I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 327223
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:06 pm

kykiske wrote:To OP:

When you were in biglaw, how many depositions (on billable files) did you get to take, and how many billable hearings did you appear for in which you personally argued? Or, rather, were you simply grinding out discovery responses, motions, and research memos?

I was never in "biglaw," so I have no personal foundation to comment on the daily life of a biglaw associate. My classmates who went to regional large firms are telling me they have yet to take a single billable deposition or argue a motion.

I'm at a pretty small firm (~20 lawyers) and I've taken a handful of depositions and appeared for non-dispositive motion hearings.

I find taking depositions and arguing at hearings to be quite fun.


I did not take a deposition and I did not argue at a billable hearing. I conducted interviews in internal investigations and was starting to have some more client contact when I left. The partners definitely do rely on you to know the facts - and, to a degree, the law - cold in the cases you are working on, so it's not like you're not adding any value at all and you're just a billing automaton. What would get frustrating for me is that you're doing research and/or learning the case so that you can pass that information onto someone else, who then writes it, who might pass it on to someone else to revise/rewrite. You're often feeling like you are trying to channel the mindsets of multiple people, instead of just taking every step on your own and carrying it through.

I did argue some pro bono hearings. An associate below me got to argue before the Court of Appeals on one of those cases. (There was a companion state court of appeals proceeding that I was handling.)

Anonymous User
Posts: 327223
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:11 pm

Roy McAvoy wrote:Do you have any idea how your comp stacks up to other firms of (generally) this same size in your area? I guess I'm really asking if this is a typical comp structure for small firms like yours, i.e. base salary far below big law but you can make a big chunk of it up based on how much you decide to work.


That's a good question. I wish I knew the answer to it, though I suspect, judging by how well my boss seems to be doing as the main partner/owner of the firm, that this is probably pretty high up on the suburban payscale in this market. That said, I'm not in the poshest pocket of suburbia, so there might be more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, though with a higher COL.

User avatar
Roy McAvoy

Bronze
Posts: 132
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:55 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Roy McAvoy » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Roy McAvoy wrote:Do you have any idea how your comp stacks up to other firms of (generally) this same size in your area? I guess I'm really asking if this is a typical comp structure for small firms like yours, i.e. base salary far below big law but you can make a big chunk of it up based on how much you decide to work.


That's a good question. I wish I knew the answer to it, though I suspect, judging by how well my boss seems to be doing as the main partner/owner of the firm, that this is probably pretty high up on the suburban payscale in this market. That said, I'm not in the poshest pocket of suburbia, so there might be more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, though with a higher COL.


Makes sense, thanks. The firms I've heard of with comp structures like that generally do it with a virtual model in patent prosecution, and they can do that because there's hardly any overhead. Interesting to see it in a more typical office environment. Seems like a good gig, I hope it works out.

kykiske

Bronze
Posts: 297
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:12 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby kykiske » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:18 pm

Who knows OP, stay and do some good work for 3-4 years, and become partner. In addition, you'd live a comfortable life AND get to be there for your kids' lives.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327223
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:21 pm

kykiske wrote:Who knows OP, stay and do some good work for 3-4 years, and become partner. In addition, you'd live a comfortable life AND get to be there for your kids' lives.


I can't overstate how much a short commute adds to your quality of life. Some already have that if they live in the city. My commute into the city was a little over an hour, including a 20-minute drive to my train. Plus, like a lot of people in the city, I was at the mercy of a train schedule, which can be hell when you are trying to juggle both the unpredictable demands of firm work and a train schedule.

Now I'm at the office in less than 10 minutes and home in less than 10 minutes. I have a beer in my hand by 6, if I so choose.

Jchance

Silver
Posts: 726
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:17 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Jchance » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I can't overstate how much a short commute adds to your quality of life. Some already have that if they live in the city. My commute into the city was a little over an hour, including a 20-minute drive to my train. Plus, like a lot of people in the city, I was at the mercy of a train schedule, which can be hell when you are trying to juggle both the unpredictable demands of firm work and a train schedule.

