How bad is Big Law life?

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aegor

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by aegor » Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:35 pm

How hard is it to save while in BL? I have minimal student loans, do not live a flashy lifestyle (no interest in clubs/VIP tables/expensive anything except investment clothes), and would be doing BL to create a nest egg (I already have ~$100k saved; late 20s). But if for whatever reason the tax rate + lifestyle leave me with like $20k a year, the calculus changes.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:26 pm
Just to give this thread a reality check, I wanted to check in as a V30 associate in a transactional practice and say I bill maybe 1-2 hours on vacation, which has rarely ever been required but just because I thought it’d be good to help out, and partners wholly respect legitimate emergencies. I had an immediate family member die and was out 2 weeks, right after a vacation, and everyone was totally understanding, covered for me, and I billed 0.0 hours. Still got a market bonus that year.

Not to say it’s all roses, I certainly live in a state of stress, but just to put some data points out there that not everyone is totally inhumane.

Yes, I also think it's important to note that no one will (or even can) respect your boundaries if you don't create boundaries in the first place. If I am actually sick, like beyond a cold, I am gonna be out and/or slower to respond, depending on the situation. This hasn't happened yet, but if it does, I'll make it clear to my teams what I'm going to do and I will do it. The other side of the coin is just do your work as best you can, meet your deadlines, etc, and I think people come to trust you. If they are setting truly inhumane expectations for me, I may not meet those expectations. But a couple years in, I've only experienced very intense expectations, which were not exactly a surprise.

If I needed to have surgery ("elective" or not, frankly), I would take the time off to have the surgery and recover. I don't understand people suggesting one should do otherwise itt. Maybe their calculus is different because they intend to make partner. I don't, and maintaining a balance between doing good work and having some semblance of personal life/boundaries is very important to me. In fact the two are fairly dependent on one another.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:19 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:26 pm
Just to give this thread a reality check, I wanted to check in as a V30 associate in a transactional practice and say I bill maybe 1-2 hours on vacation, which has rarely ever been required but just because I thought it’d be good to help out, and partners wholly respect legitimate emergencies. I had an immediate family member die and was out 2 weeks, right after a vacation, and everyone was totally understanding, covered for me, and I billed 0.0 hours. Still got a market bonus that year.

Not to say it’s all roses, I certainly live in a state of stress, but just to put some data points out there that not everyone is totally inhumane.

Yes, I also think it's important to note that no one will (or even can) respect your boundaries if you don't create boundaries in the first place. If I am actually sick, like beyond a cold, I am gonna be out and/or slower to respond, depending on the situation. This hasn't happened yet, but if it does, I'll make it clear to my teams what I'm going to do and I will do it. The other side of the coin is just do your work as best you can, meet your deadlines, etc, and I think people come to trust you. If they are setting truly inhumane expectations for me, I may not meet those expectations. But a couple years in, I've only experienced very intense expectations, which were not exactly a surprise.

If I needed to have surgery ("elective" or not, frankly), I would take the time off to have the surgery and recover. I don't understand people suggesting one should do otherwise itt. Maybe their calculus is different because they intend to make partner. I don't, and maintaining a balance between doing good work and having some semblance of personal life/boundaries is very important to me. In fact the two are fairly dependent on one another.
As an incoming associate, I expect my life to be pretty stressful while I'm in biglaw. I expect to work a LOT, have plans canceled last minute, and have very limited free time. I expect high and "very intense" expectations. I know biglaw will be brutal, and I know that I can't and won't make a long-term career out of it.

What I don't expect is to work through a family member's funeral or to delay necessary medical care. If that is what is required not only to make partner but to even have a shot at lasting more than a year or two, then I guess I'll be pushed out pretty early on. I hope that isn't the case at my firm, because there are some sacrifices I am not willing to make for any job or any amount of money.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:40 pm

aegor wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:35 pm
How hard is it to save while in BL? I have minimal student loans, do not live a flashy lifestyle (no interest in clubs/VIP tables/expensive anything except investment clothes), and would be doing BL to create a nest egg (I already have ~$100k saved; late 20s). But if for whatever reason the tax rate + lifestyle leave me with like $20k a year, the calculus changes.
With little/no debt, making $200k in NYC, it's realistic to max out your 401(k) and then save another $4-5k a month on top of that. $6k is probably the ceiling (by then you're living with roommates in the outer boroughs which personally I wouldn't recommend). Obviously most people do a lot worse than that because of loan payments and lifestyle creep. Texans can do a fair bit better.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by snehpets » Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:49 pm

Re: taking off for surgery, I didn't mean to suggest that OP (of that topic) shouldn't get the surgery, I just read their post to be saying that they could get it now but are intentionally putting it off until after they start so that they can get a couple of days off from work soon after starting, which I didn't think would be a great look at some firms.

