Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

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Wily
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby Wily » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:13 pm

Great tips UTLaw, especially about taking trial advocacy courses (which look really fun too) and doing mock trial activities to get an idea of how to act in a court room.

I definitely agree with you about criminal law. I couldn't see myself doing it, at least on the defense side, because I'd be afraid of getting criminals off the hook if I performed too well (not that I don't believe in their constitutional right to have representation, but it just seems like a morally challenging position to take).

From reading JDU and areyouinsane's posts, it seems like another pitfall of starting off in a small firm is trying to get clients who have money and will pay you on time. How do you deal with people who are just calling to "kick the tires", and clients who don't want to/have the means to pay? Also, do you advertise at all in media, or do you just rely on networking to get your cases?

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dingbat
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby dingbat » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:08 pm

tedalbany wrote:
dingbat wrote:
rad lulz wrote:Geon is such a baller he buys his coke by the key.

Cola maybe
Geon wrote:Ding bat ain't no ding bat


You're still mad about that? That's obviously a compliment, he's saying you aren't a ding bat (even though your name is dingbat...)

I'm over it, I'm over it
Breathe deep. Breathe deep


Sorry, it just seemed wrong to me, even though I know it was intended as a compliment

utlaw2007
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby utlaw2007 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:39 pm

Wily wrote:Great tips UTLaw, especially about taking trial advocacy courses (which look really fun too) and doing mock trial activities to get an idea of how to act in a court room.

I definitely agree with you about criminal law. I couldn't see myself doing it, at least on the defense side, because I'd be afraid of getting criminals off the hook if I performed too well (not that I don't believe in their constitutional right to have representation, but it just seems like a morally challenging position to take).

From reading JDU and areyouinsane's posts, it seems like another pitfall of starting off in a small firm is trying to get clients who have money and will pay you on time. How do you deal with people who are just calling to "kick the tires", and clients who don't want to/have the means to pay? Also, do you advertise at all in media, or do you just rely on networking to get your cases?


That is a great point. Getting clients that pay. That is a problem. However, that's where targeted marketing comes into play. I can't stress enough how important it is to be a business man. Law firms of all sizes, have poor business acumen. Obviously, some are much better than others.

Most small firms and solos are terrible business men/women. I personally think that is the main reason why they struggle. If you have a hard time obtaining clients that can pay, you must do whatever it takes to network with potential clients that can pay. It's a simple solution. But it is very hard to execute. You have to be incredibly smart and savy about it.

I've had my fair share of clients who can't pay. It just made me more determined to find clients who can. It's all about TARGETED marketing. It takes a lot of thought and ingenuity, and most lawyers, heck people in general, are too lazy to pull this off. But you HAVE to find a way, otherwise, you're just not going to make the amount of money you should.

One must treat the business side of a law practice as important as the law practicing side. Truth be told, it's probably more important.

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby utlaw2007 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:31 pm

I forgot to answer your question about advertising. I don't do advertising. I just network including online social networking.

I just think it's more effective depending on your practice areas. It's just much more effective to engage in target networking for what I practice.

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby Geon » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:00 pm

rad lulz wrote:
kapital98 wrote:
polkij333 wrote:My uncle went to a TTTT and started his own firm. He enjoys the ownership he has of his work product and that he has been able to hire people he likes working with. Not much money, but that's not the point. Shit law is not shit, just not especially glamorous


This will automatically make 90% of TLS zone out. "What? The point of life is not to make six figures? WHAT????"

Since average indebtedness of lawl school is like $100k now, I don't blame people for wanting 6 figs.

I agree, one might as well jump off a bridge or cut off their penis for insurance money if they don't get a minimum of 100k because YOU WILL DIE OF STARVATION

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby RedBirds2011 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:05 pm

Geon wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
kapital98 wrote:
polkij333 wrote:My uncle went to a TTTT and started his own firm. He enjoys the ownership he has of his work product and that he has been able to hire people he likes working with. Not much money, but that's not the point. Shit law is not shit, just not especially glamorous


This will automatically make 90% of TLS zone out. "What? The point of life is not to make six figures? WHAT????"

Since average indebtedness of lawl school is like $100k now, I don't blame people for wanting 6 figs.

I agree, one might as well jump off a bridge or cut off their penis for insurance money if they don't get a minimum of 100k because YOU WILL DIE OF STARVATION


Not sure if srs...

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby Geon » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:25 pm

Wily wrote:
Geon wrote:Shitfingers, sloshburg, are these even real people or just shit he makes up, lol. That dude seriously should have written a book or became a standup comic, he was wasting his talent in doc reviews.

I do suspect the difference in doc reviews outcomes have to do with :
1. Utlaw is from Texas, lower cost of living all round and areyouinsane is from Ny/Nj border region, where shit is grossly expensive. Not to mention Texas being summer all year round (ny northern standards) meaning that there are far more opportunities in terms of Personal injury cases. Also probably easier to open a practice in Texas which is spread out with cheap land over NY/nj where a shack cost 1200 a month. After difference in taxes and COL even if they both made the same off Doc review, one would be bare minimum living the other would allow for a decent amount of savings.
2. Part of it probably had to do with UTlaw's more optimistic attitude. Since doc review pay has steadily declined, it does suggest that areyouinsane did not necessarily manage his money well. And I'm no druggie, but drugs are expensive and if he became addicted to them spending $200-600 a day was very real possibility. In otherwords, he blew his money so he couldn't open a practice.


