How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

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Geon
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How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Geon » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:49 pm

I am just curious, I hear all kind of numbers floated around, but have no real sure way of knowing, but it seems to be 3-7 years? Anyone care to shed some light on this situation.

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TaipeiMort
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby TaipeiMort » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:54 pm

Geon wrote:I am just curious, I hear all kind of numbers floated around, but have no real sure way of knowing, but it seems to be 3-7 years? Anyone care to shed some light on this situation.


Depends on firm type. I am assuming your talking about the run with thecinitial firm.

NYC deals maybe 5 years.

Big lit maybe 6 to 7

Business/ specialties like tax, IP, smaller markets: 7.

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romothesavior
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby romothesavior » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:55 pm

^ Pretty sure those estimates are high. I think 3-5 years is the median stint.

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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:59 pm

If you get a clerkship bonus on the way in - are you required to work there for a certain period or could you leave after a year? (not saying I would plan to do this, but would like to know if I didn't have the option).

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TaipeiMort
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby TaipeiMort » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:02 pm

romothesavior wrote:^ Pretty sure those estimates are high. I think 3-5 years is the median stint.


I thought we were talking max at firm 1 if not making partner. I think your #'s are right if we are talking median stint at original firm in deals (3), others (4-5).

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bk1
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby bk1 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:02 pm

In 2007, 80% had left large firm practice by year 5. No way taipeimort's numbers are right.

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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If you get a clerkship bonus on the way in - are you required to work there for a certain period or could you leave after a year? (not saying I would plan to do this, but would like to know if I didn't have the option).


This is relevant to my interests, however I would seriously consider doing this.

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romothesavior
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby romothesavior » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:13 pm

TaipeiMort wrote:
romothesavior wrote:^ Pretty sure those estimates are high. I think 3-5 years is the median stint.


I thought we were talking max at firm 1 if not making partner. I think your #'s are right if we are talking median stint at original firm in deals (3), others (4-5).

I don't even know what you're talking about anymore. He asked average stint in biglaw. No matter how you measure that (single firm or big firms generally) its nowhere near what you said.

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Detrox
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Detrox » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If you get a clerkship bonus on the way in - are you required to work there for a certain period or could you leave after a year? (not saying I would plan to do this, but would like to know if I didn't have the option).


Some firms have conditions where they will only pay the bonus over a period of time, generally a year to two years. Other than that I don't think theres a strict condition on it, although leaving after a year and having received a clerkship bonus would probably have some harsh reputational consequences...

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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:39 pm

Detrox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If you get a clerkship bonus on the way in - are you required to work there for a certain period or could you leave after a year? (not saying I would plan to do this, but would like to know if I didn't have the option).


Some firms have conditions where they will only pay the bonus over a period of time, generally a year to two years. Other than that I don't think theres a strict condition on it, although leaving after a year and having received a clerkship bonus would probably have some harsh reputational consequences...


So, let's say you get an opportunity to work at DOJ and have the intention of coming back to the firm later - how long would you have had to work there to not suffer "harsh reputational consequences?"

desertlaw
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby desertlaw » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Detrox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If you get a clerkship bonus on the way in - are you required to work there for a certain period or could you leave after a year? (not saying I would plan to do this, but would like to know if I didn't have the option).


Some firms have conditions where they will only pay the bonus over a period of time, generally a year to two years. Other than that I don't think theres a strict condition on it, although leaving after a year and having received a clerkship bonus would probably have some harsh reputational consequences...


So, let's say you get an opportunity to work at DOJ and have the intention of coming back to the firm later - how long would you have had to work there to not suffer "harsh reputational consequences?"


Couldn't you just give the money back if you are really worried about the reputational consequences?

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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:49 pm

desertlaw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Detrox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If you get a clerkship bonus on the way in - are you required to work there for a certain period or could you leave after a year? (not saying I would plan to do this, but would like to know if I didn't have the option).


