Corporate Lawyers

albatrosslee's picture
Rank: Baboon | 143

This isn't exactly banking, but it is a big, well-respected firm and the pay is decent. Anyways, I know generally what corporate lawyers do on deals, but are their hours just as bad? Anyone have any experience with these guys and their lifestyle?

Being a Corporate Lawyer

Corporate law can be a very demanding job as a junior associate and even at the partner level.

A junior associate may work 70 hours a week or more.

The pay at top firms for these junior associates is around 130k so comparable to an IB analyst.

Big paydays come later as a partner. Income partners can make north of 700k. You can increase income by bringing in revenue for the firm and getting a percentage of total billable hours generated. Equity partners can make several million a year.

There is also an up or out policy in most corporate law firms. The main distinction between law and finance seems to be the benefits of being on top of the hierarchy. It is not uncommon for a partner to be "in the trenches" and working 70+ hour weeks.

from certified user @HerSerendipity

The fact that struck me the most odd is that partners in law firms work just as hard as they did when they were associates.

Maybe this is not at all law firms but I see partners just as active on our deals as the associates on their team. It's a bit weird to see a 60 year old grandpa-looking partner sitting in drafting sessions and deal negotiations at 4am.

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Comments (65)

May 30, 2007

My dad has been a corporate lawyer for over 20 years. Even at the senior partner level, he works 70+ hours a week. The good news is he can come home around 7pm, just spends a fair amount of time working on the weekend. This is for a big and well respected firm though; I have no idea what the hours are like at the smaller firms.

May 30, 2007
CompBanker:

My dad has been a corporate lawyer for over 20 years. Even at the senior partner level, he works 70+ hours a week. The good news is he can come home around 7pm, just spends a fair amount of time working on the weekend. This is for a big and well respected firm though; I have no idea what the hours are like at the smaller firms.

Is your father earning upper 6 figures, like 700'ish to 900'ish?

May 30, 2007

Partners at NYC BigLaw shops do NOT work 70 hour weeks. Most associates do not work 70 hour weeks.

May 30, 2007

The only people who are below bankers...and even analysts. I can wake up a partner at 5am and give all hell about a document, I can't even do that sort of thing to the print shop.

If you're at a top shop, you will work as long if not longer hours than in banking.

Jun 4, 2007

All of this nonsense about analysts being able to bitch out associates and partners at law firms is total nonsense. I have never, in my analyst or associate years, been able to treat a lawyer like anything but an equal. We are all providing a service for the client.

My brother is a corporate lawyer, just made partner at a V5 NY firm. He has it heads and tails better than me, and his hours were never as bad as my banking hours.

You guys really have a jaded view of biglaw. It sucks, but so does banking. Also, being fired in a bad economy isn't really a threat to them at all, and they have a much higher base salary to fall back on in the event profits shrink, so they don't care as much if bonuses go down.

May 30, 2007

BIGLAW Associates work intense hours, you won't be getting any 40 hour weeks there.

Jun 4, 2007

Is your father earning upper 6 figures, like 700'ish to 900'ish?

No, he is a ways over 7.

Jun 5, 2007
CompBanker:

Is your father earning upper 6 figures, like 700'ish to 900'ish?

No, he is a ways over 7.

Nice, thanks 4 the response.

Jun 5, 2007

Alright, I don't think I've ever spoken of this on the forum, but I initially started my master's program as a joint JD/MBA...

Anyways, I did a summer associate role in the corporate/securities law group of a large international law firm in Chicago. I can attest while the work can be intense, the hours aren't like IB. Having said that, the hours are pretty shitty nonetheless. Most people do work a 70+ week and are in on the weekends. However, the lifestyle is much more manageable. You don't have to travel as much as you may in IB. Most importantly, you can generally make plans and keep them vs. the abrupt nature of IB where shit can hit the fan on a Friday afternoon and you're doomed.

Sure, the bonuses aren't IB bonuses, but they're good bonuses. The base salaries are the same, if not higher. As a 1Y associate at a top corporate law group, I think current base salaries are about $130K.

