Every firm has its big book partners. And the size of the book doesn’t always correlate in an obvious way to the skills of the lawyer, or even to relationships. There are other ways to get rich…
A former colleague told me he spent the first few years of his career as a “soldier” for one of the powerful partners at his firm, and was ultimately driven to jump laterally at least in part to get out from under the guy’s thumb. It turns out the use of the word “soldier” wasn’t strictly a military allusion, meant [semi-] humorously to connote mindless devotion, but was actually intended more in the Sopranos vein. Or so it seemed to me anyway. Note I’ve also cast an aspersion on fraternities here, unapologetically…
For most people, there comes a time when you realize you have gone about as far as you can go in your chosen career. It’s a jarring moment if, like many lawyers, you have always had success in school and work and imagined you can go as far as you want. Sometimes it is also called a midlife crisis.
Law firm swag. Ubiquitous and occasionally useful. Years later I still use a slim thermos that fits in my bike bottle holder, though the firm’s logo has long since worn off. But, I mean, who wants law firm branded stuff anyway? Maybe a Wachtell tie might be nice, or a Slaughter & May pencil sharpener, but really, the market outside then-current employees is virtually non-existent. Meaning swag is usually a relatively harmless exercise in self-indulgent corporate team building. Usually….
Relief usually connotes relaxation and release of stress. Not so for a lawyer seeking or challenging a preliminary injunction. Especially when your filing deadline is the day after a holiday you had hoped to spend doing anything, literally anything, other than working….
I’m not talking about gunners. I’m talking about the self-consciously really smart ones. Maybe not Einstein (more like an S than a Z), but the ones that truly believe they occupy a different intellectual plane.
Just some words of advice to those of you in that category: if you value your delusions, suck up the lower pay, forget about actually practicing, and get thee to the ivory tower before it’s too late.
I realize today is the first day of the bar exam for many. Not much else to say at this point except “good luck.”
Whatever you do, take some time afterwards for yourself. If you have a job already lined up, no excuses; even if you don’t, you will still need some no-thinking time.
My experience with federal court is limited to three months externing for a district judge after first year of law school (that and testifying in a homicide case, but that’s another column). The time was occasionally depressing (can you say “pro se”?), always sobering (you mean the judge is actually going to rely on my legal research??), and ultimately a decent dose of reality after enduring nine months of the alter-world that is being a 1L.
Like one of probably hundreds of associates of a certain vintage, I spent a fair number of billable hours sifting through thousands of documents (often copies of copies of copies of the same document) relating to the Enron fraud. LJM1 and LJM2, Raptor I, II, III, and IV, etc.
I don’t recall discovering anything that many others hadn’t already noticed, but as I found to be true in other document reviews, there were plenty of personal emails sprinkled amongst the “wheat” that offered some respite from the boredom of the review task. That, plus the fact that essentially limitless low-stress billable hours are great for hitting bonus targets, were for me pretty much the only redeeming features of the document review exercise….
Don’t tell anyone where you are going. Don’t tell anyone you are going. Take Fridays here and Mondays there and pretend you are sick. Milk that mild depression diagnosis. Just let it all accrue and wait until you change jobs.
A sampling of common advice on taking vacation as a Biglaw associate, but sometimes it doesn’t always work out….