I’m Not Walking the Partner’s Dog


QI’m a fairly new associate at a mid-size West Coast law firm. There’s a partner here who brings in his dog Bruno nearly every day, which is no big deal by itself. Apparently I’m told it’s a West Coast thing, though I don’t know of anyone else doing it at a law firm.


Bruno’s a great dog and gets lots of pats and treats from me and others in the firm, associates and partners alike. But a system has developed where about three associates ask to walk Bruno or take Bruno outside to a park that is fairly close to the office. I draw the line with walking a partner’s dog. But I’m realizing that the other associates who walk Bruno are getting better work assignments and get invited to lunches much more than I do, even from other partners. Should I buck up and volunteer walk the dog every now and then?

AOoh. Good thing you draw the line with walking the partner’s dog. The partner is a douchebag. If he brings Bruno, then he walks Bruno. Or he pays the going hourly rate to walk the dog – going attorney rates. Maybe create a client account called “Ass Licking Dog” and the associates can bill against it, in six minute increments. Imagine the time entries.

Your associate pals are douchebag toadies too. They’re picking up Bruno’s shit. Not the shit the labrador-loving partner doles out every day he comes into the office. Real shit. In little bags. Stay away from this arrangement and, if you feel left out, participate marginally. Like pat Bruno from time to time and, on occasion, slip him some doggie laxatone. That’ll create some good time entries.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aubergene/255551316/)

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

10 Comments

  1. Alma Federer

    May 20, 2011 at 7:14 am

    What is the big deal, walking a dog? You guys need to learn to suck it up if a partner is paying your salary, you should not, within reason, be afraid to do little things to stay in his good graces. I want to make clear, however, that it should never include anything sexual.

  2. BL1Y

    May 20, 2011 at 8:47 am

    One of the mid-level bankruptcy associates I used to work with was once sent on an errand to buy a Wii and as many games as he could find for a client. This was just after the Wii came out, so getting one was pretty tough, but the client was a South American dictator, and you want to keep those guys happy.

    As an associate, your job is to do whatever you’re told. Stop bitching about being told to get some exercise, some fresh air, and play with a dog. The hell is wrong with you?

    • Craig

      May 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      I’m with BL1Y here. Walking a dog every now and then, for 20 minutes or so, sounds like one of the easier things to do to get in the good graces of your bosses. I certainly would not draw the line at that. In fact, I would be glad the partner has given such an easy, obvious and possibly enjoyable way to solidify my spot at the firm.

  3. Strenuous Objector

    May 20, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I disagree with both of you, your job is not to do whatever a partner tells you to do.

    Just think of the statement “what’s the big deal?” Do you know how much that can be applied to? Walk my dog, what’s the big deal? Clean the bathroom, what’s the bill deal? Take your clothes off, what’s the big deal? Kill the client and bill it to his offshore account, what’s the big deal? Where do you draw the line between things that aren’t your job and things you’re willing to do for free?

    Buying the Wii to make the client happy can be billed to his account as research. You’re getting paid for that errand and I don’t blame the associate for doing it at all. Walking the partner’s dog on your time, when you’re not billing? Hell no. The only way I’d walk the dog is if I was getting paid during the time or we’re talking about yo-yos. He’s a partner, he can pay for a damn dog service to watch his dog, or just keep taking advantage of ass kissers. Cheap douchebag.

  4. Alan T.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I agree with S.O. What’s next? Picking up the dry cleaning? Scooping the kitty litter for his cat? Neutering his ferret?

    • Craig

      May 20, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      Nothing is probably next. The guy obviously has a thing for being at work with his dog. He naturally bonds with people that also really like his dog and appreciates them helping out during the day. Seems pretty straightforward to me. I wouldn’t expect him to start sending me out on random personal errands just because of that.

      • Strenuous Objector

        May 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm

        Let’s say some brown noser starts asking if they can start picking up the partners lunch, or dry cleaning, or anything menial. Then lets say that that douchebag starts getting better assignments because of it. To me that doesn’t say “look how easy it is to get in his good graces”, it says “look at how much we’re valued, walking the dog or picking up dry cleaning is apparently a better allocation of my time then actually billing hours.” I may be considered stuck up by some for it, but I’d rather be proud of myself for getting better assignments because of my work ethic/skills and not because I know how to kiss ass. I’m all for politics, but not for downgrading myself to “the help.” No matter the field of law I’m in, I prefer to keep my self-respect.

        • Craig

          May 20, 2011 at 3:36 pm

          Fair enough. I’m not above walking the partners proverbial “dog” every now and then. (that sounded far worse than I intended, but fuck it. Submit.”

  5. Guano Dubango

    May 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I would like to way in with this, too.

    If the partner is nice, I would do it.
    If the partner was an ass, I would not do it.
    If there was a chance I could also get something out of it, I would do it.
    If the partner was a pretty woman, I would do it.

    Here, I do not think there would be much in it for me, so I would not do it.

  6. mean partner

    May 20, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    if you stay at a firm where you have to walk a dog, you are as a man, no diff than a woman who is required to accept fondling and groping. You have no manhood and no professional respect (“sorry your honor, i was walking fifi”). A firm that allows that is heading for a crash anyway. Leave. If you can’t right now, set a deadline to get out and keep it. meanwhile, collect as much experience as you can. met as many clients. work 7 to 7. then leave. you”ll detest your own face if you stay. I am surprised you have to ask.

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