Advice adjusting to firm life

(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: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:41 pm

Hey all,

I could really use some advice/encouragement etc. just started biglaw a few months ago and I don’t think I’m doing a great job of adjusting to firm life. About once a day I’ll just get really sad (I’m talking about fighting tears here) thinking about how little time I’ll have to just relax and hang with my wife for the next X years of my life. I barely even look forward to the weekends anymore because all they bring is stress and anxiety over whether I’ll get an email requiring me to immediately rush to a computer and work. I hate that. I also hate that I’m getting so distraught over it. I see people at the firm 2,3,4 years my senior who seem to handle it just find and quite frankly it makes me feel like shit for feeling so badly after just a few months.

I don’t really mind the work, some of it is actually quite interesting, and I do really enjoy the people I work with. It’s just the 24/7 availability that gets to me. Anyone have any advice for how to deal? do you get used to it? Am I just being a baby here haha? Looking to go in house sometime in year 3 but even lasting that long seems like a long shot right now.

Thanks.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:18 pm

After a year or so you start to get close to your coworkers and that helps. So you can ask if it is really a weekend project and if it can wait till monday. Also you get a longer leash if they start to trust you. Also you get those emails and kind of have better judgement on what's urgent.

User avatar
jkpolk

Silver
Posts: 1180
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:44 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby jkpolk » Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:31 pm

Yeah just set some boundaries in your mind (only check your phone once every two hours if nothing is active, plan vacations far in advance and jump through the hoops to actually take them, etc.) and talk to your coworkers so you know when things are going to happen/what is expected of you.

There's no way to sugar coat it - these are just bandaids. Try your best to make it work but ultimately it's just a job, there are other jobs if you hate this one.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:34 pm

I'm a stub too and I feel the same way. Idk if I can last to year 3. I already feel like my life is being wasted and not sure why I decided to go to law school. I don't enjoy the work (being a task monkey sending around documents, running redlines, updating checklists, coordinating everyone's schedule for calls, updating precedent docs by changing the party names, dates, offering amounts), but I don't really mind it because of the money. What I do mind is being on call 24-7 and slowly watching myself become borinf with nothing in my life except work.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:56 pm

OP here. Thanks for the replies. It felt good to just vent for a bit. I think I’ll just try taking it a day/week/month at a time and see if that helps. Part of what sucks is thinking ahead to the fact that I still have at least 2 years of this type of living before any decent exit ops start to appear.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 09, 2017 6:30 pm

I was having the same issues. but i really like the peopel i work with. so when i feel like that i go shoot the shit with them for 15 or 20 minutes and it makes me feel better.

User avatar
2014

Platinum
Posts: 6027
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:53 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby 2014 » Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey all,

I could really use some advice/encouragement etc. just started biglaw a few months ago and I don’t think I’m doing a great job of adjusting to firm life. About once a day I’ll just get really sad (I’m talking about fighting tears here) thinking about how little time I’ll have to just relax and hang with my wife for the next X years of my life. I barely even look forward to the weekends anymore because all they bring is stress and anxiety over whether I’ll get an email requiring me to immediately rush to a computer and work. I hate that. I also hate that I’m getting so distraught over it. I see people at the firm 2,3,4 years my senior who seem to handle it just find and quite frankly it makes me feel like shit for feeling so badly after just a few months.

I don’t really mind the work, some of it is actually quite interesting, and I do really enjoy the people I work with. It’s just the 24/7 availability that gets to me. Anyone have any advice for how to deal? do you get used to it? Am I just being a baby here haha? Looking to go in house sometime in year 3 but even lasting that long seems like a long shot right now.

Thanks.

