Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

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Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Yes
46
46%
No
54
54%
 
Total votes: 100

jbc7
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Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby jbc7 » Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:52 pm

Yes/No?

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MTal
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby MTal » Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:58 pm

Yes, but then again, so do most jobs that require you to work 50+ hours a week.

BlueDiamond
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby BlueDiamond » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:01 pm

not if your soul thrives off $$$

UMN-3L
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby UMN-3L » Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:04 pm

I've only experienced BigLaw as a summer clerk, but I finished the summer with my soul intact. I've had jobs in the past where using my mind wasn't a primary job requirement, and I much prefer the intellectual engagement and human interaction inherent in working at a big law firm. BigLaw isn't for everyone, but I personally enjoyed my summer clerkship. I think that anyone considering going into BigLaw should talk to an actual lawyer (more than one, if possible, from multiple legal work environments), do their research, and decide if, based on what they've learned, BigLaw sounds like a desirable and achievable goal for them.

Here are some of the reasons why I chose to work at a large law firm:

1) Mentoring: At any law firm, big or small, you get to work for older, more experienced lawyers who are successful enough to build their own practices and busy enough to justify hiring you to help them do their work. Part of their job is to train you to became a successful lawyer, too. Of course, at the top of the Vault 100, the partnership track becomes much less certain, so that doesn't necessarily hold true at the largest law firms where only a small percentage of associates can expect to make partner.

2) Diversity: At a larger law firm, as opposed to a smaller one, you have the opportunity to work with a greater variety of partners and senior associates. You can build relationships based on who you get along with and respect, and can dilute the effects of having to work with someone you don't like. (Whereas, at a smaller firm, you're more likely to get stuck with working with the same group of people, for better or for worse.) Also, with more lawyers around, you can expect that the firm's practice is more diverse as well, so you gain exposure and experience quickly. This is why in-house shops headhunt BigLaw associates.

3) Client Advocacy: If you're doing the sort of work that clients are paying hundreds of dollars an hour for, it's very important to them. And so, if you're a good lawyer, it becomes important to you, too, and you try to be strategic about what you're doing and how you're going about it. Client interaction is generally considered the most rewarding part of lawyering, and, with BigLaw, you generally will be interacting with sophisticated clients who will teach you something about what they do through the course of your relationship with them. (This is balanced out by the pro bono commitment of most BigLaw firms, so you aren't exclusively working for businesses and affluent individuals.)

4) High Stakes Work Environment: Going into BigLaw is definitely a matter of attitude; the work you do can be tedious or stressful at times (if it were easy, your clients wouldn't pay you so much money to do it for them), so people who like to whine will find it fertile ground. I looked at everything I did this past summer as a learning opportunity, even if I was just summarizing cases for a memo.

It was really hard for me to come back from doing real work at a big law firm to studying at law school again; this sentiment is shared by other law students I've spoken with who clerked over the summer. It was awesome and I'm looking forward to working at a large law firm after graduation.

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MrPapagiorgio
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby MrPapagiorgio » Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:07 pm

BlueDiamond wrote:not if your soul thrives off $$$

Mine does. I'll be okay then, right?

jbc7
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby jbc7 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:24 am

damn

BlueDiamond
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby BlueDiamond » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:28 am

MrPapagiorgio wrote:
BlueDiamond wrote:not if your soul thrives off $$$

Mine does. I'll be okay then, right?


should be okay.. you also have to be willing to call home and tell your significant other that you wont be home before he/she goes to bed... again.. and again.. and again

(1) love money? - check
(2) hate family? - up in air?

Edit: I should qualify this by saying that if I have the grades to get an offer I'd take a biglaw job hands down.. im not one of those public interest or you hate the planet types

ruski
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby ruski » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:04 am

from my experience, the people who say they like it are usually single dudes who enjoy (finally) making bank and being able to spend cash freely when they go out. biglaw is tough, but not so tough that you can't go out with buddies once/twice a week night.

the people who don't like it are those with other commitments. for instance those with families who want to be home at 7pm to have dinner every night. or people who are very into their hobbies and were never workaholics. but if you're a regular single guy who would normally just go home at 7pm to watch tv alone, biglaw is pretty sweet gig.

TMC116
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby TMC116 » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:00 pm

MTal wrote:Yes, but then again, so do most jobs that require you to work 50+ hours a week.


Bahaha 50?

