Am I already burning out?

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Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:38 pm

Second year at AM Law 50 firm in a litigation practice.

Beginning to feel burned out. Although it comes in waves, more and more I feel exhausted and mentally fatigued. I have trouble feeling motivated and am struggling to keep going. I'm starting to worry that I can't do this.

Thing is, my group is about as humane as it gets. Rarely work weekends/nights, and almost never have fire drills. I also get a fair amount of substantive work. I can't imagine many jobs being much better (I also need the money). FWIW, I hit 2100 hours last year and on a similar pace this year.

Questions: Am I just being whinny? What do you guys do to get through patches like this?

Additional facts: I have two little kids, so I don't have much down-time even outside of work.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:03 pm

Biglaw is absolutely miserable with kids IMO, and WFH has only made it worse. Once I had my first I found that even a 200-hour month was far more exhausting than a 300-hour month without kids. The only ways I've seen people with kids succeed are (1) have a spouse that does 90% of the childcare and is completely understanding of your need to work during mealtime, bedtime, etc., or (2) get a significant amount of help at home, like a nanny for 8-6 plus a grandparent for evenings/weekends.

sparty99

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by sparty99 » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:38 pm
Second year at AM Law 50 firm in a litigation practice.

Beginning to feel burned out. Although it comes in waves, more and more I feel exhausted and mentally fatigued. I have trouble feeling motivated and am struggling to keep going. I'm starting to worry that I can't do this.

Thing is, my group is about as humane as it gets. Rarely work weekends/nights, and almost never have fire drills. I also get a fair amount of substantive work. I can't imagine many jobs being much better (I also need the money). FWIW, I hit 2100 hours last year and on a similar pace this year.

Questions: Am I just being whinny? What do you guys do to get through patches like this?

Additional facts: I have two little kids, so I don't have much down-time even outside of work.
Yes, you are being whining. Until you are out or close to out of debt, you don't leave. You ain't thinking big picture.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:03 pm
Biglaw is absolutely miserable with kids IMO, and WFH has only made it worse. Once I had my first I found that even a 200-hour month was far more exhausting than a 300-hour month without kids. The only ways I've seen people with kids succeed are (1) have a spouse that does 90% of the childcare and is completely understanding of your need to work during mealtime, bedtime, etc., or (2) get a significant amount of help at home, like a nanny for 8-6 plus a grandparent for evenings/weekends.
Echo this 100%. I’m in biglaw with young children and it’s hard to overstate how difficult it is (despite that I love seeing my kids more). It’s just not something that can be appreciated until you have your own kids.

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TheBlueDevil

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by TheBlueDevil » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:22 pm

sparty99 wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:06 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:38 pm
Second year at AM Law 50 firm in a litigation practice.

Beginning to feel burned out. Although it comes in waves, more and more I feel exhausted and mentally fatigued. I have trouble feeling motivated and am struggling to keep going. I'm starting to worry that I can't do this.

Thing is, my group is about as humane as it gets. Rarely work weekends/nights, and almost never have fire drills. I also get a fair amount of substantive work. I can't imagine many jobs being much better (I also need the money). FWIW, I hit 2100 hours last year and on a similar pace this year.

Questions: Am I just being whinny? What do you guys do to get through patches like this?

Additional facts: I have two little kids, so I don't have much down-time even outside of work.
Yes, you are being whining. Until you are out or close to out of debt, you don't leave. You ain't thinking big picture.
Unless I'm missing something, OP didn't mention anything about being in debt?

Either way, plenty of people have been able to manage student loans and enjoy professionally and financially successful (and, more importantly, happy) lives without big law. Obviously, OP shouldn't just up and quit without a plan, but mental health and happiness matter, and we all have different preferences and priorities in life. If OP might be happier outside of big law, he or she should explore other options. (And that exploration always starts with a realization of unhappiness, which admittedly might come off as whiny.)
Last edited by TheBlueDevil on Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Excellent117

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Excellent117 » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:19 pm
Echo this 100%. I’m in biglaw with young children and it’s hard to overstate how difficult it is (despite that I love seeing my kids more). It’s just not something that can be appreciated until you have your own kids.
I disagree with this sentiment completely. WFH has made being in big law with kids infinitely better, at least for me.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by JusticeChuckleNutz » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:36 pm

TheBlueDevil wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:22 pm
sparty99 wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:06 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:38 pm
Second year at AM Law 50 firm in a litigation practice.

