QI’m six years into my hellish gig as a big firm associate. I’ve basically worked my ass off, watched as annual bonuses dried up and disappeared, and have allowed the firm to manage my life—as just one example, I’ve have had four (4!) long-planned vacations cancelled over the years because of “last-minute work assignments.” Which were bullshit assignments, it always turned out.
It’s approaching summer and I’ve come to a beautiful dual realization: 1) I have enough cash in the bank to live and travel, although frugally, for more than two years; and 2) I need to get the hell out of this job and completely out of the life-suck known as big law. Basically, I’ve arrived at a karma moment in my career and only need a short bit of advice on two things:
AI’m both repulsed and intrigued by this karma moment. My repulsion likely comes from being a former big firm lawyer who knows you have to suck it up and take the crap as a well-paid associate. It comes with the territory, and even to this day I have an almost Pavlovian repulsion to any big firm associate who isn’t willing to man up and grind it out.
But, honestly, I’m rooting for you to take some styling action if you are truly leaving the law, just because it would be disruptive and entertaining—or damaging to your career, depending on what you do and where you want to go later (yes, of course, there is a later).
So, my rational lawyer brain says give the firm two weeks notice and live happily ever after cruising the islands near Fiji. But my reptilian and adolescent brain says “oh, yeah, bring it on.”
Here are three suggestions. I welcome and solicit others.
One further word of advice. Make sure, whatever you do, that you don’t imperil or involve a client. It’s one thing to go down in flames and to feel, however slightly, that you are bringing the firm to its knees with you. That could be heroic. But dragging a client into it? That’s douchebag.