Partner to Associates: Stop Being ‘Entitled, Whiny Pussies’


[Ed. Note: This piece by a “38-year-old partner at a prestigious firm” resulted in a four-part impromptu Partner v. Associate debate with frequent Bitter Lawyer commenter BL1Y, who is a recently laid-off BigLaw associate.  The four parts can be read in this order:

1.  “Partner to Associates: Stop Being ‘Entitled, Whiny Pussies’”

2.  “Associate to Partners: Shut Up About Us Being ‘Entitled’”

3.  “Partner to BL1Y: Associates are ‘Self-Absorbed Egotists.’”

4.  BL1Y to Partner: Associates Like to Work Hard, Not Stupid]

Top firms used to be populated with ambitious, sleep-deprived deal junkies gunning for partner.  Now they’re overflowing with entitled, whiny pussies.  Yes, pussies.  And I mean that in a gender-neutral, non-sexual way.

What I’m really saying is that I’m sick and tired of listening to a bunch of average, self-impressed, Ivy-credentialed BigLaw associates complain about their jobs—especially on websites like this one.  Just today, a third-year corporate associate pulled me aside, his eyes misty with fatigue and stress.

“I’m not sure if I can keep working at this pace,” he said, on the verge of tears.

I just looked at him and walked away.  For the record, if this clown keeps working at the unsustainable pace he’s complaining about for the next two months, he’ll bill a whopping 1950 hours this year.

Like I said, associates these days are pussies.

I’m a 38-year-old partner at a prestigious firm.  I’m not a genius.  I’m not a total asshole.  I’m not a workaholic.  I’m just tired of the incredulous, self-pitying looks of shock and horror every time an associate making $185,000 learns he or she has to work past 8:30.

When I was an associate, I billed about 2300 hours a year.  In busy years, I billed more.  In slower years, I billed less.  Like every other BigLaw equity partner, I missed plenty of fun dinners and weekend barbecues.  Believe me, I was never thrilled about this.  But I didn’t cry about it either.  I wanted to make partner.

I know lots of you smug, work-allergic associates out there don’t want to make partner.  I get it.  It’s beneath you.  I understand.  But that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to work less than lawyers who actually want to accomplish something with their lives. Contrary to what you might think, law firms aren’t training programs for other, more interesting or lucrative careers.  It’s not our job to make sure you self-actualize.  As long as you’re getting paid, your job is to do what partners ask you to do.  Your job is to do the mindless, uninteresting, hour-intensive work that partners don’t have time to do—or don’t want to do.  If that’s not good enough for you, then you should quit your goddamn job the second you read this screed.

Despite what the Ivory Tower blowhards up in Cambridge tell you, law is a business.  It’s not some intellectual, noble calling.  It’s just a job.  So if the idea of being a piece of meat or a document processor makes you feel marginalized or hurts your lofty, over-inflated sense of self, then hurry to the closest exit and get out!  That way, I won’t have to fire you.

* Click here to read, “Associate to Partners: Shut Up About Us Being ‘Entitled’” submitted in response to this piece by frequent commenter BL1Y.

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Top firms used to be populated with ambitious, sleep-deprived deal junkies gunning for partner.  Now they’re overflowing with entitled, whiny pussies.  Yes, pussies.  And I mean that in a gender-neutral, non-sexual way.

What I’m really saying is that I’m sick and tired of listening to a bunch of average, self-impressed, Ivy-credentialed BigLaw associates complain about their jobs—especially on websites like this one.  Just today, a third-year corporate associate pulled me aside, his eyes misty with fatigue and stress.

“I’m not sure if I can keep working at this pace,” he said, on the verge of tears.

I just looked at him and walked away.  For the record, if this clown keeps working at the unsustainable pace he’s complaining about for the next two months, he’ll bill a whopping 1950 hours this year.

Like I said, associates these days are pussies.

I’m a nearly-40 partner at a prestigious firm.  I’m not a genius.  I’m not a total asshole.  I’m not a workaholic.  I’m just tired of the incredulous, self-pitying looks of shock and horror every time an associate making $185,000 learns he or she has to work past 8:30.

When I was an associate, I billed about 2300 hours a year.  In busy years, I billed more.  In slower years, I billed less.  Like every other BigLaw equity partner, I missed plenty of fun dinners and weekend barbecues.  Believe me, I was never thrilled about this.  But I didn’t cry about it either.  I wanted to make partner.

I know lots of you smug, work-allergic associates out there don’t want to make partner.  I get it.

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36 Comments

  1. Ditto

    November 4, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Sounds good.  BTW where is my bonus? Asshole.

