Lifestyle differences between markets

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candidlatke

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Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby candidlatke » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:35 pm

Hi, I was wondering if people would mind sharing their experiences (hours/lifestyle) in biglaw between NYC/Chi/SF/LA/Houston/Dallas/Austin/Seattle/ATL/etc

I know that it's pretty well known that NYC has probably the worst hours/requirements/takehome pay/etc. but I'm curious how everywhere else compares.

Of course, I doubt any one person has worked substantially at all of these offices but I'm sure that people who've worked at 2+ places can comment on their relative feels and that should provide a rough estimate of how they compare.

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tfer2222

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby tfer2222 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:52 pm

Also interested in this, esp from those on the west coast.

I'm in NYC and have never worked in another market. NYC can be pretty brutal and unforgiving (not just in law - across most professional services industries here, people just work a ton). That said, I will note the general NYC reputation can vary dramatically from firm to firm and from practice area to practice area. I know several associates who billed a pretty consistent 1800-2000 hrs during their first few years in NYC v10's, then lateraled to v100 firms in more "lifestyle friendly" markets and get completely crushed. Obviously the exception, but worth noting.

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elendinel

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby elendinel » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:21 am

Agree that it's case specific/depends heavily on field, but I would argue that, overall, NYC tends to be more of a grind in general than most other markets. It's not just the firms; the city itself arguably creates a culture where you feel you have to work a lot, that you have to rush around to see all you want to see/do all you want to do/get all you want to get, etc. If you thrive on always being busy/working/running around, it's great; if you're more interested in a city where you can slow down and relax, for the most part, NYC isn't for you.

I haven't worked in other markets, but we have offices in California and Seattle; I don't get the sense they're in the office as much as I am in NYC. I don't know if that actually translates to lower expectations/etc. in the market, because I'm talking about offices with the same firm, but in comparison with my office, I feel uncomfortable leaving before 9 most nights in NYC, but people have no problem leaving at 6/7 and working at home as necessary in the CA/Seattle offices.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:27 am

Thanks for starting this. I'm particularly interested in what people have to say about Houston compared to NY.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:27 pm

Interested for Boston

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:49 pm

Partners in my office (Chicago big law) mock their new york counterparts for always being in a rush/overly-urgent - particularly when the nyc folks want something done now when there is absolutely no reason that said thing needs to be done for at least a week.

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tfer2222

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby tfer2222 » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Partners in my office (Chicago big law) mock their new york counterparts for always being in a rush/overly-urgent - particularly when the nyc folks want something done now when there is absolutely no reason that said thing needs to be done for at least a week.


Story of my life. Unfortunately I've started to subconsciously adopt this thinking in my everyday life as well. Like when i get sidewalk rage after people walk slow enough in front of me that I can't walk really fast (basically a light jog weaving between people) to the subway station (when there is absolutely no reason I need to rush to where I'm going).

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:39 pm

LA - far less facetime than new york, a little more relaxed and less formal office environment, still very hard working. People tend to start earlier and finish earlier; you aren't in the office past 8pm the way new york associates often have to be, but it's not unusual to have meetings or phone conferences scheduled before 9am. No city tax leads to higher take home than NY; substantially lower cost of living leads to blowing less of that takehome on rent.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:LA - far less facetime than new york, a little more relaxed and less formal office environment, still very hard working. People tend to start earlier and finish earlier; you aren't in the office past 8pm the way new york associates often have to be, but it's not unusual to have meetings or phone conferences scheduled before 9am. No city tax leads to higher take home than NY; substantially lower cost of living leads to blowing less of that takehome on rent.


How many hours do you bill per year on average?

accidental anon, this is OP

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:30 pm

Do non native NYC firms generally have the same office/work culture and face time requirements as native NYC firms?

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:36 pm

Could a few touch on San Francisco/NorCal?

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:LA - far less facetime than new york, a little more relaxed and less formal office environment, still very hard working. People tend to start earlier and finish earlier; you aren't in the office past 8pm the way new york associates often have to be, but it's not unusual to have meetings or phone conferences scheduled before 9am. No city tax leads to higher take home than NY; substantially lower cost of living leads to blowing less of that takehome on rent.


Doesn't the higher CA state tax level it out a bit? Also, in CA you have the added expense of needing a car, whereas you can definitely get by without one in NY.
Also, this may be a long shot, but can anyone speak to San Diego biglaw?

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 29, 2016 3:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:LA - far less facetime than new york, a little more relaxed and less formal office environment, still very hard working. People tend to start earlier and finish earlier; you aren't in the office past 8pm the way new york associates often have to be, but it's not unusual to have meetings or phone conferences scheduled before 9am. No city tax leads to higher take home than NY; substantially lower cost of living leads to blowing less of that takehome on rent.


Doesn't the higher CA state tax level it out a bit? Also, in CA you have the added expense of needing a car, whereas you can definitely get by without one in NY.
Also, this may be a long shot, but can anyone speak to San Diego biglaw?


3L here who just finished a San Diego biglaw SA and am returning there after graduation. A lot of the things said above about LA more or less apply except it's even more laid back. Everyone rolled into the office around 9:00 am (if only since half the partners in our corporate group wake up at the brink of dawn to go surfing) and left around ~7:00 pm on most days. If anything and depending on where you live, you honestly end up sticking around in the office that long to avoid the crushing southbound traffic rather than because you're swamped with work.

