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Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:02 pm
by Anonymous User
Currently a 1L at a t-14 with a reputation for high stress, and I felt fine up until this past week. Now that exams are coming up quickly, I've been outlining 10+ hours a day, taking 3+ practice tests a week, and studying generally on top of that. I'm insanely stressed and burnt out, but feel somewhat ok knowing that this will end once exams do. But it's making me question my desire to do biglaw if this is what biglaw always feels like.

Tl;dr: How does biglaw compare to 1L exam time in terms of work/stress?

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:55 pm
by Anonymous User
Work way way more at the firm than during 1L overall, but the distribution is different; I worked harder during 1L for like one month each semester than the average month at a firm.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:32 pm
by LaLiLuLeLo
lol

Biglaw. It's not even close. A big chunk of why biglaw sucks is the stress of knowing that work can get dumped on you at any time, your plans/life be damned. You know exactly when work comes in 1L. And, frankly, law students are an amazing group of whiners. Law school, even 1L, isn't *that* hard or stressful.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 11:56 pm
by SLS_AMG
Lololololol

1L is a joke compared to big law. Most people fuck around for the first two-three months before hunkering down. Lol at having 2-3 months of basically nothing to do in big law. And if you did, it wouldn't be a good sign. And yeah, & know this is comparing finals time to big law, but you can't really do that, because big law stress doesn't just go away for months at a time and come in one-month bursts like law school.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 11:57 pm
by SLS_AMG
LaLiLuLeLo wrote:lol

Biglaw. It's not even close. A big chunk of why biglaw sucks is the stress of knowing that work can get dumped on you at any time, your plans/life be damned. You know exactly when work comes in 1L. And, frankly, law students are an amazing group of whiners. Law school, even 1L, isn't *that* hard or stressful.


This. People complain about law school, but it really isn't that stressful at all. Way overrated.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 11:58 pm
by Pomeranian
Is this a joke?

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:35 am
by umichman
I think that big law is a punishment to pay back law students since we basically take a 3 year break on the government dime.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:33 am
by jarofsoup
When you are 1L you fantasize about what law practice can be and that keeps you motivated.

Come big law and you are working all day everyday and someone birches at you because there is a typo in a 100 page document you loose that fantasy pretty quickly.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 8:34 am
by Danger Zone
Holy shit :lol: So much delusion and privilege

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 9:15 am
by TLSModBot
The stress of not knowing whether your massive time and money commitment will pay off in a job that will let you make it all worth it is pretty awful. I'm glad that's behind me.

But the stress of the job is constant and significant enough that I'd put Biglaw well ahead of 1L.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 11:11 am
by habeas2210
Danger Zone wrote:Holy shit :lol: So much delusion and privilege

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:46 pm
by thegrayman
The stress from biglaw of knowing that a firedrill of very complex and stressful work can be dropped on your plate at any given time (weekends, holiday, vacation) is one of the worst constant pits in your stomach.

It takes a free and clear weekend and turns it into a constant worry that something will land on your plate, or that something has already landed on your plate but your phone isn't syncing. I had a miserable midlevel take the time to sweat my balls about a pro bono assignment over a holiday weekend when I had ultra spotty cell coverage and was on vacation with my wife. Culture of fucking miserable people...

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:51 pm
by Danger Zone
1L isn't even worse than 2L. Enjoy OCI, callbacks, and juggling extracurriculars with real coursework.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:56 pm
by RaceJudicata
Danger Zone wrote:1L isn't even worse than 2L. Enjoy OCI, callbacks, and juggling extracurriculars with real coursework.


This. 2L is probably easier to get good grades (less courses are curved -- at least at my school), but 2L year was WAY more stressful than 1L.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:07 pm
by glitched
I'll go against the grain a bit here. I found law school to be very stressful, but not for the reasons you describe (well they're related in ways). Being stressed about whether I could find a job made 1L and half of 2L really horrible for me. Even today, I get more stressed about not having hours than having a lot of it because I'm afraid of being stealthed. As for comparing stress from the amount of work, as others have already stated, biglaw is way worse.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:44 pm
by gregfootball2001
glitched wrote:I'll go against the grain a bit here. I found law school to be very stressful, but not for the reasons you describe (well they're related in ways). Being stressed about whether I could find a job made 1L and half of 2L really horrible for me.

Completely agree. YMMV, but while practicing can be stressful, that 1L fear is absent.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:50 pm
by dabigchina
Danger Zone wrote:1L isn't even worse than 2L. Enjoy OCI, callbacks, and juggling extracurriculars with real coursework.

