Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

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Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:01 am

I'm currently 5th in Biglaw on the latest cravath scale. Been trying to relocate for personal reasons but the new offer I got is way way less. Basically looking at 100-150K paycut which is HUGE.

I verbally accepted but still debating only because of the money.... obviously there are tradeoffs but not sure if i'm making the right decision.

Appreciate everyone's situation is different but want to hear if in retrospect you were happy in the end even if you initially took a big paycut.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:28 am

Is the new location a less expensive market? Will you be working fewer hours? Are your reasons for wanting to relocate more important than your paycheck?

Need more info, as there are a lot of factors that go into this. I’m in the process of lateraling and have offers from Cravath-scale firms and a small firm that would pay about 100k-150k less in a cheaper market for likely fewer hours, would give me amazing substantive experience and better partnership prospects, and has a higher bonus upside potential (Plaintiffs’ firm). I’m leaning towards one of the Cravath-scale firms, but it’s not an easy decision given everything else.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently 5th in Biglaw on the latest cravath scale. Been trying to relocate for personal reasons but the new offer I got is way way less. Basically looking at 100-150K paycut which is HUGE.

I verbally accepted but still debating only because of the money.... obviously there are tradeoffs but not sure if i'm making the right decision.

Appreciate everyone's situation is different but want to hear if in retrospect you were happy in the end even if you initially took a big paycut.


I took a small pay cut to transfer to a broader practice area at another biglaw firm. Yes, it was probably worth it, and frankly, I probably got the better end of the bargain.

That said, be careful that you're getting your worth, loosely speaking. I know people at my firm who took class year cuts (maybe not the same as what you're referring to, but analogous) upon lateraling who frankly shouldn't have and add much more value to the group than their salary would suggest.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 1:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is the new location a less expensive market? Will you be working fewer hours? Are your reasons for wanting to relocate more important than your paycheck?

Need more info, as there are a lot of factors that go into this. I’m in the process of lateraling and have offers from Cravath-scale firms and a small firm that would pay about 100k-150k less in a cheaper market for likely fewer hours, would give me amazing substantive experience and better partnership prospects, and has a higher bonus upside potential (Plaintiffs’ firm). I’m leaning towards one of the Cravath-scale firms, but it’s not an easy decision given everything else.



Moving to a much smaller market and to medium size firm but same work/hour/living costs.
Honestly the primary reason is to start dating, have family and settle down - as I'm in early 30s now. What makes it more difficult is it's not even a certainty that I'll achieve this goal by moving - just higher probability.
And maybe I'm putting too high value on this? Do you guys think it's worth 100-150K paycut as well as leaving biglaw? (I actually love being in biglaw)

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is the new location a less expensive market? Will you be working fewer hours? Are your reasons for wanting to relocate more important than your paycheck?

Need more info, as there are a lot of factors that go into this. I’m in the process of lateraling and have offers from Cravath-scale firms and a small firm that would pay about 100k-150k less in a cheaper market for likely fewer hours, would give me amazing substantive experience and better partnership prospects, and has a higher bonus upside potential (Plaintiffs’ firm). I’m leaning towards one of the Cravath-scale firms, but it’s not an easy decision given everything else.


Moving to a much smaller market and to medium size firm but same work/hour/living costs.
Honestly the primary reason is to start dating, have family and settle down - as I'm in early 30s now. What makes it more difficult is it's not even a certainty that I'll achieve this goal by moving - just higher probability.
And maybe I'm putting too high value on this? Do you guys think it's worth 100-150K paycut as well as leaving biglaw? (I actually love being in biglaw)


None of those sound like a good enough reason for a 100-150k paycut. I’d stick around and see if you can get similar offers at other market paying firms. You never know what the firm is like until you actually start working there, and that much of a paycut sounds like too much of a risk. The new firm may be offering you less hours, but what if a couple of fortune 10 companies decide to hire the new firm? It’ll get busy, you’ll be pulling similar hours with less pay.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is the new location a less expensive market? Will you be working fewer hours? Are your reasons for wanting to relocate more important than your paycheck?