Finally, I think a law career is much more longstanding than a career in IB if this makes any sense.

I actually like law a lot and while I opted out of the joint JD/MBA program, I learned alot out of the summer associate experience. Having that perspective and having worked in that role I can appreciate the work of corporate attorneys.
Bottom line is no IB deal is going to get done if it doesn't get a blessing from legal. I think that bankers get VERY VERY arrogant about their great contribution to the universe, but in the end it's a sales job. That's all it really is.

Oh, and yes... partners do make about $700K+. Well, most larger firms distinguish between "income" and "equity" partners, but yes, they can and do make this amount of money. Example, one of my mentors was a partner at another law firm and her base was like $250 but her bonus and equity were like $500K... she has a speciality in corporate law doing public finance/municipal bond work...

Jun 5, 2007

Salaries at most corporate firms are now $160,000 for first years, going up to about $330,000 for 7th years, and bonuses are lock step from $35k for first years to $65k for 7th years. $208,000 (with the one month salary bar study bonus) as a first year, and about 400,000 as a 7th/8th year, before making partner is decent pay.

Also, partners don't make $700,000. Look at the 2006 Profits Per Partner figures for the AmLaw 100. The top shops have average profits per partner at over $3mm. That is average, between the guy that just made partner at 32 years old, and the 65 year old guy. Income partners make a little over $700,000, but that is usually a holding ground before you make full equity partner a few years later.

They make a lot of money, many make much more than bankers. It is just different work, and you usually need a higher level of qualification to get your foot in the door at these firms.

Jun 5, 2007

Right. At the income partner level the salaries are about $700K and ofcourse incomes are significantly higher for equity partners.

Wow... in 2005 the 1Y associate salaries at Baker & McKenzie, Winston & Strawn etc. were like $135K for corporate lawyers. So in 2 years the base salaries have bumped up that high?

I always thought corporate/securities lawyers make the most money. However, there are litigation superstars and IP attorneys that I know that make more money.

I agree about the higher level of qualification. The thing about law is that you can't fake your way into it. You HAVE to go to law school, you have to pass the bar etc.

In many respects I think corporate lawyers are smarter than IB's and possibly even work harder. (I'm not talking about hours worked here fellas...)

My statement alone ofcourse will cause snobbish bankers out there to shift violently in their seats astonished that I even DARED to say that!!

Jun 5, 2007

***shifting violently....mutters something about occupational sterotypes... j/k

Jun 5, 2007

BIGLAW is generally just as profitable as IB. Hours and lifestyle are very similar. In fact, lawyers often have to be more dedicated than their IB counterparts, as they have to go to Law school and pass the bar before they can even begin working. In addition, there is much lower turnover in law firms than in IB.

Jun 5, 2007
bicoastal:

BIGLAW is generally just as profitable as IB. Hours and lifestyle are very similar. In fact, lawyers often have to be more dedicated than their IB counterparts, as they have to go to Law school and pass the bar before they can even begin working. In addition, there is much lower turnover in law firms than in IB.

I don't know about that. Skadden's turnover is insane from what I have read

Jun 6, 2007

so aadpepsi, why aren't you a lawyer?

Jun 6, 2007
jonathanknee:

so aadpepsi, why aren't you a lawyer?

Excellent question.

Well... life has taken me on various roller coaster rides. At times self imposed, other times forces of the universe gone awry.

I've been in/out of law firms since undergrad. I will humbly admit that I've had almost every imaginable position from legal assistant to paralegal to summer associate. Perhaps, too much information for you fine people :-)

I've actually considered law school twice... almost immediately after undergrad and then ofcourse most recently in grad school vis a vie the joint JD/MBA.

Bottom line for me was both the cost burden and time commitment. Also, I wanted something more dynamic. In saying this, I don't mean to infer that a career in corporate law isn't dynamic because it is. I mean dynamic from the aspect that I wanted to have different options readily available to me. My perception was that once you start law you're locked in and it's very challenging (although not impossible) to do something else.

Admitting, that I have attention deficit disorder, I wasn't confident that law would consume my undivided attention enough so to make a longstanding career in it.

However, I always joke with family/friends that had I just stuck with a "plan" at an earlier age I'd be a partner by now!!! 'eh... woulda, coulda, shoulda.

I could still retire in a career in law... I know someone who was a healthcare executive who woke up one day and said "screw it" and quit her job and started law school at 45. She's now practicing at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and married to a widowed equity partner who she worked with on her first assignment as a 1Y associate. Go figure that one!!

Jun 6, 2007

I don't think once you practice law you're locked in it for life. I think that's a common misconception. I was pre-law all through college (and am still considering a JD/MBA), and I learned that a law degree can open a lot more doors than people think. Many CEOs of fortune 500 companies and Bulge Bracket banks (Lloyd Blankfein) have law degrees.

Jun 12, 2007
aadpepsi:
jonathanknee:

so aadpepsi, why aren't you a lawyer?

Excellent question.

Well... life has taken me on various roller coaster rides. At times self imposed, other times forces of the universe gone awry.

I've been in/out of law firms since undergrad. I will humbly admit that I've had almost every imaginable position from legal assistant to paralegal to summer associate. Perhaps, too much information for you fine people :-)

I've actually considered law school twice... almost immediately after undergrad and then ofcourse most recently in grad school vis a vie the joint JD/MBA.

Bottom line for me was both the cost burden and time commitment. Also, I wanted something more dynamic. In saying this, I don't mean to infer that a career in corporate law isn't dynamic because it is. I mean dynamic from the aspect that I wanted to have different options readily available to me. My perception was that once you start law you're locked in and it's very challenging (although not impossible) to do something else.

Admitting, that I have attention deficit disorder, I wasn't confident that law would consume my undivided attention enough so to make a longstanding career in it.

However, I always joke with family/friends that had I just stuck with a "plan" at an earlier age I'd be a partner by now!!! 'eh... woulda, coulda, shoulda.

I could still retire in a career in law... I know someone who was a healthcare executive who woke up one day and said "screw it" and quit her job and started law school at 45. She's now practicing at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and married to a widowed equity partner who she worked with on her first assignment as a 1Y associate. Go figure that one!!

Did you go to a top mba.law school? It seems to me that gaining admission into both the law school and business school in a top 10 school would be VERY difficult to say the least? Basically, you have to kill the LSAT, and have solid work experience? Do you have any comments/advice on this? Thanks-

Jun 6, 2007

When I said "Corporate Lawyers" I really just meant any BIGLAW associate, wether they are corporate or litigation associates. They all get paid the same, and it is lock step, even for bonuses.

Yes, Skadden, and others have high turnover, but that is self imposed. It is almost unheard of for an associate to be fired/laid off. One firm, Sherman & Sterling, laid off associates in 2001, and still hasn't recovered their prestige points b/c of it. Law students still avoid it like the plague.

Jun 6, 2007

Wow, this is a great convo. I do, however, take issue with RR's statement that corporate lawyers can make more than bankers. From my research, good MD bankers make much more than good corp law partners. And generally, I think IB pays much more than law.

Jun 7, 2007
zk1085:

Wow, this is a great convo. I do, however, take issue with RR's statement that corporate lawyers can make more than bankers. From my research, good MD bankers make much more than good corp law partners. And generally, I think IB pays much more than law.

Sure, good MDs make more, but aren't there plenty of MDs making in the $1-2mm range? Equity partners at the top BIGLAW firms are well over $3mm, on average, which means that the guys in their prime are making more like $5-6mm, while the newly minted partners are makiing $1-2mm.

As far as associates go, first years make around $200k, lock-step (so you don't have to worry about being in the low bonus bracket), and senior associates make a little over $400k, 7 years into practice. I know that analysts don't make that kind of money, and I know that associates are capable of making that kind of money. However, one thing is for certain, when the economy goes south, law firms do NOT fire people. It is nearly impossible to get fired at a BIGLAW firm, most people just leave on their own b/c they want to pursue something else. With banking, our jobs aren't nearly as secure.