Some firms have conditions where they will only pay the bonus over a period of time, generally a year to two years. Other than that I don't think theres a strict condition on it, although leaving after a year and having received a clerkship bonus would probably have some harsh reputational consequences...


So, let's say you get an opportunity to work at DOJ and have the intention of coming back to the firm later - how long would you have had to work there to not suffer "harsh reputational consequences?"


Couldn't you just give the money back if you are really worried about the reputational consequences?


Sure you could. I'm just saying I would want to keep the money - how long would I have had to work there before that would be a problem?

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Detrox
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Detrox » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:51 pm

desertlaw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Detrox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If you get a clerkship bonus on the way in - are you required to work there for a certain period or could you leave after a year? (not saying I would plan to do this, but would like to know if I didn't have the option).


Some firms have conditions where they will only pay the bonus over a period of time, generally a year to two years. Other than that I don't think theres a strict condition on it, although leaving after a year and having received a clerkship bonus would probably have some harsh reputational consequences...


So, let's say you get an opportunity to work at DOJ and have the intention of coming back to the firm later - how long would you have had to work there to not suffer "harsh reputational consequences?"


Couldn't you just give the money back if you are really worried about the reputational consequences?


This. Also, I think it would have a lot to do with how much you communicated your intentions to your firm upon arrival and upon leaving. I was merely speculating about the hypothetical person who accepts a firm's offer and clerkship bonus just to jump ship a year later for whatever reason carrying away a bundle of arguably "unearned" money. No idea what any minimum amount of years spent would be but I think this could be best resolved through open communication.

GW_Law_Student
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby GW_Law_Student » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:59 pm

0 days, because average lawyers don't get into biglaw.

target
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby target » Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:47 pm

GW_Law_Student wrote:0 days, because average lawyers don't get into biglaw.


8)

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:59 pm

TaipeiMort wrote:Business/ specialties like tax, IP, smaller markets: 7.


Uh, no. The turnover for associates working in IP is insanely high. The lateral market for people with tech backgrounds doing biglaw IP litigation is very hot right now and people with 3-5 years of experience can basically pick where they want to work.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:01 pm

desertlaw wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Detrox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If you get a clerkship bonus on the way in - are you required to work there for a certain period or could you leave after a year? (not saying I would plan to do this, but would like to know if I didn't have the option).


Some firms have conditions where they will only pay the bonus over a period of time, generally a year to two years. Other than that I don't think theres a strict condition on it, although leaving after a year and having received a clerkship bonus would probably have some harsh reputational consequences...


So, let's say you get an opportunity to work at DOJ and have the intention of coming back to the firm later - how long would you have had to work there to not suffer "harsh reputational consequences?"


Couldn't you just give the money back if you are really worried about the reputational consequences?


Yeah, you could totally come up with $50k to give back to the firm... (keeping in mind that after taxes, you only got about $30k of the bonus)...

Some firms make you repay a pro-rated portion of the clerkship bonus if you leave under a year or two.

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englawyer
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby englawyer » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:27 am

Julio_El_Chavo wrote:
TaipeiMort wrote:Business/ specialties like tax, IP, smaller markets: 7.


Uh, no. The turnover for associates working in IP is insanely high. The lateral market for people with tech backgrounds doing biglaw IP litigation is very hot right now and people with 3-5 years of experience can basically pick where they want to work.


doesn't that imply that if you want to stay in biglaw (not necc same firm) in IP lit, you can basically stay as long as you want (7+ years)?

CanadianWolf
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:59 am

As written above, average lawyers don't get biglaw. This is important to understand since you're thread title suggests that all law grads experience biglaw when, in fact, only a small minority do.

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ColtsFan88
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby ColtsFan88 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:04 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:As written above, average lawyers don't get biglaw. This is important to understand since you're thread title suggests that all law grads experience biglaw when, in fact, only a small minority do.

Yes, a better title would be "How much time does the average lawyer, who actually worked in biglaw at one point, work in biglaw?"

