Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

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Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 2:34 pm

I'm starting to think I may just bounce from my big law job and try and figure out something else. I've been riding it out pretty well the last few months (averaging like 120 hours a month) but starting to feel bad about not getting hours in and I don't want to be the guy that everyone starts to hate in my group, which I've seen happen in other groups when someone finally decides to just throw in the towel.

I still have six figures of student debt (about $120K), savings/investments near $90K and retirement accounts near $50K and part of me wants to just get out and start fresh doing something else, despite still having a lot of debt. Anyone ever just say F*** it and just quit while still in debt? Curious to hear any stories and how things ended up going afterwards if so.

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grand inquisitor

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby grand inquisitor » Mon May 01, 2017 2:36 pm

generally you would figure out what it is you want to do next before you say "fuck it" to biglaw. people do that for the same reason chimps don't let go of one branch until they have their hand firmly on another: you risk falling into the vale of darkness/unemployment.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 2:42 pm

grand inquisitor wrote:generally you would figure out what it is you want to do next before you say "fuck it" to biglaw. people do that for the same reason chimps don't let go of one branch until they have their hand firmly on another: you risk falling into the vale of darkness/unemployment.


Obviously you should try to have something lined up, but that isn't what the question is. Wondering if people have just bounced and tried to figure it out.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Nosso » Mon May 01, 2017 2:47 pm

You'll get any answer you want. Some people have jumped ship and it's worked out. For others, it's been a disaster. If you really want to jump ship, then dump that 90k, minus an emergency fund, into your debt. If you can get funds out of your retirement savings without any penalties, take out as much of that as possible too. Assuming you're rolling with a 5-7% interest rate, it's a guaranteed return that'll almost certainly beat any returns you get in keep that money in those accounts. Pay off the debt first, then invest/work on your 401k.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 3:18 pm

Nosso wrote:You'll get any answer you want. Some people have jumped ship and it's worked out. For others, it's been a disaster. If you really want to jump ship, then dump that 90k, minus an emergency fund, into your debt. If you can get funds out of your retirement savings without any penalties, take out as much of that as possible too. Assuming you're rolling with a 5-7% interest rate, it's a guaranteed return that'll almost certainly beat any returns you get in keep that money in those accounts. Pay off the debt first, then invest/work on your 401k.


This is terrible advice. OP, if you're going to leave big law without a job lined up, you should either (i) refinance your student loans to a much lower rate with a lengthy payment schedule, say 10 or 15 years, if you haven't done so already or (ii) determine whether you want to move to IBR/PSLF type plan. In either case, you should not dump 50k into your loans. The liquidity is far more important for someone in that position.

That said, you absolutely shouldn't leave big law without a position lined up. It is way easier and far less stressful to get a job while having a job. You should inmediately start looking for positions you want to work instead. It sounds like you aren't looking to lateral to another big law firm. If so, your lateral search (to smaller firms, government, in house, or clerkships etc.) may take several months. If you're dead set on leaving, I wouldn't worry too much about the possible slight reputational loss for working only 120 or whatever hours. It doesn't matter given that you're not trying to make partner.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby jchiles » Mon May 01, 2017 3:19 pm

Nosso wrote:You'll get any answer you want. Some people have jumped ship and it's worked out. For others, it's been a disaster. If you really want to jump ship, then dump that 90k, minus an emergency fund, into your debt. If you can get funds out of your retirement savings without any penalties, take out as much of that as possible too. Assuming you're rolling with a 5-7% interest rate, it's a guaranteed return that'll almost certainly beat any returns you get in keep that money in those accounts. Pay off the debt first, then invest/work on your 401k.