Yea, I loved areyouinsane's posts. I don't think he just made up the personalities he wrote about, since they were all quite realistic and had lots of individualized details that are quite hard to make up, like Gandhi, the Indian guy who turned his screens sideways and got called a terrorist by the aspie female coder, or the gay Danish translator who couldn't believe how shitty doc reviewers have it and got a nice apple and purple chips every day for lunch and sometimes gave them to areyouinsane, etc. He also only mentions doing blow once in all his posts, so I'm not sure if drugs were his main problem.

I do agree with you that geographic location probably made a lot of difference, since AYI couldn't save anything while doing doc review while UTlaw could. Also AYI had student loans to pay off, which UTlaw might not have had.

Anyway, I'm interested in hearing more from UTlaw about his experiences starting up his firm. What would he recommend for a law student at a T50 school who struck out at OCI for biglaw - trying to start their own firm right away, or working as an associate in small-law for a few years first? I'm sure I'm not the only one here who may have to face this decision after I graduate.

Yeah, they are extremely realistic, like this guy is like a modern day shakespeare or some shit if he is making it up. Like he should be given a Tv show with like a huge budget, I swear he would win a few emmies and grammies.

LOL, I never even heard about Gandi the terrorist thread, I'm gonna look that up for a good laugh.

I don't think drugs were his MAIN problem but I can tell you, not even a millionaire can save money addicted to drugs and he did admit to drug addiction.

I think UTlaw is very impressive, sick for all those years, and couldn't work and then able to start up a succesful practice.

It kinda sucks AYI couldn't recover given he went to a t-14

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby Geon » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:37 pm

dingbat wrote:
Geon wrote:
dingbat wrote:
Geon wrote: (Turkey is like the easiest place to score drugs and hookers in Europe so I suspect that's the real reason he went there)

Bullshit


``Prostitution in Turkey is legal and regulated. Brothels are also legal.``
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Turkey

``Turkey sits at the centre of a drug-smuggling crossroads. Synthetic drugs transit from West to East, while opiates move in the opposite direction....According to the British Foreign Office, as much as 80% of all heroin used in Britain has come through Turkey...In its latest report covering 2004, the Interior Ministry boasts of a 149% increase in seizures of opium and opium derivates. The amount captured is almost equal to the total for the whole of Central and Western Europe. For heroin alone, the increase was 84%..."If you look at international statistics, then the Turkish police catch more drugs than almost any other force," a former police officer told the BBC....Enis Berberoglu, who has written several books on the subject, agrees. "Turkey was deeply involved in drug smuggling in the mid 1990s. There was a very strong mafia here at that time and the PKK (the Kurdish rebel group the Kurdistan Workers Party) used to take protection money in return for letting them operate in the east," he said.``

Turkey is the place where all the drugs from Asia come through to go to users across Europe. Its the best place to score drugs because the price is cheaper there, there are tonnes of the stuff coming in, and it is where all the drugs that are heading for Europe from Asia come through.


How about the Netherlands, where marijuana is semi-legal and most clubs offer free pill/powder testing? (not to mention that prostitution is not only legal, but also unionized)
Just because a large volume of drugs is transported through Turkey, that doesn't mean it's easy to buy it (buying in bulk is nowhere near as easy as you imply). Not to mention the harsh punishment that awaits those who are caught (and aren't connected/wealthy enough to bribe their way out)
tempted to troll Turkey =/= Europe, but I'll be nice
Have you ever tried buying drugs in Turkey?

Well both Netherlands and Turkey have legal prostitution. Wages for a foreigner who teaches english will be higher for a American with his background in Turkey. An English teach can pull a decent amount of cash in Turkey relative to his dutch counterpart whose high cost will erode his pay. Dutch are well of, first world country, dope is gonna be more expensive, it is farther a way and is an end point for dope. Turkey is a hub for dope, the real hurdle to smuggling dope into europe is getting it in the eu zone (and also where the most markup is too).

I disagree with bold. Its easy to buy coke in Colombia or marijuana in a mexican border town known for smuggling, because there are tonnes of people walking around openly with the shit if you know the right place to go, which a drug user will know. Hell people come up to you just for being white trying to sell: you drugs/hookers/tours/bullshit/anything illegal in turkey, and for that matter any third world drug/hooker hub.

Smugglers are looking for any live body to just strap marijuana to in mexico/colombia/turkey. They'd be more than glad to sell dope to some gringo. I don't know if you know this but only like 1 in 10 to 1 in 4 smugglers get through customs. Meaning that smugglers would rather to sell you drugs at cost GUARANTEED in turkey than to lose 75% of their shipment.

