Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

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

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

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:52 pm

I was active on this board before and during law school. I'm now three years out and have just left my job in a major market as a litigation associate and joined a practice in a smaller market. Happy to take questions on the big law litigation experience.

adammac17
Posts: 146
Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2010 6:26 pm

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby adammac17 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:55 pm

Thanks for taking Qs. How (logistically) did you find your new job? Did you use a headhunter? Did you interview while still working at your former job?

User avatar
Desert Fox
Progressively loosing literacy
Posts: 14376
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Desert Fox » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:55 pm

How much do you make now.

whats an updog
Posts: 207
Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:12 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby whats an updog » Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:23 pm

Why'd you move?

shock259
Posts: 1737
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:30 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby shock259 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:13 pm

What was your connection to the smaller market? How long have you been planning for this move? How small is your new firm?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:23 pm

did you ever get yelled at? how often? how many screamer partners at your old firm?

what was the atmosphere like at your old firm?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:31 am

adammac17 wrote:Thanks for taking Qs. How (logistically) did you find your new job? Did you use a headhunter? Did you interview while still working at your former job?


OP here. I used several recruiters. Once you hit about second year level in my old firm, the phone rings off the hook with individuals looking to send you somewhere else. I won't say my class year, but it is safe to say second through fourth year is absolutely the sweet spot for making a lateral move. Fifth year borders being too senior, in my opinion. At least in my market. I interviewed in two different smaller markets and also in my former major market, and decided I just didn't want to be in that big city anymore.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:45 am

Desert Fox wrote:How much do you make now.


I make about 25k less than what I was making. The real hit comes from the big bonuses I was making in my former major market-those are gone. As is lockstep compensation.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:47 am

shock259 wrote:What was your connection to the smaller market? How long have you been planning for this move? How small is your new firm?


I was born and raised in the state my new market is in. Sort of planning for this move ever since I accepted my offer in my major market. I knew I wouldn't stay there for too long because lawyers tend to burn out fast there. My new firm isn't small at all. It's a big law firm (bigger than my old firm by far), but I am in a small satellite office with about 50 lawyers.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:did you ever get yelled at? how often? how many screamer partners at your old firm?

what was the atmosphere like at your old firm?


Ha. We didn't have screamers--we had passive aggressive types who wouldn't tell you if you did something incorrectly until you got your review and then found out that you didn't give the partner what he wanted. I think I would prefer a screamer, because at least then we could fix things so that they were done correctly the next time. I did have some unforgivable comments made, but I won't post them for fear of outing myself or my firm. Let's just say comments were made by partners about how we were sleeping too long if we were sleeping more than five hours a night. Fabulous.

Atmosphere at old firm was bleak. It was a major doc review mill. My one piece of advice for any 2L interviewing is to really ask those nitty gritty questions after you get the offer about what your day will look like. Specifically, ask "what type of assignments will I get at my level." If they're vague, keep pushing. You need to know what portion of your day will be doc review and what portion will be researching, writing, and drafting. With doc review, you need to know if you're first line reviewing thousands of documents a week, or second line reviewing and actually using the documents to do something (make a timeline, write a memo, develop a defense, etc.) I didn't know anything about doc review when I started because it was kept hidden from us as summers. We weren't allowed to see it and it wasn't allowed to be given to us. So ask your difficult questions about your assignments once you get an offer.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:54 am

whats an updog wrote:Why'd you move?


Number one reason was better quality of work. My firm was a doc review mill and I wasn't getting the same experience as people my class year at other firms. I also didn't like the finance work, which was a major practice area in my city. I thought I would like it, but I didnt. Next, better quality of life--better hours, nicer people, less pressure, etc.

User avatar
Desert Fox
Progressively loosing literacy
Posts: 14376
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:How much do you make now.


I make about 25k less than what I was making. The real hit comes from the big bonuses I was making in my former major market-those are gone. As is lockstep compensation.


That isn't as bad as I thought. Sounds like a good move.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:How much do you make now.


I make about 25k less than what I was making. The real hit comes from the big bonuses I was making in my former major market-those are gone. As is lockstep compensation.


Did you negotiate your salary or anything else when moving, or were you just told what the scale is/given a take-it-or-leave-it number the way entry level lawyers are?

User avatar
sinfiery
Posts: 3308
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:55 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby sinfiery » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:08 pm

Hours billed in old and new job? Hours spent in the office?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:How much do you make now.


I make about 25k less than what I was making. The real hit comes from the big bonuses I was making in my former major market-those are gone. As is lockstep compensation.


Did you negotiate your salary or anything else when moving, or were you just told what the scale is/given a take-it-or-leave-it number the way entry level lawyers are?


I really didn't have the ability to negotiate much because it is still a big firm and policies are set. I was able to negotiate working hours, but that's about it. I was given a range by my recruiter for salary (I have found that smaller firms and regional offices of larger firms will tell you salaries up front to see if you're even willing to take the hit), and there really wasn't much negotiating power.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:48 am

Desert Fox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:How much do you make now.