With how early recruiting season is now, a lot of people will be done with recruiting before classes even start.

Also, don't do extracurriculars. Just don't.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:54 pm
by Danger Zone
dabigchina wrote:
Danger Zone wrote:1L isn't even worse than 2L. Enjoy OCI, callbacks, and juggling extracurriculars with real coursework.

With how early recruiting season is now, a lot of people will be done with recruiting before classes even start.

Also, don't do extracurriculars. Just don't.

Law review and moot court are still credited. Those are what I was referencing.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 6:08 pm
by Pomeranian
Danger Zone wrote:Holy shit :lol: So much delusion and privilege


Special snowflake millennial will be in for a RUDE awakening as a new big law associate. <3

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 6:38 am
by Anonymous User
LS is the only one where it's possible to do well doing minimal work. BL is the one where hard work correlates with success. The content in LS is much more interesting. In lit, the interesting bits are the AC of IRAC, which is the partner's job. Your job is only the IR. In any other practice area, there's a good chance you're practicing about as much law as Taylor Swift.

The nature of BL makes happiness very difficult. It's not because of the work or hours, but the fact you're forced to stress about fake deadlines for pointless work that will often times never even be read, and if you're not stressed with work then you have to to worry about not getting enough work.

Perpetual stress leads to neurological changes that lead to an increase in cortisol in, because it thinks your stress is related to the kind of crazy shit our great ape ancestors would be stressed about - getting chased by a bear, losing your leg during a scuffle with a crocodile or simply not having adequate access to food. The reason such challenges didn't make our species extinct is related to a hormone called cortisol that you'll soon have the pleasure of meeting but may not know what it is.

It goes like this. Your metabolism goes into hibernation mode and resembles that of your bedridden grandma, because it assumes you won't get food for some time. You gain fat, lose muscle, become more impatient and have much less energy because your brain wants to limits your energy as much as it can.

It really hits home when you discover that the balding 90-year-old partner who resembles an odd mixture of Grandma Gertie from Hey Arnold! and the personification of Death in The Seventh Seal is actually a 27-year old third year who just won the Miss Illinois beauty pageant in 2012.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 7:47 am
by Monochromatic Oeuvre
1L is definitely worse.

Not because anything anyone ITT has said is wrong. As everyone mentioned, there's much more volume of work in Biglaw, it's more difficult to do (not that it's all that tough, but you can't just find "what works for you" like you can in LS), and it can come like an avalanche at any time. OP has highlighted his finals week--in Biglaw you'll have a week like that every month. For some associates, every single week looks like that. And if you have those chill early-semester weeks where you only really worked for 20-25 hours too often, you're bound to be shitcanned. It's not a mystery why a lot of people bolt at the first opportunity. And of course, 1L is only one year, whereas Biglaw could be many.

But by the time you're in Biglaw, your "life trajectory" is much safer. Unless you are really uniquely terrible at your job (or economy/downsizing pwned), you'll last long enough to be able to transition into a job with more manageable hours that pays, although a lot less than you currently make, six figures. I'm not gonna say it doesn't matter if you're bad at Biglaw, because it does, but you can be nothing more than minimally competent and last 4-5 years (if you want to stay that long), assuming you're getting somewhere in the neighborhood of your hours target. There's no forced curve.

In 1L, by contrast, it very much matters if you're mediocre, and it very much matters if you're awkward/a shitty interviewer, and it matters more the further down the rankings you go. OCI may be some of the most consequential days of your life in terms of how they change your broader trajectory, because it's so feast-or-famine. Once that Biglaw train leaves the station, if you're not on it, it's near impossible to ever get there. Most people who whiff at OCI are going to be in mid-five figure jobs for a long time (if they're lucky enough to have a job). That closes doors to particular retirement options, neighborhoods/schools, etc. Depending on your debt load, you might really be fucked. The tax bomb is gonna prevent a lot of people from ever buying a house. And that's just way, way more stressful to worry about than whether the commas in the stock purchase agreement are right. All of practice exams came with the thought that if I didn't get them right, I would strike out (and this was at CLS with no debt, so you can imagine what it would've been like in a less secure situation). When I got back crappy fall grades, I felt legitimately suicidal. I wouldn't trade all the Friday night fire drills in the world to be back in that mindset.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:42 am
by dixiecupdrinking
I prefer biglaw because the shit that stresses me out about it are actual assignments that I can go do. 1L was like a year of impotent fear and anxiety culminating in a couple hours of productive work.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:37 am
by RaceJudicata
Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:.

