Why you shouldn't go to law school

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
NYstate
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby NYstate » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:39 pm

whereskyle wrote:The fact that grads who pay sticker have little to no choice but to do this work is a scam.


I agree with the sentiment. But PAYE means you can take other jobs, you are chained to the debt for 20 years. If OP is having mental health issues caused by his work stress, he might need to look at other options.

Pulsar
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Pulsar » Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:49 pm

OP do you remember seeing anything during your summer that you now recognize as some sort of red flag?

NeedAnExit
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby NeedAnExit » Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:35 pm

Pneumonia wrote:
beachbum wrote:Interesting that a bunch of people (especially 0Ls) ran in to immediately discount OP's situation. ("That sounds like a you problem, bro. I'm different.")


I'm a 0L, but I've also talked to a bunch of recent grads and have heard more than once that those most likely to adjust to the biglaw lifestyle are the ones that have previously adjusted to the fact that work sucks. I'm not at all trying to discount the situation, I'm just trying to adjust my expectations. Some of the OP was just generic "work sucks" griping though,

It's difficult to adequately describe the level of despair that I feel on a daily basis It’s not the hours that bother me, although those are bad. It is the constant pressure, people breathing down my neck, getting blamed for shit that’s not my fault, and getting stuck working with the few assholes that I mysteriously never even met during my summer.

so maybe I was reacting to that.

ETA: yeah PH i get where you're coming from. that is something to keep in mind. I have met 4-5 people what are normally adjusted to the biglaw lifestyle as 1st or 2nd year associates so I'm just trying to figure out what they share in common.



You should also consider that experiences vary widely, even within firms and practice areas. If I had started during a different week and been staffed on different matters, it's possible, though unlikely, that I would be as happy as a clam right now.

My point is that a non-trivial percentage of new associates will have the same experience as me, through no fault of their own. And trust me, consulting, which is also a client-facing service industry, was nowhere near as bad for a number of reasons, some of which are specific to my personality, and some of which are not.

And I get that this is not forever, even if I don't see a way out for a few years. I just have a hard time believing the payoff, monetarily or otherwise, is worth slogging through the junior associate years if they all go like this one.

lawstudent_87
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby lawstudent_87 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:01 am

What group are you in?

Hutz_and_Goodman
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:14 am

OP you need to be a little easier on yourself. No matter what happens with this job you will almost definitely ynot be screwed. You have a HLS degree. You can service your debt in a couple years and go from there. Even if you don't have time to properly do the clerkship apps you will get offers and that is a much easier quality of life.You are very young and if you spend 2-4 years in big law and that continues to be the same level of miserable, you will still have 35-40 more years of work. And who knows where that will take you.

Also are you willing to give a vault range? I interviewed with an associate at Davis Polk in NYC who basically came out and told me she was miserable and not to come there.

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L’Étranger
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby L’Étranger » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:34 am

kalvano wrote:I think the reason people jump on the OP is because, well, these complaints are pretty much the same across all types of jobs, and OP is being extremely well-compensated to deal with it.


This.

In my opinion, a reasonable person will expect that a job that starts at $160,000 a year will be demanding in multiple different and sometimes unforeseen ways.

NYstate
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby NYstate » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:45 am

L’Étranger wrote:
kalvano wrote:I think the reason people jump on the OP is because, well, these complaints are pretty much the same across all types of jobs, and OP is being extremely well-compensated to deal with it.


This.

In my opinion, a reasonable person will expect that a job that starts at $160,000 a year will be demanding in multiple different and sometimes unforeseen ways.

Did you read the part about the level of despair OP is feeling? I'm not sure why anyone is discounting that. Also, as mentioned, OP is hardly the only first year associate who feels this way. My sense was that OP was trying to warn people not to go deeply in debt for law school because biglaw- the best way to repay that debt quickly- is, in his experience, a miserable job.

It's as if some people are saying that OP isn't allowed to feel the way he does about his soul sucking job because he is getting paid a lot. I don't get that.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:47 am

L’Étranger wrote:
kalvano wrote:I think the reason people jump on the OP is because, well, these complaints are pretty much the same across all types of jobs, and OP is being extremely well-compensated to deal with it.

This.

In my opinion, a reasonable person will expect that a job that starts at $160,000 a year will be demanding in multiple different and sometimes unforeseen ways.

