What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

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What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:40 pm

I thought I'd like being a lawyer. I told myself I had a realistic expectation (not formed from television shows and movies) and that I'd be doing a lot of writing and research. I got almost all A's in my 1L classes, actually enjoyed those classes, and was generally excited about becoming an attorney. I'm currently doing an externship at a state AG's office and I'm starting not to like it. First week was awesome--I liked doing real legal work and having an office and wearing a suit to work. Now, I'm starting to hate all of my assignments. The most interesting thing I do involves hours of Westlaw searches and piecing together memos. The research feels rote and repetitive. Discovery related stuff is awful. Even going to court and depositions is boring to me--so much of it is pro forma repetition rather than actual legal argument.

Part of this is just a rant, I suppose. I guess I was expecting to love it, but at the end of the day, it's a job.

But I am curious--what do you like about being a lawyer, for those of you who like it? I find the law interesting so maybe I have potential to like the work?

How much better does it get as you move up the foodchain? I'm hoping that as an extern, I'm just being given the worst tasks and that as I gain experience, I'll get more satisfying work. Too optimistic?

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:45 pm

I honestly can't think of anything I like about being a lawyer.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:51 pm

I honestly can't think of anything I like about being a lawyer.


What area of law are you in? Sorry to hear that though. Any ideas of other professions to get into? Is it getting better or worse for you?

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:01 pm

Not sure if this is proper use of anon but here goes (I wrote the first response to OP).

I'd rather not say what area I'm in because it would probably out me (it's a niche area).

The thing I hate most about this profession is the elitism. It's like if you aren't able to get on the "right" track early on, that's it. Tough shit. It is basically impossible to make up for not getting good grades or going to an elite school. On second thought, I think what I hate most is that I have no optimism about my future any more. I don't believe I have good things ahead of me.

Another thing I hate is that as a recent graduate I am watching many of my friends from school (many of whom were excellent students and all of whom are awesome people) come up with nothing in the job search. We went to a T20 BTW, the top school in our state. One of my friends did get an offer to work for a firm for 14k a year. Not even kidding.

As far as the work is concerned. There are occasionally bright spots. Being in court can be interesting. Once in a while an issue comes up that is genuinely interesting to figure out. For the most part, practice is just moving paper around and generating documents.

As far as moving into another field, I don't think that will happen either. Leveraging biglaw experience into some other part of the capitalist machine is usually TCR but I am not a part of that club.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:21 pm

(OP) Thanks for sharing, it's nice to know what people are thinking--at work, everyone either seems to like it or just to be hiding disliking it. The elitism doesn't bother me. Went to "elite" private school so probably just used to it. Also am in gov't this summer so it's probably less rampant than at a biglaw office.

I'm not on the biglaw track--gunning for and probably in decent position to get regional midlaw. Seems a little less soul-crushing than biglaw. Though I'm reconsidering because if both suck, may as well gun for the 160/year. Thought I wanted lit because i liked the advoacy element and because corp looked awful, but considering how much of lit is discovery, idk anymore. Best outcome would probably be to fall into some highly niche practice that involves client contact and critical thinking rather than discovery-related crap.

I'd actually like to be a public defender. I believe in the work and it doesn't look boring. But, I won't have any crim/PI credentials by the time 3L PD hiring occurs. And I'm not going to stop building a resume that has a good shot of leading me to a 90k/yr job to gun for a 50k/yr job that will lead me little options if I fail.

I guess part of this is K-JD syndrome. Having only worked part-time jobs that normal college students do (retail, low-end political staffing, entry level admin), I always saw being a lawyer as different from those jobs and when really, at the end of the day, I guess work is work. Also, being K-JD makes it seem like everything I have ever done is culminating in this, and this sucks.

