Time is the Enemy

I just read somewhere that associates at some New York firm were ecstatic that, despite the economy, they are still going to receive their “special bonuses” if they were “exceptional” and billed 2400 hours this year.  And I can’t help wonder: Do they think they’re immortal?

In case they haven’t noticed, time is the enemy.  Time disappears faster than the weird guy dressed as Borat I mistakenly took home from the bar on Halloween.  If they are making a habit of billing 2400 hours a year in their 20’s, what the hell are they going to do when they wake up at 40 and look back on what they did with their youth?  I know that they aren’t actually enjoying the doc reviews, legal research and interrogatory drafting, so why are they so comfortable squandering the best decade of their whole entire lives on this crap? Is it because they think the best is yet to come?

That can’t be the case, because all I have to do is take a look at the ashen-faced, graying, mid-level partners around here to realize that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not like working your ass off now will result in some sort of distinguished freedom in 15 years. It actually seems to be the opposite.  You spend all of your waking moments slaving away now in hopes that someday you can engage in the ultimate overextension of making partner and earning an ulcer, high blood pressure and intermittent rage disorder while desperately trying to stay afloat in a business where time equals profit—but clients only want to pay for that time if the outcome is favorable.

Oh, and don’t forget that you’ll get to marry someone who is thrilled with your paycheck and resume but foolishly believes that one day you will achieve some mythical senior status and work less.  The fantasy will fade, however, and you’ll be trapped in a world of endless nagging and high-priced therapy (not to mention multiple children who hate you or, at best, view you as a stranger).

I guess what I am trying to say is, enjoy that $30,000 “special bonus.” Perhaps you can spend it on the young paralegal you’ll end up having an affair with when you’re 42 in a desperate attempt to reclaim your squandered youth.  Or you could use it to buy a Delorean, so that when you wake up and realize you wasted your whole life chasing hours and bonuses and non-equity partnership, you can go back in time and do it all over.  But this time you can skip the part when you stood at two divergent roads and chose the one that took you to law school in the first place.

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22 Comments

  1. Al Dickman

    January 12, 2009 at 4:13 am

    I’m afraid this sad bitch is saying it like it is.  Life ain’t a bed of roses, even for those who “make it” in the profession.  We must all step back, from time to time, and realize that what we are doing is working to live, rather than living to work.  (I learned that years ago, while I was looking for more meaning in my life–my smart girlfriend–who I was smart enough to marry–told me this).  While she has an economic cushion with her dad, I’ve learned to say that “we’ll all be dead in 50 years, so what the f**** does [insert applicable issue your asswipe partner is so hot on ] really matter so much about anyway?” With all of this said, she recommends (and I concur) that work has its place, but more importantly, good living is more important, and that means finding good love and contentment, be it in the form of companionship, worldly possessions or whatever else excites you.  Good luck to this poor woman; I hope she finds more than what she has now.

  2. Alex Hump

    January 12, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Who knew Dickman was such a sage?

  3. BL1Y

    January 12, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Everyone who ever told you that you should be a lawyer/go to law school hates you.

  4. JoeInLA

    January 12, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I don’t think they do it because they hate you, I think they just want to make sure you’re as miserable as they are.

  5. Anonymous

    January 12, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Can someone tell me the fake breast poll today shows a real lawyer?  I’ve never seen a female lawyer with headlites like this, let alone a blouse that flaunted such headlights.

  6. Anonymous

    January 12, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Umm. I think it’s called an art department.

  7. Desi

    January 12, 2009 at 10:45 am

    this article really touches home

  8. BL1Y

    January 12, 2009 at 10:56 am

    @10:30: One of the associates who used to work here would wear her blouses similarly opened.  She had some large cans, but there were fairly low quality.

  9. Anonymous

    January 12, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Women should NOT partially show their cleavage unless they either: (i) have nice cans worth looking at or (ii) are willing to unbutton their blouses fully to let us scrutinize their cans more closely, if only to vote upon, if not also fondle and suckle, said cans.

  10. BL1Y

    January 12, 2009 at 11:42 am

    The daily polls need their own comments section.

  11. chad_broski

    January 12, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Unless you’re planning on getting a giant book of business, working at a BigLaw firm for anything more than a few years out of law school is economically irrational. Billing 2400 hours per year is ludicrous if you’re not pulling in close to a mill.
    Anyone who’s too dumb to realize these facts early in their career deserves their fate.

