I’m Not Latham Vibrant or Watkins Approachable

QI’m sure you’ve seen it by now that Latham Watkins is redoing its law firm website and has instructed us associates to look “sophisticated, modern, vibrant and approachable.” As I write this, the photos have not yet been taken. And while I do consider myself sophisticated and modern, I’m definitely not vibrant and approachable. I’ve built my career—albeit a short career so far—on being reclusive and brilliant. In any event, let’s say this photo shoot goes forward as planned. Any thoughts on how to coopt a vibrant and approachable associate look?

AWhat’s with big firms these days? First there was the writer whose firm wanted to instill “family” in its summer associates. Now global firms like Latham Watkins want their associates to be vibrant and approachable? In theory it sounds good. But in reality its a cornball waiting to pop.

But I digress. The real question is what’s up with big firm associates today and the need to play tabloid toady? Sure, ATL will take any internal law firm memo, any microscopic particle of gossip, and play it into a story. But ATL is only one party. The other is the two-bit associate who leaks memos to gossip rags or wants to run to his mommy about . . . law firm photos. My God. What’s the world come to? Global firm wants to make over its website and take some better associate profile photos, at least not the traditional headshots. Stop the presses. Bring down the law. The world is crumbling at our feet.

But I digress again. Back to your question. I can read between the lines, pal. Here’s you in a nutshell: not quite the top of your law school class but did very well at a T20 school. You always saw yourself as running a business but working only ten hours a week to make it work. The reality today? You are not running anything and working 80 hours a week “for the man” (your brilliant turn-of-phrase, not mine). You and the 50,000 associates like you realize that it was not all that you had hoped, so to keep yourself “engaged” you turn to cynical irony, the main weapon of the thirty-something generation. You never bought in to your career choice and now everything is a joke, though told in such a post-ironic framework that half the time no one except your immediate friends know you are joking. The other half of the time people think you are either a cynical asshole or just making idle small talk. But your inscrutable humor is really a way to dismiss actual conversation and, more importantly, to deal with a seeping reality that you are way over your head in a ridiculously competitive environment.

Reclusive and brilliant? Right. You wouldn’t be writing me a letter. Instead, you write so that you and your other toady friends can, for whatever reason escapes me, giggle in the corner and appear to rise above the business of practicing law. You cannot rise above it, no matter what you complain about or what tidbit of drop-dead fascinating associate minutiae you feel is worth emailing to the “tips” line over at Above the Law. It’s a business. It’s run like a business, sometimes ruthlessly. Partners want photographs that are “sophisticated, modern, vibrant and approachable.” Who the fuck cares? Obviously you and ATL care. A lot.

Want to be vibrant and approachable? Just drop the irony routine for two minutes and smile. Then go back to joking about how “vibrant and approachable” your firm photo really is and what your hand was doing when the shutter on the camera clicked.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lintmachine/2594037075/)

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.


  1. Bill

    July 22, 2011 at 9:27 am

    I worked with a guy who met his wife at Latham. She was clearly well above average as a broad, and he wound up banging her bottom out for a few years before she clamped down and refused sex until after marriage. Since she was so good in the sack, he agreed to marry her and they now have 2 kids.

  2. Evil Lawyer

    July 22, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Latham women tend to be hot when they start: slim, young and smart, which is hard to beat. But you have to marry lawyers young before they find the potato chip zone and cut their ahir short. Speaking of which WHY do womwn cut their hair short at age 33 or so?

    • Ellen

      July 24, 2011 at 7:44 am

      I am over AGE 33 and I still have Long beautiful hair, but in this heat I MUST wear it up, so that is why I feel warm.

      You men always want to have WOMEN with long hair. What is that? What do you FANTICISE about? I am very pretty with long OR short hair, and may get my hair cut SHORT soon.

  3. evil lawyer

    July 25, 2011 at 12:12 am

    i don’t know why, but we do. I could say its an ancient way of eliminating gay women, or a biological impulse toward warmth but that’s not true. we just like long hair. but see? you are getting your hair cut short at 33+. it never fails . Next you”ll be wearing track suits, you’ll start skipping the waxing and buy 3 cats.

    • Bill

      July 25, 2011 at 6:28 am

      Dude, don’t moan about it. Learn to deal with it. This is why you have to follow the six (6) “F”s with the young women, before they start to get old and butchy:

      Find em;
      Follow em;
      Feel em;
      Finger em;
      F***ck em;
      Forget em.

  4. MagicCircleJerk

    July 25, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Good looking enough to get Lathamed?

  5. Guano Dubango

    July 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I would like to find an eligible attractive young woman who has a JD degree, and who wants to bear me issue.

    Is that possible for me to find such a woman? Where can I find such a woman?

  6. Alan T.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Wow. Ex-Bitter goes monologuing.

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