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Old 10-26-2007, 02:25 PM
 
Location: Florida
86 posts, read 260,239 times
Reputation: 40
Default Legal workload- I would like some advice from lawyers

I am 22, considering law school in a year or so. I have the grades to go to a good school- not Top 14, but still good. But I have a major concern:

I would like to live and work in a large city (Chicago, Atlanta, etc), but I don't want to be a slave to a big law firm!

Over and over I read how young associates have ridiculous billing hours, like 2000 - 2250, which realistically translates to 70-80 hour weeks. And then the partners keep 3/4 of what the client pays. Yes, a $125k starting salary would be great, but 12 hour days + Saturdays would burn me out in 6 months, I know it. You can't even mention "I want a work/life balance" or you seem lazy and unmotivated to recruiters.

I know the major alternative is government, which is more laid back, but starting salaries are what... $40k or something!? I would feel like a failure if I went to 3 years of law school and a whole lot of debt to make a salary I could make with my undergraduate degree in Finance.

What about mid-size or boutique firms? I would be willing to work 50-55 hours max. I don't want to throw away my 20s, especially since I want to get married and have kids.

Any advice or real-world experiences would be MUCH appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 10-28-2007, 03:12 PM
 
Location: Florida
86 posts, read 260,239 times
Reputation: 40
No lawyers on this forum...? How about family of lawyers?
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Old 10-28-2007, 06:40 PM
 
6,586 posts, read 16,015,541 times
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Well, the last law firm I worked for was a mid sized litigation place in a large city and the billing requirement for attorneys was 167/month. If you didn't meet it, you didn't get a bonus or a raise.

The sweatshop firms are well known and easily avoided. They usually pay a heck of a lot more and some folks do it for a couple of years to pay down law school debt faster.

The real issue with attorney work - at least in this tort reformed state - is that there are a lot of unemployed lawyers around. Some never found their first job. Some found their first job and then got laid off for whatever reason - lack of work, the lawyer wasn't as good as his resume or a slacker, or the lawyer thought the grass was greener somewhere else and it wasn't.

We've had quite a few law firms close up shop or have massive layoffs. So, I would look into the job market - first to see if there is work for any lawyers and then if there is work for a lawyer who doesn't want to "pay his dues" for a couple of years.

I tell you law firms are becoming very weary of the recent crop of new lawyers who refuse to work past 5:00 when they are paying them 6 figures and they didn't come into until 9:30 and took a 90 minute lunch. In our environment though now, lawyers who are working are a little more grateful they have a job at all and are working closer to 9-10 hour days - well except on Fridays where it seems to be a ghost town by 3.

In the one corporate job I had, they were all working 10 hour days every single day but there were no billing requirements, of course.
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Old 10-28-2007, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Florida
86 posts, read 260,239 times
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A 9-10 hour day isn't bad at all. Maybe I come across as a slacker, but I'm not. However, I'm not gonna **** away my youth working 70-80 hour weeks to fatten some partner's wallet.

The corporate deal doesn't sound bad. I figure it pays more than government.
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Rolando, San Diego CA 92115
7,100 posts, read 17,907,981 times
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I worked at a startup started by a very successful lawyer. Billing hours was on the order of 2500/yr.

Since it is not possible to bill every hour on the job, use the 80% productivity metric as a basis for determining the number of hours, i.e. 52 (weeks per year) * 80% productivity which gets you to about 41 productive weeks a year. Divide that by 2500 hours and you are looking at 60hrs/ week. That does not include vacations, of course.

Simply put - if you want to be a lawyer and not work insane hours - look into stuff like patent law or corporate / contract law. It will not pay nearly as well as the private stuff but at least you can have a life.

Oh, by the way, the reason my boss started up a software company was because he never saw his family as a lawyer.
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Old 10-29-2007, 03:29 PM
 
Location: Florida
86 posts, read 260,239 times
Reputation: 40
^ The thought of that is terrifying. I did some more research, and it appears that low-paying entry-level government jobs are primarily at the state and local level. The federal government has a multitude of entry-level positions that pay at G11 and G12 levels (varies from $46k to $70k) and still allow for better quality of life. They're just rather competitive to land in the first place.
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Old 10-29-2007, 05:06 PM
 
Location: Rolando, San Diego CA 92115
7,100 posts, read 17,907,981 times
Reputation: 2883
Quote:
Originally Posted by NSX1990 View Post
^ The thought of that is terrifying. I did some more research, and it appears that low-paying entry-level government jobs are primarily at the state and local level. The federal government has a multitude of entry-level positions that pay at G11 and G12 levels (varies from $46k to $70k) and still allow for better quality of life. They're just rather competitive to land in the first place.
If you are scared of 60 hour weeks, do not work in any white-collar private sector career. I usually stick to 45-50 hour weeks but have worked 70+ many times. Stick with the state and federal government, those guys don't and won't work a minute of overtime.
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Old 10-30-2007, 06:45 AM
 
6,586 posts, read 16,015,541 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NSX1990 View Post
A 9-10 hour day isn't bad at all. Maybe I come across as a slacker, but I'm not. However, I'm not gonna **** away my youth working 70-80 hour weeks to fatten some partner's wallet.

The corporate deal doesn't sound bad. I figure it pays more than government.
If I were you I would find a career that you enjoyed and found fulfilling so you don't feel like you are wasting your life doing it.
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Old 10-30-2007, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Florida
86 posts, read 260,239 times
Reputation: 40
Easier said than done!
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Old 10-31-2007, 12:01 PM
 
2,778 posts, read 5,306,025 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sassberto View Post
Simply put - if you want to be a lawyer and not work insane hours - look into stuff like patent law or corporate / contract law. It will not pay nearly as well as the private stuff but at least you can have a life.

Oh, by the way, the reason my boss started up a software company was because he never saw his family as a lawyer.
Patent attorneys earn by far the most amount of money. They charge insane fees, have a ton of work, and this is because their jobs are actually difficult.

The problem in the legal world right now is that we have too many people who said, "Like, ummm, I'm totally 23 and I totally just like, graduated, and like, I want to be a lawyer! kk?"

They have no skills. For some reason, almost all of them thought that Political Science was a useful major. Why, I'll never know. They have no work experience, much less work experience with jobs that require excrutiating hours, deadlines that will leave you dead if you don't meet them, and the mind numbingly dull work that is 99% of all legal work.
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