In Turkey breaking out of prison, or sneaking out or bribing out is far more possible than in netherlands. In most 3rd world jails, guards do not even come into the living areas. They just lock you all up inside the prison and makesure no one walks out the front door. Hell in Guatamala they have guns in prison.

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dingbat
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby dingbat » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:04 pm

If I ask you whether the sun is shining, don't tell me that thè sky is blue.

Have you been to Turkey? The Netherlands? Northern England, even? (where ecstasy is cheaper than beer)
And since when are Columbia and Mexican border towns pertinent to a conversation about Europe?
Last edited by dingbat on Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Wily
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby Wily » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:09 pm

Geon wrote:
Wily wrote:
Geon wrote:Shitfingers, sloshburg, are these even real people or just shit he makes up, lol. That dude seriously should have written a book or became a standup comic, he was wasting his talent in doc reviews.

I do suspect the difference in doc reviews outcomes have to do with :
1. Utlaw is from Texas, lower cost of living all round and areyouinsane is from Ny/Nj border region, where shit is grossly expensive. Not to mention Texas being summer all year round (ny northern standards) meaning that there are far more opportunities in terms of Personal injury cases. Also probably easier to open a practice in Texas which is spread out with cheap land over NY/nj where a shack cost 1200 a month. After difference in taxes and COL even if they both made the same off Doc review, one would be bare minimum living the other would allow for a decent amount of savings.
2. Part of it probably had to do with UTlaw's more optimistic attitude. Since doc review pay has steadily declined, it does suggest that areyouinsane did not necessarily manage his money well. And I'm no druggie, but drugs are expensive and if he became addicted to them spending $200-600 a day was very real possibility. In otherwords, he blew his money so he couldn't open a practice.


Yea, I loved areyouinsane's posts. I don't think he just made up the personalities he wrote about, since they were all quite realistic and had lots of individualized details that are quite hard to make up, like Gandhi, the Indian guy who turned his screens sideways and got called a terrorist by the aspie female coder, or the gay Danish translator who couldn't believe how shitty doc reviewers have it and got a nice apple and purple chips every day for lunch and sometimes gave them to areyouinsane, etc. He also only mentions doing blow once in all his posts, so I'm not sure if drugs were his main problem.

I do agree with you that geographic location probably made a lot of difference, since AYI couldn't save anything while doing doc review while UTlaw could. Also AYI had student loans to pay off, which UTlaw might not have had.

Anyway, I'm interested in hearing more from UTlaw about his experiences starting up his firm. What would he recommend for a law student at a T50 school who struck out at OCI for biglaw - trying to start their own firm right away, or working as an associate in small-law for a few years first? I'm sure I'm not the only one here who may have to face this decision after I graduate.

Yeah, they are extremely realistic, like this guy is like a modern day shakespeare or some shit if he is making it up. Like he should be given a Tv show with like a huge budget, I swear he would win a few emmies and grammies.

LOL, I never even heard about Gandi the terrorist thread, I'm gonna look that up for a good laugh.

I don't think drugs were his MAIN problem but I can tell you, not even a millionaire can save money addicted to drugs and he did admit to drug addiction.

I think UTlaw is very impressive, sick for all those years, and couldn't work and then able to start up a succesful practice.

It kinda sucks AYI couldn't recover given he went to a t-14


I don't think AYI went to a T-14. I'm pretty sure he went to Seton Hall, actually, because he bashes that institution more than anywhere else. He also talks about how he went to a "TTT", which for him is any school in the NYC area below Fordham. I consider myself a AYI expert, since I've read every one of his posts, haha, because he's hilarious.

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby IHeartPhilly » Tue May 01, 2012 9:49 am

UTLaw, seriously thanks for all the great responses! This thread has alittle bit of everything: small practice advice, pontificating physicians, where to get the best drugs in Europe. Very versatile. I'm very pleased.

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dingbat
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby dingbat » Tue May 01, 2012 11:48 am

IHeartPhilly wrote:UTLaw, seriously thanks for all the great responses! This thread has alittle bit of everything: small practice advice, pontificating physicians, where to get the best drugs in Europe. Very versatile. I'm very pleased.

TLS at its finest

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby Nammertat » Tue May 01, 2012 10:16 pm

dingbat wrote:
IHeartPhilly wrote:UTLaw, seriously thanks for all the great responses! This thread has alittle bit of everything: small practice advice, pontificating physicians, where to get the best drugs in Europe. Very versatile. I'm very pleased.

TLS at its finest


Its true... Fully entertained for a solid half hour.

utlaw2007
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby utlaw2007 » Sun May 27, 2012 12:17 pm

Just bumping this thread since it was very informative and entertaining.

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:06 pm

tedalbany wrote:I don't think salary is what distinguishes shitlaw. There are a lot of good legal areas that still pay crap.
To me shitlaw is mostly used to describe work that lacks respect or any sort of prestige.

This includes: DUI, Traffic Tickets, Personal Injury (slip and fall aka ambulance chasers), Individual Bankruptcy, Family Law, Foreclosure (Plaintiff or Defendant side), Creditor's Rights (aka debt collectors), Insurance Defense.

