Biglaw, Election 2012, Headhunters / Recruiters, In-House Counsel, Job Searches, Politics

House Rules: Happy Halloween

It drives me crazy that my kids had “Harvest” parties at school today. Harvest what? It’s Halloween for Chrissakes. Every calendar in the office here says it’s Halloween. It is not Harvest Day, and believe me, with the reduction of old-time husbandry and the growth of corporate farming, it is difficult to envision ConAgra holding a Harvest Festival. Anyway.

I am not in a good mood of late. The hurricane has really put a damper (seriously, no pun intended) on the spirits of a lot of folks in the Northeast. Spare me the “it’s about time New York got its comeuppance” crap; this is serious stuff. Politically savvy or not, when Chris Christie starts praising Obama and FEMA with apparent sincerity, you know that stuff just got real. For us in Western New York we had a crapload of leaves to shovel; first world problem, I know. You almost feel an embarrassment of riches when you have a sore back from yard clean-up and many people have no home to clean. But, Springsteen postponed his show here from last night until tonight which is a blessing, so there’s that. And my kids are going to be done trick or treating and in bed before the first notes of “Badlands” ring out.

But I digress. This is a Halloween post, and I should have some scary stuff to discuss….

Mark Herrmann wrote a terrific piece on the future demise (or at least, sea change) of the current Biglaw model. Scary stuff when you think that a decade ago, law school grads were showing up to firms demanding special lighting and massages. Now, the only places to obtain those are the local rub and — well, you get the idea. And that’s if you can find a job. I am in regular touch with some heavy-duty recruiters and they are coming up dry as of late. Even the Association career sites are filled with duplicative job postings, usually consisting of the initial post from the actual company, and three or four from recruiters claiming that they have been exclusively hired to conduct the search.

I believe we’ll always have a few mega-firms, just as we’ll always have some banks that are too big to fail. But the pyramid model stinks, and it’s really not sustainable, as Hermann points out. Of course, when you’re averaging more than $1 million each year in compensation (at least for partners in the New York area), you ought to be able to sustain yourself.

Furthermore, show me a pyramid model that has continued to grow and thrive? I am betting we can debate whether it has ever happened. Then again, I just saw a Mary Kay car the other day.

I am also not sure how the election is going to impact the economy. If 3Q results are an indication, this will not be a banner year at the Mowry household, or many households for that matter. “Merry Christmas Johnny!” I don’t see either candidate as having an impact on the state of our economy.

Obama has had four years of difficult (if not impossible) challenges in bringing life to a sputtering economy, and Romney simply states whatever he finds convenient in the moment. Unfortunate timing, really, that he is on tape (again) effectively saying that FEMA ought to be eliminated. Well, he did do a canned food drive yesterday, so props to him. And maybe Trump just ought to go ahead and donate his $5 million to the Red Cross; I bet they could use it right about now.

Back to Biglaw for a moment. Are you guys busy? Are you on track to hit the billable targets? There is always one associate who lucked into a patent litigation that will drag on through discovery for years and who will hit each and every bonus target, but what about the rest of you?

November is when you realize that you have 60 days to hit target; some keep gunning, some give up, and some continue hiding in their offices. Since it’s Halloween, how many of your secretaries or admins dressed up? Any partners show up in costume? Any associates gone missing? First, check and see if they live below 23rd Street before sending the panic wagons.

I read today that the Greenwich Village Halloween parade was cancelled. Bummer. Was a highlight of my days in New York to hit the parade and then go to the Monster for vodka cranberries. Really, it was no big deal. Women all over New York know that if you want to go dancing, you do not go to a straight club; you hit a welcoming gay bar and get your shimmy on. Apologies for the rambling nature of this column; I have friends up and down the coast with real troubles, and my Halloween spirit has been tempered by concern and worry. I will say that the boat laying across my old Ossining station tracks brought a smile through the tears. If any of you are reading this, congratulations on having power. I am very happy it wasn’t worse in terms of personal injuries, and hey, only 55 shopping days til Christmas. But, more importantly 61 days of billable possibilities. Work your ass off and you can still hit 2400.

After two federal clerkships and several years as a litigator in law firms, David Mowry is happily ensconced as an in-house lawyer at a major technology company. He specializes in commercial leasing transactions, only sometimes misses litigation, and never regrets leaving firm life. You can reach him by email at

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