Also, associates at BIGLAW firms never, ever, have to go through what analysts do. Those guys have it much better in that regard. Also, when they are summer associates, between their 2nd and 3rd year of law school, the spend literally the entire summer going to 3 hour lunches everyday at the top places in new york, followed by dinners every night at Nobu, Luger's, basically anywhere they want, and then out drinking all night on the firm's tab, at clubs where they often order, I $hit you not, they spend the night with a table ordering bottles of whatever they want, including Cristal and the like, and they hardly do any real work work, all while being paid $3,100 a week. They are wined and dined for 3 months and the firms give basically 100% full time offers, whereas we are worked hard and might not get an offer at the end, even at the MBA/Associate level.

Jun 6, 2007

Corporate lawyers always have options. The way it was described to me, a lawyer can transfer to a general counsel position at a Fortune 500 company (or whatever), and then become COO or CEO. Of course, not just "anyone" can transfer. But it is a viable option once you reach the top.

Jun 6, 2007
gqbanker:

Many CEOs of fortune 500 companies and Bulge Bracket banks (Lloyd Blankfein) have law degrees.

CompBanker:

A lawyer can transfer to a general counsel position at a Fortune 500 company (or whatever), and then become COO or CEO.

This is totally true. More CEOs have a law background vs. an MBA.

I wasn't refering to "options" as in becoming general counsel at a Fortune 500. I was referring to options as in doing IB, getting into PE, or doing something else entirely in business.

It's challenging for a corporate attorney to try to lateral into an IB role or to lateral into a PE shop. It's not impossible, many people do accomplish this. But based on what I've experienced, the people that manage to "exit" law had prior working relationships with an IB/PE/VC... e.g. someone was the corporate attorney on a deal and worked extensively with a deal team at an IB/PE/VC and established a solid relationship and got an offer to lateral over etc.

I don't have regrets per se about not finishing a joint JD/MBA. The unique perspective I obtained by having rolled up my sleeves to work briefly in law gave me an entirely different perspective.

Also, thanks to humble beginnings I don't have the huge EGO that characterizes many bankers.

Nothing turns me off more than when someone thinks they're better than others!

It's interesting, bankers get all hot and bothered when they've wrapped up this amazing deal etc.

However, I gotta say this... some of the legal setting precedents that attorneys work on, e.g. things that guide the way we do business everyday are so underappreciated.

Also, there's the analyst stint where you grunt for two years... and then there's the law clerk rotation that the brightest law students in the country compete for, i.e. the chance to work for some supreme court justice etc.

Again, my perspective is simply different.

Jun 7, 2007

the grass is always greener on the other side

Jun 7, 2007
del_monte:

the grass is always greener on the other side

Precisely. In the end, we all work out butts off and make much more money than the average person. Most importantly, we make more money that physicians. Ha.

Jun 7, 2007

BigLaw guys would make more money since it requires more school and have to score exceptionally on the LSAT, but any finance monkey who hates himself enough can make more money?? I don't think so.

Jun 8, 2007

I have to put a stop to this BIGLAW glorification. From someone who was deciding between a BB and a top-5 law school (I chose BB) and did TONS of research into the different careers I firmly believe Biglaw is a bad move. Here were my findings:

