Why BigLaw Sucks?

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Lawquacious
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby Lawquacious » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:35 am

[quote="Tanicius"]When people say Biglaw sucks, I imagine this is the kind of thing they're talking about:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtoEt0K8 ... ure=fvwrel



This 'Living the Dream' series is hilarious, though also painful to watch.

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OutCold
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby OutCold » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:29 am

Lawquacious wrote:
Tanicius wrote:When people say Biglaw sucks, I imagine this is the kind of thing they're talking about:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtoEt0K8 ... ure=fvwrel



This 'Living the Dream' series is hilarious, though also painful to watch.

I watched the one he posted and then continued to watch the entire series. Loved it.

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crossarmant
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby crossarmant » Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:01 pm

Yes, 80 hour weeks suck. So does silly office politics. But if you've ever worked two shitty service jobs and done overtime, sold some of your goods, and lived off of dried beans just to afford rent then BigLaw despite all of its faults and rigors seems like a dream. Especially given the comfort of not having to worry about if rent will clear or if you can get a soda without overdrafting. Honestly, it may be difficult, but complaints about working BigLaw seems like a giant load of whitewhine.

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SarahKerrigan
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby SarahKerrigan » Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:43 pm

Glock wrote:I am going to self immolate the next time I subject myself to one of those terrible cookie cutter CGI shitstain movies.

haha same! BTW Glocks own!

rundoxierun
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby rundoxierun » Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:02 pm

After seeing biglaw in person.. I have absolutely no clue what people are talking about (outside of NYC). I will admit that NYC biglaw sucks a bit (and not really ALL that much) but from what I have seen other cities have it absolutely made. Biglaw in a non-NYC office is, with a few exceptions, a super sweet gig.

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Corwin
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby Corwin » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:11 am

rundoxierun wrote:After seeing biglaw in person.. I have absolutely no clue what people are talking about (outside of NYC). I will admit that NYC biglaw sucks a bit (and not really ALL that much) but from what I have seen other cities have it absolutely made. Biglaw in a non-NYC office is, with a few exceptions, a super sweet gig.

What is your basis for thinking there is that big of a difference between biglaw in NYC versus DC/Chicago/Boston/etc? Because I'm pretty sure there's not that big of a difference in terms of workload, hours, etc.

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BackToTheOldHouse
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby BackToTheOldHouse » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:28 am

crossarmant wrote:Yes, 80 hour weeks suck. So does silly office politics. But if you've ever worked two shitty service jobs and done overtime, sold some of your goods, and lived off of dried beans just to afford rent then BigLaw despite all of its faults and rigors seems like a dream. Especially given the comfort of not having to worry about if rent will clear or if you can get a soda without overdrafting. Honestly, it may be difficult, but complaints about working BigLaw seems like a giant load of whitewhine.

Belie' dat!

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minnbills
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby minnbills » Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:32 am

The only part of that video that actually disturbed me was the "le big law" gag.

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nealric
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby nealric » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:49 pm

To invest 150k, then spend 80 hours a week working your ass off to make 160k you might be better off starting your own busines


Few people actually work 80 hours a week in biglaw on any sort of consistent basis. I don't know a single associate at my firm who works consistent 80 hour weeks. I suppose the Wachtell M&A associates may be expected to work those hours, but it's simply not common.

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rayiner
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby rayiner » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:33 am

nealric wrote:
To invest 150k, then spend 80 hours a week working your ass off to make 160k you might be better off starting your own busines


Few people actually work 80 hours a week in biglaw on any sort of consistent basis. I don't know a single associate at my firm who works consistent 80 hour weeks. I suppose the Wachtell M&A associates may be expected to work those hours, but it's simply not common.


80-90 hours is banking hours, not law hours. If you're averaging 70 hours a week for 50 weeks a year (2 weeks of vacation, usually split into two 1-week vacations seems pretty typical at my firm), that's 3,500 hours worked or 2,600 hours billed with 75% efficiency. 2,600 hours is a lot of hours unless you're working at Quinn, Boies, or Wachtell.

You will have 80 hour weeks, certainly, but even people who are billing a lot aren't going to be working 80 hours a week on average.

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crossarmant
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby crossarmant » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:51 am

nealric wrote:
To invest 150k, then spend 80 hours a week working your ass off to make 160k you might be better off starting your own busines


Few people actually work 80 hours a week in biglaw on any sort of consistent basis. I don't know a single associate at my firm who works consistent 80 hour weeks. I suppose the Wachtell M&A associates may be expected to work those hours, but it's simply not common.