  2. TTT2L

    November 4, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Well, I am not a fan of BigLaw, and this is why. However, I have to agree with this contributor. BigLaw is a grind, and everybody knows it. If you are not prepared to be just another cog in the machine, why the hell would you ever go to BigLaw. Personally, I am not okay with doing that kind of work for immediate pay off. Instead, I’ll do mid-size/small firm work (or the “dregs” if you people will) and make half as much, and then hang a shingle a few years down the road with those clients that I actually met during the course of my “dreg” work.

  3. TTTT

    November 4, 2009 at 7:19 am

    This post should be a wake up call to all partners in BigLaw.  When are you going to learn that Ivy isn’t always the answer for the best, and most productive legal talent?  Maybe its time to look elsewhere for the ambition.  Just because someone performs well on a test, gets the right grades, etc., doesn’t mean they will be the best attorney or have the best work ethic.  I think that a majority of Ivy have a sense of entitlement because BigLaw has catered to it and supported it over the years.  Now, BigLaw is reaping what it sowed.  I can tell you that I can out work any Ivy and put out a work product just as good, if not better.  But, hey, I am only a TTTT, and apparently not the solution to your problems.

  4. Frat Guy Lawyer Type

    November 4, 2009 at 7:26 am

    My God!  You mean its not all about respect for the “craft” at the highest levels of BigLaw?  I thought all you guys did was sit around discussing the brilliance of Chief Justices Vinson and Burger and fellating each other!
    Seriously, who the hell goes through law school believing its anything other than a job?  Maybe you should open up your hiring process to those outside the Ivy League and get some people who are willing to work.

  5. SmallLaw Partner

    November 4, 2009 at 7:37 am

    It isn’t just biglaw or Ivy-clustered grads.  The motivated and aggressive mid-tier graduates are harder and harder to find, even in the current climate.

  6. Craig

    November 4, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Enjoyed the post.  Nice to get it from the other perspective.

  7. Alexander

    November 4, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Do associates seem like entitled people? Yes. But not because of whining about too much work. Because they whine about being underpaid, whine about “tiny” bonuses (though they could feed a family of 4 for months with that “tiny” bonus). All without realizing that the economy is in a shambles and they are still being overpaid compared to what clients want to pay now.
    Associates these days WANT more hours because they think they are going to get laid off if they don’t bill enough.

  8. Schadenfreude

    November 4, 2009 at 8:34 am

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

  9. robert smith

    November 4, 2009 at 9:27 am

    At last! Someone I can relate to!

  10. something witty

    November 4, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Associates to Partner: Stop Being ‘Bitter, Miserable Asshole’

  11. Er, no.

    November 4, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Awwww, poor partner, thinks associates should be HAPPY to be viewed as a “piece of meat” to do “mindless, uninteresting” work as a “document processor.” Some mentor you must be, I feel sorry for the associates under you.  What firm do you work for?  If you’re going to be so up front, why not let us know?  Buddy, I assure you, you were not happy with partners who viewed you this way, and to the extent you put up with it because you wanted to make partner, today’s associates are aware that their odds of making partner no matter what they do are truly remote and so a lot less enthused about kissing ass and giving up their lives for 7-10 years before being kicked out the door.  Times have changed.  Firms lay people off at the drop of a hat, people who have worked hard pleasing partner and client alike for years.  If you expect them to be happy doing s–t work and not even getting decent training only so that you can fabricate bad reviews and lay them off, good luck with that.  Oh, and P.S. – you ARE an ass hole.

  12. Brother in Arms

    November 4, 2009 at 9:40 am

    This Partner is right on the money.  I’m a partner at big firm too.  All we talk about is how associates these days don’t want to work hard.  It’s all about lifestyle… If you want to play with the big boys, you have to be prepared to suck it up.  If you don’t want to, then don’t accept the job offer in the first place.

  13. prog

    November 4, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Totally agree with this rant.  Spoiled associates who whine about their biglaw jobs on this site are pretty ridiculous.  Pretty much every law student at schools ranked lower then T25 would kill for those jobs and probably do a much better job at them.  But instead these ridiculous firms are too busy with lockstep recruiting, only hiring from these Ivy league schools.  Guess who goes to these Ivy league schools?  Spoiled rich kids.  So you are surprised that they turn out to be spoiled associates?  Wow.  Get a clue.  If you want to fix the problem, fix your firm’s recruiting practices.

