A friend of mine works at a top firm and she seems to like it, even though admittedly she hasn't been there for long (she works at a top DC firm). I thought about this issue, and I believe there are ways to find a job that interests you and that has a good work atmosphere. It all depends on your priorities. First, it if you talk about biglaw, you have to understand that you will always work quite a bit there, so if you don't want to have a life that revolves primarily around your job don't do it. Second, if you want to have a life, do not go to NYC. NYC has always been my dream city and I always wanted to live there but after talking to a lot of people I'm not gonna work there. It's just not a good place to work for lawyers if you care to have any sort of social life. You can go to other cities, earn the same and work less for it. Third, if salary is your only criterium it's your own fault. My friend said during the recruiting process you quickly get a sense which firms work you to death and which don't. Look for these things. Bottom line is, choose an area of work that interests you and then choose wisely. Then I believe you gonna find the people who like their jobs.