What do I do....

(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: 337368
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

What do I do....

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:52 pm

Sorry in advance if this seems like a rant-

I feel like law school was the biggest mistake of my life. I’ve been an attorney for almost 5 years now.... and I can’t seem hold a steady job... I have been laid off twice and fired from my third firm.

Now I opened my own practice and this isn’t much better....clients treat me like dirt and some expect free legal advice from me. It’s been difficult finding new clients. Don’t think I have the stamina and patience to keep this going.

My wife means well but is making me feel like a total loser bc I can’t hold a steady job and collect a paycheck every two weeks.
Luckily for the both of us she makes well over 100k a year to keep us afloat.

Now a close relative says he can bring me to his big law firm as an associate. I never pictured myself going to big law and I am doubting my ability to survive there for long.

So what do I do? Do I go to big law and try to hack it there or keep applying to small firms and hope to get something.... or do I continue my solo practice and pray for new business each month.

Thanks... and sorry again if this sounds like a rant... it kind of is because the legal profession has totally worn me out .....

nixy

Gold
Posts: 1523
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: What do I do....

Postby nixy » Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:19 pm

I don’t know why you wouldn’t take the biglaw gig, if it’s the bird in the hand.

You said you’ve been laid off twice and fired once. Were the layoffs purely economic or were there performance issues? Why were you fired? It seems to me you’re in a mindset of assuming you’ll fail and one way to prevent that is to figure out what you did before that didn’t work and how not to do it again.

User avatar
LaLiLuLeLo

Silver
Posts: 822
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:54 am

Re: What do I do....

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:44 pm

Going into biglaw will likely just amplify the way you feel *but* it’s a real opportunity and a way to contribute to your family. You can try to hack it for a year or two and try to go in house since you haven’t tried that route yet, but honestly your feelings aren’t going to go away in biglaw because many of us are very burned out as well.

Another route is to try and find a non-practicing role or JD advantaged role such as compliance.

JOThompson

Silver
Posts: 1326
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 3:16 am

Re: What do I do....

Postby JOThompson » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:14 pm

If you don't love the practice of law in general, being a solo won't solve your woes. I enjoyed working as a small firm associate for three years but really had an unpleasant time as a solo for a year. You have the freedom of doing what you want, but also the responsibility of the day to day law office management. While you're starting out, the financial pressure can be crippling. I took a lot of garbage cases and garbage clients in order to barely keep the lights on, despite being a fairly successful criminal defense lawyer in another market previously. I have a good friend who went solo early on after quitting his first firm job after six months. It was fairly miserable and now he doesn't practice at all. He works in a factory and has 200k of debt that he's never going to pay off.

You might be better off finding the right small or mid-sized firm environment rather than being a solo at this point. I transitioned from solo to government work and now my work-life balance is excellent, even though the pay isn't what I'd like.

If you want to find a way to stay in the legal profession, I think you should take the biglaw job and tough it out long enough to leverage the experience into a more sustainable job. The solo thing often gets worse before it gets better, in my experience, unless you have a lot of built in connections or have an in-demand niche.

QContinuum

Moderator
Posts: 2453
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:52 am

Re: What do I do....

Postby QContinuum » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:05 pm

nixy wrote:I don’t know why you wouldn’t take the biglaw gig, if it’s the bird in the hand.

You said you’ve been laid off twice and fired once. Were the layoffs purely economic or were there performance issues? Why were you fired? It seems to me you’re in a mindset of assuming you’ll fail and one way to prevent that is to figure out what you did before that didn’t work and how not to do it again.

I'm with nixy here. What do you have to lose? It's not like you'd be giving up a stable (let alone lucrative) solo practice; rather, it sounds like you're barely keeping the lights on. Further, even putting money aside, it doesn't sound like you enjoy the solo lifestyle. You cite a lack of patience, bad clients, and difficulty finding work. You don't mention any hint of enjoying the independence, or the hustle, or whatnot.