Now I'm at the office in less than 10 minutes and home in less than 10 minutes. I have a beer in my hand by 6, if I so choose.


+1. The short commute (10 mins or less) makes biglaw so much more bearable.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse

Diamond
Posts: 29306
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:37 pm

Rahviveh wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Rahviveh wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:How is the quality of the work? Is it complex/interesting enough that you feel like you could build a career at this small firm?


So some of it is and some of it isn't. It's certainly not the complex commercial litigation cases that you get at a V20 firm, the kind of antitrust or big bankruptcy cases I was taking on before. Some of the cases are laughably simple - some asshole didn't pay our client for remodeling their house, and I have to go play Johnny Bill Collector. Some of them are more interesting summary judgment proceedings and such. There are some decent legal issues to get my wrap my head around.

What makes it fun is the autonomy. Something is handed off to me, and I get to devise the arguments and write the brief from scratch. The partner or senior associate might make suggestions or brainstorm or say he wants something mentioned in it, but for the most part it's hands off.

I think I've written three or four briefs here at this point, and no one has changed a word of any of them. It's a really fun way to work, without eight people's hands in the cookie jar on everything you do.


How embarrassing. What was the point of going to a T6 if you're going to practice shitlaw anyways?

Lol. Bitter much?


You're not in biglaw lit, you shouldn't be posting in these threads at all

I don't need to be in biglaw lit to tell when someone's being an asshole. (Note I'm not saying you're wrong, just that you're being an asshole.)

1styearlateral

Silver
Posts: 836
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby 1styearlateral » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:40 pm

Rahviveh wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:How is the quality of the work? Is it complex/interesting enough that you feel like you could build a career at this small firm?


So some of it is and some of it isn't. It's certainly not the complex commercial litigation cases that you get at a V20 firm, the kind of antitrust or big bankruptcy cases I was taking on before. Some of the cases are laughably simple - some asshole didn't pay our client for remodeling their house, and I have to go play Johnny Bill Collector. Some of them are more interesting summary judgment proceedings and such. There are some decent legal issues to get my wrap my head around.

What makes it fun is the autonomy. Something is handed off to me, and I get to devise the arguments and write the brief from scratch. The partner or senior associate might make suggestions or brainstorm or say he wants something mentioned in it, but for the most part it's hands off.

I think I've written three or four briefs here at this point, and no one has changed a word of any of them. It's a really fun way to work, without eight people's hands in the cookie jar on everything you do.


How embarrassing. What was the point of going to a T6 if you're going to practice shitlaw anyways?

To be fair, there are plenty of T6 graduates who end up practicing shitlaw because they just can't hack it at the bigger firms. It really takes a certain kind of personality to make it 8+ years in biglaw and I don't necessarily believe that law school ranking is indicative of that.

lolwat

Silver
Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:30 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby lolwat » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:55 pm

I find the term "can't hack it" a little amusing for biglaw, honestly, since it's just a huge fucking grind that will pay better but never get better. Most people voluntarily choose to go elsewhere with better hours and qol, better people (sometimes), better/more substantive experience, and still decent pay.

anonanonny

New
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:24 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby anonanonny » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:59 pm

Do you have any advice on finding a job like this? This sounds like a great gig. Congrats on making the switch!

Anonymous User
Posts: 327223
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:02 pm

1styearlateral wrote:To be fair, there are plenty of T6 graduates who end up practicing shitlaw because they just can't hack it at the bigger firms. It really takes a certain kind of personality to make it 8+ years in biglaw and I don't necessarily believe that law school ranking is indicative of that.


I agree it takes a certain type of personality. But I think that "can't hack it at the bigger firms" implies that people who leave actually desire to climb the ladder at such places. Life is short, and that is really driven home when you have children. There goes kindergarten. There goes first grade. There goes second grade. Last fall, I missed Halloween because I was out of town preparing a witness for trial. That was pretty devastating, personally. Another example, in late March, I was getting ready to watch the Final Four games with the family. We hung up basketball decorations in the basement and everything. Just as the teams are headed onto the court for the center jump, I get an email (this is Saturday night) from a partner who I hadn't heard from for two weeks, at least, who lived halfway across the country and who I'd met face to face just once. He needed something, immediately. (In fairness, the same guy emailed me the day I was leaving and told me I was a "wonderful lawyer" and wished me luck.)

