Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I think I need to apologize for yesterday's post. I get a little caught up in the law firm world every once in a while and lose touch with reality. I don't really think I'd really be able to get elected president, even if I believe I would be awfully good at it. In fact, that's one of the frustrations of this job: the scope is limited. Outside the revolving doors in the lobby, I'm just another guy with a nice car. Corporate lawyers don't make the headlines. Through any view that looks beyond this firm, I don't matter much at all. I'd like to think I provide good service to my clients, but I'm not naive enough to believe there aren't a hundred people just like me who could provide the same. And I'd like to think that my work as hiring partner has somehow led to this firm having better people than our competitors, but even on that measure my impact is limited. We're all dealing with the same pool of applicants, and we're all offering pretty much the same experience. It's less a matter of deciding who to give offers to as closing the deal. And closing the deal depends on a lot more factors than just a hiring partner and what we say. It depends on a firm's location, reputation, clients, the individual attorneys the students met with on their visit, the practice areas the students are pretending to be most interested in.... I wish I was in a position where I could find those needles in a haystack, but that's simply not the applicant pool I'm dealing with. There are no needles in a haystack at Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. They're all getting offers from tons of firms and it's just a matter of weeding out the bottom tier. Anyone can tell when a kid is a little retarded. Anyone can tell when a kid isn't smart enough to do the work. (I call them kids even though some of them are thirty years old. That's stupid, but they're all kids to me, or at least that's how we treat them.) So my added value is harder to measure. It's in the way I treat my associates, to get as many billable hours out of them as I can. It's in the way I treat my clients, to get more and more of their business. And it's in my ability to convey a positive message about the firm to whoever I meet. Obviously I don't do that very effectively in my writing here, but this isn't the face I present to the public. And maybe the ability to present different faces to different audiences is something that would serve me well if I ever did decide to run for higher office. But for now I'm here, and no one knows about me except for the attorneys who work under me and the recruits I interview each fall.

I read somewhere today that Barack Obama is a smoker. It surprised me. If we weren't hemorrhaging associates as it is, I'd fire anyone I caught smoking. Addictions are a sign of weakness, and smoking's a disgusting one anyway. And especially if we're looking for someone to make important decisions with life-changing consequences, if someone can't even do that for his own self, I don't know how he could do it for the whole country. I may expose my associates to all sorts of negative health outcomes by overworking them and causing them untold amounts of stress, but even I draw the line somewhere. I'd fire the overeaters and the oversleepers too if it were up to me. Self-discipline. Self-control. Self-deprivation. These are healthy characteristics, in a lawyer and in a person. I want to work with people whose only excesses are the job. And at least a father's addiction to work doesn't put his children's health in danger.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?