How soon can I leave biglaw?

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How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:22 pm

As I understand it, biglaw employees fall into two camps: those who hate it and those who find it tolerable. I'm in the former camp. I've only been working at my NYC V60 since September, but I feel like it will be a miracle if I make it to January. How soon can I leave? I work in a transactional department--think RE/BK. Are there exit options for people in my practice group into government? I don't mind taking a big pay cut, I just want a job that will allow me to spend time on my hobbies and my girlfriend.

Also, feel free to generally vent about biglaw. It makes me feel better to know others feel the same way.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:05 pm

Same boat. Junior corporate, non-NYC major market. I actually don't even have it bad. Some crazy weeks, but not overwhelming and partners have generally been nice. I just hate the work and find it so boring/useless. People say it gets better, but it seems like it only gets worse in terms of hours and I don't think I have the patience to make it another several years before the work gets more interesting.

Starting to send my resume around and talk to companies. I am trying to make it to year 3, but if I get a good offer before that I am jumping.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:11 pm

This is OP. My partners are not very nice people and my hours suck, but I hate it even on slow days when they aren't in. The worst thing about it, I think, is the insecurity of not knowing when the hammer might fall. I could have a slow day, leave at 7:30 and go home, only to get an urgent email at 11:00 p.m. telling me to get something done ASAP. Biglaw takes a lot of your time, and the time it doesn't take it qualifies: your interest in your own free time is determinable and can revert to the partners at any moment.

I just can't believe I worked so hard to get to *this*, you know?

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby BernieTrump » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:31 pm

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Last edited by BernieTrump on Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:20 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:31 pm

Chicago biglaw first year. I hate my job. I think you have to get pretty lucky with in-house roles this early, but there are likely more opportunities in NYC than in other areas.

I got a really good government offer but it was in NYC and I didn't want to leave my SO and friends. I'm targeting government right now because I don't think I can last the required 3-4 years to land a good in-house job.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:43 pm

BernieTrump wrote:I have a small number of questions: Did this blindside you? Did you not hear cautions? Did you not think they applied to you for one reason or another? Think people were just complainers? I'm not asking to attack you. I'm morbidly interested. When I went through law school, students knew biglaw was bad, but blogs/forums didn't really exist as they do now (there were a few, but they were filled with law students, as that was the population using them. There weren't people who had been using them or blogging for a decade and had a lot of experience in biglaw), so complaints were in-real-life anecdotes from people who were out or on their way out of biglaw (clearly bitter people that couldn't make it, in my contemporary view), not a universal drumbeat of "not worth it" like what's out there now. Now it seems everything you find online (other than what firms put out) tells a more realistic story. You have current partners, associates, counsel putting a time machine on their Christmas lists and anonymously, pseudonymously, or directly saying they wish they could turn back time and avoid law, or at least big firm practice. And those people, myself included, graduated with less than $100K in debt in today's dollars. I'd be interested in what law students (and prelaws) actually see/hear/think now, 12+ years after me.


Looking back on it now, I knew that it was going to be bad. But I was naive, in thinking that I could do it fairly easily for a year, and in thinking that there would be a lot of exit options after just one. I also had a lot to prove.

I don't have credentials to get me into another profession. I have a strong passion for an artistic medium, but that doesn't pay. Hopefully I can find something somewhere that will allow me to leave work at 6:00 p.m., even for half of what I'm making now.

As I write this, and the clock rounds off the twelfth hour, I'm staring down at least another full hour of work before I can go to bed. And it's only Tuesday.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:17 am

BernieTrump wrote:I have a small number of questions: Did this blindside you? Did you not hear cautions? Did you not think they applied to you for one reason or another? Think people were just complainers? I'm not asking to attack you. I'm morbidly interested. When I went through law school, students knew biglaw was bad, but blogs/forums didn't really exist as they do now (there were a few, but they were filled with law students, as that was the population using them. There weren't people who had been using them or blogging for a decade and had a lot of experience in biglaw), so complaints were in-real-life anecdotes from people who were out or on their way out of biglaw (clearly bitter people that couldn't make it, in my contemporary view), not a universal drumbeat of "not worth it" like what's out there now. Now it seems everything you find online (other than what firms put out) tells a more realistic story. You have current partners, associates, counsel putting a time machine on their Christmas lists and anonymously, pseudonymously, or directly saying they wish they could turn back time and avoid law, or at least big firm practice. And those people, myself included, graduated with less than $100K in debt in today's dollars. I'd be interested in what law students (and prelaws) actually see/hear/think now, 12+ years after me.