  1. Corporate law, from the 30+ lawyers I spoke to in and out of the field, is very, very boring. This includes M&A law. yes you are going to find the guy who loves it but there are people out there who love being accountants and shit shovelers, etc.. but overall it's not interesting work. You are basically a referee on a deal where the client and the banker make all of the interesting decisions. It involves pouring over thousands of pages of meaningless documents and arguing over dumb language issues. The ex-lawyers that switched to IB can't stop talking about how boring it was.
  2. Economically if you look at IB vs. Corporate law in a vacuum you have to consider the $180k and three years of lost income from going to law school in the first place. Yes an associate can start at 190k at a law firm but that only goes up 10-15 grand a year, much less than the increases in banking. Also, maybe 0.01% of big corporate law firms have partners making $3mm a year. There are a lot more finance professionals (hedge funds, PE, etc...) that make tons of money than there are corporate lawyers.
  3. Making partner in a law firm is ridiculously hard. the big firms are flooded with 100+ associate classes filled with top law students and only 1 out of 20 will be able to make it to partner.
  4. The hours as an M&A law associate may not be as shitty as analyst hours but the main problem is that THEY DO NOT GET BETTER. Where MD's get to work great hours after killing themselves as analysts and associates partners at law firms still work 75 hour weeks. This is when most people have families and have lots of responsibilities at home. Ask someone whose parent was a Biglaw partner how much they saw their Dad/Mom and how many drugs they used to fight years of parental neglect...
  5. That statistic about more CEO's with legal backgrounds is just made up. period. Going from general counsel to CEO is NOT at all common. Look at the salaries/bonuses in the proxy of most companies and you'll see the GC's generally get paid the lowest out of all the listed management.
  6. As someone who wants a lot of opportunities available to them, getting a law degree and being a lawyer is very limiting career-wise. Sure in a great market you can transition to IB at an associate level if you're lucky but the hedge fund/PE jobs are just not available to you unless you have finance experience. If you go into litigation, which is probably the most interesting legal career, forget about getting a finance job.
  7. Although this may not be imporant to some people. Being a lawyer is very geographically limiting. No real opportunities to work abroad, ie London or Hong Kong. You can do finance basically anywhere.

That's it, and remember, this is all just my opinion.

    • 1
Jun 12, 2007

great analysis roadie... you're well informed.

Jun 12, 2007

This is true. It is VERY difficult to gain admission into a joint program. I did however have a substantial amount of work experience as I was older than the average grad student. The program which I specifically chose was my alma mater from undergrad.

What you'll find is that you can enter a joint program either by applying directly to the B-school or by applying directly to the law school. Since I applied thru the B-School, the GMAT alone sufficed. If you apply thru the law school, then yes, you'd have to nail the LSAT.

Also, the thing is that if you do an MBA/JD... then the predominant portion is the MBA program and you do the JD portion in the tail end. This gave me enough time to continue to gauge whether or not I really really wanted to do it. If you do a JD/MBA, then it'll be likely that you'll be taking a lot of your MBA coursework during the summer etc. Each school and each program have different caveats. If you're interested it's best to start talking to schools now etc.

I have a friend who's a 1Y JD/MBA at Northwestern. He's taking MBA courses over the summer vs. doing a summer associate role. Besides, the 2Y summer associate role is the most important anyway.

I just hung out over the weekend with two friends who are currently 2Y law students. I talked to them about their summer associate gigs doing due diligence and what not. Sigh. I have NO regrets. Right decision for ME. :-)

Jun 12, 2007

Thanks for the great response.

Jun 12, 2007

aadpepsi:

Is it possible to drop out of the law program and just finish the MBA part?

Jun 12, 2007

Absolutely. That's what I did.

Jun 12, 2007

This should be an interesting discussion:

harder to get into top law school and BIGLAW offer or get a BB full time position?

I'm going to say Law just because there is a certain formula that will gain you admission to MOST top law schools i.e. High gpa, LSAT; whereas these things alone may not even get you into first rounds at a BB.

just interested in what others perspective is, as I'm also torn between law and business.

Jun 12, 2007

I'm in this situation right now... I don't really think I can turn a 180 (right now) and get an analyst position at an IB.

I guess the best thing to do is wait until I start the MBA portion of the JD/MBA program and see if I can get an internship.

Any thoughts on how difficult it is to get an internship w/out prior finance experience (or much experience for that matter, seeing as I only have about 1.5 yrs of work experience in total).

Jun 11, 2012

I just noticed this thread because it's related to a thread I just started. For anyone who is searching for this kind of info, I can tell you alot of the compensation numbers I see above are inflated and alot of the work hrs are under-estimated for lawyers even at the big firms.