Can't hack it? Eh, I guess. I could also whack myself in the head with a hammer for an hour every day to show I could do it. But why would I want to?

A lot of this has to do with how tied your identity is in practicing biglaw, or its equivalents (A-USA, GC at a Fortune 500 company, etc.). I just ... didn't care enough about it, or the marginal difference in earning potential, to stick with it day after day after day.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327223
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:15 pm

And don't get me wrong. I don't want to pooh-pooh the tenacity it requires to forge ahead in biglaw and, in particular, to make (and succeed) as partner. I have tremendous respect for the people who do. But a lot of them like it, first of all. And there are probably going to be tradeoffs.

1styearlateral

Silver
Posts: 836
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby 1styearlateral » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
1styearlateral wrote:To be fair, there are plenty of T6 graduates who end up practicing shitlaw because they just can't hack it at the bigger firms. It really takes a certain kind of personality to make it 8+ years in biglaw and I don't necessarily believe that law school ranking is indicative of that.


I agree it takes a certain type of personality. But I think that "can't hack it at the bigger firms" implies that people who leave actually desire to climb the ladder at such places. Life is short, and that is really driven home when you have children. There goes kindergarten. There goes first grade. There goes second grade. Last fall, I missed Halloween because I was out of town preparing a witness for trial. That was pretty devastating, personally. Another example, in late March, I was getting ready to watch the Final Four games with the family. We hung up basketball decorations in the basement and everything. Just as the teams are headed onto the court for the center jump, I get an email (this is Saturday night) from a partner who I hadn't heard from for two weeks, at least, who lived halfway across the country and who I'd met face to face just once. He needed something, immediately. (In fairness, the same guy emailed me the day I was leaving and told me I was a "wonderful lawyer" and wished me luck.)

Can't hack it? Eh, I guess. I could also whack myself in the head with a hammer for an hour every day to show I could do it. But why would I want to?

A lot of this has to do with how tied your identity is in practicing biglaw, or its equivalents (A-USA, GC at a Fortune 500 company, etc.). I just ... didn't care enough about it, or the marginal difference in earning potential, to stick with it day after day after day.

I agree. I wasn't specifically talking about you, just generalizing my observations over the years. Not saying you or similarly-situated people couldn't stick it out, but like you said, why bother really. It's not worth it. When you make partner at these big firms, especially in NYC, it's like winning a pie eating contest where the only prize is more pie. You really need to be able to prioritize work over all else, and most people aren't willing to make those sacrifices. I'm at a smaller lit boutique and will be looking to move in house at some point in the next couple of years for the exact reasons you've stated.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327223
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:24 pm

1styearlateral wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
1styearlateral wrote:To be fair, there are plenty of T6 graduates who end up practicing shitlaw because they just can't hack it at the bigger firms. It really takes a certain kind of personality to make it 8+ years in biglaw and I don't necessarily believe that law school ranking is indicative of that.


I agree it takes a certain type of personality. But I think that "can't hack it at the bigger firms" implies that people who leave actually desire to climb the ladder at such places. Life is short, and that is really driven home when you have children. There goes kindergarten. There goes first grade. There goes second grade. Last fall, I missed Halloween because I was out of town preparing a witness for trial. That was pretty devastating, personally. Another example, in late March, I was getting ready to watch the Final Four games with the family. We hung up basketball decorations in the basement and everything. Just as the teams are headed onto the court for the center jump, I get an email (this is Saturday night) from a partner who I hadn't heard from for two weeks, at least, who lived halfway across the country and who I'd met face to face just once. He needed something, immediately. (In fairness, the same guy emailed me the day I was leaving and told me I was a "wonderful lawyer" and wished me luck.)

Can't hack it? Eh, I guess. I could also whack myself in the head with a hammer for an hour every day to show I could do it. But why would I want to?

