QI work in the litigation department of a large law firm. As in all large firms, the partners are aggressive and don’t have time to answer questions from junior associates. The partnership track is a very long-term commitment and is extremely competitive. Since summering at the firm, I relied upon one senior associate (who had became a junior partner) to mentor me. We formed a relationship that summer and have worked well together ever since. We eventually started working together almost exclusively. This partner would advocate for me to get better projects, and I, in turn, worked long hours.
I was counting/betting on this individual to champion my promotion to partnership. Instead, she left the firm to go in-house at a large corporation. How can I recover from losing my support structure at the firm? What do I do now?
AFind another one. She’s not the only smart, reasonable partner at the firm. If she’s as cool and professional as you suggest, I’m sure she’s told other partners about you. But a person you know and like leaving for greener grass is part of life in the Big City. You need to re-group, find another “clique” within the firm and keep going.
Having said all that, I’m a bit worried about your use of the term “support structure.” This ain’t group therapy. I’m sure you two connected and had a good working relationship and all, but don’t mistake work-friends for friends-friends. Or therapists. We all need someone we can talk to—or bitch and moan to—but don’t look for “support” at the office. It’s possible to find it, no doubt, but it’s tricky. Look for smart, reasonable people with whom you can work and learn. Find your support network outside of the office (i.e., real friends and/or shrinks).
PS: Part of being an associate is figuring out how to interact with aggressive, overworked partners in an efficient and productive way.