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From the Career Files: Biglaw Practice Today — Cruel Expectations

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Sarah Powell helps new associates face their own unrealistic expectations about life in Biglaw.

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” — Bruce Lee

If you read Above the Law, you know that law school, the legal profession, and Biglaw especially are not like the movies, not like the grand old days, and certainly not like partners pitch it to you at on-campus interviews. Still, a main source of junior associate misery is false expectations. Some examples…

“Why did the carefully crafted memo I turned in (that was deemed crushingly urgent) never even get read?”

“Why did the senior associate get to take my deposition prep binders and outlines and take the depo herself? (And then email me frantically during the breaks with follow-up questions.)

“What do you mean I need to re-review the past 3000 documents for an issue you never told me was relevant to this case and my one-week’s experience didn’t pick up?”

“How could they tell me at my third-year evaluation that I don’t have the right litigation skills, when they’ve staffed me on nonstop monster doc reviews for two years?”

“Why have I been working on this case for eight months and haven’t seen the partner once?”

“Why did a partner stream into my office at 6pm on Friday with a drop-dead urgent assignment she’s had on her desk for two weeks?”

You have expectations of partner respect for your time? Minimally competent case management? Adequate notice of deadlines? Feedback on assignments? Occasional appreciation? Increasingly substantive work? Being included in the big picture of a case? Any partner contact at all? Poor fool.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…