said).


OP here. Practice area is in banking. dOnt' want to say more for fear of outing. There is definitely a difference in the level of clients. Big law clients are Wells Fargo and similar ilk. Mid-law clients are regional banks, though there are a few marquee names listed on the website. To me, I felt like big law would mean bigger clients, but a smaller role as the big law firm's banking practice area is huge. Mid law would be smaller clients but bigger roles.

JohannDeMann wrote:Didn't read the rest, but I would ask a partner at midlaw firm straight up - I have another offer with a biglaw firm that requires 33% more billables but pays 50% more. If I took this job, it would be for lifestyle purposes for my family. Can I expect to leave the office on average at 5:30 and do good work for you guys?

If he says no or scoffs at the question, go biglaw.
If he says yes, I'd go midlaw.

But also depending on your practice area, depends on how long you'd have to ride out biglaw for a good inhouse position. If you are in tax, I'd do biglaw and peace out inhouse in 2 years.


Nice. I'm going to put this in email form and ask some variation.


Also, for someone asked earlier: bonus for first years at mid-law is 7k for hitting minimum billables of 1500 (but not sure if this billables or actually billed time). Then there is a second level for hitting 1600 billables to get an extra 5k for 12k total. Big law bonus was standard 10k.



May be a question worth posing to mid-law. If any hour you bill counts, than 1500 is a breeze. But, you can expect to have a fair amount of your time written off as a junior, so if they only count time actually billed to the client, you may be looking at billing 1800 in mid-law anyway.

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los blancos
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby los blancos » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:37 pm

If the bonus is at 1500/1600 them I'm willing to bet that you can indeed bill at the steady and not overwhelming pace of 150/mo and the firm will be satisfied (subject to the above re: billing and realization)

The tradeoff is generically and broadly what you've identified - bigger clients vs bigger responsibility and more substantive work. But while it seems like you've got an idea of who the clients are, I would do my best to get an understanding of how much that second factor is going to differ. This stuff can vary a lot from firm to firm and even partner to partner.

If you're thinking something like SEC as far as your eventual goal it may pay off to go with a more recognizable name with bigger clients (where you might also find it easier to make connections with present and former gvmt attorneys), but someone who actually knows about this stuff wrt your practice area should probably be talking about this, not a litigator like me.

I personally wouldn't go midlaw unless you can say to yourself "I'd be happy being here (both firm and market) long-term if gvmt doesn't work out." Especially if this is the type of midlaw shop where folks sort of make partner by default. That is, unless this particular midlaw shop is a top dog with a strong reputation.

I think what it really comes down to is whether the exit opps are going to be materially different. Try to see what the firms' alumni are up to (obviously limited wrt the smaller firm). But if there's a real difference I'd be tempted to go the biglaw route and suffer in the short term esp since you didn't say you have kids.

Others should chime in bc I'm on my phone and I'm sure I'm missing something.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Mid law or Big Law

Postby JohannDeMann » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:53 pm

If that midlaw is going to give you client contact with local credit unions, that's a pretty sweet gig. I have a couple friends in house at credit unions and they have it very chill. Very very chill with pay that would be in line with your biglaw option.
A general theme on this forum I don't agree with is prestige matters. Going to biglaw firm with prestige clients isn't going to help you if you never get to interact with the client and the client because of prestige has lots of other great candidates vying for roles and so they only hire people in year 3-5 range. Meanwhile, client contact at a midlaw firm doing work for local credit unions and contact could be much better. It could mean you exit after 1-2 years. It could mean you work for a client that does 40 hour weeks. And it also could give you more unicorn like opportunities like CFO because the people you are competing with don't have your credentials and the business has less stringent hiring redtape requirements.
Just things to consider.




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