Saturday, March 04, 2006

I just got a panicked telephone call at home from an associate. He shouldn't be calling this late, but he's never done anything like this before, so I gave him the chance to explain himself before tearing into him. He said he just got home from the office, and his wife had packed her things and left him, and he didn't know who else to call. First I made sure he wasn't going to do anything rash -- after all, we need his hours on a big deal we're working on, and I don't want everyone else to have to take time off for a funeral, too -- but when he assured me he wasn't near the windows or the kitchen knives, I told him to calm down. It's not the end of the world, and his salary is high enough that he'll find someone new, sooner or later. If they can't deal with the pressures of being married to an associate, it's not the right match. "Imagine what would have happened when you made partner and really felt the stress of growing the firm's business?" I asked him. It was purely a hypothetical. This guy's never making partner. But I didn't think now was the right time to tell him that.

He told me how much he loves her, and wanted to know if I had any advice for winning her back. "As your employer, my answer is no," I said. After all, any answer I would have given him would have involved cutting down his workload, or maybe even finding a new job, and I can't give those answers to an associate and still look at myself in the office mirror every morning. We get the mirrors custom made. Partners get mirrors with a slight curve on the glass to make us look slimmer than we are. Associates get mirrors that curve in the other direction. It's a subtle move to affect people's self-esteem. It seems to work. "As your friend," I continued, "well, we're not really friends, so I can't really give you any advice from that perspective. I know a good divorce lawyer if you need one. I'll have my secretary send you her contact information." I told him that if he's distraught he might feel better by throwing himself into the job and really making that push for partnership. Prove to us he deserves it. Like I said, he's never making partner. But I didn't think now was the right time to tell him.

I met his wife once. She seemed smarter than this. He's a lawyer. What could be better? Why would any smart woman leave a corporate lawyer, at the top of his game? Even though he won't make partner here, he'll lateral somewhere and make partner there and be set for life. She's passing up security. And for what? For nothing, that's what. I'm sure everyone reading this agrees. If you don't, you can send me an e-mail. I'll post any contradictory opinions worth posting.

Earlier this evening I watched this past week's American Idol episodes on fast-forward, skipping all the filler and commercials -- my wife TiVos them. Taylor, with the gray hair, looks like a lawyer. Kevin looks like one of our paralegals. Mandisa sure can sing.

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