A lot of this has to do with how tied your identity is in practicing biglaw, or its equivalents (A-USA, GC at a Fortune 500 company, etc.). I just ... didn't care enough about it, or the marginal difference in earning potential, to stick with it day after day after day.

I agree. I wasn't specifically talking about you, just generalizing my observations over the years. Not saying you or similarly-situated people couldn't stick it out, but like you said, why bother really. It's not worth it. When you make partner at these big firms, especially in NYC, it's like winning a pie eating contest where the only prize is more pie. You really need to be able to prioritize work over all else, and most people aren't willing to make those sacrifices. I'm at a smaller lit boutique and will be looking to move in house at some point in the next couple of years for the exact reasons you've stated.


Yeah, I knew you were just being colloquial. But you gave me the soap box, I was going to take it. :)

Anonymous User
Posts: 327223
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
1styearlateral wrote:To be fair, there are plenty of T6 graduates who end up practicing shitlaw because they just can't hack it at the bigger firms. It really takes a certain kind of personality to make it 8+ years in biglaw and I don't necessarily believe that law school ranking is indicative of that.


I agree it takes a certain type of personality. But I think that "can't hack it at the bigger firms" implies that people who leave actually desire to climb the ladder at such places. Life is short, and that is really driven home when you have children. There goes kindergarten. There goes first grade. There goes second grade. Last fall, I missed Halloween because I was out of town preparing a witness for trial. That was pretty devastating, personally. Another example, in late March, I was getting ready to watch the Final Four games with the family. We hung up basketball decorations in the basement and everything. Just as the teams are headed onto the court for the center jump, I get an email (this is Saturday night) from a partner who I hadn't heard from for two weeks, at least, who lived halfway across the country and who I'd met face to face just once. He needed something, immediately. (In fairness, the same guy emailed me the day I was leaving and told me I was a "wonderful lawyer" and wished me luck.)

Can't hack it? Eh, I guess. I could also whack myself in the head with a hammer for an hour every day to show I could do it. But why would I want to?

A lot of this has to do with how tied your identity is in practicing biglaw, or its equivalents (A-USA, GC at a Fortune 500 company, etc.). I just ... didn't care enough about it, or the marginal difference in earning potential, to stick with it day after day after day.


OP, your insights here are really terrific and helpful to me. Thanks for posting this. I am about to be a fourth year in September in NYC in a transactional group. I have thoughts of starting to look in NJ where my family is from soon, for all of the same reasons you have mentioned in this thread.

Question for you - in the event that you ever wanted to go back to biglaw or to a larger firm (maybe a mid-sized firm), do you think this experience could possibly hinder that, or will your time in biglaw be your time in biglaw, from a resume perspective. I am just worried that if I leave biglaw with 3-4 years of experience and go somewhere similar to what you're doing in suburban NJ, and then after 2 years or so want to go in house or to a larger firm or even to practice in a mid-sized legal market (think Denver or Philadelphia), that my experience in biglaw would be sort of "negated" by the current firm - meaning like, those places are happy to get someone coming from a prestigious biglaw firm, but not someone coming from a small suburban firm. Any thoughts?

Veil of Ignorance

Bronze
Posts: 329
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:22 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Veil of Ignorance » Tue Aug 01, 2017 7:36 pm

Thanks for posting this, after reading so much negative stuff about law practice I had no idea that a six figure salary and reasonable work-life balance was possible. This gives me hope. What is vacation like? Could you save it up all year then take like a month off?

Anonymous User
Posts: 327223
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 01, 2017 7:46 pm

Veil of Ignorance wrote:Thanks for posting this, after reading so much negative stuff about law practice I had no idea that a six figure salary and reasonable work-life balance was possible. This gives me hope. What is vacation like? Could you save it up all year then take like a month off?