I don't know, I think this is a little harsh. Working sucks in that most people, if given the choice, wouldn't do it. But stories of the terribleness of biglaw are legion, and it's hard to know how that's actually going to affect you emotionally until you're in it. Maybe the OP didn't articulate the differences very clearly, but I don't think the conditions in biglaw are actually pretty much the same across all types of jobs. (It's true that's why it pays $160K, but again, you can't know for yourself whether the salary makes up for the conditions until you try it.)

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jaesonko
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby jaesonko » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:48 am

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Last edited by jaesonko on Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ph14
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby ph14 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:49 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
L’Étranger wrote:
kalvano wrote:I think the reason people jump on the OP is because, well, these complaints are pretty much the same across all types of jobs, and OP is being extremely well-compensated to deal with it.

This.

In my opinion, a reasonable person will expect that a job that starts at $160,000 a year will be demanding in multiple different and sometimes unforeseen ways.

I don't know, I think this is a little harsh. Working sucks in that most people, if given the choice, wouldn't do it. But stories of the terribleness of biglaw are legion, and it's hard to know how that's actually going to affect you emotionally until you're in it. Maybe the OP didn't articulate the differences very clearly, but I don't think the conditions in biglaw are actually pretty much the same across all types of jobs. (It's true that's why it pays $160K, but again, you can't know for yourself whether the salary makes up for the conditions until you try it.)


Highly credited, as usual.

moralsentiments
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby moralsentiments » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:49 am

jaesonko wrote:Medical residency is comparably rough with significantly less pay.


wow you have a JD and an MD…I'm impressed!

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jaesonko
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby jaesonko » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:52 am

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Last edited by jaesonko on Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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kalvano
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby kalvano » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:58 am

NYstate wrote:
L’Étranger wrote:
kalvano wrote:I think the reason people jump on the OP is because, well, these complaints are pretty much the same across all types of jobs, and OP is being extremely well-compensated to deal with it.


This.

In my opinion, a reasonable person will expect that a job that starts at $160,000 a year will be demanding in multiple different and sometimes unforeseen ways.

Did you read the part about the level of despair OP is feeling? I'm not sure why anyone is discounting that. Also, as mentioned, OP is hardly the only first year associate who feels this way. My sense was that OP was trying to warn people not to go deeply in debt for law school because biglaw- the best way to repay that debt quickly- is, in his experience, a miserable job.

It's as if some people are saying that OP isn't allowed to feel the way he does about his soul sucking job because he is getting paid a lot. I don't get that.



I'm not saying that his/her feelings aren't legitimate but at the same time...suck it up? Most jobs are either low stress/low pay or high stress/high pay. I guess I just don't really have much sympathy for someone who is realizing that working kind of sucks. At every level of work I've done, these exact same complaints applied. Shockingly, the more you get paid, the more it applies.

I guess it also depends on precisely what the complaints are. If it's the fact that Biglaw requires long hours, is stressful, and is not like it is on Suits, well...color me surprised! If, however, OP is unfortunate enough to be at one of those firms that is truly, totally miserable with insane working hours and bosses that yell / insult / denigrate you, then I have slightly more sympathy. Just because it's not the best job in the world doesn't give your boss a license to abuse you. However, even then...OP went to HLS. I'm assuming they have the basic skills to research firms, so even then my sympathy is tempered.

Harsh? Maybe. But I work in Biglaw (for two more weeks, anyway) and it's not as bad as other jobs I've held.

moralsentiments
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby moralsentiments » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:03 am

jaesonko wrote:
moralsentiments wrote:
jaesonko wrote:Medical residency is comparably rough with significantly less pay.


wow you have a JD and an MD…I'm impressed!


wow i hear western education is based on learning things without having to experience them first hand wow amazing



I think what's more amazing is how there are so many Dr. Esquire's out there who are working in big law who also happened to go through medical school and complete a residency. And on top of it all, publicly compare and contrast the two experiences allowing us to learn about the similar stress levels of each profession without having to experience it firsthand. Now that's amazing!

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tyro
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby tyro » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:07 am

NeedAnExit wrote:Considering my school, grades, and firm, most people would characterize me as having "won" the law school game. But if winning has the potential to make you this miserable, why bother?

basically you're asking whether you should suffer more in order to pay off the $90k or try to find a way out now. it sounds like you really want out though. unfortunately I don't think posting on here is going to help much aside from getting it off your chest. you need to talk to some older people who can help you strategize.