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thesealocust
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby thesealocust » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:14 pm

About 10% of law grads get big law, and about a third leave every 3 years from the biggest firms. Some only last a year or two, but it starts being noticeable around year 3 when exit opportunities (and accumulated fatigue) both begin to peak. By year 6 or 7 it's likely barely anyone is left at any given firm.

NB that this under-estimates big law stints because those leaving from the biggest firms often lateral to other (still biglaw) firms. I met a ton of (non NYC) partners who lateraled from NYC big law during OCI, as a random example.

GW_Law_Student
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby GW_Law_Student » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:45 pm

ColtsFan88 wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:As written above, average lawyers don't get biglaw. This is important to understand since you're thread title suggests that all law grads experience biglaw when, in fact, only a small minority do.

Yes, a better title would be "How much time does the average lawyer, who actually worked in biglaw at one point, work in biglaw?"


Too few examples of average lawyers who worked in biglaw to be able to derive a trend.

Geon
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Geon » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:19 pm

thesealocust wrote:About 10% of law grads get big law, and about a third leave every 3 years from the biggest firms. Some only last a year or two, but it starts being noticeable around year 3 when exit opportunities (and accumulated fatigue) both begin to peak. By year 6 or 7 it's likely barely anyone is left at any given firm.

NB that this under-estimates big law stints because those leaving from the biggest firms often lateral to other (still biglaw) firms. I met a ton of (non NYC) partners who lateraled from NYC big law during OCI, as a random example.


So, if people are laterilling around, it still raises the same question, how much of the lawyers who enter big law stay in big law and whats the average amount of time. Just from the famous examples I can think of, it seems less than 7 years and more like 2-5, but I was hoping someone with direct experience would weigh in.

Geon
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Geon » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:21 pm

ColtsFan88 wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:As written above, average lawyers don't get biglaw. This is important to understand since you're thread title suggests that all law grads experience biglaw when, in fact, only a small minority do.

Yes, a better title would be "How much time does the average lawyer, who actually worked in biglaw at one point, work in biglaw?"

Yes, but a better answer would involve answering the op's question rather than just playing semantics and word games. I have no problem with people not knowing an answer, but when people make post like your question should say this word or have two commas instead of that word, it does not help at all.

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LogicalBaozi
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby LogicalBaozi » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:53 pm

Geon wrote:
ColtsFan88 wrote:
CanadianWolf wrote:As written above, average lawyers don't get biglaw. This is important to understand since you're thread title suggests that all law grads experience biglaw when, in fact, only a small minority do.

Yes, a better title would be "How much time does the average lawyer, who actually worked in biglaw at one point, work in biglaw?"

Yes, but a better answer would involve answering the op's question rather than just playing semantics and word games. I have no problem with people not knowing an answer, but when people make post like your question should say this word or have two commas instead of that word, it does not help at all.


Many people are law students, and semantics are a rather big deal in law (and the LSAT, too, for the 0Ls on these boards).

You asked about "average lawyers"; so, some people had a good time noting that average lawyers don't usually make biglaw (if we look at the average law student, he/she probably goes to a TT/TTT. Given the bar failure rate, the average lawyer is likely from a low T1/TT, and not at the top of their class, and so is not likely to be in BigLaw.

A better question would be, "What is the median/modal length of time a lawyer spends in their initial BigLaw firm?" Being in BigLaw is then an assumption, and we then argue about trends and such.

For that, what I have gleaned from TLS is that:

There is a high burnout rate. 80% drop out before year 5, and there are 20-30% attrition rates beginning from year 1 in firms before that. Most burnouts leave after 2-3 years, with those associates not on a partner track leaving after year 4-5. So, you would probably see two major waves of departures- the transfers/burnouts after 2-3 years, and the guys who realize they aren't making partner later on. Plus the high attrition of a high-stress job that requires you to devote tons of time.

I left out average because the few who do make partner can have 20-40 year careers, bringing averages up considerably.

tl;dr Don't expect to spend your entire career in BigLaw, even if you get it. Even those of us who are gunning for it know burnout is a real possibility.




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