Why you shouldn't go to law school

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

Postby rpupkin » Thu Feb 20, 2014 5:07 pm

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

Really? I mean, what if you're part of a trial team that wins a case? If you can't imagine getting a sense of accomplishment from that, then you've made a strange choice of profession.

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:42 am

The tricky thing about biglaw is that it's very region, firm, practice group, and team-within-practice-group dependent. Some places are great and some places are toxic. I know my own happiness is not a useful data point for a couple of reasons, but I also know people in much more "typical" biglaw situations who are very happy - really. Two observations I would make are:

1) One thing that makes a toxic work environment is ego. I suspect, and I am not alone in this, that egos increase as you go a) into NYC, and b) up the Vault rankings. But hey, so do bonuses and exit options, and that's the trade-off.

2) There are some people who are just very suited to biglaw, and it's not just one type of person, and it's not the people you'd think. Unhelpful. But there is happiness in biglaw, and I think that's why.

Also, lay off Texas guy, because there are firms that give you a much more authentic SA experience, in terms of the day-to-day, the type of work, and the hours. Particularly post-crash, I think. Admittedly, you can't duplicate the responsibility and no-net feeling of being a real associate, but on the other hand, there's the SA anxiety.

I keep wondering where OP works, just because my buddy from HLS says that S&C is viewed as a "lifestyle firm" there, which... yikes.

OP, hang in there. Do your best to escape to a different deal/case team, but if that's just not happening, pay your loans, maybe see s therapist, and remember that this is all temporary.

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

Postby NYstate » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:24 am

Thinking about this, my only real concern for big law is people who can't function well without sleep. If you can't do all nighters as needed or manage without sleep, I think you may be heading for a crash.

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

Postby sublime » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:27 am

..

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

Postby whereskyle » Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:17 am

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

Really? I mean, what if you're part of a trial team that wins a case? If you can't imagine getting a sense of accomplishment from that, then you've made a strange choice of profession.


Yeah, another dumb post of mine. Perhaps it has to do with the sense of disattachment I'm imagining OP to have felt in OP's work: the clientele, the work environment, the intellectual satisfaction. All those things seem not to be clicking for OP. I don't know if that necessarily means that one doesn't even feel good about one's development as a lawyer.

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

Postby NeedAnExit » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:38 pm

-Not S&C. Even at HLS, people know that S&C is probably not a pleasant place to work.

-There were no red flags, but I knew that I probably would not like after my summer, which is why I took a hard look at fed gov honors. In the end, I decided that there were some serious drawbacks to the gov position that I was offered, and that was why I went back to the firm. I didn't accept my offer until January because I was scrambling to get something else - and just was unable to land what I wanted. I obviously didn't realize that it would be this bad.

-Lack of camaraderie is a key difference from consulting. As a previous poster alluded to, the feeling of "holy shit, it's 1am and I don't know what i'm doing, and there's nobody to ask" adds a great deal to the misery.

-The lack of ability to leave, or even know how to start charting a path to leave, is also difficult. When you go to a firm, you're stuck for 'awhile,' and its not clear how long. Even after 'awhile,' government and public interest positions open up on an ad-hoc basis, and there's no clear way of seeking out what you want. The one exception, at least at my firm, may be if you apply to be an AUSA in my city, but that is certainly not a realistic option for me, at least at this point.
The other exception to this may be to try to move to a firm in a different city, which seems to be more doable for brand new attorneys, and I may try to do this over the summer.

-Because I suspected that I would not like the firm job, I knew coming in that I should pay off my loans as quickly as possible. I live very frugally, and with roommates, and obviously less comfortably than I could be living. This sometimes adds to my level of stress, but I was unwilling to add a year+ to my loan repayment schedule in order to get a better place.

-Again, I don't mean to suggest that you should feel sorry for me - plenty of my classmates are in my shoes, and plenty of other law students wish they were in my shoes so they can pay down their loans. But if you are 0L: you should consider that this can happen to you! Ask anyone at a T14: biglaw is legitimately difficult to avoid for any number of reasons. It is extremely important to try to minimize your debt so that you can walk away if you end up hating it, like so many of us do.
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patogordo
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby patogordo » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:41 pm

why don't you just tell us where you work so we can write that firm off as an outlier and pretend that all the other firms will be much better

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

Postby AAJD2B » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:50 pm

Burnt-out associates at my former firm did the following:

1. Transfer to another office. You'd be surprised how lax some overseas offices of a similar firm can be.

2. Secondment within a corporation or bank, usually a client.

3. Find a niche specialty and go in-house as AVP, VP or AGC.

That said, you have gotta put in at least two years to have some of these options. You don't have the privilege to call it a burn-out until after two years, some would say even three.

