Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

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Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2016 2:23 pm

Let's say I wanted to last two or three years at a biglaw firm. I don't want to completely embarrass myself (i.e., I don't want them to KNOW I'm not doing shit), but I want to have as much of a life and as little of a stressful existence as possible, given the parameters of biglaw. Let's say it's a NYC V20. You can incorporate into your answer whether corp or lit is better for these purposes.

Asking for a friend.

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jkpolk

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby jkpolk » Sun Feb 21, 2016 2:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Let's say I wanted to last two or three years at a biglaw firm. I don't want to completely embarrass myself (i.e., I don't want them to KNOW I'm not doing shit), but I want to have as much of a life and as little of a stressful existence as possible, given the parameters of biglaw. Let's say it's a NYC V20. You can incorporate into your answer whether corp or lit is better for these purposes.

Asking for a friend.

It's possible but requires luck. If you get a 300 hour month of doc review or diligence dumped on you, you can't just not do it - you'd get fired. If you do enough work so that you're not hilariously far off hours in any given month (so you dont draw attention to yourself and get more work), I think you could skate by with 1600 billable for a few years (but like I said, dependent on not getting crushed, which is totally out of your control).

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deepseapartners

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby deepseapartners » Sun Feb 21, 2016 3:24 pm

Get into your firm's tax practice. The substance of the work isn't for everyone and it's definitely got some of the least normal people in a law firm (which is saying something), but they have the most predictably low total hours worked. Only catch is that the practice group probably isn't going to be big enough to "hide" in.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:11 pm

This is very difficult in the larger practices - litigation and corp. This is because it's impossible as a junior to know how much work each matter will require, and each new matter you are placed on increases the likelihood that multiple matters will get hot at any one time (this assumes you can control your own workload to some extent). Furthermore, partners and seniors are some combination of terrible managers or are super-busy themselves, such that they will constantly be delegating you work at the last minute.

My tips (litigation):

1) Avoid pro bono. It is not 1:1 with billable time no matter what the firm tells you and I have seen too many people be burned by volunteering for "easy" pro bono matters that turn into a huge time-suck since pro bono cases are unpredictable and there is no paying client to cabin the number of hours the partners are willing to spend having you do stuff.
2) In lit, most large firms will have one or two matters where the work is essentially endless doc review or other quasi-admin tasks (writing memos about calls with the government, preparing fact memos, etc). That can provide you with a baseline of hours per week and you can be more selective about turning down other assignments that would require more interaction with partners or tougher deadlines. The flip side of this is that you will get absolutely no experience or exposure to partners, but if you just want to collect biglaw salary for a couple years this is the best way to do it.
3) Become very judicious at using paralegals/assistants. A lot of junior work is essentially paralegal work that they don't mind having juniors do. Find that work and do it yourself unless you are expressly told not to.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:12 pm

...
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:13 pm

...

Tls2016

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Tls2016 » Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:47 pm

Set boundaries and turn down work. (I fail at this.)
Communicate very clearly as to where you are with a project.
Do flawless work when you have it.
Be insanely organized.
Try to regulate your work so that it takes a little longer than average but not too slow. (My biggest mistake was being able to work quickly so I just got more work. This may not be an issue in every group.)
Constantly look to gain some expertise in anything you can to increase value.If you go to a CLE on something, give a presentation to the group or department. You would be shocked how little actual law the associates know.
Always be personable and polite so people want to work with you.
Stay calm under stress and pressure.
Tl; dr: limit the work you do, but make that work perfect. Be a person everyone likes. If you are reliable and personable, but a little lazy you should be ok.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Tls2016 » Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:57 pm

One more thing: push back on dealing with difficult people all the time. I got staffed on a few really tough transactions where everyone hated each other because I got along with everyone. The difficult personalities and constant psychological stress wore me out more than the actual work.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:07 pm

I honestly don't think there's really a way to really hide for more than a year without getting pushed out. Best thing to do would be to try and crush it your first year so people develop respect for you; once you develop a good reputation, you can be more forceful with turning down work because people will assume you're busy and have other commitments.

But if you want to leave in 3 years (which is a lot longer than you think), I think it's important to get as much experience as possible. Those supposedly great exit opps don't hand themselves to you.

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Tls2016

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Tls2016 » Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I honestly don't think there's really a way to really hide for more than a year without getting pushed out. Best thing to do would be to try and crush it your first year so people develop respect for you; once you develop a good reputation, you can be more forceful with turning down work because people will assume you're busy and have other commitments.

But if you want to leave in 3 years (which is a lot longer than you think), I think it's important to get as much experience as possible. Those supposedly great exit opps don't hand themselves to you.

How does "crushing it" go with doing least amount possible? I think you are over estimating the respect a second year could get. People I've seen work like crazy 1st year either burn out fast and want out or they are workaholics who keep going at a similar pace.
I could be wrong and this is may be personality and firm specific.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Johann » Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:22 pm

90% of biglaw is internal deadlines. just push back. when someone asks sends an email asking for a "quick" answer, tell them that might take 6 hours. if you get a 2 week deadline for an impossible task, tell sr associates/income partners that youre going to blow the deadline or produce pure shit work product a few days before the deadline.

but obvi, to do any of this you need to build connections and have political capital of higher ups that will stick up for you. do good work on what you do, manage up and say no to other things.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2016 8:02 pm

Good advice in this thread. I'd add that you should make it a point to avoid the golden handcuffs. I can't overstate that enough. Those "awesome" exit opps are still just shit legal work with slightly better hours. You'll inevitably want to leave law entirely, and being able to do that instead of staying in a career that makes you miserable seems to come down to finances.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2016 8:18 pm

there are gold exit opp out there but these are just scarce .. we are talking 250k gc position at a subsidiary 9 to 6. but thats 1/100.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2016 8:58 pm

Avoid anything that requires you to be at the office around the clock. As a first year you're generally just working on very specific assigned tasks. If a midlevel wants to have you around in case they need help, you'll wind up only billing around a quarter to half the time you're at the office. If your billables are too low you won't survive so all things being equal, the smaller the staff the better.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:32 pm

Get a job at GDC NYC in the corporate group and disappear.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:Get a job at GDC NYC in the corporate group and disappear.

What does this mean?

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Pokemon » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:25 am

Make careless mistakes. Develop a reputation for shoddy work. Lay low.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby nealric » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:Good advice in this thread. I'd add that you should make it a point to avoid the golden handcuffs. I can't overstate that enough. Those "awesome" exit opps are still just shit legal work with slightly better hours. You'll inevitably want to leave law entirely, and being able to do that instead of staying in a career that makes you miserable seems to come down to finances.


Oh please. Not everyone hates legal work. If you can snag a 9-6 job that pays six figures with a high level of autonomy, the vast majority of people would call that a career win.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Tls2016 » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:07 pm

Pokemon wrote:Make careless mistakes. Develop a reputation for shoddy work. Lay low.

I think the emotional stress of everyone thinking you suck might be tough to cope with while you are at the office. Maybe people can pull this off if they truly don't care.

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 23, 2016 8:26 am

If any of my first years are "crushing it" I don't know it so that's terrible advice. None of them are fuck ups, that's for sure.

In my group the doc review pace isn't reported to partners and no one really knows who has done what over the scope of our multiple productions so I've managed to have a chill existence just declining to work on doc review when I get staffed on it (unless I am assigned specific batches).

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Re: Surviving at biglaw doing the least work possible

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 23, 2016 10:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Get a job at GDC NYC in the corporate group and disappear.

What does this mean?


It means he has no idea what he's talking about.

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