What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

(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: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:14 am

I'm currently a 7th year in a V30 in DC. I work in a regulatory practice, where the partnership prospects are bleak. Because of the specialized practice, however, a role as a counsel seems possible--our practice has several and I have a specialized role in the group. Some of my colleagues see counsel as failure, something to be avoided. But to me it seems like it could be a good career--less pressure than partner, more pay than an associate. I think a lot of my friends are afraid of the hit to their prestige, the embarrassment of sacrificing to make partner and coming short. But objectively, counsel seems like a pretty good role.

Do others think that counsel can be a good option? Do counsels generally make more than 8th year associates (i.e., 400K or more a year)? Do counsels usually make more than in-house attorneys?

ruski

Bronze
Posts: 394
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:45 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby ruski » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:02 am

its a great gig I think. less pressure to bring in business and less administrative headache than partners, but still have way more job security than associates as counsels don't really get fired. many don't take it because you can just become partner at a lesser firm and make the same or more. but if you're comfortable where you're at, I don't see why you have to leave

compensation is highly individual. in many firms its the same pay as a senior associate, they just give you the title. I know some firms will pay you more though. you can also begin to negotiate your salary at this point particularly if you've been counsel for several years.

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 12, 2018 12:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently a 7th year in a V30 in DC. I work in a regulatory practice, where the partnership prospects are bleak. Because of the specialized practice, however, a role as a counsel seems possible--our practice has several and I have a specialized role in the group. Some of my colleagues see counsel as failure, something to be avoided. But to me it seems like it could be a good career--less pressure than partner, more pay than an associate. I think a lot of my friends are afraid of the hit to their prestige, the embarrassment of sacrificing to make partner and coming short. But objectively, counsel seems like a pretty good role.

Do others think that counsel can be a good option? Do counsels generally make more than 8th year associates (i.e., 400K or more a year)? Do counsels usually make more than in-house attorneys?


Seems like a great gig to me. If I, as a mid-level, knew that I would make counsel, I would probably push through. Seems just as uncertain at my firm, though, as making partner...there are a lot of super-senior associates who don't make it, and I don't want to go through that. I see no choice but to lateral by end of the 5th-year (when you're still in the lateral sweet spot) for this reason, and don't really understand how senior associates, aside from clear "stars" who have and know they have at least counsel in the bag, were able to press on in light of the uncertainty and increased difficulty of moving in later years.

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:17 pm

At many firms, counsel is not a dead-end position. Although some associates are promoted directly to partner, many are promoted first to counsel and then to partner. It's like a mid-way position between associates and partners at those firms.

Even at firms where counsel is a dead-end position, I think it's a great gig because of the high compensation. But I can imagine some people could feel defeated and try to go to another firm to make partner.

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:33 pm

It really depends on the firm, both in terms of compensation and in terms of work expectations.

See, e.g.
https://abovethelaw.com/2016/06/whats-u ... -salaries/

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:11 pm

I think a lot of my friends are afraid of the hit to their prestige, the embarrassment of sacrificing to make partner and coming short.


They're a lawyer, what prestige are they talking about?

They're not a Doctor, Google Engineer or some VC backed startup founder.

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:43 am

OP here. Everyone’s responses have been reassuring. I’m glad some others see it as a potentially good option. The link to the ATL article was interesting—I assumed counsels would make no less than an 8th-year associate, but it seems then could make slightly less. My firm does not release counsel salaries.

By prestige hit, I guess I sort of meant the ego hit of not making partner. But I also think people respect the title of law partner, even if not lawyers in general so much.

MaxMcMann

New
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:58 pm

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby MaxMcMann » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
I think a lot of my friends are afraid of the hit to their prestige, the embarrassment of sacrificing to make partner and coming short.


They're a lawyer, what prestige are they talking about?

They're not a Doctor, Google Engineer or some VC backed startup founder.