Beginning to feel burned out. Although it comes in waves, more and more I feel exhausted and mentally fatigued. I have trouble feeling motivated and am struggling to keep going. I'm starting to worry that I can't do this.

Thing is, my group is about as humane as it gets. Rarely work weekends/nights, and almost never have fire drills. I also get a fair amount of substantive work. I can't imagine many jobs being much better (I also need the money). FWIW, I hit 2100 hours last year and on a similar pace this year.

Questions: Am I just being whinny? What do you guys do to get through patches like this?

Additional facts: I have two little kids, so I don't have much down-time even outside of work.
Yes, you are being whining. Until you are out or close to out of debt, you don't leave. You ain't thinking big picture.
Unless I'm missing something, OP didn't mention anything about being in debt?

Either way, plenty of people have been able to manage student loans and enjoy professionally and financially successful (and, more importantly, happy) lives without big law. Obviously, OP shouldn't just up and quit without a plan, but mental health and happiness matter, and we all have different preferences and priorities in life. If OP thinks he might be happier outside of big law, he or she should explore other options. (And that exploration always starts with a realization of unhappiness, which admittedly might come off as whiny.)
Yeah, I don't know what this poster is talking about. OP didn't mention that debt and loans are factoring into this at all.

OP -- I feel you. Same year and level of firm and definitely starting to feel burnt out. Experiencing the same issues as you in terms of feeling mentally fatigued and just a lack of motivation. I think I am generally coming to the realization that I value work-life balance much more than I anticipated prior to starting at my firm. I'also notice I'm starting to feel serious resentment towards my job as it continues to intrude into all aspects of my life. It has put serious strains on my relationships -- I don't have kids but can't imagine it would be easy to navigate considering the obligations. You're not being whiny considering how much bandwidth the job demands

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by ConfusedNYer » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:42 pm

Not all hours are created equally, so even though you may not feel like you are billing a lot compared to your peers the hours can still be equally or more draining. I find a 40 hour week of just researching, drafting and revising briefs everyday all day as draining if not more so than a 50+ hour week were I am jumping between a lot of discrete tasks, on a lot of calls, etc.

Others may feel differently, but I honestly think the Big Law norm 2000-2100 hour honest billed annual year is really only sustainable long term for a minority of lawyers (although a certain subset can more effectively coexist with the long-term negative impacts from the lifestyle). That fact kind of underpins the up or out big law model and I don't think there's any issue with finding even the baseline lifestyle unsustainable after only a couple years.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:01 pm

OP here. Thanks all for the advice/sentiment.

Although I didn't mention loans specifically, the money certainly plays a role here. We have a mortgage, preschool, preexisting debt, etc., all of which is more manageable (obviously) with a biglaw salary.

As to kids, WFH is both a blessing and a curse. I love how much more of them I see, but the blurred lines are difficult, both in terms of work intruding and the kids thinking dad is/should be available non-stop (and when I inform them that I'm not the look on their faces).

How are others getting through it? Is it really deal with it or move in-house/to a smaller firm? I worry that if I change up my employment I'll still have these problems, if not worse, and just get paid less. And again, I actually enjoy the people I work with and have it pretty good. Is there a way to re-charge while going, or a different perspective that helps?

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Anonymous User
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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:10 pm

Has it always been like this, or is it recent? I’m in litigation and I’m on two big matters that are dragging now for multiple years. One of them I like; another I just never really clicked with the team or felt strong about my role in the case, and so every time I have to focus on it I feel worse. Do you think it’s related to your docket/partners? If so, maybe worth trying to change that. There are both hard and soft ways to get off of a case or avoid a partner, and they’re worth trying if they’ll improve your life (even if they risk damaging your long term prospects).

