QHonestly, I’m not a regular reader of Bitter Lawyer but a friend passed on a recent post from “Chank.” Who is this guy? What a crock, providing “SmallLaw advice for BigLaw.”
These days, branding is everything—all the way down to what sign you have on your desk and outside your office. Or what sign you can hang on someone else. If through pure hard work you are still having trouble advancing in the firm, consider optimizing your office signage to increase your brand value to the firm. Here’s how.
QI’m a new associate. I started at a mid-size Philadelphia firm in November 2010. Though I’m at a firm that doesn’t pay a ton (but apparently used to), I consider myself lucky. But, because I have enormous student loan debt from undergrad and law school, I’m pinching pennies. So much so that I have held on to a moonlighting job at Fogo de Chao, the Brazilian steakhouse downtown here in Philly.
QI don’t always drive to work, but I tolerate the traffic about every three or four days. Last week, though, my tolerance tanked. I was in gridlocked traffic and going nowhere. On top of that, I was late for a meeting with a partner and had forgotten to charge my phone, which was now dead. When a dark Mercedes SUV whipped in front of me and nearly took out my front bumper, I lost it. I spent the next ten minutes screaming, honking, flipping the bird — whatever I could do to show that I had absolutely no power except the most awesome power to be an asshole. Yes, I was an asshole.
Adjusted for inflation, BigLaw associates are two dimes for a dozen. Sure, the hiring partners talk about “investing” in associates and “grooming” them for success, but the bottom line is this: you’re a cog in a global machine. Not as fungible as crude oil or wheat, but fungible nonetheless. So, what do you do to stick out from the rest? What distinguishes you from all the other wunderkids? Two words: personal microbranding. Personal microbranding can set you apart, create an aura of competence, and lead to priority in the donut pool. Here are top considerations.
QI’m a fairly new associate at a mid-size West Coast law firm. There’s a partner here who brings in his dog Bruno nearly every day, which is no big deal by itself. Apparently I’m told it’s a West Coast thing, though I don’t know of anyone else doing it at a law firm.
QI’m a midlevel associate at a large New York firm. Our firm’s building has a small gym with free weights, a few Cybex machines, and other miscellaneous workout equipment, plus a locker room. Lawyers in the firm are given free access to the facilities, and a bunch of us use them, including partners in the firm.
At conferences throughout the year, I’m often pigeonholed by attendees, who look at my name and ask me this question: “Who the fuck are you?” After I explain who I am and I buy a few rounds of drinks, people start talking to me. After a few more drinks, I tell them why my advice for solo attorneys should be followed by all BigLaw associates.
At absolutely no charge, here’s my liquor-free version of why BigLaw should listen to me, now.
QI’m a 2L. Everything is fine. I get my work done, pull in decent grades, have friends, maintain a relatively sane life. But I have no fashion sense. Honestly, I’m from rural Oklahoma, grew up on a farm, and went to school at Oklahoma State University. I did well enough there to land a plum spot at a good law school. I’m also about to start a summer clerkship at a large New York firm.
I’m also cheap, primarily because I have little extra money to spend on things other than school, and living in a city that’s way too expensive. I have two navy blue suits, one black, and plenty of blouses. I’ll get another suit. The workday I don’t worry about too much. I can figure that out. I worry more about the parties, informal lunches, outings that the firm will sponsor over summer. Any advice?
QI’m in the middle of my fourth year as an associate at a mid-size Chicago firm. Over the years, I’ve developed great relationships with the partners and with clients. I’ve been lucky in that respect, having been able to interact substantially with clients on some of my cases. In all honesty, I probably have a solid book of business I could take with me if I wanted to spin off and form a boutique firm or go out on my own. It’s not that I don’t like my firm and my work, and the obvious trust that the partners have in me. I would just like a bit more of my time to be my time. What should I do to pursue it?