Biglaw Longevity

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LesPaul1995
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Biglaw Longevity

Postby LesPaul1995 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:25 am

This has been asked previously, but a lot of the threads are older. The life expectancy of a biglaw career is around 2-4 years, at which time you may expect to be “phased out” or voluntarily leave.

1. From your experience (not asking for hard data), if you had to arbitrarily put a % on it, what proportion of associates are “phased out”, instead of voluntarily leaving (it seems like the majority of associates voluntarily leave).
2. At the risk of sounding like a gunner, if ones desire IS to stay in biglaw, other than attempting to place in a practice group that is given important work and high billables, and/or planning to lateral in years 3-5, how else can a naïveté 0L plan for a career in biglaw?

I am asking these questions because it seems odd to spend years trying to get into an environment that everybody in that environment is trying to get out of. Sure, a v100 firm will afford an in-house job you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten out of undergrad, and so law school was justified. But it doesn’t seem nearly as discussed as it should be (perhaps because there is no “track”) as to how one, should they want to, should plan for their career in corporate law. It is baffling that the life span of an associate is so short, (irrespective of how poor the QOL is, which, presumably, associates are aware of), and there is not a significant amount that plan to stay.

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kalvano
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby kalvano » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:57 pm

LesPaul1995 wrote:But it doesn’t seem nearly as discussed as it should be (perhaps because there is no “track”) as to how one, should they want to, should plan for their career in corporate law. It is baffling that the life span of an associate is so short, (irrespective of how poor the QOL is, which, presumably, associates are aware of), and there is not a significant amount that plan to stay.


I think a number of people do plan to stay, but either gets politely but firmly shown the door simply because there isn't room for everyone, or because Biglaw sucks, which they knew intellectually, but didn't actually understand until they started working.

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notDINGBAT
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby notDINGBAT » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:22 pm

The numbers may be a little stale, but I recall biglaw having a roughly 33% attrition rate per year

tomwatts
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby tomwatts » Wed Dec 06, 2017 6:35 pm

LesPaul1995 wrote:I am asking these questions because it seems odd to spend years trying to get into an environment that everybody in that environment is trying to get out of.

Yes. Yes, it does.

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SemperLegal
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby SemperLegal » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:34 pm

A lot of being a biglaw associate is like a residency, just at four times the pay.

The works grueling, you are mostly doing work that paraprofessionals will do, and the point is to move on. But it's one one of the few places that has the ability to train you. Even the alternatives are similar

1. Military/Government.
2. Related professions where you don't practice law/ medicine (compliance for JDs, consulting with insurers and drug companies for mds/dos)
3. Professions that associate the degree with valuable skills (consulting and investing for both).
4. The occasional (usually rural) practice that will look past your inexperience.

The issue is that 1 is just as hard to get, pays less, and has bad hours. Although only the first is true for doctors.

Two is often ow paying, professionally embarrassing to some and usually inescapable once you start.

Three is super rare, you likely won't have the skills, and you'll always be second class in the industry (i.e. your upward trajectory is limited).

And 4 is a unicorn (as well as terrifying, moreso for doctors).

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby PeanutsNJam » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:04 pm

tomwatts wrote:
LesPaul1995 wrote:I am asking these questions because it seems odd to spend years trying to get into an environment that everybody in that environment is trying to get out of.

Yes. Yes, it does.


Not that odd when biglaw is often a required stepping stone to jobs that some people actually want, such as in-house or whatever.

Like, who would willingly subject themselves to paying 50k/year, not making any money, just to sit in a classroom to read cases??? Everybody wants to graduate and get a degree quickly. Why would anybody take the lsat and apply to get into an environment that everyone wants to get out of?

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SmokeytheBear
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby SmokeytheBear » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:23 pm

LesPaul1995 wrote:This has been asked previously, but a lot of the threads are older. The life expectancy of a biglaw career is around 2-4 years, at which time you may expect to be “phased out” or voluntarily leave.