Holy cow this is bad advice

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 3:26 pm

Nosso wrote:You'll get any answer you want. Some people have jumped ship and it's worked out. For others, it's been a disaster. If you really want to jump ship, then dump that 90k, minus an emergency fund, into your debt. If you can get funds out of your retirement savings without any penalties, take out as much of that as possible too. Assuming you're rolling with a 5-7% interest rate, it's a guaranteed return that'll almost certainly beat any returns you get in keep that money in those accounts. Pay off the debt first, then invest/work on your 401k.

lawyers are really bad at math

If you're really gonna jump ship, you need all the liquid cash you can get; screw your loans and go IBR until you're back on your feet.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby dabigchina » Mon May 01, 2017 3:32 pm

Nosso wrote:You'll get any answer you want. Some people have jumped ship and it's worked out. For others, it's been a disaster. If you really want to jump ship, then dump that 90k, minus an emergency fund, into your debt. If you can get funds out of your retirement savings without any penalties, take out as much of that as possible too. Assuming you're rolling with a 5-7% interest rate, it's a guaranteed return that'll almost certainly beat any returns you get in keep that money in those accounts. Pay off the debt first, then invest/work on your 401k.

7% is a really low ROI on the investments unless you expect a major market correction in the next year.

That's not even considering the fact that in the long term (20+ years) the investments will beat 7%/year with near 100% certainty.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 3:34 pm

Why not ride it out a few more months while you look for something different? You likely have some runway before you get a talking to about your hours. Just stop taking on work.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby elendinel » Mon May 01, 2017 3:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Nosso wrote:You'll get any answer you want. Some people have jumped ship and it's worked out. For others, it's been a disaster. If you really want to jump ship, then dump that 90k, minus an emergency fund, into your debt. If you can get funds out of your retirement savings without any penalties, take out as much of that as possible too. Assuming you're rolling with a 5-7% interest rate, it's a guaranteed return that'll almost certainly beat any returns you get in keep that money in those accounts. Pay off the debt first, then invest/work on your 401k.

lawyers are really bad at math

If you're really gonna jump ship, you need all the liquid cash you can get
; screw your loans and go IBR until you're back on your feet.


Agreed; save a few months to a year's worth of expenses, then worry about your loans. You can always get your loan payments reduced/etc. until you get another job, but you can't save months' worth of expenses when you don't have a job.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 3:42 pm

OP here: I have already refinanced my debt down to 4.2% over 15 year term, so payments are about $1000/month. Also, I have about $90,000 in savings, so I think I could last for at least a year unemployed. Just wanted to shed light on financials since people have been talking a lot about them.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 3:52 pm

So youre planning to quit w/o a job lined up?

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Nosso » Mon May 01, 2017 4:29 pm

Some people really misread my post. OP, I'm not telling you to burn all of your liquidity and quit your job. If you're going to quit, you need liquidity equal to at least 6mos of expenses. But having 90k in savings and investments when you have a 120k debt accruing at 7% isn't a great idea. Paying off loans = guaranteed 7% return, which is about what an S&P 500 Index fund has averaged over the past 15 years.

Anyway, I know you didn't come here for that advice. I'm just clearing up my post. If you're going to quit, have some money in the bank. But before you quit: 1. get a better idea of what you want to do and 2. try to find those opportunities while still working. If you're truly leaving the law/biglaw, it's not gonna matter that you annoyed some coworkers on your way out.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby dabigchina » Mon May 01, 2017 4:31 pm

Nosso wrote:Some people really misread my post. OP, I'm not telling you to burn all of your liquidity and quit your job. If you're going to quit, you need liquidity equal to at least 6mos of expenses. But having 90k in savings and investments when you have a 120k debt accruing at 7% isn't a great idea. Paying off loans = guaranteed 7% return, which is about what an S&P 500 Index fund has averaged over the past 15 years.

Anyway, I know you didn't come here for that advice. I'm just clearing up my post. If you're going to quit, have some money in the bank. But before you quit: 1. get a better idea of what you want to do and 2. try to find those opportunities while still working. If you're truly leaving the law/biglaw, it's not gonna matter that you annoyed some coworkers on your way out.

he literally just said his loans are at 4.2%.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 4:38 pm

i'm jealous, shit. Wish I had that many savings and could bail.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Baconbits » Mon May 01, 2017 4:46 pm

I said *#(@ it to the whole legal profession (after finishing law eschool, etc) and it's been kinda great to be honest...

