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

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

Postby IAFG » Wed Dec 21, 2011 3:40 am

Are we saying biglaw partners are dementors?

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

Postby MrPapagiorgio » Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:35 pm

IAFG wrote:Are we saying biglaw partners are dementors?

If they pay me market with lockstep raises, they can have my soul.

Nate895
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby Nate895 » Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:21 pm

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


Bump.

1. That's just wrong. That is true of almost any professional job (as in a job that requires a professional education), it is not true of most jobs. There are plenty of jobs where you can work 9-5, particularly if you are perfectly willing to sacrifice six-figure salaries and tracks to higher management (even then, I've known a few people who make six figures and still get home by six to eat dinner with their families every night, almost without fail).

2. Where do people get this garbage? Can you cite me a source that would indicate this is regular? I want to work PI in the end, I just want to clerk and then payoff student loan debt with biglaw salary for a few years, but I don't want to be miserable in the process. Working 60+ hours week on average is not something I'm looking forward. In point of fact, I'd skip it and find some way of having a life.

I'm trying to figure out if these horror stories of 80 hour weeks regularly, or averaging 70 hours, are unavoidable. The more likely they are, the more likely I am to take the scholarship money at a lower ranked law school and work in a firm that is made up of human beings instead of lemmings following money, even if I must forgo better clerkship opportunities and the like. The reliable sources that I have seen (stuff actually published by law schools, the NALP Directory, and surveys of mid-level associates) indicate 60+ hour weeks are an exception save for the worst of firms.

I tend to lean to this whole idea of working an average seventy hour week as being largely a myth. Sure, there might be a few firms where this is reality, but I think these are few and concentrated at the top, and can be avoided if one so desired. However, I want to be relatively certain of this before I sign my life away on massive student loan bills and give myself little choice but to work at a sweatshop if that's my only option to payoff student loans in a reasonable amount of time. The last thing I want to do is go through 3 years of law school, wind up at a spot in the class that affords few job opportunities, only to have one large firm give me an offer with which I can payoff loans, and, yeah, heaven forbid, I wind up having, maybe, one weekend a month to spend with family for years on end. If I'm going to do that, I might as well sign an indentured servitude contract and just make it official.

I'd particularly appreciate PMs from any associates currently employed in biglaw as to how true this stuff is, or if it's just a meme started by people who read too many anecdotes on ATL.

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

Postby sayornis » Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:48 pm

^ I worked in investment banking this past summer and our legal counterparts at Skadden/SullCrom/Cravath were usually there when we were working.

As summer analysts, we averaged 90-100 hours/week.

When you are on a live deal, you need to be on stand-by at all times, and that means sometimes waiting til 2AM for the lawyers to send over a fairness opinion. When the deal is about to go through, bankers and lawyers alike work around the clock to try to push it through and meet the announcement deadline. That means forgoing weekends and sleeping 5-6 hours a night for a week. However, that doesn't mean you're working all the time because there is down time during the day.

The hours sound a lot worse than they actually are. People actually waste a lot of time at home checking facebook and doing random stuff. If you're dedicated to the job, might as well sit at the office and make dough. For me, the hardest part wasn't the hours, but rather having no control over my time. I'm OK with working 9AM - 1AM 6 days a week (96hrs right there), but I could never be 100% sure I could make dinner with friends because a deal could flare up at any point.

My questions are pretty specific: Do you know people switching from finance to BigLaw? How was the transition process for them? Did they find the hours to be easier/harder? The work more/less interesting? The pay more/less satisfying?

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Odd Future Wolf Gang
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby Odd Future Wolf Gang » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:52 pm

What do you guys think happened to this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6PuZHIfgMw

Googled him and he was an associate at Jenner & Block. Is this common in biglaw?

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

Postby catwomangirl » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:54 pm

Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:What do you guys think happened to this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6PuZHIfgMw

Googled him and he was an associate at Jenner & Block. Is this common in biglaw?



He's very attractive. That's the real reason he left biglaw.

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Odd Future Wolf Gang
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby Odd Future Wolf Gang » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:55 pm

I know. He looks like the proverbial 6'2" chill sociable alpha dude CRUSHING the bar scene.

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

Postby DoubleChecks » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:11 pm

Not to snap this back into the riveting "duel" between UMC and Holden, but seeing as how there are so many small law firms, and the geographic location is not even specified in your posts...um, couldn't both of you be right? lol sounds like you are both just relating anecdotes that, I don't doubt, both of you have heard/experienced. Don't know why that means someone is perpetuating a false myth or something...

Shoot, even biglaw is very different between say, TX and NYC (and that's not even considering the smaller markets like, iunno St. Louis) where very different experiences can be relayed.