1. From your experience (not asking for hard data), if you had to arbitrarily put a % on it, what proportion of associates are “phased out”, instead of voluntarily leaving (it seems like the majority of associates voluntarily leave).
2. At the risk of sounding like a gunner, if ones desire IS to stay in biglaw, other than attempting to place in a practice group that is given important work and high billables, and/or planning to lateral in years 3-5, how else can a naïveté 0L plan for a career in biglaw?

I am asking these questions because it seems odd to spend years trying to get into an environment that everybody in that environment is trying to get out of. Sure, a v100 firm will afford an in-house job you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten out of undergrad, and so law school was justified. But it doesn’t seem nearly as discussed as it should be (perhaps because there is no “track”) as to how one, should they want to, should plan for their career in corporate law. It is baffling that the life span of an associate is so short, (irrespective of how poor the QOL is, which, presumably, associates are aware of), and there is not a significant amount that plan to stay.


I noticed at least one typo in your post, so you're probably going to be phased out quite quickly.

hlsperson1111
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby hlsperson1111 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:24 pm

LesPaul1995 wrote:This has been asked previously, but a lot of the threads are older. The life expectancy of a biglaw career is around 2-4 years, at which time you may expect to be “phased out” or voluntarily leave.

1. From your experience (not asking for hard data), if you had to arbitrarily put a % on it, what proportion of associates are “phased out”, instead of voluntarily leaving (it seems like the majority of associates voluntarily leave).
2. At the risk of sounding like a gunner, if ones desire IS to stay in biglaw, other than attempting to place in a practice group that is given important work and high billables, and/or planning to lateral in years 3-5, how else can a naïveté 0L plan for a career in biglaw?

I am asking these questions because it seems odd to spend years trying to get into an environment that everybody in that environment is trying to get out of. Sure, a v100 firm will afford an in-house job you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten out of undergrad, and so law school was justified. But it doesn’t seem nearly as discussed as it should be (perhaps because there is no “track”) as to how one, should they want to, should plan for their career in corporate law. It is baffling that the life span of an associate is so short, (irrespective of how poor the QOL is, which, presumably, associates are aware of), and there is not a significant amount that plan to stay.


There are two big waves of attrition in my experience: (1) around year 2-3 (which mostly encompasses people who can't hack it, who truly hate biglaw, or who just don't have the temperament/fit to succeed in it); and (2) around year 6-8 (which encompasses people who have the intellectual firepower and grit to succeed in biglaw, but who are trying to exit into an more sustainable long-term job, don't have real business generation potential, or who for whatever other reason aren't in a position to make it to partnership).

My firm (middle of the V100) has around 25-35 summers firm-wide each year. We make about 8-12 (non-equity) partners a year, and I'd say that on average half of them are homegrown.

beautyistruth
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby beautyistruth » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:31 pm

SemperLegal wrote:A lot of being a biglaw associate is like a residency, just at four times the pay.

The works grueling, you are mostly doing work that paraprofessionals will do, and the point is to move on. But it's one one of the few places that has the ability to train you. Even the alternatives are similar

1. Military/Government.
2. Related professions where you don't practice law/ medicine (compliance for JDs, consulting with insurers and drug companies for mds/dos)
3. Professions that associate the degree with valuable skills (consulting and investing for both).
4. The occasional (usually rural) practice that will look past your inexperience.

The issue is that 1 is just as hard to get, pays less, and has bad hours. Although only the first is true for doctors.

Two is often ow paying, professionally embarrassing to some and usually inescapable once you start.

Three is super rare, you likely won't have the skills, and you'll always be second class in the industry (i.e. your upward trajectory is limited).

And 4 is a unicorn (as well as terrifying, moreso for doctors).


In response to #3, I've actually heard from multiple sources that a JD and/or LLM in something Big4 will have an easier time getting promoted, provided that they actually do good work. (Essentially the idea being that there's some slight presumption that you're special, and that helps you provided you can deliver on it). Heard the same thing with lawyers who go into consulting shops that were looking for legal backgrounds (not MBB).

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LesPaul1995
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby LesPaul1995 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 8:56 pm

hlsperson1111 wrote:
LesPaul1995 wrote:This has been asked previously, but a lot of the threads are older. The life expectancy of a biglaw career is around 2-4 years, at which time you may expect to be “phased out” or voluntarily leave.