I also knew it would be bad, but I thought the money and the prestige would be more than worth it. It's easy to tell yourself that you can get through biglaw as a law student, because you aren't experiencing any of the bad parts and only thinking about the good parts. I had an offer to work in basically my dream job for the government and I turned it down because the pay wasn't nearly as good and it wasn't prestigious. I thought I was going to be a general counsel of a Fortune 500 company or a PE firm or something. Little did I know, as I do now, that I would rather die than work seven to ten years in biglaw and then stay on the grind in lofty corporate legal positions.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:I just hate the work and find it so boring/useless.


This is me as well. I work in "regional" biglaw, where my hours aren't that bad--particularly when compared to what people have posted in the "Hours Check" thread. And I have good friends among the associates at my firm. But like BernieTrump said, the work is "indescribably tedious." I can't imagine what it would be like to do this job for the next 10-20 years.

I've been looking to lateral for multiple reasons and teaching myself how to code. But I don't know if I'm just lying to myself when I think that lateraling will help me hate the job any less, and I think it would take me a while (couple years, maybe?) to build marketable coding skills to make a career change--if that's even possible. So for now, I'm stuck.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 19, 2017 1:42 pm

BernieTrump wrote:I wouldn't bother lateraling firms. Everyone does it, but no one finds something better. It's the industry/lifestyle/business model, and the indescribably tedious work, not your firm. It matters if you work entirely for someone who is great/terrible, but in big practice groups at nearly all firms, you work with and for lots of people, and the average of those people will be the same. Furthermore, be careful not to accept a terrible $50K tinylaw position, either.


I don't disagree with most of your post, but will say that I lateraled and found my new firm much more pleasant than my last firm. There are still some pretty nasty people to work with, but there are fewer and, perhaps more importantly, I haven't been siloed into being "their associate" like I was at my first firm. That being said, others lateral and expect the grass to be greener only to find the new firm or new partners worse. It's still biglaw, and even if I'm not dreading work anymore it isn't something I want to do long term. If I had landed some of the non-law opportunities I've had over the past few years, I would've jumped ship immediately.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby sanzgo » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:06 pm

not to hijack this thread...

but is all of biglaw really that tedious and non-intellectual or is it just like that for junior associates? i come from a math/finance background and i loved trading in my previous job b/c of how intellectual it was. i couldn't sleep many days but that was only b/c i was addicted to the psychological and intellectual thrill of the job.

shit the way biglaw responsibilities are described on this site, it seems like it's a job a high-schooler can do but that you've just gotta do perfectly (dot the i's, cross the t's) or else you endure the wrath of a partner for something that seems uber-trivial.

surely the jobs at lit boutiques like barlit beck or USAO's are much more intellectually satisfying..??? could someone let me know whether there's still light at the end of the tunnel here lol

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:15 pm

sanzgo wrote:not to hijack this thread...

but is all of biglaw really that tedious and non-intellectual or is it just like that for junior associates? i come from a math/finance background and i loved trading in my previous job b/c of how intellectual it was. i couldn't sleep many days but that was only b/c i was addicted to the psychological and intellectual thrill of the job.

shit the way biglaw responsibilities are described on this site, it seems like it's a job a high-schooler can do but that you've just gotta do perfectly (dot the i's, cross the t's) or else you endure the wrath of a partner for something that seems uber-trivial.

surely the jobs at lit boutiques like barlit beck or USAO's are much more intellectually satisfying..??? could someone let me know whether there's still light at the end of the tunnel here lol


At least in my group (sub practice of corporate that isn't M&A), no. There's nothing intellectual about making sure a change to one section carries through the rest of the document or ancillaries. I would say none of my friends in corporate feel intellectually stimulated more than 5% of the time. Reading a company's CIM is about it for me.

Litigation can (and does for a majority of my lit friends) provide a rewarding and intellectual challenge, but your exit options are very limited. Most biglaw lit sucks though. USAO would be great. I have no clue about boutiques.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:43 pm

Op, I really want to make it about fifteen months to secure the bonus and pay off my loans completely. Maybe you're in a similar position

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I just hate the work and find it so boring/useless.


This is me as well. I work in "regional" biglaw, where my hours aren't that bad--particularly when compared to what people have posted in the "Hours Check" thread. And I have good friends among the associates at my firm. But like BernieTrump said, the work is "indescribably tedious." I can't imagine what it would be like to do this job for the next 10-20 years.

I've been looking to lateral for multiple reasons and teaching myself how to code. But I don't know if I'm just lying to myself when I think that lateraling will help me hate the job any less, and I think it would take me a while (couple years, maybe?) to build marketable coding skills to make a career change--if that's even possible. So for now, I'm stuck.


For those of us not in Biglaw, could you shed some light on what the tedious work is? Like checking for typos or something? I work in the govt., and have a 8-5 for the most part. I don't have billable hours but I have to get my work done, so that requires some weekends. But I get to work from home so it's not a big deal. My work is a grind but I enjoy it for the most part and the people I work with.

