Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

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Anonymous User
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Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:48 am

TBH, biglaw sounds pretty hellish, and it sounds like most new lawyers only do it for long enough to service their LS debts (that is, if they're not forced out sooner).

So, if you had graduated (or will graduate) debt-free, would/will you still be trying for biglaw? I'll admit that 80-hour weeks aren't enticing, especially if the days routinely run past midnight. It might be different if I could get started at 6am and be home by 8 or 9 pm, but a 9am until 10pm workday would mean that I essentially wouldn't be seeing my family at all.

Is biglaw all about the paycheck, or it is also a "necessary evil" that you have to get through in order to have a reasonable chance at a $110-130k job with more humane hours?

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KibblesAndVick
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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby KibblesAndVick » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:10 pm

I would argue that Biglaw is more attractive if you don't have any debt because 1) you actually get to keep your paycheck and 2) you can walk away whenever you want.

Debt is obviously one of biggest reasons people work Biglaw but I think a lack of debt would make it a more enticing first job not less.

kryptix
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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby kryptix » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:17 pm

I'm an evening student working a job that lets me live a decent life style while paying tuition out of pocket, so it was always big law or bust because even big law is not much of a difference in pay, it's just raising the glass ceiling if you will. Also, keep in mind that you get to spend mornings with your family because of the late start time, and you can go home early at least half the time when things are slow, but you don't have much control over when you are slammed. My family has gotten used to me getting home at 11 from night school, so I really don't think it will be that huge of a change, probably a bit less flexibility for taking work from home days but other than that, no big difference.

Also note, a lot of firms seem to have a culture of going home at 7 and remoting back in after dinner when things aren't in absolute fire drill mode. It's not as bad as the doom and gloom that goes on here. Most after hours work can be done from home unless you actually need to be there from what I have heard and what I see.

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:20 pm

The vast majority of classmates I know who have little or no debt (either full rides or their parents paid) are still doing biglaw.

I think there's a sizable portion of people who do biglaw just to pay off their debts, but there's also a sizable portion who do it either because they genuinely like that type of practice, or because it's the best way to get the type of training and experience they need to do the practice they like. The U.S. Attorney's offices in many cities, many in-house positions, and even many mid-sized firms hire heavily from biglaw.

But if you have no debt, the thought of biglaw sounds terrible to you, and you're confident you can do the type of practice you want without getting experience in a big law firm first, I think by all means go for what you want directly.

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:23 pm

I think it's a factor, and I think you can find a happy medium. I will be coming out of a T6 w/ no debt, and I willingly chose the coveted Midlaw (smaller firm but one of the larger offices for the particular city in a secondary market, ~$110k) that people claim doesn't exist. I'll have much lower billable hour requirements and much better partnership prospects (economy willing). I won't be heading up Apple's patent suits or negotiating AT&T's mergers, but neither will the majority of Biglaw associates who only make it 3 years in, and I presumably won't hate my life during that timespan either.

On the other hand, I'll still be working in a law firm, and there's no guarantee that I will necessarily love it. Sometimes I wonder whether my drive would be higher if I did have debt. Sure, it's nice not to have it, but I also think it's not always a good thing to be able to quit something that you just don't love as opposed to something that you truly hate.

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:30 pm

Tons of people do. It also happens to be 'a "necessary evil" that you have to get through in order to have a reasonable chance at a $110-130k job with more humane hours' -- at least in most cases. You can land those jobs without a stint in biglaw first, but it's far more rare than through biglaw.

The workday isn't 9am until 10pm. It's unpredictable and often long, but you'll have free time.

This week on Monday I worked more than 15 hours in the office, but on Tuesday I was home by 6pm. Frequently the heavy lifting can be done from home if it's not office hours as well.

Most importantly, stress and long hours are not unique to biglaw. Almost any legal job, by nature of responding to client needs, will have crunch times and bursts of stress and long hours. At a big firm you'll probably see it more often, but you will not be immune to it nearly anywhere else.

A great example are legislative staffers, who often bust their asses to the tune of big firm hours for a tiny fraction of the salary. Some judges run their clerks in similar matters, and many prosecution or PD jobs can be very demanding.

