What is big law really like?

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
ksllaw
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:24 am

In recent years, people have gotten de-partnered as well for not bringing in enough business to a biglaw firm (confirmed in this talk and elsewhere online as well):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk2shMEkSsw (Panel Discussion at Princeton)
Lawyers and Law: Challenges Facing the Legal Profession and Its Impact on Law

LaBarrister
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby LaBarrister » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:15 pm

I was really asking a serious question at first. I thought everyone going to law school had the same traits that I did, i.e., enjoyed working endless hours, tirelessly. But apparently, by the number of complaints about working endless hours in BigLaw, I thought wrong.

But the digression to my sex life, which doesn't matter but is focused solely on women, is a little... irrelevant? lol

Back to the subject, I may not get the law school grades to get into BigLaw, anyway. I want to go to GULC, and I read on TLS that GULC is only getting 25% of its grads into BigLaw these days. Not the best percentage....

With that said, what do you guys think about applying for Early Decision? If I want to go to GULC as badly as I do, it seems like a wise idea to help secure my acceptance, but if I applied ED to GULC and ended up getting acceptance letters from schools with higher BigLaw percentages, I would feel like I missed out.

LaBarrister
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby LaBarrister » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:22 pm

ksllaw wrote:In recent years, people have gotten de-partnered as well for not bringing in enough business to a biglaw firm (confirmed in this talk and elsewhere online as well):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk2shMEkSsw (Panel Discussion at Princeton)
Lawyers and Law: Challenges Facing the Legal Profession and Its Impact on Law


Great video, btw.

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

Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:46 pm

LaBarrister wrote:I was really asking a serious question at first. I thought everyone going to law school had the same traits that I did, i.e., enjoyed working endless hours, tirelessly. But apparently, by the number of complaints about working endless hours in BigLaw, I thought wrong.

But the digression to my sex life, which doesn't matter but is focused solely on women, is a little... irrelevant? lol

Back to the subject, I may not get the law school grades to get into BigLaw, anyway. I want to go to GULC, and I read on TLS that GULC is only getting 25% of its grads into BigLaw these days. Not the best percentage....

With that said, what do you guys think about applying for Early Decision? If I want to go to GULC as badly as I do, it seems like a wise idea to help secure my acceptance, but if I applied ED to GULC and ended up getting acceptance letters from schools with higher BigLaw percentages, I would feel like I missed out.



Have you considered working/staying in your field of engineering? I would think that engineering provides ample opportunity for problem-solving and constant new work if that's what you're looking for.

I think it's important to distinguish between enjoying work and being active in general and then being suited for and/or enjoying biglaw work specifically. I'm not saying you would or would not enjoy or be suited for biglaw. I'm only saying that there's a distinction to be made there.

I would think you could just as easily be working a lot in engineering or in any other field. It's not only biglaw that provides opportunity to "work a lot."

And I do understand where you're coming from (I think). I have a friend who has a personality type like that. He is very active and is constantly "doing stuff." He's constantly learning and exploring new things and taking on new challenges frequently. While it's great to have a career that satisfies that "energy," I think it's very important to ask whether or not law is the right path. I'm not saying it is or isn't, but just that you could probably do many other things that would give you that challenge that may be less risky.

Are you specifically attracted to the work of law itself?

LaBarrister
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby LaBarrister » Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:32 pm

ksllaw wrote:
LaBarrister wrote:I was really asking a serious question at first. I thought everyone going to law school had the same traits that I did, i.e., enjoyed working endless hours, tirelessly. But apparently, by the number of complaints about working endless hours in BigLaw, I thought wrong.

But the digression to my sex life, which doesn't matter but is focused solely on women, is a little... irrelevant? lol

Back to the subject, I may not get the law school grades to get into BigLaw, anyway. I want to go to GULC, and I read on TLS that GULC is only getting 25% of its grads into BigLaw these days. Not the best percentage....

With that said, what do you guys think about applying for Early Decision? If I want to go to GULC as badly as I do, it seems like a wise idea to help secure my acceptance, but if I applied ED to GULC and ended up getting acceptance letters from schools with higher BigLaw percentages, I would feel like I missed out.



Have you considered working/staying in your field of engineering? I would think that engineering provides ample opportunity for problem-solving and constant new work if that's what you're looking for.

I think it's important to distinguish between enjoying work and being active in general and then being suited for and/or enjoying biglaw work specifically. I'm not saying you would or would not enjoy or be suited for biglaw. I'm only saying that there's a distinction to be made there.

