Author Topic: Job Opportunity (Lawyer): Triple my Salary, but Long Commute and More Hours  (Read 23993 times)

Iplawyer

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Except that he likely cannot every go back to the small firm where he has made a reputation and is doing well.  So that is the risk.  Small firms don't like training attorneys to have them jump ship.  They will reward the attorneys they trained that stay with them.  Law firms are different than any other employer - and I can say that because I had a 20 year career before starting law.  It is different.  So he must weigh the value of his current situation with losing that forever.

You (and others) seem to have a good grasp on law firm dynamics/economics.  With that in mind, would you interview with this big firm and, if an offer comes, use said offer to try and negotiate a raise at my current firm?

I've had my ups and downs here (God I hate that cliche), but I think I'm on a very good trajectory. My frustration is that I've been here two years and haven't received a raise and, as others have noted, $50k for a lawyer--even in a small market--isn't that great.

I want to find some way to leverage this opportunity, but if even bringing up this interviewing process breaks all trust with my current employer, then I don't want to burn the bridge I'm currently standing on.

Interviewing with a big law firm that makes you an offer is a one shot thing too.  I do think your firm will work with you a little if you are realistic and you say you have an offer.  But if you interview, get an offer, and don't take it - that is your last opportunity with the big firm. 

I say research the area around the law firm to see how realistic it is for you to rent a furnished room or a studio of some kind so that you know the entire cost of that. Factor in utilities and such.  Have a number in mind that an offer has to be to make it worth you living away from your home all week every week and some weekends.  Then interview if that is a realistic number.  Get the offer - discuss with your fiance - and then decide if you want  to leverage it to make more where you are.  I think you can get some sort of raise doing it if you are handle the ask delicately. 

Good luck - I know it is hard  - and the brass ring is so shiny. 

biglawinvestor

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That is depressingly common for attorneys.

True. Sounds like we need to break out the bimodal salary distribution curve to show to non-lawyers.


Malum Prohibitum

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ReadySetMillionaire,

Take the higher paying job.  This should not even be a question.  Those just do not come around every day, especially in this market for lawyers.  The connections and networking you do will be worth it by themselves.

The only question is whether to move or commute, not whether to take the job.  It would be sheer lunacy to earn $48k when you could be earning $150k, a 312.5% increase in one fell swoop, plus whatever your wife (fiancee) makes or can make.

I also suggest you move.  You will HATE the commute.  Take it from somebody who has been there/done that.  I did an hour and a half each way for more than a decade.  The commute was the worst part of my day.

The costs of transportation are going to be higher than you think.  You can expect to go through two cars in the time you are contemplating.  You will change the oil about every six weeks, and fill up with gas about ever third to fifth day.  Tires, of course, once a year or so.    Factor all of that in, and keep your car cost low, knowing whatever you drive will be used up and devalued quickly.

On the plus side, if it is mostly highly miles, and you change the oil regularly and do other maintenance, your car can survive a long time.  I got 500,000 out of one and I'm currently at about 320,000 on my current car.  I kept it now that I have no commute (five minutes, 20-25 by bike depending on how aggressively I pedal) because it is in such good shape in spite of the mileage.  I kept up the maintenance, but it would be worth close to zero to sell it because of the miles even though it drives like a new car.

If you decide to do the commute (don't!  Move to the city for a few years and rent within walking distance!  Don't commute!!!) a good way to pass the time is books on tape.  I "read" a whole lot of entertaining books and was exposed to things I probably would not have read except for the time I had to waste in the car.

Get up early and be in the office early.  It helps avoid the traffic.

Malum Prohibitum

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That is depressingly common for attorneys.

True. Sounds like we need to break out the bimodal salary distribution curve to show to non-lawyers.


  Thanks, biglawinvester.  I was looking for that.

I wish they made law schools put that in their brochures.

pbkmaine

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Not a lawyer, but a CPA. I spent several years working in Minneapolis for Big Accounting Firm while home and DH were in NJ. I was partner track at Big Accounting Firm, so while I was awake, I was working. I had an apartment in Minneapolis that was a 10 minute walk through the Skyway to work. Best commute ever. Prior to taking the job, I made the following stipulation: Monday morning through Friday noon, I was theirs body and soul, 24/7 if required. Friday noon until Monday morning, I was unavailable except in the case of global thermonuclear war. This worked quite well. DH and I knew that it was for a limited time. We had the weekends completely free. In fact, it was the only time in my working life that I had an almost perfect separation of work and play.

ReadySetMillionaire

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ReadySetMillionaire,

Take the higher paying job.  This should not even be a question.  Those just do not come around every day, especially in this market for lawyers.  The connections and networking you do will be worth it by themselves.

The only question is whether to move or commute, not whether to take the job.  It would be sheer lunacy to earn $48k when you could be earning $150k, a 312.5% increase in one fell swoop, plus whatever your wife (fiancee) makes or can make.

I also suggest you move.  You will HATE the commute.  Take it from somebody who has been there/done that.  I did an hour and a half each way for more than a decade.  The commute was the worst part of my day.

The costs of transportation are going to be higher than you think.  You can expect to go through two cars in the time you are contemplating.  You will change the oil about every six weeks, and fill up with gas about ever third to fifth day.  Tires, of course, once a year or so.    Factor all of that in, and keep your car cost low, knowing whatever you drive will be used up and devalued quickly.

On the plus side, if it is mostly highly miles, and you change the oil regularly and do other maintenance, your car can survive a long time.  I got 500,000 out of one and I'm currently at about 320,000 on my current car.  I kept it now that I have no commute (five minutes, 20-25 by bike depending on how aggressively I pedal) because it is in such good shape in spite of the mileage.  I kept up the maintenance, but it would be worth close to zero to sell it because of the miles even though it drives like a new car.

If you decide to do the commute (don't!  Move to the city for a few years and rent within walking distance!  Don't commute!!!) a good way to pass the time is books on tape.  I "read" a whole lot of entertaining books and was exposed to things I probably would not have read except for the time I had to waste in the car.

Get up early and be in the office early.  It helps avoid the traffic.

Thanks for the encouragement.

And with pbkmaine's post in mind, what would you think of renting the cheapest studio imaginable in Pittsburgh to stay there a couple nights a week?

Anyone can chime in here.

Malum Prohibitum

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Oh, wait . . . you don't have an offer?

This is just about an email you received.  LOL!  Ok, pursue it.  I can't believe I missed that the first time I read it.  Post up again when you have an actual job offer with a dollar figure attached.  You will be one of about 36 resumes, maybe more, that they will have to consider, and, trust me, your location is a huge NEGATIVE to them.  If they ask during the interview, tell them you are absolutely willing to relocate, or you will have reduced your chances of an offer by at least 80%.

