How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

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How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:37 pm

I'm a 3rd year at a big law firm (a particularly intense famous one). I hate my life. I think every assignment I get is inane, ranges between value-neutral or just plain destructive to the world, and just another excuse to bill in the name of "risk-averse" client services.

I have an alternative plan (which is not going in-house, gov, etc. or any other more of the same situation). I just have to stick it out in my job for a few more months. The ideal would be to get severance a couple of months before planned date for leaving, but just wondering whether any others here have "ridden the edge" of being fired and have a sense of how much slacking a bottom-line-conscious big firm will tolerate. Don't want to get prematurely let go, but would like to start really taking advantage of the "unlimited" vacation policy and "no face-time requirement."

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Re: How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 3rd year at a big law firm (a particularly intense famous one). I hate my life. I think every assignment I get is inane, ranges between value-neutral or just plain destructive to the world, and just another excuse to bill in the name of "risk-averse" client services.

I have an alternative plan (which is not going in-house, gov, etc. or any other more of the same situation). I just have to stick it out in my job for a few more months. The ideal would be to get severance a couple of months before planned date for leaving, but just wondering whether any others here have "ridden the edge" of being fired and have a sense of how much slacking a bottom-line-conscious big firm will tolerate. Don't want to get prematurely let go, but would like to start really taking advantage of the "unlimited" vacation policy and "no face-time requirement."


If you're at the same "no face time," "particular intense" firm with "'unlimited' vacation" as I am, I think you can ride it pretty far unless there's an external shock, like a recession, that causes them to look more closely at staffing. I think unless you are actively subtracting value, the only time it would really come up would be during review season. But I bet you could take advantage of the free market pretty aggressively and bill enough that you do still work, but not enough to mess with your life -- maybe 1300-1500 hours. Just wait at least 5-6 hours to respond to emails on weekends. It will screw over people on your team, but after a while they'll stop counting on you.

If there are not also personal problems, I bet this would not come up before review time. That would be especially true if you currently have a good reputation; it will take a while for people to adjust their impression of you, which will lengthen the amount of time before people think you're no good.

You'll burn some bridges. Make really sure you're not counting on any relationships at this firm and make sure you're confident that nothing you do will get back to your next employer.

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Re: How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:40 am

My experience is that firings at big firms are a slow and protracted process. Even if you are an "at will" employee, they would prefer to build a case against you and document that you are garbage at your job. Even if you ultimately leave on amicable terms, the last thing they want is random accusations of discrimination or bias due to age/gender/political affiliation/creed/etc. coming back to bite them.

To add to what was said above, some partner might notice if you cut back to ~80-120 hours a month by doing the bare minimum possible, but it would probably take the firm as a whole ~3-6 months minimum (or one or two "review cycles") to actually do something about it. Even then, they might prefer to leave on amicable terms. I haven't seen a lot of "severance," but there is a decent chance they would keep you on payroll for a few months with minimal work as you look for another job.

dabigchina

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Re: How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

Postby dabigchina » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:35 pm

somewhat off-topic, but is taking a few hours to respond to non-urgent matters on the weekend really a fireable offense?

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:42 pm

dabigchina wrote:somewhat off-topic, but is taking a few hours to respond to non-urgent matters on the weekend really a fireable offense?


As usual it depends on firm and on practice group/partner. Most places, I don't think it would get you shitcanned in a vacuum but it can definitely make certain people hate you.

mickey_mouse

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Re: How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

Postby mickey_mouse » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:47 pm

More interested in hearing about this "alternate career" plan. PM if you care to share. On the same path, kind of interested in what you're doing in the mean time to build up to the transition.

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Elston Gunn

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Re: How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

Postby Elston Gunn » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:05 pm

dabigchina wrote:somewhat off-topic, but is taking a few hours to respond to non-urgent matters on the weekend really a fireable offense?

Not in my group at all. It really depends on the people you’re working with and/or how fast paced the matters you’re working on are. You should get a sense of this pretty quickly, but juniors should definitely err on the side of being more responsive than necessary. (Waiting 10 hours to respond to my emails and then saying they can’t do what I asked is one of the only ways to really make me dislike a first year.)

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Re: How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

Postby QContinuum » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:36 pm

Elston Gunn wrote:
dabigchina wrote:somewhat off-topic, but is taking a few hours to respond to non-urgent matters on the weekend really a fireable offense?

Not in my group at all. It really depends on the people you’re working with and/or how fast paced the matters you’re working on are. You should get a sense of this pretty quickly, but juniors should definitely err on the side of being more responsive than necessary. (Waiting 10 hours to respond to my emails and then saying they can’t do what I asked is one of the only ways to really make me dislike a first year.)

Seconding Elston above. All depends on context. Some seniors are unreasonable and always expect responses within 10-15 minutes, even with zero advance warning and even at, say, 11 PM on a Sunday night. But most (at least in my admittedly limited personal experience) seniors are fairly reasonable. If you are working on a fast-paced matter and you expect to be contacted, then you should be prepared to be "on call" and to respond within 10-15 minutes. If, on the other hand, you are on a matter with no fixed deadline and there was no advance expectation of weekend/off-hours work on that matter, then you're fine taking a few hours to respond (again, assuming a reasonable senior). The exception to the last sentence is if you receive an off-hours email asking whether you're interested in being staffed on a new matter. I recommend responding to those emails asap.

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Re: How to get through exactly one year of biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:58 pm

Interested in this too except I'm class of 2017 so a rising 3rd year. I combined taking some longer vacations (which meant the lead in time for about a week or two before and after were really slow) with still doing good work and being responsive when I'm staffed and it's worked out relatively well so far. I'm on pace for maybe 1800 hours if I hustle the rest of the year but I'm likely taking another week off at the end of the year.

Curious why the person above recommends responding to staffing emails/calls right away? I try to avoid shitty deals in the free market system and won't take on a Friday morning staffing if I can help it.

This isn't to be conflated with deals I'm already on that require late nights and weekend work. Still crush those when I can to keep a neutral reputation. You can't be a star to everyone.



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