Q: I’m a mid-level associate at an 80-lawyer firm and I want to make partner. I don’t ever hear any negative feedback about my work, but I’ll be the first to admit that I dress poorly, drive a crappy car (1998 Ford Ranger), and don’t otherwise have sophisticated tastes. I wasn’t concerned about this until yesterday when a partner said off the cuff that I would never make partner driving a POS and wearing Men’s Wearhouse. I thought he was joking, but none of the other partners in the room laughed. Okay, I get it. So where should I buy my suits and what kind of car should I get?
QI’ve got an interesting dilemma with a two part question. Here’s the background. I’m four years out of law school and am fully employed with a small suburban law firm. Big city, tony suburban setting, decent pay. The job is fine, work is pretty steady. The problem—or so I’m told—is that I drive an old rusty truck. Specifically, a blue 1990 Ford F150, which I love. It breaks down a times, but I feel it’s all I need and doesn’t have all the presumptions of any other car. It’s a truck. I drive it. It gets me there.
It also doesn’t fit in. Last fall I was in the firm conference room with another associate and pointed out the window and down to the parking lot. I said “which one of these is not like the others?” The associate looked down at the rows of cars in the lot—Lexus SUV, BMW, Lexus SUV, Lexus SUV—and then said “rusty truck at 2:00.”
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