1. Fifty hours a week is normal for almost any job

2. Biglaw is 80-90 hrs a week

jbc7
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby jbc7 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:09 am

Dang

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5ky
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby 5ky » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:30 am

TMC116 wrote:
MTal wrote:Yes, but then again, so do most jobs that require you to work 50+ hours a week.


Bahaha 50?

1. Fifty hours a week is normal for almost any job

2. Biglaw is 80-90 hrs a week


Please impart more of your wisdom.

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romothesavior
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby romothesavior » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:17 pm

Solid response, UMN3L, but you should probably have included money on it if glyph were being truly honest.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:24 pm

If you have a soul, you may be in the wrong profession. :D

CanadianWolf
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:26 pm

@UMN3L: Mentoring can be more intense at smaller firms. Biglaw firms want billable hours.

UMN-3L
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby UMN-3L » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:19 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:@UMN3L: Mentoring can be more intense at smaller firms. Biglaw firms want billable hours.


That may be true, but I've heard the opposite from my friends who clerked at smaller firms. Smaller firms want to make money, too; some of my friends were pressured by their smaller firms to work in the summer after graduating, when they should have been focused on studying for the bar. That is something I've never heard of a big firm doing.

According to my friends who've clerked at smaller firms, they were given a lot more responsibility very early on (e.g. drafting summary judgment motions on the first day of their clerkships), but had less oversight and guidance from the assigning attorney. That appealed to their personality types, because they enjoy that sort of latitude. Whereas I liked having more structure and guidance, e.g. a formal assignment system for work (so that 10 attorneys can't pop into your office in one day and drop work in your lap), a lot of feedback while I was doing the work, and a formal evaluation (and meeting) at the end of each assignment, so that I could hear from the attorney directly what I did well on and what I could improve on next time. These formal (and informal) mentorship programs are standard at most big law firms for summer associates, junior associates, and even junior partners.

My friends at smaller firms said that they didn't have a formal work assignment, mentorship or evaluation program, and that the clerkship program wasn't organized like a larger law firm's. Again, that appeals to some personality types, but not to mine.

Oh, I forgot a big plus of working at a larger law firm: contracts with Westlaw and/or Lexis! I've heard from clerks at smaller firms that their firms can't afford unlimited access to either database, so they often have to do research on the free websites or in the books, except during that one free hour a week when the Lexis/Westlaw representative came to give them a free password. I wouldn't mind the free websites, but researching in the books or at the law library would not be fun.

UMN-3L
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby UMN-3L » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:23 pm

romothesavior wrote:Solid response, UMN3L, but you should probably have included money on it if glyph were being truly honest.


Um, I don't know what you mean by "if glyph were being truly honest," but I assume you mean that I should have had a dollar sign somewhere in my post?

I thought that the increased monetary benefit of working for big law firms was universally understood. What the question was asking was whether BigLaw "sucked the soul" out of you. I don't think it does; even apart from the money, I enjoyed the work I was doing and look forward to going back to that environment after I graduate.

As you've probably heard, apart from particular niches like tax and IP, law school teaches you relatively little about the practice of law. Some of the best lawyers (but not necessarily all) in any legal market work for big law firms, and the partnership track is considered an apprenticeship program for young lawyers. Yes, big law firm partners make a lot of money, but they're also some of the most confident, intelligent, personable, and effective professionals I've ever worked with. I'm excited to be joining a big law firm because I'll get to learn from some of the best.
Last edited by UMN-3L on Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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sunynp
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby sunynp » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:56 pm

I think the question should be: "does working biglaw hours for years destroy your physical health?"

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Attorney
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby Attorney » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:17 pm

sunynp wrote:I think the question should be: "does working biglaw hours for years destroy your physical health?"

:!:
http://abovethelaw.com/2011/06/in-re-the-passing-of-a-skadden-associate/

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holdencaulfield
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby holdencaulfield » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:10 pm

UMN-3L wrote:
That may be true, but I've heard the opposite from my friends who clerked at smaller firms. Smaller firms want to make money, too; some of my friends were pressured by their smaller firms to work in the summer after graduating, when they should have been focused on studying for the bar. That is something I've never heard of a big firm doing.

According to my friends who've clerked at smaller firms, they were given a lot more responsibility very early on (e.g. drafting summary judgment motions on the first day of their clerkships), but had less oversight and guidance from the assigning attorney. That appealed to their personality types, because they enjoy that sort of latitude. Whereas I liked having more structure and guidance, e.g. a formal assignment system for work (so that 10 attorneys can't pop into your office in one day and drop work in your lap), a lot of feedback while I was doing the work, and a formal evaluation (and meeting) at the end of each assignment, so that I could hear from the attorney directly what I did well on and what I could improve on next time. These formal (and informal) mentorship programs are standard at most big law firms for summer associates, junior associates, and even junior partners.

