Tuesday, October 18, 2005

One of the bizarre tax partners brought his dog into the office today. Ridiculous. Immediately, everyone's attention was on the dog instead of where it belongs, staring into their computer screens. Associates were getting up, actually getting up out of their chairs, to go pet the dog, play with the dog, feed the dog, talk to the dog... as if there aren't enough animals in the office already. The dog barked once. I told the tax partner to keep him quiet. Some of us are trying to work. There's a peaceful quiet that pervades the halls of the firm, and it's a good thing. We don't need people making noise. Talking is for the restroom and the elevator. Not the workspace. I overheard one of the associates say, "The dog really brings some life into this place. I don't feel so alone." I gave her some more work to do after I heard that. She's supposed to feel alone. This isn't just a regular business, where people can go into their co-workers' offices and chat about the weather or the stock market or their "relationship issues." It's a law firm. Time is billable. Time is money. Small talk doesn't pay the bills. Every minute you're talking to a co-worker is a minute the firm isn't making any money off your presence, even though you're still using the office supplies, eating the bagels, drinking the coffee, and consuming electricity. You're overhead. And if you're not earning your keep, you shouldn't be here. No small talk. You're not paid for small talk. You're paid to sit at your desk and bill time to clients. The dog is just a distraction, albeit at least when you're talking to the dog only one of you is losing billable hours. Unless we can somehow train that dog to do something useful. Maybe eat some paper we need to destroy, and bill the client for that. Maybe he can bark at some opposing counsel and scare them into accepting our settlement. That we could bill. Maybe he could just pee on someone. Not billable, but fun to watch. Dogs in the office are almost as preposterous as holding the elevator for a paralegal. Ridiculous.

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