Need more info, as there are a lot of factors that go into this. I’m in the process of lateraling and have offers from Cravath-scale firms and a small firm that would pay about 100k-150k less in a cheaper market for likely fewer hours, would give me amazing substantive experience and better partnership prospects, and has a higher bonus upside potential (Plaintiffs’ firm). I’m leaning towards one of the Cravath-scale firms, but it’s not an easy decision given everything else.


Moving to a much smaller market and to medium size firm but same work/hour/living costs.
Honestly the primary reason is to start dating, have family and settle down - as I'm in early 30s now. What makes it more difficult is it's not even a certainty that I'll achieve this goal by moving - just higher probability.
And maybe I'm putting too high value on this? Do you guys think it's worth 100-150K paycut as well as leaving biglaw? (I actually love being in biglaw)


None of those sound like a good enough reason for a 100-150k paycut. I’d stick around and see if you can get similar offers at other market paying firms. You never know what the firm is like until you actually start working there, and that much of a paycut sounds like too much of a risk. The new firm may be offering you less hours, but what if a couple of fortune 10 companies decide to hire the new firm? It’ll get busy, you’ll be pulling similar hours with less pay.


In this area, this is actually one of the highest paying job so I won't get more than this if I were to move. Only way to not get a paycut (for me in my current situation) is not move at all and stay in the current location - where I'm pretty sure I won't be able to have family...

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:39 pm

Wow, your pay cut is about my current salary.

I'm not sure why you can't start a family in the market you're currently in... Is it something out of your control? Alternatively, if it's something you CAN control (e.g. get in shape, go out more, etc.), then do that instead.

If it was me, the only reasons I would take the pay cut are if: 1) it was a dream to work in such market (e.g. some kid in the middle of nowhere dreaming of working in the city...), 2) a significant other received a job offer there and will make more money than I will lose at this new job, 3) super lower cost of living and can afford to buy a house in this new market (e.g. property in SF vs. Texas).... i'm not sure I can think of anything else.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:46 pm

Yeah, I’m a little confused why you wouldn’t be able to have a family in your current location. There are a lot of people that do...

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:12 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:Yeah, I’m a little confused why you wouldn’t be able to have a family in your current location. There are a lot of people that do...


Ethnicity. I want to find someone of the same ethnicity/cultural background and where I am currently it is very very rare.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:26 pm

Ah. Well.

I don’t like biglaw and I generally encourage people to get the hell out, but I gotta say...for the paycut you’re taking, the type of job you’d have and for the reasoning I’m personally not on board. But everyone values things differently.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:42 pm

It ended up basically working out for me (at least it's helped with burnout and delayed me quitting private practice). A few highlights of my experience so far (been here about 1.5-2 years).

1. I feel better about taking vacation and pushing back on work that comes in after 7 p.m. and on weekends. The hiring partner and I were on the same page about this when I accepted my offer that I was willing to take less money for better work life balance, and I was upfront about not working traditional big law hours absent a closing/extenuating circumstances. So far it's worked out (but still hard saying no)--the guilt is lessened when I remind myself I don't make enough money (compared to my peers across the table) to cancel my vacation. Although 100% of the pressure to work weekends/late night is driven by clients NOT partners though who couldn't care less about my salary. I would be nervous if they still expected me to bill 2300 hours a year for $100-$150K less.

2. Partnership chances are greatly increased (even with the reduced hours/vacation respected), but this was all discussed beforehand after I investigated and discussed with the partners I'm working with. Because you're not working like a dog and at the client's beck and call, you have to accept that this reduces the revenue you bring in and thus diminishes your value to the firm's piggy bank, but I got clarity about how significantly this would affect partnership chances and so far it seems to be working out based on my latest review. Again, I would be nervous if I was expected to bill 2300+ hours to have a serious shot at partnership.

