What is big law really like?

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dingbat
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dingbat » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:18 am

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

Working in Finance, I once worked a 100+ hour workweek between Xmas and New Year and our lawyers had to keep up, but we put in serious effort to ensure no one had to work either of those days.

The Christmas dinner we had scheduled with X bank (about a week before) was... interesting (everyone spent significant time tapping stuff out on their Blackberries, someone even busted out a laptop just as the main course arrived, and right after dessert everyone returned to their respective offices)

ksllaw
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:58 pm

dingbat wrote:
scifiguy wrote:anyone do an all-nighter for Xmas..or upcoming NYE/NY?

Working in Finance, I once worked a 100+ hour workweek between Xmas and New Year and our lawyers had to keep up, but we put in serious effort to ensure no one had to work either of those days.

The Christmas dinner we had scheduled with X bank (about a week before) was... interesting (everyone spent significant time tapping stuff out on their Blackberries, someone even busted out a laptop just as the main course arrived, and right after dessert everyone returned to their respective offices)



Were you a CPA dingb? Just curious, b/c I'm looking into post-bac/2nd degree in accounting. Wondering how the work hours and job market compare.

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Ohiobumpkin
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:01 pm

.
Last edited by Ohiobumpkin on Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

ksllaw
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:06 pm

Ohiobumpkin wrote:Something like this I imagine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuJnIJHgQ44


You need to warn people of that clip before viewing. :shock: (*gore...and other possibly objectionable stuff*)

I'm not sure what I just watched. :?: :roll: :? :cry: It was confusing to say the least. :?:

But, I have heard from some that the accounting job market is so good that one could take a few years off and still come back to a good job quite easily. Not sure of how true that is, but am researching it, atm.

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dingbat
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dingbat » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:08 pm

ksllaw wrote:
dingbat wrote:
scifiguy wrote:anyone do an all-nighter for Xmas..or upcoming NYE/NY?

Working in Finance, I once worked a 100+ hour workweek between Xmas and New Year and our lawyers had to keep up, but we put in serious effort to ensure no one had to work either of those days.

The Christmas dinner we had scheduled with X bank (about a week before) was... interesting (everyone spent significant time tapping stuff out on their Blackberries, someone even busted out a laptop just as the main course arrived, and right after dessert everyone returned to their respective offices)



Were you a CPA dingb? Just curious, b/c I'm looking into post-bac/2nd degree in accounting. Wondering how the work hours and job market compare.

No. I worked for a finance boutique (and no, I won't divulge what we specialized in, considering you can count every company in the niche with your fingers).

I have a good friend who was a director (and on track to make partner) at a big4 before he decided to quit, and I can tell you what I know about him

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Br3v
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby Br3v » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:12 pm

Wait so dingbat if you already had a real job that sounds like it makes a good salary, why are you going to law school?

ksllaw
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:16 pm

dingbat wrote:No. I worked for a finance boutique (and no, I won't divulge what we specialized in, considering you can count every company in the niche with your fingers).

I have a good friend who was a director (and on track to make partner) at a big4 before he decided to quit, and I can tell you what I know about him



Heh. Not a problem, ding. :P Not that I would stalk you. lol. :mrgreen:

What were the hours like?

What is the difference between working as an accountant and in finance as you put it, btw?

What are the big4? What is the work like? What is the salary range?

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dingbat
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dingbat » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:07 pm

ksllaw wrote:Heh. Not a problem, ding. :P Not that I would stalk you. lol. :mrgreen:

What were the hours like?
I worked anywhere from 35 hours in a week to 100 hours a week during the last few weeks of december (i.e. christmas/new year), but usually it was somewhere in between. Just depends on what needs to be done. My friend regularly put in 13-14 hour days
ksllaw wrote:What is the difference between working as an accountant and in finance as you put it, btw?
Finance is, at its simplest financial transactions (lending, investing, or buying). This requires everything from making sure the deal is profitable (and finding ways to make it more profitable) to making sure that everything is kosher (no fraud, no unintential misrepresentations) and in order (documents all there, complete and correct)
Accounting is something very different, and I tried to stay as far away from it as possible. I'm sure someone with more experience in the field can give you a better description than me
ksllaw wrote:What are the big4?
PriceWaterhouseCooper, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte. These are the 4 biggest accounting networks in the world, kind of like V5/V10 in law or Bulge Bracket firms in investment banking. If they were law schools, they'd be HYS
ksllaw wrote:What is the work like?
I would sometimes build models in excel (which could take weeks, if it was complex enough); when I started out I spent a lot of time entering stuff into excel (or other proprietary software). I also reviewed a lot of documents, looking for key information. There was some doc review (checking that e.g. names, social security, dob matched) before sending it to the attorneys. My field was very document driven, so part of it was making sure that all the docs we needed were present, making sure they were filled out and nothing was missing, etc. The last few years were a bit different, as I moved away from buttmonkey and more toward management. (also, it's been a few years, so I might not be remembering everything, or getting the proportions right)