My friends at smaller firms said that they didn't have a formal work assignment, mentorship or evaluation program, and that the clerkship program wasn't organized like a larger law firm's. Again, that appeals to some personality types, but not to mine.

Oh, I forgot a big plus of working at a larger law firm: contracts with Westlaw and/or Lexis! I've heard from clerks at smaller firms that their firms can't afford unlimited access to either database, so they often have to do research on the free websites or in the books, except during that one free hour a week when the Lexis/Westlaw representative came to give them a free password. I wouldn't mind the free websites, but researching in the books or at the law library would not be fun.



I clerked at 3 different small firms and currently work at a midsize/boutique firm; I've experienced and/or heard of exactly zero occurences of few of the things you mention. Perhaps it's because there are so many small firms, or perhaps your friends coincidentally got the worst ones.

First, I've never heard of a small firm pressuring a new associate to work during bar review; if it happens, it's the sign of a bad firm.

Second, I wouldn't mistake more latitude as "less oversight and guidance." Sometimes you'll learn much more by starting from scratch and learning how to properly draft a motion for remand or subpoena or whatever the project is. Even when I was given a ton of "latitude", my work was still thoroughly reviewed by an attorney, and that attorney would sit down and go over his revisions with me.

Third, what is a formal work assignment? Do they schedule your assignments and not give you a new one until your current one is complete? How will you ever learn to actually balance a regular workload? I'm now an attorney and my desk is covered with assignments from multiple partners. I'm thankful I had to learn to communicate and prioritize my workload as a SA. I'm picturing you turning your work assignment into the firm administrator and her giving you a new one. Please tell me this is not how your "formal work assignments" operated.

Fourth, formal mentoring programs are great. I will not take away from that. I developed several great mentor relationships while clerking. However, knowing from day 1 exactly who you can go to with questions or problems is pretty nice.

Fifth, the smallest firm I worked at had four attorneys. Even that firm had unlimited Westlaw. No one uses books, no one waits around for the reps to give out free passwords. I'm seriously questioning whether someone from a small firm has actually told you this. I think it's more likely you just heard it from your fellow biglaw SA's or an uniformed biglaw attorney. It's just silly.

I'm not advocating small firms over biglaw; I just don't want people to get the wrong impression based off "what you've heard."

Master Tofu
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby Master Tofu » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:27 pm

holdencaulfield wrote:

I clerked at 3 different small firms and currently work at a midsize/boutique firm; I've experienced and/or heard of exactly zero occurences of few of the things you mention. Perhaps it's because there are so many small firms, or perhaps your friends coincidentally got the worst ones.

First, I've never heard of a small firm pressuring a new associate to work during bar review; if it happens, it's the sign of a bad firm.

Second, I wouldn't mistake more latitude as "less oversight and guidance." Sometimes you'll learn much more by starting from scratch and learning how to properly draft a motion for remand or subpoena or whatever the project is. Even when I was given a ton of "latitude", my work was still thoroughly reviewed by an attorney, and that attorney would sit down and go over his revisions with me.

Third, what is a formal work assignment? Do they schedule your assignments and not give you a new one until your current one is complete? How will you ever learn to actually balance a regular workload? I'm now an attorney and my desk is covered with assignments from multiple partners. I'm thankful I had to learn to communicate and prioritize my workload as a SA. I'm picturing you turning your work assignment into the firm administrator and her giving you a new one. Please tell me this is not how your "formal work assignments" operated.

Fourth, formal mentoring programs are great. I will not take away from that. I developed several great mentor relationships while clerking. However, knowing from day 1 exactly who you can go to with questions or problems is pretty nice.

Fifth, the smallest firm I worked at had four attorneys. Even that firm had unlimited Westlaw. No one uses books, no one waits around for the reps to give out free passwords. I'm seriously questioning whether someone from a small firm has actually told you this. I think it's more likely you just heard it from your fellow biglaw SA's or an uniformed biglaw attorney. It's just silly.

I'm not advocating small firms over biglaw; I just don't want people to get the wrong impression based off "what you've heard."


This is not true. I wouldn't mistake the summer program for the real working life of an associate. I think it is far harder for associates at larger firms to manage expectations/workload than the smaller firms.

