The BigLaw Sweet Sixteen


In tribute to March Madness, I decided to write a tournament piece. No, not about the NCAA tournament, but an entirely fictional one I came up with. I’ve already narrowed down my 64 competitors to a lean Sweet 16. And trust me, just like this year’s NCAA tourney, some worthy opponents of the original 64 were knocked out early by Cinderellas.

The remaining Sweet 16 will face off in a systematical competition between the best and worst people at BigLaw Firm USA to see how each would fare in my imaginary tournament. Don’t forget to cheer on your favorites.

Midwest Region

Young, Cool Partner (1)

This overall number-one seed is my favorite. He’s the guy all male associates look up to.  And he’s one all the female associates want to sleep with.  He’s the future rainmaker. He usually has a pretty attractive wife and seems pretty happy with his life.  In my firm, the one I simply call “YCP” is the guy who has always understood me as a person, appreciates my true debaucherous nature and has never held it against me.  Because he’s just that cool.  And since he’s always allowed me to be myself, he has the ability to reign me in and scold me when necessary. I like him so much I rarely even use my duplicitous nature on him like I do to all other partners. For that disarming ability, I commend him. In this matchup, he goes against the lowest of all firm life:

Typical First-Year Gunner (16)

You know the one—top of his class at Harvard, never shared outlines, pretends to know the difference between Chilean and Argentinean wine and thinks telling people he works 100-hour weeks is impressive. I’m pretty sure YCP would happily oblige and bury him in a sea of documents.

Winner: YCP

In the other Midwest region matchup, we have a much more even contest.

Dirty Old Man Partner (8)

Dirty Old-Man Partner (DOMP) is old school. He has a decanter of scotch in his office, talks shit about my generation’s work ethic, and is generally misogynistic and racist . . . but in a kind of amusing way. Basically, he’s me in 30 years, hopefully. He’ll be facing off against a familiar opponent:

Married Female Associate Who Cheats—But Only with Partners (9)

This married female associate is no stranger to infidelity—but not with associates. She wouldn’t lower herself or take the risk of getting caught unless it’s with powerful man who also has a lot to lose. She finds security in screwing while staring at the framed family photos on said partner’s credenza. The thrill of doing something elicit in an otherwise bland existence. Generally, the DOMP is her gentleman caller. But once he decides it’s time to cut the cord (or worse, she does), he seemingly always manages to find a way to ship her off to another firm. Somehow, it seems that nobody ever knows about that affair while it’s happening, but the second she leaves, the whispers start. (Translation: Gossipy HR Chick tells all.)

Therefore, in this bracket, the same thing happens. After two Viagra-fueled overtimes:

Winner: DOMP

West Region

Hot HR Chick (2)

She is the number-two overall seed who is playing in the West bracket. Every firm has one of her—well, at least any firm worth its salt. If yours doesn’t, you need to call a recruiter immediately. This chick is usually friendly and flirty but not too flirty. (Or else she becomes the Slutty HR Chick, which is a different category altogether.) At my firm, she isn’t quite hot enough anymore. Maybe a few years and pounds ago. The last three years and uncounted calories catch up with her as she goes against:

Partner with No Concept of Work/Life Balance (15)

At my firm, this is the guy who is a real thorn in everyone’s side—Jin. I have managed to stay under his radar, but he has ruined at least a few of my colleagues’ personal plans on a variety of occasions.  Jin’s mentality would normally not fly, but not even the sex appeal of a flirty HR chick can convince sex-deprived Jin to ease up on his rigid weekend work ethic. Not in his house!

Winner: Partner With No Concept of Work/Life Balance

The other West game is perhaps the most interesting. These two are often comrades at any good firm.

Wild and Crazy Male Associate (7)

The guy is often found bottom feeding after firm functions, doing bumps of blow together with his opponent in the bathroom and occasionally having drunken sex. WCMA will take out a group of Summer Associates or throw down his credit card for bottles out with co-workers, praying that leveraging his relationship with Hot HR Chick will bail him out. Example of a WCMA?  Yours truly.

Mediocre, Morally Casual Female Associate (10)

The mediocre, morally casual chick is there to sexually heal any male associate who just broke up with his girlfriend by giving him an easy rebound. Or good for a lay on any occasion, really.