My situation is sorta unique though probably, but yes we exist, though somewhat rare.

Edit: Oh "in debt" key word there... yeah um I made a complicated arrangement before I went to law school that would limit my direct financial exposure in the event I found I didn't really like law school so that I could basically just do something else afterwards if I wanted.

Yeah er couldn't speak directly to your situation then.

I must also say I kinda panicked slightly when I realized I had to rely on that arrangement afterwards, did not necessarily expect to hate a lot of lawyers and the profession (although I think that must be something that they are trying to get worked out... just wasn't the case when I was there)

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Baconbits » Mon May 01, 2017 5:00 pm

You know, just my guess, but I'd think if there wasn't a monetary factor my guess is less than 2% of law school graduates would become lawyers.

In general I think graduate schools need to be re-arranged so that it's similar to college, for people who wanted more after HS, there's college, for people who wanted more after college, there's graduate school, kinda deal.

Like it should be free and the subject matter expanded dramatically and different schools unified around a generic "graduate school" concept rather than being specifically for different fields.

The whole "Bar association" and just generalized "Lawyer culture" needs to die really IMO, sorry getting OT, but yeah just general points.

"Biglaw" or "Bigfed" or whatever are just "Bigproblems" in the general malaise that is the lawyer environment in much of the world (especially US, Japan, and Canada) and therefore get it an extra hard *#(@ it from me as compared to a lower key *#(@ it to law in general.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 6:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:So youre planning to quit w/o a job lined up?


OP here - I'm not really planning anything. I've been in biglaw for about 2.5 years and have been pretty miserable the entire time. I've hopped around a few times (in and out of big law) in NYC and really, I just find the whole culture of finance/law to be jarring, useless, and soul sucking, even when you aren't busy. Even when I moved in-house at a bank, the experience was so terrible that I moved back to a firm. I just don't think I was meant to do this type of work and be this stressed our all the time. I handle stressful situations well when they come up in life (in the past), but when your entire job is a stressful situation, it sort of just destroys you. I've been looking at smaller firms in smaller markets and hoping something there works out to give law one more try in a non-deal oriented group in a more relaxed environment, but just trying to get a sense of things in case it doesn't work out.

I was good at math and science in high school and college and only went to law school because I graduated in the height of the financial crisis and felt a lot of pressure to do what was best for myself while I was striking out over and over again from jobs. I should have done something else, but I never guessed Obama would be that good for environmental firms and renewable energy companies and decided that I didn't want to tie my career to it at that point (at fucking 20). Unfortunately, that led to me taking the LSAT on a whim and doing well enough to get into a good school. I have real interest in the environment and have thought about going back to school or trying to network into a start up that is connected to the environment in some way. I think I could like data analytics if I got into it and the career path is super flexible in that field. I just don't know, hence the question if anyone has ever just said fuck this i'm done and left without the situation being perfect.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby jbagelboy » Mon May 01, 2017 6:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:So youre planning to quit w/o a job lined up?


OP here - I'm not really planning anything. I've been in biglaw for about 2.5 years and have been pretty miserable the entire time. I've hopped around a few times (in and out of big law) in NYC and really, I just find the whole culture of finance/law to be jarring, useless, and soul sucking, even when you aren't busy. Even when I moved in-house at a bank, the experience was so terrible that I moved back to a firm. I just don't think I was meant to do this type of work and be this stressed our all the time. I handle stressful situations well when they come up in life (in the past), but when your entire job is a stressful situation, it sort of just destroys you. I've been looking at smaller firms in smaller markets and hoping something there works out to give law one more try in a non-deal oriented group in a more relaxed environment, but just trying to get a sense of things in case it doesn't work out.

