Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thank you for all of the ideas regarding how to torture my associates, especially with the holidays coming up. I am ignoring the ones that suggest I make them read this weblog. It was amusing the first time. It was less amusing the second time, third time, and beyond. I will share the suggestions in a future post, as soon as I can get Anonymous Son to compile them into one document for me. He's better at this computer stuff than I am. You should continue to send them. They brighten my day.

I ran over a cat on the way into the office this morning. People should control their pets better.

We had a handful of new associates start on Monday. Stragglers who couldn't start with the rest of their class because of illness or injury or special circumstances. They'll get caught up soon enough. A few document production assignments, maybe a 50-state survey over a holiday weekend, and they'll be right where the rest of their peers are.

I'm trying to decide what to buy Anonymous Wife for Christmas. Last year I had my secretary pick something out, and that didn't turn out well. It did, however, cost my secretary her job. If you can't pick out a gift for my wife, given the low expectations she already has about what I'm going to buy her, you probably shouldn't be answering my phone.

What a dull afternoon. Waiting for a conference call. This would have been such a better week if someone had failed the bar exam, or if we'd announced below-market bonuses. I long for the days of below-market bonuses. But life goes on, and we find new sources of joy.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I'm looking for new ideas for torturing my associates. I'll take them by e-mail. I'll post the most interesting next week.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ever since I started this weblog and realized there are lots of these out there, I make it a point to Google every candidate we get serious about extending an offer to. You never know what you'll find out there. Examples of poor writing, poor judgment, unattractive fashion choices, it's all somewhere on the Internet. Occasionally I hit the jackpot and find someone's weblog and get to learn all about them before they ever come in for the callback. It's always exciting to have that upper hand in terms of personal information. I want to know as much as I can, so I have power.

One thing I've recently started doing is searching on Friendster and a site called "My Space" and seeing what comes up. I'm consistently surprised as to what people will put out there on the Internet, expecting it won't be seen by potential employers. People actually list interests on Friendster and expect that won't be held against them. If you're listing a dozen books you've read, how can I not assume you like to read, and that the time you spend reading is time you can't spend working? If you enjoy sports, how can I not assume you're going to be out playing instead of in the office, working? If you enjoy reading AND sports, how will you ever have time for this job?

And if you're actively looking for a relationship, I'm not sure you really understand what kind of commitment this career requires.

But what I hadn't thought of doing until last night is using the Internet to find personal information about family members. At Thanksgiving dinner, one of Anonymous Wife's anonymous cousins, a junior in high school, was talking about how she and everyone she knows is on one of these sites. So I did a little bit of searching when I got home, and discovered she paints a very different picture to her friends as she does to her family. With us, she's a studious young girl, excelling in her classes. With her friends, she's just another example of what's wrong with today's spoiled, indulgent young people. There's some pictures on there I certainly don't think she would want her parents to see. There's some "testimonials" I'm sure she wouldn't want them to read. For now I'm just keeping this information to myself. But surely one day down the road, there'll be a way to use it. It never hurts to know someone's secrets.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I can't believe no one failed the bar this year. I can't believe it. There's no one I get to talk about behind his back, no one who gets to be the latest scapegoat for all of the firm's problems, no one who gets shamed into having to do it all again. Sometimes the fates conspire to suck all the fun out of this job.

The office is too quiet today. People are already starting to think about leaving for the holiday weekend. Not for long. I just called one of my least favorite associates and asked him to come up here in a few minutes. There's an inconsistency in some client file and I want it straightened out before the weekend. I don't know why, I just do. Sometimes you fixate on something and need it to get done right away, before anything else can happen.

There's a secretary playing holiday music on her computer and it's permeating the halls. I don't want to hear it. It's a month too early for Jingle Bells. And I think I heard the word Jesus in one of her songs. Hopefully that's enough to get some disciplinary action started against her. Jesus. Jesus. There's no room for Jesus at a law firm. Unless he can turn water into a bottle of wine I can bring to Anonymous Wife's brother for Thanksgiving and then I wouldn't have to go buy one. I hate buying things for her family.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Today is one of my favorite days of the year because I get to find out which of my first-year associates is retarded. The California Bar results are released this evening, and I'll be keeping a checklist of who comes and tells me he or she passed so that I know pretty quickly who the losers are. Usually there's at least one every year. I'm hoping this year's no different, because it brings tears of joy to my eyes to see the tears of angst in theirs. I love seeing those gears turning in their heads as it sinks in that they're not long for this place, and, even worse, that they have to do it all again in February. Studying for the bar exam the first time is torture enough for most of them; having to do it again is almost comically entertaining for anyone who gets to be around them. What's especially fun is the occasional student who takes two different state bar exams, wanting to keep his options open for the future, and fails both of them. You don't get much better than that.

It's true that I failed the bar my first time, but I was different. It was just a bad day for me. Extenuating circumstances. Doesn't mean I have any mercy for my associates who fail. Times are different now. More competition. The exam is easier now than it's ever been. More students from unaccredited law schools taking it. Besides, I don't need to prove myself anymore. I've already proven myself. Instead I can just bask in the glory of watching someone else suffer.

As 6:00 rolls around this evening, my associates will be itching to leave, so they can check the results in the privacy of their own homes. But I'm not going to let them. We're having an assignment bonanza at about 4:30. Lots of new assignments coming through the pipeline, even if I have to make some of them up. No one gets to look at his results at home. You do it here, in front of me, so I can watch the reaction. They could put this on pay-per-view. I'd pay at least a hundred bucks to see it.

Yesterday morning a few associates were telling me about a friend they know who failed New York. Even hearing these stories third-hand makes me giddy with joy. I wanted to take them to lunch just for letting me share in the experience.

This is almost as much fun as stomping on acorns.

No, it's more fun than that. It's almost as much fun as getting a pro bono case and finding out that someone accused of a crime and facing jail time is going to be depending on you to keep him free. What do I know about defending criminals? They have no chance. I don't know anyone at the firm who's gotten a criminal off too recently. I sure hope they've all been guilty. Show me a lease agreement, sure. But a murderer? They'd have better luck defending themselves. At least they know how to use a weapon.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I was stuck in the dentist's office for an hour and a half this afternoon. There should be a VIP line at the dentist. Pay a little extra, get quicker service. It's ridiculous that an important person should have to waste ninety billable minutes in a dental office. I once advised an associate to get all his teeth pulled when he was young, in the gap between the bar exam and the start of work. Get some fake ones put in there and then you never have to worry about the dentist ever again and all the productivity loss that causes. Doctors too, but it's not as easy to get rid of that distraction. You can't avoid all human contact. Although you can certainly make an effort to avoid contact with the kinds of people who tend to get the worst kinds of diseases. No one in a position like this, where we're needed to be sharp and healthy every day of the year, should be hanging out in hospitals, or soup kitchens, or public schools, or anywhere where the poor and sick tend to congregate.

While I was waiting at the dentist, I browsed through a copy of this week's Time Magazine. I read an absurd quote in an article about a guy with a new comedy show on some cable station. He said the egotistical character he plays wouldn't be a good dad because your kids need to be more important than you. That's pretty silly. Obviously you're the one who should be more important, or else how are your kids going to learn to respect you. You need them to realize you're out there in the world doing important work and earning the money that allows them to live the lives they're getting the chance to live. They can't be the ones in control, or I'd never get out of the house and back to the office, with the whining and the grabbing onto your legs and the ear infections and the food allergies. Did we have this many food allergies when my generation was children? I think we coddle youngsters too much today. A little food allergy never hurt anyone. I don't mean the peanut things where people can die, but some hives or itchiness just isn't a big deal compared to the kinds of transactions we're dealing with at the office every single day. They should realize how lucky they are we have enough food in the house that they have the luxury of being able to be allergic to some of it.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I've been answering reader e-mail this evening. I was falling behind. I should get an associate to answer it for me. In any case, I thought it would be fun to share a couple of questions and answers. Real e-mails.

Q. Work sucks, associates suck, partners suck, even Theo Epstein sucks. It all just sucks ... I think you like sports. But just out of curiosity, what else?

A. Yes, I like sports. Money and power are nice too. Corn muffins. They're good. Pre-moistened sheets of toilet paper. Cufflinks. Life insurance. High-definition television. Crack cocaine.

Q. I am a recent graduate of a third tier law school. How can I get a job at a firm like yours?

A. You can't. Sorry.

Q. Your blog is interesting but you seem to spend too much time writing on your blog while bitching about how no one is working. Do you ever do anything?

A. Nope. That's what my associates are for.

Q. Ya know what I think? I think you need to have a very mad, very passionate, very sneaky affair!

A. Not unless you send a picture first. Sorry.

Q. I'm doing a report for my honors 10 English class and I was wondering if you could help me out. We are reaserching the carrers that we want to persue and I would like to be a lawyer. It says on your web page you are an annonymous lawyer. so i would like to ask you some questions.

A. Honors English? Sadly, you'd fit right in here.

Q. You poor, insecure, inferiority complex driven punk. You have no friends, only acquaintances that are as fake as you. You're a disgrace to our profession and guess what you sorry mother f*cker, I know exactly who you are and you're going down!

A. You know who I am? Ooh, I'm worried.

Q. Thank you. More evidence.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Theo Epstein makes me sick. He was the general manager of the Red Sox until two days ago, when he decided to walk away from a $4.5 million three-year contract because his heart wasn't 100% in it anymore. What a baby. And what a shortsighted, stupid thing to do. He's never had a real job in his life. He's worked for baseball teams. He has a job most people would kill for. And he walks away from it because he can't see eye-to-eye with his boss. What does he expect? This is what a job is. You do your work, you cash your checks, you find fulfillment elsewhere if you have to. This is why we can't keep our associates. People want more from their jobs than they have a right to expect. It's work. We have an economy here. We're in business to make money. If you have a problem with that, move to a kibbutz in Israel and grow your own food. Babies like this one think they're standing up for principles when he's just proving he shouldn't have been given the job to begin with. I hope he lands here in L.A., where the dysfunctional Dodgers front office can beat his spirit into submission. At least his actions, if anyone here besides me even has time to pay attention to the news, might help the associates better resign themselves to their fate. After all, if the general manager of the Red Sox can't be happy, what hope do they ever have of finding joy at work? The deeper that message sinks in, the less eager they'll be to leave and look for greener pastures. The world is hopeless. You won't find anything better than what we have to offer. So sit down, give yourself a good cry, and then get back to work. That's what we're here for. An honest day's work. Sixteen hours. That's all we're asking. And your Blackberry, on vibrate, under your pillow, just in case.

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