For those in BL, would you have gone into coding? Forum

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For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 1:23 pm

I'm curious to hear whether those in BL would've gone into coding if given the chance to make the decision again however many years back. I don't want to be naive and say coding is an easy way to make money for everyone. But I also don't want to be naive and think we're all in this profession because "we're too dumb to code," especially given the amount of hours and work involved in BL. Sure, we're pro ably never going to make as much in coding as in BL ($250-400K). But given that (1) you only need a bachelor's to become a software engineer, (2) most entry SDE positions pay $80-160K, and (3) BL exit opps also seem to dip towards mid-100K, the two options seem relatively comparable. More so for those taking out loans. Curious to hear people's perspectives.


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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 1:25 pm

If my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by blair.waldorf » Thu Feb 10, 2022 1:35 pm

Yes obviously. I still think about going back to school to learn how to code.

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glitched

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by glitched » Thu Feb 10, 2022 1:40 pm

Coding at a high level is really hard. Coding at any other level is fairly boring. But it's likely not as stressful and it's 9-5. I have family members that are coders and their lives seem nice, but they do pull late nights and weekends sometimes.

If I could do it all again, I'd either be an actuary or go into tax. I was going to go into medicine, but I think it was the right call not to do it since the journey and the job both sound ridiculously stressful.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 1:42 pm

When I grow up I want to be a firetruck

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 1:44 pm

I took an intro to programming course in undergrad and actually loved it (and also seemed to have some intuitive knack for it); I realize full well that doesn't mean I am capable of being a high-powered FAANG SWE. But yes, I think that this career track would have been much better suited to my interests and my financial goals (work moderately hard and bank moderately high amounts of money).

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 2:01 pm

glitched wrote:
Thu Feb 10, 2022 1:40 pm
Coding at a high level is really hard. Coding at any other level is fairly boring. But it's likely not as stressful and it's 9-5. I have family members that are coders and their lives seem nice, but they do pull late nights and weekends sometimes.

If I could do it all again, I'd either be an actuary or go into tax. I was going to go into medicine, but I think it was the right call not to do it since the journey and the job both sound ridiculously stressful.
I actually tried for actuary, even passed a couple of exams. Couldn't get a job. This was a decade ago, economy was very different and hiring was slow. I'd gone to night school during the Recession and had no internships. I was competing with kids with masters degrees from Columbia and 4 exams. Eventually got a couple of dead end low pay "analyst" jobs, then after a few years of that remembered I'm still good at taking tests so I took the LSAT and here I am.

I'm making more money than actuaries do, for worse WL balance. But it wasn't a tradeoff for me -- I'd failed at that career. Insert inspirational quote about failure but there it is. I never had two paths. The lesson here is that the grass isn't always greener, not everyone finds success the same way.

If I had to do it all again, I'd have probably go to a better undergrad. And then to law school anyway, but at a younger age. I enjoy law more that I'd have enjoyed being an actuary.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by lurkinassociate » Thu Feb 10, 2022 2:05 pm

Definitely not. I wouldn’t go into anything I’m not at all interested in. This is probably why so many people are extra miserable in big law. I went to law school to do transactions because I enjoy the challenges and strategy around that and it plays to my strengths. It’s still rough because I do way too many hours of it, but I’d hate my life if I found it meaningless or boring.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 2:21 pm

In theory I could have learned to code sufficiently to go into software stuff because I’m not especially stupid and skills can be learned. In practice, it’s not something I’m naturally good at and I would have hated the process so much I doubt I’d have lasted.

What I wish is that I’d had a better sense of the full scope of jobs out there and how the boring stuff I don’t like would have been worth it to get into those fields. Like doing science to work with animals in a zoo (though TBF I’ve seen that those jobs are INCREDIBLY competitive and hard to get). Or being more aware of things like urban planning, or various design related fields. At the times I had to make decisions about things like school and so on, the only things I had been taught to consider appropriate options were doctors, lawyers, “business” (had no idea what that meant), and similar white collar stuff. I loved art and music and writing, but those weren’t “practical” career paths. (And to be fair that’s kind of right if you measure success in becoming a famous artist or musician or novelist, but there are a lot of ways to use those skills if you know about them.) These other options are doubtless nowhere near as lucrative as law or coding, but possibly more satisfying (to me).

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 2:22 pm

For some perspective, I left my job as a software developer to go to law school and am now in a law firm. Economically, it was a bad decision because of the opportunity costs and the loss of earnings while in law school. It did expand my view of things and gave me an appreciation of how much “value” am I actually producing for my firm/company/etc. A lot of software developers actually don’t produce much value and so are easily replaceable, especially as they get older, and particularly outside of the super profit making FAANG companies. I suppose the same could be said about lawyers too but it’s easier to be an older lawyer than an older software developer, so moving to law allowed a transition to a field where I can age more easily. I think you could do the same thing though moving into more of a business role, but I do thing software development is a young person’s game.