These all seem to be the areas where you can find the sleaziest attorneys and lowest job satisfaction. I've worked in a shitlaw office and you just aren't typically working with the 'best and brightest' (see, areyouinsane's posts).


I apologize for being late to this thread, but it's actually been eye-opening.

I was curious from the list of law areas you mentioned what the typical salary ranges for them are and whether there is any opportunity to move up in the salary ranges (while still practicing in those areas)?

I ask, because you say that it's not salary that distinguishes what is "s**t" law, but rather prestige.

Is it possible that an attorney in these areas might be able to make, say, upper five figures (e.g., $85-90K/year)? I would think that such a salary range in a non-high COL area (not NYC or the like) would provide a decent living.

I recognize that the vast majority of people graduating from law school likely won't ever make it to or last very long in big law, so I'm curious what the other options are and their pay ranges for all of the non-big law areas.

Appreciate your help and feedback everyone! Thanks very much. 8)


ETA: Oddly, I see quoted text from "areyouinsane," but not the actual posts by him/her on this thread. Very odd... :?:
Last edited by ksllaw on Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:28 pm

tedalbany wrote:I present areyouinsane on Personal Injury Law:

areyouinsane wrote:Even personal injury, once the "golden ticket" for TTT grads, is really, really tough nowadays. The carriers will NOT settle any car accident cases without bone fractures, and fight to the death over all the herniated disc cases and such. You can do OK with employment law- I did settle a sexual harrassment case for my sister's friend for 18 K last spring with a letter and half dozen phone calls. But to get enough cases like that to earn a steady living is very, very hard unless you already have a "spare" 50 K or so laying around for google adwords or your own sleazy TV commerical, etc. The typical newbie solo gets only drips & drabs, hence their contantly running back to these temporary doc review projects to supplement their meager incomes from their own "practice." NYC and NJ are really just too saturated with lawyers to make a go of it as a solo, and I'm too ground down by this industry to sit another bar and relocate to another state. At this point it just isn't worth it.

Non-legal employers don't understand the world of doc review, and often ask "why were you never made permanent anywhere" and things like that. They don't understand that doc review is transient work, and that lowlife TTT coders like me are not offered associate positions no matter how many docs you code.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that most firms make you sign a paper before you start the temp job which states you may NOT put the firm's name on your resume or do anything to make others think you actually worked there. God forbid a bunch of TTT grads were shopping their SullCrom or Paul Weiss resumes around! Instead, you are only allowed to put the name of your temp. agency (like HireCounsel, Lexolution, Update Legal, etc) and the duration of the project. The firms want to make damn sure some TTT'er doesn't soil their name by putting it on their garbage resume.


And as I said, my only substantive experience was in personal injury law. Understand that most injury lawyers who don't advertise on TV bribe "runners" to get cases for them- like hospital orderlies, nurses, ambulance drivers, etc. Here's how it works: the runner gives an accident victim the lawyer's card with a $20 bill wrapped around it and says "call that # and you'll get another $100 later today." The runners do this to people they "know" will not think it's anything unusual, like someone who's homeless or otherwise not very educated (most of the really good cases come from very poor urban areas- they tend to have more accidents since they frequent places which are in bad repair- housing projects, dive bars- and also tend to not wear seat belts or have cars with airbags).

So when the accident victim calls, the lawyer sends another dood out to the hospital (or their apt. or house if they've been discharged), gives them the $100, and has them sign a retainer. Bingo- they get a case worth thousands in lawyer fees for fronting the client $120 bucks. The runner gets paid a "commission" based on the quality of cases he/she brings in.

This isn't some TV show script, it's business as usual for NYC/NJ personal injury. How the hell else do you think some solo in Brooklyn or Queens you've never heard of makes big $$$ doing PI? Hardly anyone ever gets caught, about twice a year the AG's office plants some undercover folks in the ER to catch a few ambulance chasers, but mostly it gets ignored.

The other way these places get cases is by paying sleazy "medical mills" in the outer boroughs to "refer" cases to them. If someone is treating at a walk-in clinic and the "doctor" learns they were in an accident, he calls the PI lawyer and offers him the case. The catch is that the fee for the "medical reports" (wink wink) vary based on the injury. For sprains and soft tissue cases, it's usually 1200-1500 bucks, for a fracture it can be like 3 K or more. It's really sleazy shit and most of the clinics are run by Russian mobsters. To play this game you have to have enough cash to get the "medical reports," which is more expesnive than paying runners. But there is much less chance of getting busted.

So for anyone considering a career in personal injury law, that's the 5 minute primer. You can see now why associates in this area are paid almost nothing: they don't bring anything to the table. Getting the case is all that matters: the "legal work" is mostly cut and pasted stock pleadings and depostions where you try your best to get these illiterate, often crack-addicted clients to put some kind of coherent story together about the puddle of urine they slipped on at Roy's Billard Hall or wherever. Trials are very, very rare and mostly are reserved only for VERY high value cases (like 200 K+). Usually the trials are "farmed out" to a stable of silver-haired shysters who are very slick at getting juries to open the floodgates and get a huge payday. The per-diem trial guys get a 1/3 curt of any verdict they get. No lawyer in their right mind would let a young associate do a trial, because when you guy to trial you have to pay for the doctor upfront to testify, which is 5 K or more. And this money is coming from the firm's pocket since these are contingency cases (YOU DON'T PAY UNLESS WE WIN!- you've all seen the commericals lol).