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Emma.
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Emma. » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:11 am

Hang in there, OP. Get those clerkship apps out, put in one more year in biglaw waiting for your clerkship to start, then you'll get a chance to pivot. Maybe that'll just mean leaving NYC for somewhere with slightly more humane billable requirements, maybe it'll be government work, maybe inhouse... There's no doubt with your credentials you'll be able to figure out something better. Just make damn sure you put as much cash as possible towards your loans. Don't get tempted to treat yourself with expensive toys and whatnot to make the grinding seem a little less awful, at least not until the loans are paid off.

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OneMoreLawHopeful
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby OneMoreLawHopeful » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:12 am

kalvano wrote:I'm not saying that his/her feelings aren't legitimate but at the same time...suck it up? Most jobs are either low stress/low pay or high stress/high pay. I guess I just don't really have much sympathy for someone who is realizing that working kind of sucks. At every level of work I've done, these exact same complaints applied. Shockingly, the more you get paid, the more it applies.

I guess it also depends on precisely what the complaints are. If it's the fact that Biglaw requires long hours, is stressful, and is not like it is on Suits, well...color me surprised! If, however, OP is unfortunate enough to be at one of those firms that is truly, totally miserable with insane working hours and bosses that yell / insult / denigrate you, then I have slightly more sympathy. Just because it's not the best job in the world doesn't give your boss a license to abuse you. However, even then...OP went to HLS. I'm assuming they have the basic skills to research firms, so even then my sympathy is tempered.

Harsh? Maybe. But I work in Biglaw (for two more weeks, anyway) and it's not as bad as other jobs I've held.


So, to sum up...

You don't know where the OP works, you don't know the OP's actual experience, you assume that, as a law student, OP should have been able to know everything about a firm that someone who works there full time would know (to say nothing of the active attempts of firm staff to mislead to this effect during a 2L summer), and you further assume that OP's future experience could have been determined based upon firm-wide research (which is itself hilarious, assuming that every partner you work with is uniform and that nasty, unreasonable, partners cannot still be found at the nicest "lifestyle" firms)...

And without any of that knowledge, and based upon all those unfounded assumptions, you feel confident calling out OP?

Edit: And where did the Suits reference even come from? What could OP have possibly said to lead you to that ridiculous inference? It seems like you just want to hate people you don't know based upon no personal knowledge whatsoever.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:30 am

jaesonko wrote:Medical residency is comparably rough with significantly less pay.


Medical residency has a fixed duration and guaranteed job security for life thereafter--not even close to being comparable to biglaw.

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sublime
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby sublime » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:37 am

..

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:45 am

There are two lines of thinking reflected in some of the posts in this thread:

1) Biglaw sucks for everyone, and it will for you. There's nothing you can do about this. If you disagree, you just don't understand.

2) Biglaw is work and all work is the same. Suck it up.

IMO, both of these lines of reasoning are wrong. Biglaw is terrible for certain kinds of people because it's terrible in very specific ways.

For example, if you're the type of person who could meticulously read a giant phone book for hours and hours while occasionally jotting down a note or two about something you're looking for, congratulations! You will probably love working in biglaw!

If, on the other hand, you're the type of person who has trouble focusing when doing something incredibly tedious, you will probably hate biglaw!

These are just examples, and are probably more applicable to early litigation experience when you're doing things like doc review. But the general principle I'm trying to make is that biglaw is NOT terrible for everyone, but it's DEFINITELY terrible for certain kinds of people. The problem is that the type of work they give you as a SA is usually not indicative of the kind of work you'll be doing as an associate, so it's hard to know exactly what you'll be doing once you're a real associate. Surprisingly, the work you do as a SA might be a lot more substantive than the kind of work you do for the first couple of years of your biglaw career as a real associate.

