How do you take care of yourself in big law? Forum

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How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:28 pm

How do you take care of yourself/set boundaries in big law? I just finished my first year - I almost always have to cancel and reschedule appointments, had to stop seeing my therapist entirely (could not find a time during the week that was consistently available), and am lucky to get a workout/walk in. I am in corporate, so timelines constantly change and things pop up seemingly out of the blue. There are days when I'm slow and can take care of myself, but there are things like seeing a doctor you can't do at the spur of a moment.

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Buglaw » Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:28 pm
How do you take care of yourself/set boundaries in big law? I just finished my first year - I almost always have to cancel and reschedule appointments, had to stop seeing my therapist entirely (could not find a time during the week that was consistently available), and am lucky to get a workout/walk in. I am in corporate, so timelines constantly change and things pop up seemingly out of the blue. There are days when I'm slow and can take care of myself, but there are things like seeing a doctor you can't do at the spur of a moment.
You just do it. Workouts are when you can fit them in, but Dr. apts you just go to them. I don't cancel those, and nor do most people I know. Same thing for a therapist appointment. Just pick a time and go to it. Tons of senior associates/partners are "out of office" every day from like 5:00-7:00 or 6:00 to 8:00 to spend time with their kids. This happens even in corporate. Just take the time.

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blair.waldorf

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by blair.waldorf » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:27 pm

Buglaw wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:52 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:28 pm
How do you take care of yourself/set boundaries in big law? I just finished my first year - I almost always have to cancel and reschedule appointments, had to stop seeing my therapist entirely (could not find a time during the week that was consistently available), and am lucky to get a workout/walk in. I am in corporate, so timelines constantly change and things pop up seemingly out of the blue. There are days when I'm slow and can take care of myself, but there are things like seeing a doctor you can't do at the spur of a moment.
You just do it. Workouts are when you can fit them in, but Dr. apts you just go to them. I don't cancel those, and nor do most people I know. Same thing for a therapist appointment. Just pick a time and go to it. Tons of senior associates/partners are "out of office" every day from like 5:00-7:00 or 6:00 to 8:00 to spend time with their kids. This happens even in corporate. Just take the time.
Yep. I have had doctor’s appointments on fairly crazy days, and I have never canceled. The job is secondary to my health.

I usually workout in the mornings as that’s the best/easiest time for me.

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Elston Gunn

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Elston Gunn » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:32 pm

Buglaw wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:52 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:28 pm
How do you take care of yourself/set boundaries in big law? I just finished my first year - I almost always have to cancel and reschedule appointments, had to stop seeing my therapist entirely (could not find a time during the week that was consistently available), and am lucky to get a workout/walk in. I am in corporate, so timelines constantly change and things pop up seemingly out of the blue. There are days when I'm slow and can take care of myself, but there are things like seeing a doctor you can't do at the spur of a moment.
You just do it. Workouts are when you can fit them in, but Dr. apts you just go to them. I don't cancel those, and nor do most people I know. Same thing for a therapist appointment. Just pick a time and go to it. Tons of senior associates/partners are "out of office" every day from like 5:00-7:00 or 6:00 to 8:00 to spend time with their kids. This happens even in corporate. Just take the time.
+1

I just marked my calendar busy and showed up at 10:30 once a week so I could see my therapist. It’s awkward, but they’re not going to fire you because you say you can’t turn to something for a couple of hours because you’re out of pocket. You just have to take care of yourself, because very few people more senior to you will look out for you.

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:36 pm

Honestly, once you convince yourself youre not going to make partner, its pretty easy not to give AF. Helps you take care of yourself foremost--both physically and mentally. One can still be engaged in the work without it consuming your life, and if you are ok with people being slightly upset you don't answer an email within ten minutes and still hit your billables (but only hit, which means turning down work) you'll be great. No one will fire you and you'll do fine

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Sackboy » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:36 pm
Honestly, once you convince yourself youre not going to make partner, its pretty easy not to give AF. Helps you take care of yourself foremost--both physically and mentally. One can still be engaged in the work without it consuming your life, and if you are ok with people being slightly upset you don't answer an email within ten minutes and still hit your billables (but only hit, which means turning down work) you'll be great. No one will fire you and you'll do fine
Completely agree. If you're just aiming for 1900-2000 hours a year to keep cashing checks/bonuses, life is reasonably chill. You're in a place where you just turn things down if you have too much coming in, you're not worried about making little or even medium mistakes from time to time, you're not worried about being hyper-responsive, etc.

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:01 pm

Anyone have specific tips for an incoming associate to establish early habits so that partners/seniors know not to bother you during appointments/gym/personal time? Or are these suggestions only applicable once you've built a year-long reputation for being available 24/7?

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by mardash » Tue Sep 14, 2021 9:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:01 pm
Anyone have specific tips for an incoming associate to establish early habits so that partners/seniors know not to bother you during appointments/gym/personal time? Or are these suggestions only applicable once you've built a year-long reputation for being available 24/7?
In my experience, it’s less about letting them know so they won’t bother you and more about making yourself comfortable being out of pocket for an hour or two. If you’re really worried, set an internal auto-reply on your Outlook.

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 14, 2021 10:25 pm

I gained 30ish lbs in the first 3 months of biglaw. I'm down about 15 of that now because I try to find 2-3 pockets of 25-30 minutes per day to jump on the treads/eliptical/lift.. and I'm kicking myself for not doing this the last 3 months.

Find the time.

