What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

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What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby LurkerTurnedMember » Thu Jul 13, 2017 8:49 pm

A friend of mine is still in law school and is about to bid during OCI. Since I'm already working she asked me what's a normal turnover of lawyers at a big law firm. I couldn't answer because I'm still a relatively new lawyer at my firm and don't pay too much attention to its turnover generally. But she says she's really interested in a firm but noticed a lot of articles of other firms snatching lawyers from this firm, including in groups of about 3 or 4 at a time. I haven't seen much turnover in my firm, especially within my group, so I thought this was odd but I'm sure it happens. Is she reading too much into it? Or is this a sign of, what she says, possible lay offs or downturn there like in some other firms recently?

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stego
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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby stego » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:07 pm

Or are those lawyers just successfully lateralling to other firms?

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby LurkerTurnedMember » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:11 pm

stego wrote:Or are those lawyers just successfully lateralling to other firms?


That was my take on it. Lawyers lateral all the time. But apparently she heard a few firms laid off attorneys and the firm she's interested in had a bunch of articles on it that made it seem like there were an unusually larger group of attorneys leaving in groups.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:31 pm

50% at year 4 and 70% by year 5 leave on average for big firms

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby favabeansoup » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:50% at year 4 and 70% by year 5 leave on average for big firms


With the caveat that many of the people leaving are leaving to other big firms. I would say total time in biglaw, included firms ppl lateral too, probably can average to 4-7 years. More if you can handle it, less if you want out early, but I think the 4-7 range total is sweet spot for people to usually leave for smaller firms/in house/gov whatever.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:53 am

favabeansoup wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:50% at year 4 and 70% by year 5 leave on average for big firms
More if you can handle it, less if you want out early, but I think the 4-7 range total is sweet spot for people to usually leave for smaller firms/in house/gov whatever.



How do biglaw lawyers deal with the salary decrease in moving to such firms? Or is just worth it for the better family/work balance?

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby favabeansoup » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:
favabeansoup wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:50% at year 4 and 70% by year 5 leave on average for big firms
More if you can handle it, less if you want out early, but I think the 4-7 range total is sweet spot for people to usually leave for smaller firms/in house/gov whatever.



How do biglaw lawyers deal with the salary decrease in moving to such firms? Or is just worth it for the better family/work balance?


Generally worth it for better balance. As for dealing with salary, some deal with it and others don't.

Most people I've seen on verge of leaving realize it's coming so they either stockpile most of their biglaw income into savings or pay off debt. Stupid people spend all of their biglaw money and leave with nothing/have high monthly expenses.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:47 am

At the firm I started with, we had around 18 who started in my class, and when I lateraled as a 5th year there were 3 or 4 left. Some went in house, some went into government, other big law firms, smaller firms, public interest, moving for a spouse, etc. It was actually a really wide range, I was surprised. I haven't kept track of people, so I'm sure some of the ones who left pretty early have made second moves by now.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:48 am

My wife and I have been in Biglaw a total of ten years. Me at two firms and her at one. I would say by year five 70-80% of your summer class is gone. Laterals come in and out and last roughly two years. So ya, I'd say the vast majority of folks who get Biglaw stay in it for seven years max. As for the money, it's not all that much after loans, rent and taxes (plus a Wedding). We have a savings in the 400k range (and no debt finally) but it's not like we can stop working or that we go party every week.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby LurkerTurnedMember » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:05 am

A lot of great posts. But are these lawyers leaving voluntarily or because they're being pushed out by their firm and need to move somewhere else? And how many typically go specifically to another firm? Sorry I think i should've been clearer originally. Her concern apparently is that the firm she kinda likes has a good number of articles online about other firms "taking" this firm's lawyers (including partners), and with the recent layoffs in the market generally she's scared there might be something to that (either the firm is letting lawyers go and they're lateralling or they're jumping ship or I forgot the third thing she said). I told her it's probably just lawyers moving around like usual given the high attrition rates every firm has but she's still seemed worried. I also told her to talk to her school's people and maybe they can put her in contact with someone there to talk to privately.