There's no set vacation time. Just work reasonably hard all year, keep people reasonably in the loop, handle your cases. The other associate is in Europe for two weeks right now.

lolwat

Silver
Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:30 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby lolwat » Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:01 pm

Veil of Ignorance wrote:Thanks for posting this, after reading so much negative stuff about law practice I had no idea that a six figure salary and reasonable work-life balance was possible. This gives me hope. What is vacation like? Could you save it up all year then take like a month off?


I think people underestimate the possibility of getting a decent salary with a reasonable work life balance, but the opportunities definitely don't come around incredibly often. Small firms are small for a reason (they don't hire much) and government jobs that pay well are pretty competitive. I think in CA every govt job or job in the courts pay like 100k+ or close to it if you have a couple years of experience. The salary just caps out at mid to high 100s so you'll never get rich.

1styearlateral

Silver
Posts: 836
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby 1styearlateral » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:37 am

lolwat wrote:
Veil of Ignorance wrote:Thanks for posting this, after reading so much negative stuff about law practice I had no idea that a six figure salary and reasonable work-life balance was possible. This gives me hope. What is vacation like? Could you save it up all year then take like a month off?


I think people underestimate the possibility of getting a decent salary with a reasonable work life balance, but the opportunities definitely don't come around incredibly often. Small firms are small for a reason (they don't hire much) and government jobs that pay well are pretty competitive. I think in CA every govt job or job in the courts pay like 100k+ or close to it if you have a couple years of experience. The salary just caps out at mid to high 100s so you'll never get rich.

Are there in-house gigs that pay 300, 400, 500k/year? A million? Genuinely asking because it seems that a lot of the in-house opportunities are paying somewhere between 120-250k.

User avatar
jchiles

Silver
Posts: 1267
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:49 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby jchiles » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:53 am

does your firm have enough work for you to get 2000 billed hours a year, or will some chunk of that have to come from new business you bring in?

lolwat

Silver
Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:30 pm

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby lolwat » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:03 am

1styearlateral wrote:
lolwat wrote:
Veil of Ignorance wrote:Thanks for posting this, after reading so much negative stuff about law practice I had no idea that a six figure salary and reasonable work-life balance was possible. This gives me hope. What is vacation like? Could you save it up all year then take like a month off?


I think people underestimate the possibility of getting a decent salary with a reasonable work life balance, but the opportunities definitely don't come around incredibly often. Small firms are small for a reason (they don't hire much) and government jobs that pay well are pretty competitive. I think in CA every govt job or job in the courts pay like 100k+ or close to it if you have a couple years of experience. The salary just caps out at mid to high 100s so you'll never get rich.

Are there in-house gigs that pay 300, 400, 500k/year? A million? Genuinely asking because it seems that a lot of the in-house opportunities are paying somewhere between 120-250k.


In-house I honestly don't know. Most of the people lateraling in-house seem to do so at the 2-5 year mark which makes 120-250k really attractive. I can only guess there are higher paid positions at higher levels (i cannot imagine the GC /chief legal officer people at big cos like Google are not being paid extremely well) but I doubt you'd get that much of a work life balance there. But I'm sort of talking out of my ass here :)

User avatar
bruinfan10

Silver
Posts: 634
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 12:25 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby bruinfan10 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:19 am

Veil of Ignorance wrote:Thanks for posting this, after reading so much negative stuff about law practice I had no idea that a six figure salary and reasonable work-life balance was possible. This gives me hope. What is vacation like? Could you save it up all year then take like a month off?

wait...is billing 2000 hours for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars less compensation than biglaw an exit to a "reasonable work-life balance" now? particularly when this small firm seems to expect a significant investment of time in business development? OP seems to have taken a massive pay cut and gotten more substantive work, but he's still working biglaw hours. I could bill 2000 at my particular biglaw firm for years and no one would raise an eyebrow, and would be making exponentially more money. how is this a good outcome? And if you're doing the substantive work you wanted, as you say you are, how is there any guarantee that you're not going to be prepping for a trial or a deposition around Halloween or any other holiday? I'm not trying to be negative, I just feel like I'm missing something huge, I don't see how this is better.

