Day in the Life of a Big Law Associate | What Does a Lawyer Do on a Typical Day | Summary and Q&A

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November 17, 2020
by
Angela Vorpahl
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Day in the Life of a Big Law Associate | What Does a Lawyer Do on a Typical Day

TL;DR

Former big law associates share their experiences and insights on what it's like to work in a big law firm, discussing topics such as work hours, types of projects, salaries, work-life balance, and reasons for leaving.

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Key Insights

  • 😃 Big law firms often have long work hours, unpredictable schedules, and demanding workloads.
  • 😃 Meeting billable hour targets is crucial for earning bonuses and advancing in a big law career.
  • 💦 Work-life balance can be challenging, with limited personal time during the week but more flexibility on weekends.
  • 📜 The types of projects vary, with corporate associates often working on drafting documents and due diligence, while litigation associates handle discovery, case law research, and document review.
  • 😃 Salaries in big law are high, but burnout and lack of passion are common reasons for leaving.
  • 💦 Supportive teammates and finding hobbies or activities outside of work can help mitigate stress and maintain work-life balance.

Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:00): You've probably heard the term big law thrown around quite a bit. And for a lot of law students getting a job in big law right after graduation is the ultimate goal. But what exactly is big law and what does it look like to work there? Well, that's exactly what we're going to go through in today's video a day in the life of a big... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How many hours did you need to work as a big law associate?

The work hours varied, but most big law firms have billable hour requirements. Marissa's firm required 2,000 billable hours per year, with an additional 200 hours for non-client work. Angela's firm had a higher requirement of 2,400 billable hours per year.

Q: What types of projects did you work on as a big law associate?

In corporate law, Marissa worked on drafting documents, due diligence, and attending conference calls with clients. Angela focused on discovery, case law research, drafting motions, document review, and high-level tasks such as preparing for depositions and trials.

Q: How did you maintain work-life balance in a big law firm?

Both associates mentioned limitations on personal time during the week due to unpredictable work demands. Weekends offered more flexibility, and scheduling personal activities in advance and finding supportive teammates who could cover for each other were helpful strategies.

Q: Why did you leave big law?

Marissa left due to burnout and a lack of passion for the work after eight years. Angela re-evaluated her career goals and wanted to align her work with her interests, leading her to pursue a different area of law.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The video features Marissa Jeanette, a former corporate associate, and Angela Vorpahl, a former litigation associate, discussing their experiences as big law associates.

  • Marissa discusses her typical workday, including early morning starts and long hours depending on the workload and client demands. Angela highlights the late start and longer work hours in her firm.

  • Both associates explain the types of projects they worked on, including drafting documents, due diligence, case law research, and document review.

  • They discuss the high-paying salaries in big law firms, which are determined by experience level and market rates. Meeting billable hour targets is crucial for bonuses and career progression.

  • Work-life balance varies, with limited personal time during the week due to unpredictable work demands. Weekends offer more flexibility for personal activities, but some weekend work is often required.

  • They share some war stories, including difficult experiences with partners, being blamed for mistakes, and frequent long work hours.

  • Their reasons for leaving big law vary. Marissa experienced burnout after eight years and realized she lacked passion for the work. Angela re-evaluated her career goals and decided to pursue a different area of law that aligned with her interests.

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