How to Coast in Biglaw

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How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:13 pm

I'm a third year associate that is pretty burnt out and have been feeling this way for a few months. As someone that never had anxiety, I find myself anxious all the time and really disliking the work I do. I want to quit but have way too much debt still from law school. I started working out more and eating healthier, and it helps, but I still don't have enough time to get solid sleep and do other things that I enjoy. People close to me mentioned that I care too much and i'm too hard on myself to be good and I should stop caring and just try to coast for as long as I can. My question is, how? If things need to get done, how do you say screw it and leave at 7 pm and turn your phone off? I've heard of other people trying to do this and getting fired (which frankly, i don't even care if i do), but is there a good way to be mediocre without being terrible?

1styearlateral
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby 1styearlateral » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:29 pm

I believe stress really comes down to time management. I assume you're corporate so I can't really offer any helpful advice on that end. But if you're lit, like me, being a good writer can eliminate a lot of stress because you can get most things done correctly the first time around. Also, if you have the foresight to not leave things off until the last minute, you're far less likely to be swamped with deadlines on top of each other. Sometimes this is uncontrollable, like when a partner dumps a reply on a motion returnable at the end of the week. But for the most part, I'm not super stressed outside of trial work because I leave myself room for error (and others' errors).

But like I said, if you're corporate, which it sounds like, you're pretty much screwed in terms of time management.

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Lacepiece23
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Lacepiece23 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a third year associate that is pretty burnt out and have been feeling this way for a few months. As someone that never had anxiety, I find myself anxious all the time and really disliking the work I do. I want to quit but have way too much debt still from law school. I started working out more and eating healthier, and it helps, but I still don't have enough time to get solid sleep and do other things that I enjoy. People close to me mentioned that I care too much and i'm too hard on myself to be good and I should stop caring and just try to coast for as long as I can. My question is, how? If things need to get done, how do you say screw it and leave at 7 pm and turn your phone off? I've heard of other people trying to do this and getting fired (which frankly, i don't even care if i do), but is there a good way to be mediocre without being terrible?



You're probably getting crushed because everyone knows that you are good at your job. My advice would be to prioritize who the best people are to work for and only work for them, I'm a year below you, but if I was in demand like you are, I'd say eff it to anyone who wasn't good to work for (biglaw standards). They need you more than you need them. Its not like you're gunning for partner, and need everyone at the firm to vouch for you.

And, who knows, in a couple years time you may decide that you want to make a push for partner. At that point you can try to ramp back up again with people. To make partner you have to make senior associate first.

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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:36 pm

No great help I'm sure, but:

1. Come in later (law often demands nights, but rarely demands early mornings),
2. Do a better job of managing peoples' expectations (clients and partners; before, during, and after each assignment),
3. Work remotely when possible (full days and also just evenings), and
4. Take vacation.

I think number 2 is the hardest and most important.

-Fellow Third Year in a Similar Position

*Also, knowing when to tackle projects and when to take your time is important... not letting stuff pile up can be important, but so too can keeping consistent hours so as to have a legitimate excuse to avoid new matters.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:55 pm

Not to hijack because I'm interested in the same thing, but I'm a first year. Corporate, satellite on the West Coast. I don't really need to stay past 2.5 years to meet my financial goals. Hell, I don't want to stay longer than I have to. I just want to cruise until I GTFO.

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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby itbdvorm » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a third year associate that is pretty burnt out and have been feeling this way for a few months. As someone that never had anxiety, I find myself anxious all the time and really disliking the work I do. I want to quit but have way too much debt still from law school. I started working out more and eating healthier, and it helps, but I still don't have enough time to get solid sleep and do other things that I enjoy. People close to me mentioned that I care too much and i'm too hard on myself to be good and I should stop caring and just try to coast for as long as I can. My question is, how? If things need to get done, how do you say screw it and leave at 7 pm and turn your phone off? I've heard of other people trying to do this and getting fired (which frankly, i don't even care if i do), but is there a good way to be mediocre without being terrible?


Legitimately - go talk to either a partner mentor or a senior associate you trust about how you're feeling. If you don't speak up, everyone will assume you're fine - if you have been cranking and need a break people will give it to you.

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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:11 pm

itbdvorm wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a third year associate that is pretty burnt out and have been feeling this way for a few months. As someone that never had anxiety, I find myself anxious all the time and really disliking the work I do. I want to quit but have way too much debt still from law school. I started working out more and eating healthier, and it helps, but I still don't have enough time to get solid sleep and do other things that I enjoy. People close to me mentioned that I care too much and i'm too hard on myself to be good and I should stop caring and just try to coast for as long as I can. My question is, how? If things need to get done, how do you say screw it and leave at 7 pm and turn your phone off? I've heard of other people trying to do this and getting fired (which frankly, i don't even care if i do), but is there a good way to be mediocre without being terrible?