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

Postby PDaddy » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:13 pm

One other reason to choose biglaw is that it is always easier to work your way "downward", for lack of a better word, than "upward".

For many reasons already mentioned (diversity of people and experiences, mentoring from top, experienced attorneys, etc.), one can parlay biglaw experience into just about anything else with relative ease, while a person who starts at a boutique firm will have a tough time landing a high-paying in-house or biglaw job. This is a general rule, but generally speaking there is always an exception to the rule. :wink:

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

Postby PDaddy » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:18 pm

catwomangirl wrote:
Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:What do you guys think happened to this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6PuZHIfgMw

Googled him and he was an associate at Jenner & Block. Is this common in biglaw?


He's very attractive. That's the real reason he left biglaw.


Attractive? His mouth is nasty. Watch 1:00-1:08 of the YouTube video...Uuuuugh! Look closely at the slime on his bottom lip. Yeah, if you can kiss that dude, you are a strong woman. Look at his teeth.

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

Postby sunynp » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:23 pm

PDaddy wrote:One other reason to choose biglaw is that it is always easier to work your way "downward", for lack of a better word, than "upward".

For many reasons already mentioned (diversity of people and experiences, mentoring from top, experienced attorneys, etc.), one can parlay biglaw experience into just about anything else with relative ease, while a person who starts at a boutique firm will have a tough time landing a high-paying in-house or biglaw job. This is a general rule, but generally speaking there is always an exception to the rule. :wink:



Is this true? I haven't seen any stats at all on the biglaw exit options ITE. Just asking.

I'm not sure how relevant these stats would be, because most of us have several years before we get to this point and maybe the economy will be booming by then. I have heard that for many biglaw associates, the biglaw salary is the most they will ever make - but that isn't based on data either.

I'm not even sure how to locate data on laid-off or pushed-out or passed-over associates and their next jobs. (The people who voluntarily leave for a client or another job might be able to be found by announcements in various journals.) We can barely get statistics from firms that accurately report their summer hires, I know they don't release information on the lawyers who have left the firm. I'm sure the ABA doesn't track it and I don't know who does.
Last edited by sunynp on Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Postby catwomangirl » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:34 pm

PDaddy wrote:
catwomangirl wrote:
Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:What do you guys think happened to this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6PuZHIfgMw

Googled him and he was an associate at Jenner & Block. Is this common in biglaw?


He's very attractive. That's the real reason he left biglaw.


Attractive? His mouth is nasty. Watch 1:00-1:08 of the YouTube video...Uuuuugh! Look closely at the slime on his bottom lip. Yeah, if you can kiss that dude, you are a strong woman. Look at his teeth.



Oh wow. Good catch. I have a small screen, so I just really saw the eyes.
But I mean, it is fixable. We just gotta slap some veneers in there.


Or a grill.

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

Postby catwomangirl » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:40 pm

PDaddy wrote:
catwomangirl wrote:
Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:What do you guys think happened to this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6PuZHIfgMw

Googled him and he was an associate at Jenner & Block. Is this common in biglaw?


He's very attractive. That's the real reason he left biglaw.


Attractive? His mouth is nasty. Watch 1:00-1:08 of the YouTube video...Uuuuugh! Look closely at the slime on his bottom lip. Yeah, if you can kiss that dude, you are a strong woman. Look at his teeth.



Oh wait, now I see the lip stuff.

On my cross country team people always had that after a race. Maybe he's dehydrated?

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

Postby dudders » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:49 pm

This question unfairly presumes that you have a soul left after law school gets done with you.

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

Postby djaja » Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:08 am

ruski wrote: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.



This post is worth quoting over and over again.

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

Postby CGI Fridays » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:06 am

Nate895 wrote:I'm trying to figure out if these horror stories of 80 hour weeks regularly, or averaging 70 hours, are unavoidable... The reliable sources that I have seen (stuff actually published by law schools, the NALP Directory, and surveys of mid-level associates) indicate 60+ hour weeks are an exception save for the worst of firms.

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

Postby kams » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:27 am

It's tough, but it's not as tough as some people make it out to be. The complex work, great contacts, more lucrative exit options, and even little perks can make it worth it. Obviously there will be long days with bad work, but most lucrative jobs have their fair share of that.

Also, a lot of people who hate on biglaw would take biglaw in a heartbeat, and perhaps they subconsciously rag on biglaw out of spite for not being able to get into it. Not all, but some. I know before I had the opportunity to summer in New York I had plenty of bad things to say about big firms. But after getting to know some people, I think some things are definitely exaggerated. Obviously it's not all roses, but it's worth it for a few years generally.

