Many big firms today take pride from employing well-rounded associates who can fit in at the opera just as easily as at the theatre. But outside of the traditional activities of a highly-paid professional, what are good hobbies for big firm associates? What should they do to burn off the extra half-hour at the end of the week? Competitive eating and reality television show appearances are now passe. Luckily, at Big Legal Brain Analytics, we’ve studied the hobbying habits of law firm associates and have compiled the top five acceptable hobbies for big firm associates.
I have a friend who’s nearly finished with his first year of business school. He’s in the best MBA program in the nation. For anonymity’s sake, I won’t mention what program, but you’re smart. You’ll figure it out.
Anywho, I’ve done a handful of small legal jobs for him—all for free. I figure one day when I have my own firm, he’ll send me some real business. These prosaic legal services are loss-leaders. An investment. There’s usually no brain surgery involved. It’s just small-claims odds and ends, traffic stuff. Simple things. And, most recently, family law.
Hold the GD phone. It’s not that what he wanted was difficult. It’s what it represented.
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I’ve been a closet smoker for the past seven years. “Smoker” might not even be the right term. Every night after work, I’ll have 1-2 cigarettes before my roommate gets home, hop in the shower, and discretely hide this silly addiction from everyone I know. I may have hundreds of Facebook friends and a large family that, despite my chosen profession, loves me very much, but despite all these wonderful people in my life, I can count on two hands the number of people that know I smoke.
In fairness to real addictions, this is more of a habit. I’ve gone months without smoking during the past seven years. I’ve run a marathon and have a much larger, more dependent addiction to caffeine than nicotine. Still, I keep this nasty little habit secreted away.
I have a friend who is starting at Gibson this year. Smartest person AND best writer I know. Republican. Great guy. 0% asshole. He smokes. And yet, despite having a much brighter career ahead of him than me, he treats his habit the opposite. He can count on two hands the number of people who DON’T know he smokes. (His mom and dad, basically.)
At my firm, quite a few secretaries and two (as Matthew Richardson hilariously put it) Dirty Old-Man Partners smoke openly. At any point during the workday, the building’s back loading dock is populated with a couple hourly employees or guys with their name on the door having a smoke break. Afterwards, they re-enter the office—confidently—and resume whatever it is they do without anyone blinking an even slightly allergic eye. There’s no shame. None of them douse themselves in a courtesy cloud of Febreze in an effort to smell less offensive. No one seems to asperse them in judgment and/or patronizing concerns for their health.
So, I definitely didn’t think it would’ve been that big of a deal when one night I broke down and…smoked where I eat, so to speak. It was almost 9:00 PM, and the office was empty with exception to the three guys I was working late with on a ridiculous client fire drill. Wanting a break that didn’t include eating any of the florescent-orange, iridescent pizza one of the partners’ secretaries (a smoker, btw) ordered for us before leaving for the night, I headed out to my car for a quick smoke.
Given my erstwhile mention of how much I appreciate my habit remaining just between me, myself and I, I removed my suit jacket and dress shirt and put them in my car to keep the evidence off me as best I could. I stood in my undershirt in a corner of the deserted parking garage. No big deal. Til a female senior associate pulled in to fetch a file she forgot—her face immediately aghast through her Volvo window as if she caught me committing sexual assault.
She got out and shrilled, “I didn’t know you smoked!”
“I don’t. Normally. It’s just been a stressful night, and this seemed more satisfyingly destructive than cold pizza.”
Infuriated at how embarrassed I felt, put the cigarette out, tried more downplaying and prayed for the elevator to come so she could get on.
The next day, almost in perfectly timed increments, people would approach me to recite the same line I heard last night.
“I didn’t know you smoked.”
The most vexatious part is that it’s always a statement asked as a question.
I quickly realized that the senior associate from the night before must have went into the office (after leaving me to stew in smoke and shame) and sent out a mass email of McCarthyism-like proportions to every person in the firm whose opinion I value.
Like any office rumor, my smoking was highly shocking and compelling—and all anyone can talk about. I hate it. Even more, I hate how much I hate it. Why can’t I just not care? I did nothing illegal or elicit. And I know I would never call someone out like that.
I get that it’s no longer cool or acceptable to smoke, but why the hell can’t people just mind their own damn business? FML.
Picture it: I’m at my office’s crappy holiday party, sitting next to our firm’s office manager, who just so happened to be hotter, younger…and hotter than any law firm office manager should ever be. Forget the fact that the firm is too cheap to actually throw a real holiday party, and they’re serving $4 wine, cheese, and even some grapes here and there.
In walks the big head honcho partner, a textbook narcissist who actually thinks that when he talks (and dear God, he talks a lot!) people should actually listen to him. Forget the fact that the man actually crashed the office computer servers by downloading porn (and God knows what else he’s doing in his office). And forget the fact that he’s received death threats at the office from unknown sources (I’ll probably be the next, so its nice to know that I’m not alone), and forget the fact that he met his current wife in the lobby of the building of his prior wife while still married to her.