Legitimately - go talk to either a partner mentor or a senior associate you trust about how you're feeling. If you don't speak up, everyone will assume you're fine - if you have been cranking and need a break people will give it to you.


OP can do that, but you can bet that partners and associates gossip about midlevels/juniors and then you'd be on the "blacklist" and gradually weaned off cases until your hours go low and you're laid off.

OP should just start looking for a job ASAP, maybe go on medical leave for depression, etc. It's hard to coast in transactional biglaw.

Also, IME, it's normal to start feeling burned out after 3 years.

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unlicensedpotato
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby unlicensedpotato » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
Legitimately - go talk to either a partner mentor or a senior associate you trust about how you're feeling. If you don't speak up, everyone will assume you're fine - if you have been cranking and need a break people will give it to you.


OP can do that, but you can bet that partners and associates gossip about midlevels/juniors and then you'd be on the "blacklist" and gradually weaned off cases until your hours go low and you're laid off.

OP should just start looking for a job ASAP, maybe go on medical leave for depression, etc. It's hard to coast in transactional biglaw.

Also, IME, it's normal to start feeling burned out after 3 years.


Anon - the post you responded to is from the account of a V20 partner, so I assume it meant that they wouldn't expect OP to face those negative repercussions.

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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:48 pm

unlicensedpotato wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
Legitimately - go talk to either a partner mentor or a senior associate you trust about how you're feeling. If you don't speak up, everyone will assume you're fine - if you have been cranking and need a break people will give it to you.


OP can do that, but you can bet that partners and associates gossip about midlevels/juniors and then you'd be on the "blacklist" and gradually weaned off cases until your hours go low and you're laid off.

OP should just start looking for a job ASAP, maybe go on medical leave for depression, etc. It's hard to coast in transactional biglaw.

Also, IME, it's normal to start feeling burned out after 3 years.


Anon - the post you responded to is from the account of a V20 partner, so I assume it meant that they wouldn't expect OP to face those negative repercussions.


Maybe, but most partners probably couldn't give a crap about associates' well-being. It's all about billables. Obviously, it depends on the partner.

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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby CravathDunn » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:00 pm

Coast in between projects. This is where you make your life easier. Try to end projects later in the evening hours, then show up later in the morning. Try to mete out your work to hit minimum billing requirements. Actually, what are the minimum billing reqs for your firm? Try to accept only easy assignments.

itbdvorm
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby itbdvorm » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
unlicensedpotato wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
Legitimately - go talk to either a partner mentor or a senior associate you trust about how you're feeling. If you don't speak up, everyone will assume you're fine - if you have been cranking and need a break people will give it to you.


OP can do that, but you can bet that partners and associates gossip about midlevels/juniors and then you'd be on the "blacklist" and gradually weaned off cases until your hours go low and you're laid off.

OP should just start looking for a job ASAP, maybe go on medical leave for depression, etc. It's hard to coast in transactional biglaw.

Also, IME, it's normal to start feeling burned out after 3 years.


Anon - the post you responded to is from the account of a V20 partner, so I assume it meant that they wouldn't expect OP to face those negative repercussions.


Maybe, but most partners probably couldn't give a crap about associates' well-being. It's all about billables. Obviously, it depends on the partner.


Well, assume you're right. Which is more:

-600 hours over next 2.5 months and then he quits
-40 hours over 3 weeks, then recharged, then 2000 hours for the remainder of the year

I know most of us became lawyers because we're not good at math, but all of us can do that one

Anonymous User
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:53 pm

itbdvorm wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
unlicensedpotato wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
Legitimately - go talk to either a partner mentor or a senior associate you trust about how you're feeling. If you don't speak up, everyone will assume you're fine - if you have been cranking and need a break people will give it to you.


OP can do that, but you can bet that partners and associates gossip about midlevels/juniors and then you'd be on the "blacklist" and gradually weaned off cases until your hours go low and you're laid off.

OP should just start looking for a job ASAP, maybe go on medical leave for depression, etc. It's hard to coast in transactional biglaw.

Also, IME, it's normal to start feeling burned out after 3 years.


Anon - the post you responded to is from the account of a V20 partner, so I assume it meant that they wouldn't expect OP to face those negative repercussions.


Maybe, but most partners probably couldn't give a crap about associates' well-being. It's all about billables. Obviously, it depends on the partner.


Well, assume you're right. Which is more:

-600 hours over next 2.5 months and then he quits
-40 hours over 3 weeks, then recharged, then 2000 hours for the remainder of the year

I know most of us became lawyers because we're not good at math, but all of us can do that one


We're all cogs in a wheel though - easily replaced. Just hire another cog NBD.

