Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

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Biglaw vs Startup

Biglaw
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66%
Startup
25
34%
 
Total votes: 73

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Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:27 pm

This is a situation I am currently facing and I am just curious (primarily from current/former biglaw folks) what folks would choose. The details are very unique, so I can't go into too much detail without outing myself. The startup is solid (I have experience with other startups) and funded and the salary range is based on upcoming negotiations. Hours are sometimes beyond 9-5, but not much (e.g. 9-6 or 8-5). The position is not legal (client-facing/sales/other startup crap), so it'd definitely be shutting the door there.

If it helps, the biglaw position is in litigation so the hours are slightly more predictable. Also, major market but not NYC/LA (so CoL is lower).

Thanks!

(I'll contribute more in the thread, but I don't want to tilt my hand too much in either direction at the onset).

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby acr » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:30 pm

Impossible to advise you based on the info given. Would you rather be a lawyer or would you rather work for a start up in a sales role? Two vastly different career tracks, and only you can answer that for yourself. I would personally do big law for a couple years, build a nest egg, then pursue start up opportunities. But that's just me. It seems like once you forgo big law, you will never be a big lawyer. But start ups will always be there and going to big law doesn't necessarily eliminate you from working for a startup in the future.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Foghornleghorn » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:46 pm

I am not trying to be negative. But, you need to consider how long you can support yourself / what your options are if the start up fails, or even if the startup doesn't fall but has to cut your pay by 30% to get through a rough patch. Consider:

-How much liquidity you have going into the startup role (e.g. how long can you feed yourself/pay rent)

-Benefits (does the startup pay your healthcare premiums etc / whether you're young and still covered under parents plan)

-You're kidding yourself if you think you're only working 9-5 at a startup (particularly in a development role), granted the hours are better and maybe you'll get to 9-5 after you build a decent book, but expect to be grinding until the firm matures).

-How much do you like selling? If you don't close you won't last. Your employers are going to be capital constrained. This gets worse the less funded the startup is

-How transferable your skills are going to be (you'll want to find/talk to people in startup development who were at shops that went bust and ask them how they bounced to their next job)

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby omar.comin » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:00 pm

I'm also a recent grad, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think biglaw here is the way to go. Personally, I'd also love to work for a startup but the risk is just too high. I'll be putting in some time doing corp work first. I think you're correct in that you're foreclosing meaningful legal work in the future. From my personal experience, the only people I've met who ended up in biglaw after working for a startup were those who were already in biglaw before lateraling to a startup. Also, what kind of litigation is this? If it's IP, it's not unheard of to join a startup after a few years. There are plenty of established startups all across the west coast (from LA to Seattle, and of course SF/SV), and those opportunities will always be there with the right amount of networking. Biglaw, however, won''t be.

I will end by saying, though, that startups offer plenty of respectable skills to add to your resume if you're not wedded to the idea of law. If it really is an established startup (e.g., I don't know, 15+ programmers), funded for the foreseeable future, combined with a solid management team, you'll pick up a lot of business savvy that will be transferrable across the board. I know consulting firms will be more than willing to give you a first round for that experience.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:53 pm

Do you want to be a lawyer?

The answer to this question is the answer to your question.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby dabigchina » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:02 am

To echo foghornleghorn I have never heard of anybody in any position at a startup working 9-5.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby favabeansoup » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:49 am

Foghornleghorn wrote:-You're kidding yourself if you think you're only working 9-5 at a startup (particularly in a development role), granted the hours are better and maybe you'll get to 9-5 after you build a decent book, but expect to be grinding until the firm matures).


^^
9-5 in a startup is a myth, especially if in a sales role. You'll have a monthly sales target and you'll need to hit it, regardless of what your "hours" are.

I'd probably take biglaw. You'll work more, but maybe not that much more. You'll sure get paid a bunch more though. My answer might change depending on how early into startup your entering and what total comp options look like/how close it is to a sale/ipo

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby jkpolk » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:54 am

startup. assuming you're getting a lot of comp in equity.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Lacepiece23 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:01 am

Really depends. I mean if you were going corporate I'd say start up. Most corporate lawyers are just wannabe business people anyway. But litigation and start up are really two different beasts. I would never want to work in a start up because I really enjoy litigating (writing, court, disputes with opposing counsel).

