{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Please help clarify the confusion. Biglaw pays majors bucks with 1950 hours. Associates bill exactly 1950 (sometimes lower) and don’t get fired at BigLaw (although they won’t make partner, w.e.). Meanwhile, Regional and mid size firms pay significant less and expect 1850 billable hours, like why? 🤯 what’s their value proposition? It’s still a lot of billables and still sucks. What am I missing?", "post_id": "623e18950942a5002c274929", "reply_count": 62, "vote_count": 18, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d052", "bowl_name": "Law", "feed_type": "crowd" }
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Please help clarify the confusion. Biglaw pays majors bucks with 1950 hours. Associates bill exactly 1950 (sometimes lower) and don’t get fired at BigLaw (although they won’t make partner, w.e.). Meanwhile, Regional and mid size firms pay significant less and expect 1850 billable hours, like why? 🤯 what’s their value proposition? It’s still a lot of billables and still sucks. What am I missing?

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Different perspective here. I think a lot of this depends on how you define midlaw. What I see at my somewhat regional firm is a prospect of making partner and consistently increasing pay with decreasing hours for the next 20 years of my life. Associates at other firms surely make more, but if you don’t make partner at those firms (and can’t develop a portable book of business that will let you move to midlaw with it later on) your prospect is in house, where the pay is in most cases less than half of what the partners at my firm are making. Long term thinking is key. I know so many people who are stuck in big law as senior associates with the golden handcuffs, constant Friday and Saturday night work, no travel, and no desire to be there in 10 years, but knowing the other prospect is significantly lower pay in house, where they will inevitably end up when the clock runs out or they burn out.

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Definitely a valid take if your goal is to work at a firm long term and try to make the most money, and aren’t confident about making it in biglaw.

Agree, the appeal diminishes if they are pushing to that extent and you value time away from work. What about quality of life in a smaller city or town where housing is more affordable, no traffic, better schools, space for kids or pets. It’s not only salary but costs to consider….no? It’s still a bit more time you get to have back. I always look at after tax take home vs costs… plus time and lifestyle. Big law is not right for everybody… not everyone is capable of the commitment required (in addition to possessing all the skills, etc) but mid-size is not your only option. Go in-house!

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I’ve actually heard that midlaw is the worst of both worlds. Doesn’t pay like biglaw bc not enough resources + no wlb like small law bc midlaw firms are still constantly trying to grow/expand.

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(And associates who didn’t bill at least 2100/yr were forced out with haste. Firm started at $80k a year for 2nd year associates. Didn’t hire 1st years. Firm has done well, though- grown significantly and expanded. I guess they knew what to do with all that extracted value!)

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Just the fact that not everyone can get a biglaw job. Bottom of the class at T14, mid class at T25, etc gotta go somewhere. Geography may also play a role in some cases, like if there’s only one biglaw firm with an office in a particular city and someone isn’t willing to leave for a job.

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See point 2 re geography.

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I’m at big law, billable target is 1900. Exactly the same target as a friend at a large regional firm but she generally isn’t expected to work late nights or weekends. It’s the round the clock expectations and unpredictability that make big law bad, not the pure hours requirement

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Counterpoint: I worked at several biglaw firms and wasn’t ever expected to work over the weekend unless there was a TRO or something. And hitting 1900-2000 actual billables, while still trying to carve out vacation time, etc., is more time out of my life than I care to devote to work, regardless of the environment.

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Biglaw is competitive. I’d never go to a firm that paid much less for about the same hours… because I don’t have to, I could get a biglaw job and so I did.

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Yeah it's not worth it going to those firms if you can swing getting into biglaw. They work you just as hard and the pay gap only grows as you get more senior.

likesmart

What the clients are willing to pay. Clients won't pay rates nearly as high for midsize and regional firms.

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Yet partners still expect to make bank

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The delta here is the price per billable hour big law charges. Mid law firms produce less revenue off each hour billed. Assuming you have the option for both jobs I think it comes down to partnership track opportunities and even WLB. I went from mid-regional firm to big law and one of the biggest differences is always having to be on-call/available at big law. Those expectations were not as extreme in the mid-sized firm.

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Maybe because you aren’t as good as those in biglaw?

There are people who works 3000 hours and pay less than half of regional or midsize firms In other professions like blue collar

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there are a lot of mediocre biglaw lawyers out there. Ultimately you get paid based on who you can convince to be your client. Plenty of people stuck in shitty insurance defense jobs would be capable of doing biglaw litigation for example, and a reasonably bright golden retriever could do 80% of what a junior corporate associate does.

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From a patent prosecution perspective, you are pressured to spend much less time on the same task if you were in smaller law firms due to the billing rate. So it’s more stressful and harder to bill the same amount of hours in big law.

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This. I did Pat pros at a city boutique then a regional midsize firm and the constant “why did you spend so much time on this” was so annoying. I switched to semi IP transactional (semi bc I do non IP tx as well) at a big law in a city, doubled my salary, same hour requirement (1800). I am expected to work over the weekend but only once in a while, which is about the same in my old firm - you still get fire drills in Pat pros! It wasn’t so 9-5 in my experience as ppl make it out to be.

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I just got an offer from a mid size firm and the offer letter said they require 2,250 billable hours and would pay me $100k. I was shocked! So I get where you’re coming from

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What is that per hour? $35-40? No thanks. That's worse than my government job.

You’re not missing anything!

likesmarthelpful

Geography definitely plays a role. I have some law school friends in cities that have no true “BigLaw” presence, so no one makes NYC market even at 1850-1900 hrs. (They also have a much lower COL) It’s also possible the constantly “on call” expectations are different than BigLaw, or that partner track is shorter/easier….but I doubt it’s *that* much better.

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I read here, all the time, the complaining about work/life balance at biglaw. Regionals and midsize firms pay plenty without the stress (and hatred) I read about here. Cost of living is also a huge factor that many ass-level young lawyers apparently don't take into account in NY and other big cities.

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At the end of the day.. you have to get in where you fit in. Everyone isn't going to be offered a big law job and you have to get experience (or even just make a living) as a lawyer somehow.

Midside/ regional firms vary greatly in size, billables, and pay. The ultimate goal is to find a firm you can get substantial experience in and make a good amount of money doing it.

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I'm at a regional IP boutique and our billable requirement is 1850. they just raised our starting salary to 165K to compete with biglaw firms opening up in our market. However, we still have this billable requirement and for "bonus" you only get your pro-rated hourly rate based on your salary for each hour over 1850, and they get disappointed when people only hit 1850.

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Yeah A9 that’s the biglaw problem generally - rates and salaries are driven by high end capital markets, m&a, high stakes litigation, but most work most people can get can’t support those rates. Those rates create constant tension for stuff like employment counseling or patent prosecution which any full service firm should have. Partners and of counsel can figure out lower comp / lower rates at firms that go for it, but so far no biglaw firms have decided to break up lockstep, seems like they’d rather just cede employment law to the big employment law mills and patent pros to lots of small / mid size IP firms

Also keep in mind that most of those midlaw associates are not billing anywhere close to 1850.

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Required to bill and actually billed are very different concepts.

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Isnt it just supply and demand? if theres enough associates funneling into midlaw, they (the firms) can set those standards

I’m at a small firm and make $20k more billing 400 hours less than my previous ID job that was 2100 hours. I don’t think you’re missing anything — I think it really is firm-dependent.

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