Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A very successful annual firm luncheon yesterday.

We've been trying to figure out how to cut costs in a way that most associates won't recognize as cost-cutting. Trim some expenses that would otherwise be a little too much to bear in this economy.

Killing the annual luncheon would have been obvious. It's a longstanding tradition that every fall we officially promote the associates to the next class with a celebratory lunch. First-years become second-years, second-years become third-years, ninth-years become tenth-years. It's partly our way of apologizing that not everyone can make partner. It's partly our way of making them think we value their contributions.

But lunch is expensive.

So I had the idea to do it on Yom Kippur. With a quarter of the firm observing the holiday (although still in the office of course -- we certainly can't have them taking the day off), we'd save 25% on food costs. Easy. It gave us enough flexibility in the budget to upgrade from the usual Italian buffet to an entire roasted pig. Everyone who was able to eat loved it. And everyone else had an enjoyable time watching, I'm sure.

Cost-cutting doesn't always have to be painful. It just takes some creativity.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Above The Law leaked a memo from Sheppard Mullin about problems in the firm's bathroom. Apparently a few weeks ago, someone urinated on the floor of the women's restroom. Today, "the perp struck again but this time the act was even more disgusting." They've got security cameras to narrow down the suspects.

Reminds me of a similar situation here that prompted a memo I thought I'd dig out of the archives.

FROM: Anonymous Law Firm
TO: All Associates
RE: Mandatory Urinary Catheterization

As many of you are aware, there has been a string of incidents this past week prompting attention from the managing partners. On Monday, we found what we believe was an associate's urine inside a Partners-Only toilet on the 18th floor. On Tuesday, we once again found associate's urine inside the same Partners-Only toilet, as well as evidence that three squares of toilet paper from the very same bathroom had been used without authorization. On Wednesday, we believe there were as many as three instances where associate urine was deposited into the Partners-Only toilet, and up to thirteen squares of toilet paper used. On Thursday, we received a report that there was not only associate urine but also associate feces in the Partners-Only toilet. We deployed a bowel-sniffing dog to match the odor in the bathroom with the odor of each associate, but were unable to find a match.

As we began our investigation, multiple associates made us aware that on the days in question, the Associate Outhouse on the 18th floor balcony was closed for repairs, and they offered the theory that some associates, rather than use the working outhouse on 26, decided to sneak into the Partners-Only bathroom instead.

While we understand the desire for convenient bathroom facilities, and the potential annoyance of walking up eight flights of stairs** to reach the alternate outhouse, this does not excuse the behavior in question. As you are all aware, bathrooms are a privilege not a right.

Thus, while we continue the investigation, we will be issuing mandatory catheters to all associates and closing the 26th floor outhouse until further notice. We have also installed scanners at the door of each Partners-Only facility. You will need to place your genitalia on the scanner before entering the stall. If the scanner recognizes your genitalia as belonging to a partner, the door will unlock and you will permitted access. If the scanner does not recognize your genitalia, it will trap you in position and an alarm will sound. Security agents will be automatically summoned to the restroom and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Thank you for your cooperation.

**The associate elevator is still under repair. We expect it will be another 8-12 weeks before it is operational. In the meantime, we ask that you walk up and down the stairs in silence and single-file to avoid creating unnecessary interruptions.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

There was a letter to the editor in the New York Times yesterday:

By taking away the possibility of easy employment in high-paying jobs, the economic downturn may end up helping the current crop of law students.

Very few law students at elite schools make meaningful explorations of the broad array of career choices available to law school graduates. Instead, lured by prestige and a high salary, they march through on-campus interviews to large urban law firms, where a great many end up leading unfulfilled lives.

As the jobs with large salaries disappear, law students will draw on the thoughtfulness, intelligence and perseverance that got them into law school in the first place in order to find employment that they actually find rewarding. They will also find creative ways to pay their loans and other expenses.

Most law graduates already do not expect a starting salary of $160,000 and yet are able to make ends meet. Graduates of elite schools will adjust to the new financial realities and come out better for it.

What an insane, paternalistic point of view. Anyone intelligent enough to read this letter should be offended by it. Poor law students! They used to have so many employment choices! Good grief! First of all, no matter how you feel about law firms, how can you possibly make the argument that a law firm job, at $160K/year, is worse than no job, poverty, and sitting in front of your computer all day desperately sending out resumes? Second of all, is there a SHORTAGE of lawyers for all these other amazing jobs that this guy wants lawyers to find? No! The places people can find rewarding employment? Those jobs are already filled! And when there's a vacancy, you know who ought to get them? The people who would have wanted them enough in the first place not to be seduced by the lure of a law firm job that wasn't right for them. Why should an abundance of choice be blamed for people making bad choices. People who make bad choices deserve the outcomes they get. People who are intelligent enough to get into law school should be intelligent enough to live with the consequences of their decisions. If you can be swayed to come work for a law firm, you deserve the law firm life. And if we hire you even though you won't like it here, we deserve to have you, and to have to deal with you complaining all day.

Here's the problem. What about the law students at "non-elite" schools, who don't have these choices, and have long had to do what this author says. Who had to use their intelligence and resourcefulness to find a job. These graduates who have long been "able to make ends meet."

Well, they're shit out of luck now, because all of those jobs they really wanted are going to be snapped up by "elite" law school graduates who'd rather be working at firms. So all these jobs that probably ought to be filled by people passionate about doing them (instead of just upset they can't work for a law firm and settling for an inferior backup choice) will be filled by the "elite" and everyone else can go sit on the unemployment line.

Taking away choices is great! Law firms are worse than poverty! The recession has vanquished evil from the face of the Earth!


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