Chillin'Competition

Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Is associate lawyer the unhappiest job?

with 2 comments

Looking at my Facebook newsfeed last night I saw that a friend (well, a Facebook friend, you know) had posted a story on how, according to a Forbes’ story, associate attorney is the No. 1 in a list of unhappiest jobs. Legal assistant ranks 7th.

This is quite troublesome, for it means that a great chunk of our readers are unhappy. I could have figured it out; who else would want to read half-serious competition law blogs??  [a suggestion to GoogleAds; it would be smart to place ads for anti-depressant pills on Chillin'Competition]

The list of happiest and unhappiest jobs has been compiled by a jobs website called CareerBliss, which has based it on reviews completed by more than 65,000 employees, accounting for factors such as life-work balance, work environment, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture and control over daily work. According to this site, a great deal of associates’s unhappiness is due to billable hour pressure, as well as to prevalent up or out policies.

Those who attribute this reported unhappiness to billable-hour pressure may find their ideas vindicated in a most interesting and provocative New York Times’ op-ed on The Tyranny of the Billable Hour published last week. At one point it refers to lawyers who ended up in jail for billing fictictous hours, which reminded me of a joke you might’ve heard:

- A prominent lawyer suddenly dies and arrives at the Gates of Heaven. When St. Peter greets him the lawyer protests that his untimely death had to be some sort of mistake: “I’m much too young to die! I’m only 35!”. St. Peter agrees that 35 seems to be a bit young to be entering the pearly gates, and agrees to check on his case. When St. Peter returned, he tells the attorney, “I’m afraid that the mistake must be yours, my son. We verified your age on the basis of the number of hours you’ve billed to your clients, and you’re at least 108.! “.   :)

I believe I might have gone a bit off topic… Coming back to the issue of unhappiness, you may remember that in the past we’ve devoted some attention to this issue. See, e.g. my random thoughts on life at law firms, Nico’s I love my job and my reply in Re: I love my job, or the more recent Where to work in Brussels?

You know my take. We’re privileged. If I compare what we do with what other people outside our circle do, well, we don’t have much reason to complain. One of my best friends in the competition law world used to work, among many others, at suspect identification parades in England (Mark, you don’t mind me writing this, right?) and I bet that he likes it better now (do you?) ;)

But the fact remains that there’s a problem, that many associates are unhappy doing what is and should be a most interesting job, and that many things could be done better,  so we’d like to pose you a question: what do you think is the problem, and how do you think it could be fixed?

 

About these ads

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

3 April 2013 at 12:35 am

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. One thought.

    A friend who is interviewing at several large firms recently expressed concern that there is no way to tell in an interview whether the person you are agreeing to work for is a “yeller”. This friend confessed that while they are more than willing to work 80 hour weeks for the foreseeable future, they cannot do it if they are going to be verbally abused instead of supported.

    Let’s be a little more honest. The billable hour is a problem, but so is the attitude of too many partners. I want nothing more than to work with smart interesting people who are professional and good managers. These people abound in the law, but finding them is haphazard because their opposites abound as well.

    The law, at least in the US, has a serious management deficit because we do not consistently or consciously train lawyers to be good managers of people. We need to remember that management is a skill that can be taught if we care enough to value it. We need to better develop the culture of law to reflect modern trends and expectations of bright, talented new workers.

    Katherine Mereand-Sinha

    3 April 2013 at 6:20 pm

  2. One thought.

    A friend who is interviewing at several large firms recently expressed concern that there is no way to tell in an interview whether the person you are agreeing to work for is a “yeller”. This friend confessed that while they are more than willing to work 80 hour weeks for the foreseeable future, they cannot do it if they are going to be verbally abused instead of supported.

    Let’s be a little more honest. The billable hour is a problem, but so is the attitude of too many partners. I want nothing more than to work with smart interesting people who are professional and good managers. These people abound in the law, but finding them is haphazard because their opposites abound as well.

    The law, at least in the US, has a serious management deficit because we do not consistently or consciously train lawyers to be good managers of people. We need to remember that management is a skill that can be taught if we care enough to value it. We need to better develop the culture of law to reflect modern trends and expectations of bright, talented new workers.

    kmereandsinha

    3 April 2013 at 6:21 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 950 other followers

%d bloggers like this: