staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

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luciditycabbage

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staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby luciditycabbage » Fri Jan 18, 2019 11:28 pm

My current understanding is that most Biglaw associates self-select out within 2-3 / 5 years because the job sucks. But if I truly want to stay on as a Biglaw associate for 8+ years (and maybe longer as counsel), can I do that even if I don't want to make partner?

I.e. is there a certain level of work quality / work ethic that isn't quite enough for partner but would allow me to reasonably latch onto an associate job for 8+ years, or is that simply not done in Biglaw?

cavalier1138

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:09 am

From what I've seen, there are firms that keep senior associates on with no intention of making them partners. So it's technically possible.

But assuming that you won't get forced out before year 8 is a big assumption. A lot of associates self-select out. A lot are forced out, especially when you get to the point that your reviews are going to be focused on whether you're partner material.

The other issue is what you plan to do after year 8 (if you even make it that far). If your plan is to in a counsel position, you need to find a firm where that's a realistic possibility. But when you've been working in biglaw for that long at a single firm, you'll need a pretty solid lateral plan if you don't plan on staying.

Npret

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby Npret » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:40 am

luciditycabbage wrote:My current understanding is that most Biglaw associates self-select out within 2-3 / 5 years because the job sucks. But if I truly want to stay on as a Biglaw associate for 8+ years (and maybe longer as counsel), can I do that even if I don't want to make partner?

I.e. is there a certain level of work quality / work ethic that isn't quite enough for partner but would allow me to reasonably latch onto an associate job for 8+ years, or is that simply not done in Biglaw?

Is it theoretically possible in that people have done it? Yes. Is it anything you can count on as an 0L who isn’t even sure they want law, no.

hlsperson1111

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby hlsperson1111 » Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:17 pm

I have seen associates stay on 10-11 years at my firm. You can theoretically do it if you do good enough work and can stay busy enough to justify the salary. And if you are willing to make a bunch of lateral moves and do passable-good work, you can stay in biglaw as an associate for a long time. But there are two important things to note:

(1) If you get to year 8+, the thing that is separating you from the associates who make partner is probably not work ethic or work quality. It is office politics, business generation (or business generation potential), and other intangibles.

(2) It is really hard to get work (particularly new work) when you get to be a super-senior associate who has been passed over for partner or who has no intention of making partner. It's easier if you are a specialist of some sort, but no one wants to invest in a general M&A practitioner or general commercial litigator who is in his or her 8th-11th year and isn't on the partner track.

SolemnMan

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby SolemnMan » Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:58 pm

luciditycabbage wrote:My current understanding is that most Biglaw associates self-select out within 2-3 / 5 years because the job sucks. But if I truly want to stay on as a Biglaw associate for 8+ years (and maybe longer as counsel), can I do that even if I don't want to make partner?

I.e. is there a certain level of work quality / work ethic that isn't quite enough for partner but would allow me to reasonably latch onto an associate job for 8+ years, or is that simply not done in Biglaw?


Look, given the fact that you weren't even sure you wanted to go to law school in the first place, what makes you think you'll be the one who stays in biglaw for that long?

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LSATWiz.com

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby LSATWiz.com » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:24 pm

Voluntarily leaving and being pushed out are not always mutually exclusive. Work is much more draining when you are desperate for hours than when you are not.

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vanwinkle

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:13 am

luciditycabbage wrote:My current understanding is that most Biglaw associates self-select out within 2-3 / 5 years because the job sucks. But if I truly want to stay on as a Biglaw associate for 8+ years (and maybe longer as counsel), can I do that even if I don't want to make partner?

I.e. is there a certain level of work quality / work ethic that isn't quite enough for partner but would allow me to reasonably latch onto an associate job for 8+ years, or is that simply not done in Biglaw?


People who self-select out, do it for a reason. BigLaw hours and lifestyle are crushing, and they want that sweet sweet in-house QOL (working only 50-60 hours most weeks instead of 80). Few people can tolerate the BigLaw life long term.

The model is still trying to evolve. You’ll see law firms that retain “of counsel” or (worse) non-equity “partners” who are field specialists and valuable for their legal acumen, but not given the full benefits and responsibilities of true equity partnership. But no, there’s no magically better QOL that way. (If there was, those jobs would get taken fast.) You have less responsibilities than an equity partner, but still shouldn’t make weekend plans you can’t break.

Law firms are service providers. You work at one, that means you are a high end service provider. That means you provide services on demand, on the client’s schedule, whether your business card says “partner” or not.

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nealric

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby nealric » Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:02 pm

I think if you really truly want to be in biglaw throughout the 8 year period, you have a reasonable chance of doing so, but not necessarily at the same firm you start.

The thing is, what you want now and what you want after a few years in biglaw may be two different things.

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby dabigchina » Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:52 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
People who self-select out, do it for a reason. BigLaw hours and lifestyle are crushing, and they want that sweet sweet in-house QOL (working only 50-60 hours most weeks instead of 80). Few people can tolerate the BigLaw life long term.

The model is still trying to evolve. You’ll see law firms that retain “of counsel” or (worse) non-equity “partners” who are field specialists and valuable for their legal acumen, but not given the full benefits and responsibilities of true equity partnership. But no, there’s no magically better QOL that way. (If there was, those jobs would get taken fast.) You have less responsibilities than an equity partner, but still shouldn’t make weekend plans you can’t break.

Law firms are service providers. You work at one, that means you are a high end service provider. That means you provide services on demand, on the client’s schedule, whether your business card says “partner” or not.


Biglaw junior here: are all in house jobs this busy too?

hlsperson1111

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby hlsperson1111 » Tue Jan 22, 2019 5:04 pm

For what it's worth, my experience (as a senior associate on the West Coast) is that biglaw is a 45-65 hour job most weeks, with some 80+ hour weeks thrown in. (That's hours worked, not hours billed.) But I think it's certainly more grueling in NYC.

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby QContinuum » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:34 pm

hlsperson1111 wrote:For what it's worth, my experience (as a senior associate on the West Coast) is that biglaw is a 45-65 hour job most weeks, with some 80+ hour weeks thrown in. (That's hours worked, not hours billed.) But I think it's certainly more grueling in NYC.

I think it depends a lot on work ethic/efficiency. It's all too easy to waste hours and hours on email or reading the news or Law360 or catching up with your friends in the breakroom.

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nealric

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Re: staying in Biglaw for 8+ years: feasible if I really want it?

Postby nealric » Wed Jan 23, 2019 9:44 am

dabigchina wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:
People who self-select out, do it for a reason. BigLaw hours and lifestyle are crushing, and they want that sweet sweet in-house QOL (working only 50-60 hours most weeks instead of 80). Few people can tolerate the BigLaw life long term.

The model is still trying to evolve. You’ll see law firms that retain “of counsel” or (worse) non-equity “partners” who are field specialists and valuable for their legal acumen, but not given the full benefits and responsibilities of true equity partnership. But no, there’s no magically better QOL that way. (If there was, those jobs would get taken fast.) You have less responsibilities than an equity partner, but still shouldn’t make weekend plans you can’t break.

Law firms are service providers. You work at one, that means you are a high end service provider. That means you provide services on demand, on the client’s schedule, whether your business card says “partner” or not.


Biglaw junior here: are all in house jobs this busy too?


No, there are certainly 9-5 in-house jobs. It depends a lot on company culture and the nature of your work. The M&A lawyer is much more likely to stay late than the benefits compliance lawyer. Besides, there are plenty of folks in biglaw who usually work 50-60 hour weeks- maybe not in NYC V5 M&A, but in less hectic practices/cities it's not uncommon at all. Very few people really truly sustain 80 hour weeks over the course of their career.



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