What makes matters worse is that there's no guarantee you'll get to work with the people you grew to like as a SA. OP touched on this a bit, but the people you work with have a huuuge impact on how much your job sucks. But this is the same in every job. What makes biglaw unique in this respect is that you're constantly surrounded by lawyers or people working for lawyers. The judge and his clerks, opposing counsel, co-counsel, your coworkers: all lawyers or people who work for lawyers. Lawyers and people who work for lawyers have a certain... je ne sais quoi about them that (over time) can render them all unimaginably annoying to interact with for certain people (like me). There's this cookie-cutter type of personality shell that forms over everyone that is a hellish combination of people *pretending* to be busy all the time, acting like they're doing you a HUGE favor when they timely respond to you or make themselves available, being passive aggressive (constantly), and perpetually hiding whatever is left of their true personalities. This last part bugs me the most, because I worked in a non-law job before law school and miss joking around/shooting the shit with coworkers in a way that doesn't toot my own horn or otherwise make me come off as a lawyer (but even I do it now). In other legal jobs (corporate, small law) you're often interacting with real, live non-lawyers (like clients who are actual people and/or non-lawyer corporate employees). It makes life a lot easier when you're the pompous dickhead asshole interacting with normal people rather than the pompous dickhead asshole swimming in a giant ocean of pompous dickhead assholes.
Last edited by ExBiglawAssociate on Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

JusticeJackson
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby JusticeJackson » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:52 am

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:06 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:57 am

Op. 6th year associate here. Grow a set of nuts. Just man up brah. Put in your time, learn how to be a lawyer (because its possible that even though you went to Harvard, you really don't know a damn thing about lawyering and still have a lot to learn) and then get out and into a midlaw firm with less stress.

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Lincoln
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Lincoln » Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:11 am

JusticeJackson wrote:I swung a hammer for years before and during undergrad, and worked long ass hours for dick bosses after undergrad. Biglaw is worse.

First, I pull all-nighters now. I never did that before. While it's not "expected," I am expected to finish work on ridiculous deadlines, which requires lots of shitty hours.

Second, in "bet the company litigation," the opposing party is often hoping to retire on the judgment/settlement. For that reason, they will offer no professional courtesy, and some will file many many motions for sanctions with (falsely) accuse you of being a scumbag. Courts typically disregard this, but it's still emotionally draining to deal with.

Third, clients in "bet the company litigation" are fucking scared, so they call you nonstop and are often on the verge of a nervous break down over the case. It's a lot of hand holding, and the stress of knowing that if you blow a deadline or write a shitty brief it may result in the end of your client really wears on you.

Fourth, unlike my previous job where there was a team of guys working hard, but pulling on the same rope, in biglaw, it's you. Your partner overlords will point out every fuck up, but they won't be reviewing a million e-mails and they won't be writing briefs at 1 in the am. It's you, alone. There is no comradery, which I think lessened the shittiness of my previous long-hour job.


This. The mid-levels and seniors I work for are all nice enough, but when push comes to shove, they will suck you dry for any amount of work that can even marginally increase their standings in partners' eyes. You have a family event that is very important to you that you flagged weeks in advance? Everyone will say that you need to go, but they'll still tell you to come in that weekend.

And that part someone mentioned about reading the phone book? It's more along the lines of "please read this phone book and summarize. Also, please read this other phone book and summarize. How long is reasonable? Four hrs per phone book? You have five to do both."

[5 hrs and 5 mins later, 11:05 pm] "WTF WHY DID THIS TAKE SO LONG AND WHY ISN'T THAT ONE PERSON'S PHONE NUMBER IN HERE THAT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT EVEN THOUGH I DIDN'T TELL YOU WTF WE ARE PAYING YOU A LOT OF MONEY TO ADD VALUE AND OMG THIS IS IMPORTANT AND YOU SUCK DO IT AGAIN YOU HAVE FOUR HOURS TO REDO BOTH PHONE BOOKS."

Did I mention it was probably your SOs birthday? S/he's now sleeping with the neighbor because the neighbor leaves work at 6 and then goes to the gym, so s/he gets home at 7 and looks great while you literally never see your SO and you're fat and gross from sitting in a chair 16 hrs a day.

Edited for gender neutrality.

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prezidentv8
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:39 am

So much 0L in dis thread doh

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Dafaq
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Dafaq » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:15 am

Maybe we do big law differently in Texas. I started as a SA one week after school let out and opted to stay until the day school started up again. Not once did I see anyone treated disrespectfully. Granted several associates worked long hours but I went in thinking long hours were a given (SAs were not compelled to work past 6PM). I often worked with partners on cases valued in the millions and they calmly worked through setbacks.

My classmates who summered at other firms enjoyed their SA (TBT, there was one exception who had a couple minor complaints about her firm). My point, maybe big law is horrific in New York City, but I have not seen any signs of it here at one of the very top paying firms. Maybe in September I’ll find out differently, but I doubt it.




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