  12. Anon

    January 12, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I am a 2L who is going to summer at a Big Firm.  Are the “biglaw” horror stories really true, or are they merely exaggeration?  Please only respond if you are/have worked in a big firm.  Is it really a sweatshop?  Do you really work 80 hours a week?  Is it worth the 160K starting salary?

  13. BL1Y

    January 12, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Anon: I’ve not yet worked a 30 hour week (counting in hours billed), but I know some of the other people here have worked really long hours (if not 80, then at least 60).  At my firm it’s feast or famine.  Billable hours is an imperfect way of measuring though.  I billed 0 hours last week, but still had to be in the office from 9:30-5:30.  Sometimes you’ll stay until 11pm on working on an assignment you got at 6pm, so even though you were at the office 13.5 hours, you only get to bill 5.  You can go days or weeks with little to do, but then get asked to work a weekend of holiday.  As for whether it’s worth it, there’s a few things to consider.  How much debt do you have?  What would you be doing instead?  What is the culture like at the firm you’re going to?  Are you single?  Have married?  Have kids?  No matter what your answers are to these questions, the answer is No.  It is not worth it.

  14. chad_broski

    January 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Anon2L: no, it’s all an exaggeration. Those of us in BigLaw who come to message boards to complain about the endless hours of nauseating tedium are actually paid mercenaries on behalf of the ABA in an effort to keep the profession to ourselves. Yes, it’s a little known secret, but all of these lawyers who pretend to hate their jobs only do it to keep people like you out. I’m breaking the code here, but it’s actually the most wonderful, fulfilling profession anyone can ever dream of. Recording everything you do in 6 minute increments in a little tablet is one of life’s pure joys, especially when you’re performing such vital services to humanity. You will just love being a lawyer!

  15. Anonymous

    January 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    chad_broski: word.

  16. BL1Y

    January 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Chad: You just couldn’t keep your mouth shut, could ya?

  17. Ex-BigLaw

    January 12, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Oh hell no it’s not worth it.  If anyone at my T3 law school had really communicated what BigLaw was like – how desperate and miserable everyone would be, what evil and abusive ass holes the majority of partners and clients would be, and how little your chance of making it more than a few years would be, with nothing to show for it at the end but a hole in your soul and a new understanding of the movie Falling Down – I sure as hell would not have done it, and I’m certain the percentage of my class routed straight to the work houses, er, law firms would be a lot smaller than it was.

  18. Bill Dugan

    January 13, 2009 at 3:35 am

    It’s true, but where else can a detail oriented dork who couldn’t find a rich guy/girl to marry in college get paid $160K per year to be a corporate tool?  Answer:  No where.  For men, Big Law is also perceived (often falsely) as a place to go to attract top female tail (most guys are disappointed when top shelf meat won’t touch theirs, even if they do make $200K/year).  For women, many who weren’t given a second glance in college now think that they have now become magnetic, merely because of the fact they can now buy fancy clothes, new boobs, and weekly makeovers.  Unfortunately, this won’t work unless they find some nearsighted dork with unresolved Oedipal issues.  As a result, most females become disillusioned as their attempts to find lasting connections often winds up with little more than a mouth of semen from a disjointed partner who won’t leave his own whiny wife and kids for her.  So this is big law, dearie.  Welcome to the real world.

  19. chad_broski

    January 13, 2009 at 8:59 am

    I expect to be thrown out of the Alliance any moment now.
    For real to Anon2L – yes, some people actually enjoy being a lawyer at a big firm. But then again, some people actually enjoy getting repeatedly kicked in the balls (look it up). My advice to you: go into it with an open mind, milk the living hell out of every summer lunch and summer outing (you’ll never get the chance again), and understand what you’re getting into. The people who fall the most precipitously are the people who had the most naivete going in. There is nothing glamorous or distinguished about the gig. If your eyes are open, you’ll realize pretty quickly that you’re essentially vastly overpaid fungible labor. Don’t get sucked in to thinking you’re more important than you are, or that your firm gives two shits about you and your career development, and you may just come out unscathed.

  20. Ex-BigLaw

    January 13, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Good advice Chad.  BigLaw partners are mostly selfish, duplicitous, thieving mother f—ers who would shoot you for a dime if they weren’t also complete p—ies when half a millimeter out of their element. Know it going in and remember every day, and perhaps you’ll make it out alive.

  21. E-Monster

    January 13, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Law Firm 10’s writing is a real turn-on.

  22. exlaw

    February 24, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    There is an ex before my name for a reason.  Law Firm 10, I think we would be BFF’s ..

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