If you don't like it, mind numbing and soul sucking; if you do like it, you belong in a straightjacket. Just kidding on that last bit. It has its ups and downs. For me, closings were the best, when all your hard work got turned into something real. When deals are happening, it's fast and frantic and you got to make sure everything is exactly right. Basically, you walk into the office, try to catch up on what happened overnight, take care of the most urgent stuff, look at the clock and go "Damn, 4:00 already; too late for lunch, but let me order dinner". When no deals are happening there's either a lot of drudgery or a lot of busywork, you don't feel like anything you're doing has any point (it doesn't) and you want to kill yourself. You walk into the office, check your emails, file a few things, look at the clock and think "fuck. It's only 10? No way I can go get lunch this early. Maybe I'll just sneak off to the toilet for a minute". It sucks.
ksllaw wrote: What is the salary range?
I have no idea what starting salaries are like. In finance, salary is very bonus driven and the proportion it should represent increases as you move up the ladder, but can be entirely outside your control (e.g. because some fuckhead trader did a few illegal trades and wiped out all the firm's profit for the year). Starting out, I think you'l be making $60k-$80k in either field, but I don't know.

Br3v wrote:Wait so dingbat if you already had a real job that sounds like it makes a good salary, why are you going to law school?
two part answer:
A) I got bored
B) I want to do more

I actually want to continue working in the same niche, but from the legal side. I'm happy to explain, but not on an open message board

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scifiguy
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby scifiguy » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:41 pm

Hey, I've really been curious about something.

People have talked about needing to sell to clients at the highest levels of biglaw (which, by the way, is still a little bit mysterious to me, but I think I'm getting a better sense of it).

Someone mentioned it's like being a salesman literally in ian earlier post. I got that analogy, I think. ...It's all still kind of weird to me that you have to sell anything at all in biglaw. I just thought that clients would ask you to do assignments.

But back to the selling stuff. What exactly do lawyers sell? I know thihs might sound like a dumb question, but I'm really serious. I thought that basically these big companies or rich clients have some legal problem and they ask you for advice to solve it or advise them on it. But, what exactly would the lawyer be doing to sell? Why would work hours originate from the lawyer side? In other words, if the companies don't have any issues, how can the lawyer just generate some new thing to "sell" to the clients to bill them for?

Suppose you're in a small law firm doing wills. You don't really go around selling these services to a person you've already done a will for. You try to get new clients. I mean, I'm assuming the person who was already a client will only need your services once or twice (you know, maybe to amend a will).....but then how would you go about selling that person new legal tasks?

So basck to biglaw. I'm asking the same thing. What would the biglaw person actually be seeling? Make senese?

I appreciate the thoughts!

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Lincoln
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby Lincoln » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:09 pm

Well, think of it this way: Every F500 company buys legal services. They need transactional and litigation help to supplement their in-house legal departments. But there are a vast number of law firms who are big enough to have the manpower and expertise to provide the needed services for any given matter. So the "sales" aspect of managing a law firm entails making sure that the clients, usually large corporations, choose your firm as the provider of legal services for a sufficient number of matters to pay the bills.

As a practical matter, this can take many forms. Many big law firms have long-standing relationships with some clients, such that they always receive a certain amount of that client's business. "Selling" to such clients mainly consists of maintaining your relationship with those clients. Sometimes former associates or partners work in-house, and like using their former firm because they have established relationships with the lawyers there. Sometimes you actively have to sell by contacting in-house counsel and offering your services. Sometimes law school friends or whatever other connections you have can be a good "in".

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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby BlaqBella » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:15 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:ITT, people slam the OP to cover up their insecurity about not knowing the answers to OP's questions.


+1. These folks giving "advice" on BIGLAW is hilarious. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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dingbat
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dingbat » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:18 pm

scifiguy wrote:Hey, I've really been curious about something.

