First years - anyone else miserable?

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First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 02, 2021 5:55 pm

Currently at a v25 in nyc. I like to think I came into big law with eyes wide open. But my first 5 months have been more brutal than I could have imagined. It's not just the hours and the constant need to be available (which feels even more intrusive with wfh). I'm so busy that I'm constantly making mistakes - typos, bad bluebooking, generally mediocre attention to detail - and turning in less than stellar work product. So many people at my firm have told me how important it is to develop a strong reputation, and I feel like I've been tanking mine, which destroys my self esteem and confidence (it doesn't help that I made two client facing mistakes as a summer; pretty sure my reputation has never recovered). I don't get any real feedback on my work, aside from some intensely passive aggressive emails from mid-levels when I turn in something less than perfect. I'm simultaneously jealous of other first years who get more work from partners, yet also grateful that I'm dodging assignments that mean more billing. I'm also constantly anxious about getting fired, yet I daydream daily about quitting.

All of this has taken a heavy toll on my mental health. I'm depressed at work, and too anxious about work to enjoy the rare moments when I'm not billing. I'm reading between the lines of every email I get for signs that someone doesn't like working with me (as well as signs that they prefer working with the other juniors on my team). There are some other first years I chit chat with, but there's such a gunnery vibe in my class that I don't really feel comfortable confiding in anyone.

I feel totally trapped. I can't think of another way to make any real dent in my six figure student loan debt. But I'm not sure how I can last another 1.5 years, let alone another 3 months. Lately I've noticed myself randomly tearing up at my desk. This is a bad job that I'm bad at, but I need to keep working here to have a shot at financial freedom.

Fwiw, I'm in therapy, which helps a bit. Just venting in case anyone else is having (or has had) a similar experience (I'm not naive enough to think my experience has been unique, but I'm certain that some folks enjoy, or tolerate, biglaw).

jotarokujo

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by jotarokujo » Sun May 02, 2021 8:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 5:55 pm
Currently at a v25 in nyc. I like to think I came into big law with eyes wide open. But my first 5 months have been more brutal than I could have imagined. It's not just the hours and the constant need to be available (which feels even more intrusive with wfh). I'm so busy that I'm constantly making mistakes - typos, bad bluebooking, generally mediocre attention to detail - and turning in less than stellar work product. So many people at my firm have told me how important it is to develop a strong reputation, and I feel like I've been tanking mine, which destroys my self esteem and confidence (it doesn't help that I made two client facing mistakes as a summer; pretty sure my reputation has never recovered). I don't get any real feedback on my work, aside from some intensely passive aggressive emails from mid-levels when I turn in something less than perfect. I'm simultaneously jealous of other first years who get more work from partners, yet also grateful that I'm dodging assignments that mean more billing. I'm also constantly anxious about getting fired, yet I daydream daily about quitting.

All of this has taken a heavy toll on my mental health. I'm depressed at work, and too anxious about work to enjoy the rare moments when I'm not billing. I'm reading between the lines of every email I get for signs that someone doesn't like working with me (as well as signs that they prefer working with the other juniors on my team). There are some other first years I chit chat with, but there's such a gunnery vibe in my class that I don't really feel comfortable confiding in anyone.

I feel totally trapped. I can't think of another way to make any real dent in my six figure student loan debt. But I'm not sure how I can last another 1.5 years, let alone another 3 months. Lately I've noticed myself randomly tearing up at my desk. This is a bad job that I'm bad at, but I need to keep working here to have a shot at financial freedom.