The people on this board tend to have huge inferiority complexes. To the average middle class person, "lawyer" is prestigious. Lawyer from a recognizable school (and for all the prestige whoring people try to quantify in precise increments, I'm guessing Georgetown/Cornell are a lot more recognizable to the average person than UMich). Law partner is even more prestigious. Why? People have heard of those concepts, regardless of how little they know about the details, and associate them with status. I'd say lawyer is on par with doctor to a lot of people, and to many others only somewhat below (can't really compete with "saving lives" regardless of the fact that most doctors practice paint-by-numbers medicine of dubious value and are generally more concerned with how to milk insurance effectively than anything else).

Sure to a private equity guy you're a pleb, but why define yourself by the worldview of some tiny percentage of the population? Not to mention finance guys generally have hugely inflated egos regardless. I mean, doctors also have God complexes (more justifiable in their case than finance guys). Lawyers are the only major profession I know with massive amounts of anxious, handwringing people with severe inferiority complexes. But the thing is, I'm pretty sure being a lawyer didn't make them that way - law just happens to attract people like that for whatever reason.

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:29 pm

. I'd say lawyer is on par with doctor to a lot of people, and to many others only somewhat below


To the average middle class person, "lawyer" is prestigious.


Don't think the term "ambulance chaser" or that lawyers are liars/crooks came from lawyers themselves. Lawyers tend to look pretty highly of themselves - no different than finance guys.

Also, don't think lawyer is near on par with doctor to a lot of people. Maybe within your circles, but not within mine and I'd be surprised if even most of the crowd on TLS (who view themselves very highly) would say that.

In the US, I'd say most STEM careers have moved above attorney similar to a lot of other countries. The last 10 years, to the average person it's probably way more prestigious to say you're a software engineer at Google than it is to say you're an attorney at Cravath. The average "middle class person" doesn't even know what Cravath is but they definitely know what Google is. And the average middle-class person uses and has a concept of how hard it is to get something as sophisticated as Google Earth/Maps off the ground, but won't think much about corporate bankruptcy restructuring.

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
. I'd say lawyer is on par with doctor to a lot of people, and to many others only somewhat below


To the average middle class person, "lawyer" is prestigious.


Don't think the term "ambulance chaser" or that lawyers are liars/crooks came from lawyers themselves. Lawyers tend to look pretty highly of themselves - no different than finance guys.

Also, don't think lawyer is near on par with doctor to a lot of people. Maybe within your circles, but not within mine and I'd be surprised if even most of the crowd on TLS (who view themselves very highly) would say that.

In the US, I'd say most STEM careers have moved above attorney similar to a lot of other countries. The last 10 years, to the average person it's probably way more prestigious to say you're a software engineer at Google than it is to say you're an attorney at Cravath. The average "middle class person" doesn't even know what Cravath is but they definitely know what Google is. And the average middle-class person uses and has a concept of how hard it is to get something as sophisticated as Google Earth/Maps off the ground, but won't think much about corporate bankruptcy restructuring.


I don't enjoy giving out advice. But I think you should try to live optimistically. You sound like you have a major inferiority complex. Why the hell would you say you work at Cravath to a lay person? You would say you work at a big law firm in Manhattan (or SF or DC or whatever). I am pretty sure that sounds prestigious to many lay people. Again, I don't enjoy saying this but try to love yourself. That way, you will feel happier and appreciate life more. Other people will like you more too.

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
. I'd say lawyer is on par with doctor to a lot of people, and to many others only somewhat below


To the average middle class person, "lawyer" is prestigious.


Don't think the term "ambulance chaser" or that lawyers are liars/crooks came from lawyers themselves. Lawyers tend to look pretty highly of themselves - no different than finance guys.

Also, don't think lawyer is near on par with doctor to a lot of people. Maybe within your circles, but not within mine and I'd be surprised if even most of the crowd on TLS (who view themselves very highly) would say that.

