Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

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What should I do?

Take the big law job (commute is worth it)
48
75%
Stay where you're at (big law + commute = hell)
16
25%
 
Total votes: 64

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Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:38 am

I recently had some interviews with a big firm in one of the Texas markets and got an offer to lateral. The raise is substantial (more than doubles my salary), and the position is in a practice area that I really want to do. Note that in my current firm, I don't really do a lot of this work because there's not enough volume. So this is a big opportunity for me to work in an area of law in which I actually want to practice.

It's also worth noting that I am class of 2012, didn't go to a t14, and didn't have exceptional grades. I kind of view this decision as I either take the big law plunge now or I never do.

The only issue is that I don't think my fiancee and I want to move. My fiance and I own a home about an hour outside the city, which we just bought last year. My fiancee also just started a new job, which she absolutely loves. There's definitely an argument to "move to the city, idiot," but my fiancee just does not want to do that right now. Plus we are from here, and want to end up back in our hometown after this big law experience anyway.

I'm just really torn about the commute aspect of all this. I fear that 1900 hours plus this commute would be soul crushing. But I also view this as an amazing opportunity that I should be able to put up with for 3-4 years and then land on my feet somewhere closer to home (I guess I should note that I have no aspirations to be a partner...just want to grind for 3-4 years).

Thoughts?

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Rowinguy2009

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Rowinguy2009 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:48 am

This is rough. Sounds like a fantastic opportunity, but as you acknowledge, the commute plus hours are going to be a killer.

I think the answer to this is going to depend entirely on your ability/willingness to grind out work. Personally, I am near positive that imposing this schedule on myself would be a recipe for miserableness, but I know others who could put up with it much more easily.

How do you anticipate that this schedule will differ from what you are doing now? If all you are adding is the commute, and you are already used to doing crazy hours, maybe the adjustment won't be that bad?

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:54 am

Rowinguy2009 wrote:This is rough. Sounds like a fantastic opportunity, but as you acknowledge, the commute plus hours are going to be a killer.

I think the answer to this is going to depend entirely on your ability/willingness to grind out work. Personally, I am near positive that imposing this schedule on myself would be a recipe for miserableness, but I know others who could put up with it much more easily.

How do you anticipate that this schedule will differ from what you are doing now? If all you are adding is the commute, and you are already used to doing crazy hours, maybe the adjustment won't be that bad?


OP here. I billed about 1650 hours last year. I generally work from 8:45 - 5:30/6:00 every day, and then usually 3-4 hours every Sunday. I've actually seen this potential firm in the "what is your typical day" thread, and they said 8:30 - 6:00/6:30, plus some work at home.

I really don't think I'd be adding too much more time for work, it would basically all be added time via the commute.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:I recently had some interviews with a big firm in one of the Texas markets and got an offer to lateral. The raise is substantial (more than doubles my salary), and the position is in a practice area that I really want to do. Note that in my current firm, I don't really do a lot of this work because there's not enough volume. So this is a big opportunity for me to work in an area of law in which I actually want to practice.

It's also worth noting that I am class of 2012, didn't go to a t14, and didn't have exceptional grades. I kind of view this decision as I either take the big law plunge now or I never do.

The only issue is that I don't think my fiancee and I want to move. My fiance and I own a home about an hour outside the city, which we just bought last year. My fiancee also just started a new job, which she absolutely loves. There's definitely an argument to "move to the city, idiot," but my fiancee just does not want to do that right now. Plus we are from here, and want to end up back in our hometown after this big law experience anyway.

I'm just really torn about the commute aspect of all this. I fear that 1900 hours plus this commute would be soul crushing. But I also view this as an amazing opportunity that I should be able to put up with for 3-4 years and then land on my feet somewhere closer to home (I guess I should note that I have no aspirations to be a partner...just want to grind for 3-4 years).

Thoughts?


