How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

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ssareshwala
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How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby ssareshwala » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:56 pm

Now assuming one has graduated from a decent law school and eventually got employed at a firm, how time consuming is being a lawyer? Is it possible to have time for a family and hobbies for the first few years as a lawyer, and even years down the line? I am interested in law school, but I also want to have a family and have time for everything else. Approximately how many hours is a job in law?

I'm assuming it depends on the firm one works for, but do firms tend to be lenient?

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IAFG
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby IAFG » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:57 pm

It depends on the city, the firm, the economy, the practice area...

Renzo
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby Renzo » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:33 pm

IAFG wrote:It depends on the city, the firm, the economy, the practice area...


This. It varies incredibly. On one hand, new lawyers at fancy Wall Street-type firms work longer hours, and with less schedule flexabilty, than just about everyone else in America. But, this isn't true of all lawyers. Lots of lawyers have normal-ish officer-hours jobs, and even within the high-end law firms there are varying degrees of horror.

johndhi
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby johndhi » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:09 am

It's my general understanding that it really isn't possible to feel like you have "enough" time with family and also work in big law, unless in some strange and rare of counsel position.

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solotee
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby solotee » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:42 am

If you're working big law in a southern market, for example, attorneys I worked with are usually in the office 12 hours a day, from 8 am until 8 pm, or 7 am to 7 pm, then go home to their families, usually doing 1 or 2 more hours of work until they bail out for the night. It really is a tough schedule day, after day, after day. It wears on you.

sadsituationJD
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby sadsituationJD » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:06 am

If you're working big law in a southern market, for example, attorneys I worked with are usually in the office 12 hours a day, from 8 am until 8 pm, or 7 am to 7 pm, then go home to their families, usually doing 1 or 2 more hours of work until they bail out for the night. It really is a tough schedule day, after day, after day. It wears on you.


It's also why the salaries are largely an illusion, since you work roughly double what the average person does, you really have two (2) forty hour a week jobs, as opposed to one (1) high paying job.

And most legal jobs do not pay high wages.

Funnier still is that even the lower-wage jobs demand a lot of hours, so it's not hard at all to end up doing 60-75 hours a week in shitlaw for a 45 K a year salary, making your effective hourly wage about $12 to $14 an hour, basically same as a high-school dropout. Subtract student loans payments from those gruesome numbers and you're basically working for free.

HTH

Miller32
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby Miller32 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:57 am

sadsituationJD wrote:
If you're working big law in a southern market, for example, attorneys I worked with are usually in the office 12 hours a day, from 8 am until 8 pm, or 7 am to 7 pm, then go home to their families, usually doing 1 or 2 more hours of work until they bail out for the night. It really is a tough schedule day, after day, after day. It wears on you.


It's also why the salaries are largely an illusion, since you work roughly double what the average person does, you really have two (2) forty hour a week jobs, as opposed to one (1) high paying job.

And most legal jobs do not pay high wages.

Funnier still is that even the lower-wage jobs demand a lot of hours, so it's not hard at all to end up doing 60-75 hours a week in shitlaw for a 45 K a year salary, making your effective hourly wage about $12 to $14 an hour, basically same as a high-school dropout. Subtract student loans payments from those gruesome numbers and you're basically working for free.

HTH


(1) Most smaller firms that you call shitlaw do not work attorneys 60-75 hours per week. Sixty can happen if there is an important hearing/trial coming up, but it is not the norm.

(2) On a 45k salary, working 60 hours per week comes out to a little north of $30 per hour. Much more than your average high school grad, and more than the majority of recent college grads as well.

(3) You totally discount opportunities for growth. Yes, entry level attorneys at small firms might be underpaid and overworked at some firms. This is true of most entry level positions in most industries. Five to ten years down the line the equation changes quite a bit.

(4) You're an idiot.

Edit because I know you're going to attack the $30 figure: True, the effective wage would be lower. Probably in the range of the mid to low twenties. But, again, sixty hour weeks are not the norm. If you only work a 40-hour week, the hourly rate is closer to $47, and the effective wage rate would be in the low forties to high thirties.

tothePAIN
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby tothePAIN » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:03 pm

@Miller 32. You're math is horrendous.

"(2) On a 45k salary, working 60 hours per week comes out to a little north of $30 per hour. Much more than your average high school grad, and more than the majority of recent college grads as well."

60 hours per week for 50 weeks is 3,000 hours.

