Why do people even do this?

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FSK

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Re: Why do people even do this?

Postby FSK » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:15 am

The only reason I would ever do biglaw is to park myself somewhere between administrations if I ever end up in political roles.
Last edited by FSK on Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jd20132013

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Re: Why do people even do this?

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:33 am

landshoes wrote:Hourly billing provides a strong incentive to constantly push hours up, regardless of the prestige or size of the firm in question.

Firms make money by billing more than they pay. The more they bill and the less they pay, the more they make. This is a serious pressure on all firms---midlaw, biglaw, small, whatever---to work associates half to death. Probably the only real thing that they balance against this is the cost of onboarding/training/malpractice.

Then you have contingency billing, which, again, is all about keeping your costs low compared to the $$$ you make. It can be better to the extent that you get a functional ownership share in the contingency awards (eg case-based bonuses), but that doesn't mean you'll be working less. Just that you might get something more out of it. By no means are contingency firms willing to let you coast (compared to other attorneys) and pay you a substantial portion of earnings.

Your best chance of having a decent life as a wage-earner who exchanges $$$ for labor is 1 of 3 things:

1. find some kind of relatively money-irrational boss (can happen, LOL, but keep in mind that financially irrational owners don't necessarily provide the most stability or financial rationality re: billing clients, either)
2. make the cost of training your replacement prohibitively high AND do enough that you don't make your replacement a better deal (find a niche and become one of the few experts in that niche AND work pretty hard) --- also need to hope that your niche stays valuable because you're also heavily invested in your own training!
3. do work that can't have mistakes in it. Probably more relevant at a midlaw firm that doesn't have a ton of backup. The only problem is that normal people make mistakes and this is a shitty, stressful way to live.

TL;DR: become an owner and exploit others (eg run your own firm) OR acknowledge that exchanging money for labor means, almost by definition, being exploited by owners



I am loving the class consciousness bubbling on this board

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unicorntamer666

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Re: Why do people even do this?

Postby unicorntamer666 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:00 am

run26.2 wrote:
landshoes wrote:Hourly billing provides a strong incentive to constantly push hours up, regardless of the prestige or size of the firm in question.

Firms make money by billing more than they pay. The more they bill and the less they pay, the more they make. This is a serious pressure on all firms---midlaw, biglaw, small, whatever---to work associates half to death. Probably the only real thing that they balance against this is the cost of onboarding/training/malpractice.

No doubt doing this is in partners' interests, but the benefit of doing so is offset by the fact that if you run associates into the ground, the quality of work for many of them will go down. So you identify some associates to do grunt work and burn them out, while identifying others whose work product is of sufficiently high quality that you give them choice assignments and try not to burn them out.


Yep - my impression is that this is exactly what firms do. They're reluctant to fire people and end up on ATL, so they instead crush them with grunt work. Seems irrational to do the same to people who are capable of high-level, value-adding work. But elsewhere on TLS I've seen it argued that all associates are viewed purely as a source of billable hours, such that there is no escape whatsoever, regardless of the quality of your work and whether it'll suffer if you're crushed by your hours.

Any partners ITT care to opine on this?

jd20132013

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Re: Why do people even do this?

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:27 am

I suspect the delta between the best juniors and worst isn't sufficiently large for them to spend time trying to distinguish them for purposes of giving more grunt work to some. I suspect they figure it comes out in the wash

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pancakes3

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Re: Why do people even do this?

Postby pancakes3 » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:29 am

p sure having less work wrt your peers is a hallmark of getting let go, not a sign that you're being groomed.

1styearlateral

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Re: Why do people even do this?

Postby 1styearlateral » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:45 am

pancakes3 wrote:p sure having less work wrt your peers is a hallmark of getting let go, not a sign that you're being groomed.

Lol yeah anyone who thinks they're being groomed because their hours are lower wrt their peers or that their assignments are somehow "more valuable" is delusional. You're not special; the less you bill, the less money you bring in. It's simple math, and partners are business owners, not your friend or the father you wish you had.

ur_hero

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Re: Why do people even do this?

Postby ur_hero » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm an associate at a big law firm and besides the office ball and chain/student debt reasons, why on earth do people do this for a living? The money starts out high but never progresses substantially, the people suck for the most part, and the work is honestly quite dull until you make it further up the food chain, but by that point you've wasted half your life doing a bunch of nonsense.


First - I'm not sure what the point of the money reference is...It starts how by placing you close to the 1% and progresses from there by a 5 figure amount each year for a while. What other comparable and available jobs get you anywhere close to this for most who do it? And by the time you spend a few years doing this, other exit options do become available (depending on how you specialize).

Second, I'm pretty sure the negative biglaw experiences disproportionately reflect how the people or work is. People I work with are great (mostly/most-of-the-time) and the work is interesting (a reasonable amount of the time). Hours sometimes suck, but when work is slow it's amazingly flexible. Point is, it varies firm to firm, practice group to practice group, from month to month, and based on your own personality. There are a lot of shitty places and people to work with, but there are also a lot where there aren't. . .

On the one hand, big law firms can certainly make a killing off of grinding their associates. But on the other, I think many many people would do this for substantially less money than the current market rate considering some of the other careers/jobs people fall into.

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Re: Why do people even do this?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:40 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm an associate at a big law firm and besides the office ball and chain/student debt reasons, why on earth do people do this for a living? The money starts out high but never progresses substantially, the people suck for the most part, and the work is honestly quite dull until you make it further up the food chain, but by that point you've wasted half your life doing a bunch of nonsense.


4th year, I make $115k/year more now than I did when I started...feels like progress. FWIW being a big firm lawyer is dull/stressful most the way through.



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