3. Obviously the clients and work are different from an Amlaw 100 firm compared to a V10--my clients are middle market instead of blue chip. Representing Goldman is different than representing a dental practice chain. The biggest adjustment is no longer focusing on getting every single detail, definition, comma, grammar/syntax right but focusing on big picture risks/issues and letting small details go (which would get you REAMED at my V10). The shock in money was far less than the shock at how a working style that was deemed "excellent" would need to be significantly overhauled to maintain client relationships moving forward.

4. I'm often up against peers that make Cravath market, which stings given that we're usually working the same amount on a given deal. The hardest part to my type A brain in justifying my reduced salary is reconciling that I'm not going to work at Godforsaken hours to get a deal done (like my peers), which in turn can sometimes feel like I'm not "working as hard". This can really screw with a competitive person's brain, but it's gotten better as I've learned to work "smarter" and not "harder".

5. There's pressure to actually bring in new clients (and more of a focus on client development and marketing) that I didn't feel working at my V10. The work was always there--in fact there was always too much of it! At first, this was hard for me, but now I appreciate it. Building my own book definitely gives me more freedom, but as much as I used to complain about it, it can be less emotionally/mentally stressful having a buffer (i.e., relationship partner) between you and the client.

6. If your goal is to make big law money for a few more years and bounce in-house or do something else, I would honestly stay at your firm (as long as you aren't being kicked out). Changing firms is a headache (new systems, new relationship, new reputation building, new software, new politics) and I would've stayed at my V10 for another 2-3 years if my goal was to collect a check and bounce. Partnership is something that's around the corner now, but TBF it probably isn't that much more money (and probably less) than some senior associates made at my V10.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby 2013 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
LaLiLuLeLo wrote:Yeah, I’m a little confused why you wouldn’t be able to have a family in your current location. There are a lot of people that do...


Ethnicity. I want to find someone of the same ethnicity/cultural background and where I am currently it is very very rare.


Is there why you are moving to that specific city? I’m sure there are other cities with firms that pay market that have people of the ethnic-background you are seeking.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Sprinkler » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:42 pm

The couple friends I know who lateraled (in the same market) into lower paying firms certainly appreciate having many of their nights and weekends free. But there’s that sunken feeling on payday and especially during bonus season. They are in no need for a go-fund-me-page but to have your income reduced by 50K is obviously a letdown. Also, I am told that their assignments are not as challenging ―OTOH, everything is relevant.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Yugihoe » Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:10 pm

Yea, have you tried looking for a dating app that caters to people of your ethnicity? I'm positive most market paying markets (i.e. NY, Chicago, TX, DC) are large enough to have people where it makes it justifiable to move there instead of the small market you are attempting to move to - unless you have a more compelling reason like family or something.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby LSATWiz.com » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
LaLiLuLeLo wrote:Yeah, I’m a little confused why you wouldn’t be able to have a family in your current location. There are a lot of people that do...


Ethnicity. I want to find someone of the same ethnicity/cultural background and where I am currently it is very very rare.

Can you go through a matchmaker? Many cultures like this have a matchmaking system to ensure it works out. It may be more logical to pay to fly in matches for something as a small as a meet and greet to see if there's chemistry than to (1) earn a much lesser income, (2) punt on earning a higher income for at least some time and (3) take the risk of not liking your new work-life. You could probably take more initiative during quiet hours to meet someone.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Npret » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:10 pm

Are you otherwise happy with your firm, your day to day life and location?
People manage to have families in lots of places but I understand the desire for a family life.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Sprinkler » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:43 am

When I comes to Big Law, it’s not only about having no family life, it’s regarding having no life! Seriously, it’s often demanding for days on end. No let-up.

Free time aside, if you like your work and the $$$, it’s a hard call on whether to lateral.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby SarahMorris » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:13 am

I just wanna start my law career..

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby AVBucks4239 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:49 pm

Anything more than $150k a year is likely completely unnecessary, so if you want to get out of big law and you're still making around that, you're fine.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby JohnnieSockran » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:18 pm

AVBucks4239 wrote:Anything more than $150k a year is likely completely unnecessary, so if you want to get out of big law and you're still making around that, you're fine.