Laura33

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Except that he likely cannot every go back to the small firm where he has made a reputation and is doing well.  So that is the risk.  Small firms don't like training attorneys to have them jump ship.  They will reward the attorneys they trained that stay with them.  Law firms are different than any other employer - and I can say that because I had a 20 year career before starting law.  It is different.  So he must weigh the value of his current situation with losing that forever.

You (and others) seem to have a good grasp on law firm dynamics/economics.  With that in mind, would you interview with this big firm and, if an offer comes, use said offer to try and negotiate a raise at my current firm?

I've had my ups and downs here (God I hate that cliche), but I think I'm on a very good trajectory. My frustration is that I've been here two years and haven't received a raise and, as others have noted, $50k for a lawyer--even in a small market--isn't that great.

I want to find some way to leverage this opportunity, but if even bringing up this interviewing process breaks all trust with my current employer, then I don't want to burn the bridge I'm currently standing on.

FWIW, I think it's all in how you approach it.  Mention that you got this call out of the blue (i.e., you weren't trolling the jobs boards); that you have always seen your career here, that you love this town and plan for this to be where your roots are; but that you would be lying if making 3x the salary weren't appealing.  But that you're really not looking for a job as a hired gun for a few years, you are looking for a career, and so you'd really prefer to stay if they could give you a better sense of when these new opportunities are coming your way (a/k/a inheriting the book of business) and that they will offer enough to support your bills/loans/anticipated family/etc.

Honestly, if you have a mentor, you can be even more subtle (a/k/a sneakier) and ask him out for lunch now, say you're troubled by this recruiter call, at first you blew it off, but it's made you realize how tight the budget is, but, boy, you love the firm here, and if there are "real" opportunities you'd love to stay, and what would he suggest you do?  And then have some specific things you are looking for -- not 'I want a raise THIS big," but visibility with clients, experience doing X, concrete steps toward transitioning the book of business (because if he asks you what would make you happy here, you need to have a response).  The right mentor will then proactively look for ways to entice you to stay, whether that is a raise, a clearer path to partnership, etc.

They key to any "should I stay" negotiation is to think long-term.  From your posts, the primary reason to stay is that it may offer a 30+-year career in the town you want to live in (vs. 4-5 years far away).  So what are the things that they can offer you now that can help you become a better lawyer/more profitable to the firm, so that in a few years they can't live without you and can't wait to elect you partner?  $5K/yr now is helpful; making partner in a few years is much more beneficial in the long run.

Unless you think 4-5 yrs at the big firm will put you in position to FIRE, in which case who cares?  Follow the money, suck it up, and move.

PS -- just saw the post about the studio.  I think that is a much better plan than commuting.  Just consider (a) additional cost in your budget (rent/utilities/food/two sets of furniture/dishes/etc.), and (b) potential cost to your relationship (e.g., may be much more appealing if it's a city your fiancee enjoys spending time in, so she could come stay on some weekends, vs. if you're just away and she's on her own a lot of the time).

Erica

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You plan on marrying your fiance who has a good job. So essentially, your wife has a good job. You make 48K per yr. You guys will be more than fine. You live near family and friends so are bonded to them and have no interest in moving. You seem quite happy. Do you really need to be told not to leave your new wife aka fiancee?  You have a nice, secure life surrounded by a loving support system. Be happy. Be appreciative :)
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 09:57:59 AM by Erica »

Malum Prohibitum

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This just seems like such a toxic culture. How is it better for the firm to have a small number of overworked, overpaid associates who hate their lives and will probably leave within a few years, rather than a larger number of slightly lower-paid people who are able to spend some of their time on things other than law?

They WANT them to leave.  LOL!  This is how those at the top make money.  (Many big firm partners bring in millions a year, even lower level partners are high six figures).  If there are too many partners, the pie gets divided too many times.  Not enough pie to go around.

There is a less than 5% chance of making partner at a large firm.  Something like 2-3% last I read.  Keep in mind that many of those 2-3% grew up in wealthy families and have a lot of connections, which makes them more likely to be rainmakers and thus make partner.  I am betting the odds are less than 1% for blue collar background people with no connections who are smart, go to law school, do well, get hired by the big firm, and grind out the hours and try to develop business.

Also, seattlecyclone, one thing not many people are talking about are how many graduates come out of law school each year.  It is out of control.  For a long, long time now (decades???), law schools have been churning out roughly two graduates for every one job in the marketplace.  How long does it take churning our two persons needing a job for each job before there is some sort of negative effect?

The last statistics I saw said that a year out from graduation only 59% of law graduates had found a job requiring a law degree.  That's ANY job, not six figure a year jobs.  $30,000 annually, whatever, any job at any pay is included in that 59%.  (Can you imagine if only half of medical school graduates could land a job as a doctor??? And yet some people still say "doctor and lawyer" in the same sentence as if there is any comparison).

When a large firm is offering six figures to start, they can pretty much demand anything they want and they will still have piles and piles of attorneys eager to get their foot in the door and do whatever is asked.  When they are used up, out they go (most quit, by the way), and there are plenty of fresh ones to take their place.  There will be 200 well qualified applicants for every one slot the firm is looking to fill.  The high pay is mainly to make sure they get the best qualified students and to keep them grinding away for several years even though they are miserable.

The large law firms bring in large graduate classes of students each year.  It does not really matter to the firm how many they burn out.  They are making millions doing it, and each year there is a new crop of 70-80 eager young beavers who think they are going to be one of that 2-3%.

Iplawyer

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Not a lawyer, but a CPA. I spent several years working in Minneapolis for Big Accounting Firm while home and DH were in NJ. I was partner track at Big Accounting Firm, so while I was awake, I was working. I had an apartment in Minneapolis that was a 10 minute walk through the Skyway to work. Best commute ever. Prior to taking the job, I made the following stipulation: Monday morning through Friday noon, I was theirs body and soul, 24/7 if required. Friday noon until Monday morning, I was unavailable except in the case of global thermonuclear war. This worked quite well. DH and I knew that it was for a limited time. We had the weekends completely free. In fact, it was the only time in my working life that I had an almost perfect separation of work and play.

You cannot do that as a lawyer at a big firm - especially in any kind of litigation role - but even in others.  This is just not an option. 

biglawinvestor

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Not a lawyer, but a CPA. I spent several years working in Minneapolis for Big Accounting Firm while home and DH were in NJ. I was partner track at Big Accounting Firm, so while I was awake, I was working. I had an apartment in Minneapolis that was a 10 minute walk through the Skyway to work. Best commute ever. Prior to taking the job, I made the following stipulation: Monday morning through Friday noon, I was theirs body and soul, 24/7 if required. Friday noon until Monday morning, I was unavailable except in the case of global thermonuclear war. This worked quite well. DH and I knew that it was for a limited time. We had the weekends completely free. In fact, it was the only time in my working life that I had an almost perfect separation of work and play.