  14. UnclePeaz

    November 4, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Big Law partners: have you considered that, just maybe, your recruitment techniques are precisely designed to lead to this result?  You drool over rankings (both class and US News). With that sole focus, you choose candidates based solely upon the name affixed to their degree, and class rank at the end of two semesters.  You pay them obscene salaries to spend a summer going to barbecues and ball games, all the while deliberately obfuscating the nature of the BigLaw life.  You summarily case aside all of the factors that any other reasonable business person would consider in a candidate, including prior work experience, employment references, and success in the (sometimes grueling) extra-curricular activities that occur after 1L year.  At the end of the day, you have exactly what you bargained for: a bunch of entitled, ivy league pedigrees, who have never had to scrape or fight for anything, and to whom you have handed the world on a platter.  For what you pay them, you could have hired two “lesser” candidates, each of who would have gladly busted their respective asses for $85k/year.  This business model (in the most liberal use of that word) has led many of your contemporaries to ruin in the current economic downturn, yet you slog ahead, constantly scratching your head and wondering why you just can’t get quality associates.  Look inward, BigLaw partners.

  15. Ivy League Grad

    November 4, 2009 at 11:24 am

    So funny to see all the bitter commenters who didn’t work their way into a top school now oh-so-resentful that their crappy performance in school didnt get them an equal shot at the big time with those of us who worked our asses off to ensure that we got this opportunity.  And you’re calling us entitled?  Pot, meet kettle.  Guess what kids – if you’d gotten As in college and were smart enough to do decently on the LSAT (hardly a challenge for anyone with half a brain and a modicum of self discipline), you’d be where we are.  Instead, you f-cked it off and ended up not able to get into the best schools, and now you want to be treated equally.  Guess what – you’re NOT equal.—Guy Who Worked His Way Through State School Undergrad With Zero Support, Still Graduated with a 3.9, Got Into a T5 Without Benefit of Legacy, AA, or Anything Else, Worked His Way Through Law School, and Landed at V20 BigLaw Because I Damn Well Earned It

  16. Magic Circle Jerk

    November 4, 2009 at 11:27 am

    While I agree with the rant, the last thing we need in biglaw are more worker/strivers from t2 & ttt law schools. 
    Their incompetence, lack of intelligence, sense of self-righteousness and lack of culture more than compensate for their poorish-striver work ethic that bills 3k a year.
    Now where is my bonus?

  17. Spoiled associate

    November 4, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Know why we’re entitled pricks?? Because we were “raised” by the likes of you.  And saw how goddamn happy you were, spending your days doing anything but pay attention to us. Beyond paying the guatemalan au pair cash under the table and busting us out in baby benetton at the firm Christmas party, I mean.

  18. Larix

    November 4, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Interesting to see from the opposite side.

  19. IP Freely

    November 4, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Well… to be fair… These firms are the first real job for some associates. So you graduate undergrad at 22, you graduate law school at 25, you get a (what you think to be your dream) job, and by 27, 28 you’re like WTF is wrong with my life? Nobody tells you what Big Law is going to be like until you get there. And nobody tells you what you’ve been working up to for 25 years is really glorified filing and making copies. Then you’re like… I really don’t want to do this for the rest of my life…

  20. Er, No

    November 4, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I always appreciate your perceptive comments.  Here, I don’t think the bile-belching partner meant that associates should like being treated as fungible, mindless automotons.  He meant that someone has to do this work; not secretaries that cannot be trusted or partners that have golf games to attend to or paralegals to hit on.  Its called learning, paying dues, etc.  While admittedly not as fun as sitting in client meetings, things come with time. But to COMPLAIN about it all the time is infuriating to everyone else. At some point even partners that spend endless time thanking people for doing their jobs, reminding them how much we appreciate it etc. just lose it when people complain about their job. Do they have a better one? Are they trying to get ahead so they will be trusted with better, more demanding tasks? No to both. They just like to complain.

  21. BL1Y

    November 4, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Prog, shut up.  Like Ivy League Grad, I went to a state university, graduated with a 4.0, 172 LSAT, went to a Top 5 law school, without rich parents, AA or legacy admission.  My law school debt was more than the value of my parents’ house.  In undergrad I lived off less than $15,000 a year (including rent, tuition, car insurance, everything).  But yet the legal industry’s recruiting problems are some how my fault?  “Fix your firm’s recruiting practices.” Are you for real?  You think law students and junior associates get to set the recruiting policies of firms with hundreds or thousands of attorneys?  Maybe it’s that sort of awesome display of rational thought that landed your jealous, under-achieving ass at a TTT in the first place.  So until you stop being functionally retarded, please keep your mouth shut.

  22. IP Freely

    November 4, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    The funniest part is coming to a humor blog to have a “i have a larger penis” argument with anonymous users.