I'm a bankruptcy/corp reorg. attorney of 7 yrs and I can tell you the industry has changed alot for the worse over the past yrs. and I'm not just tallking about Dewey going bankrupt. Search/read through abovethelaw.com and http://www.nalp.org/2011_associate_salaries. Yes, the big firms in NYC may start you at $160K today but bonuses these days are a fraction of your income (with some rare exceptions), your salary increases so little after the 3rd yr or so, there are no 7th or 8th yr associate lawyers making $400k, lawyers (associates to partners) at big firms are typically pushing 80 or significantly more hours per week (depending on what's going on that week) and have to work most weekends, today no one is being offered partner until you are late 30s/40s at the earliest and many will not be offered partner period unless you develop your own book of business. You can eventually make $3mil per yr at big and midsized firms but you won't get any where close to that until you are about 50 - 60 yrs and have about 25 yrs of working 60 - 80+ hrs per week under your belt. There are of course exceptions to this just like the exception I've read about prop traders who made tens of millions before 40 yrs old. The 2 links I put above are great sources for accurate info on the subject. I'll let you all in on a secret, alot of lawyers are arrogant and will lie and puff up their income especially when talking to a friend or acquaintance in finance. There is a reason why you can find several threads from lawyers like me about trying to break out into finance these days.

Jun 11, 2012

It's all relative, I know a lot of ppl in corporate law doing M&A/tax that started at ~160k out of law school. What imo makes it less appealing is that you work on the same deals as the bankers, very often the same hours, but you have to go through law school (likely w debt), and eventually end up with lower earning potential. If you really enjoy the "law" part, there is nothing wrong with it.

Jun 11, 2012

Wrong place to ask this question imo. This isnt going to be simple just because you like research and are detail oriented. If you are going to make it, you have to love writing and be great at it. It will take a lot of effort and keep in mind, a lot of people dont make it into big-law. You will be against all top students at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, NYU, etc. You will be up against students with clerkships and students on law review. Recruiting is down at law firms including M&A firms... You have to get into a top law school to even have a reasonable shot, especially in this climate. You need top undergrad grades and an LSAT score to match. If not you have to transfer into a top school after your first year, which will take a top ranking. Biglaw isnt guaranteed on admission.

Think about what you really want to do, and try asking actual corporate lawyers. Is this a back up idea because analyst recruiting is difficult this year?

/2 cents

Jun 11, 2012

I've talked to an ex-corporate lawyer, now IBer, who literally said "Well, you talk to most corporate lawyers, and they'll tell you that they really hate their job." Take that for what it's worth...

Jun 11, 2012

This comment is a little late in the making, but as a current "corporate/M&A attorney" I am going back to get my MBA starting next fall after 4 years of practice. I can tell you that all of the comments above are spot on regarding 1) the envy of IBers by the attorneys and 2) the general dislike of the practice of law by attorneys. That said, based on some discussions I've had with senior people (partners/MDs) at BB, this track makes me fairly attractive as a potential associate hire into IBD with a marketable MBA. However, without the full scholarship I had to law school and again to MBA, I don't know if I'd do it all over again and incur all that debt and forgo the income I could have earned during that time.

Jun 11, 2012

Corporate lawyers are different from M&A lawyers .... if you're talking about IB lawyers - there are lawyers on the S&T side as well as capital markets and pure M&A side ....

1) its a cushy ass job
2) much better culture than typical lawfirms

Jun 11, 2012

Point well taken on the distinction between corporate and M&A. I work in the middle market in the SE US, so for me they are typically one and the same. My underlying problem with the practice of law is that, regardless of performance, your compensation is ultimately tied to the billable hour. Law firm compensation is roughly based on the "Rules of 3" whereby the employee receives 33% of collected billables, ownership takes 33% and the remaining third is allocated to overhead. Therefore, the only way to increase revenue and therefore compensation is to work more hours (ignoring the possibility of raising your hourly rate, an option that is increasingly unpopular/impossible with clients in this market). On balance, I would rather have my compensation calculated based on performance, not hours worked, which is why I am pursuing a career in IB or PE.

