Drowning as a New Associate?

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Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:52 am

Anyone dealing with this? Usually work until 2am, have no idea what I’m doing and terrified I’ll make mistakes, and the pressure is impacting my health. Normally not someone who overcomplicates things or stresses out over minutia but this is really starting to get to me.

Anyone else in the same boat? Have any advice?

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby shock259 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:55 pm

Sorry to hear it. 2AM consistently is too much.

You're a first year, right? Are your superiors aware of how bad you have it? Is there anyone you trust who you can speak to plainly about it? People may not be aware. Is all of your work coming from one associate/partner? If not, can you try to get some of it re-assigned? If you frame it right, people will understand and won't hold it against you (IE "I'm worried my work product is going to start deteriorating because I continue having to bill X hours/week.", not "I can't handle this").

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby thecatgoesmeow » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:53 pm

That is definitely not normal as a first year. To consistently stay up until 2am doing work is something I would expect only during deal closing times or if there was an emergency motion. Agree with the poster above. It's all about how you are framing it. When people give you new assignments, do you take it in stride or do you communicate that you have other matters you have to finish as well? It helps a lot if you can cohesively lay out the other stuff you are working on when a partner tries to give you something. Again, all about how you phrase it so it doesn't come off like you're complaining. If you keep doing what you're doing now, you are definitely going to burn out.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anyone dealing with this? Usually work until 2am, have no idea what I’m doing and terrified I’ll make mistakes, and the pressure is impacting my health. Normally not someone who overcomplicates things or stresses out over minutia but this is really starting to get to me.

Anyone else in the same boat? Have any advice?


It is not normal to work past 2am every night. First year here and I did that only once-- and it sucked. I don't understand how anyone could consistently do that. Agree with other posters, you need to let assigning attorneys know about your workload, etc.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:59 pm

Not normal. If its a deal or the other associates are all there with you until 2am, it's more acceptable. If you are by yourself because they are shoveling all their work to you, it's a huge red flag. Someone said it already, but a good move when someone gives you work is to say "I can do it once I wrap up x, x, and x, so can I get it to you by y, is that ok?" or "I have an urgent matter right now for X but I can do Y once that wraps up on [date]."

I do have one friend who had a similar schedule his first year, and it never got better because the partners knew they could roll over him. While you should never flat out say no (do the above instead), you gotta push back on ridiculous requests or overasks sometimes or else that becomes your new floor. Set reasonable boundaries or they will set unreasonable ones for you.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Aergia » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:48 am

Not OP and hope I am not hijacking, but how the hell can you know whether you are taking too long on something if you have no idea what you're doing?

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:36 pm

Get used to it. Becoming attorney turned me from a pretty chill dude, who didn't stress much and never got anxious, to someone with signs of depression and a massive increase in anxiety. I actually have to talk to people who knew me before law school to get a sense of what I was like just 8 years ago, that is how different I feel.

Some people can handle it, many cannot, and the job will steadily decrease your mental health and outlook if you don't enjoy it. Add massive debt and you have the makings of a mental health problem. Take care of yourself, this job isn't worth it.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby RedGiant » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:29 pm

Please speak with your staffer, some midlevels, any of the partners that you are working for...this is not normal. You need to bill these hours and tell people that you are consistently working them. Someone will help you, but you must speak up. You must.

Also, do not take on more work.

If you are flailing around not knowing what to do, you're not asking enough questions. Ask more questions! Ask for guidance before you start a project, and ask for guidance when you are halfway through. Ask for help if you don't know what you're doing or think you are taking too long or don't understand a key part. Biglaw is a team--you should have one another's back. People will teach you.

2am all the time is not normal for a V100. It's not. Ask for help.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:41 am

5th year at a V100. I did it a fair amount my first year (probably once a week on average, and past midnight like 3 nights a week), but now I stay up till 2 am or later maybe every other month (and then only for dealing with emergencies or writing reply briefs with a short turnaround). It gets better. If you're staying up this late doing routine stuff (document review, research, written discovery, etc.), it's a sign that you work with terrorists or that you are not setting appropriate boundaries.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:38 pm

OP here, sorry for the delay.

It’s more a factor of workflow, and it seems like a lot of it is luck- there isn’t really an assigning attorney- partners just give you matters as they come up and if the deals are busy you’re screwed.

Honestly it’s gotten worse, not better, and I’ve tried the whole “yea I can do it after I do X, and X” but it’s viewed with contempt like I’m trying to shirk my responsibilities and I usually get the project in the end anyway.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:12 pm

Ehh, I know you don't want to look bad, lazy, etc...But at some point you need to just learn to express that you are at capacity. And learn to make a good impression based on the work you are completing. This is a skill.

On the other hand, it could truly be that you are at a shitty place where no one cares and you will just be abused...I think that's actually somewhat uncommon. In that case, lighten up your work load and spend the extra time looking for other opportunities immediately.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:51 pm

If they really treat you with contempt, then lateral. Putting up with this sort of bullshit isn't worth it imo.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:05 am

Anonymous User wrote:If they really treat you with contempt, then lateral. Putting up with this sort of bullshit isn't worth it imo.


Honestly I was thinking about it, but as sad at this sounds, the only thing that’s motivating me is I think I’d regret not “toughing it out” for longer and then trying to move in house or some elusive job like that.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:13 pm

Not sure where the rest of the posters are working here, but at V5 2am is a regularity, so I would say get used to it or get used to lateral. It's not so bad since most people come into the office around 10:30. This is the way of biglaw (or at least V5), so you just need to decide whether you can handle it or not. I'm a 4th year. It's certainly a lifestyle but I love my work.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:23 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If they really treat you with contempt, then lateral. Putting up with this sort of bullshit isn't worth it imo.