Also ignore the guy who said you’re being whiny; it’s your life and there are plenty of jobs that pay well enough to sustain you and your family that aren’t biglaw. I’d probably stick around through year-end bonus time - which is a long time from now! - but leaving in early 2022 is not a dumb decision if you really can’t take it mentally.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Barrred » Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:01 pm
Is there a way to re-charge while going, or a different perspective that helps?
A couple strategies to consider, in no particular order: (1) try to manage your workload so that you get closer to 1950, or whatever your firm's minimum hours threshold is (this is easier if you're at a free market firm); (2) plan a vacation for a couple months from now, and tell all of your teams well in advance, this will give you something for you and your family to look forward to; (3) nerd out on personal finance a bit, so that you really understand and appreciate how much the biglaw salary is doing for your family's future (optimizing where every dollar of your paycheck is going, and seeing your debt shrink/investments increase can be a fun game); (4) if you're really hurting, set a date in the future at which you'll seriously consider leaving the firm, and then don't let yourself think about it until then (knowing that there is a potential end in sight, but that you arent going to think about it now, is oddly comforting);

ETA another: (5) try to gradually replace some billable work with pro bono work (i.e., don't just add extra pro bono work on top of your 2100 annualized hours of billable work). Pro bono hours are a lot less taxing in my experience, and there is no reason not to do the maximum amount of pro bono that your firm will give you billable credit for.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by sparty99 » Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:47 pm

JusticeChuckleNutz wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:36 pm
TheBlueDevil wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:22 pm
sparty99 wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:06 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:38 pm
Second year at AM Law 50 firm in a litigation practice.

Beginning to feel burned out. Although it comes in waves, more and more I feel exhausted and mentally fatigued. I have trouble feeling motivated and am struggling to keep going. I'm starting to worry that I can't do this.

Thing is, my group is about as humane as it gets. Rarely work weekends/nights, and almost never have fire drills. I also get a fair amount of substantive work. I can't imagine many jobs being much better (I also need the money). FWIW, I hit 2100 hours last year and on a similar pace this year.

Questions: Am I just being whinny? What do you guys do to get through patches like this?

Additional facts: I have two little kids, so I don't have much down-time even outside of work.
Yes, you are being whining. Until you are out or close to out of debt, you don't leave. You ain't thinking big picture.
Unless I'm missing something, OP didn't mention anything about being in debt?

Either way, plenty of people have been able to manage student loans and enjoy professionally and financially successful (and, more importantly, happy) lives without big law. Obviously, OP shouldn't just up and quit without a plan, but mental health and happiness matter, and we all have different preferences and priorities in life. If OP thinks he might be happier outside of big law, he or she should explore other options. (And that exploration always starts with a realization of unhappiness, which admittedly might come off as whiny.)
Yeah, I don't know what this poster is talking about. OP didn't mention that debt and loans are factoring into this at all.

OP -- I feel you. Same year and level of firm and definitely starting to feel burnt out. Experiencing the same issues as you in terms of feeling mentally fatigued and just a lack of motivation. I think I am generally coming to the realization that I value work-life balance much more than I anticipated prior to starting at my firm. I'also notice I'm starting to feel serious resentment towards my job as it continues to intrude into all aspects of my life. It has put serious strains on my relationships -- I don't have kids but can't imagine it would be easy to navigate considering the obligations. You're not being whiny considering how much bandwidth the job demands
Obviously they said they need the job for the money, so clearly they have debt. I swear y'all be trying me!

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:10 pm
Has it always been like this, or is it recent? I’m in litigation and I’m on two big matters that are dragging now for multiple years. One of them I like; another I just never really clicked with the team or felt strong about my role in the case, and so every time I have to focus on it I feel worse. Do you think it’s related to your docket/partners? If so, maybe worth trying to change that. There are both hard and soft ways to get off of a case or avoid a partner, and they’re worth trying if they’ll improve your life (even if they risk damaging your long term prospects).

Also ignore the guy who said you’re being whiny; it’s your life and there are plenty of jobs that pay well enough to sustain you and your family that aren’t biglaw. I’d probably stick around through year-end bonus time - which is a long time from now! - but leaving in early 2022 is not a dumb decision if you really can’t take it mentally.
OP here.