The "typical" auto or trip n' slip case you just scrounge whatever you can from the insurance company and move on. It's a volume business, as that's the only way to make $$$.



This is quite eye-opening if true and completely unembellished. :shock: :cry: :?: :cry: :shock:
Last edited by ksllaw on Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby IHeartPhilly » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:43 pm

Pretty sure areyouinsane got the can from TLS' admins.

ksllaw wrote:I was curious from the list of law areas you mentioned what the typical salary ranges for them are and whether there is any opportunity to move up in the salary ranges (while still practicing in those areas)?


There is such a range regarding the salaries of each particular type of practice listed that no one could give you a clear answer. There are some DUI practitioners that have the name brand and reputation which brings them a large volume of cases--translating into a nice profit. There are also DUI guys not making a dime. This illustration probably rings true for most of those areas listed.

areyouinsane, i imagine, provides anecdotes of the absolute worst case scenarios.

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:06 pm

IHeartPhilly wrote:
areyouinsane, i imagine, provides anecdotes of the absolute worst case scenarios.


Yes, I was definitely leery of some hyperbole there. Nevertheless, I had a sudden sense of sadness overcome and envelop me when reading his disheartening descriptions of what it can potentially be like to practice in these areas of law (I actually greatly dislike the term "s**t law," so prefer to use the term "non-big law" for lack of a better label at this time).

IHeartPhilly wrote:There is such a range regarding the salaries of each particular type of practice listed that no one could give you a clear answer. There are some DUI practitioners that have the name brand and reputation which brings them a large volume of cases--translating into a nice profit. There are also DUI guys not making a dime. This illustration probably rings true for most of those areas listed.


I see. Appreciate it.

I think it'd still be nice to have some figures to look at, given that the majority of lawyers are not in big law and thus labor in non-big law by default (many of these areas listed).

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:11 am

utlaw2007 wrote:
Hell, the higher you are on the pyramid scheme that is legal employment the less you work in shitlaw. The partners might work 30 a week..


Very true! My hours are not much at all. Again, this is not the norm and I'm making no representation that "if it has happened to me, it can happen to you" kind of thing. I'm only stating what MIGHT be possible.

One last example, I have a former high school classmate who went to a regional tier 4 school here in Texas. He just made half a million dollars off of a wrongful death case. He made 733 grand off of a case he had years ago. He is partnered with two other law school classmates of his. I have another high school classmate who went to a regional tier two who is part of the one million dollar verdict club. He works by himself. If you get a 1 million dollar verdict, that's $333,333 or $400,000 depending on whether you practice contracts on a contingency fee basis or personal injury which is all contingency fee at 40%. This is far from the norm, but I seem to know a lot of attorneys who do very well for themselves outside of biglaw, myself included.



Hi utlaw2007,

It was interesting reading some of your posts on this thread (which I'm still working through, btw).

You've made the case in numerous posts that non-big law (I personally refuse to use the term "s**t law," as I finding it a demeaning term/label) jobs can sometimes be quite lucrative - even more so than big law. To follow-up and clarify a bit, are these mostly trial lawyers in non-big law that you are referring to who have these lucrative careers? Or, are there non-trial lawyers doing non-big law, who you've seen have lucrative careers as well?

I'm curious to know more about the career trajectories, personal skills, and background of those whom you referenced as building lucrative careers in non-big law work. What differentiated them from other non-big law attorneys? And how rare do you find it to have these lucrative non-big law legal careers?

And, finally, I'm curious as to whether or not there is a path into big law from non-big law for one who has made a name and/or lucrative career outside of it? I often get the impression if one does not enter into big law out of law school that it is next to impossible to get in later in life. But would attorneys building highly successful/lucrative practices or making a "name" for themselves outside of big law have a chance to then move into big law (based on their success outside of it)?

Thanks very much for your time and insights! Greatly appreciate it!!! :)

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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:48 pm

ksllaw wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:
Hell, the higher you are on the pyramid scheme that is legal employment the less you work in shitlaw. The partners might work 30 a week..


Very true! My hours are not much at all. Again, this is not the norm and I'm making no representation that "if it has happened to me, it can happen to you" kind of thing. I'm only stating what MIGHT be possible.

One last example, I have a former high school classmate who went to a regional tier 4 school here in Texas. He just made half a million dollars off of a wrongful death case. He made 733 grand off of a case he had years ago. He is partnered with two other law school classmates of his. I have another high school classmate who went to a regional tier two who is part of the one million dollar verdict club. He works by himself. If you get a 1 million dollar verdict, that's $333,333 or $400,000 depending on whether you practice contracts on a contingency fee basis or personal injury which is all contingency fee at 40%. This is far from the norm, but I seem to know a lot of attorneys who do very well for themselves outside of biglaw, myself included.