Even if you did have to work 80 hours every single week, it's still around ~40ish dollars an hour. Considering that for probably a good majority of folks on here it's 3x the max they've ever been paid per hour, it's not a bad deal. It also cuts down on the risk of starting your own business and you don't have to worry about more debt for start-up costs or the probably fact that you will go under at some point.

Z3RO
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby Z3RO » Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:15 am

Yeah, I just quit my job as a tech support rep making 37k/year (in Chicago) where I had to follow a script on every call, and the products were hopelessly broken. It may have been only 40 miserable hours in the cubicle farm, but it was depressing, shitty, soul-crushing work. Then I'd come home and play videogames and drink beer, basically waiting for the next bullshit day where I would talk morons through renaming .mdb files or deleting their cookies thanks to our shit coding.

I worked for a temp agency, so I had no paid vacation or health insurance. Living for 3.5 years without any health insurance is nerve wracking.

Something that that I used to say all the time was, "I don't hate working. I just hate working here." That's the truth. I don't have any serious interests, hobbies, or passions, so I actually like the thought of being able to throw myself into my work. Hell, half of my problem is not having enough to do. If only there was a job that I could do that would be engaging, remotely interesting (compared to being in a call center), provided health insurance, had long hours, room for advancement, and had high compensation...

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sunynp
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby sunynp » Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:30 am

rundoxierun wrote:After seeing biglaw in person.. I have absolutely no clue what people are talking about (outside of NYC). I will admit that NYC biglaw sucks a bit (and not really ALL that much) but from what I have seen other cities have it absolutely made. Biglaw in a non-NYC office is, with a few exceptions, a super sweet gig.


So do associates tend to stay longer in non-NYC offices? I know that in NYC the attrition between 3rd year and 4th year associates is high - hence the bump in salary to keep experienced people at the firm. Does this happen in other offices as well?

alumniguy
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby alumniguy » Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:15 am

I'd love to see a show of hands who is this thread is actually working in biglaw because if you haven't worked there, you don't understand how it works. Period. As an analogy, how many people think waiting tables is easy work until they actually try it. Waiting is both physically demanding and you have to put up with our overly entitled society that makes ridiculous demands.

I am a biglaw lawyer and while I don't hate it, it certainly isn't all roses either. This discussion of hours, for example, misses the point. Lawyers work long hours, but it is not the total number of hours that is usually the problem, but the inconsistency of hours. A junior may have a string of 250 hour weeks (which is basically working like a dog all month - including several weekends), but most associates don't complain about raw number of billable hours. The rub is that you are beholden to senior associates, partners and clients and are EXPECTED to be ready to work on a moment's notice. So while despite a junior's best efforts to get most of his work done early in the week because family are coming into town on Friday afternoon, low and behold a call comes in Friday morning that there will be an "all hands on deck" document review or due diligence project that will require working the entire weekend. Unfortunately, this type of stuff happens all the time. You made dinner plans for a Wednesday night at 9pm thinking you'd be safe, well guess again because opposing counsel just filed a motion at 5pm and it is going to require several hours of research and requires drafting a memo to the senior associate by the following afternoon.

Sure one or two instances of blown plans are not uncalled for given the perks of being a biglaw lawyer, but when these occasional flare-ups become a once a month episode, juniors start to sour on the process.

Just to illustrate my point even further, there is a reason why associate classes typically are halved in size by the time they reach 3rd or 4th year status - the job is not easy. If it was, there wouldn't be the level of attrition that there is. Sure people may be lining up for a spot, but that doesn't mean that the job is easy. That luxurious car ride home after 8pm, serves the firm because associates can work longer hours and spend less time commuting all while having the client pay for it (safety first). The free coffee in the break room, again - lets pump those associates full of caffeine. The health care is good, but my paralegals and secretaries have the same health insurance that I do - so it isn't like this goes exclusively with being an associate.

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rayiner
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby rayiner » Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:30 am

alumniguy wrote:I'd love to see a show of hands who is this thread is actually working in biglaw because if you haven't worked there, you don't understand how it works. Period. As an analogy, how many people think waiting tables is easy work until they actually try it. Waiting is both physically demanding and you have to put up with our overly entitled society that makes ridiculous demands.

I am a biglaw lawyer and while I don't hate it, it certainly isn't all roses either. This discussion of hours, for example, misses the point. Lawyers work long hours, but it is not the total number of hours that is usually the problem, but the inconsistency of hours. A junior may have a string of 250 hour weeks (which is basically working like a dog all month - including several weekends), but most associates don't complain about raw number of billable hours. The rub is that you are beholden to senior associates, partners and clients and are EXPECTED to be ready to work on a moment's notice. So while despite a junior's best efforts to get most of his work done early in the week because family are coming into town on Friday afternoon, low and behold a call comes in Friday morning that there will be an "all hands on deck" document review or due diligence project that will require working the entire weekend. Unfortunately, this type of stuff happens all the time. You made dinner plans for a Wednesday night at 9pm thinking you'd be safe, well guess again because opposing counsel just filed a motion at 5pm and it is going to require several hours of research and requires drafting a memo to the senior associate by the following afternoon.

