Escape from Big Law

Forward Thinking Law

Escape from Big Law

Escaping Big Law - Lawyer with no work - life balance at Big Law - Plug and Play Law instead

The perils of working for Big Law and the reasons why you just might want to escape from Big Law were recently highlighted by a presentation given by a senior associate at US law firm Paul Hastings to junior members of the firm.

Non-Negotiable Expectations at Big Law

The presentation sets out 10 non-negotiable expectations when you work for Paul Hastings (PH):-

  1. PH is an AMLaw 20 law firm. You’re in the big leagues, which is a privilege, act like it.
  2. We are in the business of client service – you are the concierge at the Four Seasons, a waiter at Alinea. The client always comes first and is always right. If a client wants a mountain moved, we move it. No questions. •  As a junior, your “clients” are the associates and partners on the deal team.
  3. You are “online” 24/7. No exceptions, no excuses.
  4. Timelines/Quality: clients expect everything to be done perfectly and delivered yesterday.
  5. Someone is paying $850+ for one hour of your time. Think about that in everything you do. All communication and work product needs to be prompt, professional and polished.
  6. Take ownership of everything you do. Once you touch a document/work stream, you own every mistake in it – fair or not.
  7. WFH is a luxury. Don’t take advantage of it. Buy a full home setup (2 monitors, docking station, keyboard/mouse and a working phone) or come into the office. No poor connections. No excuses. See #3 and #5.
  8. No questions until you have tried to figure something out for yourself (Google unfamiliar concepts, search the DMS, read statutes, read the instructions, etc.). Still can’t figure out the answer? Talk to your classmates.
  9. “I don’t know” is never an acceptable answer. See #6 and #8.
  10. This is YOUR career. Embrace that reality and always put your best foot forward. If not for the Firm or your deal team, for yourself. At the end of the day, it’s your reputation that will carry you – whether that’s here or in-house or elsewhere. Make it count.

Not the Views of the Big Law Firm or its Partners

A statement released by Paul Hastings states that the associate prepared the material, “and the views expressed do not reflect the views of the firm or its partners.”

The Views of Others who have Big Law Experience

However, many commentators on social media are expressing the view that this very much reflects life in a Big Law firm. Views are expressed that may want you to escape from Big Law. For example:-

Sadly Reflects Reality

There are some bonkers things on here (e.g., the client isn’t always right, and young lawyers should ask lots of questions rather than wasting client time), but the majority of it is sadly reflective of reality.

 – Marc Hauser (@_Marc_Hauser)

Big Law Reality for Many Years

This has been a Big Law reality for many many years, but I’ve never seen it reduced to writing on firm stationary – at my firm or any others.

 – Sybille (@Von_Weimar_)

The Absolute Truth

This is the absolute truth about what life as an associate in big law is like, but it’s the stuff that never gets said.

 – MiNi (@mentalnomad10)

Nothing matters but the Firm and Generating Billables

This BigLaw firm finally said the quiet part out loud:

Nothing matters but the firm and generating billables.

Your family. Your health. You.

Doesn’t matter.

Just bill.


“No excuses”

 – SMBA Acquisition Attorney (@SMB_Attorney)

Ubiquitous Attitudes

Having worked at a few different firms, these attitudes are pretty much ubiquitous in the City and (especially) NYC. Paul Hastings are just the unfortunate sods who got caught out.

 – Anonymous – comment left on Legal Cheek website

Really Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone

Good and helpful description of working in any top-tier profession services firm at any point in the last 30 (50?) years. Yes, some people hate it and some people burn out, and some of it is performative, but this really shouldn’t surprise anyone.

“You will work as hard as you possibly can, everything will be done immediately with zero defects, and if there is a problem at 8 o’clock on a Saturday night and you have a date, you cancel the date.” Um, yes? 🐻💩🌳

 – Benedict Evans (@benedictevans)

Hit the Nail on the Head

So probably, despite their protestations, Paul Hastings know that their associate hit the nail on the head. As my late mother would say: The truth is often ill heard.

Escape from Big Law

If you work or have worked in Big Law does this resonate?

It doesn’t have to be this way.

You can escape from Big Law and have a very different working life. One where you are not expected to be online 24/7. One where you can work from home or, indeed, work from wherever you want and whenever you want.

Hubs and Spokes

At Inksters we have developed a model where senior lawyers can work as a collective, with enhanced technology and back-office support. Where a hub-and-spoke model exists with a back office “hub” (in Glasgow) and “spokes” elsewhere (currently in Aberdeen, Dunkeld, Edinburgh, Eigg, Forfar, Inverness, Lerwick, Portree, Renfrew, Thurso and Wick). A new spoke can be created wherever you live and want to work.

Escape from Big Law and Plug & Play instead

Inksters’ Plug & Play Law model gives you nine benefits as a self-employed consultant in a fee-sharing law firm compared to setting up on your own or with others or, indeed, being employed by or in partnership with other solicitors. It gives you so much more freedom than you would or could ever have at a Big Law firm. You:-

  • Can just do law
  • Have complete flexibility on your own terms – You don’t have to be in the office or online 24/7 unless you really want to be!
  • Get the reward for what you do via a fee-share
  • Reduce your costs
  • Get all the benefits that a larger organisation can offer
  • Become part of an award winning law firm
  • Have access to a diverse range of clients
  • Have the best technology to assist you
  • Get Brian Inkster

For more details do download the Plug & Play Law Guide.

If it interests you, do contact Brian Inkster for a chat.