Monday, April 13, 2009

The New York Times wrote an article today about one of our competitor firms paying associates one-third of their salary to take a year off. Obviously inspiring some negative reactions from people who don't make close to a third of a big firm lawyer's pay but still have to show up at work all year to get the checks. At my firm, we've actually decided to take it one step further. We're paying associates double their normal salaries to leave for a year, because, frankly, in this economy, who needs 'em? Without associates, we can lay off every member of the staff, get rid of the cafeteria, and earn some money renting out our luxurious and well-appointed offices. In fact, we're saving so much money by sending our associates home that we can afford to pay our clients to switch firms.

There's no work for anyone here to do, but why should that stop us from spending money like it's still 2007? Without the expenses of a summer program, of $60 lunches, of health insurance (don't tell our furloughed associates, but we're secretly cutting their health plans -- since there'll be no one to here to answer the phones when they call to complain, we figure it'll be pretty hard to hold us accountable... especially since without health care, whoever's calling will probably be dead pretty soon anyway), we give ourselves the flexibility to stake out new ground in the recruiting game for when the economy does eventually come back to life.

And that means doing more than just paying our old summer associates $50K to delay their start dates a year. That's just a baby step. Sure, some people say it's crazy to pay people thousands of dollars not to work for you when they've never even really worked for you, may not be any good at the job, and you may not have work for them a year from now when they come calling. And, sure, some people say it's insane, in a world of at-will employment, in a world where thousands of competent law students graduate every year without a job at all, in a world where the work an associate does isn't even work you need someone with half a brain to do, in a world where the buyers surely have more leverage than the sellers, to basically throw away money just to hold the rights to some kids who put in thirteen weeks last summer and didn't vomit in a partner's lap, or stab a client to death, or whatever it would take not to get a full-time offer at the end.

But we say why not take it one step further and use this economic downturn to really kill our competitors and make it impossible for them to get things back up and running once things turn around. That's why we're not only paying our own incoming associates thousands of dollars not to show up -- we're paying any lawyer we can find $25,000 just for the promise they won't go to work for anyone else who isn't offering them a job. $25,000 and all you need to do is exactly what you've already been doing -- not get a job at a law firm. In fact, we're extending the offer not just to lawyers, but aspiring lawyers too. If you're thinking about going to law school, and even have the possibility of ever being someone one of our competitors could hire to take business from us, we'll give you $25,000 to go become a banker instead. Or a teacher. Or a bus driver. Whatever you like, we don't care. All you owe us is a kidney. No, not really a kidney. In most cases. Check the fine print. We figure this way, we'll have cornered the market on potential employees once things turn around. We'll have the pick of the litter, and our competitors won't have anyone at all. Can't get back in the game without associates. It's not as if partners are able to make copies or proofread lease agreements, so, really, they're going to be screwed.

That's our recession plan over here. Double salary for associates, $25K for anyone else who wants it, paying our clients to go elsewhere... and we're still somehow raking in more money than when we were throwing it away on chocolate fountains and wine tastings. It sort of makes you wonder -- how much profit must we have been making in the good times that this plan makes any business sense at all? How much must our clients have been paying for virtually nothing? How awesome must it be to be someone like me? You know how I'm coping with the recession? I sold some used books on eBay, and sold my daughter into slavery. Those two simple transactions, and I'm back in the black. Easy.

oh boy how much did i miss this! welcome back mr. lawyer!

haha, that was great.
All of us really feel the crisis of the world..
Moscow International Law Firm some of them does that. Nice pick
glad to see you back in action

don't try to sue me, by I have a different kind of "anonymous" blog.
You won't hate it.

( If only one person could be anonymous, that would pretty much destroy anonymity, wouldn't it?)
great stuff.
I hope you end up posting more, you've been missed!!!!
soo happy you are back! I bet the credit crunch will give u plenty of evil ideas for your law firm:)
This LITERALLY turned my entire night around -- that is, seeing that you're up and running again!! Welcome back!!!

See? I KNEW you had it in you! :) I'm so glad you're back! No pressure this time okay? Just enjoy it! :) <3

Arrrrrrrrgh I'm so happy! I can read great stuff like THIS again! Thank you!
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