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:43 am

I'm a 2L heading to a NYC V20 next summer and I'm curious how people actually function during "fire drills" or just back-to-back all-nighters (I'm interested in corporate/M&A, which I hear is particularly bad). Do you nap at the office when you feel like passing out (pre-COVID, I mean)? What about showering? Change of clothes? Do you go back home or do firms have amenities where you can freshen up a bit? Sorry if these are dumb questions. I've just heard crazy stories about associates at some firms keeping sleeping bags or blankets at the office and wanted to know how, logistically, people keep themselves functioning and presentable to clients and colleagues if they're staying up for a few days nonstop. (Horror stories welcome lol!)

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:43 am
I'm a 2L heading to a NYC V20 next summer and I'm curious how people actually function during "fire drills" or just back-to-back all-nighters (I'm interested in corporate/M&A, which I hear is particularly bad). Do you nap at the office when you feel like passing out (pre-COVID, I mean)? What about showering? Change of clothes? Do you go back home or do firms have amenities where you can freshen up a bit? Sorry if these are dumb questions. I've just heard crazy stories about associates at some firms keeping sleeping bags or blankets at the office and wanted to know how, logistically, people keep themselves functioning and presentable to clients and colleagues if they're staying up for a few days nonstop. (Horror stories welcome lol!)
At my previous v20 firm, there was a senior associate whose life was consisted of nothing but work, and she literally had a sleeping bag in her office, and slept in not insignificant number of days in a month (even when none of the partners told (expected) her to, in fact, and it is my understanding that she was told to take easy on herself by the partners for working too much). She was otherwise a very pleasant person if you are not on a deal with her, but if you are mid-level/juniors on her deals, she expected you to be on the same (at least very similar) working schedules, and she genuinely got irritated if someone was not readily responsive to her emails (even at like 2/3 AM).

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Spider2YBanana » Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:47 am

If you care about working out, work out early in the morning. 99% of firedrills are after 9AM.

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:36 am

Honestly the biggest thing for me is making sure to carve out time to work out. I basically work out every other day for an hour or so. I’ve found it relatively easy to keep to this schedule. Exercise is really a double benefit; it’s good for your physical health and mental health, so you really shouldn’t skip out on it.

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Buglaw

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Buglaw » Wed Sep 15, 2021 12:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:36 am
Honestly the biggest thing for me is making sure to carve out time to work out. I basically work out every other day for an hour or so. I’ve found it relatively easy to keep to this schedule. Exercise is really a double benefit; it’s good for your physical health and mental health, so you really shouldn’t skip out on it.
Agree. Outside of the 1-3 days around a closing where I am literally working 18-20 hours out of the day, I don't really miss workouts either. No one really knows what you are doing in big law. You could be on a client call for an hour, you could be putting out another fire drill, etc. No one looks over your shoulder to make sure your butt is in your seat billing every hour from 7:00 or 8:00- 10:00 or 11:00 every day. But, unlike with Dr. Apts, I will attend to fire drills over my workout schedule. I won't give up Dr. apts (or children's dr. apts or school meetings) for anything. These billion dollar deals simply aren't more important than your health and well being.

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Buglaw » Wed Sep 15, 2021 12:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:43 am
I'm a 2L heading to a NYC V20 next summer and I'm curious how people actually function during "fire drills" or just back-to-back all-nighters (I'm interested in corporate/M&A, which I hear is particularly bad). Do you nap at the office when you feel like passing out (pre-COVID, I mean)? What about showering? Change of clothes? Do you go back home or do firms have amenities where you can freshen up a bit? Sorry if these are dumb questions. I've just heard crazy stories about associates at some firms keeping sleeping bags or blankets at the office and wanted to know how, logistically, people keep themselves functioning and presentable to clients and colleagues if they're staying up for a few days nonstop. (Horror stories welcome lol!)
If you are up all night closing someone's deal, you don't need to worry about being presentable to anyone. Also, true all nighters are wildly inefficient and pretty rare. You simply run out of steam the next day. It's much more likely that you will just work till 2:00 or 3:00 sometimes (or several days or sometimes weeks in a row). Even when up all night trying to hit some stupid wire deadline everyone knows no one is going to hit in the morning, I'll typically try and grab 1-2 hours of sleep minimum. I just get SOOOO much more done in a night where I get 1 hour of sleep then when I am deliriously having to remind myself to focus every five minutes because I am so tired.

I've also never met anyone who keeps a sleeping bag in their office. You should flat out refuse to work with any sociopath who does.

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by RedNewJersey » Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:20 pm

I have trouble working out because everyone has trouble working out consistently. Sure, biglaw doesn't help, but it's not like people find it easy to work full-time and stay healthy.

As far as *doctor's appointments*--I mean, gosh. I've never missed anything like that (though, as a young person, I don't have many). I guess if you truly messed up and left something for the last minute and getting it done during the appointment is the only way, then ... sure. But try to wake up earlier or do it the night before in that case. Anyway, usually you're on more than one project at any given time, so it simply has to be possible to not be responsive for a few hours without causing a freakout. That time can be spent on the other project or at a doctor's appointment with no real difference from the partner's perspective. I generally think the people who skip this kind of thing are overreacting.

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Re: How do you take care of yourself in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 3:30 pm

Elston Gunn wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:32 pm
You just have to take care of yourself, because very few people more senior to you will look out for you.
Agree with this 100%. Learned this lesson during the pandemic and it's changed how I work. I'm still here and well-respected and my life has improved accordingly.

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