Just to throw out a personal example - I have a friend working "midlaw" in a smaller city who has gone in on weekends and put in more hours than I have at a major NYC sweatshop. For the first few months of our jobs, I have made more and worked less. A few years from now that probably won't be true... but hopefully it highlights that you can't get far speaking in generalizations.

If you're trying to make the most of your career as a lawyer and as a professional, then 9 to 5 is probably a pipe dream. While biglaw is further from that than many other opportunities, you can't do false equivalencies and paint overly rosy pictures of the alternative.

Shit, there are people who work 2+ minimum wage jobs because they need the money to get by. Biglaw is objectively an incredible job, and it never ceases to amaze me how whiny and entitled people can get when considering it.

rad lulz
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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby rad lulz » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think it's a factor, and I think you can find a happy medium. I will be coming out of a T6 w/ no debt, and I willingly chose the coveted Midlaw (smaller firm but one of the larger offices for the particular city in a secondary market, ~$110k) that people claim doesn't exist. I'll have much lower billable hour requirements and much better partnership prospects (economy willing). I won't be heading up Apple's patent suits or negotiating AT&T's mergers, but neither will the majority of Biglaw associates who only make it 3 years in, and I presumably won't hate my life during that timespan either.

On the other hand, I'll still be working in a law firm, and there's no guarantee that I will necessarily love it. Sometimes I wonder whether my drive would be higher if I did have debt. Sure, it's nice not to have it, but I also think it's not always a good thing to be able to quit something that you just don't love as opposed to something that you truly hate.

Umm people very much agree that large firms in secondary markets exist.

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:54 pm

Speaking as someone from a working class background who doesn't have a family safety net, BigLaw can still be a serious option even if scholarships minimize your debt burden. You know that even if you are graduating with a lot less debt than other people, that's also not going to benefit you as much as it might benefit some others, because you still have a long way to go before you achieve a certain standard of living (especially in high COL markets).

No one is going support you if you lose your job, let alone help you buy a house or pay your rent, and you have to take that into consideration. Public interest jobs are difficult to get if you're not at HYS (and probably still not very easy then), let alone public interest jobs that pay well. I'm not at all saying that BigLaw is a meritocracy, but the grades-driven nature of the OCI hiring process can give people a shot at something they might not otherwise have had (since they lack connections in the business world, etc.). For some people, BigLaw might be something to do for prestige, but for others, it can be a gateway to the middle class.

v20lawyer
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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby v20lawyer » Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Shit, there are people who work 2+ minimum wage jobs because they need the money to get by. Biglaw is objectively an incredible job, and it never ceases to amaze me how whiny and entitled people can get when considering it.


Generally agree with most of what this guy said, but especially this.

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:41 pm

Never. I wouldn't even do OCI. I mean it, government or public sector all the way, or in house if I could find it. BigLaw isn't just a shit ton of work and demanding hours, but there is a whole culture of conformity that personally, I find incredibly stifling. I wouldn't want to live any part of my life that way if I could avoid it.

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:58 pm

rad lulz wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I think it's a factor, and I think you can find a happy medium. I will be coming out of a T6 w/ no debt, and I willingly chose the coveted Midlaw (smaller firm but one of the larger offices for the particular city in a secondary market, ~$110k) that people claim doesn't exist. I'll have much lower billable hour requirements and much better partnership prospects (economy willing). I won't be heading up Apple's patent suits or negotiating AT&T's mergers, but neither will the majority of Biglaw associates who only make it 3 years in, and I presumably won't hate my life during that timespan either.

On the other hand, I'll still be working in a law firm, and there's no guarantee that I will necessarily love it. Sometimes I wonder whether my drive would be higher if I did have debt. Sure, it's nice not to have it, but I also think it's not always a good thing to be able to quit something that you just don't love as opposed to something that you truly hate.


Umm people very much agree that large firms in secondary markets exist.


Not what I meant at all. I meant the firm is small by TLS standards. If my firm has 125 people total with 100 concentrated in my city, and your firm has 1,500 people total with 125 located in my city, then you could feasibly say I work in a small firm but at a "large office" by my city's standards.