1. From your experience (not asking for hard data), if you had to arbitrarily put a % on it, what proportion of associates are “phased out”, instead of voluntarily leaving (it seems like the majority of associates voluntarily leave).
2. At the risk of sounding like a gunner, if ones desire IS to stay in biglaw, other than attempting to place in a practice group that is given important work and high billables, and/or planning to lateral in years 3-5, how else can a naïveté 0L plan for a career in biglaw?

I am asking these questions because it seems odd to spend years trying to get into an environment that everybody in that environment is trying to get out of. Sure, a v100 firm will afford an in-house job you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten out of undergrad, and so law school was justified. But it doesn’t seem nearly as discussed as it should be (perhaps because there is no “track”) as to how one, should they want to, should plan for their career in corporate law. It is baffling that the life span of an associate is so short, (irrespective of how poor the QOL is, which, presumably, associates are aware of), and there is not a significant amount that plan to stay.


There are two big waves of attrition in my experience: (1) around year 2-3 (which mostly encompasses people who can't hack it, who truly hate biglaw, or who just don't have the temperament/fit to succeed in it); and (2) around year 6-8 (which encompasses people who have the intellectual firepower and grit to succeed in biglaw, but who are trying to exit into an more sustainable long-term job, don't have real business generation potential, or who for whatever other reason aren't in a position to make it to partnership).

My firm (middle of the V100) has around 25-35 summers firm-wide each year. We make about 8-12 (non-equity) partners a year, and I'd say that on average half of them are homegrown.


So, it sounds like at least in your experience, the people who wouldn’t have likely made it are phased out, while this doesn’t include people whom would have preferred to stay?

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LesPaul1995
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby LesPaul1995 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:22 pm

SemperLegal wrote:A lot of being a biglaw associate is like a residency, just at four times the pay.

The works grueling, you are mostly doing work that paraprofessionals will do, and the point is to move on. But it's one one of the few places that has the ability to train you. Even the alternatives are similar

1. Military/Government.
2. Related professions where you don't practice law/ medicine (compliance for JDs, consulting with insurers and drug companies for mds/dos)
3. Professions that associate the degree with valuable skills (consulting and investing for both).
4. The occasional (usually rural) practice that will look past your inexperience.

The issue is that 1 is just as hard to get, pays less, and has bad hours. Although only the first is true for doctors.

Two is often ow paying, professionally embarrassing to some and usually inescapable once you start.

Three is super rare, you likely won't have the skills, and you'll always be second class in the industry (i.e. your upward trajectory is limited).

And 4 is a unicorn (as well as terrifying, moreso for doctors).


Three is definitely rare, and typically confined to the t13 (and more commonly the t6), yet I am wondering if it is rare at least on the basis that those institutions have many students with prior work experience that may have worked in those industries, thereby making it more self selective than the program being selective, because I can’t imagine more people wouldn’t go to work for MBB/IB even after law school.

EliotAlderson
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Re: Biglaw Longevity

Postby EliotAlderson » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:07 pm

notDINGBAT wrote:The numbers may be a little stale, but I recall biglaw having a roughly 33% attrition rate per year


Are litigators clerking included in that number?

At my lockstep NYC firm, Less than a quarter we’re gone after 2 years (kept track and have the numbers around somewhere). Surprising chunk of those were to non-law jobs (consulting, tech, back to banking). Stopped keeping track because dgaf but willing to estimate that a big chunk left in years 3 and 4, mostly in-house. Only one that I know of was pushed out and rather gently (from first talk to them leaving was almost a year and a half).

To OP’s original question, you want to stay, find out which seniors and partners to avoid, avoid them. And by avoid I mean the pricks, not general hardasses. The latter type can advance your career if you put in the work. Next, spend the first year or so building a reputation. Good work and hours (hours unsurprisingly are important). Do good work. Under-promise, over-perform. And know when Shit gets busy, get ready for a rough ride. Then enjoy the down time.




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