You aren’t alone, what you are feeling is totally normal and one of the biggest challenges of adjusting to the job. The people above you aren’t handling it better they just either hide it or have accepted in a Stockholm syndrome type manner that work is their life and fighting it is futile. I would encourage you to find little things you can do to protect your sanity (i.e. going to the gym, eating lunch away from your desk, getting together with friends regularly, shutting off your phone in the evening at a time where in your group it would be reasonable for you to be asleep, TV, music, something creative, etc). I also find it helps to think of the job as a series of milestones that you have to overcome to meet your ultimate career goals (presumably not a firm forever). That may be rotations, case milestones, vacations, bonuses, secondments or whatever else you need to tell yourself to get to the next portion. Do your best to learn new things as well, the more areas or assignments you dabble in the easier you can use those things to get your next gig. No matter what the internet or peers tell you about how hard it is to do something else, the exceptions prove the rules and hundreds of juniors move on to do cool things every year. It ultimately comes down to your ability and willingness to advocate for yourself instead of assuming that because it’s easier to get another job if you make it 3+ years that it’s impossible if you don’t.

jd20132013

Silver
Posts: 1380
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:41 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:49 am

the stuff that sucks right now you do learn how to numb yourself to. You can do it for a year! It gets worse (just look at the lives of the mid levels that manage you) so just be happy that you've seen it's not for you and start thinking mid term exit options

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:09 am

Thanks everyone for the replies! They were very helpful. Glad I’m not alone here.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:17 am

Will be starting as a first year in August. How often does that typically happen OP? (Chilling on weekend then getting an urgent task). And is it truly "urgent" like within the next few hours? Or is it just a 'can you look into this for me' without a hard deadline? (i.e., you could do it Sunday morning at a coffee shop or something versus ruining plans/dinner)

Curious to know what its like

jd20132013

Silver
Posts: 1380
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:41 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:29 am

that's a question that's sillier than you realize. It's unpredictable in every relevant way, which is part of
Why it sucks. Just enjoy your 8 months

User avatar
deepseapartners

Bronze
Posts: 280
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2014 11:49 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby deepseapartners » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Will be starting as a first year in August. How often does that typically happen OP? (Chilling on weekend then getting an urgent task). And is it truly "urgent" like within the next few hours? Or is it just a 'can you look into this for me' without a hard deadline? (i.e., you could do it Sunday morning at a coffee shop or something versus ruining plans/dinner)

Curious to know what its like

If someone is emailing you on the weekend and they say it's urgent, then it's urgent. Otherwise, probably just a heads up email or "check in with me on Monday." But two caveats - (1) if you are in the middle of a deal, especially if you are waiting for comments from the other side, you shouldn't expect to have free-and-clear weekends; and (2) this is very person-to-person dependent. Some lawyers actually do want to see work product ASAP, no matter what else is going on or what the actual deadline may be. You should figure out who those people are at your firm and either tread carefully or avoid them.

User avatar
Desert Fox

Diamond
Posts: 18302
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:17 pm

I rarely if ever get outright "urgent" assignments on the weekend. But I often have so much work that if I don't spend all weekend on it, it won't be done on time. I got assigned a motion to dismiss thursday that is due wedneday. But I've got all day meettings tuesday. That means I had to work all saturday and sunday. The partner probably doesn't count that assigning me weekend work. But I did. and he probably worked all weekend too.

big law sucks. If you have big debt, go big fed while you still can.
Last edited by Desert Fox on Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

1styearlateral

Silver
Posts: 834
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby 1styearlateral » Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:44 pm

Desert Fox wrote:I rarely if ever get outright "urgent" assignments on the weekend. But I often have so much work that if I don't spend all weekend on it, it won't be done on time. I got assigned a motion to dismiss thursday that is due wedneday. But I've got all day meettings tuesday. That means I had to work all saturday and sunday. The partner probably doesn't count that assigning me weekend work. But I did. and he probably worked all weekend too.

big law sucks. If you have big debt, go big fed while you still can.

The catch here is that whoever assigned you the motion to dismiss sat on it for way too long (which is a dick move IMO). In litigation, it's almost never "urgent" barring exigent circumstances (TRO, opp/reply papers, etc.). The only time I see colleagues pulling all-nighters or working to make a short deadline is either the above or they procrastinated. Not saying that weekend work isn't required in lit, though, because good writing takes time plus there's always other things going on as you've mentioned (meetings, court conferences, client stuff, etc.).

