Biglaw: Is it really that bad? Forum

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Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 6:27 am

So I'm a second year now (in London, ECM lawyer, so maybe that changes things) and I have to say, my life has been...quite peachy. I billed around 1600 hours, worked maybe three all nighters, maybe one weekend a month on average, and maybe past 6pm 20% of the days. I've been constantly getting myself prepared for the terrible long onslaught of work (which some of my colleagues here, even in my same year year, indicate they have experienced). It just never came.

So, is life as a lawyer really that bad? I feel like I'm almost working less now than in law school (where I generally held down two part time jobs whilst in school). Or am I just an exception? Or perhaps this is a London thing? Thing is, everybody I ask says they are being swamped. But maybe this is just a thing people say. I remember back in law school every law student said they worked insane hours "I haven't slept in three days! Oh yeah, I made 6 different outlines! But I practiced all the exams up until 1967!" but somehow still had the time to go to all the social events, which for me always activated my BS-meter. So what gives in law firms? Am I just insanely lucky?

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 7:30 am

I think there's just a lot of variance and those who post are more likely to be on the brutal side. i'm at a market paying lit boutique and i've had the same experience as you. but this does't mean we should disbelieve everyone who is saying it's brutal.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:02 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 7:30 am
I think there's just a lot of variance and those who post are more likely to be on the brutal side. i'm at a market paying lit boutique and i've had the same experience as you. but this does't mean we should disbelieve everyone who is saying it's brutal.
Also at a market paying lit boutique, and while my hours are definitely more than 1600, they are not unmanageable. The difference I see between my situation and my friends in biglaw is that my hours are fairly predictable and I have a decent ability to plan my days and weeks in advance, and weekends/late nights are an unusual occurrence as there are rarely fire drills. Whereas friends in biglaw get rush assignments at 7pm that need to be done that night and which sometimes end up not being used at all, that never happens to me. Also I can bill steadily each day -- I am never waiting for work, there is always something to be done, so I can easily and regularly bill 8 hours in a 9 hour work day, and I find the substantive part of much of my work to be really interesting, which helps the time pass without it feeling like a slog. So, yes, totally agree that a lot depends on the firm, its style, and its work flow.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by gregfootball2001 » Tue Jan 11, 2022 11:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 6:27 am
. . . I billed around 1600 hours . . .
Do you know what the average billables are for the midlevels and seniors in your group? If it's more of a 2000+ hour group, but you're just not there yet, things will get busier. It can be hard to integrate juniors into deals, especially on cost-sensitive matters, but as people move up and you gain more experience, you will likely be asked to do more. So your 1600 hour, done-by-6 and rarely working on the weekends life gets 400, 600, or 800+ hours added to it each year.

If, on the other hand, everyone in your group is averaging 1600, then great! Hold on tight and enjoy life.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by fmrez » Tue Jan 11, 2022 11:55 am

No, you're not insanely lucky. Everyone else is just lying. I don't know a single person who left big law, everyone is beyond happy and stays for life if they can.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 11:58 am

I work in public interest and work about 2 hours per week, so from my perspective big law sounds bad even at the amount of hours you're working.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 12:08 pm

For me what makes biglaw so fundamentally unenjoyable is that I don’t care about any of my work or the commercial concerns of any of my (big institutional, paying) clients. We were raised that you have to “love what you do,” and the best I can say is that I tolerate what I do until it becomes truly miserable. I’m not intellectually curious or passionate about my clients and I certainly don’t feel like I contribute anything to humanity through my thousands of billable hours a year. I like writing generally and love some of my pro Bono work and clients but the majority of my time is spent on behalf of corporate entities, and on issues, that are meaningless to me. I’m not macro virtue signaling or burning my bras here, just observing on an individual, personal level that it’s really fucking difficult to get excited about the actual content of this job or the underlying motivations for what we do. This lack of enthusiasm just compounds and aggravates the negative quality of life factors - pulling those late nights and routinely canceling plans is made all the worse when it’s for something you couldn’t care less about.

