Is BigLaw Worth the Salary?

My friend, a solo practitioner and mom to two young girls, was recently approached by a female BigLaw senior partner about going to work for the big firm.  My friend agreed to go to lunch with the partner, and, concerned that a BigLaw schedule might take her away from her kids, asked the partner (who is also a mother of two) to describe a typical day.

Female senior partner:  A ‘typical day’?  Well, I get up at 3.

My friend (wiggling her finger in her ear): I’m sorry, I thought you said ‘3’.

Partner: Yes. I get up at 3am because I can get four billable hours in before I go to the gym at 7. Then I come home and have breakfast with my kids at 8 and I’m usually in the office by 9.

(She says as if strolling into the office at 9 is something to envy.)

Partner: Then I work through lunch, and I’m easily home by no later than 8.  Unless I’m in trial.

My friend: Um, no thanks.

Now, certainly some people thrive in a BigLaw environment.  If you’re one of them, you probably aren’t even reading this blog. Being solo affords you the freedom and flexibility to see your kids, pursue hobbies, and make your own way in the world. Sure, the salary might not be what you’d enjoy at BigLaw, but if the salary is the only enjoyable thing you get out of what consumes more than half your waking hours, is it worth it?