In 1L, by contrast, it very much matters if you're mediocre, and it very much matters if you're awkward/a shitty interviewer, and it matters more the further down the rankings you go. OCI may be some of the most consequential days of your life in terms of how they change your broader trajectory, because it's so feast-or-famine. Once that Biglaw train leaves the station, if you're not on it, it's near impossible to ever get there. Most people who whiff at OCI are going to be in mid-five figure jobs for a long time (if they're lucky enough to have a job). That closes doors to particular retirement options, neighborhoods/schools, etc. Depending on your debt load, you might really be fucked. The tax bomb is gonna prevent a lot of people from ever buying a house. And that's just way, way more stressful to worry about than whether the commas in the stock purchase agreement are right. All of practice exams came with the thought that if I didn't get them right, I would strike out (and this was at CLS with no debt, so you can imagine what it would've been like in a less secure situation). When I got back crappy fall grades, I felt legitimately suicidal. I wouldn't trade all the Friday night fire drills in the world to be back in that mindset.


This hits home for me. 3L so only SA experience, but this brought back some dark memories. At a much lower ranked school and had one shitty exam...felt the weight of the world on my chest 24 hours a day. Thank god I was able to put it aside for Spring and do well on my exams.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:34 am
by JenDarby
MO, that was a really long winded way of saying you went to CLS with no debt.

But seriously, you just differentiated yourself from the majority of people that would pose this question since without debt you're free to get shitcanned or leave whenever you want.

Re: Which is worse - 1L or Biglaw?

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 12:06 pm
by Anonymous User
Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:1L is definitely worse.

Not because anything anyone ITT has said is wrong. As everyone mentioned, there's much more volume of work in Biglaw, it's more difficult to do (not that it's all that tough, but you can't just find "what works for you" like you can in LS), and it can come like an avalanche at any time. OP has highlighted his finals week--in Biglaw you'll have a week like that every month. For some associates, every single week looks like that. And if you have those chill early-semester weeks where you only really worked for 20-25 hours too often, you're bound to be shitcanned. It's not a mystery why a lot of people bolt at the first opportunity. And of course, 1L is only one year, whereas Biglaw could be many.

But by the time you're in Biglaw, your "life trajectory" is much safer. Unless you are really uniquely terrible at your job (or economy/downsizing pwned), you'll last long enough to be able to transition into a job with more manageable hours that pays, although a lot less than you currently make, six figures. I'm not gonna say it doesn't matter if you're bad at Biglaw, because it does, but you can be nothing more than minimally competent and last 4-5 years (if you want to stay that long), assuming you're getting somewhere in the neighborhood of your hours target. There's no forced curve.

In 1L, by contrast, it very much matters if you're mediocre, and it very much matters if you're awkward/a shitty interviewer, and it matters more the further down the rankings you go. OCI may be some of the most consequential days of your life in terms of how they change your broader trajectory, because it's so feast-or-famine. Once that Biglaw train leaves the station, if you're not on it, it's near impossible to ever get there. Most people who whiff at OCI are going to be in mid-five figure jobs for a long time (if they're lucky enough to have a job). That closes doors to particular retirement options, neighborhoods/schools, etc. Depending on your debt load, you might really be fucked. The tax bomb is gonna prevent a lot of people from ever buying a house. And that's just way, way more stressful to worry about than whether the commas in the stock purchase agreement are right. All of practice exams came with the thought that if I didn't get them right, I would strike out (and this was at CLS with no debt, so you can imagine what it would've been like in a less secure situation). When I got back crappy fall grades, I felt legitimately suicidal. I wouldn't trade all the Friday night fire drills in the world to be back in that mindset.


Yea, this is wrong. Having no debt makes an extreme difference (literally, the difference between developing anxiety disorders and not). When all is said and done, after 5 years, I'll likely have some sort of anxiety/panic disorder (already starting to get anxious in random situations and having trouble sleeping and I'm someone that was always the "chill" guy), almost no debt, but basically like 60-100K to my name. All of this, plus 10-12 years of my life working in a field that is pretty miserable makes me wonder wtf i did with my life. I could have been a mechanic out of HS and been better off financially than I'll be and not have panic attacks every time my phone buzzes on a Saturday. Do not listen to this person, since most of us wouldn't be in big law if we had no debt and the mental illness aspect is very, very real. And this is coming from someone who was bottom 5% of his class after 1L year with full-debt.