Junior associates have been expressing concerns to us about the pending arrival of summer associates. One in particular summarizes many of the issues associates seem to be worried about right now:
I have a question that perhaps you can find the answer to by asking questions we are too frightened (hate to admit this) to ask: How are firms like mine [a Vault 10 firm] going to handle Summer Associates, when they have so many first rate first-years who are sitting around hangdog, empty handed, and mentally reaching serious levels of clinical depression?
I know we should be grateful to have salaries, but we are literally wasting away. Not all of us. Some of the 1st years had Partner Mentors as summers who look out for them, are busy themselves and keep them busy. Some like me, and others were not so lucky. I went to a T3 law school and took this job because I was told [my firm] had super smart lawyers, that were also sane, cultured, congenial and humane. That was before the downturn. Now it’s every person for himself here.
Come on, buddy; it’s not going to be that bad. Summers are going to be writing so many “memos to file” that I’d buy stock in Redweld.
And the “every person for himself” mentality was always there, even before the downturn. Why do you think some associates have partner mentors while others do not? Maybe you can spend the summer learning the political game as it is played at your firm, instead of honing your privilege log skills. Don’t worry about summers taking anything from you; worry about taking something from someone else.
Yay, Biglaw life!
But after the jump, we see that our tipster might be inconsolable.
Unfortunately, our tipster — like many first-year associates, we suspect — is essentially apoplectic:
The first years that get work, hoard it and avoid those of us who don’t. Most of us who don’t have work are a socially adept bunch, at least we were before. I’ve never felt like an outsider, a useless outsider at that, in my life. I’ve always been a busy, productive, hard working, top of my class, right in the center of things guy. Now I walk the halls, send out e-mails; knock on doors, to little or no avail. Never in my life have I felt so feeble. My co-non-workers feel the same. Guys, who were in great shape nine months ago, look like drunks now. One guy, 26 has lost most of his hair since we started in September. Before that he was a mophead. What does [my firm] want us to do? Are they hoping we’ll quit? Should I get on a plane and head home to Mom? Wait. She’s already turned my room into a ballet studio. Besides, I have $120,000 in debt. Being a salaried, non-working first year associate is horrible, but it’s made more horrible by the silence. No one here calls a meeting and puts it all on the table. So we’re left to guess, and start to hate each other. What would be ideal, or at least take some of the sting out of things would be for [my firm] to do something radical (for the time being) and create a system where the work is shared. So we all get to share in the feast and the famine. Like Christ with the fishes and bread. At least then we’d have some brotherhood, which historically has always made hardship more bearable.
The work-hoarding problem isn’t going to go away as long as there isn’t enough work to go around. Are there junior associates who are busy that are willing to share their success secrets?
In the meantime, try to remember that it’s the summertime. Make sure you spend some time outdoors. Try to relax. You can only control the things you can control.