It's funny how the grass always seems greener. I always wanted to do biglaw but wasn't able to because of my grades. Sure I have reasonable hours, a pension and benefits, but I just make some $50k. But it seems like folks here would want to switch with me if they could.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Phil Brooks » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:09 pm

I practice international arbitration, international trade and public international law. It is wonderfully intellectual and legitimately interesting. That is the tradeoff for the lifestyle.

From the minute I started law school I zeroed in on a firm that would allow me to practice in these fields.

If you just take the path of least resistance at each step and let yourself fall into a generic corporate or commercial litigation group, yes, it will not be interesting, and there will be little redeeming about it. You will likely have better exit options than I will, though.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby sanzgo » Wed Jul 19, 2017 6:47 pm

Phil Brooks wrote:I practice international arbitration, international trade and public international law. It is wonderfully intellectual and legitimately interesting. That is the tradeoff for the lifestyle.

From the minute I started law school I zeroed in on a firm that would allow me to practice in these fields.

If you just take the path of least resistance at each step and let yourself fall into a generic corporate or commercial litigation group, yes, it will not be interesting, and there will be little redeeming about it. You will likely have better exit options than I will, though.


lol and here i was thinking international law was a myth.

how do you get into international law?

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:31 pm

0L and I'm sorry if this is a no-no

To answer a question re: the tediousness of big law, a friend of mine who is a first year associate at a V10 (Real Estate dept) told me last night that his new project was more or less to go through about 250 leases for a merger between food companies. He had to make sure that I guess certain things didn't transfer under the lease agreements. I know I'm wording this like fucking Charlie from It's Always Sunny because I have no idea what I'm talking about. All I know is he basically said it's like doing "accounting with words." I think this type of work would more or less fall under due diligence.

This is a good friend of mine, about 5 years my senior, and was always happy. Now he's regretting it like a lot of you guys above.


Again, 0L. I just wanted to add that to maybe give a small example of the tedium the work requires.
Last edited by Barack O'Drama on Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Vincent Adultman » Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:54 pm

Barack O'Drama wrote:0L and I'm sorry if this is a no-no

To answer a question about the tediousness of big law, a friend of mine who is a first year associate at a V10 (Real Estate dept) told me last night that his new project was essential to go through about 250 leases for a merger between food companies. He had to make sure that I guess certain things didn't transfer under the lease agreements. I know I'm wording this like fucking Charlie from It's Always Sunny because I have no idea what I'm talking about, all I know is he basically said it's like doing "accounting with words." I think this type of work would more or less fall under due diligence.

This is a good friend of mine, about 5 years my senior, and was always happy. Now he's regretting it like a lot of you guys above.


Again, 0L. I just wanted to add that to maybe give a small example of the tedium the work requires.


Sounds like an assignment/change of control analysis. It's tedious as fuck.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby sanzgo » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:19 pm

Barack O'Drama wrote:0L and I'm sorry if this is a no-no

To answer a question about the tediousness of big law, a friend of mine who is a first year associate at a V10 (Real Estate dept) told me last night that his new project was essential to go through about 250 leases for a merger between food companies. He had to make sure that I guess certain things didn't transfer under the lease agreements. I know I'm wording this like fucking Charlie from It's Always Sunny because I have no idea what I'm talking about, all I know is he basically said it's like doing "accounting with words." I think this type of work would more or less fall under due diligence.

This is a good friend of mine, about 5 years my senior, and was always happy. Now he's regretting it like a lot of you guys above.


Again, 0L. I just wanted to add that to maybe give a small example of the tedium the work requires.


you still wanna go to LS bro?

then again, not everyone is aiming for biglaw

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby deepseapartners » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:32 pm

sanzgo wrote:is all of biglaw really that tedious and non-intellectual or is it just like that for junior associates? i come from a math/finance background and i loved trading in my previous job b/c of how intellectual it was. i couldn't sleep many days but that was only b/c i was addicted to the psychological and intellectual thrill of the job.

The vast majority of transactional Biglaw work is extremely tedious and not that intellectual. There are high stakes, in the sense that an error by a lawyer could cost the company a lot of money, but those are the stakes. Doing a good job means making zero errors, not contributing some incredible value to the deal, because your job is to limit your client's future liability. There's a reason that so many people who stick around focus on critiquing people for things that are, in all likelihood, pretty inconsequential - if you don't have that mindset, you're not going to enjoy the work.