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:17 am

favabeansoup wrote:
Foghornleghorn wrote:-You're kidding yourself if you think you're only working 9-5 at a startup (particularly in a development role), granted the hours are better and maybe you'll get to 9-5 after you build a decent book, but expect to be grinding until the firm matures).


^^
9-5 in a startup is a myth, especially if in a sales role. You'll have a monthly sales target and you'll need to hit it, regardless of what your "hours" are.

I'd probably take biglaw. You'll work more, but maybe not that much more. You'll sure get paid a bunch more though. My answer might change depending on how early into startup your entering and what total comp options look like/how close it is to a sale/ipo


OP:

I have experience with startups. I have worked at a number of them (both in sales and on product teams). 9-5s exist and this is one (especially for the role I will be doing).

I will try to respond to some other things later today but wanted to address this so people don't "fight the hypo." I know it can be flame, but please assume it isn't here since I have means and experience to verify. (And I won't debate this further -- I want opinions based on the situation I laid out, which is basically the classic work-life balance with "good money" vs. lots of money and limited work-life balance but with a startup twist).

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:51 am

I would go to the start up, unless you really want to be a litigator. I think either one you can pivot back if it doesn't work out since you have previous start up experience, but if debt isn't an issue, then why force yourself to slave away. I'll be honest, as a big law attorney, I've seen most of my soft skills deteriorate (personality has gotten worse, out of shape, fear of supervisors from all the yelling and stress out moments, thoughts of taking more risks have faded away, and just the thought of moving jobs scares me because I have the thoughts of "what if its no different?"). I was a consultant before big law and worked in finance and was always considered not only good at my job, but someone clients liked and managers liked. My manager in consulting used to say that I have "the goods" (which basically means you can bullshit your way into your client's heart), but as an attorney, I've become more depressed and anxious and way worse at talking to people. I make $250,000 a year at 28, and yet I feel more like a teenager asking my teacher to go to the bathroom than a functioning, well-respected professional. Take the start up and run

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Barrred » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:26 pm

I'd go biglaw for a couple years so that you get some legal experience, and therefore always have a career as a lawyer to fall back on. From there, you can leave to go work at a startup if thats something you are still interested in. Even if you transition away from a legal role after a few years at biglaw, you will always be a lawyer, and some small firm would probably still hire you if you ever got tired of the startup thing. If you go straight from law school to a non-legal role, however, I imagine it would be hard to ever go back to lawyer job, or even really consider yourself a lawyer since you have never practiced.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I would go to the start up, unless you really want to be a litigator. I think either one you can pivot back if it doesn't work out since you have previous start up experience, but if debt isn't an issue, then why force yourself to slave away. I'll be honest, as a big law attorney, I've seen most of my soft skills deteriorate (personality has gotten worse, out of shape, fear of supervisors from all the yelling and stress out moments, thoughts of taking more risks have faded away, and just the thought of moving jobs scares me because I have the thoughts of "what if its no different?"). I was a consultant before big law and worked in finance and was always considered not only good at my job, but someone clients liked and managers liked. My manager in consulting used to say that I have "the goods" (which basically means you can bullshit your way into your client's heart), but as an attorney, I've become more depressed and anxious and way worse at talking to people. I make $250,000 a year at 28, and yet I feel more like a teenager asking my teacher to go to the bathroom than a functioning, well-respected professional. Take the start up and run


I haven't practiced for as long as the above anon, but I really couldn't agree more. OP, you've done startups before, so if this one busts, you'll be ok. While I get where people are coming from with the question of whether you wanna be a lawyer, even most lawyers don't wanna be lawyers. I think you'll be happier in the long run with the startup, even with less money/more risk.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I would go to the start up, unless you really want to be a litigator. I think either one you can pivot back if it doesn't work out since you have previous start up experience, but if debt isn't an issue, then why force yourself to slave away. I'll be honest, as a big law attorney, I've seen most of my soft skills deteriorate (personality has gotten worse, out of shape, fear of supervisors from all the yelling and stress out moments, thoughts of taking more risks have faded away, and just the thought of moving jobs scares me because I have the thoughts of "what if its no different?"). I was a consultant before big law and worked in finance and was always considered not only good at my job, but someone clients liked and managers liked. My manager in consulting used to say that I have "the goods" (which basically means you can bullshit your way into your client's heart), but as an attorney, I've become more depressed and anxious and way worse at talking to people. I make $250,000 a year at 28, and yet I feel more like a teenager asking my teacher to go to the bathroom than a functioning, well-respected professional. Take the start up and run


I haven't practiced for as long as the above anon, but I really couldn't agree more. OP, you've done startups before, so if this one busts, you'll be ok. While I get where people are coming from with the question of whether you wanna be a lawyer, even most lawyers don't wanna be lawyers. I think you'll be happier in the long run with the startup, even with less money/more risk.