You cannot do that as a lawyer at a big firm - especially in any kind of litigation role - but even in others.  This is just not an option.

I don't know why I'm feeling defensive about biglaw today, but I guess I am. I don't want to take away from what you're saying, because yes, the hours are brutal and what you say is true for 90% of associates (and would especially be true of OP). OP would not have the option of working remotely or working the hours laid out by pbkmaine. Biglaw will own you for 100% of your hours and does not care if it's a weekend or midnight (i.e. not uncommon for someone to tell a story about getting an email at 4am only to get an email at 6am asking why the associate hadn't responded).

But, getting that out of the way, there are plenty of lawyers in biglaw that have negotiated fixed working hours. It's also more likely to be a specialist that has this arrangement. This opportunity only comes after years and years of proving yourself to the firm, but I work with all kinds of specialists that work a reduced schedule. This is in part because specialists can't be expected to generate 1900 billable hours, so the firms are more than happy to have them work a 1400 hour schedule (for reduced pay of course).

I just had a friend leave the firm because another firm offered her a counsel position and a contractual 10-6 working schedule. She'll still be making $300K. So it is out there, but you have to (1) prove yourself after years of work and (2) negotiate for it once you're valuable to the firm, while keeping in mind that the calculation is pretty simple - if you're making them money, they will work with you.

biglawinvestor

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This just seems like such a toxic culture. How is it better for the firm to have a small number of overworked, overpaid associates who hate their lives and will probably leave within a few years, rather than a larger number of slightly lower-paid people who are able to spend some of their time on things other than law?

They WANT them to leave.  LOL!  This is how those at the top make money.  (Many big firm partners bring in millions a year, even lower level partners are high six figures).  If there are too many partners, the pie gets divided too many times.  Not enough pie to go around.

There is a less than 5% chance of making partner at a large firm.  Something like 2-3% last I read.  Keep in mind that many of those 2-3% grew up in wealthy families and have a lot of connections, which makes them more likely to be rainmakers and thus make partner.  I am betting the odds are less than 1% for blue collar background people with no connections who are smart, go to law school, do well, get hired by the big firm, and grind out the hours and try to develop business.

Also, seattlecyclone, one thing not many people are talking about are how many graduates come out of law school each year.  It is out of control.  For a long, long time now (decades???), law schools have been churning out roughly two graduates for every one job in the marketplace.  How long does it take churning our two persons needing a job for each job before there is some sort of negative effect?

The last statistics I saw said that a year out from graduation only 59% of law graduates had found a job requiring a law degree.  That's ANY job, not six figure a year jobs.  $30,000 annually, whatever, any job at any pay is included in that 59%.  (Can you imagine if only half of medical school graduates could land a job as a doctor??? And yet some people still say "doctor and lawyer" in the same sentence as if there is any comparison).

When a large firm is offering six figures to start, they can pretty much demand anything they want and they will still have piles and piles of attorneys eager to get their foot in the door and do whatever is asked.  When they are used up, out they go (most quit, by the way), and there are plenty of fresh ones to take their place.  There will be 200 well qualified applicants for every one slot the firm is looking to fill.  The high pay is mainly to make sure they get the best qualified students and to keep them grinding away for several years even though they are miserable.

The large law firms bring in large graduate classes of students each year.  It does not really matter to the firm how many they burn out.  They are making millions doing it, and each year there is a new crop of 70-80 eager young beavers who think they are going to be one of that 2-3%.

Now, THIS should be on every law school admission brochure.

Iplawyer

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ReadySetMillionaire,

Take the higher paying job.  This should not even be a question.  Those just do not come around every day, especially in this market for lawyers.  The connections and networking you do will be worth it by themselves.

The only question is whether to move or commute, not whether to take the job.  It would be sheer lunacy to earn $48k when you could be earning $150k, a 312.5% increase in one fell swoop, plus whatever your wife (fiancee) makes or can make.

I also suggest you move.  You will HATE the commute.  Take it from somebody who has been there/done that.  I did an hour and a half each way for more than a decade.  The commute was the worst part of my day.

The costs of transportation are going to be higher than you think.  You can expect to go through two cars in the time you are contemplating.  You will change the oil about every six weeks, and fill up with gas about ever third to fifth day.  Tires, of course, once a year or so.    Factor all of that in, and keep your car cost low, knowing whatever you drive will be used up and devalued quickly.

On the plus side, if it is mostly highly miles, and you change the oil regularly and do other maintenance, your car can survive a long time.  I got 500,000 out of one and I'm currently at about 320,000 on my current car.  I kept it now that I have no commute (five minutes, 20-25 by bike depending on how aggressively I pedal) because it is in such good shape in spite of the mileage.  I kept up the maintenance, but it would be worth close to zero to sell it because of the miles even though it drives like a new car.

If you decide to do the commute (don't!  Move to the city for a few years and rent within walking distance!  Don't commute!!!) a good way to pass the time is books on tape.  I "read" a whole lot of entertaining books and was exposed to things I probably would not have read except for the time I had to waste in the car.

Get up early and be in the office early.  It helps avoid the traffic.

Thanks for the encouragement.

And with pbkmaine's post in mind, what would you think of renting the cheapest studio imaginable in Pittsburgh to stay there a couple nights a week?

Anyone can chime in here.

At a minimum you will need to plan to stay there at least Monday - Thursday nights.  You'll find many times that you'll want to stay Friday night too.  So don't pick a dump thinking it won't matter.  This will be the only down time you have.  Get a studio in a nice building so that maybe you can exercise.  There is one thing about working for a big law firm you'll learn early.  First - you don't know when you'll get to go home in the evening so get up and get your exercise in before you go to work. Second - if you don't start out with this plan - you won't get on it and you'll gain weight.  Firms have free food around all of the time to keep you around all of the time.  It is very enticing.

I am being honest with you about this lifestyle because you need to know what you are getting into.  Be sure your fiance has bought into it too otherwise you'll split up.  That sounds harsh - but really - I've seen it more than I haven't.  If you really want to do this - it would be better to move to where you are working - short of that - you and the fiance need to be committed to spending a great deal of time there on weekends when you have to work - and apart during the week.

It is a very shiny brass ring.  It comes with costs and those costs are very high. I was married  a very long time in a very stable and committed relationship when I started and the law firm life (living 5 miles from the law firm) nearly broke our marriage. It is that hard.  If you can manage to keep your lifestyle the same like we did (except we upped our charitable giving a whole bunch) you can become financially independent quickly.  If you get a shiny new car, shiny new clothes, shiny new house, and a shiny new lifestyle to go with the shiny brass ring you'll be wearing what the partners call "golden handcuffs." Then you'll be stuck. 