Jun 11, 2012

I have a corporate lawyer in Big Law in my immediate family and he loathes his job. Literally counting down the days until he can retire. At the top you make less than a comparable totem pole position in IB, and on top of that you need to go to law school (read: debt).

EDIT: He also recruits, and for the foreseeable future getting into Big Law will probably be harder than getting into IB (get into a top law school (hard), get on law review (much harder), be an impressive interviewing candidate...). The best law schools are having a very hard time placing a decent percentage of their students in Big Law, so imagine how the other law schools are doing...If you search news outlets you will find reports on the massive pullback in Big Law hiring and bonus slashing. Bloomberg has had some good ones... Junior-level corporate lawyers will likely see a massive pay decrease for the indefinite future... clients simply do not want to pay egregious sums to law firms just to train junior lawyers.

Jun 11, 2012

My dad is in what they call "biglaw" and he hates it. He's almost 50, not a partner yet, makes less than bankers and dislikes his job because he also works very very very long hours.

Jun 11, 2012

VP in my group was an ex lawyer - joined as an associate- he fast tracked to VP and he is so much happier haha (and debt free)

Jun 11, 2012
GordonsGecko:

VP in my group was an ex lawyer - joined as an associate- he fast tracked to VP and he is so much happier haha (and debt free)

The words "happy" and "associate" are oxymorons. There is not a single associate in IB that I know is "happy". The problem with being an associate is that you generally have debt from business school, and banks pay you just enough so that you wont quit. That being said, lawyers experience a greater amount of prestige given by the general population. Lawyers' jobs suck ass (like banking) because you are providing a very costly service (aka doing highly-paid bitch work).

Perhaps it is just me, but I have met many more happy lawyers, than happy bankers.

Jun 11, 2012

Visit the law board and you won't think so. It is absolutely horrendous what goes on there, blatant racism, horrific trolling, constant corrosive suicidal threads.

Jun 11, 2012

Dude do you read moneykingdom? I told you 1) he's a VP now 2) he was a lawyer before so he's not a straight up IB associate ....

Jun 11, 2012

You clearly said "joined as an associate"... I am making the comparisons at the associate level (post MBA or Post Law School). Lawyers work long hours, but not banking hours. In NY, lawyers work around 60-80 hours a week, (sometimes upwards of 85-90). Associates in banking in NY work 75-110 hours a week. In addition, the work in IB is more unpredictable than work in Law. I am not trying to pump up law, however, I do see the appeal. I have no personal interest in law, mostly because I can't stand to write so much, but life as an associate is horrible. I luckly, no longer work in banking, but the comparisons are relevant.

Jun 11, 2012
MoneyKingdom:

You clearly said "joined as an associate"... I am making the comparisons at the associate level (post MBA or Post Law School). Lawyers work long hours, but not banking hours. In NY, lawyers work around 60-80 hours a week, (sometimes upwards of 85-90). Associates in banking in NY work 75-110 hours a week. In addition, the work in IB is more unpredictable than work in Law. I am not trying to pump up law, however, I do see the appeal. I have no personal interest in law, mostly because I can't stand to write so much, but life as an associate is horrible. I luckly, no longer work in banking, but the comparisons are relevant.

I would disagree with that statement regarding law associate hours in NYC. My PE shop frequently uses NY-headquartered law firms and I can speak from first hand that law associates definitely work as much, if not more, than a lot of investment banking associates. Having interned at a BigLaw firm (DPW, Cravath, Simpson, etc.), I can tell you that most associates don't like what they're doing. Sure, you'll find a few who really enjoy reading documents and finessing language, but most told me not to go to law school. Furthermore, I did work with two or three associates when I was an i-banking analyst who made the transition from law to banking. They all unequivocally enjoyed their banking experiences more. And yes, they were fast-tracked to the VP level.

The fact that struck me the most odd is that partners in law firms work just as hard as they did when they were associates. Maybe this is not at all law firms but I see partners just as active on our deals as the associates on their team. It's a bit weird to see a 60 year old grandpa-looking partner sitting in drafting sessions and deal negotiations at 4am.