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

Postby AAJD2B » Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:01 pm

sublime wrote:
NYstate wrote:Thinking about this, my only real concern for big law is people who can't function well without sleep. If you can't do all nighters as needed or manage without sleep, I think you may be heading for a crash.



Hmmmm.... Could you elaborate more on this? Like how little sleep is required?

Also, is that NYC/major market big law or probably the same thing in secondaries?


As crazy as this sound: the less, the better. You get brownie points for being "immortal". Being available around-the-clock is highly sought after and it's part of the competition.

I think rayiner on here spoke about how he managed on power naps when at DPW. They come in handy...that and lots of energy drinks. Don't forget the Aleve Extra Strength for headaches, a change of clothes, soap and toothpaste.

FinanceStudent28
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby FinanceStudent28 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:59 pm

Sepa299 wrote: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.


Seriously....... If you make six figures in Corp America and you aren't top dog you probably aren't in love with your job.

And maybe it was just me, but I didn't see any Law-specific complaints in OP's post.

FinanceStudent28
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby FinanceStudent28 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:05 pm

Gary wrote: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.

For your friends: It doesn't get better.

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/20/275317937 ... oung-money

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

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:08 pm

Also, if you think you can work 2200+ hours (honestly) and maintain your body in good physical shape (assuming you have *any* semblance of a family or social life that takes up *any* amount of time that could even remotely be considered normal), you're kidding yourself. I have had significant health problems crop up since working in biglaw, and I'm definitely not the only one at my firm with biglaw-induced health problems.

luckystar84
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby luckystar84 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:30 pm

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

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:43 pm

luckystar84 wrote:this is a bit controversial but how addy'd up are biglaw associates? seems like that's a better way to stay awake than just sleeping in the bathroom or drinking energy drinks lol


I'm sure the ones who don't have high blood pressure or a heart condition might consider using it.

hlsperson1111
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby hlsperson1111 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:01 pm

I am apparently a classmate of the OP (also HLS 2013) and a current district court clerk. Heading to a biglaw firm (not in NYC) this fall. Crazy to try to lock up a 2016 appellate clerkship before I show up, if for nothing else so I can count down the days until I'm done? I need to work 12 months to lock up the bonus but I have no particular need to stay for longer than that (although I do think it might be a problem for future employment if I am that guy who left after exactly a year).

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El Pollito
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby El Pollito » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:06 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Also, if you think you can work 2200+ hours (honestly) and maintain your body in good physical shape (assuming you have *any* semblance of a family or social life that takes up *any* amount of time that could even remotely be considered normal), you're kidding yourself. I have had significant health problems crop up since working in biglaw, and I'm definitely not the only one at my firm with biglaw-induced health problems.

It's really not that hard to take care of yourself in biglaw.

FinanceStudent28
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby FinanceStudent28 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:29 pm

JustHawkin wrote:
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?


I did: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=225065

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

Postby NeedAnExit » Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:00 pm

hlsperson1111 wrote:I am apparently a classmate of the OP (also HLS 2013) and a current district court clerk. Heading to a biglaw firm (not in NYC) this fall. Crazy to try to lock up a 2016 appellate clerkship before I show up, if for nothing else so I can count down the days until I'm done? I need to work 12 months to lock up the bonus but I have no particular need to stay for longer than that (although I do think it might be a problem for future employment if I am that guy who left after exactly a year).


Wouldn't you be leaving after 2 years? 2014-2016?

From what I've seen, you won't have any great difficulty getting back into biglaw, if that's what you want, although you will almost certainly eat a class year. I obviously think that you should do it anyway - it will make your life much better if you know that you have a fixed end date and that you have somewhere else to go afterwards.

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

Postby NeedAnExit » Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:29 pm

FinanceStudent28 wrote:
Sepa299 wrote: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.


Seriously....... If you make six figures in Corp America and you aren't top dog you probably aren't in love with your job.

And maybe it was just me, but I didn't see any Law-specific complaints in OP's post.


I agree that investment banking would likely be just as bad - and that's why I don't think you should really do that either. My complaints aren't really with the practice of law per se, but there are aspects of being a lawyer that are worse, I think, than other white collar professions.

(1) This is the prize! For many students, this is the best outcome that they could hope for.

(2) Because I paid for law school myself, like many of you will, I live on ~20% of what I earn and the rest goes to the government in some way. This does not have any direct bearing on my happiness while at work, but it does intensify the feeling of "wtf did I do this for." The debt also leads to a feeling of being trapped -- when I had bad weeks in consulting, I always took solace in the fact that I could walk away the next day if it got any worse.

(3) You enter biglaw knowing you have no future at the firm, and if you're realistic, probably no long-term future at any firm. This is also true in banking and consulting (although slightly less so), but definitely not true for other corporate jobs.

(4) I suspect that there is actually a point to the lack of teamwork/training/availability of help -- if nobody helps you to do things, you will bill more to do them.

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

Postby cinephile » Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:47 pm

Thank you for posting this.

I hope that even if things don't get better for you, that you're able to stick with it until you can afford to get out.

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

Postby Otunga » Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:11 pm

I'm not sure what it takes to "win" at LS - I guess in terms of monetarily winning that's going to LS on a full ride (or having it paid by others) and working in biglaw for a few years, but how many people do that?

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

Postby Harare » Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:04 pm

Your biggest asset at this stage is not your lawyering ability, your writing ability or anything of the sort. It is the ability to "get smart" on something very quickly. You have proven that ability pre-ls, during ls by going to HLS, and post-ls by being thrown into things with no explanation and the expectation of high performance. That is applicable in a variety of settings both in the law and outside of it. You need to think a bit more expansively about what you can bring to the table. Your future is not simply v10 for 3 years, burnout to midlaw or whatever. You need to think broader than that, which will take time, but under no circumstances should you feel trapped. Fight the urge to be risk averse. The law is premised on precedent. Everyone is used to doing things a certain way because everything has been done that way before. That's why people make threads about exit opportunities and whether they open up at year 2 or 3 or whatever. These folks crave a path because they have been following one all along - work hard in HS, go to top college, work hard in college, go to top law school, work hard in law school, go to top firm. This engenders a path dependence that precludes anyone from thinking creatively about how to forge a different way. It really does not have to be that way, just prepare to have to do a lot of creative thinking and hard work in your own right if you want something different.

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

Postby patogordo » Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:17 pm

Harare wrote:Your biggest asset at this stage is not your lawyering ability, your writing ability or anything of the sort. It is the ability to "get smart" on something very quickly. You have proven that ability pre-ls, during ls by going to HLS, and post-ls by being thrown into things with no explanation and the expectation of high performance. That is applicable in a variety of settings both in the law and outside of it. You need to think a bit more expansively about what you can bring to the table. Your future is not simply v10 for 3 years, burnout to midlaw or whatever. You need to think broader than that, which will take time, but under no circumstances should you feel trapped. Fight the urge to be risk averse. The law is premised on precedent. Everyone is used to doing things a certain way because everything has been done that way before. That's why people make threads about exit opportunities and whether they open up at year 2 or 3 or whatever. These folks crave a path because they have been following one all along - work hard in HS, go to top college, work hard in college, go to top law school, work hard in law school, go to top firm. This engenders a path dependence that precludes anyone from thinking creatively about how to forge a different way. It really does not have to be that way, just prepare to have to do a lot of creative thinking and hard work in your own right if you want something different.

did you just finish reading The Secret or something?

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

Postby Harare » Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:21 pm

patogordo wrote:
Harare wrote:Your biggest asset at this stage is not your lawyering ability, your writing ability or anything of the sort. It is the ability to "get smart" on something very quickly. You have proven that ability pre-ls, during ls by going to HLS, and post-ls by being thrown into things with no explanation and the expectation of high performance. That is applicable in a variety of settings both in the law and outside of it. You need to think a bit more expansively about what you can bring to the table. Your future is not simply v10 for 3 years, burnout to midlaw or whatever. You need to think broader than that, which will take time, but under no circumstances should you feel trapped. Fight the urge to be risk averse. The law is premised on precedent. Everyone is used to doing things a certain way because everything has been done that way before. That's why people make threads about exit opportunities and whether they open up at year 2 or 3 or whatever. These folks crave a path because they have been following one all along - work hard in HS, go to top college, work hard in college, go to top law school, work hard in law school, go to top firm. This engenders a path dependence that precludes anyone from thinking creatively about how to forge a different way. It really does not have to be that way, just prepare to have to do a lot of creative thinking and hard work in your own right if you want something different.

did you just finish reading The Secret or something?


I don't know what that is but I think anyone that has worked in biglaw would have trouble disagreeing with the premise that the vast majority of the people there are incredibly risk averse and tend to follow the herd.

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