Fwiw, I'm in therapy, which helps a bit. Just venting in case anyone else is having (or has had) a similar experience (I'm not naive enough to think my experience has been unique, but I'm certain that some folks enjoy, or tolerate, biglaw).
if you aren't getting feedback or explicit comments about what you should be doing to improve, i wouldn't be worried about making a bad reputation for yourself.don't try to read between the lines - a senior will give feedback or say something if the work is actually problematic so that you have the ability to improve

in the unlikely event that people just hate your work product and aren't actually commenting on, that's unreasonable behavior that you can't sweat or try to adapt yourself too. sometimes unreasonable/unpredictable shit happens and you can't worry about it

Sawtooth

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Sawtooth » Sun May 02, 2021 9:54 pm

Different practice (corporate), but also really feeling the hours (320 March, 270 April) and the frustration with making typos in emails/documents/etc.

I think hearing about other juniors screwing up is helpful cause it makes me realize that is universal. I think being a junior probably generally sucks, but feel like joining an absolutely slammed industry during wfh makes it way worse. Hoping for better days, hang in there!

theswisswereright

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by theswisswereright » Sun May 02, 2021 10:37 pm

This response may be more of a salad of platitudes, but these thoughts are comforting to me and I thought I'd share them.

I'm also struggling a LOT as a first year, mostly with the need for constant availability and the long hours, but also I've caught myself making dumb mistakes because I've been staring at the document for days and the words have become meaningless.

I think I started at my firm around the time you did yours, and I've since begun therapy as well as speaking with a psychiatrist. I don't want to push medication as a cure-all, but it can help you keep swimming when you want to give up and drown. Knowing that I have something on hand that can end a panic attack makes it weirdly easier not to have one.

Do your very best to carry on and keep your head up. Cry if you need to, but close your door first. If anyone comes in, you're having a coughing fit that made you tear up, or you choked on your gum, pick your favorite.

And this is going to be a huge point of disagreement for some, but as important as it is to get rid of your loans if you're able... should it turn out you can't take this job any more, if you haven't refinanced, you can always go on IBR. If you have no income, you don't make payments, and if you take a lower-paying jobs, the payments adjust. Yes, this will have tax consequences down the line, but you can prepare for those as well. I'm not saying quit now or quit just because, but if it becomes a choice between the job and your continued existence, please choose your life.

Time is passing, I promise. I have a daily peel-off calendar to remind me that even when it seems I'm absolutely going to collapse, time is passing and every day is a step closer to being able to get loose from the Biglaw snare. Keep moving forward as best you can.

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by objctnyrhnr » Mon May 03, 2021 7:46 am

Also look at it this way: assuming things are actually as bad as you think they are (and I don’t necessarily think they are based on what you’ve said), your peak marketability is ahead of you. Lateralling in Biglaw is one of the best burnout antidotes. You get to coast for some time at your current firm, then have a few weeks to yourself, then there’s a ramp up period at the new firm...all without doing anything detrimental to your career.

This being said, you likely want to try to put in 6-9 months there before you start aggressively looking, but in my view this is on your horizon.

Chin up.

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 03, 2021 11:58 am

Echo what a lot of the others have been saying in that work sucks. I was hoping to last 2+ years, but sounds like I'm not the only one trying to just bounce asap after the period runs out for when the firm claws back bar course/tech stipends. Hang in there, homies.

snehpets

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by snehpets » Mon May 03, 2021 12:01 pm

I’m trying to think of the most comforting thing to say here based on how I felt in your position. As a threshold matter, all of the things that you’re describing are extremely normal (and, FWIW, suggest to me that you’re probably a lot more competent than you think you are - the juniors who are the biggest problems usually have no idea that their work product sucks).

In terms of only getting feedback when it’s bad, that is the biglaw way, unfortunately - don’t read anything into it. If you feel compelled to obsess over your performance (as most of us do at some point), focus on the redlines you’re getting (and run your own if someone doesn’t send one). Over time, as you get more and more accustomed to the work you’re doing and how the people you work with want it to be done, you’ll see that people aren’t making as many changes to your work. However, it takes A WHILE. I really didn’t feel like I had a clue what I was doing until I was at least a second year, at which point I only had a very vague idea and still screwed stuff up all the time. Also remember that in many cases you may not actually be doing something “wrong,” the senior associate or partner may just have a different stylistic preference.