There are plenty of large firms with small offices set up in this secondary market, but their billable hour requirements are much higher than mine, and they pay their associates more than my firm does. My billable hours are lower, but I'm still being paid very reasonably. My previous post was referring to the assumption I often read on TLS that "Midlaw" doesn't exist. The Biglaw or bust assumption that if you don't go Big, you're necessarily either going to end up working at a tiny shop chasing ambulances, or you're going to a sweat shop in disguise that will pay you much less money to do just as much work as associates at big firms.

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I think it's a factor, and I think you can find a happy medium. I will be coming out of a T6 w/ no debt, and I willingly chose the coveted Midlaw (smaller firm but one of the larger offices for the particular city in a secondary market, ~$110k) that people claim doesn't exist. I'll have much lower billable hour requirements and much better partnership prospects (economy willing). I won't be heading up Apple's patent suits or negotiating AT&T's mergers, but neither will the majority of Biglaw associates who only make it 3 years in, and I presumably won't hate my life during that timespan either.

On the other hand, I'll still be working in a law firm, and there's no guarantee that I will necessarily love it. Sometimes I wonder whether my drive would be higher if I did have debt. Sure, it's nice not to have it, but I also think it's not always a good thing to be able to quit something that you just don't love as opposed to something that you truly hate.


Umm people very much agree that large firms in secondary markets exist.


Not what I meant at all. I meant the firm is small by TLS standards. If my firm has 125 people total with 100 concentrated in my city, and your firm has 1,500 people total with 125 located in my city, then you could feasibly say I work in a small firm but at a "large office" by my city's standards.

There are plenty of large firms with small offices set up in this secondary market, but their billable hour requirements are much higher than mine, and they pay their associates more than my firm does. My billable hours are lower, but I'm still being paid very reasonably. My previous post was referring to the assumption I often read on TLS that "Midlaw" doesn't exist. The Biglaw or bust assumption that if you don't go Big, you're necessarily either going to end up working at a tiny shop chasing ambulances, or you're going to a sweat shop in disguise that will pay you much less money to do just as much work as associates at big firms.


Rarely, if ever, go by what standards folks on TLS post when it comes to the job market. On TLS, if you're not gunning for New York, Boston, Los Angeles, DC, Chicago or Atlanta, then something's wrong with you.

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piccolittle
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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby piccolittle » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:12 pm

Don't know if anyone has said this, but yes, I would have chosen big law because it gets me where I want to go. I came to law school with the intention of going big law because I want to work in-house one day and that's the route I need to take to get there and have a viable career path.

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:38 am

I have no debt, did an SA this summer, and am planning to do biglaw after clerking next year. There are several reasons for this: I think that biglaw firms offer the best training and a signaling boost to future employers; I actually really enjoyed the work as an SA; and I am naturally the type of person who would work 60+ hours a week even if given the option to do otherwise (this might be because my parents worked 60-80 hour weeks in white collar jobs while I was growing up, so I've sort of internalized that this is the norm for professional jobs, even though it's clearly not). I also do want to build up a nest egg quickly, particularly because my parents have suggested that I could pay them back for law school by helping them out in their retirement 10-15 years down the road if they need it.

That said, not having debt did affect my calculations in some ways - for instance, it made me focus more on which firms would provide the best experience/training than on prestige or marginal compensation differences. It also led me to eschew bidding NYC and bid instead on a more competitive and more humane market (although I had good 1L grades at HYS so I likely would have done this even with debt).

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:Never. I wouldn't even do OCI. I mean it, government or public sector all the way, or in house if I could find it. BigLaw isn't just a shit ton of work and demanding hours, but there is a whole culture of conformity that personally, I find incredibly stifling. I wouldn't want to live any part of my life that way if I could avoid it.


Have you ever worked in a PD office? Now THERE'S a culture of conformity.

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Re: Would you still have gone biglaw without debt driving you?

Postby bk1 » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:58 am

Reminder: the legal employment forum is not for 0Ls. This thread has been moved to the appropriate forum.




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