Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Acceptances, Denials, and Waitlists => Topic started by: Harlow80 on February 07, 2007, 03:17:59 PM

Title: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: Harlow80 on February 07, 2007, 03:17:59 PM
I keep reading that, unless you get into a Tier 1, Tier 2 school, you will not get into "big law"

Can someone just clarify that? What if you just want to practice law in a smaller suburban law firm- I can get interviews from my Tier 4 there, right?

Any info would really be appreciated and try not to be nasty- I'm just looking for information. Thanks!
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: Penelope on February 07, 2007, 04:09:03 PM
Vault does a Top 100 (http://vault.com/nr/lawrankings.jsp?law2006=2&top100=1) ranking every year. Many of those top firms are considered "big-law".. probably all 100 are "big-law", maybe except some niche ones..

the top 20 (V20) are the stereotypical "Big-Law" firms like Wachtell and Skadden. they have offices everywhere, are very large, have high turn-over rates for their associates, very little chance of making partner, etc. but they pay at the top of the scale, you get a good resume builder, etc.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: budlaw on February 08, 2007, 02:13:55 PM
Not all "big-law" firms are on that list. Many of them are regional or specialty that aren't on the Vault 100. But basically its a "big-law" firm if it has multiple offices and anywhere from 100 to 200 attorneys.

For example, I didn't see Balch & Bingham and they're a south-east regional Big-law firm. (multiple offices and more than 150 attorneys) Nor did I see Fisher & Phillips or Ford & Harrison and they're both national labor employment firms that are probably considered "Big law" because they both have around 200 attorneys spread out accross the country in 15 or so offices.

Basically the name "big law" implies what "big law" is: A big law firm.


Vault does a Top 100 (http://vault.com/nr/lawrankings.jsp?law2006=2&top100=1) ranking every year. Many of those top firms are considered "big-law".. probably all 100 are "big-law", maybe except some niche ones..

the top 20 (V20) are the stereotypical "Big-Law" firms like Wachtell and Skadden. they have offices everywhere, are very large, have high turn-over rates for their associates, very little chance of making partner, etc. but they pay at the top of the scale, you get a good resume builder, etc.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: lawschoolboundlady on April 11, 2007, 11:24:02 PM
How much debt would people say is payable with ease through jobs other than BIGLAW?  under 70K .. Under 80k... ??
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: qmmm on April 12, 2007, 09:34:36 AM
For paying back tuition debt, a simple estimate is 10% of your gross salary.  Although, it's really a matter of what sort of life style you want to live.

If you make $80k/yr, take out 10% for debt and 40% for taxes.  That leaves you with $40k/yr for all other expenses like housing, food, and so forth.  Considering $40k/yr is the median pretax income in many places, this isn't exactly living like  a pauper.

So, if you expect to be able to pay $8k/yr in debt repayment, you can then estimate how much debt you'd be willing to accept.  If you take out $60k in loans @7% interest and have a 10 yr repayment schedule, you will end up needing to pay back $83.6k; roughly $8k/yr. (estimates from http://www.finaid.org/calculators/scripts/loanpayments.cgi)

Let's get back to the $40k in desposible income.  Would you be willing to use some of that for loan repayment?  If so, you could assume more debt or pay off the $60k example earlier to reduce the amount of interest paid.  If you looked to pay it off in say 8 yrs ($10k/yr), you would save yourself about $5k in interest charges.

Anyway, I hope that helps a bit.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: Iceslip on April 13, 2007, 11:49:23 AM
How much debt would people say is payable with ease through jobs other than BIGLAW?  under 70K .. Under 80k... ??

Kudos to the reply poster for explaining a calculation and attempting to provide some kind of answer to this.  However, this is a bit of a loaded and impossible question: the answer is 100% based on your lifestyle, as was stated. 

"payable with ease?"  I mean, do you mean to be able to pay the debt off quickly?  Or be able to allot very little each year for the re-payment, meanign that you will pay it off over a much longer time.  You eat spaghetti every night and stop going to the movies, you could pay that debt off pretty quickly.  But I'm guessing you (and if applicable, your family) would get a bit tired of that haha, requiring you to spend.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: ě on April 14, 2007, 04:28:39 PM
With a BigLaw job you could pay off a $150k debt in 5 years, although that would mean living on ramen and water most of the year. If you do land a Big Law job, you'll be well covered, regardless of your student debt. (mind you, you might want to buy a house or something as well...)
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: nealric on April 14, 2007, 10:36:40 PM
Quote
With a BigLaw job you could pay off a $150k debt in 5 years, although that would mean living on ramen and water most of the year

Not true at all. Keep in mind that if you are in the game for 5 years, you have gotten about 50k in raises.

