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.
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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 9:33 am

Did you even read the post saying that work as a SA isn't anything like work as a junior associate?

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

Postby rpupkin » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:49 am

Dafaq wrote: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.

Your lack of perspective is stunning. Can you really not figure out what a big firm is trying to do with its summer associate experience? (Hint: It's not meant to simulate the life of a first-year associate; rather, it's a 10-week-long recruiting party.)

This is like someone saying a root canal is really painful and you responding that you don't think it will bother you because you had a good experience brushing your teeth.

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

Postby TheSpanishMain » Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:09 am

Goddamn, Big Law sounds fucking terrible. I guess if you look at it as a stepping stone to something better, fine, but as an end in and of itself it seems like such a booby prize.

"Congrats, here's your fat paycheck. Unfortunately, you'll never get to enjoy it, because we're going to keep you here so late every night that all you can do is stagger home and collapse. Enjoy your life of empty pizza boxes and tear filled, lonely masturbation."

Seriously, though, OP, sorry. Just try to power through it, pay off the debt, and then GTFO I suppose.

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

Postby JustHawkin » Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:22 am

What is life after biglaw? Laterall to a smaller firm? Ability to get a gov't position, or are you stuck at some firm for eternity? May not have done my research but I wanted to see if anyone can speak on this.

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

Postby Dafaq » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:08 am

What I am saying is that I worked a 16 week SA. I worked with associates (and partners) and I saw nothing that relates to the BL horror stories noted in this thread.

I became good friends with several associates and there was never not a hint of dissatisfaction, not even outside the work place when people tend not be guarded. Every weekend someone was always having a cookout, etc. Looking back, I cannot remember a happier group of people. Part of it could be because money is never an issue…. the actual work challenges (and winning) is what they thrived on. Maybe it’s just bigger and better in Texas.

nouseforaname123
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby nouseforaname123 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:19 am

Dafaq wrote:What I am saying is that I worked a 16 week SA. I worked with associates (and partners) and I saw nothing that relates to the BL horror stories noted in this thread.

I became good friends with several associates and there was never not a hint of dissatisfaction, not even outside the work place when people tend not be guarded. Every weekend someone was always having a cookout, etc. Looking back, I cannot remember a happier group of people. Part of it could be because money is never an issue…. the actual work challenges (and winning) is what they thrived on. Maybe it’s just bigger and better in Texas.


Please clarify, were you at a boutique of full service firm?

I ask this as a junior associate at a top paying firm in Texas.

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AAJD2B
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby AAJD2B » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:24 am

Lincoln wrote:
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.


Cried laughing at how true this is.

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

Postby thisiswater » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:30 am

Dafaq wrote: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.


I'm client side in my current job but I got 4 emails after 11pm from early-year associates at Texas firms last night. We aren't in closing mode or litigation so none of the info was super urgent. This is common in my experience

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

Postby Emma. » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:40 am

Dafaq wrote:What I am saying is that I worked a 16 week SA. I worked with associates (and partners) and I saw nothing that relates to the BL horror stories noted in this thread.

I became good friends with several associates and there was never not a hint of dissatisfaction, not even outside the work place when people tend not be guarded. Every weekend someone was always having a cookout, etc. Looking back, I cannot remember a happier group of people. Part of it could be because money is never an issue…. the actual work challenges (and winning) is what they thrived on. Maybe it’s just bigger and better in Texas.


Lol.

Your naïveté is astounding.

nouseforaname123
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby nouseforaname123 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:47 am

Emma. wrote:
Dafaq wrote:What I am saying is that I worked a 16 week SA. I worked with associates (and partners) and I saw nothing that relates to the BL horror stories noted in this thread.

I became good friends with several associates and there was never not a hint of dissatisfaction, not even outside the work place when people tend not be guarded. Every weekend someone was always having a cookout, etc. Looking back, I cannot remember a happier group of people. Part of it could be because money is never an issue…. the actual work challenges (and winning) is what they thrived on. Maybe it’s just bigger and better in Texas.


Lol.

Your naïveté is astounding.


I want to give the poster the benefit of the doubt, but the line about no happier group of people was too much.

Sepa299
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Sepa299 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:31 pm

As a longtime lurker of these firms, I strongly emphasize with the OP and would like to warn other young ones, college grads and 0Ls alike that if you read this and come away thinking, "Oh, maybe I should now set my sights on the finance industry", corporate America is not for you. Right down to the summer associates bit, these are universal problems in this spectrum of society. So dig deeper my friends, and if you must end up wearing a shirt and tie every day to work, be prepared for some serious mental and emotional turmoil.

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

Postby Otunga » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:46 pm

Essentially, a clerkship and/or PI seems amazingly better after reading through this thread. The only legal job that appears worse is something like shitlaw ambulance-chasing where pay is crap and the work environment is as shitty as biglaw.

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

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:14 pm

Otunga wrote:Essentially, a clerkship and/or PI seems amazingly better after reading through this thread. The only legal job that appears worse is something like shitlaw ambulance-chasing where pay is crap and the work environment is as shitty as biglaw.