45,000 / 3,000 = $15/hr. Not $30. You're right, people are going to attack that figure. For good reason.

40 hours per week = 2,000 hours for the year

45,000 / 2,000 = $22.5/hr

lawyerwannabe
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby lawyerwannabe » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:06 pm

tothePain: everyone knows that you get 27 weeks of vacation as a lawyer

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sambeber
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby sambeber » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:08 pm

Miller32 wrote:True, the effective wage would be lower. Probably in the range of the mid to low twenties. But, again, sixty hour weeks are not the norm. If you only work a 40-hour week, the hourly rate is closer to $47, and the effective wage rate would be in the low forties to high thirties.


Uhhh... What?

CHECK YOU MATH.

Renzo
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby Renzo » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:19 pm

sambeber wrote:
Miller32 wrote:True, the effective wage would be lower. Probably in the range of the mid to low twenties. But, again, sixty hour weeks are not the norm. If you only work a 40-hour week, the hourly rate is closer to $47, and the effective wage rate would be in the low forties to high thirties.


Uhhh... What?

CHECK YOU MATH.


Reason #1 people go to law school...

Miller32
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby Miller32 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:26 pm

Yep, math fail. Still stand by the rest of my points.

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IAFG
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby IAFG » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:51 pm

True 40 hr/week jobs are generally low paid gigs. The hours for biglawyers outside NY are not dissimilar to other salaried professional jobs, and the pay is generally better, especially over time (though student loan payments may significantly cancel this out).

RickyDnwhyc
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby RickyDnwhyc » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:15 pm

Damn, this is depressing.

45k year is chump change.

I'm a paralegal right now and I make 35k. I'm a recent undergrad, I didn't even have to interview for this job.

My buddy is a paralegal, does some litigation stuff, research, he makes 60k with barely any work exp.

Law School tuition is in the six figures, and you might come out with a 45k salary? In this economy you'd have to be clinically insane to even consider it. Unless the law is your "ultimate life calling" or something.

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fatduck
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby fatduck » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:34 pm

IBjustbeaplumber

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IAFG
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby IAFG » Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:52 pm

RickyDnwhyc wrote:Law School tuition is in the six figures, and you might come out with a 45k salary? In this economy you'd have to be clinically insane to even consider it. Unless the law is your "ultimate life calling" or something.

Well that's an amazingly meaningless statement without considering what percentage of students from your law school of choice make it, and what percentage of those actively sought out a low-paying job (e.g. entered intent on finding a public interest gig).

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wtrc
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby wtrc » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:01 pm

Uhhh, I make 40K a year out of undergrad, going to law school and getting 150k in debt will mean I make... 45k a year? lolwut

Miller32
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby Miller32 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:01 pm

weathercoins wrote:Uhhh, I make 40K a year out of undergrad, going to law school and getting 150k in debt will mean I make... 45k a year? lolwut


Yeah, law school is not a good choice for most people. I don't think anyone is arguing that. High debt, poor employment prospects, etc. make that case by themselves. I just think sadsituationJD totally overstates things, and is overly pessimistic. Even a law grad coming out making only 45k has a lot of room for career growth.

RickyDnwhyc
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby RickyDnwhyc » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:12 pm

IAFG wrote:
RickyDnwhyc wrote:Law School tuition is in the six figures, and you might come out with a 45k salary? In this economy you'd have to be clinically insane to even consider it. Unless the law is your "ultimate life calling" or something.

Well that's an amazingly meaningless statement without considering what percentage of students from your law school of choice make it, and what percentage of those actively sought out a low-paying job (e.g. entered intent on finding a public interest gig).


The only thing I didn't consider was BigLaw aka your soul and 100 hours a week for more money than you'll ever have time to spend.

There is a general consensus that law salaries are bimodal aka you're either making six figures or 40-60k which entry level undergrads can make without losing 3 years of their life and 100k in tuition.

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IAFG
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby IAFG » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:20 pm

RickyDnwhyc wrote:
IAFG wrote:
RickyDnwhyc wrote:Law School tuition is in the six figures, and you might come out with a 45k salary? In this economy you'd have to be clinically insane to even consider it. Unless the law is your "ultimate life calling" or something.

Well that's an amazingly meaningless statement without considering what percentage of students from your law school of choice make it, and what percentage of those actively sought out a low-paying job (e.g. entered intent on finding a public interest gig).


