Point of Big Law?

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
User avatar
Thelaw23

Silver
Posts: 790
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:23 pm

Point of Big Law?

Postby Thelaw23 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:28 am

So recently I uncovered the promotion to partner %'s of big law firms.

A lot of the firms have a 1% - 2% chance, depending on the prestige.

As I understand, if an associate is not becoming a partner after 4-6 years, they get booted.

So what is all the hype about big law when it's not even a viable long term career option at all? I mean you join a firm where there is a 98 - 99% chance of not staying after a couple of years.

Is it all for paying off some loans during those years, and then transitioning to other jobs? What other career prospects are desirable to transfer to? In-house?

Also, when transitioning to a boutique law firm after big law, are the promotion %'s the same? Meaning is it another 4-5 years of working and then out you go? Seems very depressing.

grades??

Silver
Posts: 984
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 6:55 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby grades?? » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:31 am

The whole field is very depressing. But big law is the only job at graduation that can pay the govt back the money it costs to law school fairly rapidly.

User avatar
kalvano

Diamond
Posts: 11952
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby kalvano » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:47 am

Because when you join a Biglaw firm, you instantly become a household in the top 10% of income in the US.

User avatar
TheSpanishMain

Gold
Posts: 4743
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:26 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby TheSpanishMain » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:04 pm

Money and a respected name on your resume, basically.

cavalier1138

Gold
Posts: 4954
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:52 pm

In addition to all of the depressing answers, a lot of the more competitive career tracks look for biglaw experience. They see it as a sort of "training ground" (regardless of whether that's true or not) for practice.

So if you want to work in government, in-house, IGO, etc., a lot of places will want you to have a few years of biglaw or clerkship under your belt.

User avatar
mjb447

Silver
Posts: 1276
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby mjb447 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:11 pm

If you've survived for a few years at a large, well-respected law firm with some decent references following you out, it answers a lot of questions about your ability to work long hours, please difficult people, and perform good legal work. (Theoretically, anyway.)

srtabrawer

New
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:02 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby srtabrawer » Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:04 pm

Supposed to set you up for other jobs (in house, government, etc.) but in reality a lot of government jobs hire straight out....

Plus the majority of top law school grads (who are typically the ones doing biglaw in the first place) aren't even in the law 10-15 years out....so not sure what's the long term point really except paying off loans and stacking cash.

cavalier1138

Gold
Posts: 4954
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:04 pm

srtabrawer wrote:Supposed to set you up for other jobs (in house, government, etc.) but in reality a lot of government jobs hire straight out....


Really? Where are they?

At least 90% of the DOJ, AUSA, State, etc. positions do not hire you right out of school unless you're in the 1% of graduates who get in via the honors program.

Now, if you're talking about government jobs like the local housing authority, sure. But those aren't the government jobs that people lateral to from big firms.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse

Diamond
Posts: 29317
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:51 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
srtabrawer wrote:Supposed to set you up for other jobs (in house, government, etc.) but in reality a lot of government jobs hire straight out....


Really? Where are they?

At least 90% of the DOJ, AUSA, State, etc. positions do not hire you right out of school unless you're in the 1% of graduates who get in via the honors program.

Now, if you're talking about government jobs like the local housing authority, sure. But those aren't the government jobs that people lateral to from big firms.

Agree with this. And I think even a lot of local government jobs tend to want some experience (the lifestyle is often very appealing).

User avatar
Wolfie91

Silver
Posts: 655
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 6:23 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby Wolfie91 » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:01 pm

grades?? wrote:The whole field is very depressing. But big law is the only job at graduation that can pay the govt back the money it costs to law school fairly rapidly.

This is what I always thought too.

I made good grades in law school and got a few callbacks at OCI that had strong potential of leading to longterm employment. I was lucky enough to not have any debt, and after asking around (and checking here periodically), I came to the conclusion that I would be much happier with a starting salary of 110 at a mid-sized firm and have a life.

I mean, after paying back loans, a lot of my friends weren't making an obscene amount more $$$ than I was. I've never had a friend who did not end up as a partner let me know that I should've gone big law. They said that it was helpful in paying off their loans, but after that, their quality of life was so bad that they wanted to quit the profession altogether.