Iplawyer

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Not a lawyer, but a CPA. I spent several years working in Minneapolis for Big Accounting Firm while home and DH were in NJ. I was partner track at Big Accounting Firm, so while I was awake, I was working. I had an apartment in Minneapolis that was a 10 minute walk through the Skyway to work. Best commute ever. Prior to taking the job, I made the following stipulation: Monday morning through Friday noon, I was theirs body and soul, 24/7 if required. Friday noon until Monday morning, I was unavailable except in the case of global thermonuclear war. This worked quite well. DH and I knew that it was for a limited time. We had the weekends completely free. In fact, it was the only time in my working life that I had an almost perfect separation of work and play.

You cannot do that as a lawyer at a big firm - especially in any kind of litigation role - but even in others.  This is just not an option.

I don't know why I'm feeling defensive about biglaw today, but I guess I am. I don't want to take away from what you're saying, because yes, the hours are brutal and what you say is true for 90% of associates (and would especially be true of OP). OP would not have the option of working remotely or working the hours laid out by pbkmaine. Biglaw will own you for 100% of your hours and does not care if it's a weekend or midnight (i.e. not uncommon for someone to tell a story about getting an email at 4am only to get an email at 6am asking why the associate hadn't responded).

But, getting that out of the way, there are plenty of lawyers in biglaw that have negotiated fixed working hours. It's also more likely to be a specialist that has this arrangement. This opportunity only comes after years and years of proving yourself to the firm, but I work with all kinds of specialists that work a reduced schedule. This is in part because specialists can't be expected to generate 1900 billable hours, so the firms are more than happy to have them work a 1400 hour schedule (for reduced pay of course).

I just had a friend leave the firm because another firm offered her a counsel position and a contractual 10-6 working schedule. She'll still be making $300K. So it is out there, but you have to (1) prove yourself after years of work and (2) negotiate for it once you're valuable to the firm, while keeping in mind that the calculation is pretty simple - if you're making them money, they will work with you.

I am very well aware that there are exceptions since I'm a living breathing one.  But the exceptions are so rare that they are not worth discussing for this person right now.  And they only come after paying your dues (and winning a SCOTUS case 9-0).

Laura33

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If you can manage to keep your lifestyle the same like we did (except we upped our charitable giving a whole bunch) you can become financially independent quickly.  If you get a shiny new car, shiny new clothes, shiny new house, and a shiny new lifestyle to go with the shiny brass ring you'll be wearing what the partners call "golden handcuffs." Then you'll be stuck.

A few years after I came back to my firm, we had the firm picnic at our house, right after we finished a big remodel.  My mentor/boss/guy-who-hired-me/one-of-top-5-favorite-people-in-the-world was incredibly enthusiastic about all the work we had done.  At the end of it all he said, "this is awesome -- with all of that to pay off, now you'll never quit!"

I just sort of laughed to myself, because we'd bought way less house than we could "afford" knowing we had a big remodel coming.  All of that was planned into our budget before we even made an offer. 

ITA:  lifestyle creep is the second biggest risk (F'ing up your relationship is the first).  Keep your spending intentional and on plan, and you'll be light years ahead of everyone else you're working with.

Kashmani

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I spent five years as an associate in Biglaw, then joined a medium-sized firm (ca. 75 lawyers) in a smaller market and became partner, eventually maxing out at about at an average of $300k. I then jumped ship to take a government position at half that pay.

In my years as a senior associate and partner, I billed an average of 2,150 hours annually. That took a serious toll on my marriage as well as my physical and mental health. In practice, it means having a six-day workweek every week, with a lot of evenings strewn in. The work was fascinating and the money awesome, but I found that it did not buy me happiness. Now, as a government lawyer who has to be a lot more frugal, I am much happier.

Much of what I may have to offer has been said already, but I still want to make three points:

1) Regardless of your decision, you cannot do the Biglaw job with the commute. That is an absolute pipe dream, and adding that commute onto 2,000 billable hours will destroy you. Biglaw is tough mentally and emotionally, and you need to be well-rested. If you are taking this job, get a pied-a-terre studio apartment a 20-minute walk from your office. Stay there on days you are working in the office. Heck - rent a room with roommates.

2) Don't lose sight of your end game. Biglaw chews up and spits out its associates, especially in niche practices. If you are a survivor, good for you - you are now making shitloads of money (I was in that boat). If you are not a survivor, you are now an 8-year associate without clients and need to have a feasible exit plan. Frankly, even if you are a survivor you should have an exit plan, because while the money is great in your 20s, time with the kids becomes more important in your 30s.

How does Biglaw affect your exit plan? That takes me to point 3.

3) If your exit plan is to go in-house, Biglaw may be a good stepping stone. You will have a lot more cachet with a blue-chip firm name to your resume than a small-time practice at 123 Main Street. If, on the other hand, your exit plan is to start your own labour and employment practice, forget about Biglaw. Stay with a small firm and hustle, hustle, hustle. Join the Chamber of Commerce. Publish blog posts. Offer to put articles in magazines. And discuss a transition plan with the partners that may want to retire. Every employer needs labour and employment advice, not just the giant corporations. And most young associates do not realize this. Labour and employment is a small-client friendly environment, unless e.g., mergers and acquisitions.

Lemonhead

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ReadySet, have you already looked at other opportunities that aren't quite so far away and that don't require PA bar exam?  Is this really the area you want to specialize and does it fit with your life plan after Biglaw? 

You are seriously underpaid now and should jump at the chance to increase your salary, but this might not be the right opportunity.  Interview now, and start looking around closer to home too if this is absolutely where you want to live.

For perspective I am a paralegal, also a Buckeye lol, and I make more than your current salary!

Goldielocks

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there are 2088 working hours a year being asked to be billable for 1900 of them seems incredibly reasonable to me.  i work as an engineering consultant and i'm expected to be 100% billable. on my 2088 hours.  its not too hard to accomplish.  Here i was thinking all you high paid lawyers were being forced to work 3000 hour years.  haha ... silly me.

I am also a consulting engineer, but I help out on the direct client contact / Project Management side, and I can fully attest that if I provide 1 free hour for every 3 hours of billable work, I am very happy.   It was a rough year when I was 95% billable.  Oh, and travel on Sunday / Friday nights was not considered billable.

So it is not just lawyers that would have extra time to pay for.   It all depends on the firm, however.  For example, where I am at, I have associates (engineers) that are 95% billable (their other times are townhall meetings, timecard admin, and a training class each year).. and can only work 40 hour weeks, at that rate, IF I hand them the work and take care of all the crap....but not me...

My guess is that legal firms also have a wide variation in billable to unbillable ratios.   For engineers, the higher you get, the more unpaid overtime.  Sounds like for legal firms, the associates are the ones with unpaid overtime.

OP -- you have received some good warnings, but only you can research what the potential company is like, and what your local opportunities to build your business are.  Independent, local legal firm, or corporate attorney making $150k per year within the next 10 years could be just fine.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Just got a call back from the recruiter and the firm has given the green light for me to interview. The recruiter also advised that they were very impressed with my resume and experience. Definitely excited about that and moving forward with scheduling this ASAP.