These two types are both super important, and no firm should be without either of them. In my humble and completely unbiased opinion, WCMA squeaks by because of his intangible, value-added ability to show clients a good time at a Thai massage parlor.

Winner: WCMA

East Region

In the East, we have the number-three overall seed.

Cool, Younger Associate (3)

He is socially adept and a solid worker, but he’s not a kiss-ass and doesn’t take things too seriously. At my firm, that guy is Marcus. He shrewdly latched onto the cool midlevel (me!) and followed his (my!) lead. True, he is his own man: better dressed, more emotional (translation: he has emotions) and a harder worker, but at the end of the day, he is my protégé. And for that I salute him. He easily blows out:

Females Who Cry at Work (14)

I’m talking any female—attorney, paralegal, secretary, cleaning lady, or cafeteria worker. As I recently stated, these people should be shunned and sent off to some anti-crying seminar. I’m sure when they find out they lost in my imaginary pool, they will even cry about it!

Winner: Cool, Younger Associate

In the other East matchup, we have:

Hot Female Summer (6)

HFS could have gotten a higher ranking, but lets face it, she’s only there for the summer. Not to mention, if she’s really that hot, she usually has a boyfriend—or worse, a fiancée. But there’s nothing more enjoyable on a hot summer day than a US Open firm outing where you get to see her in a nice, tight, white polo. Actually, there is: If she’s daring enough to layout in her bikini or go swimming at a firm pool outing.

Senior Associate Who Suddenly Becomes a Dick When He’s Up for Partner (11)

I would have ranked him lower, but he usually is a pretty cool guy up until that point. You can’t lump him in with a partner like Jin, who lives in the office. Even though he always billed pretty heavy hours, he was still cool with you and didn’t try to boss you around. But once he finds out he’s up for partner, he tries to make a show of having a commanding presence. Sneaking out together to get wasted while you’re on a deal is no longer an option.

When faced with HFS, even a senior associate up for partner loosens up a bit and forgets to act like a dick.

Winner: HFS

South Region

In the South, we have a few rare breeds.

Secretary Who Is Both Competent and Covers Your Ass (4)

Even if she isn’t at all competent, if she still at least covers your ass, she’s easily a number four overall seed.  Nancy, for all the shit I give her, is actually in the top 10% of secretaries. The fact that nobody has ever noticed that I have done multiple closings from the privacy of my bedroom is a testament to her covert skills.

Her matchup is against one of the most loathsome types of male attorneys:

Slovenly Associate Who Always Talks About Sports (13)

If he finds out you like the Mets, he will never let a conversation go by without talking about their starting rotation holes. For some reason, he always manages to have stains on his shirt. And bad breath. Note to this guy: grown male attorneys—even ones who like sports—don’t want to engage you every single day about sports unless they’re in your fantasy league. We just don’t. If that hurts anyone’s feelings, then you should know that you ARE this guy and consider making some alterations to your small talk.

Unfortunately, upsets happen. Otherwise they wouldn’t call it March Madness. Despite all of his shortcomings, the sports mental patient is usually a pretty competent lawyer. And while competing against a secretary (yes, I still call them secretaries because it makes me feel superior about my station in life), however useful, is a grinder of a matchup, she’s still a lowly secretary. He can muster enough brain capacity, even with all his moronic sports chatter, to be somewhat of an asset to the firm. Therefore, he defeats the Iona graduate. It’s just science, folks.

Winner: Slovenly Associate Who Always Talks About Sports

The final Sweet Sixteen matchup features an anomaly and one type you could a throw a stick down any firm hallway and hit three of.

Competent, Young Paralegal (5)

The Competent, Young Paralegal is usually straight out of college, sometimes headed to law school. This paralegal can be counted on for pretty much anything. Their desire to lock up a job at your firm five years before they get their JD makes them blind to the indentured servitude you sometimes put them through. CYP is up against:

Chip-on-Her-Shoulder Female Partner (12)

I think I have discussed her ad nauseum, so I will just say this is the biggest blowout of the whole tournament. Goodbye, biatch.

