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Crime / JusticeIamA burned out international lawyer just returned from Qatar making almost $400k per year, feeling jet lagged and slightly insane at having just quit it all to get my life back, get back in shape, actually see my 2 young boys, and start a

Apr 26th 2016 by Kristenmj • 35 Questions • 3375 Points

My short bio: for the past 9 years I have been a Partner-track associate at a Biglaw firm. They sent me to Doha for the past 2.5 years. While there, I worked on some amazing projects and was in the most elite of practice groups. I had my second son. I witnessed a society that had the most extreme rich:poor divide you could imagine. I met people who considered other people to be of less human worth. I helped a poor mother get deported after she spent 3 years in jail for having a baby out of wedlock, arrested at the hospital and put in jail with her baby. I became disgusted by luxury lifestyle and lawyers who would give anything and everything to make millions. I encountered blatant gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and a very clear glass ceiling. Having a baby apparently makes you worth less as a lawyer. While overseas, I became inspired to start a company making boy dolls after I couldn't find any cool ones for my own sons. So I hired my sister to start a company that I would direct. Complete divergence from my line of work, I know, but I was convinced this would be a great niche business. As a lawyer, I was working sometimes 300 hours in a month and missing my kids all the time. I felt guilty for spending any time not firm related. I never had a vacation where I did not work. I missed my dear grandmother's funeral in December. In March I made the final decision that this could not last. There must be a better way. So I resigned. And now I am sitting in my mother's living room, having moved the whole family in temporarily - I have not lived with my mother since I was 17. I have moved out of Qatar. I have given up my very nice salary. I have no real plans except I am joining my sister to build my company. And I'm feeling a bit surreal and possibly insane for having given it up. Ask me anything!

I'm answering questions as fast as I can! Wow! But my 18 month old just work up jet lagged too and is trying to eat my computer.....slowing me down a bit!

This is crazy - I can't type as fast as the questions come in, but I'll answer them. This is fascinating. AM I SUPPOSED TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE??!

10:25 AM EST: Taking a short break. Kids are now awake and want to actually spend time with them :)

11:15 AM EST: Back online. Will answer as many questions as I can. Kids are with husband and grandma playing!

PS: I was thinking about this during my break: A lot of people have asked why I am doing this now. I have wanted to say some public things about my experience for quite some time but really did not dare to do so until I was outside of Qatar, and I also wanted to wait until the law firm chapter of my life was officially closed. I have always been conservative in expressing my opinion about my experience in Qatar while living there because of the known incidents of arrests for saying things in public that are contrary to the social welfare and moral good. This Reddit avenue appealed to me because now I feel free to actually say what I think about things and have an open discussion. It is so refreshing - thank you everyone for the comments and questions. Forums like this are such a testament to the value of freedom of expression.

Because several people have asked, here's a link to the Kickstarter campaign for my toy company. I am deeply grateful for any support. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1632532946/boy-story-finally-cool-boy-action-dolls

My Proof: https://mobile.twitter.com/kristenmj/status/724882145265737728 https://qa.linkedin.com/in/kristenmj http://boystory.com/pages/team

Q:

Can you please discuss your experiences being a woman in Qatar/the Middle East? How were you treated and was your career a factor in how others treated you? Did any of your experiences carry over into the office?

A:

I was at a slight advantage when I transferred to Qatar because I was already established as an associate at my firm, so it wasn't difficult for me to find work. From a long-term future perspective, it would have been difficult to continue in Qatar since business is almost exclusively conducted by men still, and anything government related is heavily male dominated. I think the male-to-female ratio generally in Qatar was about 8-to-1. Some government ministries don't even have women's bathrooms.

I felt most of my gender-related issues as a woman lawyer, and especially as a new mother. That was not related specifically to Qatar, but was more related to the male-dominated legal industry. I found that in the upper ranks, especially in litigation/arbitration, women were a rarity. I was at a hearing recently where there were ZERO upper-ranked women, and the only women participating actively in the hearing (besides myself) were junior associates or paralegal/secretarial-types. The partnership ranks in my field are severely male-dominated. Over time, it has an impact, especially when you do not have a stay-at-home spouse and you have a young family. I think the general bias against women in the legal industry is short sighted because if a woman has a couple of intense years where she is raising a family plus working hard, she is still a major contributor to the firm and obviously can bring long-term benefits to the firm that go beyond the few "maternity" years. But from what I have seen, many firms (not just my own), get hung up on women who need to take maternity leave, have family responsibilities, or cannot work 110% of the time. Actually, this is true for men as well, but women tend to deal with it more because of the biological maternity aspect of things.


Q:

What type of law were you practicing? Can you tell us more about the deportation story?

A:

I was practicing international arbitration - mostly commercial and contract disputes, lots of construction disputes in Qatar. I cannot speak publicly about any details of my specific client work, but my clients included sovereign governments and large corporations.

I am SO EXCITED about the deportation story, actually, because I just received an email from the woman that she was finally able to leave the country yesterday!!!! Here's a quote: "We are finally home! Thank you so much for everything that you have done for me and my son. My family is so grateful. We are all grateful."

The woman was arrested after she delivered her first baby at the main private hospital in Qatar. She was taken from the hospital to jail because she could not provide a marriage certificate. The standard penalty for a baby out of wedlock is one year. She spent one year in prison with her baby boy. While there, due to the imprisonment, she defaulted on some loans she had taken out. That resulted in two years more imprisonment for writing "bad checks" (pre-dated checks are required in Qatar for most loans, so if you don't make a payment, the lender tries to cash the check, and writing a bad check is illegal, hence the jail time). Once she was released from jail, she no longer had a job or a valid visa to be in the country. Her son was also illegal. However, she could not leave the country because Qatar had imposed a travel ban due to the outstanding civil cases that had been filed against her in the interim. So when she was released from jail, she had several civil suits pending that amounted to many times the original loan amount due to interest and penalties, and despite having served a criminal sentence, she now had to face the civil suits and could not leave. Her son was stuck there too, illegitimate and unable to go to school. She was living with her cousin and being fed out of the kindness of peoples' hearts. I found out about the case through an anonymous news report on Doha News and contacted the reporter. Although I do not deal with Qatari administrative law, I had done a lot of pro bono work in immigration and administrative legal issues both in the States and in Qatar, and I knew someone who I thought could help her. My firm agreed to take on the case pro bono, and after a few months of meetings with ministry officials and the deportation department, they finally let her leave yesterday!

Unfortunately, her case is extremely common, and I have heard many, many similar stories.


Q:

jeez, she didn't stand a chance... what luck you were there for her

A:

I want to give full credit to my colleague who really did all the leg work. I just paid attention to the case.


Q:

I wanted to throw up reading that the standard penalty for a child born out of wedlock is one year and that she got an additional two years of debtors prison for defaulting on loans while in prison. What an evil culture.

A:

It was very upsetting and shocking to me, especially as a young mother. When I met with the woman I was helping, and who has since been able to leave the country, I learned that she spent much of her time in jail with many other women in the same situation. It's unpublicized and I don't really know how anyone would find out more because the system is so closed.


Q:

This seems an all too common story in the legal profession. 70-80 hour weeks seems to be the norm. What do you think stops the industry from say doubling the staff, halving the workload per person and halving the salaries? It seems like it would be a win for everyone.

A:

There are a lot of theories on this. I'm sure overhead is part of the issue. You make a lot more if you have fewer people billing more hours than more people billing less hours. Also, there's an elitism to the system, that some people revel in and many excel in. There's a boot camp mentality, and a reward mentality that if you sacrifice everything, you'll ultimately win the prize. I know it's cliche, but it is probably true that the prize is like winning more pie at a pie eating contest.


Q:

Congratulations for your decision, I imagine it was really tough to come to this settlement. Since when did you come up with the idea that it would be better to retire from practising law ? I imagine it wasn't only for 4 months, as you said, you worked an insanely amount of time.

A:

I finalized the decision in March just before I resigned. I honestly had moments where I almost did not do it. It was a very, very difficult decision to come to, especially because I love practicing law, and in some regards I loved my specific job. The subject matter and clients were amazing. Some of the lawyers were out of this world smart and good at their jobs. But the system, IMO, is flawed and I just couldn't continue at the pace I was going at. I think the move to Doha really started the thought process of leaving because it caused me to think a lot about priorities and what money really can and cannot buy.


Q:

Was there anything you enjoyed about that lifestyle? Good food, hotels, perks? Or was it such that the work took over your life fully leaving you little time to appreciate those things?

A:

I loved not having to worry about money. I have college funds for my kids, two houses, a 401k, and a big savings. We could travel and splurge, and it didn't matter. I kind of enjoyed the business travel - got to see great places and eat at fancy restaurants. I can't lie, some of that is fun and interesting. Of course it is. But its value is VERY limited. I don't want to wake up at age 75 and look back to think I've ate at good restaurants and slept in business class cabins. I want to think that I've spent some amazing moment with my kids, learned a lot, had good experiences, had time to think and pray, cooked good meals, and contributed to society. The last one is a big one. I want to feel like what I have done makes this word a better place for my kids and their kids, and my friends, and the people I don't know. I want to contribute to helping people stand up for their rights and not be afraid to say things when things need to be said. I could go on and on. At the end of the day, I want to be able to say that my life contributed more than just sitting and billing hour upon hour to help rich people stay rich.


Q:

What was your billing target? What did you actually bill?

A:

Most recent all-in target was 2500 (including non-billable). I always met or exceeded my targets (they changed over time). I typically billed (meaning non-billable excluded) about 2200/year. Less or pro-rated while on maternity years, which in my personal belief massively impacted my bonus, partner, and salary increase eligibility.


Q:

2500 is fucking insane

i mean 400k is pretty good though so i guess its alright but i would be the one asking "hey can we make that 1800 and ill take 288k instead"

A:

Yes, but that 1800 is a billable target and not an all-in with non-billable. And targets end up not mattering so much when the case / partner pressures are constant and intense.


Q:

What can you tell us (that we haven't heard about in the news) about the upcoming World Cup from the perspective of someone who lived in Qatar recently?

A:

My opinion (which you have already heard) is that it was bought and paid for. I also think it is bizarre that Qatar would even want to host the World Cup for several reasons:

  1. They don't have the infrastructure. The country is completely under construction. They are working on infrastructure, but everything is late in the construction world there because the system has been established where a few wealthy nationals hire a ton of money hungry contractors who are usually not A-class. The projects get messed up and delayed. Safety concerns abound. The city where the final cup is to be played is not yet built, and the stadium in it is also not yet built. And there is so much more infrastructure needed (although some may ask the question of why because the population is relatively low - 2 million total, most of whom are expats and workers!).
  2. Qatar's values are conflicted. Drinking in public is illegal there and alcohol is strictly restricted. The World Cup, to me, involves a lot of drinking. Even if drinking is allowed in the stadiums, what about outside the stadiums? After-parties? General lifestyle issues associated with drinking? I have no idea how this will play out, but I imagine it will be extremely difficult for the country leaders to deal with. There is also a general cultural restriction on clothing and the need to cover shoulders and knees. Not sure how this will fly with the general attending public.
  3. There's not much to do outside of the Cup if you are going to attend, so not sure how they are going to get the audience to attend. Qatar has been known to fill empty stadium seats with workers.
  4. The heat issue, although I think this has been fixed if the games are moved to the winter. If it is in the summer, people will definitely absolutely die from the heat. Even if the stadiums are cooled, I can imagine overheating from crowds going to and from the stadiums and waiting outside to get in. Also after-parties and other gatherings would be miserable if hot.

Q:

That's a great answer.

Follow-up question: is it safe? Will security be adequate? It simply astounded me when they announced the World Cup there. Obviously money is the reason they get to host, but my reaction when they announced it is best summed up as OMGWTF WHY?