Iplawyer

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Good luck!

Malum Prohibitum

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Cool beans, ReadySetMillionaire!

You might be able to save more than $100k annually?

ReadySetMillionaire

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Cool beans, ReadySetMillionaire!

You might be able to save more than $100k annually?

That would certainly be my goal.

Tay_CPA

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If you were offered the job and decided to take it, here's a thought: Is there any way you and your fiancee could rent out your home for a few years while the two of you rent an apartment in the city? That way you'd get to keep the house you love, be together, potentially walk to work (which is a HUGE life improvement from driving), and make that bigger salary. You could still see friends and family on weekends.

However, I definitely agree with previous responses that you should weigh the cost of commuting (should you choose to do so) and not seeing loved ones in this decision. Long hours can be soul crushing once you realize that for weeks on end you've eaten all three meals in the office every single day, you haven't had a day off work in weeks, you haven't seen any of your non-work friends, and all you're going to do when you get home each night is go directly to bed.

On the other hand, it could be a great experience in terms of your career and I understand the allure of such a large salary bump. Should you take the job, just a friendly reminder to watch out for hedonistic adaptation. Not saying it will happen to you, but mainly to be wary of it :) Especially if you are surrounded by coworkers making and spending a lot of money. I know I'd need to be somewhat careful if my salary tripled overnight.

I hope the interview goes well and wish you the best of luck in your decision! :)

seattlecyclone

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This just seems like such a toxic culture. How is it better for the firm to have a small number of overworked, overpaid associates who hate their lives and will probably leave within a few years, rather than a larger number of slightly lower-paid people who are able to spend some of their time on things other than law?

They WANT them to leave.  LOL!  This is how those at the top make money.  (Many big firm partners bring in millions a year, even lower level partners are high six figures).  If there are too many partners, the pie gets divided too many times.  Not enough pie to go around.

Right, I already addressed this in my latest reply. The percentage of people promoted to partner and the percentage of people fired after ten years (or whatever) need not add to 100%. That's not how we do it in my industry, nor need it be the way you do it in the law industry.

Quote
Also, seattlecyclone, one thing not many people are talking about are how many graduates come out of law school each year.  It is out of control.  For a long, long time now (decades???), law schools have been churning out roughly two graduates for every one job in the marketplace.  How long does it take churning our two persons needing a job for each job before there is some sort of negative effect?

I'm well aware that law schools are graduating more people than there are available jobs. That does help explain why the partners can get away with setting such ridiculous demands out of their associates. It doesn't explain why they feel as though that's the best way to run their firm. So many studies (here's a link to just one article) have shown that working employees for 50 or 60 or 70 hours per week can indeed result in more work output, but only for the first couple of weeks. Sustain that level of work time over months or years and you actually get less out of your workers than if they had been doing 40-50 hour weeks the whole time.

There was a time that I considered going to law school instead of pursuing a career in software engineering. I'm becoming increasingly confident in my choice.

boarder42

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This just seems like such a toxic culture. How is it better for the firm to have a small number of overworked, overpaid associates who hate their lives and will probably leave within a few years, rather than a larger number of slightly lower-paid people who are able to spend some of their time on things other than law?

They WANT them to leave.  LOL!  This is how those at the top make money.  (Many big firm partners bring in millions a year, even lower level partners are high six figures).  If there are too many partners, the pie gets divided too many times.  Not enough pie to go around.

Right, I already addressed this in my latest reply. The percentage of people promoted to partner and the percentage of people fired after ten years (or whatever) need not add to 100%. That's not how we do it in my industry, nor need it be the way you do it in the law industry.

Quote
Also, seattlecyclone, one thing not many people are talking about are how many graduates come out of law school each year.  It is out of control.  For a long, long time now (decades???), law schools have been churning out roughly two graduates for every one job in the marketplace.  How long does it take churning our two persons needing a job for each job before there is some sort of negative effect?

I'm well aware that law schools are graduating more people than there are available jobs. That does help explain why the partners can get away with setting such ridiculous demands out of their associates. It doesn't explain why they feel as though that's the best way to run their firm. So many studies (here's a link to just one article) have shown that working employees for 50 or 60 or 70 hours per week can indeed result in more work output, but only for the first couple of weeks. Sustain that level of work time over months or years and you actually get less out of your workers than if they had been doing 40-50 hour weeks the whole time.

There was a time that I considered going to law school instead of pursuing a career in software engineering. I'm becoming increasingly confident in my choice.

there are also many studies that have been done on Employee owned companies and the extra production they get.  so rather than use your associates why not just give everyone a share of the pie. ridiculous system.  glad i'm an engineer and we are a more reasonable and logical bunch.  "Engineering School"(law school) prior to passing the PE(bar) is a full time paid job where you make more coming out of school than most teachers do when they retire. 

I'd say logic and reason won out pretty well in that game of professionals. 

Undecided

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This just seems like such a toxic culture. How is it better for the firm to have a small number of overworked, overpaid associates who hate their lives and will probably leave within a few years, rather than a larger number of slightly lower-paid people who are able to spend some of their time on things other than law?

They WANT them to leave.  LOL!  This is how those at the top make money.  (Many big firm partners bring in millions a year, even lower level partners are high six figures).  If there are too many partners, the pie gets divided too many times.  Not enough pie to go around.

Right, I already addressed this in my latest reply. The percentage of people promoted to partner and the percentage of people fired after ten years (or whatever) need not add to 100%. That's not how we do it in my industry, nor need it be the way you do it in the law industry.

Quote
Also, seattlecyclone, one thing not many people are talking about are how many graduates come out of law school each year.  It is out of control.  For a long, long time now (decades???), law schools have been churning out roughly two graduates for every one job in the marketplace.  How long does it take churning our two persons needing a job for each job before there is some sort of negative effect?

I'm well aware that law schools are graduating more people than there are available jobs. That does help explain why the partners can get away with setting such ridiculous demands out of their associates. It doesn't explain why they feel as though that's the best way to run their firm. So many studies (here's a link to just one article) have shown that working employees for 50 or 60 or 70 hours per week can indeed result in more work output, but only for the first couple of weeks. Sustain that level of work time over months or years and you actually get less out of your workers than if they had been doing 40-50 hour weeks the whole time.

There was a time that I considered going to law school instead of pursuing a career in software engineering. I'm becoming increasingly confident in my choice.

there are also many studies that have been done on Employee owned companies and the extra production they get.  so rather than use your associates why not just give everyone a share of the pie. ridiculous system.  glad i'm an engineer and we are a more reasonable and logical bunch.  "Engineering School"(law school) prior to passing the PE(bar) is a full time paid job where you make more coming out of school than most teachers do when they retire. 

I'd say logic and reason won out pretty well in that game of professionals.

