Big Fed vs. Big Law

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Anonymous User
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Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:31 pm

I know this subject has been beaten half to death, but I'd like to get some insight given some unique circumstances I have.

I received an offer yesterday from a big law firm. I am a 3L who is not going back to my summer firm. I go to school and have lived in New Orleans for the past ten years, and this firm is a major, worldwide firm that has a small office here. It is basically the only "real" big law firm in town. This is more or less what I went to school for; I always wanted to stay in New Orleans but I didn't want to sacrifice doing high level work to stay here (I did my SA in a major market but really missed home the entire time). I feel like this offer combines the best of both worlds, because I will be working with partners both in New Orleans and in New York, but will get to live in NOLA. My one hesitation in accepting right now, on the spot, is I am waiting to hear from a government honors program where I made it to the final round of interviews.I know it is a competitive program, but I left my interview feeling very confident and think I may receive an offer. Although I could very well NOT get an offer from the feds, in the event that I do, I would like to be able to give the firm a quick response as my offer will have been sitting for some time. On the other hand, if the clear choice is the firm, I would like to withdraw from consideration with the feds and open the potential spot up to someone else. I really want to stay in New Orleans and the biglaw money would be amazing, but I know government benefits and lifestyle is nothing to sneeze at. Additionally, I don't know what working biglaw hours is actually like as I worked in the service industry prior to law school and most weeks I barely worked forty hours (unless there was a major event in town like Mardi Gras). A major consideration for me is also that I really do want to stay in New Orleans, and for government honors I would need to relocate to DC. Any insight would be appreciated.

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twenty
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby twenty » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:39 pm

Loans? Fed will give you PSLF. Biglaw won't.

With feds, you'll make less money up front, but you'll scale up to about 150k eventually. It's not unforeseeable to work for a single agency for 10-20 years. Conversely, for biglaw, you'll make way more money up front, but then the exit options are usually less money + lower stress and hours. I don't know about NOLA specifically. Maybe that bucks the trend a little.

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pancakes3
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:46 pm

you have to accept the offer in hand right now.

the decision of NOLA biglaw v. DC bigfed is a personal decision that you're better prepared to answer than anyone here.

TEIAM
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby TEIAM » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:48 pm

pancakes3 wrote:you have to accept the offer in hand right now.

the decision of NOLA biglaw v. DC bigfed is a personal decision that you're better prepared to answer than anyone here.

I thought NALP requires suggests firms to keep offers open in this situation?

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pancakes3
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:56 pm

TEIAM wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:you have to accept the offer in hand right now.

the decision of NOLA biglaw v. DC bigfed is a personal decision that you're better prepared to answer than anyone here.

I thought NALP requires suggests firms to keep offers open in this situation?


the offer is kept open but not indefinitely (2 weeks iirc) - and i think the timeline is different for 3L offers than SA offers.

we don't know how long it's been since the offer, or what the turnaround on the bigfed response is. my opinion is that he/she accepts now instead of going radio silent for the 14ish days.

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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:57 pm

I won't know about government honors until after Thanksgiving, and the firm asked me to get back to them within two weeks. I am sure they would keep it open if I let them know I am waiting on government honors, I just don't want to keep them waiting if I don't actually want the government honors. I am leaning towards accepting the firm, I just imagined cleaning out my costume closet and having a yard sale to move to DC and it was kind of soul crushing. I know I won't have the same life I had pre-law school as a big law attorney, but even the lawyers in New Orleans get gussied up on Mardi Gras day and that's not really anything you can say about anywhere else.

TEIAM
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby TEIAM » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:58 pm

pancakes3 wrote:
TEIAM wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:you have to accept the offer in hand right now.

the decision of NOLA biglaw v. DC bigfed is a personal decision that you're better prepared to answer than anyone here.

I thought NALP requires suggests firms to keep offers open in this situation?


the offer is kept open but not indefinitely (2 weeks iirc) - and i think the timeline is different for 3L offers than SA offers.

we don't know how long it's been since the offer, or what the turnaround on the bigfed response is. my opinion is that he/she accepts now instead of going radio silent for the 14ish days.