Hi utlaw2007,

It was interesting reading some of your posts on this thread (which I'm still working through, btw).

You've made the case in numerous posts that non-big law (I personally refuse to use the term "s**t law," as I finding it a demeaning term/label) jobs can sometimes be quite lucrative - even more so than big law. To follow-up and clarify a bit, are these mostly trial lawyers in non-big law that you are referring to who have these lucrative careers? Or, are there non-trial lawyers doing non-big law, who you've seen have lucrative careers as well?

I'm curious to know more about the career trajectories, personal skills, and background of those whom you referenced as building lucrative careers in non-big law work. What differentiated them from other non-big law attorneys? And how rare do you find it to have these lucrative non-big law legal careers?

And, finally, I'm curious as to whether or not there is a path into big law from non-big law for one who has made a name and/or lucrative career outside of it? I often get the impression if one does not enter into big law out of law school that it is next to impossible to get in later in life. But would attorneys building highly successful/lucrative practices or making a "name" for themselves outside of big law have a chance to then move into big law (based on their success outside of it)?

Thanks very much for your time and insights! Greatly appreciate it!!! :)


The champ is back. I'm totally being silly. You have to remain stress free and you have to keep it light when you are a lawyer.

Thank you very much for the kind words. I'm glad that you got something out of what I said.

Like others pointed out to me quite a while back, I'm not making any representations that what I see and experience are the norm. However, I am saying that if you work very hard and even more importantly, work very smartly, you stand a much better chance at success at opening your own law firm.

But there are several hurdles. I'm not a business guru, but from what I've observed, the key to generating much revenue with ANY business is volume. Whether you sell products or services you have to have volume. Even if you are trying large cases like I am, you still have to have a few cases. That means, your marketing has to be very effective.

The only exception that I have seen to needing volume is a plaintiff lawyer's trial practice. It depends on the type of cases that you get. But a plaintiff's lawyer can make a huge amount of money off of one case. Sure, there are those lawyers that make 50 million dollars off of one case. I'm not referencing those guys. I'm referring to the ones like my colleague who routinely makes 100k to 500k of one one case. I don't know how routine it is, but I do know that he lives in one of the richest neighborhoods in Houston.

And it's very rough getting started. You have to be willing to work those suck a$$ jobs to fund your practice and to put food on the table while you grow your business. You do NOT want to work at a law firm while you grow your business unless they contractually let you keep all the spoils from your cases. That's how a former law school classmate of mine made lots of money. He worked at a small firm and the owner let him take on his own cases on the side. He had tons of volume and then hit the jackpot with a large personal injury case.

Forgive me if I'm repeating myself. It's been a long time.

The easiest way to generate a very lucrative career working for yourself outside of any law firm is to become a plaintiff's lawyer. The payouts from contingency fee cases are just too large. In the beginning. It's best to find a more experienced law firm that will aid you in a big case because trying that big case is going to cost you money that you just don't have starting out. My suggestion would be to develop a FEW of these arrangements. When you try those big cases, unless your client got run over by a bus and it was clear that the bus driver was doing a headstand in the driver's seat at the time of the accident, it's going to cost you a some money to try the case. Why would a more experienced lawyer aid your case in that way, you say? Because you brought that case to them. Lawyers are pretty bad marketers compared to other business owners. That's where you want to excel. That increases your value to those more experienced smaller firms who have the money to help you try your products liability case.

Also, you want to get to know lawyers that have a practice, but aren't necessarily trial lawyers. That way, you offer a reason why that lawyer should team up with you. This is especially helpful if they have had their practice longer. The longer they've been around, even for a couple of years before you, the more likely they are to get cases more effectively than you. I have a partner who's a former law school classmate who hates litigation. She also just can't do it effectively. Mind you, many lawyers can't, but they bluff. While this is better than nothing, there's nothing like having more leverage for settlement negotiations because you are not afraid to go to trial.

I don't personally know that many lawyers who have lucrative transactional practices. I do know a few. However, these practices aren't as lucrative as Big Law associate positions. My partner that I just referred to earlier has a transactional practice. Her practice is pretty lucrative. She probably makes over a 150 grand. However, I don't think she can compete with Big Law salaries. My best friend's step dad makes about the same with a transactional practice. But he's been in business forever. I've met some other transactional attorneys with their own practices, some do ok and some struggle and have been for a number of years. You just have to have that volume to make that kind of practice go if you want it to be a lucrative practice that approaches that of a Big Law associate salary.

Contrast that transactional practice to a plaintiff's practice. It's like night and day. Or it can be like night and day.