Jchance

Silver
Posts: 726
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:17 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Jchance » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:31 am

1styearlateral wrote:Are there in-house gigs that pay 300, 400, 500k/year? A million? Genuinely asking because it seems that a lot of the in-house opportunities are paying somewhere between 120-250k.


E.g., Yahoo's General Counsel gets $1 mil annually.

http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=120278113 ... al-Counsel

Anonymous User
Posts: 327223
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:43 am

bruinfan10 wrote:
Veil of Ignorance wrote:Thanks for posting this, after reading so much negative stuff about law practice I had no idea that a six figure salary and reasonable work-life balance was possible. This gives me hope. What is vacation like? Could you save it up all year then take like a month off?

wait...is billing 2000 hours for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars less compensation than biglaw an exit to a "reasonable work-life balance" now? particularly when this small firm seems to expect a significant investment of time in business development? OP seems to have taken a massive pay cut and gotten more substantive work, but he's still working biglaw hours. I could bill 2000 at my particular biglaw firm for years and no one would raise an eyebrow, and would be making exponentially more money. how is this a good outcome? And if you're doing the substantive work you wanted, as you say you are, how is there any guarantee that you're not going to be prepping for a trial or a deposition around Halloween or any other holiday? I'm not trying to be negative, I just feel like I'm missing something huge, I don't see how this is better.


I think there are a couple of things you might be missing. First of all, billing 2,000 hours is not a typical biglaw workload, though I understand what you're saying - plenty of people coast by on 2,000 hours. They aren't going to make partner, but you can do it for a few years. I typically billed between 2,300 and 2,400 a year (including pro bono hours). And there is much to be said for having control over your hours. I no longer am answering to seven or eight different partners on a given day. I work with three other lawyers. They are all right here, in the office, within shouting distance. They leave at 5:30 or 6, and I can put my phone away for the rest of the night. I have not received a work email on a weekend. I'm not doing menial biglaw tasks (well, discovery always sucks. You aren't going to get away from that.). The other associate here told me that in 10 years or however long it is that he's worked here, he has worked one holiday - Memorial Day a few years ago with a trial looming.

A close friend and I at the big firm were talking a couple years ago, and we agreed that on the list of things that make biglaw a pain in the ass, the raw number of hours were pretty low on the list. People here obsess over that aspect a little too much. It's the surprises, the feeling that the next email or phone call is going to torpedo your day or week or month. And it's the bureaucracy. Oh, my God, the bureaucracy. The time spent on anal, neurotic details that are not going to be outcome-determinative in the case. Drove my nuts. But it's a necessary evil when you have eight or nine people staffed on a case and you have to make things easily decipherable for the person who gets the hand-off. But ... God, the bureaucracy.

My situation is a little different, too, because I lived in the suburbs with a family and commuted into the city. My commute time was cut from about 2 1/2 hours a day to 15-20 minutes a day.

umichman

Bronze
Posts: 332
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:56 am

Re: I recently escaped biglaw for small law. Taking questions.

Postby umichman » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:26 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Veil of Ignorance wrote:Thanks for posting this, after reading so much negative stuff about law practice I had no idea that a six figure salary and reasonable work-life balance was possible. This gives me hope. What is vacation like? Could you save it up all year then take like a month off?

wait...is billing 2000 hours for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars less compensation than biglaw an exit to a "reasonable work-life balance" now? particularly when this small firm seems to expect a significant investment of time in business development? OP seems to have taken a massive pay cut and gotten more substantive work, but he's still working biglaw hours. I could bill 2000 at my particular biglaw firm for years and no one would raise an eyebrow, and would be making exponentially more money. how is this a good outcome? And if you're doing the substantive work you wanted, as you say you are, how is there any guarantee that you're not going to be prepping for a trial or a deposition around Halloween or any other holiday? I'm not trying to be negative, I just feel like I'm missing something huge, I don't see how this is better.


not to state the obvious too much, but 'good outcome' is purely subjective. If this guy found one that he likes and can make it work, that is a good outcome. It sounds like it wouldnt be one for you, but it is likely that you guys derive utility from different aspects of the job.



Return to “Legal Employment�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.