It could be worth seeing what their FaceTime requirements are (both official and unofficial policies on this). I work biglaw in secondary market with billable requirement of 1950; on average people in my office hit about 2100/year but spend maybe 75% of the time in the office, the rest of the work is done remotely. I know a few people who work at least an hour out of the city, and that's without traffic, w/ traffic it's every bit of 1.5-2 hours. They come in monday-thursday and take Fridays at home. Sometimes, depending on the work they don't come in at all during the week b/c they're more productive at home. I live a few blocks from the office and I even don't come in Fridays and just work from home.

if that's an option, it might be something worth considering.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby dabigchina » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:16 am

Would the additional income allow your significant other to stay home instead of working? How is the housing market in the city that you would be moving to to take the biglaw job?

I moved around a lot as a kid for work. The first few months always suck as you are trying to acclimate yourself. However, my family almost always got used to it eventually. I'm confident that your SO would be able to acclimate herself too.

If you really can't convince her to move, do the commute.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby dabigchina » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:20 am

Also, is the commute driving on open road or sitting in traffic for an hour? I could see driving on open road being kind of cathartic after work. Sitting in traffic for 2 hours a day would make me want to kill myself.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:25 am

dabigchina wrote:Also, is the commute driving on open road or sitting in traffic for an hour? I could see driving on open road being kind of cathartic after work. Sitting in traffic for 2 hours a day would make me want to kill myself.

Traffic would be 75% open road. I live in a kind of rural area, so first 15 minutes (and last 15 minutes on the way home) is all 55 MPH with no lights. Then it's highway for about 35-40 minutes, then downtown traffic/BS for about 10 minutes. I've obviously gone into downtown a lot and the traffic is never that bad for when I anticipate needing to go into the office (goal hours would be about 9:30 - 6:30).

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby dabigchina » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:
dabigchina wrote:Also, is the commute driving on open road or sitting in traffic for an hour? I could see driving on open road being kind of cathartic after work. Sitting in traffic for 2 hours a day would make me want to kill myself.

Traffic would be 75% open road. I live in a kind of rural area, so first 15 minutes (and last 15 minutes on the way home) is all 55 MPH with no lights. Then it's highway for about 35-40 minutes, then downtown traffic/BS for about 10 minutes. I've obviously gone into downtown a lot and the traffic is never that bad for when I anticipate needing to go into the office (goal hours would be about 9:30 - 6:30).

That doesn't sound horrible IMO, but I think driving is fun.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:28 am

I commuted basically an hour each way to law school and mostly open road, and yeah, it was actually kind of fun, and a nice break/way to get ready for or decompress from the day - very different from sitting in traffic. So I agree there's a difference. That said, law school is totally not working biglaw at all, so I get it's different considerations. I would think you'd want to have a very good setup for working from home.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:51 am

I've had similar feelings about sucking it up and trying to enter the Philly big law market, but haven't even sent any applications yet.

I guess I'd maybe ask your current employer if you can negotiate a raise of some sort? I've thought about this a lot and if I got a big law offer, I'd ask for: (1) a raise of $5-10k, (2) a clear plan for partnership track (i.e., not a guarantee to make partner, but a more clear guide as to what I need to do to get there), and (3) have a different legal assistant (obviously tricky, but man, my secretary is awful, and it's detrimental to my practice).

Bottom line, it seems like maybe you can use this as leverage. But maybe I'm off my rocker here and even bringing up a big law offer to a small firm means they think you are gone anyway.

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Dr. Nefario

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Dr. Nefario » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:15 pm

Commuting an hour is Texas is totally normal, everyone I know who even lives in the cities commute that much. I'd go for it. Plus dat rural COL with the big lawl salary will provide all sorts of options for your family. Hours might suck, but imo the trade off is worth it

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:18 pm

Gotta factor in Texas drivers, which are literally the worst. If this is Houston and you're, like, coming in from Sugarland or Katy or something then best of luck.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:28 pm

This is a no brainer as far as I'm concerned. I don't see the debate.

If you work in biglaw in Los Angeles, you basically have a commute of an hour just to get downtown, only a few miles away. An hour is really not bad at all.

