{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "While working through this pandemic, has anyone else realized that biglaw maybe isn’t for them? The partners will do anything to protect their partnership share at their associates expense.", "post_id": "5e80ad6ad874c5001ba67727", "reply_count": 36, "vote_count": 5, "bowl_id": "5df70ed2f7169f002b172d3f", "bowl_name": "Big Law" }

While working through this pandemic, has anyone else realized that biglaw maybe isn’t for them? The partners will do anything to protect their partnership share at their associates expense.

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I assume you’re asking for more info concerning what’s happened at my firm. The firm is exceptionally well and humanely managed. For March we on plan for collections and feed added value, has no debt and substantial open credit facilities. That’s because our lawyers have made the WFH transition well and because we have a diversified practice in which certain groups are super busy as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Despite all of that leadership is managing cash carefully to give us the longest possible runway before anyone other than partners is impacted. That includes cutting discretionary spending and deferring some partnership distributions. And not a single staff member or associate has been impacted. BTW the firm did the same thing in 2008 and as a result didn’t lay off anyone. Not one person. What’s the basis of your original post impugning biglaw firms/partners generally?

likeuplifting

Butthurt rxn of partners to this post has me chuckling a bit. But OP, yeah, if the basic structure of a biglaw firm is offensive to you (ie everyone from clerical staff to non-equity partners are different species of overhead diminishing the returns of the equity holders), probably not a viable long term home for you. (And I sympathize.) But law firms are no different in that regard from any other business run for the benefit of its shareholders - which is any other business. That said, biglaw is highly dependent on effective recruiting, as its business model requires the regular intake of competent new associates to churn through. Firms are aware that if they’re too callous with their cuts when markets go south, they’ll find it a lot harder to attract talent when things improve. So I expect they’ll do what they can to lessen (or at least conceal) the impact of this downturn for a while, not because of some personal commitment to you or to mentoring the next generation of our profession, but out of good old fashioned self interest.

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Think of it this way P2, A5 either already is or soon will be looking for a job. If/when someone hires him (just has to be a dude) perhaps he will gain some appreciation for the people who find things for him to do and pay him for whatever value he allegedly supplies.

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A1- this is not the first post to make this baseless accusation. Let me be clear - I am cutting my pay and not making a goddamn single red cent for the next 3 months so my associates don’t get fired or cut. I have drawn down on my home equity line of credit to make MY ends meet and continue to pay for my father’s senior care facility (so I’m paying interest on making ends meet while your smug ass gets to keep your level of pay as if we aren’t in a crisis). Don’t make generalizations. Maybe your partners are assholes but most of us out here are going to go commando with no cover for entitled folks like you. Don’t speak on things you don’t understand.

likeupliftingsmarthelpful

To you and partners out there like you, I will be forever grateful (truly!!). Thank you for your sacrifice. Stay healthy!

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Respectfully, that’s wrong. At many biglaw firms, including mine, partner distributions have been partially or entirely discontinued for the specific purpose of continuing to employ and pay associates and non-lawyer staff members. If you work for a firm where that hasn’t happened then the culture of that firm is a problem. But what you describe certainly isn’t universal in biglaw.

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Sorry but Trial Lawyer has made it as a partner at a v25, which is an insanely hard feat in and of itself, and you’re correcting him on his grammar that was 99% him just responding quickly on his phone to your asinine comments because he has, you know, partner things to do? I’m sure you’ll go far at your firm...

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To P1, TL1, and all of the partners at my firm who are also taking paycuts until year-end so that the rest of us can have more job and salary security than most of the country right now: thank you.

likeuplifting

Thank you for the note- it’s appreciated. Posts like the OP make me strongly reconsider why I ought to suffer for indigent entitled asshats but then I’m reminded that most people I work with are salt of the earth, hard working folks and those are the people I am more than willing to sacrifice for.

likeuplifting

I strongly disagree. The partners and seniors I’ve worked with the last month have been nothing but patient and understanding that the difficulties we all face are making it harder to get work done quickly, and they have been appreciative of efforts to support the practice.

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A4 - that is just one of many things being used to cut expenses. Lease abatements and forbearances, capex deferrals, vendor abatements, etc. It’s still not enough to defray enough to meet budget. Bonuses are a pipe dream in 2020. Layoffs are not inevitable - yet- but will be if this drags on for more than a few more months.

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I agree with the bonuses. This is a great opportunity to really look at what is needed to make the business run more effectively. Catered meetings, travel expenses for meetings, office furniture, even on site librarians, and tons of in office expenses like coffee, water etc can be saved. I guess what I’m saying is in order to be a lean mean profit making machine firms are going to have to embrace a large portion of their staff including attorneys and paralegals and anyone else who can to work remotely. Not sure if firms especially old-school minded ones can move with the times. 

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In all fairness OP, I think this may be specific to your firm. The partners at my firm have been very gracious during the epidemic, and one senior partner has specifically gone out of his way to get back one of his associates whose visa expired before COVID-19. Workflow has increased, likely because our clients are now concerned with data security due to work from home. If you are unhappy in biglaw, have you considered joining the public sector?

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I see the pandemic is bringing out the best in all of us. 👀

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You’re at the wrong firm.

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Weird, loaded question. Some further context would help. As you are seeing, we all are working our best to get through this with minimal disruption. My firm long has worked hard to keep associates around and paid in past downturns, with the partners, not associates, taking the comp hit.

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I imagine the cost of office space is a big one and firms can definitely save by reducing the size and having attorneys who like working from home continue to do so with maybe smaller temporary offices for them when they need to go into the office to print etc. but not needing every day 24 seven offices especially because we may be experiencing these shut downs in the future as our new normal.

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are any firms on a short term enough lease to react that nimbly? if so they probably paid out the nose for the chance...

Agreed. In full. I’m leaving to join a boutique for this reason. My partners at my old firm were actively trying to prevent me from developing. They need bodies to Bill their work, they don’t want you to develop. Is what it is.

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Care to elaborate? If the firm isn’t making money, your job and mine are out the window

Hopefully what law firms can do to save some money is see if they can get some lease payments deferred from their commercial space if they’re not using them right now. And in the long term maybe close down extra offices that they don’t need after seeing how this work from home has been successful and attorneys have still been able to bill.

it's tough when your landlord wants you to look up "force majeure" for them tho

These are just some of the ideas I would be throwing around in the executive committee. This would save on paper,office space and even office supplies because people would be using their own stuff from their house and printing less and save a lot on the bottom line when you add it all together. 

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