What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

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giantsfan564789
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Joined: Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:16 pm

What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby giantsfan564789 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:18 pm

When people bring up big law, I often hear about things like billable hours, working a lot of hours, salaries, and competitiveness. What I don't seem to ever hear anything about is what associates who work at a big firm actually do. What kind of work exactly is done to get the billable hours? Is it all paper work? Are there different tasks for different associates?

If anyone could be really specific in answering this, I would really appreciate it. The more specific the better.

Thanks a lot!

giantsfan564789
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:16 pm

Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby giantsfan564789 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:00 pm

Links to any other threads that already answer this question are also helpful.

Thanks

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kalvano
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Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby kalvano » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:02 pm

It varies wildly based on, well, what you do. I do real estate work and I've been staring at a title report all morning making sure the people trying to lease land to my client do, in fact, have the ability and sufficient ownership of the land to enter into the lease. Tomorrow, I'll be putting together a full lease package for the client that goes over the terms of the deal, any issues noted with the entire deal, and a recommendation as to whether they enter into the deal.

Someone else will do something completely different. It's a question that has almost too many answers to contemplate them all.

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holdencaulfield
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Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby holdencaulfield » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:05 pm

Legal work...mostly; also a little bit of BS.

tomwatts
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Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby tomwatts » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:00 pm

You read a lot of stuff and sometimes write things. Every now and then you talk with people about things. You answer emails a lot, and you spend some time on conference calls. Sometimes you stare out your window for a while.

But it varies radically depending on the practice area and the focus. If you're an appellate litigator, you spend basically all of your time reading cases and drafting briefs, maybe picking up a law review from time to time, and maybe once in a blue moon you actually go to court and do an oral argument. You probably chat with clients every now and then but not all that often. If you're an M&A transactional lawyer, you can go months without touching a case and you probably never write a brief or motion on anything — you may not draft anything from scratch ever and instead mostly edit templates or something. You probably read a lot of contracts and talk a bit more with clients. If you're....

You probably want to look up some resources that describe the day-to-day practice of law broken down by practice area. It's too diverse to describe here.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:24 pm

Read and write all day and all night and occasionally talk to one or more humans, usually about what you've been reading/writing.

Renzo
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Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby Renzo » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:08 am

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Read and write all day and all night and occasionally talk to one or more humans, usually about what you've been reading/writing.


You forgot dial into phone calls, then mute them and pretend you're paying attention.

daryldixon
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Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby daryldixon » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:13 am

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Read and write all day and all night and occasionally talk to one or more humans, usually about what you've been reading/writing.

It seems to me (and I will defer to you on this if I am wrong) that litigation associates read and write all day where as transactional associates wait around for specific information and then furiously read, edit, and review documents late into the evening. But maybe that was unique to my summer firm.

Renzo
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Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby Renzo » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:37 am

daryldixon wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Read and write all day and all night and occasionally talk to one or more humans, usually about what you've been reading/writing.

It seems to me (and I will defer to you on this if I am wrong) that litigation associates read and write all day where as transactional associates wait around for specific information and then furiously read, edit, and review documents late into the evening. But maybe that was unique to my summer firm.


It's a matter of degrees, but that's about right. Litigation associates spend plenty of time waiting for comments, etc., but on whole we wait around less than, say, M&A associates.

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midnight_circus
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Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby midnight_circus » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:11 am

tomwatts wrote:You read a lot of stuff and sometimes write things. Every now and then you talk with people about things. You answer emails a lot, and you spend some time on conference calls. Sometimes you stare out your window for a while.

But it varies radically depending on the practice area and the focus. If you're an appellate litigator, you spend basically all of your time reading cases and drafting briefs, maybe picking up a law review from time to time, and maybe once in a blue moon you actually go to court and do an oral argument. You probably chat with clients every now and then but not all that often. If you're an M&A transactional lawyer, you can go months without touching a case and you probably never write a brief or motion on anything — you may not draft anything from scratch ever and instead mostly edit templates or something. You probably read a lot of contracts and talk a bit more with clients. If you're....

You probably want to look up some resources that describe the day-to-day practice of law broken down by practice area. It's too diverse to describe here.


Not a lawyer yet, but I was directed to this one when I had similar questions: http://www.chambers-associate.com/Artic ... aSummaries

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DKM
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Re: What do Big Law lawyers actually do?

Postby DKM » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:27 pm

midnight_circus wrote:
tomwatts wrote:You read a lot of stuff and sometimes write things. Every now and then you talk with people about things. You answer emails a lot, and you spend some time on conference calls. Sometimes you stare out your window for a while.

But it varies radically depending on the practice area and the focus. If you're an appellate litigator, you spend basically all of your time reading cases and drafting briefs, maybe picking up a law review from time to time, and maybe once in a blue moon you actually go to court and do an oral argument. You probably chat with clients every now and then but not all that often. If you're an M&A transactional lawyer, you can go months without touching a case and you probably never write a brief or motion on anything — you may not draft anything from scratch ever and instead mostly edit templates or something. You probably read a lot of contracts and talk a bit more with clients. If you're....

You probably want to look up some resources that describe the day-to-day practice of law broken down by practice area. It's too diverse to describe here.


Not a lawyer yet, but I was directed to this one when I had similar questions: http://www.chambers-associate.com/Artic ... aSummaries


Very Helpful. Thank You.




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