People have talked about needing to sell to clients at the highest levels of biglaw (which, by the way, is still a little bit mysterious to me, but I think I'm getting a better sense of it).

Someone mentioned it's like being a salesman literally in ian earlier post. I got that analogy, I think. ...It's all still kind of weird to me that you have to sell anything at all in biglaw. I just thought that clients would ask you to do assignments.
why would they choose your law firm over some other law firm?
scifiguy wrote:But back to the selling stuff. What exactly do lawyers sell? I know thihs might sound like a dumb question, but I'm really serious. I thought that basically these big companies or rich clients have some legal problem and they ask you for advice to solve it or advise them on it. But, what exactly would the lawyer be doing to sell? Why would work hours originate from the lawyer side? In other words, if the companies don't have any issues, how can the lawyer just generate some new thing to "sell" to the clients to bill them for?
A) you're selling your firm. think about it. There lost of biglaw firms out there, and quite a number of (somewhat) cheaper mid size firms. Why should they choose, for example, Skadden over Latham? why choose the more expensive big firm over the cheaper smaller firm (or other way around)?
B) selling more services; what this entails is entirely industry specific, but as a quick example, let's say one client is a financial services company specializing in estate planning, and another client developed some financial structure that saves on estate taxes, but requires a certain amount of legal work (e.g. setting up trusts, providing funding agreements, etc.). Well, put the two together, and they both make money off the transaction and you make money off the legal work.
scifiguy wrote:Suppose you're in a small law firm doing wills. You don't really go around selling these services to a person you've already done a will for. You try to get new clients. I mean, I'm assuming the person who was already a client will only need your services once or twice (you know, maybe to amend a will).....but then how would you go about selling that person new legal tasks?
so, I wrote the previous answer before reading this. Now lets say the client has a will. Fastforward 5 years and the client's adult child got into an accident, suffered a brain injury, and has been turned into a vegetable. Now, instead of the client's money going to his grandchildren equally, it'd be more desirable to set a portion aside to take care of that child for the rest of his/her life.
Second example, a state decides to abolish the rule against perpetuities. So, you go to your client and say, hey, you know how your will had to be restricted to avoid running afoul of the rule against perpetuities? Guess what! If we change your will to include a South Dakota trust, you don't need to be restricted like that
scifiguy wrote:So basck to biglaw. I'm asking the same thing. What would the biglaw person actually be seeling? Make senese?

I appreciate the thoughts!
Put simply, it's:
1. making sure the client chooses your firm and not some other firm (this includes preventing the client from outsourcing doc review to a discount shop)
2. creating a need for your client to request additional work
3. getting the client to agree to redoing old legal work to take account of new circumstances

I'm sure there's more, but these are some that I'm aware of

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dingbat
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dingbat » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:19 pm

BlaqBella wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:ITT, people slam the OP to cover up their insecurity about not knowing the answers to OP's questions.


+1. These folks giving "advice" on BIGLAW is hilarious. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

considering who (some of) the advice this is coming from, you shouldn't be so quick to judge

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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby Swimp » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:34 pm

dingbat wrote:
BlaqBella wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:ITT, people slam the OP to cover up their insecurity about not knowing the answers to OP's questions.


+1. These folks giving "advice" on BIGLAW is hilarious. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

considering who (some of) the advice this is coming from, you shouldn't be so quick to judge


Particularly given that she, herself, has been known to dispense some pretty "hilarious" advice on the topic of legal employment.

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BlaqBella
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby BlaqBella » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:39 pm

Swimp wrote:
dingbat wrote:
BlaqBella wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:ITT, people slam the OP to cover up their insecurity about not knowing the answers to OP's questions.


+1. These folks giving "advice" on BIGLAW is hilarious. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

considering who (some of) the advice this is coming from, you shouldn't be so quick to judge


Particularly given that she, herself, has been known to dispense some pretty "hilarious" advice on the topic of legal employment.


Where is your evidence...?

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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:14 pm

I love serving my corporate overlords 70 hours a week. It's so joyful and rewarding.

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BlaqBella
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby BlaqBella » Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:23 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:I love serving my corporate overlords 70 hours a week. It's so joyful and rewarding.



70 hours? Psshhhh. Try topping 100 BILLABLE hours a week. :mrgreen:

ksllaw
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:39 am

Question: When a person is forced out of biglaw, can he or she lateral back into biglaw?