B. Full-Time Employment Provisions
***
2. Candidates may request that an employer extend the deadline to accept the employer’s offer until as late as April 1 if the candidate is actively pursuing positions with public interest or government organizations. Candidates may hold open only one offer in such circumstances. Employers are encouraged to grant such requests.

https://www.nalp.org/fulltextofnalpprinciplesandstandards

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pancakes3
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:03 pm

ok bro.

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unlicensedpotato
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby unlicensedpotato » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:13 pm

TEIAM wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:
TEIAM wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:you have to accept the offer in hand right now.

the decision of NOLA biglaw v. DC bigfed is a personal decision that you're better prepared to answer than anyone here.

I thought NALP requires suggests firms to keep offers open in this situation?


the offer is kept open but not indefinitely (2 weeks iirc) - and i think the timeline is different for 3L offers than SA offers.

we don't know how long it's been since the offer, or what the turnaround on the bigfed response is. my opinion is that he/she accepts now instead of going radio silent for the 14ish days.

B. Full-Time Employment Provisions
***
2. Candidates may request that an employer extend the deadline to accept the employer’s offer until as late as April 1 if the candidate is actively pursuing positions with public interest or government organizations. Candidates may hold open only one offer in such circumstances. Employers are encouraged to grant such requests.

https://www.nalp.org/fulltextofnalpprinciplesandstandards


lol, would not rely on that.

TEIAM
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby TEIAM » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:17 pm

unlicensedpotato wrote:
TEIAM wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:
TEIAM wrote:
pancakes3 wrote:you have to accept the offer in hand right now.

the decision of NOLA biglaw v. DC bigfed is a personal decision that you're better prepared to answer than anyone here.

I thought NALP requires suggests firms to keep offers open in this situation?


the offer is kept open but not indefinitely (2 weeks iirc) - and i think the timeline is different for 3L offers than SA offers.

we don't know how long it's been since the offer, or what the turnaround on the bigfed response is. my opinion is that he/she accepts now instead of going radio silent for the 14ish days.

B. Full-Time Employment Provisions
***
2. Candidates may request that an employer extend the deadline to accept the employer’s offer until as late as April 1 if the candidate is actively pursuing positions with public interest or government organizations. Candidates may hold open only one offer in such circumstances. Employers are encouraged to grant such requests.

https://www.nalp.org/fulltextofnalpprinciplesandstandards


lol, would not rely on that.

Don't trust the publish guidelines, trust random people on the internet that have never dealt with the situation.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:26 pm

I mean, “may” and “encouraged” are clearly not binding. And even if a firm agrees to hold the offer open, I get the concern with not looking committed to the firm if they know you’re considering bigfed.

Personally I think happiness where you live can hardly be overestimated. And I say that as someone who’s spent the last 15 years moving around the country for jobs. Are you someone happier with more work hours in a place you love, or happier with more life-work balance anywhere? (Depending on the agency it may still be a fair amount of work.) Have you been to DC and did you like it?

I also don’t think your whole life path is being set - you may still be able to switch to the feds in future if you want (or go back to NOLA from DC, whichever).

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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:39 pm

Loans are not a concern for me. I went to law school on a full ride. I am going to speak to a friend tomorrow who has worked in both private practice and for the feds (as a doctor, though). I know he worked a lot of hours in private practice but made a lot of money, and he was in a place he didn't like that much. Now he works for the VA in a city he loves. I think his insight will likely be valuable.

I do not want to keep the firm waiting longer than the two weeks they said they would like a response in, especially if I know I am not set on government honors. I don't want to look not excited or not committed, and I don't want to hold them up in their search either since they need an associate for 2018. My only hesitation with the firm is the hours/lifestyle (which I know is a major concern). I have never done anything like big law hours before and my life has been low stress up until this point. Maybe its just imposter syndrome, but I am scared I won't be able to hack it.

