Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ridin' that train. . .right to "employment services."

Wau. This really sucks. I mean really. Sucks. Associates are dropping like flies. It's offal. I mean, awful. Okay, it's both. Your correspondent is worried. Not for moi-self, oh my no. Sadly, for the wicked, there is ALWAYS a promise of full employment. Really.

But for the "find 'em, bind 'em, grind 'em. . . .next!" style of BigLaw BigLaw (none of which we personally know here at MMLR, the second happiest place on earth. . .), this little spot on the silver will go basically unnoticed until they realise there isn't any more fodder for the cannon.

Some have said this is beginning to happen already, but your correspondent begs to differ. Yes, your correspondent begs in many different contexts and many different ways, as we know, but in this here particular case, your correspondent begs to differ.

First of all, I don't think the majority of law firms are as dumb as the majority of economists and doom and gloom naysayers. There's always a first quarter shakeout; every single year. There was one last year, and the year before, and the year before. Yeah this one's bigger, but so what?

Associates are crankier this year, some firms overhired, and the dreams of riches exceeding even Croesus' DID get a little carried away, even for joy-happy law firms and their unusually chirpy joy-happy fun-guy (or gal) financial analysts. It is also true that the "sub" got torpedoed, as well it should have, and some companies are gonna take a hit.

But on the other hand, finally, law firms are starting to toughen up again, which is good. Instituting rules. Cutting the chaff. Making tough decisions, and cutting extra fat, something that all of us, including your correspondent, would do well to emulate. I can't speak for you, but I could easily afford to lose a few percentage points of "excess capacity" around MY middle, if you take my meaning.

Of course, it's making news because it's Associates whining about job loss. And possibly lower bonuses. And only making more in a month, most of them, than their parents did in a year, loan servicing or not. Sucks to be an associate.

I actually had an Associate tell me that it wasn't fair that the partner for whom s/he worked made "five or six times what I make. . .it isn't right." This was a fourth-year associate. The partner, aside from being a 20-plus year A-rated lawyer, is considered one of the best in the country in their particular field. And s/he has a huge book of very well-pleased clients. The associate in question hasn't brought a single client to the firm, but gets a raise every year, doesn't risk a PENNY of their own money to do it, and hasn't invested in the firm's future, either. Risking no personal capital, having brought nothing to the party, and still having a berth without any fears about losing either salary or bonus in this coming year seems like a pretty fair deal to me. Meanwhile, the partner is never really sure if their money is THEIR money, since it's always a risk. . .every single day.

I'm not trying to bang on Associates. . .not TOO viciously. But I will say this. . .there IS a reason that Law Firms, and, frankly, the best, most successful recruiters (which I would some day like to be), prefer Partners for their lateral recruiting efforts.

When you're part of a group that, statistically, shows they have all the staying power of a post-perm shampoo (see "Legally Blonde" for background), that they're only in it (apparently) for the money, and that, outside of training, perks, and, possibly, name-dropping prestige, they really don't care for you all that much, you're prolly gonna be flinchy too. And when it's between you and them, your ego goes where all egoes go. . .if it's between thee and me, it's thee.

Associates have created themselves a bit of a grindhouse. But you know what they say. . .GIGO.

We're here for YOU. . . .really.