Basically, if you are really into thrilling, intellectually-challenging, high-stakes work, you should try and get hired at a hedge fund or VC fund. If you are into deals, you should be a banker. If you are into creating value, you should be on the business-side. If you are into policy and big-picture intellectual work, you should go work for a think tank. Very specific transactional practices do require you to be extremely smart and apply that intelligence to your work, i.e. FRG, cross-border tax, maybe(?) high-level fund formation, but your generic M&A or cap markets deal will be extremely tedious.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby umichman » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:36 pm

deepseapartners wrote:
sanzgo wrote:is all of biglaw really that tedious and non-intellectual or is it just like that for junior associates? i come from a math/finance background and i loved trading in my previous job b/c of how intellectual it was. i couldn't sleep many days but that was only b/c i was addicted to the psychological and intellectual thrill of the job.

The vast majority of transactional Biglaw work is extremely tedious and not that intellectual. There are high stakes, in the sense that an error by a lawyer could cost the company a lot of money, but those are the stakes. Doing a good job means making zero errors, not contributing some incredible value to the deal, because your job is to limit your client's future liability. There's a reason that so many people who stick around focus on critiquing people for things that are, in all likelihood, pretty inconsequential - if you don't have that mindset, you're not going to enjoy the work.

Basically, if you are really into thrilling, intellectually-challenging, high-stakes work, you should try and get hired at a hedge fund or VC fund. If you are into deals, you should be a banker. If you are into creating value, you should be on the business-side. If you are into policy and big-picture intellectual work, you should go work for a think tank. Very specific transactional practices do require you to be extremely smart and apply that intelligence to your work, i.e. FRG, cross-border tax, maybe(?) high-level fund formation, but your generic M&A or cap markets deal will be extremely tedious.


What is frg

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Vincent Adultman » Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:43 pm

M&A is so much more project and client management than it is intellectually rigorous or interesting. The difficult tax/structuring questions or practice area specific liability analyses are always farmed out to tax or other specialists. So the M&A people are left documenting the structure steps other people have mostly decided and negotiating extremely tedious allocation of risk points.

The day to day is reviewing primary and infinitely many ancillary docs then following up on specialists to make sure they get their work in on time. Because the greatest sin in M&A is being the reason why your client can't close the damn deal.

Things are better when you're an equity partner because you can just talk on the phone about conceptual issues and delegate the really mindless stuff. But man does it suck for almost everyone involved.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby homestyle28 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:34 pm

My theory is that the phenomenon of hating biglaw/being a lawyer is much worse on the transactional side. When kids in law school say they want to do corporate, lots of times they have in mind what the MBAs, consultants, and c-suite people do: coming up with and executing strategies, deals, etc. That's not what corporate lawyers do. Corporate lawyers, by and large, paper deals other folks have already put together. Sure sometimes the M&A or PE partner gets to chime in or they spot something, but they're not creating the deals. And papering deals is terrible work that you don't get any exposure to in law school. "Drafting documents" is glorified find&replace.

Litigation is just closer to what you see on TV. The client hires a lawyer and trusts them to run the case. You take depositions, write motions, have trials etc. Litigation obviously isn't for everyone, but IMO it comes closer to being what people expected going in, so there's a bit less of the disconnect.

ETA: 3rd year assoc Chicago Biglaw Litigator.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby dailygrind » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:06 pm

Another shitty thing about corporate work is the unpredictability of the day to day. Sometimes you get advance warning, but a lot of deals come out of nowhere and suddenly you're going from a slow week to a lost weekend. My understanding is that litigation is a lot more predictable.

The major advantage of corporate is in-house exit options, though. Just not as much need for litigators in-house (though litigators get more gov opportunities).

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby tomwatts » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:13 pm

I tried to do transactional biglaw for about 4 weeks as a summer. At one point, a senior associate described a transaction that I was assigned to (an IPO, maybe?) as "really fun." I asked him, "What makes it fun?" He said that it was fun because it was a wacky Norwegian fishing business, and learning about how the business worked (in order to write disclosures or whatever) was fun. It was at that moment that I realized that even the "fun" parts of transactional practice were excruciatingly boring to me. The boring parts were enough to make me hate my life. So I decided not to do any more transactional work.

Have not regretted it for a moment.

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Re: How soon can I leave biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote: . . .

For those of us not in Biglaw, could you shed some light on what the tedious work is? Like checking for typos or something?


I'm the anon you quoted. The posters above answered your question better than I could have. To walk back a little from what I said earlier, it's a combination of what others have said ITT plus all the other things people hate about law--e.g., long hours, the incentives of different people that combine to make life awful, the fact that no one really cares about what I do unless they perceive that I'm screwing something up (even if I'm not), the replacement of intrinsic values with extrinsic values, etc. The money doesn't help that.

In fairness, I do some regulatory stuff as well, which is more enjoyable because it's more challenging. It has some of the same problems, but it's definitely a step up from my transactional work.



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