RaceJudicata
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby RaceJudicata » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
unlicensedpotato wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
Legitimately - go talk to either a partner mentor or a senior associate you trust about how you're feeling. If you don't speak up, everyone will assume you're fine - if you have been cranking and need a break people will give it to you.


OP can do that, but you can bet that partners and associates gossip about midlevels/juniors and then you'd be on the "blacklist" and gradually weaned off cases until your hours go low and you're laid off.

OP should just start looking for a job ASAP, maybe go on medical leave for depression, etc. It's hard to coast in transactional biglaw.

Also, IME, it's normal to start feeling burned out after 3 years.


Anon - the post you responded to is from the account of a V20 partner, so I assume it meant that they wouldn't expect OP to face those negative repercussions.


Maybe, but most partners probably couldn't give a crap about associates' well-being. It's all about billables. Obviously, it depends on the partner.


Well, assume you're right. Which is more:

-600 hours over next 2.5 months and then he quits
-40 hours over 3 weeks, then recharged, then 2000 hours for the remainder of the year

I know most of us became lawyers because we're not good at math, but all of us can do that one


We're all cogs in a wheel though - easily replaced. Just hire another cog NBD.


No skin in the game, but the replacement cost has to be significant (onboarding, time to get accustomed to firm culture/practices, moving expenses if applicable, risk they might not work out, gap b/w outgoing/income associate, etc.). Despite the high turnover in big law, it is still generally cheaper to keep a satisfactory associate than burn em and churn em.

Anonymous User
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
unlicensedpotato wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
Legitimately - go talk to either a partner mentor or a senior associate you trust about how you're feeling. If you don't speak up, everyone will assume you're fine - if you have been cranking and need a break people will give it to you.


OP can do that, but you can bet that partners and associates gossip about midlevels/juniors and then you'd be on the "blacklist" and gradually weaned off cases until your hours go low and you're laid off.

OP should just start looking for a job ASAP, maybe go on medical leave for depression, etc. It's hard to coast in transactional biglaw.

Also, IME, it's normal to start feeling burned out after 3 years.


Anon - the post you responded to is from the account of a V20 partner, so I assume it meant that they wouldn't expect OP to face those negative repercussions.


Maybe, but most partners probably couldn't give a crap about associates' well-being. It's all about billables. Obviously, it depends on the partner.


Well, assume you're right. Which is more:

-600 hours over next 2.5 months and then he quits
-40 hours over 3 weeks, then recharged, then 2000 hours for the remainder of the year

I know most of us became lawyers because we're not good at math, but all of us can do that one


We're all cogs in a wheel though - easily replaced. Just hire another cog NBD.


This, plus burnout comes from the mind-numbing pointless paper pushing bitchwork nature of transactional law just as much as the hours. Associates would last a little longer with better hours, but few people want to spend a career in a job they don't respect just for money. I used to think it was shocking how many lawyers I met that wanted out of the profession entirely. Then I spent time in biglaw myself. It's the only profession I know of in which people regularly look forward to getting fired.

Anonymous User
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:16 pm

One of the associates at the firm I was at had a great policy of taking 2 weeks off, free and clear, every 6 months. He would book somewhere like Bali and be completely out of pocket for 2 weeks, then come back refreshed for another 6 month stretch and do it again. I admired him a lot because he found a way to never go more than 6 months without a solid break and somehow managed to make it work with the teams he was on. Maybe try something similar?

RaceJudicata
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby RaceJudicata » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:One of the associates at the firm I was at had a great policy of taking 2 weeks off, free and clear, every 6 months. He would book somewhere like Bali and be completely out of pocket for 2 weeks, then come back refreshed for another 6 month stretch and do it again. I admired him a lot because he found a way to never go more than 6 months without a solid break and somehow managed to make it work with the teams he was on. Maybe try something similar?


Even a solid, disconnected one week vacation would probably have the same effect.

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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:52 pm

For me it's a mindset. Labor against management. I do the minimum to get paid and no more. I don't volunteer for work, I don't attend "optional" events (which are often called mandatory but *spoiler alert* there's no penalty for non-attendance). I do a shit job if it's something that won't get caught and doesn't matter (which are most things). Since I give zero fucks, I can refocus those fucks/that time on my personal interests.

Deal work is opaque - I think it's very easy to cover this as long as you are cheerful and friendly. Be liked and you'll get a warning if you get caught slacking - which will give you the option to 1) work harder on the particular matter, 2) make an excuse/blame someone or something else or 3) continue slacking.

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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:38 am

I'm feeling this way but I'm only five months into the job. I basically want to quit on some level every day.