Similarly, whether you see it or not, I guarantee that your fellow first-years are bombing assignments regularly, because EVERYONE DOES in the beginning - it’s just that not everyone is self-aware enough to realize it. Also, I would be extremely surprised if more than 2 total people, if that, remembered your mistakes as a summer. I can literally only think of one summer out of all of the ones that I’ve worked with, most of which were terrible, who did such a bad job that they still stand out in my memory. People make client-facing mistakes all the time - summers, junior associates, senior associates, partners - everyone does it. You just get better at kind of glossing over it so it’s not as clear that (1) it was a mistake and (2) it was your fault, lol.

Finally, I just want to emphasize how incredibly normal this intense feeling of misery is, and also how it will almost certainly get better at least by the time you’re a second year. Biglaw sucks overall for most people, but being a first year is uniquely brutal in my experience (and in the experience of many friends I’ve talked to about this). It doesn’t improve overnight, but as you get more senior, you’re no longer the designated person for every single shitty urgent task that comes up, you start to get a better sense of people’s schedules, work styles, preferences, etc., they start to give you the benefit of the doubt more, and it gets easier to accept when you mess stuff up because you’ve done it many times in the past and seen that it turned out fine.

Anyway, I definitely don’t mean to minimize what you’re going through - it genuinely is awful, and I’m sure WFH makes it all worse - I just wanted to convey that you’re not at all alone in feeling this way BUT it gets better for most people.

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 03, 2021 1:33 pm

theswisswereright wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 10:37 pm
And this is going to be a huge point of disagreement for some, but as important as it is to get rid of your loans if you're able... should it turn out you can't take this job any more, if you haven't refinanced, you can always go on IBR. If you have no income, you don't make payments, and if you take a lower-paying jobs, the payments adjust. Yes, this will have tax consequences down the line, but you can prepare for those as well. I'm not saying quit now or quit just because, but if it becomes a choice between the job and your continued existence, please choose your life.
I'm about to quit and pursue some version of this. I would've loved to have paid off my loans completely but as it is, I only wish I had quit earlier or, better yet, never worked in biglaw to begin with. Obviously you're right that this isn't possible with privately held loans but for those of us with federal loans, there are options.

OP, this job really is that bad. Recognizing that immediately only means you're a sensible person.

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 03, 2021 1:51 pm

Different poster, but I too am looking to leave as soon as possible. Corporate group, major market, utter and complete misery. I’m experiencing anxiety like nothing I’ve ever felt before, a massive depression that’s taking a toll on my health and relationships, and the money isn’t worth it. Call me a burnout- but I’m with you. Sometimes a job doesn’t fit us, and that’s okay

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Anonymous User
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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 03, 2021 2:10 pm

snehpets wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 12:01 pm
Anyway, I definitely don’t mean to minimize what you’re going through - it genuinely is awful, and I’m sure WFH makes it all worse - I just wanted to convey that you’re not at all alone in feeling this way BUT it gets better for most people.
Hell, WFH is the only thing making the job bearable for me. I dread the day I go back.

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 03, 2021 2:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 2:10 pm
snehpets wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 12:01 pm
Anyway, I definitely don’t mean to minimize what you’re going through - it genuinely is awful, and I’m sure WFH makes it all worse - I just wanted to convey that you’re not at all alone in feeling this way BUT it gets better for most people.
Hell, WFH is the only thing making the job bearable for me. I dread the day I go back.
100% agree. Going back will make some things better but most things way worse. Not looking forward to staying in the office until like 4 am and then trudging back home to get two hours of sleep and then having to schlep all the way back to work by 9.

