Saturday, November 24, 2007

Maybe There is Such a Thing as Bad Publicity

This story in the NY Times reports that the Chicago office of the Perkins Coie law firm drives its lawyers so hard that the firm has a "happiness committee" that does nice things to surprise its lawyers chained to their desks (like bringing them snacks). Perkins Coie is not alone, of course, but one has to question the judgment of anybody who volunteered information about firm "perks" to compensate for the lack of any semblance of normal life for associates in a NY Times story. (Perhaps this was damage control by the representatives of firms that had already been identified to the press as providing perks to make up for long hours.)

The most shocking item in the story for all people with normal lives must surely be the following:
Money is not the only thing that drives these lawyers right now,” said Marina Sirras, who runs a recruitment firm in New York for lawyers. “They want to be able to have a family and enjoy their family. This has never been as hot an issue.”
I suppose it's good news that young lawyers value something other than money. It's just depressing that this fact is a "hot issue."

8 comments:

Mithras said...

I don't know if this is bad publicity. As a rule, the public will just think the bastard lawyers should suffer for making all that money. Anyway, what the public thinks of large law firms doesn't affect them much. What clients think does, and generally clients like to hear about associates being chained to their desks.

While closing a deal at the NYC offices of a large firm, I learned that they had a deal with a dry cleaner next door. If any associate worked all night, he or she would get a crisp, starched monogrammed shirt in the morning from the dry cleaner. A junior associate on the deal had 10 such shirts.

I'm just happy I got out before blackberries and IM were required by my clients.

Juan said...

I totally agree with Mithras that clients of big law firms couldn't care less about the quality of life of associates but, rather, could even consider it a necessary element in the exchange, considering the ridiculously high fees. Indeed, business is business.

On the other hand, knowing with so much detail how miserable associates can be in that particular firm certainly qualifies as bad publicity when you think of the higher echelon of law school grads, those you receive several job offers, including one from this firm. Everybody that has gone through the process of opting for job at a big law firm (that includes me) knows beforehand that you're selling your soul to the devil. Knowing in advance that one particular firm guarantees a spot in the very deepest level of Dante's inferno will probably keep you away from it (not that you won't end up burning, but perhaps in a little bit less painful way).

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