User avatar
2014

Platinum
Posts: 6027
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:53 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby 2014 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:29 pm

1styearlateral wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I rarely if ever get outright "urgent" assignments on the weekend. But I often have so much work that if I don't spend all weekend on it, it won't be done on time. I got assigned a motion to dismiss thursday that is due wedneday. But I've got all day meettings tuesday. That means I had to work all saturday and sunday. The partner probably doesn't count that assigning me weekend work. But I did. and he probably worked all weekend too.

big law sucks. If you have big debt, go big fed while you still can.

The catch here is that whoever assigned you the motion to dismiss sat on it for way too long (which is a dick move IMO). In litigation, it's almost never "urgent" barring exigent circumstances (TRO, opp/reply papers, etc.). The only time I see colleagues pulling all-nighters or working to make a short deadline is either the above or they procrastinated. Not saying that weekend work isn't required in lit, though, because good writing takes time plus there's always other things going on as you've mentioned (meetings, court conferences, client stuff, etc.).

Not that you were trying to discredit him (I assume), but worth pointing out that DF is like a 6th year - by that point one usually has a good handle on what is systemic vs poor managers.

To the original question, I've found that it's extremely rare to have a weekend completely blown up without pretty clear signs toward the end of the prior week that it was coming. That being said, it's equally rare to have a full weekend (or even day on the weekend) without a single email or task and one of the great difficulties in the job is figuring out how to actually unplug and relax during the time where people assume you are recharging, knowing full well that you are also expected to be more or less as responsive as if you were in the office.

hugerez

New
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:27 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby hugerez » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:36 pm

Op is normal.

1styearlateral

Silver
Posts: 834
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby 1styearlateral » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:46 pm

2014 wrote:
1styearlateral wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I rarely if ever get outright "urgent" assignments on the weekend. But I often have so much work that if I don't spend all weekend on it, it won't be done on time. I got assigned a motion to dismiss thursday that is due wedneday. But I've got all day meettings tuesday. That means I had to work all saturday and sunday. The partner probably doesn't count that assigning me weekend work. But I did. and he probably worked all weekend too.

big law sucks. If you have big debt, go big fed while you still can.

The catch here is that whoever assigned you the motion to dismiss sat on it for way too long (which is a dick move IMO). In litigation, it's almost never "urgent" barring exigent circumstances (TRO, opp/reply papers, etc.). The only time I see colleagues pulling all-nighters or working to make a short deadline is either the above or they procrastinated. Not saying that weekend work isn't required in lit, though, because good writing takes time plus there's always other things going on as you've mentioned (meetings, court conferences, client stuff, etc.).

Not that you were trying to discredit him (I assume), but worth pointing out that DF is like a 6th year - by that point one usually has a good handle on what is systemic vs poor managers.

I agree, and although DF didn't explicitly say, I feel that the underlying tone was that someone fucked him, which is unavoidable sometimes when you're an associate.

OP, however, seems to have an issue that is inherent with corporate work: the constant requirement to be available. In lit, that doesn't seem to be the case most times.

User avatar
Desert Fox

Diamond
Posts: 18302
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:34 pm

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Desert Fox » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:04 pm

Nah I meant he really didn't fuck me over that hard. Probably I should have flagged this issue. But a lot of it is circumstance. We only had 14 days to prep an answer / mtd.

My point is you are often busy on teh weekend without anything being truly urgent. That isn't as bad as urgently busy, but it's pretty bad. I had time to say, cook dinner, but I still spent 80% of my waking time this weekend writing a brief.

