Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?  (Read 12785 times)

HippieLawChick

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 2487
  • Current 2L
    • View Profile
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2005, 05:06:37 PM »
My current boss keeps telling me that even though I want to do public interest law that I should work in one of those huge firms after LS so that I improve my research and writing skills.  He claims that his time with a mega NYC Wall Street firm is why he is such an excellent researcher/writer now.  

I hate the idea of being a tiny overworked cog in a big machine, but considering that I worked 45-55 hour weeks here all through undergrad, how bad can 70 hour weeks be?  I am kind of used to that already.

What do you all think of my boss's opinion?

texas1

  • Guest
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2005, 05:10:40 PM »
My current boss keeps telling me that even though I want to do public interest law that I should work in one of those huge firms after LS so that I improve my research and writing skills.  He claims that his time with a mega NYC Wall Street firm is why he is such an excellent researcher/writer now.  

I hate the idea of being a tiny overworked cog in a big machine, but considering that I worked 45-55 hour weeks here all through undergrad, how bad can 70 hour weeks be?  I am kind of used to that already.

What do you all think of my boss's opinion?

I agree, that's kinda what I touched on a bit. No matter what you want to do, the research and writing skills will be pretty valuable. Plus even if you're just being told what to do for 3 years, your probably being told what to do by very intelligent lawyers, who did well in school, and who were told what to do by equally intelligent lawyers when they came on board.
We may know the law when we graduate, but they will know how to work the law - and I don't mean that in any pejorative tone - they will tell us what to research and what to look for, because they know what they need for the case/client. I think we can only benefit from that.

taterstol

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 481
  • Current 1L
    • AOL Instant Messenger - CoolDorky
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2005, 05:50:51 PM »
Also, I think 70 hours is a bit much. Sure there will be some weeks where you pull 70 (there will be weeks where you pull much more), but you will also have 35-40 hour weeks and the whole range in between. It just depends on what's going on at any particular time with the firm.

Some math:
assume a 1950 billable hours requirement. Let's say for your first year while you're still learning, you bill 75% of the time you spend at work (6 hours in an 8 hour day). That's 2600 hours worked in a year. With 4 weeks vacation that's 54 hours per week average. No picnic, but not exactly death served up on a platter either. LOTS of professionals work those kinds of hours for substantially less money.

As you get more efficient you can rack up a lot more hours a lot faster. Let's say your second year you manage to bill 80% of the time you spend at work. If you work the same # of total hours (2600) as before, you've billed 2,080 hours (130 over the minimum)--and you'll get a bonus at the end of the year.

It's a good way to make money, and you do it for as long as you can stand it. If you like it, you just keep doing it cuz it's working for you.

tracigu3

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 170
    • MSN Messenger - tracigu3@sbcglobal.net
    • Yahoo Instant Messenger - tracigu3
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2005, 05:54:40 PM »
Except in reality you bill an average of 50% of the time you spend at work.

BoscoBreaux

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 789
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2005, 06:00:32 PM »
It seems to me that the Biglaw jobs are filled by people who haven't had a "real" job yet, are swayed by the fancy lunches and courtside tickets, and don't yet realize how little time for a social life working 70 hour weeks + saturdays leaves you. That's 8am - 8pm M-F. Plus 8am - 6pm Saturday. When do you think you will be able to enjoy that $125k salary they offer? 1 day a week? I would rather work as a garbage man or a janitor than work 70 hours a week and have no life.
Average salary, per hour, of a head janitor at a public high school in NYC: $33.65.
Average starting salary, per hour, of a Biglaw JD: $34.34.
(Never underestimate the power of a mere 40 hour work week!)

taterstol

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 481
  • Current 1L
    • AOL Instant Messenger - CoolDorky
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #25 on: May 11, 2005, 06:04:37 PM »
Except in reality you bill an average of 50% of the time you spend at work.

Did you just make that number up?

joonmpark

  • Guest
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #26 on: May 11, 2005, 06:15:20 PM »
That sounds about right.  But don't be surprised when the hourly rate is even closer to the minimum wage mark.  What a 125 hour work week (which, btw, is not unfeasible) will do to you. 

And yet, I still want my BigLaw experience.

It seems to me that the Biglaw jobs are filled by people who haven't had a "real" job yet, are swayed by the fancy lunches and courtside tickets, and don't yet realize how little time for a social life working 70 hour weeks + saturdays leaves you. That's 8am - 8pm M-F. Plus 8am - 6pm Saturday. When do you think you will be able to enjoy that $125k salary they offer? 1 day a week? I would rather work as a garbage man or a janitor than work 70 hours a week and have no life.
Average salary, per hour, of a head janitor at a public high school in NYC: $33.65.
Average starting salary, per hour, of a Biglaw JD: $34.34.
(Never underestimate the power of a mere 40 hour work week!)

limonjello

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 501
  • Not me as a kid, but me in 34 years
    • View Profile
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2005, 09:48:36 PM »
Except in reality you bill an average of 50% of the time you spend at work.

I've been a billable consultant for over 10 years.  It tends to run much closer, and often even higher, than tater indicated.  If you only bill 50% of your time, you will be fired for incompetence or let go for lack of firm work.  50% billing is not an economically viable billing percentage.  The one thing tater overstates in his equation is vacation.  Most lawyers I have found won't take 4 weeks of vacation until they are reasonably established.

Bosco, I'm not sure where you got your number from, but the math doesn't reasonably add up.

Snuvy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 224
  • Trust me, I'm a lawyer.
    • AOL Instant Messenger - Snuvy
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #28 on: May 11, 2005, 09:50:59 PM »

sorry, i'm new, but why are only a % of your hours billable? what happens to the rest of them? so typical, if i want to be making the big bucks, how many hours of my life are spent working?  how does having a family come into the equation of all of this? do people even have families anymore? i'm 22, i want a family by the time i'm 30. has this become an unreasonable dream now?

thanks.

Boston College c/o 2008
A Distant Past

taterstol

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 481
  • Current 1L
    • AOL Instant Messenger - CoolDorky
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 'BigLaw' Who Wants it? Who has it? Why?
« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2005, 10:08:16 PM »

sorry, i'm new, but why are only a % of your hours billable? what happens to the rest of them? so typical, if i want to be making the big bucks, how many hours of my life are spent working?  how does having a family come into the equation of all of this? do people even have families anymore? i'm 22, i want a family by the time i'm 30. has this become an unreasonable dream now?

thanks.


Breathe. :)

"billable hours" are hours that you spend actually working on a client matter. Those hours are kept track of and billed to the client (usually in six minute intervals). Since everyone dicks around for at least some portion of the day, not all of the time they spend at work is billable. (Also, things like firm committees usually aren't billable because no client will pay for that).

I think it's plenty possible to have a family. I think it's harder if you're a mother and are fighting gender roles at the same time. But for me I hope for an equal partnership (and a nanny! j/k) :)