I also (obviously) think that in general people should take off to the extent that they have to do so for medical reasons, I just think there's a difference between taking off because you're having major surgery where you have to stay in the hospital for days afterwards and are not competent to work even if you wanted to versus taking off the whole day because you're getting a mole removed in the morning, or taking off multiple "sick" days (not vacation days) so you can get a nose job or whatever. Similarly, I think there's a difference between having the stomach flu and spending the whole day vomiting versus not feeling in the mood to work because you have a slightly upset stomach.

Obviously if biglaw was a more humane place all of the above would be perceived as fair game for taking sick days, I just intended to convey that in my experience the reality is that it's usually not.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:07 pm

Big law is probably the worst job I ever had. So much of the job is everyone covering their ass. And then there is the “managing up” aspect. I don’t particularly care what a senior associate or partner thinks about anything. But I spend a ton of time managing their reactions to all kinds of issues. I’d be happy to just have them handle the issue rather than deal with a bunch of back seat driving. All of the bureaucracy and hierarchy takes a lot of the joy out of being a lawyer. But at the end of the day, your matters are not really your matters. You’re just an assistant to lawyers. I’ve been on matters where the team pretty much agrees the senior partner doesn’t know what they’re talking about and has a half baked idea based on a quarter of a fact. But rather than spend the time to try and convince them they are wrong, we just go with it. Of course, sometimes you do push back. But hierarchy pervades every little thing.

Also, I can’t really just say, no I’m not going to do that. Fuck off, do it your self. Which I want to do, all the time.

The day to day work is just whatever the person above you in the hierarchy doesn’t want to do. That’s what gets passed down to you. Your professional development is someone else’s leftovers.

And the people are just so demanding. I’ve been paid for my labor before, but never by a group of people who feel so entitled to my unquestioned obedience and availability. Big law is full of a bunch of very smart, very demanding, whiny babies. And they expect you to take it.

The money is pretty good though.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:23 pm

Yeah, I'm planning to quit in like six months, so I'm at the point where if I don't want to do something I just half ass the job and send it up.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:29 am

Another one of those small thing about biglaw that really grated on me was the double standard with respect to expectation of responsiveness. God forbid you didn't reply to a client's or partner's email instantly. It's a mortal sin. Because client service is the key to this job and nothing says client service like replying instantly to anything.

But when you email a partner with questions or for needed information - so you can then get the work product to the client - it's like waiting for a reply from Santa Clause to come back from the North Pole. Hours, days can go by, follow-ups get ignored, tumbleweeds start rolling down the hallway. It's absolutely maddening. It's not like I'm emailing you about my fantasy football team or to see if you want to grab drinks. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm emailing you about your client so I can get back to your client in that timely manner you expect from me! If the client had emailed the partner directly, they'd reply instantly. Sure, that reply would be copying me and telling them that I'll be getting back to them asap. But at least they would respond, acknowledge the email. When the client instead emails me directly and then I need to reach out to the partner for something, though? It disappears into the ether, lost in the void, as if they've created a rule in Outlook where all emails from associates bypass the inbox and go directly into the trash, or some folder that never gets checked along with conflict check emails. I can understand spending less time responding to me, not crafting the perfect email, but that just means it shouldn't take that long to respond since they write emails like a twelve year old ("thnx").

When I left biglaw I went in-house at an i-bank, where you would think things like time and courtesy would be in short supply. And yeah, some people weren't great about responding to me. But for the most part both my boss in legal and the business folks I dealt with, up to and including managing directors, were much better at being responsive. They understood if I needed something from them to advance a deal they were working on, getting me the information I needed as fast as they could would get that deal done faster. Which is not rocket science. But biglaw partners aren't rocket scientists, either.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by objctnyrhnr » Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:43 pm

AllyMcBail wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:28 pm
replevin123 wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 12:56 pm
Is the general consensus that if you are in lit, really liked law school and cases and thinking about the law that life will be somewhat bearable or ok in biglaw? Long term I'm thinking about government exit ops or even boutique post-biglaw before trying for government.
I don't think so. I liked law school, but I still hated by biglaw lit job. There were some fun parts, when I had open-ended research assignments (what kinds of arguments could we make if X/Y/or Z), but the job generally sucked because there was lots of doc review and otherwise tedious assignments, and there was the stress of always being on call. I think government is the way to go after you've made a little $$$ in biglaw for a few years.
Doc review and discovery nonsense is typically delegated to juniors under like midlevel supervision. This stuff is not fun. But in my experience, this is something that largely goes away by year four (maybe a bit later depending on the firm) simply because it does not make sense to charge a client 850/hour for something that could be done at like 550 an hour.

Once you largely get past that stuff, biglaw lit DOES become a lot more enjoyable due to its room for creativity and generally intellectually enjoyable activities...provided of course that you’re the type of person who enjoys that type of stuff which is a big “if.” You can probably shortcut your way to this world a bit with one or two fedclerk or prestigious state Supreme Court clerkships because you’ll jump in at a relatively higher billing rate and you’ll get the benefit of the doubt in your writing and legal analysis abilities.

So I think the people who disagree with the presumption you’re asking about are probably not in the group of people that partners trust to do mostly non discovery stuff, either because they don’t have enough years under their belt yet or something else (specific to either their firm/group or the group’s perception of their work product/writing/analytical abilities).

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:10 pm

Its really bad - I work for a private equity fund and routinely get emails from our lawyers significantly later than our bankers.

Particularly bad from finance/banking/credit attorneys - M&A is steadier streams of emails but not at as weird of hours.

cisscum

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by cisscum » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm

[*]68
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:29 am
Another one of those small thing about biglaw that really grated on me was the double standard with respect to expectation of responsiveness. God forbid you didn't reply to a client's or partner's email instantly. It's a mortal sin. Because client service is the key to this job and nothing says client service like replying instantly to anything.

But when you email a partner with questions or for needed information - so you can then get the work product to the client - it's like waiting for a reply from Santa Clause to come back from the North Pole. Hours, days can go by, follow-ups get ignored, tumbleweeds start rolling down the hallway. It's absolutely maddening. It's not like I'm emailing you about my fantasy football team or to see if you want to grab drinks. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm emailing you about your client so I can get back to your client in that timely manner you expect from me! If the client had emailed the partner directly, they'd reply instantly. Sure, that reply would be copying me and telling them that I'll be getting back to them asap. But at least they would respond, acknowledge the email. When the client instead emails me directly and then I need to reach out to the partner for something, though? It disappears into the ether, lost in the void, as if they've created a rule in Outlook where all emails from associates bypass the inbox and go directly into the trash, or some folder that never gets checked along with conflict check emails. I can understand spending less time responding to me, not crafting the perfect email, but that just means it shouldn't take that long to respond since they write emails like a twelve year old ("thnx").

When I left biglaw I went in-house at an i-bank, where you would think things like time and courtesy would be in short supply. And yeah, some people weren't great about responding to me. But for the most part both my boss in legal and the business folks I dealt with, up to and including managing directors, were much better at being responsive. They understood if I needed something from them to advance a deal they were working on, getting me the information I needed as fast as they could would get that deal done faster. Which is not rocket science. But biglaw partners aren't rocket scientists, either.
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:36 pm

cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm
[*]68
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:29 am
Another one of those small thing about biglaw that really grated on me was the double standard with respect to expectation of responsiveness. God forbid you didn't reply to a client's or partner's email instantly. It's a mortal sin. Because client service is the key to this job and nothing says client service like replying instantly to anything.

But when you email a partner with questions or for needed information - so you can then get the work product to the client - it's like waiting for a reply from Santa Clause to come back from the North Pole. Hours, days can go by, follow-ups get ignored, tumbleweeds start rolling down the hallway. It's absolutely maddening. It's not like I'm emailing you about my fantasy football team or to see if you want to grab drinks. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm emailing you about your client so I can get back to your client in that timely manner you expect from me! If the client had emailed the partner directly, they'd reply instantly. Sure, that reply would be copying me and telling them that I'll be getting back to them asap. But at least they would respond, acknowledge the email. When the client instead emails me directly and then I need to reach out to the partner for something, though? It disappears into the ether, lost in the void, as if they've created a rule in Outlook where all emails from associates bypass the inbox and go directly into the trash, or some folder that never gets checked along with conflict check emails. I can understand spending less time responding to me, not crafting the perfect email, but that just means it shouldn't take that long to respond since they write emails like a twelve year old ("thnx").

When I left biglaw I went in-house at an i-bank, where you would think things like time and courtesy would be in short supply. And yeah, some people weren't great about responding to me. But for the most part both my boss in legal and the business folks I dealt with, up to and including managing directors, were much better at being responsive. They understood if I needed something from them to advance a deal they were working on, getting me the information I needed as fast as they could would get that deal done faster. Which is not rocket science. But biglaw partners aren't rocket scientists, either.
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his
Takes a certain type of person to be in their early thirties and be ok with the dynamic of "you are not important" in a job that is as stressful and time consuming as big law. This is the fundamental aspect of big law that makes the job unsustainable and miserable.

JusticeSquee

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by JusticeSquee » Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:36 pm
cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:29 am
Another one of those small thing about biglaw that really grated on me was the double standard with respect to expectation of responsiveness. God forbid you didn't reply to a client's or partner's email instantly. It's a mortal sin. Because client service is the key to this job and nothing says client service like replying instantly to anything.

But when you email a partner with questions or for needed information - so you can then get the work product to the client - it's like waiting for a reply from Santa Clause to come back from the North Pole. Hours, days can go by, follow-ups get ignored, tumbleweeds start rolling down the hallway. It's absolutely maddening. It's not like I'm emailing you about my fantasy football team or to see if you want to grab drinks. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm emailing you about your client so I can get back to your client in that timely manner you expect from me! If the client had emailed the partner directly, they'd reply instantly. Sure, that reply would be copying me and telling them that I'll be getting back to them asap. But at least they would respond, acknowledge the email. When the client instead emails me directly and then I need to reach out to the partner for something, though? It disappears into the ether, lost in the void, as if they've created a rule in Outlook where all emails from associates bypass the inbox and go directly into the trash, or some folder that never gets checked along with conflict check emails. I can understand spending less time responding to me, not crafting the perfect email, but that just means it shouldn't take that long to respond since they write emails like a twelve year old ("thnx").

When I left biglaw I went in-house at an i-bank, where you would think things like time and courtesy would be in short supply. And yeah, some people weren't great about responding to me. But for the most part both my boss in legal and the business folks I dealt with, up to and including managing directors, were much better at being responsive. They understood if I needed something from them to advance a deal they were working on, getting me the information I needed as fast as they could would get that deal done faster. Which is not rocket science. But biglaw partners aren't rocket scientists, either.
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his
Takes a certain type of person to be in their early thirties and be ok with the dynamic of "you are not important" in a job that is as stressful and time consuming as big law. This is the fundamental aspect of big law that makes the job unsustainable and miserable.
This is a stupid take. Like, really stupid.

You (an associate) are not as important as a partner in a law firm. This is true of most organizations. If your ego can not handle that, maybe you just aren’t cut out for working in any organization. I wouldn’t expect a CEO/CFO of a publicly traded company to be as responsive as a mid-level employee, because the CEO/CFO is dealing with more shit and is more important to that company.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:36 pm
cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his
Takes a certain type of person to be in their early thirties and be ok with the dynamic of "you are not important" in a job that is as stressful and time consuming as big law. This is the fundamental aspect of big law that makes the job unsustainable and miserable.

Yeah, this 'pro tip' nicely encapsulates some of the poisonous ideology that informs the culture of big law. That's not even a criticism of the post, which accurately reflects the way many people think in biglaw. Imo the ability to detach from this culture, and to not buy into the way it values people solely according to their place in a predetermined hierarchy, is key to surviving in this job. Can't imagine getting wrapped up in this kind of stuff on top of my actual work.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:39 pm

JusticeSquee wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:36 pm
cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:29 am
Another one of those small thing about biglaw that really grated on me was the double standard with respect to expectation of responsiveness. God forbid you didn't reply to a client's or partner's email instantly. It's a mortal sin. Because client service is the key to this job and nothing says client service like replying instantly to anything.