I was good at math and science in high school and college and only went to law school because I graduated in the height of the financial crisis and felt a lot of pressure to do what was best for myself while I was striking out over and over again from jobs. I should have done something else, but I never guessed Obama would be that good for environmental firms and renewable energy companies and decided that I didn't want to tie my career to it at that point (at fucking 20). Unfortunately, that led to me taking the LSAT on a whim and doing well enough to get into a good school. I have real interest in the environment and have thought about going back to school or trying to network into a start up that is connected to the environment in some way. I think I could like data analytics if I got into it and the career path is super flexible in that field. I just don't know, hence the question if anyone has ever just said fuck this i'm done and left without the situation being perfect.


yea, I mean, they definitely have. I don't think you'll find those people on TLS though because posters here tend to be risk-averse/overachievers/narrowly focused on careerism over other truths.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 6:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:i'm jealous, shit. Wish I had that many savings and could bail.


Honestly, if one good thing came from this job it was my learning to be extremely vigilant financially. I know most people try to just pay off their loans and hold an emergency fund, but I tried to order my finances in a way that made sense and felt good at the same time. I knew the minute I started that I didn't think I was cut out for this job, so I knew having liquidity was important. I've kept my rent below $1,500 a month the entire time I've been in NYC and I tend to not spend money on anything except food and vacations (YOLO). After I paid off half my loans (started with about $250,000), I decided to just try and save as much as possible and minimize my debt payments (I now save $5,000 a month). This helped me get there relatively quickly and still invest about $12K/year into my 401K just so I can use that compound interest/investments.

If you are in biglaw, you can do it to. Just try to get the debt down to a number you are more comfortable with and then save aggressively. My debt still isn't where I want it, but after starting at $250,000, it feels a lot better than it did three years ago and I now have "considerable" assets to go along with it.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 7:48 pm

Kudos to financial thriftiness. Yeah, like others have said I don't think you are going to get much stories here re: leaving law but I am also jealous of your situation. You say youre in debt but I think your finances are in a good enough shape not to need a six figure salary. Just do it.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Pokemon » Mon May 01, 2017 8:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:i'm jealous, shit. Wish I had that many savings and could bail.


Honestly, if one good thing came from this job it was my learning to be extremely vigilant financially. I know most people try to just pay off their loans and hold an emergency fund, but I tried to order my finances in a way that made sense and felt good at the same time. I knew the minute I started that I didn't think I was cut out for this job, so I knew having liquidity was important. I've kept my rent below $1,500 a month the entire time I've been in NYC and I tend to not spend money on anything except food and vacations (YOLO). After I paid off half my loans (started with about $250,000), I decided to just try and save as much as possible and minimize my debt payments (I now save $5,000 a month). This helped me get there relatively quickly and still invest about $12K/year into my 401K just so I can use that compound interest/investments.

If you are in biglaw, you can do it to. Just try to get the debt down to a number you are more comfortable with and then save aggressively. My debt still isn't where I want it, but after starting at $250,000, it feels a lot better than it did three years ago and I now have "considerable" assets to go along with it.

Jesus Christ, you paid 130k plus interest in 2 and a half year, plus saved 90k and 50k in 401k?? Does not add up.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby elendinel » Mon May 01, 2017 8:27 pm

If you already have savings, I'd recommend at least figuring out what you want to do before you quit. If you want to get involved in environmental work there are a lot of jobs you could get into (government, legal nonprofit, nonlegal nonprofit, firm, compliance), but a lot of them may take awhile to get into, so you're going to want to know which ones appeal to you so that you can have the latitude to spend the year or so doing whatever you need to do to get the job you want. You don't want to quit and then spend the whole year trying to narrow the list down/end up somewhere else you hate.

So get a list of jobs you'd realistically want to do (or some volunteer positions you'd apply to so that you can get a feel for the work) and then quit, IMO. Continue to save money/pay off your loans in the meantime. Then spend the year (or more) pulling the trigger on that list.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 01, 2017 8:38 pm

Pokemon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:i'm jealous, shit. Wish I had that many savings and could bail.