Jun 11, 2012

Grass always looks greener on the other side. All I know is, most lawyers ask me about banking and want to get into banking. I don't see any bankers trying to get into law. From my conversations, biglaw is very hard to get coming from a T14 in this economy and even if you get it, it's a horrible grind and comparatively lower pay 150k-170k, etc. The only way to drastically increase this pay is to become partner, which is nigh impossible. Thus you will earn your 200k-ish for a long long time and enjoy your slow boring grind. At least IBD is somewhat interesting and you get to work on deals rather than push paper.

Many top 14 grads are even having a hard time getting midlaw or small law. If you aren't coming from a T14, the general consensus is that you're fucked and you'll make 50k or so for the next few years. Enjoy.

Jun 11, 2012

Most lawyers unhappy. Me, undergrad in Fin and a JD. Worked in commercial banking, I-banking and now in corporate dev at a Fort 500. Couldn't be happier. Biggest stress is when none of the 3 corporate jets is available for me to use - then gotta schlep to the airport with the cattle.

Jun 11, 2012

I worked with lawyers on several VC deals and they do work like dogs... but they have a good entry salary and the perspective to be, after several years of labour, partner or if they are really successful create and own their own firm.

And if your question is "ego centered", I have never heard any banker looking down on a corporate lawyer.

Jun 11, 2012

A couple of issues to deal with up front:
- I think (FWIW) that within any profession, there are going to be those that are happy and those that are unhappy... for what it's worth, there is also the risk that by turning to societal communication avenues such as message boards to get perspective on such things, you may well be accessing the opinions of those that are most vocal (a body of people not necessarily representing the majority).

- $250K p.a. salary is NOT a small salary... it may not be a big salary in relative terms (given the salaries in IB etc), but compared to what a physical labourer makes, it is far from small.

- You will have to work hard in the legal profession (though how this compares to IB will largely depend on what area of law you specialise in and what firm your work for). The legal profession is not really a 9-5 job...

All this said, I should probably mention that I used to be an Attorney... but am now in IB. My career track was as follows: Articles > Attorney (not in the Corp Law group but in an industry specialist team with a strong transactions focus.... think energy/resources etc) > industry subject matter expert within a Big 4 Accounting Firm's Transaction Services/Project Finance team > IB Associate within an industry coverage group (think energy/resources etc) that gets its hands dirty as opposed to just handing things off to the product group guys.

As to your substantive questions wawnnabeCFA with respect to personality types etc, my experience was in agreement with your comments re certain personality types being more suitable for the legal profession are perfectly correct.

The legal profession requires its own unique bundle of personality traits (of which attention to detail and the enjoyment of research are but two). Two other traits of particular note (for interests sake), particularly at levels below Partner (and yes... I am aware that I am making a gross generalisation here, so my apologies for that in advance) are a "dogged" focus on the individual components of a client's/transaction's problem and and an aversion to solutions to a client's/transaction's problems outside of the black and white law/precedent. These additional two traits, are perhaps a result of the "divide and conquer" nature of complex legal work though.

How your individual personality fits in to this "bundle" will not just be determined by you... it will also be determined by the personality of your superiors within a law firm (and the manner and form of their personality traits), and the compatability of your personality with theirs.... More so that in IB I believe, you need to make sure that your personalities are compatible in the legal profession.

So what does all this mean? Well... more so than in IB (or Big 4 accounting firms for that matter), you need to do a due diligence over the personalities of potential legal employers to test compatibility... The way to do this? Do an internship. This way you kill two birds with the one stone..... you find out whether you like "playing lawyer" and you find out whether you like your fellow staff members. And if the outcome of this is that you like the work but think your bosses where a bunch of so-and-so's..... go and speak to some alternative law firms.

Just my 2 cents worth...

Best Response
Jun 11, 2012

This entire site is literally called WALL STREET Oasis. Plenty of people go into the legal field. This is a finance forum. Not sure what kind of responses you're expecting from here, but prepare for some legal-profession-bashing (high student debt, etc.)

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Jun 11, 2012
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Jun 11, 2012
Jun 11, 2012