What really goes in in Big Law? (areas of practice)

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jbp15860

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What really goes in in Big Law? (areas of practice)

Postby jbp15860 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:44 am

I know Big Law seems to be the dream of most people, but I'm not sure I'm one of those people. I'm not saying I'm not, but I'm not completely clear on what it all entails, and I'm hoping y'all can help me, as it could help me make a tough decision when it comes time to choose a law school. That is, between U of H and UT (in Texas).

It seems to me that most Big Law jobs revolve around finance and/or business or some sort. Is that correct? It seems that many of the jobs require some background, or at least some great knowledge in business economics, corporate finances, etc... If that's the case, well, I know absolutely nothing about any of that and I don't think I really care to. I am pretty positive that I want to be a litigator, unless I find something really interesting about certain transactional work.

So, I guess what I'm asking is: what the hell do all the Big Law firms do? Is it all based around M&A for the most part, and stuff like that? What about real estate and copyright law? Is that more mid size? Any information or experience would be appreciate. Take the LSAT this September so I really need to think about whether or not it's even worth it to try and squeeze my way into UT.

RedPurpleBlue

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Re: What really goes in in Big Law? (areas of practice)

Postby RedPurpleBlue » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:15 pm

jbp15860 wrote:I know Big Law seems to be the dream of most people, but I'm not sure I'm one of those people. I'm not saying I'm not, but I'm not completely clear on what it all entails, and I'm hoping y'all can help me, as it could help me make a tough decision when it comes time to choose a law school. That is, between U of H and UT (in Texas).

It seems to me that most Big Law jobs revolve around finance and/or business or some sort. Is that correct? It seems that many of the jobs require some background, or at least some great knowledge in business economics, corporate finances, etc... If that's the case, well, I know absolutely nothing about any of that and I don't think I really care to. I am pretty positive that I want to be a litigator, unless I find something really interesting about certain transactional work.

So, I guess what I'm asking is: what the hell do all the Big Law firms do? Is it all based around M&A for the most part, and stuff like that? What about real estate and copyright law? Is that more mid size? Any information or experience would be appreciate. Take the LSAT this September so I really need to think about whether or not it's even worth it to try and squeeze my way into UT.


Big law jobs require no particular background or knowledge (minus patent work, which requires a STEM degree or substantial STEM coursework to sit the patent bar). Big law jobs can be doing legal work in taxation, labor and employment, intellectual property (patents, trademarks, and copyright), government investigations, regulatory fields, litigation of various types, etc. Of course, almost everything is business related, because all the major clients at firms are business entities. Some firms have huge M&A groups and everything else might as well be a support group, but a lot of firms have strong practices outside of M&A. There are big firms that do both real estate and copyright law. I'm not sure how big IP groups (and specifically copyright teams in those groups) are, but real estate groups are generally relatively decently sized (10-30 attorneys). Though, the real estate blends with the M&A group, the bigger the group will probably be. If it's a true real estate group, it's unlikely to be 80 attorneys.

What distinguishes the work from smaller firms? The clients are more prestigious/wealthy. The hours are longer. The pay is better. The work is generally more complex but your responsibility early on in your career is also generally much less. Many litigation associates spend 6+ years at a big law firm and never participate in a trial, let alone run one. Transnational folk spend a great deal of their team making sure commas didn't get misplaced in mindlessly boring documents. In general, it's almost universally considered a terrible experience. The only people who don't mind it are (1) unusually competitive people who will jump through hoops no matter how awful it is and just NEED to become a partner and (2) the people who just really like what they can do with the money and can tolerate the job. People spend a great deal of time looking for "tolerable" or "good" big law firms, because they just can't accept the reality that it's a terrible job. There will be exceptions to the norm: firms with low facetime requirements, partners/practice groups at specific firms that give real responsibility early on, etc. bu they are the exception and not the norm.

Squeezing your way into UT is almost definitely a waste of time if it means you are paying sticker. Even in-state, that's probably $200k. Go to a regional school on a huge scholarship and practice ad a small or mid-sized firm if you don't need the $200k/yr., high stress, crushing debt, and prestige.

jbp15860

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Re: What really goes in in Big Law? (areas of practice)

Postby jbp15860 » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:37 pm

RedPurpleBlue wrote:
jbp15860 wrote:I know Big Law seems to be the dream of most people, but I'm not sure I'm one of those people. I'm not saying I'm not, but I'm not completely clear on what it all entails, and I'm hoping y'all can help me, as it could help me make a tough decision when it comes time to choose a law school. That is, between U of H and UT (in Texas).