It happens when there aren't mistakes too. When there is 70/hrs of work per associate that week, yall are working weekends even if its not due monday. Sometimes deadlines in multiple cases occur near each other and buttfuck ya.
Last edited by Desert Fox on Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:55 pm

Op is completely normal and I’m a third year holding back tears right now (not actually, but this job can REALLY suck). I will say that you’re going to be getting good training and the experience does pass more quickly than you’d imagine. Your ability to cope with bs also increases over time. You also give less of a shit as you become more senior and as someone else noted, you realize after some time that it’s just a job. Not sure how debt burdened you are, but I would recommend being as frugal as possible and stacking cash. Having a financial runway makes you feel less tied to the job and less afraid, and this is coming from someone who is as anxiety prone and neurotic as they come.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:55 pm

double post

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:38 pm

OP, what group are you in, and what city? If you are in M&A or something similar and in NYC, then yes, strap in and get ready to deal with a bumpy ride. If you can, try and get in with a smaller group like ERISA, tax, real estate, etc. I am in one of those and I find that while the group is busy and the work is pretty regular, somewhat more regular "working hours" are kept, such that I can usually get 2 hours or so with my wife at night and can always handle things on the weekend in a more measured manner. I am a 4th year and this certainly has gotten better over time once I am looking at the deal from more of a 10,000 foot level (versus 100 foot for a first year and 30,000 for a partner). Once you get about 12-18 months of experience under your belt you will see that you better understand how things work and know how to anticipate what is coming your way so that you can plan better. You also learn partners' habits and idiosyncracies and have developed trust and respect with some of them. these things will all help things be better. Also, you will have waves of a month or two or even more when things are nuts, but then there will be down times as well - if you want those down times, you need to be somewhat guarded and create reasonable boundaries with your time so that you can carve out that 2000-2200 hour a year range without being nuts. You will get there, but it takes time and work to do so. Like you said, take it one week at a time; its amazing how quickly those weeks start to go once youve been here for a few years.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:48 pm

Stub year here. I've just started ignoring urgent requests that come in late or on weekends without notice and then I just handle it the next morning. So far the feedback on those assignments has been positive. If someone gives me notice during business hours that I need to work on a night or weekend, I have no problem doing it. But fuck 11pm "do x now" emails. They're not gonna read it until next week anyway.

lolwat

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

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby lolwat » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:53 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Nah I meant he really didn't fuck me over that hard. Probably I should have flagged this issue. But a lot of it is circumstance. We only had 14 days to prep an answer / mtd.

My point is you are often busy on teh weekend without anything being truly urgent. That isn't as bad as urgently busy, but it's pretty bad. I had time to say, cook dinner, but I still spent 80% of my waking time this weekend writing a brief.

It happens when there aren't mistakes too. When there is 70/hrs of work per associate that week, yall are working weekends even if its not due monday. Sometimes deadlines in multiple cases occur near each other and buttfuck ya.


(This is for the OP, not for DF). I can't speak to corporate or other practice areas, but yeah, litigation is largely about juggling these kinds of deadlines that can turn an otherwise non-urgent matter to urgent, or force you to work on weekends because shit's due Monday or Tuesday. I find it's generally relatively predictable, though. You know if you get assigned something that's due on a Monday that, unless you can get everything finalized by Friday, you'll need to work that weekend. Or if you get assigned two briefs that are both due on Wednesday, you probably need to work some over the weekend to make sure you get both briefs done. That kind of predictability helps because you can prepare for it rather than getting some e-mail Friday night fucking over any weekend plans you might have had. I think in my 4 years so far I've only had a handful of weekends ruined by last minute assignments.

Also, I try to stay available during weekends and holidays, but I'm not going to sit around checking my phone every few minutes. If it's something truly urgent, I'll drop whatever I'm doing and handle it, but 95% of the time something that comes in over the weekend can wait until Monday morning. So I might send back an e-mail to acknowledge that I read it, but I won't start on anything 'til Monday.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice adjusting to firm life

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:21 pm

OP here — thanks all for the replies. Tls has always been helpful when I really need it. For those asking, I’m in m&a in a non-nyc major market (but the firm is nyc-based).



Return to “Legal Employment?

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.