Anonymous User wrote:Just a few brief counterpoints from a midlevel litigator about litigation since it seems to be getting boosted pretty heavily ITT:
1) The exit options are, in general, far worse than corporate. Once you are a big firm litigator, its is exceptionally difficult to do anything other than litigation. In-house opps are usually very limited (non-existent for some niches) and gov. will permanently cap your salary and career.
2) While you may have some more predictability than corporate work, that doesn't mean that it's predictable. I've still had many weekends and nights blown up by last minute unexpected work. Other side files a Friday ex parte? Too bad. Senior associate or partner doesn't get around to looking at your assignment until Friday afternoon and needs massive revisions by Monday? Too bad. Junior gives you unusable work and you have to fix it all yourself? There goes your night. Also, from a longer-term perspective, being slow in lit can be much more dangerous than being slow in corporate. If you anchor cases that you thought were going to get you through the next few months/years settle, you're screwed. And then it can take a while to get enough matters and work to get back to full time. If you get a string of poorly timed settlements, you could be out.
3) The work can often be just as tedious. Drafting pretrial exhibit lists that have exhibits numbering into the thousands is not fun. Objecting to that list is not fun. Drafting interrogatory answers, etc... it's not like litigation is some endless fountain of intellectual stimulation.
Agreed entirely with points two and three.
I agree with 2 and 3. I don't have enough experience to comment on 1.
I fight 2. I may not respond until the next day if people are emailing me late at night. If they aren't organized enough to email during business hours, that's their problem. I think it's always worth testing people on this. If they don't notice that I don't respond or don't care, I'll keep doing that. If they get mad, I may be more cautious with how I act around them.
Despite what people say, I do not operate a 24/7 on-call service. I worry about things blowing up and how it looks that I'm slow to respond, but my time and other activities I'm doing are more valuable than staying up late for fake deadlines and the worry I have. One great thing about litigation is that everyone knows the real deadlines--the filing deadlines. When someone wants to posture/blow smoke that something is needed "ASAP," it's usually not. You can either say no (risky depending on supervisor), say yes and do it later, or ignore it and do it when you can, knowing that nothing will happen except perhaps a negative performance review. The court will not enter a default judgment. I had some negative comments about this on a recent review, and I negatively reviewed that supervisor as well, as he increased the pressure in the work environment and led us to produce lower quality work so that he could get a gold star by sending partners documents that they didn't review for several days late at night and on weekends.
I very much enjoy litigation. It's what I want to do (thank goodness). Unfortunately, because big firm rates are so high (far too high for litigation in my opinion), the "litigation" we get often involves case teams of 10 or more attorneys over various offices. This leads to limited substantive responsibility for anyone except senior associates, or in many (perhaps most) cases, partners. Other offices send me the trash work they don't want to do. At my firm, it appears that someone needs at least 20 years of experience to argue discovery motions and attend status conferences. The partners do not make an effort to let associates speak in court, except in pro bono. They hoard that for themselves. In my pro bono cases, I just go to court and don't tell anyone until I get back because I don't really care, and neither do they.
A lot of the "litigation" (regulatory, white collar, antitrust, securities) work is more or less professional document review. Find documents saying X or documents that seem interesting and summarize them. There is no legal argument associated (i.e. why document x relates to x legal claim). I call this "practicing facts." It's good to learn how to argue about facts, but that alone is not what I want to do.
I'll be leaving a big firm for a boutique firm soon. Big firm litigation has no future. I'm a third-year associate, and seventh years are either doing what I do now or supervising junior associates doing it. That's not where I want to be in four years. Perhaps at a boutique I can work on more interesting cases (I like breach of contract) and have more substantive experience (maybe speak in a courtroom, draft more substantive motions, etc.) That won't happen here.