This is a really good point. I’m currently on one case I really don’t like and have been for more than a year, and another that though I like, has had me on a doc massive doc review project for the past 3 weeks. Maybe this feeling will subside when workflow/matters shift.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:27 pm

Barrred wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:17 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:01 pm
Is there a way to re-charge while going, or a different perspective that helps?
A couple strategies to consider, in no particular order: (1) try to manage your workload so that you get closer to 1950, or whatever your firm's minimum hours threshold is (this is easier if you're at a free market firm); (2) plan a vacation for a couple months from now, and tell all of your teams well in advance, this will give you something for you and your family to look forward to; (3) nerd out on personal finance a bit, so that you really understand and appreciate how much the biglaw salary is doing for your family's future (optimizing where every dollar of your paycheck is going, and seeing your debt shrink/investments increase can be a fun game); (4) if you're really hurting, set a date in the future at which you'll seriously consider leaving the firm, and then don't let yourself think about it until then (knowing that there is a potential end in sight, but that you arent going to think about it now, is oddly comforting);

ETA another: (5) try to gradually replace some billable work with pro bono work (i.e., don't just add extra pro bono work on top of your 2100 annualized hours of billable work). Pro bono hours are a lot less taxing in my experience, and there is no reason not to do the maximum amount of pro bono that your firm will give you billable credit for.
These are great, thank you!

Side question: how much notice should I give if it’s a sizable vacation?

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Barrred » Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:27 pm
Side question: how much notice should I give if it’s a sizable vacation?
I'd say that it depends mostly on how busy your matters are, and how easily your teams can cover for you. Personally, if I wanted to take 10 days off, and I didn't anticipate anything going crazy during that time in my matters, I'd probably give my teams 2 months notice (starting with asking the other associates if they can cover for you, and then approaching the senior associates/partners with a coverage plan). If you're in a slow period on your matters, I think you could get away with just a few weeks notice, it all depends.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:01 pm
How are others getting through it? Is it really deal with it or move in-house/to a smaller firm? I worry that if I change up my employment I'll still have these problems, if not worse, and just get paid less.
I did move to a smaller firm (primarily because I was getting more senior and didn’t want to wait too long and be left with very limited lateral options), and it is in many ways just as bad as my biglaw firm, except that I’m getting paid less and have worse benefits. My smaller firm isn’t known as a lifestyle firm but it’s also not known as a sweatshop, so I did expect more of a trade off for the money I was giving up. Instead, my hours are about the same and I still work a lot of nights and weekends. One improvement is that the new firm doesn’t have outright sadists like my old firm did, but overall I’m pretty frustrated.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by jotarokujo » Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:20 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:01 pm
How are others getting through it? Is it really deal with it or move in-house/to a smaller firm? I worry that if I change up my employment I'll still have these problems, if not worse, and just get paid less.
I did move to a smaller firm (primarily because I was getting more senior and didn’t want to wait too long and be left with very limited lateral options), and it is in many ways just as bad as my biglaw firm, except that I’m getting paid less and have worse benefits. My smaller firm isn’t known as a lifestyle firm but it’s also not known as a sweatshop, so I did expect more of a trade off for the money I was giving up. Instead, my hours are about the same and I still work a lot of nights and weekends. One improvement is that the new firm doesn’t have outright sadists like my old firm did, but overall I’m pretty frustrated.
wow that's unlucky. mind sharing roughly your hours per week on average? is the predictability better at least?

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target_corp

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by target_corp » Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:20 pm
I did move to a smaller firm (primarily because I was getting more senior and didn’t want to wait too long and be left with very limited lateral options), and it is in many ways just as bad as my biglaw firm, except that I’m getting paid less and have worse benefits. My smaller firm isn’t known as a lifestyle firm but it’s also not known as a sweatshop, so I did expect more of a trade off for the money I was giving up. Instead, my hours are about the same and I still work a lot of nights and weekends. One improvement is that the new firm doesn’t have outright sadists like my old firm did, but overall I’m pretty frustrated.
This is what irritates me about people focusing on "biglaw" as a distinct problem vs. law as a whole. The creep of work expanding to 24/7 is real everywhere. Your experience is not any different than what I've experienced and heard from others.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 08, 2021 11:37 am