People on this board sleep on criminal lawyers. I don't know any criminal lawyers that struggle. Some make quite a bit more than Big Law associates and some make right below Big Law associates. But the criminal lawyer who is not trying murder cases or other high level felonies that require scientific evidence has the cushest job of any attorney from what I've seen. Those guys get paid their $5000 for a case. And then they plea to a deal that takes all but 10 minutes. And they're done. Low level felonies and misdemeanors of any kind can be pretty lucrative. Again, you aren't going to out do Big law, but in terms of effort expended per every dollar you make, it's no comparison. And if you want to step up to the plate and try those murder cases or rape cases, the money really starts raining in. Those guys do make more money than big law associates. The problem with criminal law though, is that you have to have a little volume if you want to have a lucrative practice. And it's kinda hard to be a very successful criminal lawyer without a reputation. And that takes some time to build. Reputation is not really important in civil matters. It helps, but it is not necessary because your money earned from those cases is larger.

As to your question about whether one can move into big law later down the road from non big law out of school, that just won't happen unless you become mayor of a major metropolitan area and the firm makes you a partner because you can bring in tons of business. I don't know if this rule is absolute, but I've never seen it happen any other way. That's not to say it doesn't happen. That is to say that I, myself, have never seen it happen. From what I've seen with big law here in Texas, a few firms even look at your law school grades 10 years removed from law school. That's what we were told while I was in school from actual big law firm reps. It's a very insulated area. I would guess this is true nationwide, but I definitely know it's true here in Texas. You might have an outside shot if you went to a t-14 plus Texas or Vanderbilt but just chose not to go big law. But if you tried big law from any school and just did not make the cut when you were coming out of school, it's likely not going to be different if you try for a move down the road into big law.

And lastly, those trial lawyers that I have referenced are better business men/women than everyone else. That is why they succeed so well. I would say it's somewhat rare to have so much success that you are making a mil a year. But it's not "lottery chance in hell" rare. But all the trial lawyers I referenced make about 2-3+ million a year. If you approach the business and marketing aspects of firm practice with much more importance than anything, than you stand a very good chance to become that successful, especially if you are able to take risks. I would say that is one of the most important factors. But you have to be smart about it and you have to operate your marketing to precision. Otherwise, the cases won't be there.

But adhering to those principles allows you to easily make six figures. But you have to really work hard at getting out there and marketing your firm.

ksllaw
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Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:26 pm

utlaw2007 wrote:Thank you very much for the kind words. I'm glad that you got something out of what I said.


You're welcome. I actually am even MORE appreciative this time around! You really put in some time to share your knowledge with us here. Thanks so very much!

But, also, the other reason I appreciated your comments was because it was a different perspective of things - a departure from the more common stories of struggle, un/underemployment, and resentment against law school or the legal economy. It's helpful to see all the various sides to an issue and I was glad to hear of your unique view of things.

I do try to learn from all the perspectives that I hear from - being as thoroughly informed as I can before making a decision on law school.

utlaw2007 wrote:Like others pointed out to me quite a while back, I'm not making any representations that what I see and experience are the norm. However, I am saying that if you work very hard and even more importantly, work very smartly, you stand a much better chance at success at opening your own law firm.


You mention working "smart." ...Could you possibly elaborate on this (any specific examples of it)?

ksllaw
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Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:17 pm

Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:31 pm

(continued from above...)

utlaw2007 wrote:But there are several hurdles. I'm not a business guru, but from what I've observed, the key to generating much revenue with ANY business is volume. Whether you sell products or services you have to have volume. Even if you are trying large cases like I am, you still have to have a few cases. That means, your marketing has to be very effective.


That's where I'm curious. If one is literally fresh out of law school with no experience and decides to go into small/solo law practice, then he or she market him/herself? Why would anyone trust a new lawyer with zero experience to handle their cases?

Or, is it that these lawyers charge a lower rate in order to obtain business (away from costlier lawyers)?
Last edited by ksllaw on Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ksllaw
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:17 pm

Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:40 pm

(again...continuing from above...)

utlaw2007 wrote:The only exception that I have seen to needing volume is a plaintiff lawyer's trial practice. It depends on the type of cases that you get. But a plaintiff's lawyer can make a huge amount of money off of one case. Sure, there are those lawyers that make 50 million dollars off of one case. I'm not referencing those guys.

Masry & Vititoe of Erin Brockovich fame, correct? :lol: ...an amazing person, by the way!

utlaw2007 wrote:I'm referring to the ones like my colleague who routinely makes 100k to 500k of one one case. I don't know how routine it is, but I do know that he lives in one of the richest neighborhoods in Houston.

And it's very rough getting started. You have to be willing to work those suck a$$ jobs to fund your practice and to put food on the table while you grow your business. You do NOT want to work at a law firm while you grow your business unless they contractually let you keep all the spoils from your cases. That's how a former law school classmate of mine made lots of money. He worked at a small firm and the owner let him take on his own cases on the side. He had tons of volume and then hit the jackpot with a large personal injury case.

Forgive me if I'm repeating myself. It's been a long time.

