Please see the depressing thread above. I am a junior with a good gpa and spent the summer interning with a F500 in accounting. I suspect I will have decent job opportunities upon graduation. But, I still have always believed I want to be a lawyer. My aspirations in law would be biglaw in NY or possibly my home secondary market. After researching the profession through various sites (mostly TLS) I seem to only find stories from unhappy and disgruntled attorneys. So, I wanted to start this thread to find a biglaw associate who genuinely enjoys their work and does not regret their decision to go to law school. I would prefer someone who works in NY or any other primary market known for long hours, but anyone who has had an experience different from the usual "I hate my life" stories all over the internet would be great to hear. If possible, I'd like to hear why you like your work (practice area, firm culture, etc.) and why you think other attorneys or coworkers do not based on your observations.
Thanks for any insight.
I've been a litigation associate in California biglaw for several years, I bill 2500-2700+ per year (which is north of what my firm requires even for partner-track associates), I enjoy my job, and I don't regret my decision to go law school.
Why I like my job:
- Clients doing cutting edge technology work; like learning about their products and services and believe in what they're doing.
- Very interesting legal issues; found the right subject matter for me.
- Collegial working environment; no screamers.
- Casual work environment - jeans are fine 7 days/week if not in court or client meetings.
- Virtually no face time expectations. Work from home is culturally accepted even on random weekdays and standard on evenings and weekends. 2500-2700 hours is a lot easier to hit if you're wearing sweatpants and drinking coffee at home for a decent chunk of that than if you're in formal attire in an office 15 hours a day.
- I respect the partners I work with and learn a tremendous amount from them.
- For me, the goal is to become the best litigator I can be working on the most interesting and challenging types of cases out there. Biglaw, with its perfectionism, expectations, and high-stakes work, is a good place for that. In this environment, I'm viewed as a very hard worker, but if I switch to a job with lower hours expectations and less structure, I actually become something of a slacker. It's easier for me to perform to others' (partners'/clients') high expectations than to push myself really hard without external pressure. So I need a biglaw-like environment to get the most out of my career.
- I don't want kids and thus don't need to worry about balancing my career with child-raising.
- As I've gotten more senior, I get to assign the grunt work to others and get to focus almost exclusively on interesting and challenging tasks.
- I like that I'm a high biller for my firm in the hours range I describe - i.e., the fact that I work as much as I do is respected and appreciated (and recognized in bonus calculations and promotion decisions). It'd be tougher if I worked for one of the very few firms where my hours range is viewed as standard/expected.
- California. 'Nough said. We live in an awesome state, and I love my city.
(- ETA The money. Honestly, this doesn't really come to mind immediately when I think of why I appreciate my job, but it should. Biglaw may not make you rich, but it allows you to enjoy a high degree of material comfort combined with no day-to-day financial stresses (a form of privilege that most of our fellow Americans don't enjoy). I know there's a lot of talk how first year salaries don't go far in some cities with high student loan debt...but when you get several years in, the loans are paid off, and your salary is 250 percent+ of a first year's...the living ain't half bad. If you can make this amount of money while really enjoying what you're doing...in that sense I feel like I'm living the dream. But see note at end about my least favorite part of the job.)
Why some others don't like it as much:
- If junior: the work they do is less fun, and they can't yet see the forest for the trees in terms of the grunt work being very temporary.
- They may have more competing commitments on their time outside of work and thus find the hours expectations harder to swallow.
- Very few people seem to view the high expectation/pressure/perfectionism I describe above as a positive.
- They may not have the same view of the subject matter and clients as I do.
One area where I agree with the OP in the thread you linked: the unpredictability of the work and cancelled commitments is challenging. It doesn't completely go away when you get more senior. Partners also have to cancel plans, adjust vacations, etc. That's the hardest part of the job, and it has compromised many friendships.
Happy to answer any questions here or via PM (but won't have much insight on NY corporate if that's what you are thinking.)