Other than that, it depends on where your firm office is. Half of them are in North County (mostly Del Mar) because of the humongous biotech scene there and the other half are downtown next to all the courthouses. A fair amount of biglaw firms have bifurcated SD offices in both locations as a result. For a young 20s-ish associate, being downtown next to Gaslamp is nice since you can leave work and immediately head to a nice restaurant/bar/whatever, but those things aren't necessarily inaccessible if you're coming from North County. Cost of living generally lower than LA but that can depend on where you want to live within SD.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 29, 2016 10:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:Do non native NYC firms generally have the same office/work culture and face time requirements as native NYC firms?


I previously worked at an LA-based biglaw firm in NYC, and it was definitely more relaxed than peer firms based in NYC (V10-15) (also had little to no facetime requirements, and basically gave everyone bonuses even if they did good work but only billed like 1700 hours). That said, the NYC office was obviously still more "NYC" cultured than the CA offices.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:54 pm

Can anyone explain why whether having facetime matters? Little facetime is considered good??? ( I prefer no facetime)

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gk101

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby gk101 » Fri Sep 30, 2016 4:08 pm

The only thing that matters is the preferences of the specific practice group you are in, and probably the demands of the partner that gives you your work. All the discussion about certain markets being laid back etc, which possibly true at a high level, are meaningless when it comes to choosing between firms

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 30, 2016 11:01 pm

gk101 wrote:The only thing that matters is the preferences of the specific practice group you are in, and probably the demands of the partner that gives you your work. All the discussion about certain markets being laid back etc, which possibly true at a high level, are meaningless when it comes to choosing between firms


Basically, this.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 01, 2016 2:44 pm

New first year in a non-NYC market but NYC based firm. The NYC first years were told to be in the office from 9-8 even if they had nothing to do which I thought was outrageous. A lot of the things they were told seemed pretty outrageous tbh.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:48 pm

Rising corporate second year in the Chicago office of a major biglaw firm. I'm barely going to make 1800 hours this year and that's about average amongst people in my year. The year above me likely averages slightly higher hours. My impression talking to more senior associates is that this year has been a little slower than last year but not unusual.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 04, 2016 4:12 am

Bay Area biglaw senior associate here.

My hours are high even by New York standards (gunning for partner), but if you choose to work this way in the Bay Area, you are recognized and appreciated as a high-billing outlier. I can't imagine working for a firm where (what feels like) my crazy hours are relatively normal and expected.

Beyond that: my office has few to no face time expectations; most people arrive from 8:30-10 AM in the morning and leave from 5-7 PM in the evening. You can work from home when you see fit, within reason (i.e., probably not four days a week as an associate, but one or two = fine). You probably need to be low 2K hours to get a market bonus (given that NY market has been high the past couple years) and 2400-2500+, coupled with strong reviews, will get you a noticeably above market bonus.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby barkschool » Tue Oct 04, 2016 12:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:New first year in a non-NYC market but NYC based firm. The NYC first years were told to be in the office from 9-8 even if they had nothing to do which I thought was outrageous. A lot of the things they were told seemed pretty outrageous tbh.



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candidlatke

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby candidlatke » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:26 am

Can anyone speak to the take-home pay differences between NYC/LA/Dallas/Houston?

Also, I heard Dallas is more similar to New York than other markets in terms of hours/lifestyle, can anyone confirm?

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:25 am

3rd year in SF. facetime varies between partners, but i think the "market" as a whole is relatively lax compared to NYC. even the old school partner i work with doesn't have absurd demands about staying late or coming in on weekends - he just wants his associates to come in during regular (9-6ish) working hours. other partners don't even care about 9-6 and just want me reachable during regular working hours. by contrast, i've heard the "don't you dare leave before 8pm" spiel repeated by friends from multiple nyc firms.

i echo another poster who said that in SF pulling high hours is generally recognized as unusual/notable. i've basically hit my hours minimum each year and then shut down to the maximum extent possible. my impression is that this is much less true for nyc satellites.

one other big thing - partners in my office don't seem to create artificial deadlines. they generally give lead time if they can and don't demand something instantly if there isn't some reason beyond wanting to be a good boy for the client. i notice the exact opposite from nyc folks and some of the LA people. friends/coworkers generally give the impression that a constant state of pseudo-emergency is a cultural thing that pervades most nyc firms/offices in particular. same goes for east asia offices. don't go to either market if you aren't prepared for your job to own all your waking hours.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:49 am

I SA'd in Tampa, FL at a biglaw firm. At my firm, there was a facetime requirement. It may not have been explicit, but the expectation existed. The real lawyers generally arrived between 9 AM to 10 AM (I know because I generally got there between 8 AM and 8:30 AM). There were a few lawyers who got in before 9 AM and a few lawyers who got in well after 10 AM (obviously weren't associates). The lawyers usually left between 5 PM and 7 PM.(most left between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM) After 7 PM, it was pretty empty.

Fridays were pretty relaxed and not busy. Many of the partners didn't show. The associates usually ducked out pretty early. You could probably get away with skipping Fridays or only showing up a couple Fridays per month if you worked in certain practice groups.

The facetime requirement wasn't overly strict. Associates came and went as needed. You just couldn't work from home 4 days per week.

That all said, the associates were still pushed to meet their billable hours requirement (around 2000 hours per year). So they may not have been in the office, but they were still working.

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Re: Lifestyle differences between markets

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:28 am

Houston, second-year corporate/M&A. No facetime requirement after 5 pm. I am on track for 2000 hours so far this year, and my days are 9:00 to 5:30 (except during closings etc), might log back in for another hour or two in the evening and no more than 4-5 hours each weekend. I pay $1100 a month in rent for a serviceable apartment 20 min drive away. No income or city tax -- I can easily save ~$7600 a month including 401(k). Life is good!

Like someone pointed out above, variance between hours/facetime requirement is more a factor of partners than markets. But COL/ability to save (which is a huge part of lifestyle IMO) is 100% due to market.



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