Agree. Go start up.

If you are even thinking about working in a business role in a startup, becoming a biglaw litigator is a great way to close that door in the future while making sure that any relevant skills you have will atrophy.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:53 pm

Going to thread hijack a bit. Op I would go Startup.

V10 5th year M&A.

I am thinking about making a similar move. My start-up title/pay/hours would be higher and it would be a biz side role....just wondering what the downside risk is. Assume if I failed (or the start-up did) I could always pitch it positively and try to return to a smaller firm.

Leaving the linear (and for most deadend) world of Biglaw -> Midlaw/In-house route is scarier then I thought.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby jd20132013 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:58 pm

If it's really 9 to 5 then do startup

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby gaddockteeg » Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:51 pm

big law. I doubt that a start up with employees working 9-5 is going to make it. Startup employees work crazy hard to make it, and the employment value comes from working on something you're passionate about and the [eventual] equity payout, NOT from lifestyle.

Further, if you're really just seeing this as a money vs lifestyle tradeoff, I think there's better lifestyle opportunities (with more money) -- big law will open those to you if you haven't considered them already (in house, government, compliance, etc).

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:26 pm

dabigchina wrote:To echo foghornleghorn I have never heard of anybody in any position at a startup working 9-5.

My son in law worked big law as patent attorney. Is now in house at start up and works 9-5, no weekends.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby star fox » Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:57 pm

I've never heard of a startup where the people only work 9-5. Frankly, if that's the case then that's a startup I'm betting to flop (like most startups do anyways). The usual story I hear from a startup is 12 hour days with a hell of a lot of an uncertainty but chasing that jackpot upside that comes with equity interests.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:28 pm

While it is very attractive to work at a startup, the problem is that as a fresh grad or someone with 1-2 years experience, it is very difficult to add a lot of value. I worked tech transactions biglaw and I truly feel that the three years I spent in biglaw really gave me the technical legal skillset to go inhouse. It is much harder to learn when you don't have someone teaching you or redlines to review (sometimes that teaching involves yelling or attitude).

In addition, most startups are cash strapped and will have limited money to hire outside counsel. They will look to you to be the "legal" guy. It is very difficult to provide answers when you don't really know what you are doing (whether from a tech trans perspective or from a equity financing perspective).

As much as I hated biglaw, I still think you should do 2-3 years of biglaw before going inhouse. If you go to a biglaw firm you will likely have decent exit opportunities after 2-3 years (especially if you do startup work or tech trans).

I highly doubt the startup will be 9-5 (or if people are really working 9-5 you probably shouldn't join their startup). While the hours may not be as bad as NYC corporate biglaw, there will still be a lot of work to be done at all times of the day and night.

Edit: sorry just saw that it was a non-legal role. This stuff probably doesn't apply.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby trebekismyhero » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:48 pm

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:Do you want to be a lawyer?

The answer to this question is the answer to your question.

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Pokemon

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Pokemon » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:32 pm

star fox wrote:I've never heard of a startup where the people only work 9-5. Frankly, if that's the case then that's a startup I'm betting to flop (like most startups do anyways). The usual story I hear from a startup is 12 hour days with a hell of a lot of an uncertainty but chasing that jackpot upside that comes with equity interests.


Tcr, no nine to five start ups. You should only pick the start up if money is not an issue for you because no debt or independently wealthy.
Otherwise biglaw > start up. Almost always but Particularly so if you are a lawyer joining in to do sales.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby hokuspokus » Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:39 pm

Why did you even go to law school?
What about going to a smaller firm where people work 40-50 hour weeks? They do exist you know.

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Pokemon » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:19 pm

hokuspokus wrote:Why did you even go to law school?
What about going to a smaller firm where people work 40-50 hour weeks? They do exist you know.


:lol:

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Re: Biglaw ($180k) vs. Startup (70-80k, 9-5) with minimal debt

Postby Pomeranian » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:28 pm

Is this one of those silicon valley startups with zero profits but millions in venture capital funding?



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