Even if you are assuming a static salary of only 125k/yr, you can do a LOT better than ramen and water. Just live off 75k a year for 4 years and you've done it. 75k a year is not a ramen and water salary. Heck, I currently live on substantially less than 1/2 75k. I live pretty ok on it too- I go out to eat a few times a week and have a comfortable place. The biggest firm in my city still pays 145k to start. Assuming I could get a job at that firm, I am looking at triple the salary AFTER the loan payments.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: Journeyman on April 15, 2007, 07:06:13 AM
Ok so 125K+ is BIGLAW


What kind of work are you doing at the 85-110K range?
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: queencruella on April 15, 2007, 08:12:00 AM
Ok so 125K+ is BIGLAW


What kind of work are you doing at the 85-110K range?

Not necessarily. You can still be in satellite (or even main) offices of big lawfirms making less, depending on the market. I know the market I'm from pretty much tops out at $110K, although there are quite a few larger firms there.

Biglaw is basically a big law firm- it's more about the size than anything else, although some firms are considered biglaw due to prestige (Wachtell, for instance, is not a very large firm).
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: nealric on April 15, 2007, 05:52:41 PM
85-110 is generally what midlaw firms pay. Often the same hours (but not always)
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: yoyodawg on April 16, 2007, 09:48:51 AM
85-110 is generally what midlaw firms pay. Often the same hours (but not always)

That's true for midlaw in NYC, Chicago or DC.

However, for Miami, Atlanta or Houston, 85-110 is what a lot of biglaw firms start out paying. (with a few exceptions - like HK or GT in Miami,  and few of Atlanta's biglaw firms - Troutman or Sutherland or K&S -  have recently raised the starting pay to 125-135)

Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: Journeyman on April 16, 2007, 10:47:10 AM
Sorry to hijack the thread for a moment, but I just wanted to clarify something.

BIGLAW has a primarily large corporation clinentele.  What is the clientele for mid-law?

Basically, other things can you do in mid-law besides insurance defense, because that's generally the only answer given to the question.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: Journeyman on April 16, 2007, 10:48:39 AM
The reason I ask is, obviously many of us are going to have BIGLAW as an ambition, even some of us "future world changers".   

But only about 10-15% of all of us are going to get there.  I just want to see what the alternative is, if I don't go for government.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: Journeyman on April 16, 2007, 10:53:08 AM
But only about 10-15% of all of us are going to get there.  I just want to see what the alternative is, if I don't go for government.

That's what they say about scoring 165+ on the LSAT, and you know how that goes for LSDers.   ;)

With the abundant hits on threads about schools like UVA, Columbia, Michigan, and Georgetown...I really do not feel like LSD is a representative sample of the students entering law schools each year.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: ě on April 19, 2007, 11:37:51 AM
Quote
With a BigLaw job you could pay off a $150k debt in 5 years, although that would mean living on ramen and water most of the year

Not true at all. Keep in mind that if you are in the game for 5 years, you have gotten about 50k in raises.

Even if you are assuming a static salary of only 125k/yr, you can do a LOT better than ramen and water. Just live off 75k a year for 4 years and you've done it. 75k a year is not a ramen and water salary. Heck, I currently live on substantially less than 1/2 75k. I live pretty ok on it too- I go out to eat a few times a week and have a comfortable place. The biggest firm in my city still pays 145k to start. Assuming I could get a job at that firm, I am looking at triple the salary AFTER the loan payments.

Please don't take everything literally :)
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: Scribner on April 24, 2007, 08:35:32 PM
How much debt would people say is payable with ease through jobs other than BIGLAW?  under 70K .. Under 80k... ??

General rule of thumb: you can afford debt equal to your starting salary.

As for Biglaw, it's generally 200+ lawyers at firms that pay market, which is the top rate commonly found at the top firms in a market. Market is 135 in Milwaukee, 145 in Chicago/DC/Atlanta, and 160 in NYC.

So, if you are racking up 6 figure debt, you better be going to a school that's going to get you a job that can pay the debt. If you're not at a top school (T10/14), you're chances of BIGLAW are slim. It's not impossible, it's just not likely.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: DDBY on May 13, 2007, 08:27:58 AM
You can get into a Biglaw without going to a T1.  It's amatter of how well you do with grades, and your networking abilities.  Some of the Profs in the T4 have Biglaw connections.  Some of the Biglaw Firms go to regional schools to specifically meet with the top 10 of the class.  The main point is to get the JD.  Everything else will work out if you do your work right.

Have faith in yourself.  If you don't no one else will.
Title: Re: What is considered "big law"?
Post by: Imelda Marcos on May 14, 2007, 02:16:14 PM
You can get into a Biglaw without going to a T1.  It's amatter of how well you do with grades, and your networking abilities.  Some of the Profs in the T4 have Biglaw connections.  Some of the Biglaw Firms go to regional schools to specifically meet with the top 10 of the class.  The main point is to get the JD.  Everything else will work out if you do your work right.

Have faith in yourself.  If you don't no one else will.

Best piece of advice all day.