Oh I also said it's kind of a good thing there are articles about the firm like this cause if it was a crappy firm no one would care about its lawyers lateralling lol She didn't think that was funny.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:17 am

LurkerTurnedMember wrote:A lot of great posts. But are these lawyers leaving voluntarily or because they're being pushed out by their firm and need to move somewhere else? And how many typically go specifically to another firm? Sorry I think i should've been clearer originally. Her concern apparently is that the firm she kinda likes has a good number of articles online about other firms "taking" this firm's lawyers (including partners), and with the recent layoffs in the market generally she's scared there might be something to that (either the firm is letting lawyers go and they're lateralling or they're jumping ship or I forgot the third thing she said). I told her it's probably just lawyers moving around like usual given the high attrition rates every firm has but she's still seemed worried. I also told her to talk to her school's people and maybe they can put her in contact with someone there to talk to privately.

Oh I also said it's kind of a good thing there are articles about the firm like this cause if it was a crappy firm no one would care about its lawyers lateralling lol She didn't think that was funny.

That question is impossible to answer in the abstract. If a Skadden group decided to jump to (insert firm-name here), that doesn't mean anything. If it's one of the firms that seems to be bleeding partners (I think Dechert has been lately?) you'll get different advice.

It's anon - just say who the firm is. It's anonymous enough not to come back to the person.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby LurkerTurnedMember » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:36 am

That question is impossible to answer in the abstract. If a Skadden group decided to jump to (insert firm-name here), that doesn't mean anything. If it's one of the firms that seems to be bleeding partners (I think Dechert has been lately?) you'll get different advice.

It's anon - just say who the firm is. It's anonymous enough not to come back to the person.


Nah. It's not that big of a deal. And I don't wanna imply any negativity toward a firm when for all I know that negativity doesn't exist. It's not even clear if she'll even make it to a SA offer with the firm, let alone work there post grad.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:14 am

Small practice groups can move firms for all kinds of reasons - firm politics, money, strategic fit, etc. In the time I've been at my firm it has absorbed a couple and lost a couple of these (eg, a partner or two and 3-4 associates). That doesn't mean much, unless of course your friend wants to work in that area. If it's a group that is responsible for a lot of the firm's business, that's more troubling. If it's part of a broader trend, like the firm is losing attorneys by the dozen, that's more troubling too.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby rpupkin » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:04 pm

Posters are talking about two completely different things in this thread.

One thing is normal associate attrition. At pretty much any big law firm, a class of incoming associates will slowly erode over a period of about seven years. This is normal and built into the big law hiring model. When associates depart under this model, no one is going to write an article about it.

The other thing—which is probably the thing that OP's friend has been reading articles about—is the situation where a small team of lawyers within a practice group leaves to join another firm. This can happen for all kinds of reasons, and is not generally a sign that a law firm is in trouble. The most common reason for it is that there are senior partners within a practice group who hog up a lot of the clients, and another partner or partners in the group think that they'll have more autonomy at another firm. When a partner or partners leave in this situation, they'll often (but certainly not always) take a couple associates and maybe some staff with them. Again, this does not mean that the firm is in trouble—in fact, if relatively junior partners in a practice group are in a position to become rainmakers somewhere else, it could be a sign that the firm is doing quite well, because it's basically breeding successful partners.

There are exceptions to the above. If a firm sees multiple rainmaking partners leave within a short window (see what happened to Dewey a few years ago), that could be a sign that the firm is taking on water and could soon sink. But that's probably not what's going on at the firm the OP's friend is interested in.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Wild Card » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:50% at year 4 and 70% by year 5 leave on average for big firms


"Leave" = "are fired" ?

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:12 pm

Dechert's turnover is insane. One lawyer said most first years have been let go. That seems steep, but a substantial number have been and it's not really performance based. It's largely arbitrary, and due to financial woes. It's a fine firm to summer at if you're smart enough to use 3L OCI to go to a big law firm that's less of a revolving door or isn't imploding.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My wife and I have been in Biglaw a total of ten years. Me at two firms and her at one. I would say by year five 70-80% of your summer class is gone. Laterals come in and out and last roughly two years. So ya, I'd say the vast majority of folks who get Biglaw stay in it for seven years max. As for the money, it's not all that much after loans, rent and taxes (plus a Wedding). We have a savings in the 400k range (and no debt finally) but it's not like we can stop working or that we go party every week.


If ten = total and you've both been in biglaw for 5 then I'm going to have to call bullshit. Not all that much? You've saved 400k in 5 years, paid off all your debt (although unclear how much there was), and apparently paid for a wedding? You have a weird conception of money, are lying, or don't spend at all. Do you travel? Dine out? Live in a shack? Drive for Uber? What's the secret?