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

Postby dingbat » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:39 am

sayornis wrote:^ I worked in investment banking this past summer and our legal counterparts at Skadden/SullCrom/Cravath were usually there when we were working.

As summer analysts, we averaged 90-100 hours/week.

When you are on a live deal, you need to be on stand-by at all times, and that means sometimes waiting til 2AM for the lawyers to send over a fairness opinion. When the deal is about to go through, bankers and lawyers alike work around the clock to try to push it through and meet the announcement deadline. That means forgoing weekends and sleeping 5-6 hours a night for a week. However, that doesn't mean you're working all the time because there is down time during the day.

The hours sound a lot worse than they actually are. People actually waste a lot of time at home checking facebook and doing random stuff. If you're dedicated to the job, might as well sit at the office and make dough. For me, the hardest part wasn't the hours, but rather having no control over my time. I'm OK with working 9AM - 1AM 6 days a week (96hrs right there), but I could never be 100% sure I could make dinner with friends because a deal could flare up at any point.

My questions are pretty specific: Do you know people switching from finance to BigLaw? How was the transition process for them? Did they find the hours to be easier/harder? The work more/less interesting? The pay more/less satisfying?


Ask me in a few years...

I'll tell all of you what it's like from the other side. I used to do investment banking and will tell you that when I had an upcoming closing, I would do the following:
A) if there was plenty of time
1) send stuff to our attorneys
2) wait a reasonable time for them to get back
usually, that was fine. Maybe 5% of the time, I would not hear back soon enough and I'd have to chase once or twice, but even then, it wasn't a big deal. Happy times all around

B) if there was a short deadline (e.g. because the customers dilly-dallied for too long)
1) give a heads up to the attorneys that something was coming down the pipeline and they could expect it at any time (usually, the heads up would come when I got stuff from the client and still had to to my work before pushing it through)
2a) depending on how much time there actually was, I'd send it through and hope to hear back soon enough
2b) if we were really short, I'd call to say I'd emailed/sent the documents, get your ass in gear
3) call in increments: are you done yet?
Depending on the time frame, the first call might come after 2-3 hours, then every hour, every half hour, every fifteen minutes.

I'm not kidding. I remember the first time I was put in a situation where my boss ordered me to call every 15 minutes, I thought he was nuts. Well, if we've only got a few hours until the deadline, you bet I'll call every 15 minutes. (missing a deadline could cost us a chunk, and the work had to be in on time to make the wire cut-offs)

In one case, we learned with less than an hour before the deadline that due to a rounding error (no one realized the deal had been backdated to a weekend until the last minute) we were off by X dollars. I remember yelling on the phone saying find a way to get the deal approved and I'll pay the difference myself. (I was sure my boss would reimburse me as we would net 200 times that amount) But, the paperwork had to be prepared to make up for this difference. I don't want to know how stressed out my counterpart at XYZ law firm was over that, but I literally sat on the phoneline while he was drafting the docs, practically jumbing up and down for the job to get done.

To sum up - when there's no rapidly approaching deadline, there was no pressure and our lawyers could take their time, but when there's a deadline coming up, you're available at the client's beck-and-call.

vacate123
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby vacate123 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:47 am

yes, it does.

once, during a callback, a saw three partners circling a second-year associate in the break room. They were going around in circles chanting "PPP PPP PPP." I saw a white cloud emanate from said associate's anus. I think it was his soul coming out of his ass. Ass-soul.

they saw me, a potential recruit, in the hallway. One of the partners hurriedly slammed the door shut.

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ben4847
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Re: Does BigLaw really suck the soul out of you?

Postby ben4847 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:49 am

None of us had a soul to begin with.

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

Postby traehekat » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:14 pm

vacate123 wrote:yes, it does.

once, during a callback, a saw three partners circling a second-year associate in the break room. They were going around in circles chanting "PPP PPP PPP." I saw a white cloud emanate from said associate's anus. I think it was his soul coming out of his ass. Ass-soul.

they saw me, a potential recruit, in the hallway. One of the partners hurriedly slammed the door shut.


ahaha, for some reason i picture the partners with their ties around their heads while this happens, maybe some war paint on their face or something, possibly a small fire in the trash bin next to the coffee machine.

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

Postby Gail » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:40 pm

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


ftfy.


lesson kids: adult life sucks the soul out of you. they don't teach this enough in high school.

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

Postby Veyron » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:46 pm

UMN-3L wrote: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.


The best test of whether biglaw will such YOUR soul out is whether you could ever conceive of yourself saying something like this.




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