The job is everything you've always wanted and then some, from the sounds of it. It's prestige, it's money, it's the right practice group, and it will surely open doors for the future. Take it and don't look back. You'll figure it out as you go along. If it turns out that the commute becomes a drag on you, you won't even start to feel it for at least a few months. By then you'll have a good sense about the hours and the firm policies. Your fiancee will also be a few more months into her job. You guys can then evaluate if it's worth it to stay, to move to the city, or to move to a nice halfway point. Just run with it.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This is a no brainer as far as I'm concerned. I don't see the debate.

If you work in biglaw in Los Angeles, you basically have a commute of an hour just to get downtown, only a few miles away. An hour is really not bad at all.

The job is everything you've always wanted and then some, from the sounds of it. It's prestige, it's money, it's the right practice group, and it will surely open doors for the future. Take it and don't look back. You'll figure it out as you go along. If it turns out that the commute becomes a drag on you, you won't even start to feel it for at least a few months. By then you'll have a good sense about the hours and the firm policies. Your fiancee will also be a few more months into her job. You guys can then evaluate if it's worth it to stay, to move to the city, or to move to a nice halfway point. Just run with it.


Yup. Getting from DTLA to Century City takes a good hour

You can always rent a place near your office where you can stay if you're at the office late. Doesn't have to be a penthouse. It can be a shared room even since it's not your primary place. Even with the extra cost, you'll still be getting paid more, will have more "prestige", and better exit options

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:15 pm

Heh, I work in Century City and it takes me about 40 minutes to go 5 miles. I'd trade with OP in a heartbeat. The longer commute feels so much better when you're moving versus stop and go. I also don't see the dilemma.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:16 pm

I think you should probably just move, but in any event, probably take the job if this is the only thing standing in your way.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:31 pm

OP here. Do you guys think renting a studio in the city would be a good idea for the workweek? I do have 3-4 friends right downtown, so if shit gets weird at work I figure I can rotate between them. If things get crazy staying all the time, then ya, I would need to either move or get a place.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:33 pm

I think only you can answer whether that makes sense financially and with your family dynamics

Sounds kinda cray cray to me FWIW

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Do you guys think renting a studio in the city would be a good idea for the workweek? I do have 3-4 friends right downtown, so if shit gets weird at work I figure I can rotate between them. If things get crazy staying all the time, then ya, I would need to either move or get a place.

Probably cheaper just to budget for a hotel a night or two a month, but it depends on your practice area and whether it's conducive to working from home or prone to last minute late nights.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby RaceJudicata » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:42 pm

Its an hour. This is a no brainer imo. Sure, if you get hit with late nights for a month straight, reassess and budget for a hotel room every now and then. And if things continue to be that awful where you literally do not feel safe driving home, consider a studio. That said, I don't think the hour commute will be a problem whatsoever.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:00 pm

I'd say this: Try out the commute for a while. See how it is. If it is absolutely miserable, then evaluate your options (getting a cheap studio, crashing with a friend a few nights a week, etc).

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby iliketurtles123 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'd say this: Try out the commute for a while. See how it is. If it is absolutely miserable, then evaluate your options (getting a cheap studio, crashing with a friend a few nights a week, etc).


Yeah I commute an hour right now, I get paid 1/4th of biglaw, and work pretty bad hours sometimes.
Stick it out for a while and see how it is.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby JenDarby » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:12 pm

RaceJudicata wrote:Its an hour. This is a no brainer imo. Sure, if you get hit with late nights for a month straight, reassess and budget for a hotel room every now and then. And if things continue to be that awful where you literally do not feel safe driving home, consider a studio. That said, I don't think the hour commute will be a problem whatsoever.

This. I'm not biglaw but my hours are strictly 8am-6pm, sometimes with a later night, and a 1hr 15min driving commute was really NBD. It was WAY better than my 1hr NYC public transit commute. Now I'm down to a 35min driving commute and there's really not much difference.

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby nealric » Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:54 pm

BigZuck wrote:Gotta factor in Texas drivers, which are literally the worst. If this is Houston and you're, like, coming in from Sugarland or Katy or something then best of luck.


Everyone always insists their city has the worst drivers.

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Toni V

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Re: Is an Hour (Driving) Commute a Dealbreaker for Big Law?

Postby Toni V » Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:56 pm

It’s true an hour drive is SOP for those in BL. The way harder decision would be leaving your hometown.



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