But when you email a partner with questions or for needed information - so you can then get the work product to the client - it's like waiting for a reply from Santa Clause to come back from the North Pole. Hours, days can go by, follow-ups get ignored, tumbleweeds start rolling down the hallway. It's absolutely maddening. It's not like I'm emailing you about my fantasy football team or to see if you want to grab drinks. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm emailing you about your client so I can get back to your client in that timely manner you expect from me! If the client had emailed the partner directly, they'd reply instantly. Sure, that reply would be copying me and telling them that I'll be getting back to them asap. But at least they would respond, acknowledge the email. When the client instead emails me directly and then I need to reach out to the partner for something, though? It disappears into the ether, lost in the void, as if they've created a rule in Outlook where all emails from associates bypass the inbox and go directly into the trash, or some folder that never gets checked along with conflict check emails. I can understand spending less time responding to me, not crafting the perfect email, but that just means it shouldn't take that long to respond since they write emails like a twelve year old ("thnx").

When I left biglaw I went in-house at an i-bank, where you would think things like time and courtesy would be in short supply. And yeah, some people weren't great about responding to me. But for the most part both my boss in legal and the business folks I dealt with, up to and including managing directors, were much better at being responsive. They understood if I needed something from them to advance a deal they were working on, getting me the information I needed as fast as they could would get that deal done faster. Which is not rocket science. But biglaw partners aren't rocket scientists, either.
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his
Takes a certain type of person to be in their early thirties and be ok with the dynamic of "you are not important" in a job that is as stressful and time consuming as big law. This is the fundamental aspect of big law that makes the job unsustainable and miserable.
This is a stupid take. Like, really stupid.

You (an associate) are not as important as a partner in a law firm. This is true of most organizations. If your ego can not handle that, maybe you just aren’t cut out for working in any organization. I wouldn’t expect a CEO/CFO of a publicly traded company to be as responsive as a mid-level employee, because the CEO/CFO is dealing with more shit and is more important to that company.
I didn't write this post but I wrote one in agreement with it. The issue for me is not that associates are deemed less important than partners in the overall context of the firm. The issue is that one's value _to the firm_ is often conflated with one's value as a person. The obvious result is that people treat those below them poorly, and those above them well. Maybe cisscum's post did not mean to collapse the two and I misinterpreted it. But in my experience in the real world, people do often conflate the two.

cisscum

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by cisscum » Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:42 pm

Your value to the firm (i.e., the thing you're being paid for) is all that matters to the firm. Nobody cares about your value as a person (lol)

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by sms18 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:36 pm
cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm
[*]68
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:29 am
Another one of those small thing about biglaw that really grated on me was the double standard with respect to expectation of responsiveness. God forbid you didn't reply to a client's or partner's email instantly. It's a mortal sin. Because client service is the key to this job and nothing says client service like replying instantly to anything.

But when you email a partner with questions or for needed information - so you can then get the work product to the client - it's like waiting for a reply from Santa Clause to come back from the North Pole. Hours, days can go by, follow-ups get ignored, tumbleweeds start rolling down the hallway. It's absolutely maddening. It's not like I'm emailing you about my fantasy football team or to see if you want to grab drinks. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm emailing you about your client so I can get back to your client in that timely manner you expect from me! If the client had emailed the partner directly, they'd reply instantly. Sure, that reply would be copying me and telling them that I'll be getting back to them asap. But at least they would respond, acknowledge the email. When the client instead emails me directly and then I need to reach out to the partner for something, though? It disappears into the ether, lost in the void, as if they've created a rule in Outlook where all emails from associates bypass the inbox and go directly into the trash, or some folder that never gets checked along with conflict check emails. I can understand spending less time responding to me, not crafting the perfect email, but that just means it shouldn't take that long to respond since they write emails like a twelve year old ("thnx").

When I left biglaw I went in-house at an i-bank, where you would think things like time and courtesy would be in short supply. And yeah, some people weren't great about responding to me. But for the most part both my boss in legal and the business folks I dealt with, up to and including managing directors, were much better at being responsive. They understood if I needed something from them to advance a deal they were working on, getting me the information I needed as fast as they could would get that deal done faster. Which is not rocket science. But biglaw partners aren't rocket scientists, either.
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his
Takes a certain type of person to be in their early thirties and be ok with the dynamic of "you are not important" in a job that is as stressful and time consuming as big law. This is the fundamental aspect of big law that makes the job unsustainable and miserable.
Wait, you're in your early thirties and you still think you're "special"? (regardless of what your mommy told you?) If so, biglaw (let alone any corporate organization) is probably not the right place for you...