So why not give BigLaw a try? Worst case scenario, it goes badly and you go back to being a solo, after getting a good chunk of money in your wallet (even a mere 6 months as a BigLawyer would net you almost $100k). And you may very well find you actually enjoy the work. I get that you didn't enjoy working at your three previous small firms, but BigLaw life is pretty different. Many small firms work their associates just as hard as BigLawyers, for a small fraction of the pay and benefits. It's one thing to work like a dog for $50k a year, and a whole different ballgame to do so for $190k. There's also the support services you get in BigLaw - no more doing double/triple duty as the IT fellow, or the secretary, or the chauffeur, or the handyman. Rather, you can focus on practicing law. Finally, it's also a bit easier to work around personality conflicts in BigLaw; if you don't enjoy working with Partner A, you might hit it off with Partner B. But at a small practice, if you don't 'click' with the head honcho, you're pretty much sunk.

Stephie248

New
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:18 pm

Re: What do I do....

Postby Stephie248 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:24 pm

You don't really mention your practice area or what the problem was at your previous firms that led to being laid off, but it's possible that law firm life (billable hour targets, building a network, building business) just isn't for you, but there are many other things you can do with a law degree - government work, in-house, legal operations/legal service providers (check out Elevate Services) are all great alternatives to slaving away in a law firm. They generally have a better work-life balance, and don't require extra effort on your part to generate business. It's worth looking into before giving up on law.

I can tell you though, if you weren't happy at other firms, and you're already worn out, biglaw will not be an improvement. You'll probably end up in a similar position in a year or so, but I suppose at least you'd be collecting a nice paycheck in the interim.

QContinuum

Moderator
Posts: 2453
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:52 am

Re: What do I do....

Postby QContinuum » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:44 am

Stephie248 wrote:I can tell you though, if you weren't happy at other firms, and you're already worn out, biglaw will not be an improvement

Have you worked in both SmallLaw and BigLaw? Do you have any idea how dramatically different the experience can be? It's not just a salary difference. Plenty of lawyers who thrive in BigLaw would burn out in record speed in SmallLaw, and vice versa. I agree that OP's history of being laid off/fired is concerning and red-flaggy, but IMO it's an overbroad generalization to say that anyone who hated SmallLaw will for sure also hate BigLaw.

Stephie248

New
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:18 pm

Re: What do I do....

Postby Stephie248 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:04 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Stephie248 wrote: Have you worked in both SmallLaw and BigLaw? Do you have any idea how dramatically different the experience can be? It's not just a salary difference. Plenty of lawyers who thrive in BigLaw would burn out in record speed in SmallLaw, and vice versa. I agree that OP's history of being laid off/fired is concerning and red-flaggy, but IMO it's an overbroad generalization to say that anyone who hated SmallLaw will for sure also hate BigLaw.


You have a point - I have not worked in SmallLaw, only BigLaw and in house. I suppose I was focusing on being worn out - that's not a great state of mind to be in going into BigLaw, as it does require a certain amount of energy and enthusiasm. But you're right, I did make an overbroad generalization, likely because I personally find Biglaw exhausting.

Adding to that - I love the work, I enjoy being a lawyer, and I do not regret going to law school. However, at times Biglaw has definitely made me doubt that. But being in house was a fantastic experience that I enjoyed quite a bit. I think everyone's different, and each person just has to find the right fit for themselves. OP obviously hasn't found that fit in SmallLaw, so a move into anything other than SmallLaw is probably a good idea.

JOThompson

Silver
Posts: 1326
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 3:16 am

Re: What do I do....

Postby JOThompson » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:12 pm

Small law or solo practice aren't working out. What's the harm in trying something that might be radically different/better? The only disadvantage I can think of? Perhaps OP could subsist as a solo practitioner and that it might improve gradually. In my short experience as a solo though, it's going to take at least 1 to 3 years to find a stable, sustainable point.



Return to “Legal Employment?

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.