So if you have crazy loans, go for it. I had a solid, 6 figure starting salary without working in big law. I'm happy I didn't go.

zeglo

Silver
Posts: 664
Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2015 9:42 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby zeglo » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:09 pm

.
Last edited by zeglo on Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Mr. Freeze

New
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2015 4:56 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby Mr. Freeze » Wed Nov 02, 2016 4:54 am

Well once you are booted from biglaw you find another job, and they say well we cant pay you biglaw salary of 200k but we can give you 150k and then it grows from there. Compare to most people who dont get into biglaw start out at 50-60k and maybe after 20 years if they're successful they make it to 100K, I'd say its a legit goal.

tomwatts

Gold
Posts: 1710
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:01 am

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby tomwatts » Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:11 am

Biglaw is also an easy reference point for everything else. Ease of getting biglaw translates into ease of getting other jobs — it is rare for a school to be significantly better at placing people into non-biglaw than into biglaw (maybe Northeastern? not sure), and if you can get biglaw out of law school, there is a decent chance you can get a good government job or some other kind of interesting work. So yeah, when you're choosing a school or talking about grades, what it takes to get biglaw is a good reference point.

But biglaw as an actual career goal? That depends a lot more on what you want to do. It's definitely not for everyone.

srtabrawer

New
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:02 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby srtabrawer » Wed Nov 02, 2016 1:08 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
srtabrawer wrote:Supposed to set you up for other jobs (in house, government, etc.) but in reality a lot of government jobs hire straight out....


Really? Where are they?

At least 90% of the DOJ, AUSA, State, etc. positions do not hire you right out of school unless you're in the 1% of graduates who get in via the honors program.

Now, if you're talking about government jobs like the local housing authority, sure. But those aren't the government jobs that people lateral to from big firms.


Attorney advisors at "less prestigious" federal agencies. I knew a good number of people who ended up going straight to fed gov out of law school into such positions. For some reason, it seems to be a lot harder to lateral into an attorney advisor position after a few years in biglaw.

User avatar
zot1

Gold
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby zot1 » Wed Nov 02, 2016 3:21 pm

srtabrawer wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
srtabrawer wrote:Supposed to set you up for other jobs (in house, government, etc.) but in reality a lot of government jobs hire straight out....


Really? Where are they?

At least 90% of the DOJ, AUSA, State, etc. positions do not hire you right out of school unless you're in the 1% of graduates who get in via the honors program.

Now, if you're talking about government jobs like the local housing authority, sure. But those aren't the government jobs that people lateral to from big firms.


Attorney advisors at "less prestigious" federal agencies. I knew a good number of people who ended up going straight to fed gov out of law school into such positions. For some reason, it seems to be a lot harder to lateral into an attorney advisor position after a few years in biglaw.


Even the smaller agencies hire through the honors program. And when 10 or less grads get hired per agency, it's not "a lot" of government jobs. Plus, those jobs are not easy to get.

tomwatts

Gold
Posts: 1710
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:01 am

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby tomwatts » Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:21 pm

zot1 wrote:Even the smaller agencies hire through the honors program. And when 10 or less grads get hired per agency, it's not "a lot" of government jobs. Plus, those jobs are not easy to get.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought those jobs were not easy to get after a few years of biglaw either. I am under the (possibly mistaken) impression that good government jobs are just hard to come by, because lots of people want them, regardless of whether you're trying to get in via an Honors program or lateral in later.

I figured that if what you want is something in the federal government, do everything you can to get in through an Honors program, and if that falls through, do everything you can to set yourself up to lateral in later. If that means biglaw, then do biglaw. If that means something else, do something else.

User avatar
zot1

Gold
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby zot1 » Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:46 pm

tomwatts wrote:
zot1 wrote:Even the smaller agencies hire through the honors program. And when 10 or less grads get hired per agency, it's not "a lot" of government jobs. Plus, those jobs are not easy to get.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought those jobs were not easy to get after a few years of biglaw either. I am under the (possibly mistaken) impression that good government jobs are just hard to come by, because lots of people want them, regardless of whether you're trying to get in via an Honors program or lateral in later.

I figured that if what you want is something in the federal government, do everything you can to get in through an Honors program, and if that falls through, do everything you can to set yourself up to lateral in later. If that means biglaw, then do biglaw. If that means something else, do something else.


The honors program is only available to grads or clerks without prior working experience (LLMs too for some agencies), so going to big law immediately disqualifies you from the entry level.

As far as positions for attorneys with experience, the hiring will heavily depend on the agency and the person(s) doing the hiring. DOJ probably hires more from big law than non DoD agencies. Is it possible to go from biglaw to fed gov? Sure. Is it easy? No, not at all.

So I would say it is easier to get through the honors program, but honestly, I don't think one way is actually easier than the other. The advantage for honors though is that you're applying to several vacancies at once so as odds would have it, you're more likely to get something. Once you're in biglaw, if you're applying, you're likely only applying to a couple of vacancies here and there. So yeah, you'll be less likely to get something in your first wave of applications.

I hope that makes sense.

pizzagoblin

Bronze
Posts: 217
Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2015 9:24 am

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby pizzagoblin » Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:03 pm

Wolfie91 wrote:
grades?? wrote:The whole field is very depressing. But big law is the only job at graduation that can pay the govt back the money it costs to law school fairly rapidly.