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:05 pm

cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:42 pm
Your value to the firm (i.e., the thing you're being paid for) is all that matters to the firm. Nobody cares about your value as a person (lol)

Yes, lol. I mean, we agree on this point. But there are various careers, jobs, industries, etc., where people do value their colleagues in ways that go beyond the specific dollar amount of revenue they are capable of generating. And that can make for a somewhat less stressful working environment. I don't feel like this is an especially controversial or original point...but I don't know. I'm not crusading to change the culture of biglaw. I was just stating that detaching from that culture has been beneficial to me.

Anonymous User
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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:11 pm

I'm the one who started this tangent and it has nothing to do with my sense of importance, or my ego, or my feelings, or anything like that. It has everything to do with partners being bad and inefficient managers. If the client emailed them to ask a question, they'd drop what they were doing to respond. If the client emailed me and I didn't drop everything to respond, they'd get pissed at me. But if I had to ask the partner something so that we can complete that same task of responding to/getting work product to the client, they ignore me for long stretches because they don't grok that the only reason I'm emailing is on behalf of the client. It creates inefficiencies and has ripple effects.

I'm at the point in my career where I'm the client now and I can tell when this happens. If I email the partner about something directly, I get a quick response. If I email the associate and they know the answer, I get a quick response. If I email the associate and it takes a while to get a response, with the body of the eventual email referencing some piece of information or some attached document that came from the partner ("I wasn't part of the negotiation of that deal but Partner X told me the intention of that provision was . . . "), it usually takes at least a full day and often some follow-up from me.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:13 pm

JusticeSquee wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:24 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:36 pm
cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:29 am
Another one of those small thing about biglaw that really grated on me was the double standard with respect to expectation of responsiveness. God forbid you didn't reply to a client's or partner's email instantly. It's a mortal sin. Because client service is the key to this job and nothing says client service like replying instantly to anything.

But when you email a partner with questions or for needed information - so you can then get the work product to the client - it's like waiting for a reply from Santa Clause to come back from the North Pole. Hours, days can go by, follow-ups get ignored, tumbleweeds start rolling down the hallway. It's absolutely maddening. It's not like I'm emailing you about my fantasy football team or to see if you want to grab drinks. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm emailing you about your client so I can get back to your client in that timely manner you expect from me! If the client had emailed the partner directly, they'd reply instantly. Sure, that reply would be copying me and telling them that I'll be getting back to them asap. But at least they would respond, acknowledge the email. When the client instead emails me directly and then I need to reach out to the partner for something, though? It disappears into the ether, lost in the void, as if they've created a rule in Outlook where all emails from associates bypass the inbox and go directly into the trash, or some folder that never gets checked along with conflict check emails. I can understand spending less time responding to me, not crafting the perfect email, but that just means it shouldn't take that long to respond since they write emails like a twelve year old ("thnx").

When I left biglaw I went in-house at an i-bank, where you would think things like time and courtesy would be in short supply. And yeah, some people weren't great about responding to me. But for the most part both my boss in legal and the business folks I dealt with, up to and including managing directors, were much better at being responsive. They understood if I needed something from them to advance a deal they were working on, getting me the information I needed as fast as they could would get that deal done faster. Which is not rocket science. But biglaw partners aren't rocket scientists, either.
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his
Takes a certain type of person to be in their early thirties and be ok with the dynamic of "you are not important" in a job that is as stressful and time consuming as big law. This is the fundamental aspect of big law that makes the job unsustainable and miserable.
This is a stupid take. Like, really stupid.

You (an associate) are not as important as a partner in a law firm. This is true of most organizations. If your ego can not handle that, maybe you just aren’t cut out for working in any organization. I wouldn’t expect a CEO/CFO of a publicly traded company to be as responsive as a mid-level employee, because the CEO/CFO is dealing with more shit and is more important to that company.
I mean, no shit? The post above said "you are not important". Well, good luck completing this deal when I walk out the door then. You see partner time become far less important real quick. It's one thing to know you're not important, its another thing to treat your time like a commodity in an unbelievably high stress, high hours job that pays shit considering how much of your life is consumed by it. Also, comparing a partner at your average big law firm to the demands of a CEO/CFO is utterly ridiculous.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:33 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:36 pm
cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his
Takes a certain type of person to be in their early thirties and be ok with the dynamic of "you are not important" in a job that is as stressful and time consuming as big law. This is the fundamental aspect of big law that makes the job unsustainable and miserable.

