GFox345 wrote:Again, I am a PARALEGAL at a large firm, but I have no reason to think that Associates live in misery like so many people on this site like to assume is the natural condition of all associates. I have met several senior partners that work a lot, but they still have what appears to be a happy life with a loving family. The stress load varies with the course of a given matter. You are going to get a RADICALLY different estimation of quality of life out of an associate during a trial as opposed to other times.
As somebody who also works at a large firm, I can tell you that the associates I'm surrounded with are billing 2200 hours on average. To not do so would immediately take them out of contention for partner. Assuming that they're not fraudsters, that means they're averaging
55-60 hours worked/week in order to get to 43/week billable. Some weeks more, some weeks less. No, it's not averaging 80/week or 100/week (although I just talked to some associates in my group who billed 120+ the week of their trial, so 100/week isn't unheard of). Nothing that you've said puts any dent in my personal experience that the quality of life in biglaw is awful. Perhaps your firm is better than mine at those things?
I have made friends with several of these associates, and they all indicated that law school was one of the best decisions of their lives and that they would do it again if they could.
And I'm sure that a vast majority of lottery winners say that buying the winning ticket was one of the best decisions of their lives. Not to say that law school is a gamble like a lottery ticket, but you're getting a really frickin' rosy picture when you're talking to people who got the best outcome possible out of law school.
My point is that the natural position of a reasonable person is that of skepticism - not pessimism. Just like it is not safe to assume that you'll love BigLaw, it is equally unsound to assume that you will hate it.
This is unfettered crap. The balance fallacy is strong here. It's not unreasonable to assume that most people are going to dislike a job that is notorious for destroying any sense of work-life balance.
As far as the claim that the average T-14 graduate (that takes out roughly $160k after interest and fees) is starving in the street or utterly miserable, I have yet to see evidence to substantiate it.
Beat that strawman!! Who the hell is saying that you're going to be poor if you go to a T-14 and take out $160k? Who's saying that you're guaranteed to be miserable? All we're saying is that it's extraordinarily risky, and you will be tied to a pretty big anchor, no matter your outcome.
I am no longer sure that I understand what you're saying. In the same breath you say that the quality of life at BigLaw is awful and that most people are miserable, and yet you also claim that BigLaw is the best outcome possible out of Law School. Did you mean to suggest that getting BigLaw and happening to like it is the best outcome possible out of Law School? I don't understand how having an awful quality of life and no work-life balance is analogous to purchasing a winning lottery ticket.
I am aware of the fact that 100/week is not unheard of, but it is the exception and not the rule as a lot of posters here might have you believe. If you have the ability to work remotely 55/week average is a lot, but it's not like you're killing yourself. I have been averaging just over 50 hours a week for a year now with my highest point being 90/week and my lowest around 40. And I don't work weekends at all. That is completely doable, and there is no reason to assume that you will be miserable.
Still you are right that it is too strong of a claim to say that assuming that you'll be miserable is equally unreasonable as assuming that you'll love it. But it is still unreasonable. I have already addressed your point that BigLaw "destroys work-life balance." Again, I have been working the hours that you yourself admit are the average for an associate (although I have never crossed the 120 hour week mark, but this cannot be sustained for very long for obvious biological reasons), and I feel like I have a decent work-life balance. At the very least, the imposition on my life would be remedied by the fact that I would be making such an outrageous amount of money.
You say that no one is suggesting that you are going to be poor, but yet that it is "extraordinarily risky." How exactly is taking out $160k in debt for better than a coin flip's chance at a 160k + bonus salary in your FIRST year out "extraordinarily risky"? As I've said earlier, that is a better ROI and a better chance of a positive outcome than most investments I can think of. In fact, I think the chance at BigLaw is considerably better than a coin flip because 50% of the class going into BigLaw =/= 50% of people who try to get BigLaw get BigLaw. I have met MANY law students that go into Law School with absolutely no intention of touching Biglaw. I would say it's more like 70% of all candidates try for biglaw. So if 70% try and 50% get it, your success rate is more like 70% than 50%. So you're talking about a 70% likelihood of 160k + bonus a year your FIRST year out? As in, you stand to make in total earnings the entire sum of the debt that you took out in the FIRST year (an potentially more with bonus) AND you get solid 10% Salary raises year over year assuming you stay in? I know you can't pay every cent that you earn toward your debt, but what distorted world are you living in where this is an "extraordinarily risky" investment? You are outside of your mind if you think that most investments offer better chances of great outcomes than that. Or do you think that the act of investing is always "extraordinarily risky"?
I'll be the first to tell you: if you sit around your entire life and wait for a better investment opportunity than that to come around, chances are you will die waiting.