jotarokujo wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:49 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:20 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:01 pm
How are others getting through it? Is it really deal with it or move in-house/to a smaller firm? I worry that if I change up my employment I'll still have these problems, if not worse, and just get paid less.
I did move to a smaller firm (primarily because I was getting more senior and didn’t want to wait too long and be left with very limited lateral options), and it is in many ways just as bad as my biglaw firm, except that I’m getting paid less and have worse benefits. My smaller firm isn’t known as a lifestyle firm but it’s also not known as a sweatshop, so I did expect more of a trade off for the money I was giving up. Instead, my hours are about the same and I still work a lot of nights and weekends. One improvement is that the new firm doesn’t have outright sadists like my old firm did, but overall I’m pretty frustrated.
wow that's unlucky. mind sharing roughly your hours per week on average? is the predictability better at least?
I don’t keep a very close eye on my weekly hours but I’ll probably end up somewhere between 2100 and 2200 this year, which is not peak biglaw misery hours level, but it’s also definitely not a 9-6 if you’re billing honestly and you’re not a machine who can bill 100% of their in-office time.

The predictability is an interesting question. I think it actually balances out to a similar level of (un)predictability - we don’t have the client-driven fire drills that result in massive urgent doc reviews or drafting sessions or whatever because we just don’t have enough attorney availability to take those kinds of cases in the first place, but representing individuals (which is a lot of what we do) brings its own issues - e.g., you get engaged to represent an individual that the DOJ is insisting on interviewing next week, or you wake up to discover that your client got arrested this morning. Plus, because I’m often the only associated staffed to a matter, there’s very little ability to do the kind of trading off of fire drills that you can do in biglaw with a larger team - if I don’t do the task, it’s not going to get done.

A related issue is that I feel a lot more at the mercy of the partner’s whims. In such a small environment it’s a lot riskier to piss them off by pushing back on unreasonable/inconsiderate demands. COVID has made this noticeably worse because some of the partners have no lives and thus no appreciation of boundaries and the fact that, while perhaps weekends and weekdays are all the same to them, I don’t get those weekends of non-urgent calls and emails back, and I’m still going to have to bill my regular hours during the week. I felt a lot more comfortable being a little flakier about those kinds of requests when I was just one associate in a sea of others that the (hundreds of) partners barely bothered to tell apart.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 08, 2021 11:51 am

Biglaw transactional associate here in a similar boat. Billed a boatload of hours during the last few months of 2020 and still feeling burnt out/unmotivated from this, even though 2021 has been fairly light so far and I've managed to take a vacation. Currently plotting my exit to in-house/government, where I'd be able to unplug from work during nights/weekends (and have time to devote to a side hustle as well). Definitely would avoid another law firm.

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 11:37 am
jotarokujo wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:49 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:20 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 4:01 pm
How are others getting through it? Is it really deal with it or move in-house/to a smaller firm? I worry that if I change up my employment I'll still have these problems, if not worse, and just get paid less.
I did move to a smaller firm (primarily because I was getting more senior and didn’t want to wait too long and be left with very limited lateral options), and it is in many ways just as bad as my biglaw firm, except that I’m getting paid less and have worse benefits. My smaller firm isn’t known as a lifestyle firm but it’s also not known as a sweatshop, so I did expect more of a trade off for the money I was giving up. Instead, my hours are about the same and I still work a lot of nights and weekends. One improvement is that the new firm doesn’t have outright sadists like my old firm did, but overall I’m pretty frustrated.
wow that's unlucky. mind sharing roughly your hours per week on average? is the predictability better at least?
I don’t keep a very close eye on my weekly hours but I’ll probably end up somewhere between 2100 and 2200 this year, which is not peak biglaw misery hours level, but it’s also definitely not a 9-6 if you’re billing honestly and you’re not a machine who can bill 100% of their in-office time.

The predictability is an interesting question. I think it actually balances out to a similar level of (un)predictability - we don’t have the client-driven fire drills that result in massive urgent doc reviews or drafting sessions or whatever because we just don’t have enough attorney availability to take those kinds of cases in the first place, but representing individuals (which is a lot of what we do) brings its own issues - e.g., you get engaged to represent an individual that the DOJ is insisting on interviewing next week, or you wake up to discover that your client got arrested this morning. Plus, because I’m often the only associated staffed to a matter, there’s very little ability to do the kind of trading off of fire drills that you can do in biglaw with a larger team - if I don’t do the task, it’s not going to get done.