In the US, I'd say most STEM careers have moved above attorney similar to a lot of other countries. The last 10 years, to the average person it's probably way more prestigious to say you're a software engineer at Google than it is to say you're an attorney at Cravath. The average "middle class person" doesn't even know what Cravath is but they definitely know what Google is. And the average middle-class person uses and has a concept of how hard it is to get something as sophisticated as Google Earth/Maps off the ground, but won't think much about corporate bankruptcy restructuring.


I think you're wrong about what the average person thinks about lawyers. The general perception is certainly changing as more people learn about how bad the ROI is for most law students, but the vast majority of people still (correctly or incorrectly) put lawyers on par or slightly below doctors in terms of prestige (not in a normative or "impact on the world" sense, but just vis a vis the nebulous concept that is prestige...most people aren't even aware of the public interest side of law). This is my impression from several years in a blue collar job, then a startup, and then a large company. Most people, in my experience, put engineers under lawyers. Maybe a google engineer would be different, idk, but the average person sees that everyone and their dog is now a programmer and doesn't really distinguish between people who can write basic java and someone developing AI or cryptography software. What people think of entrepreneurs varies drastically depending on a number of variables. Of course if someone makes it big, that seems to top everything else in modern American society according to most people, and personally I don't think that is unwarranted given how shitty most high-earning jobs are. But the vast majority of entrepreneurs don't make it big, and instead fall on some spectrum of financial success that, depending on their age, industry, and lifestyle, engenders varying opinions.

None of this matters at all, but instead of seeing your comment as symptom of an inferiority complex, I do think it is useful for people to step back and get some perspective. Whether you think the average lawyer is low or high on the made-up national/global totem pole, I think either position provides a reason to not give a shit about "settling" for counsel.. if it's low, then who cares (as you suggest) because you're a peasant anyway, and if it's high, well then you're only going from great to even greater. Unfortunately most people, not just lawyers, are stuck obsessing about their place on a more industry-specific totem pole familiar only to insiders. My observation is that most Americans put lawyers pretty high up, but my personal philosophy is to use my own hierarchy that I try to conceptualize as objectively as possible based on my own worldview re what is important in life. On that hierarchy, most high-caliber jobs in general are terrible corporate slave labor so I have a hard time seeing any one better than the other. Oh well.

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:42 pm

I don't enjoy giving out advice. But I think you should try to live optimistically. You sound like you have a major inferiority complex. Why the hell would you say you work at Cravath to a lay person? You would say you work at a big law firm in Manhattan (or SF or DC or whatever). I am pretty sure that sounds prestigious to many lay people. Again, I don't enjoy saying this but try to love yourself. That way, you will feel happier and appreciate life more. Other people will like you more too.


The best way to live happily is acceptance of reality. It takes a lot of energy to wake-up everyday, be in denial, and to try to convince yourself of something that isn't true. So what if many Americans view lawyers as ambulance chasers or lying scumbags? That's your reality, stop fighting it, don't know why you're being so defensive.

The OP is worried about whether people will see him as "prestigious." Well sorry to break it to him, but it's likely few people saw him that way anyways. I'm guessing a lay person doesn't really know the "prestige" difference between a biglaw partner, a prosecutor, a divorce law partner, or someone that says he's counsel. Chances are people who aren't on TLS won't even know wtf a biglaw partner or of counsel is.

So who really matters that cares?

Maybe a google engineer would be different, idk, but the average person sees that everyone and their dog is now a programmer and doesn't really distinguish between people who can write basic java and someone developing AI or cryptography software.


Not that this poll is definitive, but it definitely falls in line with the views of people I know personally: http://www.businessinsider.com/most-pre ... ca-2014-11

Image

Also people might say they're a "programmer", but most really aren't. They likely say that because it's become a "prestigious profession" to be a software engineer. The title "software engineer" at a recognizable tech company or Americans actually holding computer science/electrical/computer engineering degrees is sorely lacking. It's why so many software engineers at these companies are foreign.

Anyways, I don't get why some of the TLSers here are so offended. Run a social experiment if you care so much. Go to a happy hour and start telling randoms you meet that you're a Software Engineer at Google or Instagram. Tell them you're a Surgical Resident at New York Children's Hospital. Tell them you're a lawyer at a big law firm. See which one gets the best reaction -- I doubt it's the lawyer answer.