I think that you're playing a totally different game than big-firm lawyers, and picking the winner based on your rules.

The partners at the least "prestigious" firm on an oft-consulted list of the top 100 law firms in the U.S., average $800k per year. Even if a lawyer leaves "big law" well before that stage, he or she can increase the value of his or her skills to a few hundred thousand dollars a year, at an in-house job without billable-hours requirements. While that may not be part of scoring points in the game you're playing, it seems like you're judging a fish on its ability to ride a bike.

Large law firms have their problems, but the biggest source of complaint that I see is that too many well-balanced, smart, interesting, fun people go down the "big law" path without really having made a good determination of whether it's right for them. Then there's too much made of what, for most of them, is a few tough years. It doesn't grate on everyone, and even for some who don't like it, they see the tradeoffs and own their decision to do it, rather than wanting the financial benefits while complaining about the downsides of the job.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 03:35:51 PM by Undecided »

Laura33

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This just seems like such a toxic culture. How is it better for the firm to have a small number of overworked, overpaid associates who hate their lives and will probably leave within a few years, rather than a larger number of slightly lower-paid people who are able to spend some of their time on things other than law?

They WANT them to leave.  LOL!  This is how those at the top make money.  (Many big firm partners bring in millions a year, even lower level partners are high six figures).  If there are too many partners, the pie gets divided too many times.  Not enough pie to go around.

Right, I already addressed this in my latest reply. The percentage of people promoted to partner and the percentage of people fired after ten years (or whatever) need not add to 100%. That's not how we do it in my industry, nor need it be the way you do it in the law industry.

Quote
Also, seattlecyclone, one thing not many people are talking about are how many graduates come out of law school each year.  It is out of control.  For a long, long time now (decades???), law schools have been churning out roughly two graduates for every one job in the marketplace.  How long does it take churning our two persons needing a job for each job before there is some sort of negative effect?

I'm well aware that law schools are graduating more people than there are available jobs. That does help explain why the partners can get away with setting such ridiculous demands out of their associates. It doesn't explain why they feel as though that's the best way to run their firm. So many studies (here's a link to just one article) have shown that working employees for 50 or 60 or 70 hours per week can indeed result in more work output, but only for the first couple of weeks. Sustain that level of work time over months or years and you actually get less out of your workers than if they had been doing 40-50 hour weeks the whole time.

There was a time that I considered going to law school instead of pursuing a career in software engineering. I'm becoming increasingly confident in my choice.

But why would the firms do that when they get paid based on the billable hour?  The most profitable associate is the one who is just inefficient enough not to piss off the clients.

Undecided

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But why would the firms do that when they get paid based on the billable hour?  The most profitable associate is the one who is just inefficient enough not to piss off the clients.

I thought the most profitable associate was one who is just competent enough to occupy all of his or her time with supervising a couple of other associates who are just efficient enough not to piss of the clients, without pissing off the clients.

Iplawyer

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But why would the firms do that when they get paid based on the billable hour?  The most profitable associate is the one who is just inefficient enough not to piss off the clients.

I thought the most profitable associate was one who is just competent enough to occupy all of his or her time with supervising a couple of other associates who are just efficient enough not to piss of the clients, without pissing off the clients.

I don't imagine you work at a big firm.  Senior associates have to bill their hours and manage junior associates billing theirs.  The more associates bill the th partners make.

Undecided

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But why would the firms do that when they get paid based on the billable hour?  The most profitable associate is the one who is just inefficient enough not to piss off the clients.

I thought the most profitable associate was one who is just competent enough to occupy all of his or her time with supervising a couple of other associates who are just efficient enough not to piss of the clients, without pissing off the clients.

I don't imagine you work at a big firm.  Senior associates have to bill their hours and manage junior associates billing theirs.  The more associates bill the th partners make.

Maybe I should have added a smilie face.

JuSp02

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I echo everyone else's statements regarding the toll big law has on a relationship. I'm lucky (unlucky?) enough to be married to another attorney and we both have antisocial/homebody tendencies. We happily spend most of our free time with each other and both understand that plans often have to be cancelled at the last minute because one of us unexpectedly has to stay in the office until midnight. Even so, we still have had our fair share of conflict regarding how little we sometimes see each other. It is much worse when you are with someone with a normal 9-5 no-weekend type of job who doesn't understand that you can't say "no" when the head of your group calls you with a TRO on a Sunday morning as you are driving to meet the in-laws for brunch.

My advice is to rent out the house and for you and your fiance to move as close as possible to the office for the few years you plan on doing this. You definitely need to make sure your fiance is completely on board before you accept any offer. All and any free time you have needs to be devoted to her with the understanding that there may be little time leftover for other friends and family.

LeRainDrop

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Except that he likely cannot every go back to the small firm where he has made a reputation and is doing well.  So that is the risk.  Small firms don't like training attorneys to have them jump ship.  They will reward the attorneys they trained that stay with them.  Law firms are different than any other employer - and I can say that because I had a 20 year career before starting law.  It is different.  So he must weigh the value of his current situation with losing that forever.

Agreed that OP is likely not going back to the small firm ever again, but I challenge your assumption that the small firm is going to be "upset" with him. The small firm didn't "train" OP - small firms don't have training programs - the big firm is going to offer actual training and, most importantly, more experience. If OP wanted to go back to the small firm, assuming he didn't burn any bridges AND that they had a need for the OP, seems like they'd welcome a familiar face who now has 2x the experience. I know I would if I were running the small firm.

I'll provide just one anecdote that aligns with what biglawinvestor is saying.  In my litigation group at biglaw, we hired a lateral attorney in her third year from a smaller local firm.  She's been at my firm a few years now, and she routinely gets calls from one of the partners at her old firm, and one of the partners who left to start his own firm, recruiting her back.  She has somewhat of a niche practice, but I still could conceive of this scenario regardless.  Relationships matter a lot.  Don't burn any bridges unless absolutely necessary.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 11:47:31 PM by LeRainDrop »

LeRainDrop

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This is just about an email you received.  LOL!  Ok, pursue it.  I can't believe I missed that the first time I read it.  Post up again when you have an actual job offer with a dollar figure attached.  You will be one of about 36 resumes, maybe more, that they will have to consider, and, trust me, your location is a huge NEGATIVE to them.  If they ask during the interview, tell them you are absolutely willing to relocate, or you will have reduced your chances of an offer by at least 80%.

