Day in the Life of BigLaw Lit, Part 1
Created on Tuesday, Aug 11, 2015 by biglawlit
Last Edited: Monday, Aug 17, 2015

codeandcodes gave you a decent breakdown of a day in the life of a BigLaw corporate attorney.  I'm here to give you a perspective on BigLaw lit.  Unlike codeandcodes, I'm still in BigLaw and generally OK with that.  I'll be posting from time to time on various subjects that I think would be of interest, but if anyone has any requests in particular feel free to email codeandcodes.

Unlike codeandcodes, I find it difficult to break my day down into hours.  Litigation associates and transactional associates are different.  Transactional associates are perpetually on short-term deals.  They work a deal for a few days, maybe weeks, maybe (at most) a month or two.  Then they're done.  They're constantly looking for their next deal, in a feast/famine mode.  At least that's how I understand it.

For litigation associates, you get on one or two cases and that's enough.  You can go up to three or four depending on your role, but after that you're in kill-self territory.  The upside of litigation is that, most times, tasks don't come out of nowhere.  Everything has to be scheduled, either with the Court or with opposing counsel.  The downside is that if a case settles that was taking up 50% of your time, it might be a few weeks or months until you find enough hours to fill the void.

Instead of breaking my day down into hours, I'm going to tell you the type of stuff I normally do on a day-to-day basis.  That's Part I.  In Part II, I'll attempt to describe what a typical day is like.

Here's a non-exclusive lists of tasks I (and all BigLaw Lit associates I know) perform during a normal workday, along with a brief explanation.  If you want more information, on a particular subject, you should google.  If nothing on google, ask me for more details.

  • Respond to discovery requests (RFPs or Rogs).  This includes interviewing client employee's to obtain necessary information, drafting objections to overbroad requests from opposing, draft a rog response, or reviewing documents that are going out in response to an RFP.  Mind you, people talk about document review like it's awful.  In truth, doc review isn't bad as long as it's not eating up 50% of your time.  For me, doc review constitutes maybe 5% or less of my time.  Everyone uses contract attorneys now.
  • Draft a motion, including researching relevant caselaw (or an opposition, or a reply, or a sur-reply).  This task is highly variable depending on the type of motion.  Five page discovery motion?  Draft in a day and do an hour of caselaw research.  50 page summary judgment motion?  Draft over the course of a month and prepare to dig in on the research.  
  • Draft correspondence to opposing counsel, mostly about discovery or something else silly.  Usually you're just setting the plate for some type of motion or making sure your position is clear when opposing files a motion.  Usually I'm drafting this for a partner to send, but sometimes I'm the one sending.  Depends on the issue.
  • Take and defend depositions, or prepare for taking or defending a deposition.  This includes figuring out what the important documents are, drafting an outline, and either taking the dep or meeting with the deponent the day before to prep, then defending.  These usually happen in a flurry at the close of discovery or for some other deadline. I can go a few months without hearing the word "deposition," then have five scheduled in the next two weeks.
  • Draft correspondence to client.  This includes case status updates or sending off drafts of a brief for client review.  This is often tricky, as there's a need to manage client expectations while simultaneously keeping the client as informed as possible.  Often requires some finesse, depending on the issue.
  • Draft expert reports, or attend meetings with experts to prepare their expert reports.  Depends on the subject matter on which the expert is opining, and how difficult the expert is to work with, and how much of the report you're drafting (versus the expert). Highly case-dependent as to how much expert work is required.
  • Prepare for a hearing or attend hearing.  Doesn't happen that often, but when this happens it's important.  This includes drafting the presentation that goes along with the hearing, summarizing the important points from the briefing for the partner arguing the motion, and making sure all bases are covered.\
  • Pretrial disclosures.  Lots of things have to be done pretrial.  That includes exhibit designations, deposition designations, and rebuttal/counter designations.  Draft of direct and cross outlines.  Motions in limine.  Lots of stuff goes on behind that scenes that people don't see.
  • Trial.  It's just like what you see on TV.  Except 99% more boring in terms of what's happening in the Court and 1,000% more intense in terms of what's happening behind the curtains.
That's about it.  There are of course meetings that go along with many of these, including "case meetings" to ensure everyone's on the same page.  If all this sounds boring, you should reconsider BigLaw litigation.  If all this sounds interesting, great.  You might enjoy BigLaw.

In Part II, I'll talk more about how to manage the workflow and what a "typical" day looks like, to the extent I can call any day typical.

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