I do think the average software developer is better off than the average lawyer and I think the best software developer is better off than the best lawyer. It’s the category of “pretty good” where things are tricky. Because Biglaw is lockstep, you might end up better off as a pretty good attorney than a pretty good software developer. Not every pretty good software developer ends up in FAANG and gets the benefit of stock options that go up in price. Plenty toil in less visible companies and receive less compensation (even though they really are producing a lot of value). This increase in salaries (and the potential for massive salaries) for software developers is a relatively recent phenomenon. After working on a few deals where I had to review salary data as part of diligence, I realize there is so much more variability in compensation in companies than in Biglaw, even within the same position.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Monochromatic Oeuvre » Thu Feb 10, 2022 8:19 pm

Inb4 every V10 associate claims they have would have easily been FAANG senior SWEs, no problem, or maybe VPs at an investment bank, or maybe first chair of the New York Philharmonic.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 8:25 pm

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:
Thu Feb 10, 2022 8:19 pm
Inb4 every V10 associate claims they have would have easily been FAANG senior SWEs, no problem, or maybe VPs at an investment bank, or maybe first chair of the New York Philharmonic.
Why not both?
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see the joke is that biglaw lawyers are innumerate, bc you listed 3 and I said both. Get it? I'll see myself out

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 9:52 pm

As Jerry Seinfeld might have said:

“Don't you know what it means to become a coder? It changes everything! I'd have to dress different. I'd have to act different. I'd have to watch sci-fi shows and collect action figures and go to comic book conventions. I'd have to get new friends. I'd have to get coder friends!”

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by randomthrowaway » Thu Feb 10, 2022 11:02 pm

Yeah, I took a Java coding class in college and I could not code for shit. So no, I would not have gone into coding because I was terrible at it.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 11:12 pm

Left software engineering for the law. Pay was fine, but toward the lower end you outlined. The hotshot big-pay coding jobs were all at sweat shops, where the interviewers want you to create an algorithm to create a binary tree off the top of your head. The regular "coding" jobs aren't as glamorous and generally don't pay anywhere close to as much as Big Law, but you probably do have better work-life balance. I miss it sometimes, but the pay differential is too big at this point. I've basically quadrupled my salary in the decade since I left. Plus, I find that I really enjoy the competitive nature and quality of my daily interactions in the law, as compared with my software engineering coworkers. Not to say that some weren't great. Just that software engineers tend to be stereotyped for a reason.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Feb 10, 2022 11:43 pm

My SO is a senior-level SWE at a FAANG. Due to equity grants rising in value over the course of last year, SO cleared $1 million total comp last year. SO works, at maximum, 35 hours per week, mostly bullshit meetings. SO’s net worth is over $3 million; keep in mind SO did not give up three years of earnings + go into debt for schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree.

I am a senior biglaw associate. I made about $500k last year but worked twice as hard…

Yeah, I’d go into coding if I could do it over again.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 11, 2022 12:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Feb 10, 2022 11:43 pm
My SO is a senior-level SWE at a FAANG. Due to equity grants rising in value over the course of last year, SO cleared $1 million total comp last year. SO works, at maximum, 35 hours per week, mostly bullshit meetings. SO’s net worth is over $3 million; keep in mind SO did not give up three years of earnings + go into debt for schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree.

I am a senior biglaw associate. I made about $500k last year but worked twice as hard…

Yeah, I’d go into coding if I could do it over again.
People in biglaw or other service industries with billable hours do not understand how little people at most other office jobs actually work

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by s1m4 » Fri Feb 11, 2022 12:22 am

Gawd yes, I have a friend who is like a "mid-level" coder at Amazon - he makes ~$400k annually and works maybe like ..5-10 hours a week? He tells me that the people supervising him don't understand the work that he is doing (which he says is pretty rudimentary) so he can take as long as he wants to, and so he barely works. He is also working on a side business in his spare time, exercises regularly, eats healthy and preps all meals, reads books all day, and supports his non-working wife.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by TUwave » Fri Feb 11, 2022 2:16 am

s1m4 wrote:
Fri Feb 11, 2022 12:22 am
Gawd yes, I have a friend who is like a "mid-level" coder at Amazon - he makes ~$400k annually and works maybe like ..5-10 hours a week? He tells me that the people supervising him don't understand the work that he is doing (which he says is pretty rudimentary) so he can take as long as he wants to, and so he barely works. He is also working on a side business in his spare time, exercises regularly, eats healthy and preps all meals, reads books all day, and supports his non-working wife.
C'mon man I'm just trying to make it through the week over here.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Definitely Not North » Fri Feb 11, 2022 2:56 am

Lol we really screwed this up didn’t we

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 11, 2022 7:57 am

I literally need a paralegal’s help to make an excel spreadsheet. So, no. I’m a senior biglaw associate and although I have a pro-level talent in an art (think acting, music) and have done it professionally in the past, I still couldn’t see myself realistically doing anything besides what I’m doing now.

