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Author Topic: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)  (Read 18202 times)

marcusbarnes30

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Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« on: September 18, 2006, 06:30:01 PM »
For the life of me, I cannot understand why so many seemingly intelligent and ambitious people continue to perpetuate and regurgitate (if thats how you spell it) this oh so popular opinion that working 60+ hours a week at BigLaw is the only option and absolute end-all if you want to work BigLaw.

I realize that not everyone is not extended the priviledge of going to school at a top 5, 14, 25 or even 50 school. Those individuals are unfortunately *&^% out of luck. However, for those of you who promenade the campuses of such high pedigree schools it is my contention that given the number of firms that visit the schools you attent, you have or can get adequate information about their quality of life thus affording you the priviledge of snobbishly turning your nose on any firm that might want you to work such inhumane hours.

xferlawstudent

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Re: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2006, 06:51:08 PM »
There are no such big firms.  The competition for recent graduates with good grades on Law Review and from top schools has become so much that the only means of attracting the best young talent is to raise starting salaries.  However, on the other side of the market, the firms are also competing for clients so they are reluctant to pass the increase in wages on to the client.  The result is an increase in working hours. 

Studies show that hours of associate attorneys has gone through the roof in the last decade.  For more in depth information on this trend, I reccomend reading

Schiltz, Patrick, On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession, 52 Vand. L. Rev. 871 (1999).

marcusbarnes30

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Re: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2006, 07:08:39 PM »
I recognize you as my senior on this board, but beg to differ
As ranked by Vault
 
1. Jenkens & Gilchrist, PC
2. Saul Ewing LLP
3. Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP
4. Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP
5. Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

and there are 15 more where that came from

dmitrik4

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Re: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2006, 10:36:03 PM »
there are big firms that pay well and don't require inhumane hours.  however, for that reason they're usually not at the top of the typical AmLaw, etc rankings, which usually use the profit per partner statistic.  the firms with high PPP get there with lotsa hours and high billing rates.  as with the USNWR school rankings, those firm rankings seem to translate (deservedly or undeservedly) into prestige, which is where a lot of people go wrong, IMO.  it seems that for a lot of people at top schools, firms not starting with "Skadden," "Cravath," "Wachtell," etc aren't worth trying on.


one nice thing about law firms is that there is usually one out there to suit you.  the bad thing is that there is precious little information and opportunity to identify that firm before one typically has to commit to a place.

i suppose that results in people going with the info they do have, which often is the aforementioned and self-perpetuating "prestige" factor.  it strikes me as similar to the interviewing process, where firms try to identify the best candidates on pretty limited info (resulting in a possible over-reliance on GPA).

marcusbarnes30

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Re: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2006, 02:43:26 PM »
You seem like you may know even more about this subject then myself.
Isn't it also true that after 2-4 years at a firm (whichever firm it might be ranking high or low in prestige) you can pretty much take on another position as associate or otherwise working for more money and a better quality of life?

xferlawstudent

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Re: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2006, 04:51:31 PM »
You seem like you may know even more about this subject then myself.
Isn't it also true that after 2-4 years at a firm (whichever firm it might be ranking high or low in prestige) you can pretty much take on another position as associate or otherwise working for more money and a better quality of life?

If you're talking about moving to a small-midsized firm, NOT bloody likely.  Small/mid-sized firms hold a stigma against BIGLAW associates for two main reasons.  (1) they are used to making more money than small/mid-sized firms are willing to pay.  (2) BIGLAW associates do not have the skill level necessary.  Before everyone blasts me, let me explain.  One's first few years at BIGLAW is going to be writing motions, memos and researching caselaw.  You will not argue in court, you will not have any trial experience, you will not have client counseling skills.  This is true because BIGLAW clients and cases have so much at stake and they are paying so much in hourly fees, the clients do not want some 1-2 year attorney working on their case...and you won't.

I worked at a BIGLAW before law school as a paralegal.  It is a wonderful opportunity to make alot of money and assert prestige.  However, if you have any interest in quality of life, BIGLAW is not for you.

dmitrik4

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Re: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2006, 06:33:46 PM »
^^^ this CAN be, but isn't necessarily, true.  Big firms generally provide plenty of opportunity to do pro bono work (often, more than at smaller firms), where a young associate can get experience doing all those things (under supervision, of course).  within my first 2 weeks, i was sitting in depositions, talking to the client, and helping the 3rd-yr associate running the case to plan our discovery and trial strategy.

one thing that's useful to keep in mind is that YOU, and only you, are responsible for your career.  your career is going to be what you make it, and if you are content to simply bill time working on projects fed to you, your scenario can certainly be reality.

it all comes back to the idea that one needs to find the firm that fits.  no one can say with any authority that "X kind of firm is bad/good/etc."  they all have their positives and negatives beyond what conventional wisdom says.  i know plenty of people who have left for smaller firms, and plenty who have moved the other way.

dorsia

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Re: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2006, 09:27:31 PM »
I tend to agree with dmitrik4.  While I do think that associates are limited in the first years at large law firms, many doors open.  In my city, many prestigious mid-size firms only hire laterals from the city's larger law firms.  Those laterals do the same quality of work, get paid great, and, perhaps, work less hours.  Further, many AUSAs began their careers at large law firms.  Although many top graduates do clerkships immediately following graduation, some large firms even support the decisions of their associates to clerk in the big leagues.  Even if one does not want to stay at a large law firm forever, the experience is hardly a limiting factor. 

But limitations exist.  Sitting in on a deposition is not the same as conducting ten depositions a week as a public defender.  Arguing a motion in court, let alone having a role in a trial, doesn't happen all the time for a young associate in a large firm.  A client who pays large amounts of money wants a partner arguing his motion for summary judgment, not a first- or second-year associate. 

As with everything, pros and cons are present at large law firms.  Weigh them, and make a decision. 

Bored 3L

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Re: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2006, 09:44:48 PM »
You seem like you may know even more about this subject then myself.
Isn't it also true that after 2-4 years at a firm (whichever firm it might be ranking high or low in prestige) you can pretty much take on another position as associate or otherwise working for more money and a better quality of life?

If you're talking about moving to a small-midsized firm, NOT bloody likely.  Small/mid-sized firms hold a stigma against BIGLAW associates for two main reasons.  (1) they are used to making more money than small/mid-sized firms are willing to pay.  (2) BIGLAW associates do not have the skill level necessary.  Before everyone blasts me, let me explain.  One's first few years at BIGLAW is going to be writing motions, memos and researching caselaw.  You will not argue in court, you will not have any trial experience, you will not have client counseling skills.  This is true because BIGLAW clients and cases have so much at stake and they are paying so much in hourly fees, the clients do not want some 1-2 year attorney working on their case...and you won't.

I worked at a BIGLAW before law school as a paralegal.  It is a wonderful opportunity to make alot of money and assert prestige.  However, if you have any interest in quality of life, BIGLAW is not for you.

Most of this is just wrong.  I work in biglaw now, as an attorney, not a paralegal, and I can tell you that lawyers leave my firm all the time to go to mid to small firms.  Many attorneys leave biglaw to become partners a few years later.

sdlaw

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Re: Big Law Firms (Why is it so hard for everyone to figure out)
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2006, 12:21:48 AM »
I agree with Bored 3l.  Small to medium firms love to hire people with biglaw experience.  Look at the job lists and you will see biglaw experience preferred.  What the other poster misses is that biglaw offers training to their attorneys, most small firms simply can not afford that and through the attorneys into court without training.  Although in court experience is great, training is also very helpful, and well lawschools just do not provide it.  Biglaw is hard to get into, and quality of life can be horrible, but it will open the doors down the line.