Sure one or two instances of blown plans are not uncalled for given the perks of being a biglaw lawyer, but when these occasional flare-ups become a once a month episode, juniors start to sour on the process.

Just to illustrate my point even further, there is a reason why associate classes typically are halved in size by the time they reach 3rd or 4th year status - the job is not easy. If it was, there wouldn't be the level of attrition that there is. Sure people may be lining up for a spot, but that doesn't mean that the job is easy. That luxurious car ride home after 8pm, serves the firm because associates can work longer hours and spend less time commuting all while having the client pay for it (safety first). The free coffee in the break room, again - lets pump those associates full of caffeine. The health care is good, but my paralegals and secretaries have the same health insurance that I do - so it isn't like this goes exclusively with being an associate.


I'm only am SA, but I'm not blind, I can see the associates around me. Re: inconsistency, I do agree that's the big issue. My last month this summer I had to cancel plans several times. How much this bothers you depends, I suppose, on how much of a planner you are. I personally love the idea of "staycations" (taking a vacation but staying near home in case something comes up), but then again I'm a weirdo who finds going to other places stressful...

alumniguy
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby alumniguy » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:29 pm

rayiner wrote:I'm only am SA, but I'm not blind, I can see the associates around me. Re: inconsistency, I do agree that's the big issue. My last month this summer I had to cancel plans several times. How much this bothers you depends, I suppose, on how much of a planner you are. I personally love the idea of "staycations" (taking a vacation but staying near home in case something comes up), but then again I'm a weirdo who finds going to other places stressful...


At my firm, SAs see only a tiny portion of it...regardless, I would say that SAs are far more informed than 1Ls.

Interestingly, true vacation time is not an issue at my firm...if you take a scheduled vacation, you don't work (at least with respect to junior associates). Mid-levels and senior associates frequently work some of their vacations, though because they are not expendable like juniors. My post was more about regular plans, like going out on a date or attending a friend's birthday brunch or wanting to make that 8pm gym class. In my opinion, it is these blown events that are truly demoralizing and is the hardest aspect of working biglaw (followed shortly after by the relatively mindless work of due diligence/document review).

albanach
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby albanach » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:36 pm

rayiner wrote: A junior may have a string of 250 hour weeks (which is basically working like a dog all month - including several weekends)


Personally I think that whatever the downsides, being a biglaw lawyer will be entirely worthwhile once I learn how to fit that many hours and weekends into a single week.

Imagine what you can get up to when work is quiet!

ClarDarr
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby ClarDarr » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:43 pm

albanach wrote:
rayiner wrote: A junior may have a string of 250 hour weeks (which is basically working like a dog all month - including several weekends)


Personally I think that whatever the downsides, being a biglaw lawyer will be entirely worthwhile once I learn how to fit that many hours and weekends into a single week.

Imagine what you can get up to when work is quiet!


Seriously, I feel like I'll do alright in BigLaw, but I literally can't imagine how to fit that many hours into a week.

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Corwin
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby Corwin » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:01 pm

alumniguy wrote:A junior may have a string of 250 hour weeks (which is basically working like a dog all month - including several weekends)

7 * 24 = 168 .... ?

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dailygrind
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby dailygrind » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:10 pm

I like that his typing of "weeks" when he meant "months" was the most comment worthy part of that post.

albanach
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby albanach » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:12 pm

Corwin wrote:
alumniguy wrote:A junior may have a string of 250 hour weeks (which is basically working like a dog all month - including several weekends)

7 * 24 = 168 .... ?


--ImageRemoved--

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rayiner
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby rayiner » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:20 pm

alumniguy wrote:
rayiner wrote:I'm only am SA, but I'm not blind, I can see the associates around me. Re: inconsistency, I do agree that's the big issue. My last month this summer I had to cancel plans several times. How much this bothers you depends, I suppose, on how much of a planner you are. I personally love the idea of "staycations" (taking a vacation but staying near home in case something comes up), but then again I'm a weirdo who finds going to other places stressful...


At my firm, SAs see only a tiny portion of it...regardless, I would say that SAs are far more informed than 1Ls.

Interestingly, true vacation time is not an issue at my firm...if you take a scheduled vacation, you don't work (at least with respect to junior associates). Mid-levels and senior associates frequently work some of their vacations, though because they are not expendable like juniors. My post was more about regular plans, like going out on a date or attending a friend's birthday brunch or wanting to make that 8pm gym class. In my opinion, it is these blown events that are truly demoralizing and is the hardest aspect of working biglaw (followed shortly after by the relatively mindless work of due diligence/document review).