I would think you could just as easily be working a lot in engineering or in any other field. It's not only biglaw that provides opportunity to "work a lot."

And I do understand where you're coming from (I think). I have a friend who has a personality type like that. He is very active and is constantly "doing stuff." He's constantly learning and exploring new things and taking on new challenges frequently. While it's great to have a career that satisfies that "energy," I think it's very important to ask whether or not law is the right path. I'm not saying it is or isn't, but just that you could probably do many other things that would give you that challenge that may be less risky.

Are you specifically attracted to the work of law itself?


It is the work and lifestyle of law that I find compelling. By lifestyle, I don't mean the potential lifestyle (big money), I mean the setting at a desk writing for the majority of my life. I don't like engineering work, and I don't really care for the people as much. I'm much more interested in spending time with lawyers than engineers. Lawyers just seem to have a better work ethic as a whole. While many engineers can be lazy and still be engineers, I don't know any lawyers that are lazy. Law sort of forces you to be a very hard worker, and I want to be around people who consider that the norm. Even in undergrad, the amount of work that I enjoy doing is not considered the norm. Plus, engineers seem to appreciate a more well-rounded lifestyle. I would rather be off-balanced with my working all the time and spending time at the office. I don't really want my personal life to matter to employers.

If there is any other career that deals with writing and working as a necessity as much as law, point me to it. But I haven't found anything else with a better use for someone who is naturally best at writing and who has a really high appreciation for working a lot. I've considered being an author, and that's about it. But that seems to be more risky than being a lawyer haha

Edit: I want to point out that I am not looking at BigLaw as my only option in life, but I haven't found anything more compelling yet. As much as it is about the long hours, it is about the type of work that I find so compelling. I don't think I would really like being a banker or even an engineer pulling similar hours, even if the pay way considerably more than I would make as a lawyer. Just something to consider. I like to write. Probably my only weakness in the field of law that I would find is a lack of significance. Significance is a big factor for me. And, also, I don't naturally have the most analytical mind. So being a litigator seems to be off the table if I am to focus on my strengths. Maybe being a paper-pusher at a big firm is where I'm set to be. It may not be as glamorous as litigating, but I think it would suit my strengths best. I also am more comfortable sitting in an office working on papers than I am standing in front of a crowd of people giving a speech.

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dirtrida2
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dirtrida2 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:41 pm

Image

ksllaw
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:00 pm

LaBarrister wrote:It is the work and lifestyle of law that I find compelling. By lifestyle, I don't mean the potential lifestyle (big money), I mean the setting at a desk writing for the majority of my life. I don't like engineering work, and I don't really care for the people as much. I'm much more interested in spending time with lawyers than engineers. Lawyers just seem to have a better work ethic as a whole. While many engineers can be lazy and still be engineers, I don't know any lawyers that are lazy. Law sort of forces you to be a very hard worker, and I want to be around people who consider that the norm. Even in undergrad, the amount of work that I enjoy doing is not considered the norm. Plus, engineers seem to appreciate a more well-rounded lifestyle. I would rather be off-balanced with my working all the time and spending time at the office. I don't really want my personal life to matter to employers.

If there is any other career that deals with writing and working as a necessity as much as law, point me to it. But I haven't found anything else with a better use for someone who is naturally best at writing and who has a really high appreciation for working a lot. I've considered being an author, and that's about it. But that seems to be more risky than being a lawyer haha

Edit: I want to point out that I am not looking at BigLaw as my only option in life, but I haven't found anything more compelling yet. As much as it is about the long hours, it is about the type of work that I find so compelling. I don't think I would really like being a banker or even an engineer pulling similar hours, even if the pay way considerably more than I would make as a lawyer. Just something to consider. I like to write. Probably my only weakness in the field of law that I would find is a lack of significance. Significance is a big factor for me. And, also, I don't naturally have the most analytical mind. So being a litigator seems to be off the table if I am to focus on my strengths. Maybe being a paper-pusher at a big firm is where I'm set to be. It may not be as glamorous as litigating, but I think it would suit my strengths best. I also am more comfortable sitting in an office working on papers than I am standing in front of a crowd of people giving a speech.


A few that come to mind for me are:

Journalist, Technical Writer, and College Professor (Research-Oriented)

You may want to look into those. Also, I'm not sure how much written work law would require vs. other tasks, such as reading, client contact, making presentations, etc. Maybe others would know?

Still, definitely don't just go to law school for lack of ideas about other work options! I'm not suggesting you necessarily are doing that. Just encouraging you to take as much time as you need to thoroughly look into things. :) You may find neat options you never knew existed or that law itself isn't what you truly would enjoy.

I'm taking the time myself to do that this year. I don't want to go unless I'm highly confident that it's for me and other factors line up that would make going less risky for me (if I do attend).

LaBarrister
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby LaBarrister » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:04 pm

ksllaw wrote:
LaBarrister wrote:It is the work and lifestyle of law that I find compelling. By lifestyle, I don't mean the potential lifestyle (big money), I mean the setting at a desk writing for the majority of my life. I don't like engineering work, and I don't really care for the people as much. I'm much more interested in spending time with lawyers than engineers. Lawyers just seem to have a better work ethic as a whole. While many engineers can be lazy and still be engineers, I don't know any lawyers that are lazy. Law sort of forces you to be a very hard worker, and I want to be around people who consider that the norm. Even in undergrad, the amount of work that I enjoy doing is not considered the norm. Plus, engineers seem to appreciate a more well-rounded lifestyle. I would rather be off-balanced with my working all the time and spending time at the office. I don't really want my personal life to matter to employers.

If there is any other career that deals with writing and working as a necessity as much as law, point me to it. But I haven't found anything else with a better use for someone who is naturally best at writing and who has a really high appreciation for working a lot. I've considered being an author, and that's about it. But that seems to be more risky than being a lawyer haha

Edit: I want to point out that I am not looking at BigLaw as my only option in life, but I haven't found anything more compelling yet. As much as it is about the long hours, it is about the type of work that I find so compelling. I don't think I would really like being a banker or even an engineer pulling similar hours, even if the pay way considerably more than I would make as a lawyer. Just something to consider. I like to write. Probably my only weakness in the field of law that I would find is a lack of significance. Significance is a big factor for me. And, also, I don't naturally have the most analytical mind. So being a litigator seems to be off the table if I am to focus on my strengths. Maybe being a paper-pusher at a big firm is where I'm set to be. It may not be as glamorous as litigating, but I think it would suit my strengths best. I also am more comfortable sitting in an office working on papers than I am standing in front of a crowd of people giving a speech.


A few that come to mind for me are:

Journalist, Technical Writer, and College Professor (Research-Oriented)

You may want to look into those. Also, I'm not sure how much written work law would require vs. other tasks, such as reading, client contact, making presentations, etc. Maybe others would know?

Still, definitely don't just go to law school for lack of ideas about other work options! I'm not suggesting you necessarily are doing that. Just encouraging you to take as much time as you need to thoroughly look into things. :) You may find neat options you never knew existed or that law itself isn't what you truly would enjoy.

I'm taking the time myself to do that this year. I don't want to go unless I'm highly confident that it's for me and other factors line up that would make going less risky for me (if I do attend).


Yea, I'm still mulling it over. The truth is, when I get straight A's, I don't really feel all that good about it. I can get them, and I do, but I don't really feel very rewarded. Getting a bunch of letters on a report card seems so insignificant to me. I wish you didn't have to do all this to get into a good law school and get a good job. I've considered being a technical writer, too. I would probably like that. And I would probably not have to keep making good grades to be one lol. Does this pointless grade-getting ever stop after law school? Is there any correlation to this insignificant school work and insignificance in the field? I just feel that working all day for money instead of a report card, actually making a difference, would be a lot more rewarding. Am I looking at the wrong profession for making a difference? lol

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:35 pm

LaBarrister wrote:Yea, I'm still mulling it over. The truth is, when I get straight A's, I don't really feel all that good about it. I can get them, and I do, but I don't really feel very rewarded. Getting a bunch of letters on a report card seems so insignificant to me. I wish you didn't have to do all this to get into a good law school and get a good job. I've considered being a technical writer, too. I would probably like that. And I would probably not have to keep making good grades to be one lol. Does this pointless grade-getting ever stop after law school? Is there any correlation to this insignificant school work and insignificance in the field? I just feel that working all day for money instead of a report card, actually making a difference, would be a lot more rewarding. Am I looking at the wrong profession for making a difference? lol

The dirty little secret is it's pretty hard to make money and "make a difference" at the same time. The jobs that let you do both don't usually make you very much money and are very difficult to get. And the jobs that let you make a lot of money, let alone make a difference, are also very difficult to get. Don't think that going into law will make it any easier to achieve those goals; a lot of what it does is narrow your options, without necessarily helping you reach the opportunities you have left.

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Lawquacious
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby Lawquacious » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:04 pm

This, my friend, is an image of biglaw:

http://cloud.graphicleftovers.com/10578 ... d-hell.jpg

LaBarrister
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby LaBarrister » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:39 am

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
LaBarrister wrote:Yea, I'm still mulling it over. The truth is, when I get straight A's, I don't really feel all that good about it. I can get them, and I do, but I don't really feel very rewarded. Getting a bunch of letters on a report card seems so insignificant to me. I wish you didn't have to do all this to get into a good law school and get a good job. I've considered being a technical writer, too. I would probably like that. And I would probably not have to keep making good grades to be one lol. Does this pointless grade-getting ever stop after law school? Is there any correlation to this insignificant school work and insignificance in the field? I just feel that working all day for money instead of a report card, actually making a difference, would be a lot more rewarding. Am I looking at the wrong profession for making a difference? lol

The dirty little secret is it's pretty hard to make money and "make a difference" at the same time. The jobs that let you do both don't usually make you very much money and are very difficult to get. And the jobs that let you make a lot of money, let alone make a difference, are also very difficult to get. Don't think that going into law will make it any easier to achieve those goals; a lot of what it does is narrow your options, without necessarily helping you reach the opportunities you have left.


Well-said, and compelling. Thank you. This insight was what I needed. So maybe it's actually okay to not be one of those big lawyer hot shots who slaves for a paycheck. What about being a little lawyer without the salary who slaves for the little guy? I'm trying to find my niche. I'll have a degree in chemical engineering. I'm getting into the USPTO next summer to see what that's like. I feel like patent law would be cool. But I'm trying to find out how to make it significant. Patent prosecutors work with inventors instead of big corporations. Maybe that's what I would like and should take my focus off of BigLaw. Just be a paper pusher for inventors, a patent prosecutor. I think I would like that, and the work load would still be there, as well as the interest.

LaBarrister
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby LaBarrister » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:41 am

Lawquacious wrote:This, my friend, is an image of biglaw:

http://cloud.graphicleftovers.com/10578 ... d-hell.jpg


Um... wow. lol point made.

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dingbat
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dingbat » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:42 am

LaBarrister wrote:So maybe it's actually okay to not be one of those big lawyer hot shots who slaves for a paycheck. What about being a little lawyer without the salary who slaves for the little guy?

Do whatever you find more fulfilling. For some, that means money, for others, it means having a purpose, and for a few, it means helping others

perfecttender
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby perfecttender » Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:19 am

LaBarrister wrote:
ksllaw wrote:
LaBarrister wrote:It is the work and lifestyle of law that I find compelling. By lifestyle, I don't mean the potential lifestyle (big money), I mean the setting at a desk writing for the majority of my life. I don't like engineering work, and I don't really care for the people as much. I'm much more interested in spending time with lawyers than engineers. Lawyers just seem to have a better work ethic as a whole. While many engineers can be lazy and still be engineers, I don't know any lawyers that are lazy. Law sort of forces you to be a very hard worker, and I want to be around people who consider that the norm. Even in undergrad, the amount of work that I enjoy doing is not considered the norm. Plus, engineers seem to appreciate a more well-rounded lifestyle. I would rather be off-balanced with my working all the time and spending time at the office. I don't really want my personal life to matter to employers.

If there is any other career that deals with writing and working as a necessity as much as law, point me to it. But I haven't found anything else with a better use for someone who is naturally best at writing and who has a really high appreciation for working a lot. I've considered being an author, and that's about it. But that seems to be more risky than being a lawyer haha

Edit: I want to point out that I am not looking at BigLaw as my only option in life, but I haven't found anything more compelling yet. As much as it is about the long hours, it is about the type of work that I find so compelling. I don't think I would really like being a banker or even an engineer pulling similar hours, even if the pay way considerably more than I would make as a lawyer. Just something to consider. I like to write. Probably my only weakness in the field of law that I would find is a lack of significance. Significance is a big factor for me. And, also, I don't naturally have the most analytical mind. So being a litigator seems to be off the table if I am to focus on my strengths. Maybe being a paper-pusher at a big firm is where I'm set to be. It may not be as glamorous as litigating, but I think it would suit my strengths best. I also am more comfortable sitting in an office working on papers than I am standing in front of a crowd of people giving a speech.