A:

It depends on what you mean by "safe". I think from a security aspect it is pretty safe. The US Embassy sends out regular security warnings, especially around Ramadan time, but it is probably one of the safest places in the region. The construction, fatal car accidents, and other general safety issues, though, make living there slightly less safe. I'm going to watch the World Cup time with interest...


Q:

" I met people who considered other people to be of less human worth"

Could you elaborate on this please?

A:

Sure. I met people who considered those who worked for them to be of far less human value than themselves. Those at the "top" believed that they could take risks with human lives at the "bottom" because those lives were not "worth" as much. This permeated into many aspects of society, including little things like getting ahead in traffic, getting the closest parking spot at the school or mall, and generally having someone pay attention to you if it mattered. We see it in the way laborers are treated especially in Qatar and other GCC countries. Lives are risked and lost unnecessarily to attain material goals. And then the justice system does not appropriate penalize those who take the risks and abuse the lives of others.


Q:

Did you go to a top tier law school? Is your job unique?

A:

I went to American University - which has fallen in the rankings since I attended but is in the top 100. My job was amazingly unique, and rarely boring. I ended up in commercial arbitration, but was working on issues such as corruption, human rights, and fraud. Some investor-state treaty arbitration as well, which I loved and is something of an elite practice area in biglaw.


Q:

What does your family think of your decision?

How much liquid wealth did you amass?

A:

My family is 100% supportive.

I saved enough to finance myself through the transition and help startup the company. Some of it is not necessarily savings since I have chosen not to pay off certain debts in order to maintain a level of liquidity during this transition.


Q:

Also, was/is your husband working at the same time?

A:

Yes he is, but he took a break to find a new job when we moved over there, and he is now transitioning into a new job as we have moved back. From a career perspective, he has always followed my job location, but he's taking the reins for a bit now.


Q:

I used to live in Dubai back in 2008, was only livingthere for a year before moving back to the US. Just wanted to say the wealth gap between the rich and the poor in the middle east is insane. Im a junior in college now but back then was an 8th grader and my dad would be very secretive of his salary, one day i saw it written on some kind of document and it was equal to something like $650,000/yr. i thought wow thats a lot wtf, turns out everyone there makes that much. My point in saying all of this is to basically ask you the question, do you think there is an unhealthy obsession with materialism in the middle east and do you think it will have long term effects on the younger generation growing up there, especially foreigners?

Edit 1: I wrote this at like 3am on my phone, in bed while resisting my eyes from shutting. So what I meant by "everyone makes that much" was, that at the private school I went to and the many other private schools that existed it was all about money and material possessions. Most expats and locals that went to these schools made quite a bit of money and so it made it feel like we were all in a bubble. Especially because it was Dubai, Dubai is an extremely glamorous and material city and its easy to get lost in it all. Also just want to explain that in most countries that arent the US, you dont really go to public school because its a really bad education/environment so going to a private school there is not considered "preppy" like it is here in the US.

Edit 2: Also by make this much I just meant six figues, or higher than might be considered average here in the west. And no my family/dad is not white, we're pakistani.

A:

Okay I'm going to come back to this question because it is a GOOD ONE, and will take me time to answer. Short answer: Yes.

Still planning on coming back to this one!


Q:

Is it even that easy for a foreigner to get a job there? Do you know what they seek in skills? I don't want to be materialistic. Just make enough money for a year or two and come home to support my family

A:

That's what a lot of people say/do. That's kind of what I did. I am not sure it is worth it.


Q:

As a teenager whose childhood dream was always to be a lawyer, I feel conflicted. I have read many similar horror stories of having loads of money but no time for themselves and their families.

Should I give up on becoming a lawyer and go for a less stressful career with less earnings but better work-life balance?