Yeah, this 'pro tip' nicely encapsulates some of the poisonous ideology that informs the culture of big law. That's not even a criticism of the post, which accurately reflects the way many people think in biglaw. Imo the ability to detach from this culture, and to not buy into the way it values people solely according to their place in a predetermined hierarchy, is key to surviving in this job. Can't imagine getting wrapped up in this kind of stuff on top of my actual work.
Absolutely, I'm not even commenting on the merits of what was said, I agree with it completely, which is a reason why i find big law firms to be unsustainable and miserable. Not sure why people are saying its a stupid take. I mean, I guess plenty of people want to work soulless corporate jobs where their time isn't valued at all. If anything the last few years have shown me there is more to life than this bullshit and plenty of my friends work 45-50 hours a week, make decent money and have lives, so just pretty weird to see the hostile response to saying that kind of life is wack.

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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:20 pm

sms18 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:49 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:36 pm
cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm
[*]68
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:29 am
Another one of those small thing about biglaw that really grated on me was the double standard with respect to expectation of responsiveness. God forbid you didn't reply to a client's or partner's email instantly. It's a mortal sin. Because client service is the key to this job and nothing says client service like replying instantly to anything.

But when you email a partner with questions or for needed information - so you can then get the work product to the client - it's like waiting for a reply from Santa Clause to come back from the North Pole. Hours, days can go by, follow-ups get ignored, tumbleweeds start rolling down the hallway. It's absolutely maddening. It's not like I'm emailing you about my fantasy football team or to see if you want to grab drinks. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm emailing you about your client so I can get back to your client in that timely manner you expect from me! If the client had emailed the partner directly, they'd reply instantly. Sure, that reply would be copying me and telling them that I'll be getting back to them asap. But at least they would respond, acknowledge the email. When the client instead emails me directly and then I need to reach out to the partner for something, though? It disappears into the ether, lost in the void, as if they've created a rule in Outlook where all emails from associates bypass the inbox and go directly into the trash, or some folder that never gets checked along with conflict check emails. I can understand spending less time responding to me, not crafting the perfect email, but that just means it shouldn't take that long to respond since they write emails like a twelve year old ("thnx").

When I left biglaw I went in-house at an i-bank, where you would think things like time and courtesy would be in short supply. And yeah, some people weren't great about responding to me. But for the most part both my boss in legal and the business folks I dealt with, up to and including managing directors, were much better at being responsive. They understood if I needed something from them to advance a deal they were working on, getting me the information I needed as fast as they could would get that deal done faster. Which is not rocket science. But biglaw partners aren't rocket scientists, either.
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his
Takes a certain type of person to be in their early thirties and be ok with the dynamic of "you are not important" in a job that is as stressful and time consuming as big law. This is the fundamental aspect of big law that makes the job unsustainable and miserable.
Wait, you're in your early thirties and you still think you're "special"? (regardless of what your mommy told you?) If so, biglaw (let alone any corporate organization) is probably not the right place for you...
Yea, being treated with respect and like my finite time on this planet isn't worthless is such a large thing to ask. I've worked outside of big law on the business side and no one treats people worse than I've seen people treated at law firms. Corporates that treat people similarly are known for being shitty places to work. I guess my bad for not wanting to continue working in these environments, fuck me right?

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:25 pm

Recent grad about to start biglaw. Re: partner's taking longer to get back to associate's emails. Is there something there about the billable hour, delay, letting the associate spend more time on a matter? While I was a summer I sat in on some client calls with partners. At times it seemed like they were drawing the conversation out or speaking unnecessarily slowly. It was a different experience from my prior job (before law school) where directors and managers in meetings were much more to the point (big tech).

sms18

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Posts: 48
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Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by sms18 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:20 pm
sms18 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:49 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:36 pm
cisscum wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm
[*]68
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:29 am
Another one of those small thing about biglaw that really grated on me was the double standard with respect to expectation of responsiveness. God forbid you didn't reply to a client's or partner's email instantly. It's a mortal sin. Because client service is the key to this job and nothing says client service like replying instantly to anything.