Bdgerald

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Bdgerald » Mon May 03, 2021 3:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 2:30 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 2:10 pm
snehpets wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 12:01 pm
Anyway, I definitely don’t mean to minimize what you’re going through - it genuinely is awful, and I’m sure WFH makes it all worse - I just wanted to convey that you’re not at all alone in feeling this way BUT it gets better for most people.
Hell, WFH is the only thing making the job bearable for me. I dread the day I go back.
100% agree. Going back will make some things better but most things way worse. Not looking forward to staying in the office until like 4 am and then trudging back home to get two hours of sleep and then having to schlep all the way back to work by 9.
The market is so starved for associates right now that I’m not sure firms can do anything if large numbers of associates just decide to permanently WFH. Definitely the correct move if you’re planning on leaving within the short term.

12YrsAnAssociate

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by 12YrsAnAssociate » Mon May 03, 2021 8:50 pm

I'm senior associate as fuck and in lit, and I'm miserable. For me, the misery came when I decided I wanted to be a good dad, though. I think before that I would grit my teeth and try to push through this shit.

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 03, 2021 10:13 pm

OP, I'm a bit more senior than you are, but I feel you. Even setting aside the golden handcuffs, there's a very real feeling of being stuck: you're too junior for a lot of the cushy sounding in-house roles, which seem to universally call for 5+ years of experience in a large firm (or other in-house environment), I'm absolutely ambivalent about lateraling to another big firm because how could it really be all that different, and there's uncertainty with going smaller because you might end up with the same volume of work for half the pay.

It probably sucks to be a junior employee in basically any given field, being told you need to grind yourself to the bone for half a decade before you get to do anything meaningful/find a job that doesn't make you want to blow your brains out, but legal practice seems (fairly) uniquely shitty in that regard.

TUwave

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by TUwave » Tue May 04, 2021 11:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 10:13 pm
OP, I'm a bit more senior than you are, but I feel you. Even setting aside the golden handcuffs, there's a very real feeling of being stuck: you're too junior for a lot of the cushy sounding in-house roles, which seem to universally call for 5+ years of experience in a large firm (or other in-house environment), I'm absolutely ambivalent about lateraling to another big firm because how could it really be all that different, and there's uncertainty with going smaller because you might end up with the same volume of work for half the pay.

It probably sucks to be a junior employee in basically any given field, being told you need to grind yourself to the bone for half a decade before you get to do anything meaningful/find a job that doesn't make you want to blow your brains out, but legal practice seems (fairly) uniquely shitty in that regard.
Honestly if you are thinking about quitting and haven't lateraled once yet, I would recommend giving it a shot (to another biglaw firm). Even if it isn't better, you get your ramp down period at your current firm, a couple weeks off in between firms, and a ramp up period at your new firm. It will extend your shelf life and get you closer to that in-house job. Plus the biglaw midlevel lateral market is absolutely WHITE HOT right now.

tx4ever1994

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by tx4ever1994 » Wed May 12, 2021 5:30 pm

First year here. Wow I hate this boring fucking job. Going to quit by the end of the month and leave law forever. Shifting through documents alone at home all day is not healthy.

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Definitely Not North

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by Definitely Not North » Wed May 12, 2021 6:34 pm

tx4ever1994 wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 5:30 pm
First year here. Wow I hate this boring fucking job. Going to quit by the end of the month and leave law forever. Shifting through documents alone at home all day is not healthy.
like, i get it, but also what did you think the job was going to be when you were in law school?

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Re: First years - anyone else miserable?

Post by TLSReturntoWork » Wed May 12, 2021 7:41 pm

Definitely Not North wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 6:34 pm
tx4ever1994 wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 5:30 pm
First year here. Wow I hate this boring fucking job. Going to quit by the end of the month and leave law forever. Shifting through documents alone at home all day is not healthy.
like, i get it, but also what did you think the job was going to be when you were in law school?
Agreed. Also:

Shifting through documents alone at home all day is not healthy. <-That poster's problem

alone at home all day is not healthy. <-A Pandemic reality
Shifting through documents<-A reality not exclusive to biglaw

You sure you want to quit biglaw for what's not uniquely a biglaw problem?

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