Friday, December 25, 2015
I was a little rough on BigLaw last week, so I want to sing BigLaw’s praises this week. Granted, this post is scheduled for Christmas, so it may be even more lightly read than my previous post.
Students often ask me about BigLaw, and I tell them that if I had to do it over again, I would still start my career in BigLaw. Under the break, I explain why that is true.
Talented, Motivated Colleagues. BigLaw consistently recruits the best and the brightest. My colleagues were no exception. For the most part, my colleagues were not only competent, but also extremely talented. You learn quite a bit when you are surrounded by so many great lawyers. There was some competition, but, in my experience, it was good competition--competition that pushed you to do your very best. I still stay in touch with some of my former colleagues and consider a number of them good friends.
Excellent Training. While both of my firms had good formal training programs, the best training came from watching and working for the more senior lawyers. The training was not only in how to be an excellent lawyer, but how to engage in first class client service. Mistakes were not tolerated and clients were treated like royalty. It was only after I left BigLaw that I fully realized that most businesses do not hold themselves to similarly high standards.
Interesting Work. Thankfully, I was given some really interesting work early on and both firms were working on matters that showed up in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, etc. By that point, I was already a corporate law nerd, and found the substance of the work fascinating. We were working mostly with Fortune 500 companies that really impacted the economy and were often on the cutting edge.
Good Pay. I can’t lie; the paycheck definitely played a fairly large role in me taking BigLaw jobs. Most importantly, however, I am glad I didn’t allow my lifestyle catch up with my paycheck. The money saved during my first four years of practice allowed me to take a Visiting Assistant Professorship, buy an engagement ring, and put a down payment on our current house. Each of those things were very important, but would have been much more difficult to do with a lower salary.
In short, while BigLaw can be quite demanding at times (we had a few 40-hour weekends), I would choose it again as a first legal job because of how much I learned and gained in the process.