Chillin'Competition

Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Re: I love my job

with one comment

I recently took some time off to put to put an end to my stay in the US, and during those days I gave some thought to Nicolas’ recent post about competition lawyers disliking their job. Since I’m told that he had me in mind when referring to the 1% of lawyers that do “love their job”, I feel I should share my views on the issue:

It’s true that after a yet very brief experience I can say that I enjoy what I do (and apparently this turns me into a weird specimen..). I must however admit that I have been enormously fortunate with regard to the people with whom I’ve worked and the cases that I’ve dealt with, and so I cannot fully rule out that my opinion might change in the future. I would like to think that I’d quit if this ever happened, or if I eventually felt that I could make a wider positive contribution elsewhere.

The way I see it, practicing competition law at a law firm offers constant and varied challenges as well as a privileged insight into a wide array of markets and business practices or strategies. It also generally implies working closely with a multinational group of highly skilled colleagues to an extent that can hardly be matched by any other jobs outside international institutions. Moreover, in parallel to the strictly legal stuff there is a great business component to working at a firm (finding, managing and preserving clients) that distinguishes this job from other law-related jobs and that I find most appealing. Finally, the job is generally quite well paid too.

Of course there are downsides to it, but I agree with Nicholas that us lawyers are, to a certain extent, part of the problem. We have a noticeable tendency to believe that our job is the most important thing in the world (and it surely is important, it’s challenging, it’s interesting, and sometimes is very visible, but no doubt there are many more important things), and we also often tend to talk about how stressed and busy we are (if what we do is soo important and we are soo busy, then we should be really important people, right?) Nonetheless, the world is much larger than a lawyer’s desk, and passion for our job should not make us lose focus. Greater consciousness about this could perhaps contribute to mitigating what seems to be a constant competition about who’s busier.

To be sure, I do think that long hours or lack of flexibility do pose a significant problem that is yet to be satisfactorily addressed by many law firms. Failure to do so implies turning the back to brilliant people who could love their job but who also value other aspects of life (precisely the people with whom most of us would be more comfortable working with). In my view, the best example of this can be found in the limited number of women making a career in law despite the fact that they tend to perform better academically (and, in my view, often have a greater common sense…). Favoring unhappy and narrow-minded “robots” over brilliant and motivated people can hardly do any good. One should avoid thinking that a client is better served by people who execute tasks without any engagement, no matter how many hours they devote to their work. Most of us would agree that firms which strive to keep their lawyers happy and motivated are better positioned to attract talent and to thereby excel in their service. At the end of the day, whether we’re talking about lawyers or about their firms, there can be no real success without satisfaction.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

7 June 2010 at 6:23 am

One Response

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  1. […] my views on this topic, and I´ve even ventured some criticism on how things are often done (see here and here). However, I view this article as overstepping the mark and as a consequence it ends up […]


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