I mean I understand the difference between seeing someone have to cancel plans all the time and having to cancel plans yourself. And I'm actually in agreement with you: lack of consistency is the biggest downside I could see. Even as a summer I ended up having to leave my girlfriend waiting in Grand Central for more than an hour (she'd flown from Chicago to see me) while I finished up an assignment on a Friday evening. I basically got an email at noon saying that x, y, and z had to be done by that night.

That said, I guess I just don't find inconsistency to be that big of a deal. Neither my girlfriend nor I are planners (the idea of a regularly-scheduled 8 pm gym class seems incredibly stressful to me). Our idea of vacation is travelling the whole 0.5 miles from Streeterville to the Loop in Chicago and getting a hotel by the park. What would really wear me down would be consistent long hours that cut into my sleep. My brother worked in trading this summer and he kept the same hours as the traders and he was legitimately miserable. Into work by 6:30, at work for 16-18 hours each day. He rarely worked over the weekend and could certainly have kept regular Saturday plans, but he would trade that in a heartbeat for more sleep.

alumniguy
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby alumniguy » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:44 pm

If you don't mind inconsistency and the lack of ability to plan a life outside of work on a consistent basis, you shouldn't have a problem then at least with the inconsistency part. I found that talking to my fellow associates, that the unpredictability is the biggest issue that juniors face.

In any event, the point of my post was really just to shed some light on the difficulties of actually being a junior associate. I am continually surprised at how 0Ls/1Ls/2Ls/SAs/3Ls just don't understand the severe work/life balance issues at play. It is one thing to say that unpredictability/inconsistency are not that big of a deal over the course of 3 month summer (or even a 1-2 year gig), but when you are looking 10+ years of answering to someone else at anytime of the day or night it becomes difficult. Is it manageable, I would suggest yes (otherwise I wouldn't be here still). But the attrition numbers simply don't lie. I'm not even through my 3rd year yet and my class year is well below 50%. Sure some of these associates went to other biglaw firms, but the majority that I know left the NYC market completely and/or headed to smaller NYC firms. These associates didn't like the job enough even with such a "high" salary.

Perhaps the current crop of TLS posters are more cut out for the job than historical entry level associates. My instinct suggests that is not the case though.

albanach
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby albanach » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:07 pm

alumniguy wrote:If you don't mind inconsistency and the lack of ability to plan a life outside of work on a consistent basis, you shouldn't have a problem then at least with the inconsistency part. I found that talking to my fellow associates, that the unpredictability is the biggest issue that juniors face.


Out of curiosity, how much of the need this done now type of work can be done at home. For example, if you're visiting family at Christmas and the Blackberry goes beep, are you more likely to be stuck in your hotel room working or more likely to be getting on a plane to NY?

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rayiner
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Re: WHY BIGLAW SUCKS.

Postby rayiner » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:12 pm

alumniguy wrote:If you don't mind inconsistency and the lack of ability to plan a life outside of work on a consistent basis, you shouldn't have a problem then at least with the inconsistency part. I found that talking to my fellow associates, that the unpredictability is the biggest issue that juniors face.

In any event, the point of my post was really just to shed some light on the difficulties of actually being a junior associate. I am continually surprised at how 0Ls/1Ls/2Ls/SAs/3Ls just don't understand the severe work/life balance issues at play. It is one thing to say that unpredictability/inconsistency are not that big of a deal over the course of 3 month summer (or even a 1-2 year gig), but when you are looking 10+ years of answering to someone else at anytime of the day or night it becomes difficult. Is it manageable, I would suggest yes (otherwise I wouldn't be here still). But the attrition numbers simply don't lie. I'm not even through my 3rd year yet and my class year is well below 50%. Sure some of these associates went to other biglaw firms, but the majority that I know left the NYC market completely and/or headed to smaller NYC firms. These associates didn't like the job enough even with such a "high" salary.

Perhaps the current crop of TLS posters are more cut out for the job than historical entry level associates. My instinct suggests that is not the case though.


I definitely understand the dangers of not knowing full-well what you're getting into. I just suppose that my impression from TLS was that NYC biglawers work banker hours where they're chronically sleep-deprived. The only associates I see that consistently look like that are the ones that have young kids. Most people seem way more chipper than the folks at the startup I worked at.

Maybe my classmates have a rosier view of what the work/life balance is going to be, who knows. The friends I have at school who are on the biglaw track came from finance/consulting, so I might have a skewed view of what people expect.




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