A few that come to mind for me are:

Journalist, Technical Writer, and College Professor (Research-Oriented)

You may want to look into those. Also, I'm not sure how much written work law would require vs. other tasks, such as reading, client contact, making presentations, etc. Maybe others would know?

Still, definitely don't just go to law school for lack of ideas about other work options! I'm not suggesting you necessarily are doing that. Just encouraging you to take as much time as you need to thoroughly look into things. :) You may find neat options you never knew existed or that law itself isn't what you truly would enjoy.

I'm taking the time myself to do that this year. I don't want to go unless I'm highly confident that it's for me and other factors line up that would make going less risky for me (if I do attend).


Yea, I'm still mulling it over. The truth is, when I get straight A's, I don't really feel all that good about it. I can get them, and I do, but I don't really feel very rewarded. Getting a bunch of letters on a report card seems so insignificant to me. I wish you didn't have to do all this to get into a good law school and get a good job. I've considered being a technical writer, too. I would probably like that. And I would probably not have to keep making good grades to be one lol. Does this pointless grade-getting ever stop after law school? Is there any correlation to this insignificant school work and insignificance in the field? I just feel that working all day for money instead of a report card, actually making a difference, would be a lot more rewarding. Am I looking at the wrong profession for making a difference? lol


I have been practicing at a large firm for about 2.5 months. You don't do much enjoyable writing. You write emails responding to questions, you might write a memo answering a question (in which case you worry more about thoroughness of answer and quality of work than anything else). There is not much enjoyable writing. You also might sit a desk all day but it's not enjoyable. Your back may hurt, you might get eye strain, your neck might get strained, etc. You tend to gain weight, especially if you eat the food that might be available in the office.

When you are at a firm, you fret a lot. You fret over your work product, whether people like you, whether people have a favorable impression of you, whether you get picked for good assignments. You also fret over whether you can develop business, which is the only way to true success and "happiness" in a firm. You fret over your billables. You fret over everything, except there is no clear "goal" as in school. In school, you want to get good grades, so you can laser-like focus on that. In work, you don't have a crystal clear idea of your "goal" (besides, so much is beyond your control anyway).

I consider myself a hard worker (I am in the office at least 12-13 hours per day) but truth be told, no one can sustain this for more than a short amount of time without seriously developing some issues in their life, whether it is psychological, physical, emotional, or financial. I urge you to please really consider whether sitting at a desk for 12 hours per day stressed out is a way to spend your 20's.

Feel free to message me through my tumblr or here if you want to talk more about this or have questions.

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scifiguy
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby scifiguy » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:03 am

How does a person keep their mental sharpness up after 12 hours of work?

Just curious, b/c I've done all-nighters before (last semester I had a few) and noticed that after about 12-13 hours that my mind started slowing down. It's not that I culdn't function at all, but just that typing and thinking felt slow to me (for papers). And also when trying to solve math problems or other stuff requiring logic I noticed that my brain wuold sort of get "stuck" more often. And the other thing is that I'd crash pretty bad after all night study sessions. When I finally did get some rest, I'd sleep for like 15 hours straight. It felt mlike my body was making up for it.

Maybe this is a really dumb question, but given that quality is presumably a very important thing to maintain at all times in biglaw work (I'm thinking of those big company clients), why wuoldn't they give associates more rest?

Why not hire a few extra asssociates? I realize it would cost the company more, but wouldn't quality of work be better too? Or wuold speed be better and the costs made up for that way? Heck, wouldn't employee morale be higher too? And people may just be more productive all around if they had more sleep and rest?

If a person slows down their mental processing let's say after 12 hours (just using this as a hypothetical, b/c that's what I noticed for mseylf :P ) and a fresh associate would have done the work 2x faster....why not have a fresh and well-rested associate do it? You could get mre work done in the firm and also keep people happier?

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scifiguy
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby scifiguy » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:48 am

http://thepeoplestherapist.com/2011/04/13/not-worth-it/

This was an interesting read that compared working in biglaw to fighting Mike Tyson. It was one-sided and a gloomy look into biglaw, but is it possibly true?

Here was one part about the way biglaw breaks you down...

I was kidding around with some of the guys at my gym, tossing around the question – would you fight Mike Tyson for $3 million?

One of them joked – I think he heard this on Howard Stern – that he’d fellate Mike Tyson for $3 million. He could spend the first $1 million on mouthwash and retire on the rest.

Then another guy spoke up, a sometime professional heavyweight boxer. (I’m not making this up, he really has boxed, for big money, not too long ago – and has plans to do so again.)

“It’s not worth it. Mike would destroy you. There would be no retirement.”

He went on to explain what he meant. He knew from experience – this guy had been in the ring. You’d have more than bruises – you’d have concussions, brain injuries, damaged bones and joints. You’d never be the same – and it wouldn’t be worth it. You’re better off not having $3 million but appreciating the finer things, like being able to walk and talk and think.

I saw his point.

Biglaw is also not worth it, even for big money. That’s because it, too, destroys you – just like Iron Mike.


This was the beginning. He goes on to talk about how biglaw "destroys" people in a very depressing portrait of biglaw. They talk about sleep deprivation too and bringing in pillows to work.

Is there any truth to this guys?

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homestyle28
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby homestyle28 » Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:57 am

scifiguy wrote:http://thepeoplestherapist.com/2011/04/13/not-worth-it/

This was an interesting read that compared working in biglaw to fighting Mike Tyson. It was one-sided and a gloomy look into biglaw, but is it possibly true?

Here was one part about the way biglaw breaks you down...

I was kidding around with some of the guys at my gym, tossing around the question – would you fight Mike Tyson for $3 million?

One of them joked – I think he heard this on Howard Stern – that he’d fellate Mike Tyson for $3 million. He could spend the first $1 million on mouthwash and retire on the rest.

Then another guy spoke up, a sometime professional heavyweight boxer. (I’m not making this up, he really has boxed, for big money, not too long ago – and has plans to do so again.)

“It’s not worth it. Mike would destroy you. There would be no retirement.”

He went on to explain what he meant. He knew from experience – this guy had been in the ring. You’d have more than bruises – you’d have concussions, brain injuries, damaged bones and joints. You’d never be the same – and it wouldn’t be worth it. You’re better off not having $3 million but appreciating the finer things, like being able to walk and talk and think.

I saw his point.

Biglaw is also not worth it, even for big money. That’s because it, too, destroys you – just like Iron Mike.


This was the beginning. He goes on to talk about how biglaw "destroys" people in a very depressing portrait of biglaw. They talk about sleep deprivation too and bringing in pillows to work.

Is there any truth to this guys?


Yes there is some truth to it. Go to abovethelaw and dig for the stories about associates who more or less worked themselves to death. It happens, biglaw can be very demanding. Of course it doesn't happen to everyone, some people are able to figure out ways to make it work and be happy. My own sense of things is that there is NYC biglaw demands (where billing 3000 hours isn't too much of a myth) and then there is biglaw elsewhere. I would also wager that as Biglaw partnerships begin to have more Gen Xers and Millennials in them that some of this will change.

The people's therapist represents one depressing side to biglaw, there are others.

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scifiguy
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby scifiguy » Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:35 am

homestyle28 wrote:
Yes there is some truth to it. Go to abovethelaw and dig for the stories about associates who more or less worked themselves to death. It happens, biglaw can be very demanding. Of course it doesn't happen to everyone, some people are able to figure out ways to make it work and be happy. My own sense of things is that there is NYC biglaw demands (where billing 3000 hours isn't too much of a myth) and then there is biglaw elsewhere. I would also wager that as Biglaw partnerships begin to have more Gen Xers and Millennials in them that some of this will change.

The people's therapist represents one depressing side to biglaw, there are others.


The other thing I wonder about are the stories of sadistic, unappreciative, demeaning, hot-tempered, and selfish bosses/partners who supervise your work.

Are these just caricatures? Anomalies in an otherwise challenging, but still respectful environment? Or more like the norm in biglaw?

http://thepeoplestherapist.com/2011/04/ ... nice-ones/

I watched other “nice ones” go through the process, fading, then departing, one after another.

Those who remained – un-faded and more ubiquitous than before – weren’t “the nice ones.” They were the lawtistic jerks with chips on their shoulders, the obsessive workaholics, the control freaks, the psycho screamers, the unconscious neurotics broadcasting their misery with sloppy clothes, eccentric personal hygiene or weird physical tics.

The bright, interesting ones? That thoughtful guy you met during the summer program and used to talk books with during the opening months of first year? Long gone.

Then there are the ones who never, ever leave: the “deeply un-nice” ones. Every firm has at least a few guys like that. They tend to get nicknames. You know, “the beast,” “the machine,” “the evil” – that guy, the guy everyone in the building hates, the one even the paralegals and the secretaries and the librarian and the cleaning staff and the guard downstairs in the lobby hope will somehow go away. That guy. The one who doesn’t merely drink the Kool-ade, he brews it.

That guy will stick around – in fact, he’ll make partner. It’s as certain as death and taxes. If everyone – every single sane person – is praying to stop it happening, even the atheists are imploring their higher powers to intercede and foil the obscenity of that creep making partner… I guarantee you, he’s a shoo-in. He’ll be managing partner. A name partner. Emeritus partner. A legend at the firm, with a portrait hanging in the reception area. In the distant future, a computer-generated hologram of that creep will reach out to shake hands with each and every visitor to the firm each and every day, for all eternity.

The nice ones always leave.
:shock:

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dood
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dood » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:01 am

piney wrote:Several of my friends in my graduating undergrad class now work in big law. As I struggle to find a decent job, I'm thinking of following them. Everyone I've spoke to though has given me the same advice: "Don't go to law school unless you really want to be a lawyer." But honestly, I have no idea what it's like to work in big law.

What exactly are you doing day to day while you're in the office? Are you really handing over your entire life to the firm? Another major concern I have is that I'll be forced to do something unethical while I'm on the job (lie, forge signatures, help conceal documents, etc.). Is this also something I should be concerned about if I want to go into big law? I'm especially worried about the last point.


YEAH DOGG, I'M FORCED TO LIE, FORGE SIGNATURES, CONCEAL DOCS, AND EVEN MURDER PEOPLE. HAVEN'T U EVER SEEN MICHEAL CLAYTON??

ksllaw
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:16 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lgPcBV0l8w (Panel Discussion at NYU)
The Forum: Big Law 2021, And What It Will Mean for You

Discussion on the future of biglaw (including: outsourcing, globalization, firm sizes, etc. ...) for those interested. :)

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scifiguy
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby scifiguy » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:01 pm

I'm curious. If you do happen to lose a biglaw job after 1-2 years, what is your employment outlook then?

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rayiner
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby rayiner » Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:11 pm

scifiguy wrote:How does a person keep their mental sharpness up after 12 hours of work?

Just curious, b/c I've done all-nighters before (last semester I had a few) and noticed that after about 12-13 hours that my mind started slowing down. It's not that I culdn't function at all, but just that typing and thinking felt slow to me (for papers). And also when trying to solve math problems or other stuff requiring logic I noticed that my brain wuold sort of get "stuck" more often. And the other thing is that I'd crash pretty bad after all night study sessions. When I finally did get some rest, I'd sleep for like 15 hours straight. It felt mlike my body was making up for it.

Maybe this is a really dumb question, but given that quality is presumably a very important thing to maintain at all times in biglaw work (I'm thinking of those big company clients), why wuoldn't they give associates more rest?

Why not hire a few extra asssociates? I realize it would cost the company more, but wouldn't quality of work be better too? Or wuold speed be better and the costs made up for that way? Heck, wouldn't employee morale be higher too? And people may just be more productive all around if they had more sleep and rest?

If a person slows down their mental processing let's say after 12 hours (just using this as a hypothetical, b/c that's what I noticed for mseylf :P ) and a fresh associate would have done the work 2x faster....why not have a fresh and well-rested associate do it? You could get mre work done in the firm and also keep people happier?


The firm bills the same for every hour no matter if it's the attorney's second working hour of the day or the fourteenth. Yes, quality of work suffers, but it suffers for everyone, and at 1am the partner is tired too and has only so much energy he's willing to spend chewing you out.

More generally, it's a problem with corporate America. Corporate America is run by sociopaths. These are people who take great pride in how little they sleep and how they spend weekends training for Ironman competitions instead of relaxing. It's quite irrelevant that everyone might be more productive on a strictly 40 hour workweek (and there is a ton of research that supports this from the middle of the 20th century). What matters is appearances, being willing to show that you're giving it 110%.

Pro-tip: sleep in multiples of 90 minutes + 15 minutes to fall asleep. Even if you're not one of those people who naturally doesn't need very much sleep, it's quite doable to sleep 4h 45m per night for weeks at a time without feeling exhausted, so long as you make sure to consistently hit those targets.* I just finished a crazy couple of months in litigation, and while you're not going to be amazingly productive on a 10am-3am schedule, you'll feel okay.

*) It's very worthwhile to try and optimize your sleep. I think most people don't have very good sleep, but pay very little attention to improving it. Spend the money on the right mattress, pillow, etc, get a hygrometer and use a humidifier/dehumidifier to keep the perfect humidity so your nasal passages don't affect your breathing at night. Use any sleep aids (Breathe-Right strips, etc) that you need. Figure out what you need to do to fall asleep quickly. One bad night's sleep can ruin your week, while five consistent, good, if short, sleeps can make even a hellish week bearable. It's very worthwhile to spend some time on this issue.

MinEMorris
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby MinEMorris » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:09 am


I have been practicing at a large firm for about 2.5 months. You don't do much enjoyable writing. You write emails responding to questions, you might write a memo answering a question (in which case you worry more about thoroughness of answer and quality of work than anything else). There is not much enjoyable writing. You also might sit a desk all day but it's not enjoyable. Your back may hurt, you might get eye strain, your neck might get strained, etc. You tend to gain weight, especially if you eat the food that might be available in the office.

When you are at a firm, you fret a lot. You fret over your work product, whether people like you, whether people have a favorable impression of you, whether you get picked for good assignments. You also fret over whether you can develop business, which is the only way to true success and "happiness" in a firm. You fret over your billables. You fret over everything, except there is no clear "goal" as in school. In school, you want to get good grades, so you can laser-like focus on that. In work, you don't have a crystal clear idea of your "goal" (besides, so much is beyond your control anyway).

I consider myself a hard worker (I am in the office at least 12-13 hours per day) but truth be told, no one can sustain this for more than a short amount of time without seriously developing some issues in their life, whether it is psychological, physical, emotional, or financial. I urge you to please really consider whether sitting at a desk for 12 hours per day stressed out is a way to spend your 20's.

Feel free to message me through my tumblr or here if you want to talk more about this or have questions.


Really wonderful summation of the difference between liking writing/working hard and enjoying the big law environment. You're obviously well aware of the nuances of your situation, thanks for writing and sharing that.

ksllaw
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:32 pm

LaBarrister wrote:
ksllaw wrote:In recent years, people have gotten de-partnered as well for not bringing in enough business to a biglaw firm (confirmed in this talk and elsewhere online as well):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk2shMEkSsw (Panel Discussion at Princeton)
Lawyers and Law: Challenges Facing the Legal Profession and Its Impact on Law


Great video, btw.


Heh. I actually was a bit bored by it :P , although some parts piqued my curiosity and drew my attention. I think it may be best watched for those who are very very curious about biglaw and wouldn't mind knowing every little detail about it they can get their hands on. :)

The other video I posted was also a bit on the slow, boring and insipid side as well. Same recommendation. There were a few interesting parts, but I think both were mostly for those who are extremely dedicated to knowing every detail about biglaw as possible. Many things are probably unrelated to what us OL's would need to know. So that would be my personal recommendation for those short on time and unsure if that videos would be helpful.

Although, it is still good to know your field or future field, which is the main reason I do look up stuff that may not directly be useful to me immediately - just helps to try to think ahead and look ahead at a field you may enter into later. [Disclaimer: I've read up on much of the topics they discussed in both videos already, so it was a repeat of many things I already knew. That may not be the case with other people, so perhaps there may be more to gain by watching them.]

I was going to add that you may want to check out this thread at College Confidential:

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/par ... rneys.html

There is a law forum there that's part of the larger forums. The above thread is a bit dated, but it's one of the better ones I came across debating the pros and cons of practicing law. CC has a bit of an "older" crowd, ranging from folks who are retired attorneys to those who are currently working in biglaw. TLS seems to have more in-school students as its user and reader base. I find it helpful to get a different kind of and balanced opinion on law school and legal industry matters, so I think their forums are great (and with the more mature crowd, there's rarely ever cursing as is common at TLS, lol :wink: ...and often times even a "nurturing" of folks! :) ). Many at CC are parents of teenaged kids, so that gives you an idea of their age. But I've come across a good many folks there who have either worked directly in biglaw or have a hand in the hiring in biglaw.

I'll see if I can find any other good CC theads that may relate to biglaw. But one above is one of the better ones from my memory.

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scifiguy
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby scifiguy » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:24 am

anyone do an all-nighter for Xmas..or upcoming NYE/NY?




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