  23. Er, no.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Fair enough 20 – people who complain all the time do certainly suck, both to their bosses and coworkers, so I can certainly see getting fed up with this, even if it’s well deserved.  And thanks!

  24. BL1Y

    November 4, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    My dick is so big, when it bills clients, it rounds up to the next whole hour.

  25. BL1Y

    November 4, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    My dick is so big it the Supreme Court won’t hear it.

  26. Alma Federer

    November 4, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    There needs to be a real female perspective here.  I just got home from a 13 billable hour day, and no one is congratulating me.  Yes, I bring home a paycheck, but I do earn it.  It is interesting to see the perspectives here, but you should all realize that it is a job and we do have to put up with crap.  This probably has been going on for many years, but we weren’t working 50 years ago so we can’t relate to their problems.  I wish I could find a real alternative, but right now, I need a paycheck.  I may have to adopt a child because I really haven’t found a guy who I can stomach, let alone be the father to my child, and I want the freedom to bring up a child the way I want to without interference or meddling from a guy who I do not care for.

  27. Notsohappyassociate

    November 4, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    I get how this guy feels and is right on—it is just a job not a calling. Enjoyed the rant.

  28. biglawnorth

    November 5, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Also a partner in a BigLaw firm.  And, generally, I agree with this post….the only thing I disagree with is the “it is a job’ type comment.  I think to want to make partner you have to first love what you do – not every mind numbing task, but in general you have to want to come in and do what you do.  If you do, you’ll want to do it well enough – which means hard work.  If you don’t, #$@$ off.  Don’t go into law, go do anything else.

  29. Partner

    November 5, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I totally agree with the person who wrote this post!!!

  30. TTT2L

    November 5, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I was not, by any means belittling people who go work at BigLaw, or the people who went to Ivy League or Top Law Schools. Personally, it was not ever my dream or desire to go to BigLaw, nor was it my desire to end up over 100k in debt. So instead I went to a good state school, and I am interested in client contact from the get-go.
    What pisses me off is that people do not understand that prestige or immediate 120k+ salaries are not, nor should not be the goals of everyone. Nor should I be looked down upon because I actually enjoy talking to people, hearing their problems and seeing if I can do anything to fix it. Hopefully, in the process I can earn a pretty penny working for a boss that is actually accessible, and perhaps opening my own shop with those clients who I developed relationships with.
    Anyway, BigLaw is a grind, a well-paying grind which potentially has the largest pay-offs. As such, it requires the most amount of pain from its associates. It is also a choice, not a requirement. So if becoming Equity partner at an Am Top 20 is your dream, shoot for that dream. It is just not my dream.

  31. OutThere

    November 6, 2009 at 2:41 am

    “self-pitying looks of shock and horror every time an associate making $185,000 learns he or she has to work past 8:30”
    Where is this place? I’ll sign up anyday. I’m in BigLaw LLP (non-US) also and it’s more like 11:00 (when not later, far later), w/ends and national holydays etc. etc. – usually due to bad job allocation management / job prioritisation by our superiors, not my lazyness or incompetence.
    And why must it be either a would-be-partner or a whining failure? Should BigLaw not have something between Private Associate and Gen. Partner? Not everyone who steps through the firm’s door can, wants or needs to become a partner. It seems to me most BigLaw firms have a business concept totally divorced from the one used in other industries: Management and workers with nothing in between. But then, what would I know, I’m only an ex mature student who worked on the outside world one or two years before moving into law…

  32. Pacific Reporter

    November 6, 2009 at 9:26 am

    According to my dictionary, et cetera means: “1. A number of unspecified persons or things.”

  33. EngineerdLawyer

    November 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    @ Alma: “I just got home from a 13 billable hour day, and no one is congratulating me. “
    Fucking really?

  34. ex-big firm lawyer

    November 19, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    This turkey might not be a “total asshole” — but he certainly is an asshole.

  35. HGR

    February 24, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I reckon this guy is spot on.
    Good lad.

  36. Neil Kuchinsky

    January 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    So many unhappy lawyers – and generally, so nasty to each other, fighting multiple narcissistic battles on different fronts on a daily basis. Why would any healthy and rational human being put up with the daily environment of such soul-killing coldness, cruelty, manipulation and amoral behavior?
    Must be the money and accoutrements of “prestige” in the legal world (which, let’s face it, is generally based on your skill in lying and manipulation, rather than demonstrations of the admirable qualities of humans). If you still have the objectivity to know that you are no longer reacting to other people as a good and decent person, you had better get out while you can – at least to a law practice congruent with your soul and values.

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