It seems like everyone works at a “Big Law Firm” these days. The term gets thrown around like Jenna Jameson at a Marine keg party. And the incessant and fraudulent usage of the term is diluting the potency of its meaning. In other words, I’m sick and fucking tired of all these wannabe BigLaw douchebags pretending to work at legit, top-tier firms when they don’t. If you don’t satisfy the criteria set forth below, you don’t work in BigLaw. You just work at a law firm that’s big. There’s a difference.
1: Name Recognition
Real BigLaw: After stating the name of your firm, you never need to explain what you do. All lawyers, and 50% of educated professionals, have heard of it. In other words, the name speaks for itself. Or as a wannabe BigLaw tool might say, “Res ipsa loquitor.”
Fake BigLaw: After stating the name of your firm, you’re met with a curious stare which invariably prompts you to rattle off the firm’s oh-so-impressive resume, the number of lawyers who work there and the various satellite office locations.
2: Location, Location, Location
Real BigLaw: Your firm is either based in New York or has a major presence there. End of story.
Fake BigLaw: Your firm isn’t based in New York and doesn’t have a major presence there. End of story.
3: Practice Area
Real BigLaw: Your primary practice areas are corporate law and litigation. And no matter what, you don’t do insurance defense work. Not even a little. You don’t have a goddamn “admiralty” practice either.
Fake BigLaw: You do lots of insurance defense work, but you tell people it’s litigation, which it is, technically. But it’s really insurance defense.
Real BigLaw: Your father’s rich friend with lots of local juice can’t get you a job there. At least 50% of the first-year associates were summer associates too.
Fake BigLaw: They’ve never heard of the acronym OCI. The hiring coordinator doubles as a litigation partner (and probably teaches Civil Procedure at the local law school). The few law students who work there in the summer are called “clerks.”
5: Cash Money
Real BigLaw: The firm’s top partners are rich. For real. Like fuck-you rich. They make $2,000,000 or more per year, have multiple homes and fly first class without upgrade stickers or frequent flier miles.
Fake BigLaw: Partners are six-figure working stiffs who quietly idolize real BigLaw partners. They have one house, and if they live in a major city, it ain’t that great. As for flying, it’s coach all the way. They’d prefer to fly business, of course, but they need to standby for the upgrade.
6: Making Partner
Real BigLaw: Making partner is a life-changing event. In other words, it’s a big fucking deal. That means only scary-smart, myopic, workaholic freaks actually make it. That means regular, well-adjusted people (i.e., people who actually want to have a semblance of a normal life) don’t have a shot.
Fake BigLaw: Making partner is slightly more exciting than hitting a game-winning jump shot in a Tuesday night Lawyers’ League hoop game. Basically, if you’re there long enough and haven’t been sued for malpractice, you’re in. Why? Because making it ain’t that big a deal. The pay difference between senior associate and junior partner is $50K tops.
Real BigLaw: Your clients are on the cover of Fortune Magazine.
Fake BigLaw: Your clients read Fortune Magazine.
Real BigLaw: No matter how smart you are (or think you are), you’re not the smartest or most-qualified person in your class. Or on your goddamn floor.
Fake BigLaw: You think everyone else in your class and in your firm is an idiot and wonder why the fuck you’re not working at a real BigLaw firm.