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Author Topic: I don't understand the appeal of "big law"  (Read 1934 times)

nate

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Re: I don't understand the appeal of "big law"
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2006, 10:56:42 PM »
about how many hours/week do biglaw attorneys have to attend social events?
GW

jd2b06

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Re: I don't understand the appeal of "big law"
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2006, 11:04:16 PM »
Well I think the most obvious answer to your question is indebtedness.  The amount of debt that I'll have once I graduate is a big reason to go for the "big law" as you put it in the big firms.  I know that although my ultimate goal may be to hang my own shingle.. I'll put up with the man-eating workload for 5 years or so at 150k a year with it becoming larger each year just so I can pay off ALL of my debt and have the beginnings of a nice nest egg.

Mimimimi

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Re: I don't understand the appeal of "big law"
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2006, 10:12:58 AM »
according to a post from xoxohth (which references a website to which i have no access), the average weekly hours at biglaw are more like 60. i take no responsibility for the correctness of the source, but it is in line with what people seem to say around that site, and they're all obsessed with biglaw.

so, 60 hours/week for $125K to start, with probably a $15K bonus a year (am i wrong about this bonus??). so it's 60 hours/week for $140K. that seems pretty decent to me. i can't think of many other fields in which you can get a job for that much, even if you worked that many hours.

even if you were only to work 40 hours, in biglaw pay, it would stil be about $95K.

even if you figured the extra 20 hours as over-time (time and a half), it's still about $80K.

at the least, it's twice as much as my friends coming out of undergrad are making, and even for many with MAs.

60 hours a week doesn't sound like that much, but it's actually pretty bad if you think about it.  You're either working 12 hour days 5 days a week or 10 hour days plus a full 10 hour day on the weekend.  The occasional 60 hour week isn't bad, but if you're doing it consistently it leaves you not much time to do anything else.  Plus, I think that's a conservative estimate.  I have lots of friends in biglaw; every once in a while they can get out of work around 7 or 8 but more typically it's between 9-11 and they almost always have to go in for at least one day on the weekend. 

As for me, I think that I could put up with the workload, if it didn't seem so bone-crushingly boring.  60 hours a week of document review sounds pretty torturous to me, even for $125k.  I'd love to make that kind of money, but having already been in a job that made me miserable before law school, I am trying to resist the pull to get into something that I know I won't like much just for the dough. 

I think a lot of people do know what they're getting into, but convince themselves that somehow it won't be so bad for them or that they will be different, and like it.  Out of maybe 15 biglaw associates I know, only one tolerates her job - and by this I don't mean that she likes it, I mean that she doesn't hate it. 

T. Durden

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Re: I don't understand the appeal of "big law"
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2006, 12:24:36 PM »
i think that most of us who are in law school realize this - it's hard at this poitn to remain optimistic regarding big law when your professors are routinely reminding you of the "rigors" of big law. i think the draw still remains however, because 1) most of us will be in suffocating debt when we finish LS and we will require the big salaries (at least for a couple of years) to deal with the problem 2) biglaw is a gateway - it opens doors the things that we actually want to do (like work in-house for pfzier at 40 hours a week [those with firm experience need only apply] and 3) maybe we see it something akin to residency in medicine where you actually learn what the profession is all about. i've heard it from enough to people to know (in a general sense) that you somehow know nothing about the law by the time you finish law school - you learn the vast majority of what builds your career in your first couple years as a lawyer.

but other than that it appears to me as a dismal light at the end of a strenously dark tunnel. my neighbor, a 3L, who next year starts work for some NY big law firm, told me that he is starting to get the impression that law school is by far the best part of one's legal career (the pinnacle being the 2L summer associate summer for obvious reasons).

Mimimimi

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Re: I don't understand the appeal of "big law"
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2006, 07:01:41 PM »
i think that most of us who are in law school realize this - it's hard at this poitn to remain optimistic regarding big law when your professors are routinely reminding you of the "rigors" of big law. i think the draw still remains however, because 1) most of us will be in suffocating debt when we finish LS and we will require the big salaries (at least for a couple of years) to deal with the problem 2) biglaw is a gateway - it opens doors the things that we actually want to do (like work in-house for pfzier at 40 hours a week [those with firm experience need only apply] and 3) maybe we see it something akin to residency in medicine where you actually learn what the profession is all about. i've heard it from enough to people to know (in a general sense) that you somehow know nothing about the law by the time you finish law school - you learn the vast majority of what builds your career in your first couple years as a lawyer.

but other than that it appears to me as a dismal light at the end of a strenously dark tunnel. my neighbor, a 3L, who next year starts work for some NY big law firm, told me that he is starting to get the impression that law school is by far the best part of one's legal career (the pinnacle being the 2L summer associate summer for obvious reasons).

Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that there weren't legitimate reasons to go into biglaw other than the money - obviously it is an accomplishment to get that sort of job, and can open doors down the line in certain fields.  I think some people are realistic about biglaw and what they hope to get out of it, and some people just see it as sort of the next prize to be reached in their continuum of lifetime achievement. 

And, of course the loans are a big concern.  This is why I think that the knee-jerk advice of lots of people to "go to the best school you get into" is off.  That is great advice, if what you want to do is biglaw, or possibly super-low paying public interest where you'd get loan repayment.  But if you want to do government or a small-medium firm job where you're making 55k a year, then you're too rich for loan repayment and too poor to pay back your loans. 

ae

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Re: I don't understand the appeal of "big law"
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2006, 02:19:24 AM »
Quote
the reason i don't see why a "big law" job is so sought after is simply this: you get paid twice as much but you work twice the hours (70-80 hours). so is it not the case that your "wage" (i.e. hourly pay) is the same at a non-biglaw firm?

i understand the potential to make partner, but there's a slim chance doing so in most firms, from what i've heard. am i missing something?

yes and no