Biglaw Burnout – The Dangers of Biglaw and Why Associates Leave

Woman carrying a box and files out of her office after experiencing Biglaw burnout and quitting her law job.

5 Reasons Lawyers Experience Biglaw Burnout

Biglaw has made a big name for itself in the public eye, touting impressively furnished offices spread across the world and the opportunity for graduates to make serious money straight out of college. But Biglaw comes at a cost—and a growing number of lawyers are starting to quit these law firms. In this article, we will look at why. [Source: How Stuff Works]

According to the article Lawyers Gear Up Grand New Fees in the Wall Street Journal, hourly rates for top big law firms can be up to $1000 for an hour! The New York Times reports graduates can start at a $160,000 salary. Despite the sheer amount of money that can be made in these firms, people are looking to quit Biglaw. These are the top five reasons why.

Biglaw firms extinguish any chance of work-life balance

Antidotal accounts of common Biglaw practices can make work-life balance impossible. Often partners take note of whether lawyers are pulling late nights and coming in on the weekend or not. Lawyers in the practice doing all-nighters get openly praised while the pressure to bill extra hours builds for those who do not.

It is not unusual for Biglaw employees to be expected to check their email constantly throughout the day, even when they are not in the office, and many are not surprised when asked to forgo pre-booked vacations because the office is busy. [Sources: Business Insider, Law Crossing]

Often women are not treated equally at Biglaw

Only 50% of women feel as if their work is recognized satisfactorily, compared to 71% of men. Furthermore, 67% of women report having limited business development opportunities while only 10% of men report the same. [Source: Burford Capital.]

According to the article Why Women Leave Big Law To Start Their Own Firms by Bloomberg Law, women report a high incidence rate of casual sexism in Biglaw firms. They are not getting the same opportunities as men. Many are choosing to leave and set up their own law firms, where they are having much more success.

It’s difficult to gain valuable skills

The current business law model is not designed to allow associates to progress in their career and build valuable skills over time. Jeffrey Ifrah, a former white-collar defense partner says, “Firms think they give associates really good training, but you can find yourself an eighth-year associate with no skills,” so they decide to leave. [Source: Slate]

Depression and anxiety are rife

Biglaw firms are notorious for critical bosses, who have lots of demands, tight deadlines, and are quick to hand out negative comments. [Source: Medium (mental health section)]

The article, Can We Finally Talk About The Elephant In the Room? Mental Health Of Lawyers published by Above the Law says that 28.9% of attorneys in their first ten years have reported an alcohol addiction.

There is no room at the top

Promotion is unlikely for associates, as there is a PPP (Profit Per Partner) module in place. The top is full, and fewer associates have career satisfaction due to the slim chance of promotion. Associates down the ladder are also unlikely to appear in court and generally feel much less like they are helping clients. [Source: Above the Law]

Are you experiencing Biglaw burnout, considering leaving the law altogether, or looking for a new way to use your law degree?

While Biglaw jobs are well-paid and considered to be successful, the lack of work-life balance, toxic work environment, sexism, and lack of career satisfaction are big reasons why increasing numbers of lawyers are leaving them behind.

The great news is that New Law Business Model can provide the solutions and the support to take back your life, earn a fantastic living, and build a law practice you’ll love. Book your call to speak with a Law Business Advisor today.


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