Sorry for the woe-is-me posting, just feeling disillusioned right now. Maybe it's just a bad day. Maybe I just need to focus on hobbies and friends/family instead of work.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Danger Zone » Tue Jun 16, 2015 11:25 pm

The paycheck

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:I guess part of this is K-JD syndrome. Having only worked part-time jobs that normal college students do (retail, low-end political staffing, entry level admin), I always saw being a lawyer as different from those jobs and when really, at the end of the day, I guess work is work. Also, being K-JD makes it seem like everything I have ever done is culminating in this, and this sucks.
I would bet this is a big part of it. Going from being a student to working 40+ per week sucks pretty much no matter what the job is. The VAST majority of people don't love their jobs. Some people like their jobs, and a lot more can tolerate their jobs as a necessity to pay the bills and hopefully make enough extra to do things they love in their time away from the office.

You know that old saying "Choose a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life"? That's hippie boomer bullshit. That's not what being an adult in the real world is like for like 99% of people (even before the recession). Realistically, finding a job that pays a decent wage, where you don't hate the work, and where the work environment doesn't make you miserable is the best-case scenario. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:39 am

Re: PD/crim credentials - start getting them. Line up an internship for fall (and spring, if possible). Do your school's criminal defense clinic (they all have one). It's a little early in the game to give up and say it's too late to follow that path, if you think it's what you want to do. I don't know if you'd actually like it any better than what you're doing, but most PDs sure aren't spending a lot of time on research memos, there's tons of client contact, and as for discovery, usually the state gives it to you or you're not going to get it. (Discovery is super important but criminal is completely different from civil, though there can still be disputes, of course.) There will still likely be a lot of paper pushing, but that's how the legal system works.

(There are plenty of people who hate criminal law, too, but unless you want to drop out now it's worth at least trying for something different.)

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby lacrossebrother » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:45 am

I honestly can't think of anything I don't like about the job. I have a ton of different tasks and I can pretty much elect how long to spend on any of them. People respect my opinion and I get to learn about new and different shit all the time. And I get to talk to smart people all day. And write. And get paid to read. I think I'll have to start traveling to bullshit places like Sacramento soonish but I'm enjoying my first month or so. I'll take the bar at the end of July but I don't think anything will change except maybe a little more responsibility which would be cool.

Actually sometimes I don't like when people come to tell me stories. People tend to be verbose in law I think and their stories aren't all that great. So I have to sit quietly sometimes and listen. But I can usually turn an eye to the comp screen.

Idk it's a pretty damn good job. Good pay, own office, make my own hours, have an assistant. Not sure what there is to complain about.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:40 am

Rinkrat: Completely agree with all that. Guess it's part of the culture where TV shows are based around professions and glamorize careers. Not saying I expected to become a lawyer and have my life be like Harvey Spector's, but I thought it would be more Suits than Office Space.

Nony: Thanks as always for the earnest advice. I'm pretty risk averse so I'm gonna pursue the likely 90k a year in regional midlaw or possibly biglaw rather than a unicorn PD job that pays 50k or less. Is it unheard of for a litigator to go into private defense work?

Lax: That post gives me encouragement. I don't have an assistant (or a paycheck, and barely an office) and all that stuff will help. Like I said, I like the law, so I haven't lost hope yet. Instead of spending one week doing discovery to write a motion, maybe i'll be assigned 5 motions and pawn off the rote discovery stuff onto the support staff? Not sure if as an unpaid government intern if I can use the staff at my office and I don't feel comfortable asking. What kind of work do you do?

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Magic Hat » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:47 am

lacrossebrother wrote:I honestly can't think of anything I don't like about the job. I have a ton of different tasks and I can pretty much elect how long to spend on any of them. People respect my opinion and I get to learn about new and different shit all the time. And I get to talk to smart people all day. And write. And get paid to read. I think I'll have to start traveling to bullshit places like Sacramento soonish but I'm enjoying my first month or so. I'll take the bar at the end of July but I don't think anything will change except maybe a little more responsibility which would be cool.