A related issue is that I feel a lot more at the mercy of the partner’s whims. In such a small environment it’s a lot riskier to piss them off by pushing back on unreasonable/inconsiderate demands. COVID has made this noticeably worse because some of the partners have no lives and thus no appreciation of boundaries and the fact that, while perhaps weekends and weekdays are all the same to them, I don’t get those weekends of non-urgent calls and emails back, and I’m still going to have to bill my regular hours during the week. I felt a lot more comfortable being a little flakier about those kinds of requests when I was just one associate in a sea of others that the (hundreds of) partners barely bothered to tell apart.
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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Barrred » Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:53 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 11:37 am
. . . it is in many ways just as bad as my biglaw firm, except that I’m getting paid less and have worse benefits.
Do you regret leaving biglaw??
But no regrets... lol

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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:28 pm

(This is the OP at the smaller firm, just deleting the quoted posts)

I don’t really regret leaving biglaw because I was never going to make partner there (I have neither the desire, the work ethic, the networking skills, etc.) and I do think there’s a serious drop-off in lateral opportunities as you get to the senior end of the associate scale in litigation, so I wouldn’t have wanted to stick around much longer (my old firm wasn’t overtly up-or-out but it also wasn’t the kind of place you could just hang around indefinitely).

I’m not sure I would do anything differently if I had a do-over. Maybe in-house, but those roles aren’t that easy to come by in lit, and I think I would have regretted not seeing whether I would like small firm life. I would consider govt at some point but the idea of a huge paycut was not appealing when I was looking because I was still paying off my loans. I’ll probably try to end up in either govt or in-house in the future, though, because I think the firm lifestyle actually bothers me more now than it did in biglaw. Biglaw felt like a temporary shitty thing that me and my friends were all in together until we moved on to something better. Now I’m a lot more conscious of how much of my life I’m wasting listening to some partner draft an email over the phone on a Sunday morning.

Anonymous User
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Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 3:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:28 pm
(This is the OP at the smaller firm, just deleting the quoted posts)

I don’t really regret leaving biglaw because I was never going to make partner there (I have neither the desire, the work ethic, the networking skills, etc.) and I do think there’s a serious drop-off in lateral opportunities as you get to the senior end of the associate scale in litigation, so I wouldn’t have wanted to stick around much longer (my old firm wasn’t overtly up-or-out but it also wasn’t the kind of place you could just hang around indefinitely).

I’m not sure I would do anything differently if I had a do-over. Maybe in-house, but those roles aren’t that easy to come by in lit, and I think I would have regretted not seeing whether I would like small firm life. I would consider govt at some point but the idea of a huge paycut was not appealing when I was looking because I was still paying off my loans. I’ll probably try to end up in either govt or in-house in the future, though, because I think the firm lifestyle actually bothers me more now than it did in biglaw. Biglaw felt like a temporary shitty thing that me and my friends were all in together until we moved on to something better. Now I’m a lot more conscious of how much of my life I’m wasting listening to some partner draft an email over the phone on a Sunday morning.
As a biglaw senior associate in lit, I suspect you’re right that there’s a drop off as you get in years 6+. It’s both a golden handcuffs situation and the feeling that once you move on to something else, coming back into big law is not really feasible. Eventually, you keep telling yourself that you’ll stick it out just a liiittle longer and it doesn’t really end.

But I’m curious as to what lateral opportunities youre referring to in particular. Lateraling because your workplace is toxic makes a lot of sense and changing firms may be harder as a senior.

If the goal is to make partner at a firm, lateraling doesn’t seem to help increase your chances unless you have portable business (which is almost impossible to get in biglaw given the high hourly rates and that you’ve been practicing law for 6-8 years). You’ll also be set back a few years since a new firm would want to evaluate you before promoting you to partner.

If you’re looking to lateral for a less stressful job, it sounds like it’s not something you can count on and can be just as much work.

Government is where it’s at IMHO

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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Am I already burning out?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 3:59 pm

My goal definitely is/was not to make partner, I was just looking to find another firm to spend a few years at before moving on again, and I didn’t want to be in a position where I had to take whatever firm offer I could get because my options were super limited. When I left I was at the seniority level where you’re getting close to being too senior to easily lateral while also being too junior to qualify for a lot of in-house jobs. If I could go WAY back and do over all of biglaw, I would def go into corporate for the (generally) better exit options.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

Now there's a charge.
Just kidding ... it's still FREE!


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