So, I see him come down the stairs in his blue-pinstripe suit, red tie and white shirt. He’s a pretty decent-looking guy with silver hair, a prominent Greek face and a deep baritone radio voice…but still the biggest pile of garbage walking.
Anyone up for a real-life Dead Man Walking?
He sits down next to the office manager and starts with small talk.
“Hey, [Cathy]. How are things? Enjoying the party?”
Blah blah blah. And then, about a minute later, he drops a bomb.
“So, [Cathy], how’s your vagina?”
Wait. Huh? Did he actually just ask our office manager about her vagina!? And it gets better. Apparently, feeling that a genital interrogation was not quite enough titillation for the evening (remember, this is the firm’s official in-office porn aficionado), he then began to gently rub her thigh for a good 20 seconds. From her thigh to her knee. Back and forth. Back and forth.
Meanwhile, the office manager is staring at me, horrified, with no idea what to do. We look at each other in total astonishment. The man doesn’t even process the wrongfulness of his actions. And if he hadn’t felt the urge to get up for some grapes, I think he might’ve even gone for the jewels. If I’m not mistaken, this lunatic partner might qualify him for the insanity defense in some states.
At any rate, the next day, I go into my office, and I get called into another partner’s office so he can ask me what I saw. I, of course, have no problem spewing the truth all over his bankruptcy-laden desk while he scribbles down some notes on Mr. Named Partner’s most recent in-office sexual escapade. After the meeting, I go back into my office and send myself a letter, which, to this day, sits unopened in my apartment and describes all of the details, just in case I need to refresh my recollection in court someday.
The next day, she quit. Six months later, I’m fired. I’m no hero, trust me. I almost let a grown woman die in front of me—and I’m a doctor. But in this case, I had to tell the truth. No grown man should ever get a free pass on a line that lame.
QI work at a prominent white-shoe firm in Manhattan. Unlike most people, I actually like being a lawyer. I work long hours, but really enjoy it. Crazy, I know.
The thing that’s driving me crazy, however, is the intra-firm snobbery. In particular, there’s one Harvard/Harvard partner (Robert) who always refers to me as his “second-tier project.” It was kind of cute the first time he said it. Not so cute the second time. And really f#@king annoying the tenth, eleventh, fifteenth time.
I don’t mind working for Robert, but I can’t stand his constant, not-so-funny shtick. So, my question is: Should I tell him I don’t like being referred to as his “second-tier project?” If I do, will he still work with me? Will he ruin my reputation? Please advise. For the record, I went to George Washington, graduated top 5% and was on law review.
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There aren’t many doctor-lawyers in town these days. That’s probably because no one is actually dumb enough to spend four years of undergrad, three years of law school, four years of med school, and a few more years of residency before entering the real world. Except me. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to be the genius that blows 15% of my life listening to people who have never interacted with the human species and studying things as enlightening—and useful—as organic chemistry, microbiology, and con law.
So, it’s only fitting that after turning my back on medicine and deciding to practice law (thereby making the decision to hate my life for all eternity), I would get the opportunity to use my medical skills and education to help someone. Only problem is even though I’m armed with all this knowledge, I actually didn’t know how to help anybody.
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For the last two weeks, things have been pretty awkward around the Heathcare group at my fairly large Midwestern firm. And that’s because we have an unexpected new member on our team. She’s not a first-year, not a lateral, not even a new hire. She merely hails from the General Corporate group down the hall. She’s a fourth-year swap. And when she joined us, we had to give up an existing associate from our department to head down to General Corporate and take her place.
I’ve been wondering why the hell two female lawyers quickly swapped practice groups unannounced and without justification. I’ve been asking everyone. For those of us who don’t know why, it’s all we can talk about. For those who clearly know, they can’t do enough to play dumb and keep their mouths shut. But I think I finally found out.
It’s good to be persistent.
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Okay, so lets just say that you’re graduated from a top-five law school. And before you went to law school, you graduated in the top 3% of your undergraduate class. Let’s say that you also have five years of top-tier litigation experience under your belt. Then, on top of that, let’s say—just for shits and giggles—that you also have a medical degree. And wait, Johnny, there’s even more. Throw on a few national publications, a few speeches, and last but not least, the development and sale of a profitable web business.
So, in a reasonable world, you’d think this schmuck would have it pretty good. At a minimum, you’d think he’d be treated with a modicum of respect.
But you’d be wrong. Dead wrong.
Here I am, while trying to build another business, doing some part-time work at a law firm, going about my day-to-day when WHAM! I receive the following email (identifying parts removed, obviously):
I saw you briefly this morning but you generally come in without letting me know you are in and you leave without letting me know that you are leaving. I think it would be better if you just popped in to let me know you’re in and again when you leave so I have a sense of when you’re around and what you are doing. At this stage you have no way of knowing what you should be working on so it concerns me that you haven’t spoken to me to let me know what you’re working on or to ask me any questions whatsoever. Also, as an aside and certainly not meant as a directive, our staff appreciates a “good morning” when you come in. You certainly aren’t required to say good morning or good bye to anyone (but me that is), but you may find it easier if you do. I have again heard complaints from several people about the amount of time you spend on your cell phone both talking and texting and behind closed doors. The occasional phone call is fine. A tremendous amount of time on personal matters is not fine.