Because the money is good and I like some of my colleagues, I can survive it for a few years until I’m able to land on something more interesting with lighter hours. But long term, this is no way to live.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 12:21 pm

I've worked at four firms. Where you work and who you work for makes an enormous differences in quality of life. Some partners are terrible to work for; others are mostly chill.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 12:31 pm

first anon

i also want to say that work-hours variance in market-paying firms is probably significantly higher than in consulting or banking. Tech seems somewhat variable in that market-paying startups can work their engineers a lot harder than in FAANG

that's because i feel like market-paying biglaw just encompasses so many different types of jobs even at the entry level, again more so than consulting and banking

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Lacepiece23 » Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 12:08 pm
For me what makes biglaw so fundamentally unenjoyable is that I don’t care about any of my work or the commercial concerns of any of my (big institutional, paying) clients. We were raised that you have to “love what you do,” and the best I can say is that I tolerate what I do until it becomes truly miserable. I’m not intellectually curious or passionate about my clients and I certainly don’t feel like I contribute anything to humanity through my thousands of billable hours a year. I like writing generally and love some of my pro Bono work and clients but the majority of my time is spent on behalf of corporate entities, and on issues, that are meaningless to me. I’m not macro virtue signaling or burning my bras here, just observing on an individual, personal level that it’s really fucking difficult to get excited about the actual content of this job or the underlying motivations for what we do. This lack of enthusiasm just compounds and aggravates the negative quality of life factors - pulling those late nights and routinely canceling plans is made all the worse when it’s for something you couldn’t care less about.

Because the money is good and I like some of my colleagues, I can survive it for a few years until I’m able to land on something more interesting with lighter hours. But long term, this is no way to live.
Come to the plaintiffs' side. The grass is greener.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 11:58 am
I work in public interest and work about 2 hours per week, so from my perspective big law sounds bad even at the amount of hours you're working.
+1. You got to get on the goverment payroll. I stopped working years ago, now its just coffee breaks and a few emails here and there.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 4:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:55 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 11:58 am
I work in public interest and work about 2 hours per week, so from my perspective big law sounds bad even at the amount of hours you're working.
+1. You got to get on the goverment payroll. I stopped working years ago, now its just coffee breaks and a few emails here and there.
Any tips on getting a job like this? Anything a Corp junior could apply to? Lol

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 11, 2022 4:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:55 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 11:58 am
I work in public interest and work about 2 hours per week, so from my perspective big law sounds bad even at the amount of hours you're working.
+1. You got to get on the goverment payroll. I stopped working years ago, now its just coffee breaks and a few emails here and there.
This. My supervisor is about 6 years out and makes mid 100's to work 7-3 with no weekends. Not quite there yet, but there is no chance I ever give this gig up if that is the path I'm on.

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glitched

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by glitched » Tue Jan 11, 2022 5:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 12:08 pm
For me what makes biglaw so fundamentally unenjoyable is that I don’t care about any of my work or the commercial concerns of any of my (big institutional, paying) clients. We were raised that you have to “love what you do,” and the best I can say is that I tolerate what I do until it becomes truly miserable. I’m not intellectually curious or passionate about my clients and I certainly don’t feel like I contribute anything to humanity through my thousands of billable hours a year. I like writing generally and love some of my pro Bono work and clients but the majority of my time is spent on behalf of corporate entities, and on issues, that are meaningless to me. I’m not macro virtue signaling or burning my bras here, just observing on an individual, personal level that it’s really fucking difficult to get excited about the actual content of this job or the underlying motivations for what we do. This lack of enthusiasm just compounds and aggravates the negative quality of life factors - pulling those late nights and routinely canceling plans is made all the worse when it’s for something you couldn’t care less about.

Because the money is good and I like some of my colleagues, I can survive it for a few years until I’m able to land on something more interesting with lighter hours. But long term, this is no way to live.
This is so true. Life at 2100 hours really isn't that bad. And getting paid $550k at the top to do it from home... it's hard to complain.

But the job is just so insufferably boring and pointless. I go numb thinking about reading some of the shit I have to read and writing the shit I have to write. It's not hard. It's actually really easy at this point. And it's easy billing. It's just so boring. Uncreative soul-draining work.