It seems to me that most Big Law jobs revolve around finance and/or business or some sort. Is that correct? It seems that many of the jobs require some background, or at least some great knowledge in business economics, corporate finances, etc... If that's the case, well, I know absolutely nothing about any of that and I don't think I really care to. I am pretty positive that I want to be a litigator, unless I find something really interesting about certain transactional work.

So, I guess what I'm asking is: what the hell do all the Big Law firms do? Is it all based around M&A for the most part, and stuff like that? What about real estate and copyright law? Is that more mid size? Any information or experience would be appreciate. Take the LSAT this September so I really need to think about whether or not it's even worth it to try and squeeze my way into UT.


Big law jobs require no particular background or knowledge (minus patent work, which requires a STEM degree or substantial STEM coursework to sit the patent bar). Big law jobs can be doing legal work in taxation, labor and employment, intellectual property (patents, trademarks, and copyright), government investigations, regulatory fields, litigation of various types, etc. Of course, almost everything is business related, because all the major clients at firms are business entities. Some firms have huge M&A groups and everything else might as well be a support group, but a lot of firms have strong practices outside of M&A. There are big firms that do both real estate and copyright law. I'm not sure how big IP groups (and specifically copyright teams in those groups) are, but real estate groups are generally relatively decently sized (10-30 attorneys). Though, the real estate blends with the M&A group, the bigger the group will probably be. If it's a true real estate group, it's unlikely to be 80 attorneys.

What distinguishes the work from smaller firms? The clients are more prestigious/wealthy. The hours are longer. The pay is better. The work is generally more complex but your responsibility early on in your career is also generally much less. Many litigation associates spend 6+ years at a big law firm and never participate in a trial, let alone run one. Transnational folk spend a great deal of their team making sure commas didn't get misplaced in mindlessly boring documents. In general, it's almost universally considered a terrible experience. The only people who don't mind it are (1) unusually competitive people who will jump through hoops no matter how awful it is and just NEED to become a partner and (2) the people who just really like what they can do with the money and can tolerate the job. People spend a great deal of time looking for "tolerable" or "good" big law firms, because they just can't accept the reality that it's a terrible job. There will be exceptions to the norm: firms with low facetime requirements, partners/practice groups at specific firms that give real responsibility early on, etc. bu they are the exception and not the norm.

Squeezing your way into UT is almost definitely a waste of time if it means you are paying sticker. Even in-state, that's probably $200k. Go to a regional school on a huge scholarship and practice ad a small or mid-sized firm if you don't need the $200k/yr., high stress, crushing debt, and prestige.


Thanks for the thorough response. That has been my plan up until now: go to UH since I want to practice in Houston, and I have housing in Houston, and UH is second only to UT in the Houston market. I don't think I would "squeeze" into UT. That was a bit of a mischaracterization on my part. But, I definitely don't have the GPA to get a significant scholarship. Also, I realize it's foolish to "pick" a path before law school, seeing as how I only have second hand knowledge of areas of practice, but as of right now, being a prosecutor with the DA seems particularly attractive at this point for various reasons. And students from UH regularly get those positions as long as they intern throughout law school and participate in mock trials and all that. The legal market in Houston is the fifth largest in the country and UH is well respected so I think that's the right choice. I was just wanting some insight into big law because it's basically the only reason to go to UT. That and federal clerkships, I guess, and I definitely don't want to do that. Though, the top 20% at UH regularly get Big Law positions in Houston, anyway. And as far as 200k a year. I don't really need that. BUt the DAs office starts at 65k and within five years every one who is still there is up over 100k and people who have been there close to or more than 10 years are all over 120k, at least from the data that is available online. So, there's that. Thanks, though, for the insight.

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mrs.miawallace

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Re: What really goes in in Big Law? (areas of practice)

Postby mrs.miawallace » Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:58 pm

I think right now if UH or UT are both doable (you need 168+ to get into UT for sure even with strong grades), always go to the better-ranking law school if you can afford to (40% scholarship etc) than full ride, opens more doors, not just big law. there are other desirable law-related jobs other than big law that looks at your resume.



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