Actually sometimes I don't like when people come to tell me stories. People tend to be verbose in law I think and their stories aren't all that great. So I have to sit quietly sometimes and listen. But I can usually turn an eye to the comp screen.

Idk it's a pretty damn good job. Good pay, own office, make my own hours, have an assistant. Not sure what there is to complain about.


Let's talk in 5 years.

I used to feel this way. I used to love practicing law. I still might. Back in my first year of practice I remember telling some twat attorney with 10 years under her belt that I love practicing and she said "Let's talk in 5 years".

Since that time I left government for a mid law firm, built a pretty good reputation as a young up and comer in a niche dominated by old men, developed a book of business and put myself solidly on partnership track. I still love my job but I occasionally lay awake at night wondering what else I could do. Law can be very shitty and I am aware I have it easier than most.

Two days ago my boss loudly announced "there's gotta be a better way to make money than this shit" and left the office for the rest of the day. Just to establish some context - he makes well over a million a year.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby kcdc1 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:26 am

Two days ago my boss loudly announced "there's gotta be a better way to make money than this shit" and left the office for the rest of the day. Just to establish some context - he makes well over a million a year.

In the grand scheme of things, this story is actually a ringing endorsement for working in law. Dude makes $1M-plus, gets to loudly complain in the office when things aren't going his way, and can storm out of the office for an afternoon without consequence.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Magic Hat » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:35 am

kcdc1 wrote:
Two days ago my boss loudly announced "there's gotta be a better way to make money than this shit" and left the office for the rest of the day. Just to establish some context - he makes well over a million a year.

In the grand scheme of things, this story is actually a ringing endorsement for working in law. Dude makes $1M-plus, gets to loudly complain in the office when things aren't going his way, and can storm out of the office for an afternoon without consequence.



Wow. I never thought about it like that. Good point! Nose back to the grindstone!

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Danger Zone » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:26 am

Danger Zone wrote:The paycheck

When people ask what you do, you can say "I'm a lawyer" and that's impressive for some reason

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby minnbills » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:44 am

Lax: what kind of job are you working these days?

I wish I could make a million a year. Early retirement? Hell yeah. What practice area is that guy in?

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby UVAIce » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:51 am

minnbills wrote:Lax: what kind of job are you working these days?

I wish I could make a million a year. Early retirement? Hell yeah. What practice area is that guy in?


Taxes man. Once you make money like that it just flies into the community chest.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Danger Zone » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:54 am

UVAIce wrote:
minnbills wrote:Lax: what kind of job are you working these days?

I wish I could make a million a year. Early retirement? Hell yeah. What practice area is that guy in?


Taxes man. Once you make money like that it just flies into the community chest.

Boo hoo I only get $600k of my hard earned million

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:27 am

Best part about being a lawyer is that you can at least look forward to death rather than fear it.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby UVAIce » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:27 am

Danger Zone wrote:
UVAIce wrote:
minnbills wrote:Lax: what kind of job are you working these days?

I wish I could make a million a year. Early retirement? Hell yeah. What practice area is that guy in?


Taxes man. Once you make money like that it just flies into the community chest.

Boo hoo I only get $600k of my hard earned million


That's what a majority of people say until they actually pay that kind of a tax bill. And at that point it's just not worth it to put that much work in for the diminishing returns. If it was a business I could sell or pass on to my kids it makes sense to build value. But why crush my soul for an extra 50 cents on the dollar?

I think people are a little too hard on the lawyer thing. A lot of the problems people have are due to high expectations regarding the practice of law or fit into a number of generic complaints about corporate life in general. You figure that the majority of a law practice is going to be spent on mundane legal matters. Having seen people have to do some seriously terrible shit for money, I'm okay creating, editing, and reading documents for what is honestly a pretty staggering salary. As a first year associate I make more money, adjusted for inflation, than my family did at its peak earning year.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:28 am

rinkrat19 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I guess part of this is K-JD syndrome. Having only worked part-time jobs that normal college students do (retail, low-end political staffing, entry level admin), I always saw being a lawyer as different from those jobs and when really, at the end of the day, I guess work is work. Also, being K-JD makes it seem like everything I have ever done is culminating in this, and this sucks.
I would bet this is a big part of it. Going from being a student to working 40+ per week sucks pretty much no matter what the job is. The VAST majority of people don't love their jobs. Some people like their jobs, and a lot more can tolerate their jobs as a necessity to pay the bills and hopefully make enough extra to do things they love in their time away from the office.

You know that old saying "Choose a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life"? That's hippie boomer bullshit. That's not what being an adult in the real world is like for like 99% of people (even before the recession). Realistically, finding a job that pays a decent wage, where you don't hate the work, and where the work environment doesn't make you miserable is the best-case scenario. Adjust your expectations accordingly.


This. I graduated UG three years ago and have an awesome job as far as jobs go. I get paid well with great benefits, do substantive things with important people, and still manage to work about 45 hrs/wk. But work is work. I'd still rather be playing video games all day. After 6 months on this job, I had the same feeling of malaise, but like rinkrat said, work isn't salvation, and I realized that. And I think nearly everyone thinks at least once a week about what else they could be doing. I doubt that feeling ever goes away, even if you're a millionaire by 40. That's just life.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby minnbills » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:31 am

600k is still plenty to get to early retirement though.

Edit: Yeah but the difference is most of us aren't making that much money. My salary right now is about 40k a year. When I start a clerkship it will jump to 60k the first year and 70k the second year. That's not bad, but considering a) I have friends who just got business B.A.s and are killing it right now and b) I will probably never make biglaw money, it's not a great deal.

If you can get a biglaw or comparable job. Yeah, this is a good deal. I would do just about anything if the compensation was good. But instead I (and many many others) are stuck doing this work for very little pay.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby krads153 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:Best part about being a lawyer is that you can at least look forward to death rather than fear it.


LOL, tbf, life is a grind for everyone except multi millionaires and billionaires who live off investments

this is why everyone else who has kids are just being selfish - the kids have to grind through life and it's another cycle again. and there's a lot of bullshit in life (diseases, random shit happening, divorces, working 80% of your waking hours, etc.). they have kids to find a "purpose" in life, without realizing that there likely is none and that their kids have to put up with the same bullshit.

at least the rich can give their kids a fulfilling/relatively fun life
Last edited by krads153 on Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby krads153 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:18 am

minnbills wrote:
If you can get a biglaw or comparable job. Yeah, this is a good deal. I would do just about anything if the compensation was good. But instead I (and many many others) are stuck doing this work for very little pay.


the compensation isn't that good considering how expensive law school is these days and how high COL is in a lot of places with biglaw

if you're looking just to make money - law is the wrong field to get into. you should have done finance or engineering to go to start ups/google

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby minnbills » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:24 am

Sure, there are more lucrative fields. At the end of the day, though, if you're making six figures right out of school you are doing really well.

My greater point though is that most of us are screwed because not only do we have the grind but we also make very little money.

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Re: What about being a lawyer is there to look forward to?

Postby krads153 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:27 am

minnbills wrote:Sure, there are more lucrative fields. At the end of the day, though, if you're making six figures right out of school you are doing really well.

My greater point though is that most of us are screwed because not only do we have the grind but we also make very little money.


not really "right out of school" though - out of grad school, after paying 200k (now 300k) on tuition

i had a 60k job offer straight out of undergrad - not bad considering i had no debt. now my friends who stuck with it (think big 4/analyst jobs) are making six figures anyway but without going to grad school.other friends landed mckinsey/consulting companies straight out of undergrad - crappy lifestyle but good money for straight out of college. pretty much all of my computer engineering friends landed six figure salaries straight out.

yeah, that's the risk. and that's one reason why the vast majority of people who go to law school shouldn't have gone in the first place. not to mention a lot of people burn out (insane rates). much higher than a lot of 0Ls think on this forum.




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