Regardless, why does it matter? If the OP thinks counsel hurts his prestige factor, then don't take the job. Frankly, if he already thinks the title lacks prestige, then he's going to waste too much energy trying to convince himself otherwise, and be inevitably unhappy anyways.

You think Zuck was worried about whether people would think Facebook was prestigious? You think Bill Gates was sitting there worried about whether you would think his work on Windows was prestigious when he was working on Windows?

Anonymous User
Posts: 309283
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What do you think about becoming a counsel in BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:56 am

Anonymous User wrote:
I don't enjoy giving out advice. But I think you should try to live optimistically. You sound like you have a major inferiority complex. Why the hell would you say you work at Cravath to a lay person? You would say you work at a big law firm in Manhattan (or SF or DC or whatever). I am pretty sure that sounds prestigious to many lay people. Again, I don't enjoy saying this but try to love yourself. That way, you will feel happier and appreciate life more. Other people will like you more too.


The best way to live happily is acceptance of reality. It takes a lot of energy to wake-up everyday, be in denial, and to try to convince yourself of something that isn't true. So what if many Americans view lawyers as ambulance chasers or lying scumbags? That's your reality, stop fighting it, don't know why you're being so defensive.

The OP is worried about whether people will see him as "prestigious." Well sorry to break it to him, but it's likely few people saw him that way anyways. I'm guessing a lay person doesn't really know the "prestige" difference between a biglaw partner, a prosecutor, a divorce law partner, or someone that says he's counsel. Chances are people who aren't on TLS won't even know wtf a biglaw partner or of counsel is.

So who really matters that cares?

Maybe a google engineer would be different, idk, but the average person sees that everyone and their dog is now a programmer and doesn't really distinguish between people who can write basic java and someone developing AI or cryptography software.


Not that this poll is definitive, but it definitely falls in line with the views of people I know personally: http://www.businessinsider.com/most-pre ... ca-2014-11

Image

Also people might say they're a "programmer", but most really aren't. They likely say that because it's become a "prestigious profession" to be a software engineer. The title "software engineer" at a recognizable tech company or Americans actually holding computer science/electrical/computer engineering degrees is sorely lacking. It's why so many software engineers at these companies are foreign.

Anyways, I don't get why some of the TLSers here are so offended. Run a social experiment if you care so much. Go to a happy hour and start telling randoms you meet that you're a Software Engineer at Google or Instagram. Tell them you're a Surgical Resident at New York Children's Hospital. Tell them you're a lawyer at a big law firm. See which one gets the best reaction -- I doubt it's the lawyer answer.


Regardless, why does it matter? If the OP thinks counsel hurts his prestige factor, then don't take the job. Frankly, if he already thinks the title lacks prestige, then he's going to waste too much energy trying to convince himself otherwise, and be inevitably unhappy anyways.

You think Zuck was worried about whether people would think Facebook was prestigious? You think Bill Gates was sitting there worried about whether you would think his work on Windows was prestigious when he was working on Windows?


I just don't know what part of the US you live in but in the east coast, you could impress some lay folks by saying you are a lawyer working at a big law firm in Manhattan. Perhaps it works only if you are good-looking enough. I do recognize that people can have different experiences and thoughts. As I think and hope you know, your own self-esteem and paychecks are all that matters but the idea that lay people view lawyers just as poor ambulance chasers is not true. Although I am sure there are folks that think that way (otherwise you wouldn't have said it) but I talked to a lot of lay people (I am the only lawyer in many of the communities I belong to) and have never met anyone thinking that way. Of course, tech executives, HF/PE managers and others you seem to allude to make a lot more money. But the truth is most lay folks have no idea what PE/HF are, or how much Google engineers make. Nobody is "fighting" anything. Lawyers have a lot of problems but lay prestige has never been an issue, at least in my world.



Return to “Legal Employment?

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.