Honestly I was thinking about it, but as sad at this sounds, the only thing that’s motivating me is I think I’d regret not “toughing it out” for longer and then trying to move in house or some elusive job like that.


You could lateral, work at that firm a few more years, then go in house. Tough it out at some place less tough where you get paid the same.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:Not sure where the rest of the posters are working here, but at V5 2am is a regularity, so I would say get used to it or get used to lateral. It's not so bad since most people come into the office around 10:30. This is the way of biglaw (or at least V5), so you just need to decide whether you can handle it or not. I'm a 4th year. It's certainly a lifestyle but I love my work.

You sound like such a tool.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:43 pm

2 AM is not the norm, even at V5 unless you have a deal closing. 10-11 most days, yes, but there’s a huge difference between 10 PM and 2 AM.

You will always find people who just love to work until 2 AM (like the poster above), but it shouldn’t be the norm.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:2 AM is not the norm, even at V5 unless you have a deal closing. 10-11 most days, yes, but there’s a huge difference between 10 PM and 2 AM.

You will always find people who just love to work until 2 AM (like the poster above), but it shouldn’t be the norm.


Agree. I'm a third year in NYC (V20) and have never been in the office at 2AM, and have only been there at 11pm/12am a handful of times. This is not normal.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:31 pm

Agree with the above poster. I’m an M&A 3rd year at a V5 in NYC. While 2am isn’t uncommon (especially leading up to signing and closing), it’s certainly far from the norm.

As for the pressure, it never really gets better but you do build a tolerance to it. Even 3 years in you’ll still feel like you’re constantly in over your head being asked to do things out of your comfort zone on unreasonable timelines. That’s just the nature of the job as a junior/early mid. The key is to learn how to manage up and when to push back, but that only comes with more experience and learning the dynamics of your office.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby shock259 » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:02 am

I'm a 4th year now and I haven't stayed past midnight in years. And I think I've gotten proficient enough with managing the workload that I won't ever have to again. But I did as a first year a lot more often, mostly because it was harder to see what was in the pipeline and because I'd get dumped random shit. Now, I have a pretty good sense of when the shit dump is coming and I can plan accordingly.

In any event, there's some macho V5 firms that truly don't care that you're consistently working until 2am, but most firms will care and will try to prevent you from burning out in 6 months. It's in their interests, after all. I know you don't want to be seen as a slacker, but I do think you need to find some way of making people you trust that are senior to you aware of your situation, and aware that you're not doing well. Not trying to be a dick, but first year work is unique in that (a) nearly all of it can be handed to another first year without any context or extra instruction needed and (b) any midlevel or senior associate can do most of it in like .. 1/4 of the time. There's a lot more flexibility now than there is later on to shift the workload.

Anyway, you'll have to make the call. But I think it's premature to think about lateraling. And there's a good chance you lateral right back into this same situation, so you might as well give it a good faith, honest effort to try and fix it now.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:07 am

shock259 wrote:I'm a 4th year now and I haven't stayed past midnight in years. And I think I've gotten proficient enough with managing the workload that I won't ever have to again. But I did as a first year a lot more often, mostly because it was harder to see what was in the pipeline and because I'd get dumped random shit. Now, I have a pretty good sense of when the shit dump is coming and I can plan accordingly.

In any event, there's some macho V5 firms that truly don't care that you're consistently working until 2am, but most firms will care and will try to prevent you from burning out in 6 months. It's in their interests, after all. I know you don't want to be seen as a slacker, but I do think you need to find some way of making people you trust that are senior to you aware of your situation, and aware that you're not doing well. Not trying to be a dick, but first year work is unique in that (a) nearly all of it can be handed to another first year without any context or extra instruction needed and (b) any midlevel or senior associate can do most of it in like .. 1/4 of the time. There's a lot more flexibility now than there is later on to shift the workload.

Anyway, you'll have to make the call. But I think it's premature to think about lateraling. And there's a good chance you lateral right back into this same situation, so you might as well give it a good faith, honest effort to try and fix it now.


Thanks, this is helpful. I think a big part of this is also that there’s usually info (be it context, precedent, strategy, etc.) that would be incredibly helpful and time-Saving, but I won’t get until I’m like in the middle of it all, and at that point it seems like I’m being given it inadvertently.

Also before you ask, whenever I’m given an assignment or an update, I’ve asked for precedent, or clarification, or to be pointed in the right direction, but I’m not given anything.

Also it’s currently 3:05am, and I’m not sure when I’m goi g to sleep tonight (or tomorrow for that matter, so...)

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Toni V » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:56 am

If the head of your group likes your work, tell ‘em you are swamped. It’s possible that s/he will give you the okay to decline work. This is what happened to me….it isn’t perfect but it greatly reduces your workload.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:31 pm

I want to share my experience because I was in your position and it became extremely bad. Like I was up until 2 am for six months straight, working only slightly less on weekends. I am no longer in biglaw, but fully understand that my experience was atypical in my firm and among biglaw associates generally.

That being said, sometimes you are just the unlucky one who gets assigned all the work on the cases that are constantly busy. If pushing back isn't working, I agree with the above poster who said you should look into lateraling. If you're not getting support from above, it's a red flag, and better safe than sorry. If you have a mentor, btw, you should speak to him/her. Nobody here knows your firm's dynamics.

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Re: Drowning as a New Associate?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:57 pm

On the flip side, does anyone feel like they have to beg for every assignment they get?



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