A part of me wants to just quit and make a fraction doing something that's stimulating but fuck it's hard to walk away from half a million dollars when it's so easy. I sometimes think getting fired would be the best thing to happen to me.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by GavinMcG » Tue Jan 11, 2022 5:22 pm

If you're one of the anons at a lit boutique, I would appreciate a PM! Trying to figure out where I want to end up post-clerkship in a few years.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Monochromatic Oeuvre » Wed Jan 12, 2022 12:27 am

LOL you really made a "Is everyone claiming to have a worse time than me full of shit despite all these anonymous internet people having no reason to lie?" thread. Incredible display of Main Character Syndrome.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 12, 2022 1:59 am

In my experience, when biglaw sucks, it is absolutely terrible. When it doesn’t, it’s awesome for the money.

I sneaked across my bonus threshold by 7 hours last year. I only hit my prorated monthly hour requirements 4/12 months. If I’m only pace for my bonus, I don’t seek new work and lie low.

But one those of 4 months required 250 hours. And it fell during my brother’s wedding. The partner asked if I had other brothers and could miss the ceremony. And it was on a transaction matter I got sucked into as a litigator where I was required to fire off the hip and commit borderline malpractice. So it sucked pretty good. But the rest of the year was fine.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 12, 2022 3:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 1:59 am
In my experience, when biglaw sucks, it is absolutely terrible. When it doesn’t, it’s awesome for the money.

I sneaked across my bonus threshold by 7 hours last year. I only hit my prorated monthly hour requirements 4/12 months. If I’m only pace for my bonus, I don’t seek new work and lie low.

But one those of 4 months required 250 hours. And it fell during my brother’s wedding. The partner asked if I had other brothers and could miss the ceremony. And it was on a transaction matter I got sucked into as a litigator where I was required to fire off the hip and commit borderline malpractice. So it sucked pretty good. But the rest of the year was fine.
Everyone has their own line--I've put up with a lot of shit in biglaw--but if a partner ever asked me re my brother's wedding if I could miss it and if I had "other brothers" I'd just give him a straight up "no." Even just reading that pissed me off.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 12, 2022 4:06 am

Anon here. That’s precisely that what I did. And fortunately haven’t worked with that partner since.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by ZVBXRPL » Wed Jan 12, 2022 6:16 am

I don’t think it’s just the hours. You can have a light workload and work with cruddy people - as many complain to. People matter and big law seems to be littered with idiots.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 12, 2022 7:12 am

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 12:27 am
LOL you really made a "Is everyone claiming to have a worse time than me full of shit despite all these anonymous internet people having no reason to lie?" thread. Incredible display of Main Character Syndrome.
To be fair, there is some truth to it. I have never seen a lawyer who didn't exaggerate how much they were were working. It is a game of constant one-upmanship. Nobody wants to be seen as the one having an easy time when anyone else in the office is getting crushed. So people exaggerate and lie at times.

That being said, I think the vast majority indeed has massive workloads. It's just that many still inflate how much they work regardless.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 12, 2022 7:41 am

Lacepiece23 wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:34 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 12:08 pm
For me what makes biglaw so fundamentally unenjoyable is that I don’t care about any of my work or the commercial concerns of any of my (big institutional, paying) clients. We were raised that you have to “love what you do,” and the best I can say is that I tolerate what I do until it becomes truly miserable. I’m not intellectually curious or passionate about my clients and I certainly don’t feel like I contribute anything to humanity through my thousands of billable hours a year. I like writing generally and love some of my pro Bono work and clients but the majority of my time is spent on behalf of corporate entities, and on issues, that are meaningless to me. I’m not macro virtue signaling or burning my bras here, just observing on an individual, personal level that it’s really fucking difficult to get excited about the actual content of this job or the underlying motivations for what we do. This lack of enthusiasm just compounds and aggravates the negative quality of life factors - pulling those late nights and routinely canceling plans is made all the worse when it’s for something you couldn’t care less about.

