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Author Topic: A question for people working in Biglaw...  (Read 17669 times)

luckylady

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A question for people working in Biglaw...
« on: July 25, 2008, 09:20:58 AM »
I'm wondering if any graduates who now make good salaries want to share what they were doing before law? Were any of you living paycheck to paycheck, and now you're financially comfortable? I want to get a job in a big firm, mainly for the financial security. I have a big family, and to be able to save and not worry so much about money would be wonderful. People seem to think money should not be an issue when deciding on a career, but when you're older and you have kids, it has to be an issue.

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: A question for people working in Biglaw...
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2008, 10:50:42 AM »
T. Durden is correct on most of his points. If you live in NYC, biglaw is hardly a path to riches, but you're still doing substantially better than most in the city. That being said, I think biglaw salary in DC is amazing. The cost of living is not nearly as high as it is in New York and unlike New York, the cost of apartments decreases substantially as you move out of the city (think Arlington, Alexandria, Silver Springs). Whereas 2k/mo will only get you a nice studio in NYC, you're looking at a nice two bedroom apartment at that price in D.C. Also, unlike New York, houses are not prohibitively expensive for junior associates.

Of course, that is getting into the specifics of a market and is tangential really to the larger point that as a first year, taxes will be eating up a substantial part of your salary. In DC, at my firm, 1st years take home, on average, 205k. After taxes, I think it is about 135k (although deductions and exceptions with your big family will allow you to take home more $$$).

135k is still more than enough I would think (some of it comes in a lump sum as a bonus making it hard to plan). 

But the 205k is just salary + bonus. Law firms also provide an insane amount of benefits which make actual compensation absolutely ridiculous. Also, every year, without fail your salary will go up 10-15k until you leave or make partner and your bonuses will rise as well. So you're in good shape if you plan on making a career out of biglaw.
YLS c/o 2009

wustl3l

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Re: A question for people working in Biglaw...
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2008, 10:54:03 AM »
I'd say to really think this through if you only want to go into the law for financial security. The law is not for everyone and most who leave the profession do so because the money is not worth the sacrifice especially when the law can be really tedious and boring for those who don't love it.

Special Agent Dana Scully

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Re: A question for people working in Biglaw...
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2008, 10:54:57 AM »
T. Durden is correct on most of his points. If you live in NYC, biglaw is hardly a path to riches, but you're still doing substantially better than most in the city. That being said, I think biglaw salary in DC is amazing. The cost of living is not nearly as high as it is in New York and unlike New York, the cost of apartments decreases substantially as you move out of the city (think Arlington, Alexandria, Silver Springs). Whereas 2k/mo will only get you a nice studio in NYC, you're looking at a nice two bedroom apartment at that price in D.C. Also, unlike New York, houses are not prohibitively expensive for junior associates.

Of course, that is getting into the specifics of a market and is tangential really to the larger point that as a first year, taxes will be eating up a substantial part of your salary. In DC, at my firm, 1st years take home, on average, 205k. After taxes, I think it is about 135k (although deductions and exceptions with your big family will allow you to take home more $$$).

135k is still more than enough I would think (some of it comes in a lump sum as a bonus making it hard to plan). 

But the 205k is just salary + bonus. Law firms also provide an insane amount of benefits which make actual compensation absolutely ridiculous. Also, every year, without fail your salary will go up 10-15k until you leave or make partner and your bonuses will rise as well. So you're in good shape if you plan on making a career out of biglaw.

bolded = not mecessarily true  ;)
Columbia 3L

O.

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Re: A question for people working in Biglaw...
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2008, 10:59:08 AM »
tag.

What type of people love it?  Good writers who are fond of detail?

Also, I would love to hear some discussion of BigLaw salaries in Chicago.

Special Agent Dana Scully

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Re: A question for people working in Biglaw...
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2008, 11:42:51 AM »
tag.

What type of people love it?  Good writers who are fond of detail?

Also, I would love to hear some discussion of BigLaw salaries in Chicago.

Don't most Chi firms pay market (ie 160k) in Chi?  And, they have a lower COL than NY and homes are more afordable.
Columbia 3L

deedeeleigh

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Re: A question for people working in Biglaw...
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2008, 11:45:52 AM »
tag.

What type of people love it?  Good writers who are fond of detail?

Also, I would love to hear some discussion of BigLaw salaries in Chicago.

Don't most Chi firms pay market (ie 160k) in Chi?  And, they have a lower COL than NY and homes are more afordable.

Yeah, Chicago or DC seem like they pay the same as NYC but are much cheaper. What about Philly firms? Philly's COL seems pretty cheap.


mike4488

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Re: A question for people working in Biglaw...
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2008, 11:58:55 AM »
Texas is where to be.  Same salary of $160 plus one of the lowest cost of living in the nation plus no state income tax.
Boalt Hall '10

luckylady

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Re: A question for people working in Biglaw...
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2008, 12:08:50 PM »
Lord, the living must be good in Texas! We live in a suburb of Boston, and the cost of living is pretty high. New lawyers make $160,000 I believe, and I know someone who is counsel at a big firm, has been a lawyer for about 7 years, and makes well over $300,000. I live in a town with excellent public schools, so I don't have to pay tuition for my children, but my town does have a very high tax rate, o we pay for it there. Our mortgage is about $3000 per month, and with all our other bills, and only my husband's income, every month is a stretch.

I asked this question originally because a) most people on the Student Board seem to have a real disdain for those of us who hope to earn a comfortable living, and b) must be independently wealthy, since money doesn't seem to matter too much. I would love to hear from those of you who were just regular people, maybe struggling a little, who then got great jobs and are able to worry a lot less now. That's definitely what I'm hoping for.

Maddie

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Re: A question for people working in Biglaw...
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2008, 12:14:16 PM »
tag.

What type of people love it?  Good writers who are fond of detail?

Also, I would love to hear some discussion of BigLaw salaries in Chicago.

Don't most Chi firms pay market (ie 160k) in Chi?  And, they have a lower COL than NY and homes are more afordable.



Yeah, Chicago or DC seem like they pay the same as NYC but are much cheaper. What about Philly firms? Philly's COL seems pretty cheap.

Philly Biglaw does not pay 160K... I think it is a 135-145K range.  I have looked at the Philly firms on the NALP site and that's what it appears. COL in Philly is amazingly low though, compared to NY and even to Boston and DC.