The only thing I didn't consider was BigLaw aka your soul and 100 hours a week for more money than you'll ever have time to spend.

There is a general consensus that law salaries are bimodal aka you're either making six figures or 40-60k which entry level undergrads can make without losing 3 years of their life and 100k in tuition.

If you don't want to work a lot of hours, you probably shouldn't go to law school. If that's your point, I co-sign.

RickyDnwhyc
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby RickyDnwhyc » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:53 pm

IAFG wrote:
RickyDnwhyc wrote:
IAFG wrote:
RickyDnwhyc wrote:Law School tuition is in the six figures, and you might come out with a 45k salary? In this economy you'd have to be clinically insane to even consider it. Unless the law is your "ultimate life calling" or something.

Well that's an amazingly meaningless statement without considering what percentage of students from your law school of choice make it, and what percentage of those actively sought out a low-paying job (e.g. entered intent on finding a public interest gig).


The only thing I didn't consider was BigLaw aka your soul and 100 hours a week for more money than you'll ever have time to spend.

There is a general consensus that law salaries are bimodal aka you're either making six figures or 40-60k which entry level undergrads can make without losing 3 years of their life and 100k in tuition.

If you don't want to work a lot of hours, you probably shouldn't go to law school. If that's your point, I co-sign.


Not entirely. My point is that only a small % will even achieve BigLaw.

You seemed to be implying that everyone seeking a low paying job / public interest work is doing it because that's what they wanted from the start. Some are doing it because they have no other choice... What % of law school grads do you really think are in it for personal fulfillment alone?

Look at all the lawyers doing painstaking doc review and temp work for 20-30$/hr. It wasn't a choice...

I'm not trying to be a pessimist. I want someone to prove me wrong, I really do.
Last edited by RickyDnwhyc on Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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fatduck
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby fatduck » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:00 pm

honestly, compared to the rest of the professional landscape, doc review slave doesn't seem like a bad gig but for the presence of debilitating debt.

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IAFG
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby IAFG » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:01 pm

RickyDnwhyc wrote:Not entirely. My point is that only a small % will even achieve BigLaw.

You seemed to be implying that everyone seeking a low paying job / public interest work is doing it because that's what they wanted from the start. Some are doing it because they have no other choice...

Look at all the lawyers doing painstaking doc review and temp work for 20-30$/hr. It wasn't a choice... What % of law school grads do you really think are in it for personal fulfillment alone?

Only a small % achieve biglaw in general. But this isn't Generic-Law-Schools.com, is it?

I also never implied that EVERYONE in PI sought PI. I merely point out that some percentage of those in those jobs, wanted them. And the debt is irrelevant to them, if they chose schools wisely. Your inability to grasp nuance it totally consistent with the lawscamblogger anti-law school crusade culture, though.

RickyDnwhyc
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby RickyDnwhyc » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:04 pm

fatduck wrote:honestly, compared to the rest of the professional landscape, doc review slave doesn't seem like a bad gig but for the presence of debilitating debt.


I agree. Sometimes it can pay really well. It's just sad having to give up 3 years and 100k in debt to do doc review.

Law School seems to be a terrible idea (in this economy) unless you are

1) confident that you are definitely going to get a decent paying job

2) have rich parents

3) getting a fully/at least partially covered tuition package

4) clinically insane aka you want to change the world

RickyDnwhyc
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Re: How time-consuming is being a lawyer?

Postby RickyDnwhyc » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:11 pm

IAFG wrote:
RickyDnwhyc wrote:Not entirely. My point is that only a small % will even achieve BigLaw.

You seemed to be implying that everyone seeking a low paying job / public interest work is doing it because that's what they wanted from the start. Some are doing it because they have no other choice...

Look at all the lawyers doing painstaking doc review and temp work for 20-30$/hr. It wasn't a choice... What % of law school grads do you really think are in it for personal fulfillment alone?

Only a small % achieve biglaw in general. But this isn't Generic-Law-Schools.com, is it?

I also never implied that EVERYONE in PI sought PI. I merely point out that some percentage of those in those jobs, wanted them. And the debt is irrelevant to them, if they chose schools wisely. Your inability to grasp nuance it totally consistent with the lawscamblogger anti-law school crusade culture, though.


There you go! Now THAT is a meaningless statement. Sure, some people seek it out. But if we were those people, we wouldn't be here complaining about it and starting threads like this now would we?




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