Lol, not.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Sprinkler » Wed Feb 06, 2019 4:46 pm

JohnnieSockran wrote:
AVBucks4239 wrote:Anything more than $150k a year is likely completely unnecessary, so if you want to get out of big law and you're still making around that, you're fine.


Lol, not.

$150k, I’d happily take it if I worked in a low COL area (i.e., Shreveport, Tulsa). AFAIK, those markets do not pay all that well. But yes, in a large metro (and nearly everywhere in the NE), everything is so expensive. Plus, the taxes are steep.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby 2013 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:00 pm

Sprinkler wrote:
JohnnieSockran wrote:
AVBucks4239 wrote:Anything more than $150k a year is likely completely unnecessary, so if you want to get out of big law and you're still making around that, you're fine.


Lol, not.

$150k, I’d happily take it if I worked in a low COL area (i.e., Shreveport, Tulsa). AFAIK, those markets do not pay all that well. But yes, in a large metro (and nearly everywhere in the NE), everything is so expensive. Plus, the taxes are steep.


Yeah, but you’d have to live in Tulsa or Shreveport...

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Yugihoe » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:04 pm

I'd take 150 in texas but texas pays market.

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:17 pm

Sprinkler wrote:
JohnnieSockran wrote:
AVBucks4239 wrote:Anything more than $150k a year is likely completely unnecessary, so if you want to get out of big law and you're still making around that, you're fine.


Lol, not.

$150k, I’d happily take it if I worked in a low COL area (i.e., Shreveport, Tulsa). AFAIK, those markets do not pay all that well. But yes, in a large metro (and nearly everywhere in the NE), everything is so expensive. Plus, the taxes are steep.


I make $145K base as in-house counsel in a small town. I get a nice bonus but I use that to pay off debt so I never get to spend it. That $145k does not go all that far after max 401K contributions, HSA contributions, taxes, etc. That eats up about 40% of my paycheck. Then you take off mortgage, insurance, car loans (think Honda not BMW/Mercedes), student loans, etc. Now, I eventually max out Social Security later in the year, but it is disturbing how quickly that money goes with a family of 4. Two hungry and growing boys literally wipe our our refrigerator in a few days :(. I definitely feel comfortable, but I would not consider myself well off. Housing here is cheaper compared to big markets but not as cheap as say the South. I still do my own maintenance (oil changes/brakes/rotors, etc) on our vehicles to save money!

I am happy though with being able to leave at 5 most days, rarely any work at night or on weekends, and I use all of my vacation without any guilt each year (4 weeks).

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Re: Was your lateral paycut justifiable?

Postby QContinuum » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:
LaLiLuLeLo wrote:Yeah, I’m a little confused why you wouldn’t be able to have a family in your current location. There are a lot of people that do...


Ethnicity. I want to find someone of the same ethnicity/cultural background and where I am currently it is very very rare.

Like many of the other posters ITT, I am confused by this. I cannot imagine any major BigLaw market not having a plethora of eligible singles of your desired culture/ethnicity who're ready to mingle. And if you're currently at, I dunno, an outpost or something in Middle America, then switch offices or lateral to a firm in a major market. Honestly, NYC, NorCal, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Houston - these should be veritable dating meccas. I'd be far more worried about a lack of romantic prospects in a small city than in one of those major metropolises. If you're having trouble organically meeting folks of your desired culture/ethnicity, as others have noted ITT, you can/should turn to a matchmaking system (if your culture has one) and/or online dating. You can easily filter for ethnicity on most of the major offerings.

I could see wanting more reasonable hours to make dating more practicable, but then you say that at the new firm you're considering, you'd have the "same work/hour/living costs" suggesting you don't expect to work significantly fewer hours.

Mostly I am hesitant to endorse your plan because you love your job. It'd be one thing if you were miserable and looking to make a change. But you love your job, you'd still work just as hard at the lower-paying new job, and you'd be in a small city where your romantic prospects are likely to be even fewer.



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