I know the most common exit options are mid-law, in-house counsel, or government/PI, but is there a percentage of folks who actually go from being forced out of biglaw into biglaw (elsewhere)? Or is one considered damaged goods at that point?

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dingbat
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby dingbat » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:16 am

ksllaw wrote:Question: When a person is forced out of biglaw, can he or she lateral back into biglaw?

I know the most common exit options are mid-law, in-house counsel, or government/PI, but is there a percentage of folks who actually go from being forced out of biglaw into biglaw (elsewhere)? Or is one considered damaged goods at that point?

Depends on when&how you're forced out and where you go.
As a first or second year associate you won't get into another firm that easily, but 4+ years you might be able to spin it. Or, you go in-house for a few years and then back; I've seen it done.
Alternatively, if you do something stellar, you can always leverage that to get back in.

Thing is, many who are forced out wont have what it takes to do well enough to make it back in.

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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:14 am

TY for the longer response above, dingb. Did not want to quote it, but found it helpful. 8)

rayiner wrote: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.


For anyone who is in high school, college, and possibly even law school, I highly recommend taking a look at this article by Po Bronson a few years ago on the effects of sleep loss on academic performance. I think many will find some of the data genuinely eye-opening and possibly life-changing.

http://nymag.com/news/features/38951/index1.html

rayiner, interesting "pro-tip" above. :P

LaBarrister
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby LaBarrister » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:17 am

ksllaw wrote:TY for the longer response above, dingb. Did not want to quote it, but found it helpful. 8)

rayiner wrote: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.


For anyone who is in high school, college, and possibly even law school, I highly recommend taking a look at this article by Po Bronson a few years ago on the effects of sleep loss on academic performance. I think many will find some of the data genuinely eye-opening and possibly life-changing.

http://nymag.com/news/features/38951/index1.html

rayiner, interesting "pro-tip" above.


This is really cool. I'm actually some freak who distresses over getting only 6-7 hours of sleep per night instead of my ritualistic 9 hours. So I'm already on this bandwagon.

"All aboard!"

ksllaw
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby ksllaw » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:24 am

LaBarrister wrote:This is really cool. I'm actually some freak who distresses over getting only 6-7 hours of sleep per night instead of my ritualistic 9 hours. So I'm already on this bandwagon.

"All aboard!"


I can feel it if I'm coming in under 8-9 hours a night. My body and mind both feel it. I found the SAT part of the article really quite shocking (among other things):

Convinced by the mountain of studies, a handful of school districts around the nation are starting school later in the morning. The best known of these is in Edina, Minnesota, an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, where the high school start time was changed from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30. The results were startling. In the year preceding the time change, math and verbal SAT scores for the top 10 percent of Edina’s students averaged 1288. A year later, the top 10 percent averaged 1500, an increase that couldn’t be attributed to any other variable. “Truly flabbergasting,” said Brian O’Reilly, the College Board’s executive director for SAT Program Relations, on hearing the results.

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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby jwinaz » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:07 pm

Although I'm not very interested in biglaw, I'm still curious what the average length of stay is for associates there?

Any statistics for how long new associates end up lasting? I know most don't make partner, but aside from just that bit, what do we know about the rest?

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bk1
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby bk1 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:37 pm

jwinaz wrote:Although I'm not very interested in biglaw, I'm still curious what the average length of stay is for associates there?

Any statistics for how long new associates end up lasting? I know most don't make partner, but aside from just that bit, what do we know about the rest?

There was some old data but I'm too lazy to look it up. IIRC, it was something like 50% make it to year 3 and 20% make it to year 5. I think it was in biglaw generally, but it might have been i/r/t their original biglaw firm.

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Icculus
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Re: What is big law really like?

Postby Icculus » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:44 pm

bk1 wrote:
jwinaz wrote:Although I'm not very interested in biglaw, I'm still curious what the average length of stay is for associates there?

Any statistics for how long new associates end up lasting? I know most don't make partner, but aside from just that bit, what do we know about the rest?

There was some old data but I'm too lazy to look it up. IIRC, it was something like 50% make it to year 3 and 20% make it to year 5. I think it was in biglaw generally, but it might have been i/r/t their original biglaw firm.


BK, I almost didn't recognize you. What happened to GLaDOS?

I am curious as to how much of that attrition is personal choice vs. a firm basically letting people know it not-so subtle ways they should move on.




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