Captain Eyebrows Needs A Life: Creating a Work Life Balance

Let’s talk about creating a work-life balance.

Look, being a lawyer is an exhausting job, unless you’re one of those namby-pamby “in-house” guys who spends his days sipping lattes placed on the backs of interns that are brought in by the company for course credit.  By and large, lawyers are responsible for their own practice and case file management, and are responsible for their own time management, and everything about firm life, be it small, mid, or big, is geared to encourage that.  Take me for instance.  I spend about thirty-forty minutes a day working on this type of shit, a blog post.  However, if you’re a frequent reader you’ll have noticed there are days where my post consists of “Too damn busy, will have something up tomorrow.”  Part of this is because posting substantive content three times a week as a practicing lawyer is incredibly ambitious for me, but another part of it is the fact that, when weighing shit against my case load, the blog comes in second every time.

That’s something every lawyer is familiar with:  “The X comes in second place to my cases.”  X could be video game time, it could be going out to dinner with friends, it could be that vacation you’ve been planning, it could be the birth of a child.  “X” is the real world that exists beyond the confines of our law offices, where people rarely use Latin and never use it correctly and where time isn’t measured in six-minute increments.  You know, the world that exists outside your office window.

The problem comes because some lawyers, myself included, don’t know when to hit the off-switch on lawyer mode.  That’s fucking sad, because the end result is many attorneys  burn the fuck out way too soon to reach their full potential.

Alright, story time.

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The ABA Has Failed Law Students and the Profession

So yesterday I sort of lost my shit on Charlotte School of Law.  I may or may not have implied its administrators were vultures who had no business billing themselves as attorneys or educators.  It’s possible I implied they purposefully sought out and preyed upon those with big dreams but little academic ability and touted the fact they were doing so as being “diverse.”  I may have, possibly, criticized Infinilaw and it’s corporate for-profit law school scam as being akin to DeVry University and various other late-night TV shills.

I stand by every fucking word of that, and now I have more to say, because let’s be frank: the state of legal education in this country is a goddamn shame.  It sucks for the students, but it’s a damn good thing that this shit is coming home to roost in a way that lays low the “printing money” mindset of running a law school.

I say sincerely and with great conviction that I’m looking forward to more law schools getting shut down.  Cooley, we’re all looking at you.

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Bonuses, How Do They Work?

I’m revisiting the hell out of old posts this week.  Not too long ago I posted about how Above the Law had an article detailing the horrendous burden of BigLaw associates possibly not getting the bonuses they expected.  In the article it was touted as an example of all that was wrong with the world, the fact that these poor, beleaguered first-year associates may see a reduction in their discretionary compensation that they are awarded in addition to a six-figure salary and benefits.  The world stood still, and people wept for them.

Actually, I’m pretty sure I just poo-poo’d the whole idea of this being a tragedy of some sort, because the vast amount of attorneys in the world aren’t in BigLaw and therefore have no expectation of receiving a bonus that’s pegged in any way to the Cravath Scale.  The Cravath Scale, by the way, is the salary and bonus scale paid by Cravath Swaine & Moore, LLP, a two hundred year old white shoe firm that is considered the industry standard for BigLaw compensation.  Let me point out that looking at the listing of law schools that Cravath attorneys hail from, very few of them are “for profit” law schools that exist outside outside of the top ranked schools in the country, and there are a number of foreign law schools on there.

The short read on this is for the vast majority of attorneys out there this holiday season, what Cravath does or doesn’t do won’t apply to you.  You are not BigLaw.  Your firm is not bringing in Cravath level money.  You do not work the same number of hours at the same billable rate and in the same markets as Cravath associates.  The Cravath Scale will have no effect on you, and is not a good benchmark for what you should expect bonus wise.

Hell, there’s a chance you shouldn’t expect a bonus at all, you lout.

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Stop Oversharing: Clients Aren’t Your Bros

Alright, so let’s face the hard truth that in an over-saturated legal market there are plenty of lawyers out there who are willing to take on any case.  Let’s go even further and say that there are lawyers out there who are breaking the cardinal rules set at our monthly ritualistic sacrifice of an alleged tortfeasor (afterwards we have cocktails and network) by charging well under the basement-fees for our regions.  Let’s  just accept, in general, that to some extent a lawyer who has succeeded in getting a client on the hook by getting them in the door still needs to reel that client in and get them to sign the engagement letter.

Have you bought a car recently?  I sold those suckers for a bit, so I know a little bit about how it works.  When you bought the car did you notice the salesman had a picture of a kid on his desk?  Not necessarily his kid, but a kid, and you sure as hell assumed it was his kid, right?  How about the Bible sitting on the corner of the desk?  Everytime you had a story or comment about something that happened to you or a concern, the salesman had a story related to it about how he knows exactly what you mean because he’d been through the same thing, or knew someone who had.  You know that shit was all meant to make you feel close to him so he could stick your ass in the seat of a new-to-you, perfectly-functional-except-for-the-A/C 1997 Toyota Camry with low, low mileage of only 165,000 miles (they just don’t make engines that last that long anymore, I tell you what).  It’s a scheme, a way to ingratiate yourself to the buyer to make them feel a bond with you.

Lawyers are guilty of the same thing.

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Should I Stay or Should I Go? When to Bug Out From Your Firm.

Yesterday Keith R. Lee of Associate’s Mind made a good blog post about how to leave your law firm.  I have to say, reading it put me in the mind that my current plan of hiring a marching band and skywriter to announce my exit, if it ever comes, was likely not Kosher.  My other option, as suggested by a member of the super-secret lawyer’s chat room Keith runs, was to pull an Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption and have a partner discover my absence only when they notice the bankers boxes piled against the outside wall are moving slightly in the breeze.  The partner could slowly have realization dawn on his face as he opened box after box, finding them devoid of files, and then, as he moved the last one, discovering the small hole in the wall, just big enough for an associate in a suit to squeeze out of and into freedom.

On an unrelated note, a guy I once worked with in another job who was a little off had a dog that chewed a hole entirely through the wall of his house.  We used to joke about how bad the house must be if the dog was that anxious to get out.

Anyhow, that’s unrelated but a decent segue into my topic for today.

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