I am constantly told that I have it good here for the following reasons: nicer people, lower billable hours, reasonable schedule, better work life balance, and better odds for making partner. I don't know how much of those opinions are from a time in BigLaw that isn't really like that anymore or just uninformed because they are not in my shoes as an associate at our firm (or don't want me to leave since we are already short on associates).
If you are in a BigLaw corporate practice (even better for emerging cos. and start-ups), it would be very helpful for me to hear what your "stats" are as follows:
- Class Year/Rank: mid-level with the workload of a senior associate or even a junior partner at times
- Pay: salary is approximately 60% of my class year on Cravath scale (without even accounting for bonuses and special COVID bonuses) and cost of living is about 30% less than a big city
- Required Billables: 1900 required
- Actual Billed: Billed just over 2050 this past year and 2000 the year before that
- Schedule: Log on by 9 am and log off around 11 pm every week day, but log off by 9 pm on most Fridays. Work almost every weekend about 6 billable hours on average when it's not crazy.
Typically bill to at least 5 matters a day which is not as productive as block billers in other practices. Lots of administrative and other non-billable tasks that I have to handle because we don't have enough support in the practice despite being the busiest one (one paralegal for whole corporate group, no junior associates, inexperienced assistant). I have already trimmed down the non-billable time to the extent possible. I am "at work" a lot but billable hours don't reflect that bc of the foregoing.
- Work Life Balance: Practice group is pretty small so deal staffing is lean. I carry a lot of responsibility and often manage a few deals on my own at a time, so the pressure is constant and with the limited help available it can be very painful when someone on our team takes a vacation.
Little resources on the staff side, so I'm usually the one doing everything from preparing signature pages, sending out the HelloSign or DocuSign to gather signatures, checking them in, compiling closing volumes, and all of that in addition to drafting the primary deal documents and ancillaries and due diligence. No feasible ways for me to delegate tasks appropriately or work on a deal other than myself doing pretty much all of it with some partner involvement, which makes taking time off difficult.
- People: I like my few partners and they're way cool and fun to work with but we're a small office and there are only 7 or so associates in the overall corporate group, none of whom really socialize at the office or with work people. I feel like I am missing out on social interactions with peers my age compared to associates at bigger firms with large associate classes. I don't have a hard time getting along with people really.
- Partnership: Partnership is not a must-have for me so I don't want to put much weight on that. I have no doubts that I could make it here, but pay would be almost on par with what senior associates make in BigLaw and, looking around, it seems that my partners bill about 1600-1900 hours.
Do I really have it that much better than BigLaw associates? Separate from your billable hours, are you spending a lot of non-billable time at work? How many weekends do you work? How lean are your deal teams? Do you enjoy the company of your colleagues?