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2008/05/09

Crazy Right Now...

Like everybody, I have a soft side for gossip. It's always fun to hear inside rumors and the like and for lawyers, the place to go for gossip is Above the Law. The website's focus is on what is affectionately referred to as "biglaw", the US' major law firms, and typically the New York offices of these firms. Granted, the majority of lawyers in the US don't come close to earning what the associates at these top firms earn, but it can still be interesting. The comments, a mixture of immature frat humor, real insight, and overall cattiness that would make the most gossipy high school cheerleader blush, are also well worth reading.

Recently, the site's focus has moved away from New York with a new feature called the "Asia Chronicles." The most recent post, Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams, paints a dreamy picture of what its like being an associate at a top firm in Asia. Sure, there are firms like Simpson Thatcher that pay a similar salary in Beijing/Shanghai/Hong Kong as in New York and throw in an $80,000/year housing allowance, that's right, HOUSING ALLOWANCE, as well, which will cause anyone, even some of those biglaw associates in New York to drool. Imagine what it's like for people at top Chinese firms who are working just as hard as associates at the foreign, biglaw firms, but can't even get a salary that matches a US firm's housing allowance! If you're in the industry and you aren't at one of those firms, it can bring tears to your eyes...

Let me tell you, there are very few firms that are paying at those levels. If you want to be in a China office (especially Beijing/Shanghai), you'll be earning a good salary, but beyond a very small number of foreign firms, your salary will be far less than what you are paid in New York. That's not to say your salary won't be very high for China, but expect low 6 figures, high 5 figures with a minimal housing allowance at best.

It will be interesting to see the future of this series, but from the first few articles, its quite obvious that it is (heavily) sponsored by a recruiter, who seems to be trying to drum up business by selling people on how great it can be to work in Asia. At the same time, the number of extremely racist comments are startling. Frat humor is one thing, but these comments cross the line and are a disgrace considering that they most likely came from highly educated US attorneys.

2 comments:

Dan Harris said...

You are right on both counts. Both the numbers and too many of the comments are out of whack.

Anonymous said...

Tad late to this blog but thus far, enjoying your posts and different perspective. Just wanted to note that IMO, quality of ATL comments have degraded in reverse proportion to traffic by law students and juniors. Hence, the frat humor(less) and downright insulting comments (yes, an absolute disgrace) increases by the day. The almost strident sense of entitlement is depressing.

However, please do remember that in the US, as in other countries, just because a person attended law school doesn't mean that s/he is "highly educated". And just because a person is a lawyer doesn't mean that s/he possesses something akin to a moral compass. In fact, surveys and lawyers jokes continually point to the exact opposite.