I think it's a combination of being lazy and absolutely hating the work. Oh plus the people. Even the "nice" ones get stressed out and tense all the time. I'm not sure why anyone would want to work at a firm long term. The money can't be worth it.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Tiago Splitter » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:For me it's a mindset. Labor against management. I do the minimum to get paid and no more. I don't volunteer for work, I don't attend "optional" events (which are often called mandatory but *spoiler alert* there's no penalty for non-attendance). I do a shit job if it's something that won't get caught and doesn't matter (which are most things). Since I give zero fucks, I can refocus those fucks/that time on my personal interests.

Deal work is opaque - I think it's very easy to cover this as long as you are cheerful and friendly. Be liked and you'll get a warning if you get caught slacking - which will give you the option to 1) work harder on the particular matter, 2) make an excuse/blame someone or something else or 3) continue slacking.

But what happens if you don't point out that one diligence issue that might...lol sorry I can't even keep a straight face.

Anonymous User
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:53 am

Look for work only for partners you have worked for and who you know are sane people. The more matters they have invested with you the more they will protect you from other partners.

Stay away from being on multiple matters at a time with different partners. Once you're assigned to something, everyone will want shit right now now now and won't understand why you can't deliver, you'll be pulled in different directions, you'll have to deal with different people's preferences for every little task.

Whenever anyone asks you to do anything urgently push back as much as possible. On longer term assignments do a thorough job. The will help keep hours steady (ime having low hours for a week or two is a great way to be on the other end of a call for more work) and avoid typos or other shoddy work product which will get you dinged for not paying attention to detail which is a common excuse for them to push you out.

If you end up having a crazy month or two (anything over 200 is crazy) take a week vacation.

Come in late, leave a little later, work maybe 2 hours from home a night. My preferred schedule is 10:30 - 7 and if needs be a couple hours at home to try and get 7.5 a day.

Anonymous User
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:27 pm

Thanks everyone for the replies. Trying to do a schedule that is like 9:30 - 7:00, but its hard when partners are still at the office that late (which is often the case). I am NYC transactional, and understand that NYC is a different beast than other areas of the country. I'm trying to last long enough to lateral to a smaller market next year, but thinking about spending another 12 months makes me so sad (only been at the firm for about 5 months). I've also hopped around a few times so I don't want to look like a flight risk (even though I most certainly am one). Going to keep trying to just do my own schedule and work from home in the evenings.

Anonymous User
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:27 pm

Thanks everyone for the replies. Trying to do a schedule that is like 9:30 - 7:00, but its hard when partners are still at the office that late (which is often the case). I am NYC transactional, and understand that NYC is a different beast than other areas of the country. I'm trying to last long enough to lateral to a smaller market next year, but thinking about spending another 12 months makes me so sad (only been at the firm for about 5 months). I've also hopped around a few times so I don't want to look like a flight risk (even though I most certainly am one). Going to keep trying to just do my own schedule and work from home in the evenings.

Anonymous User
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Look for work only for partners you have worked for and who you know are sane people. The more matters they have invested with you the more they will protect you from other partners.

Stay away from being on multiple matters at a time with different partners. Once you're assigned to something, everyone will want shit right now now now and won't understand why you can't deliver, you'll be pulled in different directions, you'll have to deal with different people's preferences for every little task.

Whenever anyone asks you to do anything urgently push back as much as possible. On longer term assignments do a thorough job. The will help keep hours steady (ime having low hours for a week or two is a great way to be on the other end of a call for more work) and avoid typos or other shoddy work product which will get you dinged for not paying attention to detail which is a common excuse for them to push you out.

If you end up having a crazy month or two (anything over 200 is crazy) take a week vacation.

Come in late, leave a little later, work maybe 2 hours from home a night. My preferred schedule is 10:30 - 7 and if needs be a couple hours at home to try and get 7.5 a day.


Problem with the bolded is that even the guys I think are "biglaw sane" are still pretty crazy. I just think I wasn't meant for this world at all.

1styearlateral
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby 1styearlateral » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:45 pm

Why not lateral to midlaw? The hours are pretty decent for law.

Anonymous User
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Re: How to Coast in Biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:54 pm

1styearlateral wrote:Why not lateral to midlaw? The hours are pretty decent for law.


Not OP, but before just going ahead and doing that:

1. Hours are not always better, but pay is always worse;
2. Less hours is often a result of fewer clients, not for a lack of trying;
3. Not the easiest job to land;
4. Exit options from midlaw usually include smaller law, smaller clients, or returning to biglaw; and
5. While partnership is often more attainable, business development is a much larger and more immediate concern than at most white shoe or wannabe white shoe biglaw firms.

That said... I have experience on BOTH SIDES of the coin and cutting and running can be a good change of pace... definitely see those people who bounce around every year or two and/or hide out and collect paychecks (on-boarding takes time).




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