Winner: Competent, Young Paralegal

Here’s your handy bracket below. Stay tuned for the Final Four matchups next week. Outcomes will be determined after extensive empirical research I conduct this week at my firm.

Read more Unethical & Amoral.

11 Comments

  1. KateLaw

    March 23, 2010 at 5:19 am

    This was mildly amusing.  Mainly b/c I love the March Madness matchup format.  Im kind of obsessed with it at the moment and am kicking ass in my bracket not only against my boyfriend (which is absolutely devastating for him… ha, love it), but against these losers in my work pool too.  Awesome distraction from the daily grind and guaranteed excitement watching the games at night.  Good times.. I highly recommend, ladies (and gents if for some reason you don’t already partake).

  2. Big Jim

    March 23, 2010 at 6:02 am

    KateLaw: are you actually suggesting that march madness is fun and that we should participate?  I’ve never heard that before.  Thanks so much for your keen insight into the world—and for turning bitter lawyer fans onto this NEW thing called the ncaa tournament.

  3. Craig

    March 23, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Funny shit.  Nice work on this one.

  4. jesse

    March 23, 2010 at 7:47 am

    You didn’t advance a single female attorney.  Yup, that is biglaw for you.

  5. BL1Y

    March 23, 2010 at 7:56 am

    I like the concept here, but I’d rather see the tournament done with polls instead of Richardson picking the winners.

  6. Cheryl

    March 23, 2010 at 8:34 am

    The hot female summer advances (not sure if that really helps the gender cause).  And the competent young paralegal *could* be female??  That sounds about right.

  7. BL1Y

    March 23, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Partner with no concept of work/life balance could also be female.

  8. Hater

    March 23, 2010 at 9:54 am

    BL1Y – don’t be a pussy just because Richardson is a better writer than you.  Besides, the obvious point of the piece is for the always self-involved Richardson to weigh the competitors based on his own criteria.  In fact, if he had put it to a poll, it would have been out of character and kind of annoying. 
    My hat is off to you, Matthew!  And on behalf of all of us who so desperately want to be you, good luck in this week’s match-ups.

  9. miserable associate

    March 23, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Richardson- you really must love yourself to think you’re more important to a firm that the slut that bangs everyone. We are lawyers, the thing we get the least is easy sex. We don’t need you to take us to massage parlors or strip clubs, we can figure that out on our own.  She would have destroyed you in the first round and won this whole tourney in my opinion!

  10. BL1Y

    March 23, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Miserable: Maybe not.  Most male lawyers are used to rejection and might go into reject-first mode with the slutty girls.  Also, guys who don’t get any action tend to have pretty low opinions of loose women, as a way of making themselves feel better about not getting laid.

  11. R Smith

    March 23, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    You missed the Treacherous Junior Partner. The blame shifter.  Backstabber. Idea stealer.  One junior partner was in serious trouble with a judge over bitter discovery disputes that had led to a “produce the documents and responses by X day or else,” order.  I had been at the firm a mere three weeks and was asked to help: I got everything done but the documents-the junior partner had said he’d handle those. But he didn’t (he evidently spent all day fantasizing about women but never acting on the fantasies).  The other side filed a motion to deem the attorney client privilege waived. We prepared an Opposition but even with the time before the hearing, he didn’t get it done.  “You better argue this one” said the JP smoothly, which, being eager and naive (“we’re on the same team”), I did. The judge was smoldering. He yelled. He thumped.  He bumped. He glared. He frowned.  Vesuvius in a robe.  The entire courtroom was silent watching me try to appease this angry judge (and they were royally pissed at us for getting him so mad).  He deemed the privilege waived.  “Your client is simply not telling the truth” he said. Here the JP stepped in to help: Ready for his assistance?  For his help? His measured remark?  Here it is:  “I’m sorry you had that problem with Mr. Smith,” he said unctuously, shoving the knife deep into my back.  I swear there was some shocked seconds of silence while people tried to be sure they had heard it right.  The bastard!  The judge helpfully remarked that “its not Mr. Smith” but the entire courtroom saw the knife in my back. Such fun these types. …But years later, life has been tough on him and we have drinks together now. He’s never mentioned it. Neither have I.  Think I should?

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