A:

I wouldn't say don't be a lawyer. I'd just say think very carefully about the career path you might want (and it is very hard to know what that is - gee, I don't seem to know!), be willing to change if you see an opportunity, and also consider what your financial goals are. The thing with biglaw is that people just go for the gold and don't often think about whether they need all that. I'd say I was making at least 3x more than I really need (and that's probably a liberal estimate...).

Lawyers can do a lot of good. They can also be somewhat crazy people to work with, money driven, stressed out, and all the bad things people associate with lawyers. I actually love being a lawyer (don't know what that says about me), but I only loved being a lawyer about 30 hours per week. After that, I missed my family and my life, and I often wondered where it was all going.

I heard a silly inspirational TED talk before making my decision where the message was, "the only way you can change things is to change." So that's what I did. I can think through it all day long (and am hoping this Reddit helps me with the post-decision analysis), but at the end of the day, I just had to draw the line and make the decision to change.


Q:

It hurts me to say I thought you were male all the way up until I clicked your proof links. Even then I thought the pictures were of a wife. Wasn't until I got to the second one until I realized my error. Really shows the subtlety of gender discrimination.

EDIT: i always assumed my first gold would be from some sexual innuendo. quite surprising.

A:

Wow. So interesting. Thank you for sharing.


Q:

Im a dad of 2 kids and I work a job making aboit 1/4 of your old salary. With a little hard work I know I could be making more but that would require more travel and more time away from my family but I just cant do it. Was there some sort of event that happened that made you feel guilty that you were spending too much time working?

A:

I think living around a lot of people who worked 24/7 and didn't see their kids really made me stop and think about what on earth I was doing. Also my grandmother died in November. I found out 2 hours before I was heading to the airport to work at a hearing for 3 weeks. I couldn't even take the time to mourn. It was horrible. I missed her funeral the next month because of another hearing. My grandmother was my role model, and I asked myself whether she would approve of my life's path and how I was spending my time. She wouldn't.


Q:

Did you ever enjoy the long weeks where you were doing 70+ hours? and how did you manage to get through the 300 hour months and not crash and burn at any point?

A:

I have the personality to work long hours and actually enjoy it. I really got into my case work, and cared about my clients (leaving that was very hard to do). Writing is enjoyable, and the time goes by quickly when I am immersed in the work. There were some times I thought I would crash and burn, but I was often so driven by deadlines and demands, that I had to keep going to make them work. I guess this could be considered a "crash and burn"?


Q:

Just checked out boy story, the dolls are such an awesome concept and I would love to purchase one for my son but the shipping page seems to be incomplete or down. Do you guys ship internationally? Thanks

A:

We are working on shipping internationally, and this week our Kickstarter will open up for international shipping!


Q:

Do you plan on handling fulfillment/shipping/customer service yourself?

A:

We are engaging a fulfillment center, and we have just worked out the international shipping details with them. To be announced very shortly.


Q:

Have you beared witness to the alleged mistreatment of migrant workers in Qatar? If so, how bad has it become?

A:

Yes, to domestic workers. I don't really see much of the construction workers, and they are largely hidden from the Western expat population (especially folks in the professional world like lawyers and bankers). But I REGULARLY saw people working unbearable hours in hot and unbearable conditions, being held in the country without any ability to leave without their employers' permission, being paid a few hundred dollars per month while their employers made millions, miserable. Some Nepalese workers couldn't go home to their family after the earthquake last year to mourn the dead. Their employers wouldn't let them. The justice system is questionable, and if a Qatari or person of authority was up against a worker, the worker would not win, almost assuredly. The ILO has published a lot of case studies on this issue, and the UN (I believe) is about to come out with another article. I want to write something now that I am out of the country about the abuses and the issues with holding people trapped in the country for labor. Forthcoming...


Q:

Please do that.

A:

On my list!


Q:

We're you familiar with the Doha Mall fire that killed many people? As a nz'er it's in our media, as 3 young triplets were killed. Despite assurances there would be justice (even by our own Prime Minister) the owners have been let off with a fine. Is this type of 'justice' common in Qatar?

A:

So familiar with that case. Just talked about it yesterday actually, and discussed how sad it was that the NZ family lost triplets. I can't imagine. The owners have all been let off without jail time, and the judge refused to use words like "guilt" and "conviction". This type of "justice" is the norm, and the decision is not surprising.


Q:

How awesome do you feel? Seriously that story is awesome.

A:

Thank you. You just made me feel more awesome. I vacillate between awesome and completely anxious.


Q:

We missed each other @ AmericanU by a year. I was on the same tract as you, int'l law, when I had an epiphany that I didn't want to work like a slave. So I jumped into tech which was easy to do in the DC area with no experience.

But my question is about the dolls. My daughter loves American Girl. The last time we went was 2 months ago and spent just shy of $400. Are your dolls meant to compliment American girl dolls? Are they the same size? Could they use the same accessories?

A:

Hey - wow it is a small world! Hope you're happy in the tech industry. My husband loves it. He's now looking for an IT project management job in the DC area if you know of anything....

About the dolls, they are designed to be a compliment doll to the many girl dolls out there, especially American Girl. They are the approximate same size, just slightly taller with molded hair. We are testing with accessories and most are usable with our dolls. We envision the little boys and girls playing together a lot :) If you are interested, please support the Kickstarter!! :D


Q:

As a corporate lawyer working in a boutique firm with a cushy 9 to 5 and fat pay check, I often get these urges to quit and start my own legal practice. I am almost 30, have very little contacts to enable me to build a client base fast, am kind of well off financially and am single, so no kids to feed or educate (yet). What would you do if you were me?

A:

Personally? I'd keep the job you have if you like it. Unless your passion is to have your own practice over working for someone else, your practices won't be very different, will they? Also, if you are at a boutique, are you on partner track? In that way, if you were partner, couldn't you have your "own legal practice"? Or is the goal to be a solo lawyer?


Q:

Hi, my girlfriend is in her final year of a law degree but doesnt have a reddit account so Im asking this for her:

I'm about to begin my vacation schemes at two international law firms with a view to a training contract with them, and found your story extremely interesting, especially the part about having a glass ceiling and gender discrimination for women, because this is something that I have always been concerned about. Even though more women than men studies law in my year, from my experiences at interviews and meeting associates, the practice is still dominated by men - especially at the partner level! So I was wondering if you can expand on what you mean by 'glass ceiling' - what are some of the experiences that have made you feel this way, and do you think you have any advice for women who are aspiring to enter law for dealing with this issue?

A:

Thank you for asking this question. The reason I mentioned it in my AMA bio is because, of all the things that may have surprised me most about my recent experiences, it was this issue. The Internet may judge me for this one, but I really believed that I was entering into the firm as an associate and as an equal to all my peers. I believed that if I worked very hard, proved my smarts, and excelled in my reviews and hours that I would be rewarded the same way as everyone else. And indeed, I was promoted very well and encouraged by most. I worked mostly with men, especially at the upper levels of litigation and arbitration. But then I looked around at the upper ranks of my practice group. I looked at the ones who were being made partner. I looked at the ones who sat on the executive team and management board. I had intimate conversations with some of the female leaders. This is what I found: In my practice group late last year, there were only 6 female partners - out of a group of approximately 30 lawyers. 3 of those partners were in the Paris office. That meant, that unless I was in the Paris office, my chances for promotion to partner, statistically, were about 1 in 10. Okay that's a rough estimate, but you get the idea. Then, I saw who made partner this year. Completely randomly, partner announcements came out at my firm the same day I submitted my resignation (but after I submitted it). Who made partner in my group? All but 1 were men, and all of them working insane hours, either single or with stay at home wives. I don't know of one who was from a dual working family (although there may be one I didn't know). Then I talked to my mentor at the firm, a female leader who stuck with it through some very rough times. Through tears she described to me the massive number of instances where she had pushed forward an idea or proposal, and then the inner group of male leaders seized it, held meetings without telling her, and took credit. This happened over and over and over. And I talked to others in the industry. Close friends in other big firms. Young mothers who were being told by male partners that "they probably couldn't make it with kids at home" and "the partnership isn't a place for working moms." I am not kidding.

Now, that all said, I have seen people work through the system just fine. I have seen some fly to the top and become management. I have seen some moms get a really great work-life balance with a part time schedule. I have seen some women rewarded for their intelligence by being able to go into a consulting or senior counsel role. So it's not impossible and not all bad. But it's a struggle, the struggle is real, the gender biases are strong and overwhelming, and the proof is in the pudding - just look at who runs the big firms.


Q:

How has your perspectives changed over the 9 years at the firm?

A:

This is a hard question because it is somewhat vague. I suppose my perspectives have changed in that I understand much more about how the world works, what drives lawyers and businesses, and how there are trustworthy and untrustworthy people in all walks of life. I know that sounds kind of superficial, but it's a hard question to answer, and that's my general answer.


Q:

Hi! I'm wrapping up my first year in law school right now (Civ Pro final is next Monday, wish me luck!). I'm attending a top 20 law school and I'm on the cusp of reaching the top quartile of my class. Given your experience, I wanted to ask you a few questions about law school and the legal profession.

If you could go back, would you have gone through law school again and done something different with your J.D.? Or would you have done something completely different? Do you have any advice you'd give a 1L like myself? Do you keep in touch with any of your friends from law school? If so, are their stories similar/different from yours? Do you see a similar burnout rate in other legal fields?

For reference, I'm in law school because I want to do public sector litigation - prosecution, public defense, working for a government agency, and so on. I really want to do JAG straight out of law school (my summer internship this year is with JAG, actually). Personally, I came to law school to find a profession and not because of the money. But I'd be interested in hearing if other lawyers get the same burnout even if they're not working in Big Law.

Thanks for doing this AMA!

A:

Congratulations on your success so far and good luck with the finals.

I loved law school, and love being a lawyer. The profession has some great people in it, and can serve a lot of good. And the experiences I have had are invaluable to me. So it is very hard to say I would go back and change things. Maybe I need to give it some time to really say.

Recently, my mind has often drifted to the question of whether a different career would have been better. Maybe. There's no telling really. There's no perfect career path. You just have to follow opportunities, and I suppose the lesson I am trying to share at this point is that you also have to be able to stop things if they get out of hand. At least that's what I'm trying to do.

I love my law school classmates. They are some of my best friends even to this day. Law school was an amazing experience. Enjoy it to the fullest! Most of my former classmates have found career paths that are exciting to them. I have had some "burn out" and make drastic changes. One has been hiking around the world for the past 2 years. Others have switched from private firms to in-house. Others have gone into government. Some have gone out of law entirely. There's no one right path. Most seem satisfied with their careers. And if you LOVE your career (and little else), I think law, especially biglaw can be satisfying from a prestige perspective.

Lots of people go to law school thinking they will change the world. A lot do contribute to great changes and help protect our justice system. I went in thinking I was going to be an immigration lawyer. I still help lots of people with immigration issues.

If you are really passionate about public sector litigation, then I'd say keep pursuing it. You might burn out, but you might not. Only time will tell, and I suppose you can take the same advice I did: If you want to change, the only way to do it is change.


Q:

I'm going to be starting in Biglaw soon. I've got a training contract with a London Magic Circle firm to start in 2017. What advice do you have for handling the pressure and awful work/life balance?

A:

I would say to be able as much as possible to draw your boundaries. Be able to put down your phone/computer. Make sure you keep enjoying the things you enjoy now. But I can't say I succeeded...that's why I changed things.


Q:

Well, what can I say. It's a crazy life, but who said all of that man made wealth would be worth it for all that work? Some people are making far over 400k a year doing much less than you, so if you're giving up more than 50-60 hours in a week of your time, you're really selling yourself short. That was a nice salary yes, but so is 250k if you can make a more meaningful living and have spare time.

A:

I agree!


Q:

is Katie Jarvis single?

A:

Maybe :)