The easiest way to generate a very lucrative career working for yourself outside of any law firm is to become a plaintiff's lawyer. The payouts from contingency fee cases are just too large. In the beginning. [b]It's best to find a more experienced law firm that will aid you in a big case because trying that big case is going to cost you money that you just don't have starting out.[/b]

I remember Masry doing this from the Erin Brockovich film. They had to get "help" from a more experienced lawyer - although, I don't recall whether or not they called for help due to financial constraints or in order to get his intellectual/legal expertises (or possibly both).

utlaw2007 wrote:My suggestion would be to develop a FEW of these arrangements. When you try those big cases, unless your client got run over by a bus and it was clear that the bus driver was doing a headstand in the driver's seat at the time of the accident, it's going to cost you a some money to try the case. Why would a more experienced lawyer aid your case in that way, you say? Because you brought that case to them. Lawyers are pretty bad marketers compared to other business owners. That's where you want to excel. That increases your value to those more experienced smaller firms who have the money to help you try your products liability case.


Any suggestions on HOW to successfully market? :mrgreen: I'm guessing those are your trade secrets, huh? :P

(Also, would you spend money to hire a marketing expert?)

ksllaw
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:17 pm

Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:03 am

(again....yet another continuation...)

utlaw2007 wrote:Also, you want to get to know lawyers that have a practice, but aren't necessarily trial lawyers. That way, you offer a reason why that lawyer should team up with you. This is especially helpful if they have had their practice longer. The longer they've been around, even for a couple of years before you, the more likely they are to get cases more effectively than you. I have a partner who's a former law school classmate who hates litigation. She also just can't do it effectively. Mind you, many lawyers can't, but they bluff. While this is better than nothing, there's nothing like having more leverage for settlement negotiations because you are not afraid to go to trial.

I don't personally know that many lawyers who have lucrative transactional practices. I do know a few.


What is a "transactional practice," by the way?

Yeah, I'm not sure if I'd be the trial lawyer type either - hard to say. But, nevertheless, this is helpful information to have! It's just good to know these things for perspective, options, and, of course, tips. I'd have to look into what skills a good trial lawyer would need. But I am not sure if that suits me best or not.

Still, very interesting. :)

utlaw2007 wrote:However, these practices aren't as lucrative as Big Law associate positions. My partner that I just referred to earlier has a transactional practice. Her practice is pretty lucrative. She probably makes over a 150 grand. However, I don't think she can compete with Big Law salaries. My best friend's step dad makes about the same with a transactional practice. But he's been in business forever. I've met some other transactional attorneys with their own practices, some do ok and some struggle and have been for a number of years. You just have to have that volume to make that kind of practice go if you want it to be a lucrative practice that approaches that of a Big Law associate salary.

Actually, utlaw2007, $150K in Houston would seem quite high. Adjusted for cost of living, it might very well be better than a NYC associate salary. ...But then again, I don't know what NYC associates make after their $160K starting salaries. :lol: I do recall, however, Houston having a low cost of living.

utlaw2007 wrote:Contrast that transactional practice to a plaintiff's practice. It's like night and day. Or it can be like night and day.

People on this board sleep on criminal lawyers. I don't know any criminal lawyers that struggle. Some make quite a bit more than Big Law associates and some make right below Big Law associates. But the criminal lawyer who is not trying murder cases or other high level felonies that require scientific evidence has the cushest job of any attorney from what I've seen.
Those guys get paid their $5000 for a case. And then they plea to a deal that takes all but 10 minutes. And they're done. Low level felonies and misdemeanors of any kind can be pretty lucrative.

This is surprising to me, because I had always thought that criminal lawyers - aside from the Johnnie Cochrane types - did poorly financially.

So to confirm, you're saying high level felonies or murder cases that DO need scientific evidence provide the lowest returns? But, would those cases not take a longer time and thus be billed for more?

ksllaw
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:17 pm

Re: Big Law vs "Shit" Law. I don't get it.

Postby ksllaw » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:17 am

(continuing from above once again....)

utlaw2007 wrote:Again, you aren't going to out do Big law, but in terms of effort expended per every dollar you make, it's no comparison. And if you want to step up to the plate and try those murder cases or rape cases, the money really starts raining in. Those guys do make more money than big law associates. The problem with criminal law though, is that you have to have a little volume if you want to have a lucrative practice. And it's kinda hard to be a very successful criminal lawyer without a reputation. And that takes some time to build. Reputation is not really important in civil matters. It helps, but it is not necessary because your money earned from those cases is larger.


Ah, so this is where some genuine confusion has set in...I was under the impression from your earlier comments that rape and murder (or other serious felony) cases did NOT do as well as lesser crimes? Perhaps I'm misreading/misunderstanding? :)
utlaw2007 wrote:And lastly, those trial lawyers that I have referenced are better business men/women than everyone else. That is why they succeed so well. I would say it's somewhat rare to have so much success that you are making a mil a year. But it's not "lottery chance in hell" rare. But all the trial lawyers I referenced make about 2-3+ million a year. If you approach the business and marketing aspects of firm practice with much more importance than anything, than you stand a very good chance to become that successful, especially if you are able to take risks. I would say that is one of the most important factors. But you have to be smart about it and you have to operate your marketing to precision. Otherwise, the cases won't be there.

But adhering to those principles allows you to easily make six figures. But you have to really work hard at getting out there and marketing your firm.


Very interesting perspective, utlaw2007. Thanks so much for your time and insights!!

When you say that one has to take "risks," what did you mean by that above?




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