Honestly, if one good thing came from this job it was my learning to be extremely vigilant financially. I know most people try to just pay off their loans and hold an emergency fund, but I tried to order my finances in a way that made sense and felt good at the same time. I knew the minute I started that I didn't think I was cut out for this job, so I knew having liquidity was important. I've kept my rent below $1,500 a month the entire time I've been in NYC and I tend to not spend money on anything except food and vacations (YOLO). After I paid off half my loans (started with about $250,000), I decided to just try and save as much as possible and minimize my debt payments (I now save $5,000 a month). This helped me get there relatively quickly and still invest about $12K/year into my 401K just so I can use that compound interest/investments.

If you are in biglaw, you can do it to. Just try to get the debt down to a number you are more comfortable with and then save aggressively. My debt still isn't where I want it, but after starting at $250,000, it feels a lot better than it did three years ago and I now have "considerable" assets to go along with it.

Jesus Christ, you paid 130k plus interest in 2 and a half year, plus saved 90k and 50k in 401k?? Does not add up.


I've been in biglaw 2.5 years but I worked for a year in a different role that was much lower paying where I was able to get some savings. That allowed me to take in like $15,00 in savings and $5,000 in 401K, but my debt payments were minimums (meaning, I started with $250,000 and after a year I was at $249,800). So basically since being in biglaw (about 2.5 years), I've saved about $75,000, put in another $40,000 into 401K and paid off about $130,000 in debt. Third year bonus helped a lot (extra $30,000 in the bank). I'm a total outlier among people I know, but I also don't spend money on clothes and shit and don't go out that often.

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Re: Anyone Ever Just Say "F*** It" To Biglaw?

Postby UVA2B » Mon May 01, 2017 9:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Pokemon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:i'm jealous, shit. Wish I had that many savings and could bail.


Honestly, if one good thing came from this job it was my learning to be extremely vigilant financially. I know most people try to just pay off their loans and hold an emergency fund, but I tried to order my finances in a way that made sense and felt good at the same time. I knew the minute I started that I didn't think I was cut out for this job, so I knew having liquidity was important. I've kept my rent below $1,500 a month the entire time I've been in NYC and I tend to not spend money on anything except food and vacations (YOLO). After I paid off half my loans (started with about $250,000), I decided to just try and save as much as possible and minimize my debt payments (I now save $5,000 a month). This helped me get there relatively quickly and still invest about $12K/year into my 401K just so I can use that compound interest/investments.

If you are in biglaw, you can do it to. Just try to get the debt down to a number you are more comfortable with and then save aggressively. My debt still isn't where I want it, but after starting at $250,000, it feels a lot better than it did three years ago and I now have "considerable" assets to go along with it.

Jesus Christ, you paid 130k plus interest in 2 and a half year, plus saved 90k and 50k in 401k?? Does not add up.


I've been in biglaw 2.5 years but I worked for a year in a different role that was much lower paying where I was able to get some savings. That allowed me to take in like $15,00 in savings and $5,000 in 401K, but my debt payments were minimums (meaning, I started with $250,000 and after a year I was at $249,800). So basically since being in biglaw (about 2.5 years), I've saved about $75,000, put in another $40,000 into 401K and paid off about $130,000 in debt. Third year bonus helped a lot (extra $30,000 in the bank). I'm a total outlier among people I know, but I also don't spend money on clothes and shit and don't go out that often.


Even still, that's some crazy ass math to get to that level of savings, 401k, debt payments, while living in NYC. Pretax income from 2.5 years NYC Biglaw is like ~$600k. After city, state, and federal taxes, that should be drawn down by about a third (absolute mental napkin math here, so I could be off somewhat). So you're saying you lived in/near NYC on ~$400k for 2.5 years while collecting $235k in other accounts? I mean, I guess it's possible, but damn.

ETA: Forgot to include that 401k could come with matching to bring that effective dollar amount smaller, but still, NYC is expensive as hell.



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