The imminent question I have, however, is how to craft my response. Do I
- counsel this poor sap on the realities of her small little world;
- continue to work for this jackass while continuing to mull over my options to maim her;
- confront her in person and perhaps deliver a swift kick in her rather large ass;
- do nothing and continue to hate my life knowing that a 17th-tier law school graduate actually has the authority to draft emails like that to me since I’m a lowly part-time hump; or
- post the email for the world to see on a popular legal blog in the hopes that the Wall Street Journal will get a hold of it and print it, so I can then personally deliver her a framed copy?
All thoughts appreciated.
Call me crazy, but you’d think my law firm would realize that we’re a group of educated professionals who are more than capable of seeking our own medical attention. I don’t think there’s a soul here who doesn’t know that when you feel chest discomfort and shooting pains down your left arm, the advised treatment is to pop two aspirin and promptly get back to work. And if a female lawyer finds herself pregnant, her health is irrelevant. The best she can do for herself medically is determine the month in which she can absolutely no longer physically hide the fact she’s gestating a spawn and then spring it on management. She will then work until the moment the contractions are unbearable, and the next day, like clockwork, her secretary will send a firm-wide email stating, “Mother and child are healthy and doing great,” regardless of her childbirth experience.
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This was it. The year I finally decided to do it. After three years of relentless work and zero (count ‘um—zero) vacations or sick days, I told HR, my boss and my secretary last October that I would be taking off the week of January 12. My boss (I’ll call Eric), who’s the partner I work for on most deals, even congratulated me. “Well deserved,” he said. But again, that was back in October.
For the last five years, I’ve missed the annual ski trip in Colorado that my six best college buddies all swear by as the best week of their lives. Low cash flow in law school and years of being too dedicated of a new lawyer, I’ve annually settled for outrageous pictures and inside-joke emails for months following every trip. I finally had enough. And this was going to be my year for serious carving, pricey meals, aged whiskies, fine cigars, hours of poker, big laughs and loose snow bunnies.
I work M&A for a midsize, 40-attorney firm based out of Texas that suffered the dismal economy remarkably well. We’re lean; each attorney handles a lot. Everyone’s capable. I work hard. Eric works hard. But sometimes Eric works hard at creating unrealistic expectations for clients. And now it’s ruining my vacation.
After arriving Sunday and getting in about two hours on the slopes Monday morning, my BlackBerry started exploding. The fear I had for weeks came true.
When I booked this trip, I thought for sure this deal would be long completed. For the last seven months, I’ve been working with a client that constantly changes its demands and refuses to agree to the terms of any LOI. I watched Eric allow the clients to spin their web of unreasonable expectations. He won’t tell them that what they want simply isn’t possible. He’s sometimes a spineless client pleaser like that.
“Look, we’re working for you, guys. We’ll figure this out.”
I had to keep my hole shut and watch it happen. All while everything was needlessly delayed.
Things finally came to a head and suddenly there’s a big sense of urgency to get the deal square this week—of all weeks. The clients are blowing me up because they can’t reach anyone at the firm. No one that I briefed about this deal before I left has done a thing. Eric is nowhere to be found. He hasn’t returned calls. His secretary said he went to a few meetings, but has yet to even be in the office this week. I think he got confused about whose vacation this was supposed to be.
I’m handling everything now. And flying solo without any support from my own goddamn office while the client sits desperate to merge in order to remain operational and avoid losing substantial assets—all while continuing to be irrational about the deal terms. I sent a huge CYA letter to Eric this morning, laying out everything that’s been going on along with my advice. Called twice and left voicemails a few hours later. It’s now 6:00 PM, and I’ve heard nothing back.
Meanwhile, three of my friends are soaking their bones in the hot tub outside my window after multiple runs, talking about the foxy lodge bartender and making plans for dinner. I’m responding to pissed-off emails from my client every five minutes and just got off a call with an attorney on the other side that ended with:
“I’m not going to make you admit it, but just so you know, I understand. No one is facing reality. Your clients are idiots, and I don’t know how you’re going to pull this off.”
Internally raging about how true that is, I could only respond by saying, “I’ll get back to you after I review with them what we discussed.”
I’m a simple guy. Don’t think I expect too much. And all I was expecting this week were a couple days to mentally check out and wear the thousands of dollars in ski gear I bought in my early twenties when I thought my future life as a lawyer would afford me extensive recreational opportunities.
Instead, with a slew of hours of work ahead to finish this deal, I basically booked myself on a weeklong cock tease.
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