Because the money is good and I like some of my colleagues, I can survive it for a few years until I’m able to land on something more interesting with lighter hours. But long term, this is no way to live.
Come to the plaintiffs' side. The grass is greener.
A lot of us are transactional lawyers and the best out for us is inhouse, which sounds easier but equally boring

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 7:41 am
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 3:34 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 12:08 pm
For me what makes biglaw so fundamentally unenjoyable is that I don’t care about any of my work or the commercial concerns of any of my (big institutional, paying) clients. We were raised that you have to “love what you do,” and the best I can say is that I tolerate what I do until it becomes truly miserable. I’m not intellectually curious or passionate about my clients and I certainly don’t feel like I contribute anything to humanity through my thousands of billable hours a year. I like writing generally and love some of my pro Bono work and clients but the majority of my time is spent on behalf of corporate entities, and on issues, that are meaningless to me. I’m not macro virtue signaling or burning my bras here, just observing on an individual, personal level that it’s really fucking difficult to get excited about the actual content of this job or the underlying motivations for what we do. This lack of enthusiasm just compounds and aggravates the negative quality of life factors - pulling those late nights and routinely canceling plans is made all the worse when it’s for something you couldn’t care less about.

Because the money is good and I like some of my colleagues, I can survive it for a few years until I’m able to land on something more interesting with lighter hours. But long term, this is no way to live.
Come to the plaintiffs' side. The grass is greener.
A lot of us are transactional lawyers and the best out for us is inhouse, which sounds easier but equally boring
In house at an F100 doesn’t sound like a dream job either, but holy sh** it’s difficult for biglaw litigators to find jobs outside private firms. I cannot emphasize how unbelievably challenging and frustrating it is to job hunt outside firms for litigators - many folks I know spend years of applying and interviewing and striking out, and then you’re incredibly lucky if you land something after a harrowing process.

Looking back, I think corporate work would have been even more mind-numbing (especially at the junior level)—and I loved my clerkships—but I often wonder whether it would have been easier and ultimately happier to do corporate starting from my summer. My friends from school have had it much easier in getting out of biglaw from their corporate groups in years 3-5.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 12, 2022 10:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:24 am
In house at an F100 doesn’t sound like a dream job either, but holy sh** it’s difficult for biglaw litigators to find jobs outside private firms. I cannot emphasize how unbelievably challenging and frustrating it is to job hunt outside firms for litigators - many folks I know spend years of applying and interviewing and striking out, and then you’re incredibly lucky if you land something after a harrowing process.

Looking back, I think corporate work would have been even more mind-numbing (especially at the junior level)—and I loved my clerkships—but I often wonder whether it would have been easier and ultimately happier to do corporate starting from my summer. My friends from school have had it much easier in getting out of biglaw from their corporate groups in years 3-5.
Corp litigator checking in, still on the hunt after 16 months, 120+ applications, and 40+ interviews (incl many final rounds). I think I'm completely qualified for the roles, but the positions open to litigators are so few and far between that the competition is just immense--it feels like the realization a solid D1 athlete may have when looking at the chances of actually going pro. "Harrowing" is an understatement.

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Re: Biglaw: Is it really that bad?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jan 12, 2022 10:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 10:15 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:24 am
In house at an F100 doesn’t sound like a dream job either, but holy sh** it’s difficult for biglaw litigators to find jobs outside private firms. I cannot emphasize how unbelievably challenging and frustrating it is to job hunt outside firms for litigators - many folks I know spend years of applying and interviewing and striking out, and then you’re incredibly lucky if you land something after a harrowing process.

Looking back, I think corporate work would have been even more mind-numbing (especially at the junior level)—and I loved my clerkships—but I often wonder whether it would have been easier and ultimately happier to do corporate starting from my summer. My friends from school have had it much easier in getting out of biglaw from their corporate groups in years 3-5.
Corp litigator checking in, still on the hunt after 16 months, 120+ applications, and 40+ interviews (incl many final rounds). I think I'm completely qualified for the roles, but the positions open to litigators are so few and far between that the competition is just immense--it feels like the realization a solid D1 athlete may have when looking at the chances of actually going pro. "Harrowing" is an understatement.
That's an incredible interview rate. I got three interviews out of 80ish applications.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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