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t go to law or medicine or coding or whatever because you perceive an incrementally more favorable ratio in some combo of QOL/oppo cost/hours worked/total comp/comp potential. Even at 9-5, workdays are way too long for this stuff to be the only metrics in deciding what you should do (or for the purposes of this thread, I suppose, to talk about how you should have done something else).

You should go into whichever one of these things play best to your intellectual strengths. My intellectual strengths, I felt, were reasoning through things and writing about them. No way in hell could I do anything with math, data, tech, or science. I did my art professionally for a year and consciously decided I did not want that life (but all of my peers in that industry thought I was crazy for wanting to stop and do law instead).

This is why I always find the “I banker vs biglaw vs coding vs medicine” discussions to be silly. It’s also why I’m consistently so shocked when people tell me they gave up solid coding jobs where they made solid money and routinely got promoted to make nothing for 3 years and take out tons of loans…for this insane industry that I work in that most people don’t like. It’s also why I’m never shocked when so many junior associates hate their lives and burn out—most never should have gone into law to begin with.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 11, 2022 8:39 am

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:
Thu Feb 10, 2022 8:19 pm
Inb4 every V10 associate claims they have would have easily been FAANG senior SWEs, no problem, or maybe VPs at an investment bank, or maybe first chair of the New York Philharmonic.
LOL this. I studied physics in undergrad and did quite well at it (top of my class), including coding. But I absolutely hated it. It's boring as all hell and debugging a program (or editing someone else's code) is 100x worse than any edits I've received on a brief.

Even with my credentials, it would have been hard to get a job at a FAANG right out of college. My friend who did end up at one was a triple major in math, physics, and computer science, graduated in 3 years, and was better at coding than I could ever be in a million years. The interview process he went through was reminiscent of consulting interviews from a non-Ivy, but with more of a technical bent.

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Sad248 » Fri Feb 11, 2022 8:44 am

s1m4 wrote:
Fri Feb 11, 2022 12:22 am
Gawd yes, I have a friend who is like a "mid-level" coder at Amazon - he makes ~$400k annually and works maybe like ..5-10 hours a week? He tells me that the people supervising him don't understand the work that he is doing (which he says is pretty rudimentary) so he can take as long as he wants to, and so he barely works. He is also working on a side business in his spare time, exercises regularly, eats healthy and preps all meals, reads books all day, and supports his non-working wife.
This really makes me want to learn coding. There was a guy around here who quit biglaw as a first year and just did a coding bootcamp for two months, and is getting paid pretty decently as well now with about as many hours as you put down. I'm thinking of doing the same this year as well, there's just always this bit of apprehension of "what if I for whatever reason don't get a job?"

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Re: For those in BL, would you have gone into coding?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 11, 2022 9:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Feb 11, 2022 8:39 am
Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:
Thu Feb 10, 2022 8:19 pm
Inb4 every V10 associate claims they have would have easily been FAANG senior SWEs, no problem, or maybe VPs at an investment bank, or maybe first chair of the New York Philharmonic.
LOL this. I studied physics in undergrad and did quite well at it (top of my class), including coding. But I absolutely hated it. It's boring as all hell and debugging a program (or editing someone else's code) is 100x worse than any edits I've received on a brief.

Even with my credentials, it would have been hard to get a job at a FAANG right out of college. My friend who did end up at one was a triple major in math, physics, and computer science, graduated in 3 years, and was better at coding than I could ever be in a million years. The interview process he went through was reminiscent of consulting interviews from a non-Ivy, but with more of a technical bent.
i always got the sense that getting FAANG wasn't really harder from a good school than getting biglaw was from a t14 school. look at the numbers of people going into faang from a good undergrad, it's not like a small minority of people who study cs, which is like the biggest major at a lot of schools. and folks at good schools not getting faang aren't getting paid much below faang. at my law school, vast majority of folks went to top 10-15 undergrads where faangs recruit. yeah not literally 100% of people going to biglaw could have done CS, but like probably at least half could if they started late high school or early undergrad.

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