Tuesday, May 02, 2006

There's a Wall Street Journal article that's been going around the firm today (you can find it here), called "Law Firm Life Doesn't Suit Some Associates." Associates today whine about all the hours we make them work, but as the article says, it's nothing compared to when people of my generation started out at the firm. Today's associates are coddled. They expect weekends off. They expect a full night's sleep. They expect to be able to devote time to their families. We didn't have those luxuries and neither should they.

I'm sure the article's been getting criticized by most young associates. They think they have it pretty rough. They don't know how rough it can be. They don't know what it's like without the Internet to amuse them. Without BlackBerries to stay in touch with the office. Without Lexis and Westlaw and Microsoft computer applications making their lives comparatively easy. We spent hours in the library. We spent hours squinting at small type, getting paper cuts from turning pages, getting food poisoning from the poor refrigeration technology the firm used to have back when I was first starting. Now refrigeration technology is almost perfect. No one gets food-borne illness anymore. They don't know what it's like.

The article is right on target. It says associates "are more interested in going to their children's soccer games than they are in staying in the office late in the hopes of getting extra work done or making a good impression." Exactly. It's pathetic. Who wants to watch their kids play soccer when you can be advancing your career? That's where the glory is. Career advancement. Impressing partners like me. Making sacrifices. Working hard.

The article says associates today aren't satisfied with the high salaries and "want to feel like they're contributing to the greater good." Stop whining. Go work for the Peace Corps if you want to contribute to the greater good. Go to Burkina Faso or New Hampshire or some other third-world country. The Wall Street Journal has it right. We don't expect enough these days. We allow associates to go home. We allow them to leave for doctors' appointments when they're sick. We allow them to go to the bathroom. We shouldn't. We coddle them. It's our fault they expect luxury treatment. We've trained them to expect it. Our fault. That has to change. Only the strong should survive. I don't usually read the Wall Street Journal, but if there's articles like this one in there every day, maybe I ought to get a subscription.

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