UCLAtransfer
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby UCLAtransfer » Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:44 pm

holdencaulfield wrote:I clerked at 3 different small firms and currently work at a midsize/boutique firm; I've experienced and/or heard of exactly zero occurences of few of the things you mention. Perhaps it's because there are so many small firms, or perhaps your friends coincidentally got the worst ones.

First, I've never heard of a small firm pressuring a new associate to work during bar review; if it happens, it's the sign of a bad firm.

Second, I wouldn't mistake more latitude as "less oversight and guidance." Sometimes you'll learn much more by starting from scratch and learning how to properly draft a motion for remand or subpoena or whatever the project is. Even when I was given a ton of "latitude", my work was still thoroughly reviewed by an attorney, and that attorney would sit down and go over his revisions with me.

Third, what is a formal work assignment? Do they schedule your assignments and not give you a new one until your current one is complete? How will you ever learn to actually balance a regular workload? I'm now an attorney and my desk is covered with assignments from multiple partners. I'm thankful I had to learn to communicate and prioritize my workload as a SA. I'm picturing you turning your work assignment into the firm administrator and her giving you a new one. Please tell me this is not how your "formal work assignments" operated.

Fourth, formal mentoring programs are great. I will not take away from that. I developed several great mentor relationships while clerking. However, knowing from day 1 exactly who you can go to with questions or problems is pretty nice.

Fifth, the smallest firm I worked at had four attorneys. Even that firm had unlimited Westlaw. No one uses books, no one waits around for the reps to give out free passwords. I'm seriously questioning whether someone from a small firm has actually told you this. I think it's more likely you just heard it from your fellow biglaw SA's or an uniformed biglaw attorney. It's just silly.

I'm not advocating small firms over biglaw; I just don't want people to get the wrong impression based off "what you've heard."


As someone who has worked at a small firm, and now as an associate as a mid-sized firm, I completely agree with every point.

A lot of UMN's "comparisons" to small(er) firms seem more like stereotypes than reality, at least from my personal experience and my interactions in working with/talking to a lot of actual attorneys at smaller firms.

UMN-3L
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby UMN-3L » Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:10 am

holdencaulfield wrote:I clerked at 3 different small firms and currently work at a midsize/boutique firm; I've experienced and/or heard of exactly zero occurences of few of the things you mention. Perhaps it's because there are so many small firms, or perhaps your friends coincidentally got the worst ones.

First, I've never heard of a small firm pressuring a new associate to work during bar review; if it happens, it's the sign of a bad firm.

Second, I wouldn't mistake more latitude as "less oversight and guidance." Sometimes you'll learn much more by starting from scratch and learning how to properly draft a motion for remand or subpoena or whatever the project is. Even when I was given a ton of "latitude", my work was still thoroughly reviewed by an attorney, and that attorney would sit down and go over his revisions with me.

Third, what is a formal work assignment? Do they schedule your assignments and not give you a new one until your current one is complete? How will you ever learn to actually balance a regular workload? I'm now an attorney and my desk is covered with assignments from multiple partners. I'm thankful I had to learn to communicate and prioritize my workload as a SA. I'm picturing you turning your work assignment into the firm administrator and her giving you a new one. Please tell me this is not how your "formal work assignments" operated.

Fourth, formal mentoring programs are great. I will not take away from that. I developed several great mentor relationships while clerking. However, knowing from day 1 exactly who you can go to with questions or problems is pretty nice.

Fifth, the smallest firm I worked at had four attorneys. Even that firm had unlimited Westlaw. No one uses books, no one waits around for the reps to give out free passwords. I'm seriously questioning whether someone from a small firm has actually told you this. I think it's more likely you just heard it from your fellow biglaw SA's or an uniformed biglaw attorney. It's just silly.

I'm not advocating small firms over biglaw; I just don't want people to get the wrong impression based off "what you've heard."


Wow, people on this board are argumentative/easily offended. Do you seriously have a problem with my relating my perspective? You are certainly welcome to provide an alternative viewpoint and you can attack my credibility all you want (why not? it's the internet, so no one will ever win and you can say anything you please without worrying about repercussions). Just so that we understand each other: I'm not interested in "dueling" with you.

1) I heard directly from a friend who was pressured to work for a smaller firm while studying for the bar. It made her absolutely miserable, which is what I heard about, chiefly. She works there now, so I won't post its name. You can believe me or not; it honestly makes no difference to me.