Just because a job is not big law doesn't mean it doesn't come with its own stresses. The level of burnout in direct services PI is shockingly high. Yes, you probably work fewer hours. But you will have a lot to do and working with people going through some rough situations. I have seen coworkers break down through secondary trauma. Other "prestigious" PI positions work close to big law hours.

Thanks for sharing OP. The amount of law school classmates I knew who were happy, fun people in law school and are now miserable and contemplating serious life changes is way too high. Sure, some of them might be miserable doing anything or didn't know what they were getting into, but for most that is not the case.

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

Postby PotenC » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:21 pm

.
Last edited by PotenC on Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby Dafaq » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:21 pm

thisiswater wrote:I'm client side in my current job but I got 4 emails after 11pm from early-year associates at Texas firms last night. We aren't in closing mode or litigation so none of the info was super urgent. This is common in my experience

I am not trying to indicate that working BL is not work intensive. I thought the OPs main concern was about the attitude s/he has to endure… people breathing down my neck, getting blamed for shit that’s not my fault. I never encountered that kind of attitude. As a lowly SA I had work piled on my desk to the extent where a partner (or associate) would say that I was not to take on any additional projects, a minute later I’d get hit with another assignment. I am not saying that BL is like a trip to Disney. Nothing that pays $$ is.
Last edited by Dafaq on Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:23 pm

PotenC wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
Otunga wrote:Essentially, a clerkship and/or PI seems amazingly better after reading through this thread. The only legal job that appears worse is something like shitlaw ambulance-chasing where pay is crap and the work environment is as shitty as biglaw.



Just because a job is not big law doesn't mean it doesn't come with its own stresses. The level of burnout in direct services PI is shockingly high. Yes, you probably work fewer hours. But you will have a lot to do and working with people going through some rough situations. I have seen coworkers break down through secondary trauma. Other "prestigious" PI positions work close to big law hours.

Thanks for sharing OP. The amount of law school classmates I knew who were happy, fun people in law school and are now miserable and contemplating serious life changes is way too high. Sure, some of them might be miserable doing anything or didn't know what they were getting into, but for most that is not the case.


I noticed that you graduated from Berkeley. If you don't mind me asking, would you say there is a palpable difference in work climate for California biglaw?


I'm not in big law, so I'm probably not the best person to answer this. I think it depends more on the firm and practice area from what I hear. I have friends in SF and LA who work 80 hour weeks and pull at least one all nighter a week.

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

Postby Gary » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:36 pm

Wow. This thread has been really useful. I just want to echo that not all work is equal. As a management consultant, I work fairly hard and am paid fairly well. A close friend of mine who works for bigpharma makes around as much as me but has a much better work-life balance. And my two best friends are bankers whose life is excruciatingly miserable.

eta: We're all first years if that helps.

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

Postby toothbrush » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:39 pm

JustHawkin wrote:What is life after biglaw? Laterall to a smaller firm? Ability to get a gov't position, or are you stuck at some firm for eternity? May not have done my research but I wanted to see if anyone can speak on this.

Can I echo this question? Particularly, at what point in working at Biglaw do options open (2nd year? 3rd year? 5th?) and what do they entail? How do you go about finding the opportunities. (If it's in-house, do you check company job postings?)

Just curious what life after big law looks like.

thanks for this thread, OP.

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

Postby patogordo » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:42 pm

Dafaq wrote:
thisiswater wrote:I'm client side in my current job but I got 4 emails after 11pm from early-year associates at Texas firms last night. We aren't in closing mode or litigation so none of the info was super urgent. This is common in my experience

I am not trying to indicate that working BL is not work intensive. I thought the OPs main concern was about the attitude s/he has to endure… people breathing down my neck, getting blamed for shit that’s not my fault. I never encountered that kind of attitude. As a lowly SA I had work piled on my desk to the extent where a partner (or associate) would say that I was not to take on any additional projects, a minute later I’d get hit with another assignment. I am not saying that BL is like a trip to Disney. Nothing that pays $$ is.

lol "take on any additional projects"

you were an SA dude. you had no responsibility whatsoever. how would anyone be in a position to blame you for anything?

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

Postby Otunga » Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:54 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
Otunga wrote:Essentially, a clerkship and/or PI seems amazingly better after reading through this thread. The only legal job that appears worse is something like shitlaw ambulance-chasing where pay is crap and the work environment is as shitty as biglaw.



Just because a job is not big law doesn't mean it doesn't come with its own stresses. The level of burnout in direct services PI is shockingly high. Yes, you probably work fewer hours. But you will have a lot to do and working with people going through some rough situations. I have seen coworkers break down through secondary trauma. Other "prestigious" PI positions work close to big law hours.

Thanks for sharing OP. The amount of law school classmates I knew who were happy, fun people in law school and are now miserable and contemplating serious life changes is way too high. Sure, some of them might be miserable doing anything or didn't know what they were getting into, but for most that is not the case.


Sure, I didn't mean to discount the stresses of other jobs, but what seems to favor PI over biglaw, given say equal stress and hours, is that you largely believe in and enjoy what you're doing at the end of the day. That's probably naive, and yes, the significantly less pay is a tremendous downside. And of course, I wouldn't rule out anyone in biglaw "believing in the cause" or feeling rewarded at the end of the day about what they're doing, though that sentiment seems extremely rare among junior associates, and would be more of a sentiment expressed by more senior associates and partners.

Total Litigator
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Total Litigator » Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:24 pm

Life will continue.... As soon as you get your debt down to 60K or so, it'll be at least manageable at any professional salary, and you'll be able to do whatever you want.

Also, with your credentials you will get a clerkship at least at the district court level, so get those apps out, and apply far and wide (in addition to the districts you have connections in). A clerkship will set you up nicely for some sort of Big Gov, which has much more reasonable hours than big law. And don't go "COA or bust" - you want out.

You could also go back to consulting (which you seem to have enjoyed more than big law). With a JD, the big consulting firms would probably start you at 90 to a 100K or so right? Admittedly, without at least 2-3 years in law before that switch, you'd probably be saying bye bye to the legal field.\


Soooo take a deep breath.

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Gooner91
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Gooner91 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:05 pm

Otunga wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
Otunga wrote:Essentially, a clerkship and/or PI seems amazingly better after reading through this thread. The only legal job that appears worse is something like shitlaw ambulance-chasing where pay is crap and the work environment is as shitty as biglaw.



Just because a job is not big law doesn't mean it doesn't come with its own stresses. The level of burnout in direct services PI is shockingly high. Yes, you probably work fewer hours. But you will have a lot to do and working with people going through some rough situations. I have seen coworkers break down through secondary trauma. Other "prestigious" PI positions work close to big law hours.

Thanks for sharing OP. The amount of law school classmates I knew who were happy, fun people in law school and are now miserable and contemplating serious life changes is way too high. Sure, some of them might be miserable doing anything or didn't know what they were getting into, but for most that is not the case.


Sure, I didn't mean to discount the stresses of other jobs, but what seems to favor PI over biglaw, given say equal stress and hours, is that you largely believe in and enjoy what you're doing at the end of the day. That's probably naive, and yes, the significantly less pay is a tremendous downside. And of course, I wouldn't rule out anyone in biglaw "believing in the cause" or feeling rewarded at the end of the day about what they're doing, though that sentiment seems extremely rare among junior associates, and would be more of a sentiment expressed by more senior associates and partners.


0L, but I do have experience working in victim services. I think this is true that people in PI jobs probably believe in what they are doing more than those in biglaw. But I also agree with worldtraveler about vicarious trauma, listening to people who are in abusive relationships, or being forced to prostitute, or numerous other issues really takes a toll on you. I know I have left work and cannot stop thinking about clients I have dealt with and how miserable the world can be.
When you sit across from a child who has been forced to prostitute or be a "soldier", or take drugs and you know that no matter what you do they are probably never going to really be ok it makes the world a little bit of a darker place.
But at the same time when you see that you were really able to help a client and the progression they make over the time of working with them I do not know if that sense of accomplishment is achievable in biglaw. In fairness, however I do not know to much about biglaw so I am just speculating on that last point.

Please do not quote, I may delete this.

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

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:26 pm

Dafaq wrote:What I am saying is that I worked a 16 week SA. I worked with associates (and partners) and I saw nothing that relates to the BL horror stories noted in this thread.

I became good friends with several associates and there was never not a hint of dissatisfaction, not even outside the work place when people tend not be guarded. Every weekend someone was always having a cookout, etc. Looking back, I cannot remember a happier group of people. Part of it could be because money is never an issue…. the actual work challenges (and winning) is what they thrived on. Maybe it’s just bigger and better in Texas.


lol

You realize that 1) all of these people were explicitly told to make your firm look like paradise while the summers were there and 2) most people who work in biglaw are Type A strivers who don't really show their frustrations or weaknesses IRL (and especially not in front of partners, who they are trying to impress and get work from)? Unless you're working at a firm like Susman, where all the attorneys are objectively mentally ill and really do "thrive" on their "work challenges," I guarantee you that there is a significant minority (at least) of associates who are miserable.

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

Postby whereskyle » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:29 pm

I cannot imagine what "a sense of accomplishment" would look like in big law.

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

Postby JustHawkin » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:37 pm

toothbrush wrote:
JustHawkin wrote:What is life after biglaw? Laterall to a smaller firm? Ability to get a gov't position, or are you stuck at some firm for eternity? May not have done my research but I wanted to see if anyone can speak on this.

Can I echo this question? Particularly, at what point in working at Biglaw do options open (2nd year? 3rd year? 5th?) and what do they entail? How do you go about finding the opportunities. (If it's in-house, do you check company job postings?)

Just curious what life after big law looks like.

thanks for this thread, OP.

Maybe we need to start a new thread for this?




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