This is what I always thought too.

I made good grades in law school and got a few callbacks at OCI that had strong potential of leading to longterm employment. I was lucky enough to not have any debt, and after asking around (and checking here periodically), I came to the conclusion that I would be much happier with a starting salary of 110 at a mid-sized firm and have a life.

I mean, after paying back loans, a lot of my friends weren't making an obscene amount more $$$ than I was. I've never had a friend who did not end up as a partner let me know that I should've gone big law. They said that it was helpful in paying off their loans, but after that, their quality of life was so bad that they wanted to quit the profession altogether.

So if you have crazy loans, go for it. I had a solid, 6 figure starting salary without working in big law. I'm happy I didn't go.


Mind if I ask which school you went to?

User avatar
Wolfie91

Silver
Posts: 655
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 6:23 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby Wolfie91 » Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:20 pm

SMU.

If you can get into a strong regional for free at a place you're willing to work (I work in Dallas) it's totally worthwhile. SMU is an expensive af school, and I wouldn't have gone here if my debt would've been 100-200k like my classmates. They had a lot of pressure to make good grades and succeed in OCI while I did not. I mean, I still made good grades, but I've heard some nightmares about big law from my former classmates, and I'm happy I chose a mid-sized firm that gave me a lot of room for growth.

laggyking

New
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:25 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby laggyking » Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:11 pm

Wolfie91 wrote:SMU.

If you can get into a strong regional for free at a place you're willing to work (I work in Dallas) it's totally worthwhile. SMU is an expensive af school, and I wouldn't have gone here if my debt would've been 100-200k like my classmates. They had a lot of pressure to make good grades and succeed in OCI while I did not. I mean, I still made good grades, but I've heard some nightmares about big law from my former classmates, and I'm happy I chose a mid-sized firm that gave me a lot of room for growth.

just curious, how's employment rate and average starting salary at SMU? I live in Dallas, thinking about going to SMU or UT, either one. My family wants me to go to SMU, so I can stay in town.

User avatar
Wolfie91

Silver
Posts: 655
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 6:23 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby Wolfie91 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:32 pm

It isn't bad if you want to stay in Dallas. But you'll have trouble going anywhere else with ties. I had ties to Houston, so I was a little bit lucky with SMU's Houston OCI program as far as callbacks. But it depends what you want to do. Dallas is a huge market and I had several friends with bad grades get jobs of some kind here. I think starting salary is right around 95-100k, which is just about the average mid-sized firm's rate. I was right around the top 1/3rd and I was able to get a mid-sized firm job for 110k with pretty good bonus opportunities and room for growth.

My situation was different from others though. If you go to SMU, 90% of the time you are taking out pretty substantial loans. So some students really were big law or bust here when I went. Keep in mind, this info might be dated by now as the market is slightly better than when I graduated.

laggyking

New
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:25 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby laggyking » Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:59 pm

Wolfie91 wrote:It isn't bad if you want to stay in Dallas. But you'll have trouble going anywhere else with ties. I had ties to Houston, so I was a little bit lucky with SMU's Houston OCI program as far as callbacks. But it depends what you want to do. Dallas is a huge market and I had several friends with bad grades get jobs of some kind here. I think starting salary is right around 95-100k, which is just about the average mid-sized firm's rate. I was right around the top 1/3rd and I was able to get a mid-sized firm job for 110k with pretty good bonus opportunities and room for growth.

My situation was different from others though. If you go to SMU, 90% of the time you are taking out pretty substantial loans. So some students really were big law or bust here when I went. Keep in mind, this info might be dated by now as the market is slightly better than when I graduated.


Thank you for answering my question. well, I really dont want to go anywhere other than DFW. Since I didnt have any debts in my life, 200k debts for the rest of my life wont be too bad. I prefer to work for some big international firms as in-house because I speak read and write 3 languages, I feel like thats my advantages.

User avatar
Wolfie91

Silver
Posts: 655
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 6:23 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby Wolfie91 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:33 pm

200k of debt is a shit load. Before you make any decision on law school, make sure that you know this.

User avatar
MAPP

Bronze
Posts: 379
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:03 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby MAPP » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:44 pm

Wolfie91 wrote:200k of debt is a shit load. Before you make any decision on law school, make sure that you know this.


This is true, but 160k or 180k after taxes right out of law school is around 105k or 118k, which if you use half to pay off loans, you're done in 3 - 4 years (I'm factoring in light scholarships here)

User avatar
Wolfie91

Silver
Posts: 655
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 6:23 pm

Re: Point of Big Law?

Postby Wolfie91 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:49 pm

Heh. If that's how you want to hedge your bets.

You aren't paying off 200k of student loans in 3-4 years. Just trust me.



Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests