Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com.

Dear ATL,

One of the partners in my practice group is very involved with a charity. About once a month or so, we get hit up with various updates on the cause, requests to donate, attend charity events, subscribe to newsletters, etc. He’s even made a few presentations about the charity during practice group meetings. This charity has absolutely nothing to do with legal work and frankly it’s getting really annoying.

As an associate, is it OK to unsubscribe from his charity’s email (not sure how I was signed up in the first place)?  Will he know?  Will it affect my partnership chances?  Am I obligated to donate?  Will he know?  Will the other partners know?

-Hit ‘Em Up Style

Dear Hit ‘Em Up Style –

Part of the reason they pay you associates so much is that your exorbitant salaries already factor in the bullsh*t expenses that come with the job: student loan payments, business wardrobe, personal training, late night online electronics purchases, therapy, top shelf alcohol so as not to be totally incapacitated when you get a work email the next day… and partner pet projects. And yes, they’re watching….

Think about it this way: if you’ve ever fundraised for a cause, even if it was 20 years ago, don’t you remember exactly who donated and who didn’t? Same thing if you’ve ever said you didn’t want gifts for a wedding or a birthday, but then secretly became enraged when people showed up empty handed. It’s only natural to begrudge people who are cheap or aren’t mind readers. In elementary school, I embarked on a somewhat ill-conceived venture selling Kosher for Passover chocolates door-to-door in my predominately Christian neighborhood and still remember, TO THIS DAY, which neighbors had a heart and bought some inedible macaroons, and which jerks said no or simply pretended like they weren’t home (nice try, Mrs. Friedman).

Granted, a partner asking an associate to donate is kind of like Jennifer Aniston standing by to take your call and paltry donation during some disaster relief telethon instead of doing something useful like donating $20 million herself, or publicly apologizing for Love Happens. If the partner truly cared about his charity, he could just contribute his entire salary to the cause instead of harassing you for chump change. Clearly his solicitations aren’t really about the charity. They’re a pretext for whether you care about your job enough to eat a $50 s*** sandwich.

Partners make associates partners based on work product, personality, and business development capabilities. What does it say about you that you didn’t have the business savvy to invest $50 in your career?

I hope this helps.

Your friend,

Marin

Marin, you’re back? Holla at your boy. I see your absence has not changed your penchant for telling innocent associates to bend over, take it, and SMILE, damn it.

Me, I’m counseling Hit ‘Em Up Style to get buckwild and decline to donate to the charity he clearly feels forced into. He already works for the partner; does he owe him a vig, too?

Also, giving to charity is an intensely personal decision. I give to the ASPCA. You know what that says about me? That I like animals more than people. That’s pretty much true about me. If this guy gives to charities based on who his bosses want to give money to, that tells me that this guy is a slavish-career whore whose only principles are getting ahead.

Don’t get me wrong Style, Marin is probably exactly right. The partner in question is almost surely making a list, checking it twice, and he’s going to find out who’s doing it right.

Still, chances are that the partner isn’t powerful enough to single-handedly prevent you from becoming a partner. In fact, I’m positive that he’s not — because if he was, you’d be asking if the charitable donation you are about to make absolves you from giving this guy five good minutes with the orifice of his choice (short answer: no).

So, assuming that I’m right, stick to your guns and refuse to donate. Still get the emails, it’s just rude to unsubscribe to an email list the partner wants you to be on. But you should feel pressure to act with personal pride and dignity, not reflexively do whatever you think a partner wants you to do.

Good luck,

Guy who buys prosthetic noses just to show his face who’s boss.

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com.

Earlier: Prior editions of Pls Hndle Thx


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