2) It is perfectly valid for you to prefer learning through trial and error. I have friends who told me about having to draft summary judgment motions due in a couple of days from scratch on the first day of their clerkships, which is something I would not find appealing.

3) A formal work assignment "system" ensures that no summer associate is overwhelmed by work, since an intermediary is able to tell assigning attorneys "no," if need be, without directly involving the summer associate. One friend I know who worked at a smaller law firm had to fend off assignments from paralegals, etc. who neither knew or cared about whether she was being overwhelmed. And, as a summer associate on a "12 week interview," she didn't want to say "no" to anything and risk ruffling feathers.

4) Yeah, mentoring is great.

5) Re: Westlaw access. Sorry, buddy, I heard that one from the horse's mouth. Multiple horses' mouths, actually. One former SmallLaw summer associate told me about calculating the length of time it would take her to walk from her small firm's office to the law library to use Westlaw for free, and wondering it would be worth it if she had to bill her client for the duration of the walk. She ultimately concluded that it would be more cost effective for her to wait for the rep to bring a free password later that week.

You obviously have had different experiences and heard different stories than me. In my opinion, it is perfectly valid for both of us to share our experiences and understandings about the legal field.

Since you seem upset, I'll clarify that I'm not "dissing" smaller firms. I am relating why, after speaking with lawyers who've worked at both smaller and larger firms (FYI, one told me that at his smaller law firm he had worked just as many hours as he did at his larger firm, but he got paid more for working the same number of hours at the larger firm) and summer associates who've clerked at larger or smaller firms, I decided to seek employment at a larger firm. Everything I related in my post is based on anecdotal research I did with acquaintances who clerked at smaller firms in the Midwest, New York, California, and the Southwest. Again, believe me or not, it's no skin off my nose.

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holdencaulfield
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby holdencaulfield » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:29 am

UMN-3L wrote:
Wow, people on this board are argumentative/easily offended. Do you seriously have a problem with my relating my perspective? You are certainly welcome to provide an alternative viewpoint and you can attack my credibility all you want (why not? it's the internet, so no one will ever win and you can say anything you please without worrying about repercussions). Just so that we understand each other: I'm not interested in "dueling" with you.

1) I heard directly from a friend who was pressured to work for a smaller firm while studying for the bar. It made her absolutely miserable, which is what I heard about, chiefly. She works there now, so I won't post its name. You can believe me or not; it honestly makes no difference to me.

2) It is perfectly valid for you to prefer learning through trial and error. I have friends who told me about having to draft summary judgment motions due in a couple of days from scratch on the first day of their clerkships, which is something I would not find appealing.

3) A formal work assignment "system" ensures that no summer associate is overwhelmed by work, since an intermediary is able to tell assigning attorneys "no," if need be, without directly involving the summer associate. One friend I know who worked at a smaller law firm had to fend off assignments from paralegals, etc. who neither knew or cared about whether she was being overwhelmed. And, as a summer associate on a "12 week interview," she didn't want to say "no" to anything and risk ruffling feathers.

4) Yeah, mentoring is great.

5) Re: Westlaw access. Sorry, buddy, I heard that one from the horse's mouth. Multiple horses' mouths, actually. One former SmallLaw summer associate told me about calculating the length of time it would take her to walk from her small firm's office to the law library to use Westlaw for free, and wondering it would be worth it if she had to bill her client for the duration of the walk. She ultimately concluded that it would be more cost effective for her to wait for the rep to bring a free password later that week.

You obviously have had different experiences and heard different stories than me. In my opinion, it is perfectly valid for both of us to share our experiences and understandings about the legal field.

Since you seem upset, I'll clarify that I'm not "dissing" smaller firms. I am relating why, after speaking with lawyers who've worked at both smaller and larger firms (FYI, one told me that at his smaller law firm he had worked just as many hours as he did at his larger firm, but he got paid more for working the same number of hours at the larger firm) and summer associates who've clerked at larger or smaller firms, I decided to seek employment at a larger firm. Everything I related in my post is based on anecdotal research I did with acquaintances who clerked at smaller firms in the Midwest, New York, California, and the Southwest. Again, believe me or not, it's no skin off my nose.



Lol...

hbb
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby hbb » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:45 am

I love that the TLS conventional wisdom continues to perpetuate the myth that online legal research costs are prohibitively expensive for many small firms. That's been parroted by many posters in the years while I've been perusing TLS, and it never gets old. I think my favorite aspect of that myth is the "walking to the law library to do legal research for free" part.

jbc7
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby jbc7 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 3:39 am

so it does?




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