Oh, shoot, I missed that, too.  Agree with MP that you should express total commitment to relocate so as not to tank your chances of an offer.  In fact, you should probably address that up front with your recruiter to make sure she passes it along to the firm's screener.  Also, FYI, recruiting calls and emails for the big firms get sent to current associates in that pool of firms all the time, so odds are pretty high that there are lots of others being invited to apply for this position.  Bring your A game!  :-)

Personally, I got so many benefits out of working at biglaw -- experience, training, networking, compensation, etc. -- but I also had the life sucked out of me in a myriad of ways -- time (including missing very important family events), mental health, physical health, etc.  I am very glad that I did it, and I'm very glad that I'm done.  IMO, a plan to go full-out for 3-4 years is realistic and best for someone on the MMM train.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Oh, shoot, I missed that, too.  Agree with MP that you should express total commitment to relocate so as not to tank your chances of an offer.  In fact, you should probably address that up front with your recruiter to make sure she passes it along to the firm's screener.  Also, FYI, recruiting calls and emails for the big firms get sent to current associates in that pool of firms all the time, so odds are pretty high that there are lots of others being invited to apply for this position.  Bring your A game!  :-)

Personally, I got so many benefits out of working at biglaw -- experience, training, networking, compensation, etc. -- but I also had the life sucked out of me in a myriad of ways -- time (including missing very important family events), mental health, physical health, etc.  I am very glad that I did it, and I'm very glad that I'm done.  IMO, a plan to go full-out for 3-4 years is realistic and best for someone on the MMM train.

The bolded is what I'm thinking and why I'm moving forward--total sacrifice for 3-4 years not just to accelerate FI, but to obtain all the side benefits out of working there.

I'm a little concerned about committing to relocate and then (maybe) not actually following through. I'm thinking I can blame that on a myriad of factors for some time, but will partners/other associates catch on? My thought is to just not talk about home or my commute at all unless someone asks.

NoStacheOhio

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I don't know why I'm feeling defensive about biglaw today, but I guess I am. I don't want to take away from what you're saying, because yes, the hours are brutal and what you say is true for 90% of associates (and would especially be true of OP). OP would not have the option of working remotely or working the hours laid out by pbkmaine. Biglaw will own you for 100% of your hours and does not care if it's a weekend or midnight (i.e. not uncommon for someone to tell a story about getting an email at 4am only to get an email at 6am asking why the associate hadn't responded).

Sidebar/rant:

From a purely logical standpoint, this makes absolutely no sense. Email is asynchronous by nature. If you really need me at 4 a.m., pick up the fucking phone and call me. Are people really that dumb?

Iplawyer

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Oh, shoot, I missed that, too.  Agree with MP that you should express total commitment to relocate so as not to tank your chances of an offer.  In fact, you should probably address that up front with your recruiter to make sure she passes it along to the firm's screener.  Also, FYI, recruiting calls and emails for the big firms get sent to current associates in that pool of firms all the time, so odds are pretty high that there are lots of others being invited to apply for this position.  Bring your A game!  :-)

Personally, I got so many benefits out of working at biglaw -- experience, training, networking, compensation, etc. -- but I also had the life sucked out of me in a myriad of ways -- time (including missing very important family events), mental health, physical health, etc.  I am very glad that I did it, and I'm very glad that I'm done.  IMO, a plan to go full-out for 3-4 years is realistic and best for someone on the MMM train.

The bolded is what I'm thinking and why I'm moving forward--total sacrifice for 3-4 years not just to accelerate FI, but to obtain all the side benefits out of working there.

I'm a little concerned about committing to relocate and then (maybe) not actually following through. I'm thinking I can blame that on a myriad of factors for some time, but will partners/other associates catch on? My thought is to just not talk about home or my commute at all unless someone asks.

Since they know where you are coming from they are going to at least assume you are moving.  Trust me.  Unless you are committed to getting some kind of living space near the office - don't do this. 

Iplawyer

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I don't know why I'm feeling defensive about biglaw today, but I guess I am. I don't want to take away from what you're saying, because yes, the hours are brutal and what you say is true for 90% of associates (and would especially be true of OP). OP would not have the option of working remotely or working the hours laid out by pbkmaine. Biglaw will own you for 100% of your hours and does not care if it's a weekend or midnight (i.e. not uncommon for someone to tell a story about getting an email at 4am only to get an email at 6am asking why the associate hadn't responded).

Sidebar/rant:

From a purely logical standpoint, this makes absolutely no sense. Email is asynchronous by nature. If you really need me at 4 a.m., pick up the fucking phone and call me. Are people really that dumb?

It really doesn't have to make sense.  You are expected to sleep with your personal device close enough that you know to pay attention when email comes - 24/7.

NoStacheOhio

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I don't know why I'm feeling defensive about biglaw today, but I guess I am. I don't want to take away from what you're saying, because yes, the hours are brutal and what you say is true for 90% of associates (and would especially be true of OP). OP would not have the option of working remotely or working the hours laid out by pbkmaine. Biglaw will own you for 100% of your hours and does not care if it's a weekend or midnight (i.e. not uncommon for someone to tell a story about getting an email at 4am only to get an email at 6am asking why the associate hadn't responded).

Sidebar/rant:

From a purely logical standpoint, this makes absolutely no sense. Email is asynchronous by nature. If you really need me at 4 a.m., pick up the fucking phone and call me. Are people really that dumb?

It really doesn't have to make sense.  You are expected to sleep with your personal device close enough that you know to pay attention when email comes - 24/7.

My phone is my alarm clock, but email doesn't wake me up. It's just being deliberately obtuse. Are they just trying to fulfill the asshole lawyer stereotype?

FIREby35

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Hey, RSM, I just want to add a point of view that has not been represented yet.

I am a lawyer. I saw big law and decided not to participate (I did clerk for one). I think all of the other posters have covered what it is like in Big Law.

Does it require career risks by giving up your current job to go for the brass ring?

Are there huge sacrifices demanded of you based on your time?

Will you be asked to do things that feel outside of your current capacity?

Will you be asked to invest capital in vehicles, apartments and moving costs?

Here is the question: could you risk your current career with total commitment to success while stretching your current capacity and using capital to a better end than a miserable, short term big law job?

I'm talking about starting your own practice (either in your current firm or independently). I currently run a small law firm. We grossed 400k for the third consecutive year. I have netted over 200k each year. But here is the kicker, I have two attorneys and three staff members. I am literally in Mexico right now in the sixth week of an extended vacation. I'm totally redundant in my own office. I'm with my wife and kids every day. As much as it is possible for any lawyer, I practice on my own terms. Law has given me everything I dreamed of and more.

But am I special? I am a first generation lawyer, with no connections. In fact, I delivered pizzas to pay for community college. The last job I had prior to my big law clerkship was at Pizza Hut. Still, my law firm is a machine built to produce a 200k income, every year, indefinitely, with minimal effort on my part. Every once in a while, it will produce 200k randomly, based on one case. Could you do it?

I think you can. Call me an optimist, but I think anyone who tries it can do it.

