Fewer hours + big law salary

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surrealfx

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Fewer hours + big law salary

Postby surrealfx » Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:21 pm

I am a third-year litigation associate at a V10 firm in Los Angeles. By big law standards, my life is great. I work on the weekends under 10 times a year, don't check email after a certain time of night, and often don't check it for entire days on weekends. My supervisors like me and my work, and nobody has said I need to be available more, although the reviews that I needed to be a better "team player" may have been reflective of that. I billed 1,901 last year.

I have no shot of making partner at my current firm and am not willing to spend the extra time working to try. My free time is too valuable. That said, by staying at my current firm and doing what I do now, I don't think I'm going to get the experience or develop the skills I'd like -- arguing summary judgment motions, trial, etc. I am stuck doing white collar (which I consider to be professional document review), helping partners prepare for court, and proofreading evidence to be filed in support of motions for summary judgment. I don't think I'm interested in government work, so a smaller "litigation boutique" looked like a good option for me to get substantive experience. Yet, from what I've read, associates at those firms work more hours than I do.

The real path to success for me at a law firm seems to be to bring in business. I am a life-long Los Angeles resident and have met a lot of people over the years, so maybe I can work on client development -- which is hard, especially at my age -- but sure beats slogging away.

Is there a way to keep my current salary, get the experiences I want, and work fewer hours?

hlsperson1111

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Re: Fewer hours + big law salary

Postby hlsperson1111 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:34 pm

I am a midlevel litigation associate at a Vault firm in LA. I do not think you can find a firm that will give you better experience while working fewer hours. I do think you can find firms that will give you good experiences while working moderately more hours, but not slaving away for 2700+ hours a year. (I billed roughly 2400 and 2150 hours in the first two years I was at my firm including pro bono, and I have done all sorts of cool stuff - taken depositions, argued a summary judgment motion, written lots of substantive briefs, etc. That said, I also do lots of document review for white collar cases and other equally shitty work too.) You can PM me if you want additional thoughts. In any event, I would probably ride the year out and collect your bonus before considering a move.

malibustacy

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Re: Fewer hours + big law salary

Postby malibustacy » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:54 am

Well you know what they say. Between Money, Time, Energy, at best you get 2 out of 3 in life. Lawyers are lucky if they just end up with money.

Seems like you have a sweet gig going for you so far, but that'll change one way or another regardless of what you do. You'll either be pushed into doing more substantive work (with likely longer hours) as you get more senior, or be asked to leave the firm.

If you want substantive experience with relatively decent pay, I'd take a stronger look at working for the Federal Government. It's not bad if you can get it. Very few litigation boutiques pay at Big Law market rates.

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Re: Fewer hours + big law salary

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:26 am

surrealfx wrote:I am a third-year litigation associate at a V10 firm in Los Angeles. By big law standards, my life is great. I work on the weekends under 10 times a year, don't check email after a certain time of night, and often don't check it for entire days on weekends.


lol, hi me

seriously, i think by ANY standards, this life is pretty incredible. overall, you and i (and others in our boat) are working 40-50 hours a week (maybe slightly over with non-billables considered) to make a relatively huge amount of $$. I'm going to chime in and say that you should milk this as long as you can and then try to go in-house or out of law entirely. i've seen a few people with mediocre reputations at top LA firms get decent in-house exits, even in lit. ask yourself whether you actually like litigation....

surrealfx

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Re: Fewer hours + big law salary

Postby surrealfx » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:14 pm

Thanks to the commenters. I made the post partially due to considering my future. I want to do something that captivates me. Litigation does, thank goodness. I like the intellectual exercise that litigation entails. I want to do work that I enjoy in an environment that I enjoy.

Hueston Hennigan is intriguing. Unlike my firm, which is old, huge, and brags about how few partners it has, at some point, I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that Hueston will have to grow and add partners. As a third-year associate, I may still have a chance to work there (or somewhere else) for a few years and at least be considered for partner. Whereas, if I stayed at my firm for a few more years, I would gain seniority while not gaining much substantive experience. Then, although I could lateral to other firms, I would have one or two years to be considered for partner prior to being forced out. I'd have no clients and would have to start my own firm, work at a small firm, or work in the government, none of which is necessarily bad, but at least I could try at a boutique first.

From what I've read, the associates at Hueston work more hours than I do. If that's true, I'll have to decide whether the trade-off of more hours vs. more interesting work and a potential long-term role is worth it to me.

I'm applying for some clerkships to start in the middle of next year. I think a clerkship would be interesting and fun for me and maybe help me get in the door at boutiques.

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Re: Fewer hours + big law salary

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:34 pm

HH is along the lines of what you should be looking for, but is probably not the specific firm you want (unless you actually want to do white collar work, and even then, somewhere like Bird Marella or Scheper Kim might make more sense).

surrealfx

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Re: Fewer hours + big law salary

Postby surrealfx » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:HH is along the lines of what you should be looking for, but is probably not the specific firm you want (unless you actually want to do white collar work, and even then, somewhere like Bird Marella or Scheper Kim might make more sense).


I'd love to know how much of what HH does is "white collar" work, and I'd like to know what they mean by that term. I have a couple of contacts that work there and have contacted them but not heard back. I may do random informational interviews with other associates there.

Boutique_Associate

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Re: Fewer hours + big law salary

Postby Boutique_Associate » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:32 am

surrealfx wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:HH is along the lines of what you should be looking for, but is probably not the specific firm you want (unless you actually want to do white collar work, and even then, somewhere like Bird Marella or Scheper Kim might make more sense).


I'd love to know how much of what HH does is "white collar" work, and I'd like to know what they mean by that term. I have a couple of contacts that work there and have contacted them but not heard back. I may do random informational interviews with other associates there.


I work there. I would say about a third of our business is white collar - typically, on the defense side of government investigations, but also work for different cities and counties. The hours are quite tough, but bonuses and co-workers are fantastic.



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