I'm nearing the end of my second year and desperately want out of this terrible field but haven't even come close to getting my net worth back to zero. I admit I don't have a high tolerance for the hours (honestly 2000 is a lot more than I want to work) but it's the constant stress that is killing me. My firm has had mild turnover (1 departure every six months or so) and I can't see myself making it past the end of my fourth year. Midlevels and seniors have it the absolute worst.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My wife and I have been in Biglaw a total of ten years. Me at two firms and her at one. I would say by year five 70-80% of your summer class is gone. Laterals come in and out and last roughly two years. So ya, I'd say the vast majority of folks who get Biglaw stay in it for seven years max. As for the money, it's not all that much after loans, rent and taxes (plus a Wedding). We have a savings in the 400k range (and no debt finally) but it's not like we can stop working or that we go party every week.


If ten = total and you've both been in biglaw for 5 then I'm going to have to call bullshit. Not all that much? You've saved 400k in 5 years, paid off all your debt (although unclear how much there was), and apparently paid for a wedding? You have a weird conception of money, are lying, or don't spend at all. Do you travel? Dine out? Live in a shack? Drive for Uber? What's the secret?

I'm nearing the end of my second year and desperately want out of this terrible field but haven't even come close to getting my net worth back to zero. I admit I don't have a high tolerance for the hours (honestly 2000 is a lot more than I want to work) but it's the constant stress that is killing me. My firm has had mild turnover (1 departure every six months or so) and I can't see myself making it past the end of my fourth year. Midlevels and seniors have it the absolute worst.


You'd be surprised. I know someone who's a senior associate (7-8yrs) who has been incredibly hardworking and frugal and has saved 700-800k. The "secret" was not having a car / relying on public transport, getting huge bonuses from hours billed, not having a lot of student loans to begin with, and always having roommates to split rent with.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:35 pm

Live like you're making 75k and with market bonuses you'll put away around 75k a year as a junior, more as a senior. It's not rocket science. And that's still more than many of your peers in government and public interest (and nonlawyers) make.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby sublime » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My wife and I have been in Biglaw a total of ten years. Me at two firms and her at one. I would say by year five 70-80% of your summer class is gone. Laterals come in and out and last roughly two years. So ya, I'd say the vast majority of folks who get Biglaw stay in it for seven years max. As for the money, it's not all that much after loans, rent and taxes (plus a Wedding). We have a savings in the 400k range (and no debt finally) but it's not like we can stop working or that we go party every week.


If ten = total and you've both been in biglaw for 5 then I'm going to have to call bullshit. Not all that much? You've saved 400k in 5 years, paid off all your debt (although unclear how much there was), and apparently paid for a wedding? You have a weird conception of money, are lying, or don't spend at all. Do you travel? Dine out? Live in a shack? Drive for Uber? What's the secret?

I'm nearing the end of my second year and desperately want out of this terrible field but haven't even come close to getting my net worth back to zero. I admit I don't have a high tolerance for the hours (honestly 2000 is a lot more than I want to work) but it's the constant stress that is killing me. My firm has had mild turnover (1 departure every six months or so) and I can't see myself making it past the end of my fourth year. Midlevels and seniors have it the absolute worst.


I'm not op, but double biglaw income with shared expenses goes hard.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby stego » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:07 pm

Wild Card wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:50% at year 4 and 70% by year 5 leave on average for big firms


"Leave" = "are fired" ?

no. pretty sure that includes people who were fired but is not limited to them. also i'm guessing unless the firm is in trouble and doing mass layoffs, people leaving voluntarily is more common than getting fired

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby jbagelboy » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:15 pm

Saving 400,000 -- not to mention $700k -- is astronomical. I mean incomprehensible. I don't feel that I'll ever have that (I'll be impressed if I pay off my loans)

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby cron1834 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:35 am

jbagelboy wrote:Saving 400,000 -- not to mention $700k -- is astronomical. I mean incomprehensible. I don't feel that I'll ever have that (I'll be impressed if I pay off my loans)

I'll be starting in the fall, and I feel like this exactly.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:12 pm

jbagelboy wrote:Saving 400,000 -- not to mention $700k -- is astronomical. I mean incomprehensible. I don't feel that I'll ever have that (I'll be impressed if I pay off my loans)

Remember that two fifth year associates (the 400k anecdote) are making $125k+ just in market bonuses. It's really not inconceivable to save something like a combined $150k/year above and beyond that on a combined $520k salary. So there's 200k saved in a single year.

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Re: What's a common turnover of lawyers at a big firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:23 pm

Third year here. About 60% of my class gone by end of year 2. About 75%-80% now gone at year 3.




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