I make about 25k less than what I was making. The real hit comes from the big bonuses I was making in my former major market-those are gone. As is lockstep compensation.


That isn't as bad as I thought. Sounds like a good move.


It's definitely a good move. The 25k isn't what hurts. The bonuses hurt. I think this year at my old firm I would have been up for a 50-60k bonus and next year would have been 70k. My new bonus (if I even qualify coming in mid year) probably will be in the 5k range. It definitely hurts. But I promise, the extra money to pay down loans isn't worth the misery. You don't want to find yourself a sixth year litigator without skills (many big law firms don't provide the substantive skills you would expect until you're close to the partner level) and then pushed out trying to find a new gig. I've seen it happen to seventh and eighth years at my old firm.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:55 am

sinfiery wrote:Hours billed in old and new job? Hours spent in the office?


Haven't been working long enough to say what billables will steadily look like at the smaller shop. Old shop was 2100-2400 a year depending on what was going on at the firm. Some were busier than me (some litigators billed around 2600). The unpredictability was the killer. Partners would call meetings at 7:30pm on a Friday after making you wait around all day and pushing things back over and over. Or ask for a meeting on a Sunday. Or give you an assignment at 6pm that they need first thing, which means you're working all night on it. I had one assignment given to me at 4pm, needed for 7am the next morning. I probably got one hour of sleep. Wasn't fun. That stuff doesn't seem to happen at my new place. Hours are more regular and people clear out to have dinner with their families. Emergencies happen--filings have to get done and in my experience, every filing day is a crazy day. But on the whole, people seem to leave and value their personal lives.

I will say that 2,000 hours isn't bad if the hours are regular (like an 8-5 or 7-4). The problem with many big law firms is that you may have a 2,000 hour minimum requirement, but those hours may be billed from 3-11pm.

Hours spent in office at old firm--I was coming in around 8am trying to bill and work on projects so I could leave by 7. It didn't happen. I realized that if you come in earlier, you don't leave earlier. You just work a longer day because someone will always give you an assignment that's "urgent" from 3-5pm. So I started coming in at 10:30-11am like the rest of the associates. My hours weren't that terrible admittedly. I would try be gone by 7-8 and then log in from home later. Some people were more difficult than others. Some would send 5am emails and expect a response (that was fun). And we had the weekend meeting planners, like I mentioned.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:59 am

OP again. The number one thing I want to emphasize again (and can't emphasize enough) is that for litigators, you have to have to have to find out what types of assignments a first year is going to get. Wait until you get offers, and then dig dig dig and compare across all firms you've received offers at. Not all big law firms are created equal on this front. You do not want to be in a first line doc review mill, when your friends at firm X are writing first drafts of briefs. You want that experience. And do not trust Vault. Those comments are given without context. My old firm, for example, had tons of comments about client contact right away and lots of responsibility. And that was true for the corporate side, but you would never know it was a corporate associate's comment because it is just presented as a blanket statement. A poor future litigator may go in thinking "wow, client contact! Great responsibility!" and be sadly disappointed to learn neither of those things will happen for 6-7 years.

Hutz_and_Goodman
Posts: 1413
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:42 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:49 am

Congratulations on the move.
How did you answer experience questions at the new firm given that most of your experience was doc review?

Alyosha
Posts: 104
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2008 8:34 pm

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Alyosha » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:30 am

Did your new firm give you time off to take the bar, or was that not an issue?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:22 am

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:Congratulations on the move.
How did you answer experience questions at the new firm given that most of your experience was doc review?


I was honest. I talked about the experience I did have and answered honestly that significant drafting, deposition, or oral argument experience wouldn't happen until I was in my 7th or 8th year. Most firms understood that that is how it works in the big market I came from. I emphasized I was eager to work hard and learn new skills and I drew on experiences I had from my pro bono cases. Pro bono affords young associates a fantastic way to build the skills we miss elsewhere.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273104
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:30 am

Alyosha wrote:Did your new firm give you time off to take the bar, or was that not an issue?


Not an issue for me. Others in my class at my old firm took various other bars during our time there, but no one disclosed their plans to the firm. Not a good idea to tip your hand in case you don't pass the bar or ultimately decide not to move. The associates I knew who studied for the bar did it around the work assignments and would have flash cards at their desks and would take vacation time leading up to the bar itself.

User avatar
sublime
Posts: 15395
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:21 pm

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby sublime » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:57 am

..

User avatar
los blancos
Posts: 7110
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby los blancos » Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:25 pm

I still can't believe there are clients that are stupid enough to pay for associates to doc review. It consistently amazes me.

User avatar
Desert Fox
Progressively loosing literacy
Posts: 14376
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Re: Former major market big law associate -- taking questions

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:28 pm

los blancos wrote:I still can't believe there are clients that are stupid enough to pay for associates to doc review. It consistently amazes me.


At my V38, I don't seem many who will pay. But a buddy at V3 has done nothing but since he started. It must be firms making them pay it.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.