As far as honors go- I have been to D.C. twice. Once on a trip, a second time for my interview. It seemed lively and had great restaurants. I am a happy person who can be happy anywhere, but I really do love New Orleans. Its got this special element about it that I know I will miss regardless of where I go. I guess given the fact that I would be choosing between the city I love and what I know will be a wonderful lifestyle, there are a lot of intangibles for me that would make this a hard decision.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:09 pm

The tone of your posts suggests that you should pick NOLA. It sounds like you're particularly tied to that city and the NOLA culture, which is considerably different than what you'll find in DC (DC is pretty culture-less and is a very transient city where young professionals come to start their careers but very few people stay in the long run). Personally, I'd take NOLA over DC any day of the week--DC blows unless you're into living in an hella overpriced city that lacks all of the amenities that other high COL cities have (e.g. NYC, SF). Fed hours are most likely going to be better than biglaw hours, but what your biglaw hours will be like really depends on your firm and the partners who you'll be working for. If you're working in a satellite office in NOLA in a relatively chill group, it might not be all that terrible. I mean it'll still most likely be worse hours than fed gov but it might be pretty livable overall. No real way to find out this info in your situation though unless you know someone at the firm who you can reach out to and might give you some more insight. But your posts overwhelmingly suggest that you'll be less happy in DC working for a fraction of the income you'll get starting in biglaw, so you might as well just stick with what you got and go into biglaw. GS-11, Step 1 in DC is $66.5k /year, and with how high the COL is in DC, it'll be years until you're living a half-way reasonable lifestyle in DC. The salary and COL factor coupled with the lack of big city amenities would be rough, in my opinion.

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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby mecarey » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:12 pm

I think loving where you live and knowing the ins-and-outs of that place is something that is hard to duplicate when it comes to happiness. DC is DC is DC and it will always be DC. New Orleans has that . . . something special about it. Talk about a place with personality!

Is retiring early something you are interested in? Something to be considered is the amount you could save in NOLA vs. DC. http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost ... index.html. $180k in NOLA is the equivalent of $276,159 in DC and $420,674 in Manhattan. You could live very well, buy a great house wherever you want in NOLA, and STILL save up at a near-unmatchable pace. DC on a bigfed salary . . . not so much. It would be an apartment, and likely not one downtown.

Just some additional food for thought.

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blueapple
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby blueapple » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:57 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:(DC is pretty culture-less and is a very transient city where young professionals come to start their careers but very few people stay in the long run). Personally, I'd take NOLA over DC any day of the week--DC blows unless you're into living in an hella overpriced city that lacks all of the amenities that other high COL cities have (e.g. NYC, SF).


I agree that OP would probably be happier in NOLA but I'm very curious what you mean by the bolded. I also totally disagree that DC is culture-less.

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Rowinguy2009
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby Rowinguy2009 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:30 pm

I made the switch from a biggish firm in a low cost of living city to a fed agency in DC. Here are my random thoughts:

-Accept the firm offer and then cross the fed gov bridge when/if it comes.

-I personally like working for the government significantly better than I did working at a firm. The downsides of a firm have been beaten to death on here (billing hours sucks, always being kinda "on call", etc) and I personally never got used to those downsides so I never saw my firm as a long-term option. Government work is simply easier (while still interesting/challenging) and I could see myself easily keeping this pace going for the rest of my life.

-I love DC, as do most of the people that I know who live here.

-DC is expensive, if you go government then your first couple years you will both be living in one of the most expensive cities in the country, while also getting paid at a pretty low level. Once you have some experience though your salary goes up quite a bit. I'll never be rich (at least not living in this town) but I graduated in 2013 and am currently at GS14, step 6, which is very comfortable (although perhaps somewhat rare to be placed so highly on the pay scale at such a young age, though certainly not unheard of).

-Government work can be very specialized and "niche-like," which is both a pro and a con (although perhaps more of a con when you are first starting out).

-If it were me I would take the firm offer, do that for a couple years, then try to transition if you think fed work is more your cup of tea. But if you are less concerned about financials, and more concerned about QOL during your post law school years, taking the fed gov offer makes sense.

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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:16 am

As a former biglawyer, I say take bigfed and don't look back. It is not even a question to me.

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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:35 pm

Update- I have accepted the Biglaw offer and withdrew from consideration from DOT Honors, so good luck to everyone waiting to hear from them this month. The starting salary is not 180 as they pay a lower scale in secondary markets, but it is fantastic for NOLA, and there is no where in the world I’d rather live.

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pancakes3
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby pancakes3 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:39 pm

probably the right choice given your love of the city but taking the bird in hand doesn't mean you go snap the neck of the one in the bush.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Big Fed vs. Big Law

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:48 pm

If you know you don’t want the bird in the bush, though, there’s no need to hang onto it.




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