What did it take? A career risk of turning down big law and salary jobs to pursue building my own practice in a "eat-what-you-kill" environment. Total commitment to my practice for a few years where I committed myself to creating community connections by attending hundreds of night and weekend events that affected my target demographic and strategically increased my visibility.  I have definitely stretched my capacity as a lawyer and businessman by learning small business management, employee management, and many other topics that once seemed so far away. I also invested a little capital (but not much more than you are talking about).

What you need to make the law everything you ever dreamed it could be is the vision to understand a very simple truth: you have many more options than underpaid or overworked.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2017, 09:27:18 AM by FIREby35 »

Malum Prohibitum

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I hate you, FireBy35.


LOL!  Not really, but I am green with envy.

ReadySetMillionaire

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FIREby35, always appreciate your perspective. You've been encouraging me to go the solo route for a long time now.

I've weighed it and weighed it and weighed it, and I just think I'm at a stage in my life where I can't take that risk--yet.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Another thought: a lot of posters on here are very skeptical of the commute, but are you guys referring to NYC/Chicago/East Coast big law?

From everything that I read, mid-markets like Pittsburgh and Cleveland are an entirely different game.  I have 4-5 friends in Cleveland that work at Jones Day, and all of them insist that 90% of the time, they work from about 8:30 - 6:00, and then maybe an hour or two at home if they are busy.

I was also able to private message an actual associate at this desired firm on another forum, and that associate indicated the same: he's in there 8:00-6:00, rarely works weekends, etc. I asked if 9:30 - 6:00 with some work done at home before leaving would be good and he said that would likely be fine. He's an anonymous message board poster, so it's not like he's the associate across the table lying to reel me in with a false sense of the expectations.

But, you guys have been there, done that, so I welcome an alternative perspective here.

Iplawyer

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I've never worked at a firm on the east or west coast.  My perspective is from a mid-west location. 

RobinAZ

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I am in Phoenix-- here, when negotiating salary with a small or mid-size firm, you can expect to get 25-35% of your collectibles as your base salary, assuming you don't make much rain yourself.  The more work you bring in, the bigger the bite of the apple you can negotiate.  "Benefits" can be anything from nothing, to everything-- health insurance, local/county/state/specialty bar dues, CLE, malpractice insurance, tech set up for working from home, etc.  When I was in "BigLaw" here (left in Dec. 2010), base salary was pretty much EXACTLY 25%.  Bonuses were wildly subjective, except at my firm, where they were almost completely based on *collected* billable hours above 1800/year.

Curious how that compares to other locales?

I went from BigLaw to solo, to small firm.  I am happiest where I am right now.  I would never consider the type of position and commute you have described, I'd spend 3000 hours/year in the town I want to live in, developing my practice.  Whether small form or solo, if you spent an actual 12 hours/day developing your craft and connections, you'd be a rockstar.

FIREby35

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FIREby35, always appreciate your perspective. You've been encouraging me to go the solo route for a long time now.

I've weighed it and weighed it and weighed it, and I just think I'm at a stage in my life where I can't take that risk--yet.

For the record, opening your own practice and opening your own firm (i.e. going solo) are not the same thing. If you are willing to take a risk, work extra and invest your own capital you can do many things within a small firm structure (and, therefore without sacrificing your salary). For example, you can keep doing your current job and look for a practice area currently not serviced by your firm, search out clients, bring them in and service them (i.e. build your own practice). Once that is accomplished, you (or anyone) will have all the leverage in the world to negotiate a percentage of your receipts rather than asking, hat in hand, for a raise.


FIREby35

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I went from BigLaw to solo, to small firm.  I am happiest where I am right now.  I would never consider the type of position and commute you have described, I'd spend 3000 hours/year in the town I want to live in, developing my practice.  Whether small form or solo, if you spent an actual 12 hours/day developing your craft and connections, you'd be a rockstar.

YES!

I only add, with a little creativity to make sure that 12 hours a day reflects the best of who you are.

shawndoggy

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hey RSM, at 48K annual salary, what is your hourly rate and what kind of receivables are you generating at your current firm?

for those of you in (or previously in) big law, what would the receivables expectation be for 150k?

48k is far below gov't work around here (and even at "only" 48k, would include a healthy public sector pension).

LeRainDrop

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Another thought: a lot of posters on here are very skeptical of the commute, but are you guys referring to NYC/Chicago/East Coast big law?

From everything that I read, mid-markets like Pittsburgh and Cleveland are an entirely different game.  I have 4-5 friends in Cleveland that work at Jones Day, and all of them insist that 90% of the time, they work from about 8:30 - 6:00, and then maybe an hour or two at home if they are busy.

I was also able to private message an actual associate at this desired firm on another forum, and that associate indicated the same: he's in there 8:00-6:00, rarely works weekends, etc. I asked if 9:30 - 6:00 with some work done at home before leaving would be good and he said that would likely be fine. He's an anonymous message board poster, so it's not like he's the associate across the table lying to reel me in with a false sense of the expectations.

But, you guys have been there, done that, so I welcome an alternative perspective here.

I'm discussing my experience in the Atlanta office of a national firm where the expectations were the same across all our offices in the country.  (We have some international offices, too, but I think they have different standards.)  The best indicator of what you could expect at this particular firm is what you hear from associates at that firm, in that office, in that practice group.  If their experiences are different from mine, then their feedback is a better indicator for you.  You should get a sense of this through carefully-crafted questions when you interview with the attorneys who would be your peers at the firm.

JuSp02

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Another thought: a lot of posters on here are very skeptical of the commute, but are you guys referring to NYC/Chicago/East Coast big law?

From everything that I read, mid-markets like Pittsburgh and Cleveland are an entirely different game.  I have 4-5 friends in Cleveland that work at Jones Day, and all of them insist that 90% of the time, they work from about 8:30 - 6:00, and then maybe an hour or two at home if they are busy.

But, you guys have been there, done that, so I welcome an alternative perspective here.

I agree that your working hours may be more manageable than in NYC/Chi/LA, but one of the problems is that when you first start off in any firm (and as an associate in general), you need to be as available as possible. You basically need to show you are always available and ready to help at a moments notice. If you are stuck in a car two or more hours a day, that's two hours you can't jump on an emergency research question or pull a filing for a partner as he is walking into a hearing. That's also two hours you can't quickly answer an email. Just because you may be able to (usually) leave the office by 6pm, that doesn't mean you're not expected to be able to help out at all hours. The problem with big law is that your time is not your own and work often cannot wait. You may be able to work from home, but you will be expected to be able to work from home. Not sit in traffic for an hour or more and then work. As much as you may not care about making partner, you also don't want to be fired before you are ready to quit.

Also, as your friends admit, there's still 10% of the time when you can't depend on 8:30-6 hours. It's that 10% that's killer. After billing 13 hr days all week, do you really want to have to drive all that way home?

I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but I think a lot of people end up hating their lives in big law because they didn't fully understand what they were getting into. You can always rent a cheap studio near the office for the first two or three months and see how you like it before making a decision.