But when you email a partner with questions or for needed information - so you can then get the work product to the client - it's like waiting for a reply from Santa Clause to come back from the North Pole. Hours, days can go by, follow-ups get ignored, tumbleweeds start rolling down the hallway. It's absolutely maddening. It's not like I'm emailing you about my fantasy football team or to see if you want to grab drinks. I'm not doing this for my health. I'm emailing you about your client so I can get back to your client in that timely manner you expect from me! If the client had emailed the partner directly, they'd reply instantly. Sure, that reply would be copying me and telling them that I'll be getting back to them asap. But at least they would respond, acknowledge the email. When the client instead emails me directly and then I need to reach out to the partner for something, though? It disappears into the ether, lost in the void, as if they've created a rule in Outlook where all emails from associates bypass the inbox and go directly into the trash, or some folder that never gets checked along with conflict check emails. I can understand spending less time responding to me, not crafting the perfect email, but that just means it shouldn't take that long to respond since they write emails like a twelve year old ("thnx").

When I left biglaw I went in-house at an i-bank, where you would think things like time and courtesy would be in short supply. And yeah, some people weren't great about responding to me. But for the most part both my boss in legal and the business folks I dealt with, up to and including managing directors, were much better at being responsive. They understood if I needed something from them to advance a deal they were working on, getting me the information I needed as fast as they could would get that deal done faster. Which is not rocket science. But biglaw partners aren't rocket scientists, either.
Protip: the partner has way more stuff on his plate than you do. It's your job to manage his workload and follow up as necessary. You're not important and your time is less valuable than his
Takes a certain type of person to be in their early thirties and be ok with the dynamic of "you are not important" in a job that is as stressful and time consuming as big law. This is the fundamental aspect of big law that makes the job unsustainable and miserable.
Wait, you're in your early thirties and you still think you're "special"? (regardless of what your mommy told you?) If so, biglaw (let alone any corporate organization) is probably not the right place for you...
Yea, being treated with respect and like my finite time on this planet isn't worthless is such a large thing to ask. I've worked outside of big law on the business side and no one treats people worse than I've seen people treated at law firms. Corporates that treat people similarly are known for being shitty places to work. I guess my bad for not wanting to continue working in these environments, fuck me right?
A partner not responding to your email on a timely fashion (or not responding altogether) doesn't immediately translate into them treating you with "disrespect." As someone else mentioned on this thread ,a part of an associate's job is managing a partner's schedule and bringing things to his/her attention, whether it be knocking on his/her door or putting something on their calendar. A discussion on poor associate treatment in biglaw is definitely worth having, but your post (or someone else? can't tell because of anonymous posting, although no idea why this needs to be on an anonymous basis) where you vented about a partner not getting back to your email sounded a bit snow flakey to me.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How bad is Big Law life?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 4:25 pm
Recent grad about to start biglaw. Re: partner's taking longer to get back to associate's emails. Is there something there about the billable hour, delay, letting the associate spend more time on a matter? While I was a summer I sat in on some client calls with partners. At times it seemed like they were drawing the conversation out or speaking unnecessarily slowly. It was a different experience from my prior job (before law school) where directors and managers in meetings were much more to the point (big tech).
Your observation about dragging out calls is a good one - I have often gotten the same impression - but generally speaking you don’t get to bill for sitting around waiting for a partner to deign to respond. It’s possible you’ll bill more trying to find the answer yourself, but I haven’t really gotten the impression that that was a goal.

Re: the argument going on above about whether it’s unreasonable to expect partners to get back to you in a timely manner, I feel like I usually have a sense of whether a partner is being unresponsive because they’re super busy versus when they’re unresponsive because they are out to dinner or just otherwise don’t GAF about my time. What’s most frustrating is that the same partners who are often MIA and/or get irritated at people following up are often the same people who make everything a fire drill and freak out about how long it took to get something done. In the innumerable hours I have spent doing doc review, I’ve read a lot of emails from a lot of companies, and I’ve never seen an industry where people treat each other like they do in law. Not saying they don’t exist, and certainly there are terrible bosses everywhere, just saying law sucks and I wish had just tried to get a job at an investment bank instead of going to law school.

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