Sunday, March 19, 2006

Why does anyone reach the top of big law firms?

It takes the New York Times 5 pages to answer the question Why Do So Few Women Reach the Top of Big Law Firms?, but I could do it in 5 words: because big law firms suck.

Is it really any shock that anyone decides to leave a job that makes them work 60-100 hours a week whilst punching the clock like a waitresses (worse, really, because waitresses don't have to punch out when they go pee)? Let me tell you a little anecdote: when I got sworn into the DC Bar, the judge who performed the ceremony gave us 3 pieces of advice: 1. Don't commingle your client's funds with your own; 2. If you find that you are very depressed or abusing drugs or alcohol, you have an ethical obligation to take a break from practicing until you fix the problem; and 3. If you don't spend any time with your family, your children will hate you. Welcome to the practice of law!

The real shocker is that anyone decides to stay in big law firm jobs. I would suggest that the reason more men than women do so is because more men than women feel pressure from society, their families, their own overachieving selves, whatever, to climb whatever Accomplishment Mountain they find in front of them, despite the fact that they'd rather work less so they can spend time with their children, or just so they could leave work while it's still light out.

With that, I think I'd best stop spending time with the computer on Sunday, and go eat brunch.


HomeImprovementNinja said...

This is the truest post in the history of the universe. BigLaw does suck.

At least women can "take a break" from it while having kids. As a guy, your only exit strategies are going inhouse, going to the government, or a nervous breakdown.

T&A Lady said...

Thanks for your comment, homeimprovementninja. However, I must question your premise that men don't have the option of taking a break by having kids. It may be somewhat harder for men to do that because it is a less common choice, social pressure, the dudes will think they're girlie-men, blah blah, but wouldn't the world be a nicer place if more men decided not to follow their lemming associate peers off the Cliff o' Nervous Breakdowns, and instead insisted that they be allowed to work part-time? Even if they didn't have kids, just because that's a more reasonable way to live?

(Join me later for a Free To Be You and Me singalong . . .)

caitlin said...

why you gettin' your hate on big law, tnda? what spurred your animosity, yo? I don't think they're all fungible, btw. Also, the whole 60-100 hours/week sounds like a big range, and also sounds an awful lot like just being a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

right on pooplatter! keeping it real, for-profit style.

T&A Lady said...

Pooplatter, you're definitely right that not all big law firms are the same, but I know enough people whose lives are fairly screwed up by their zillion-hour-a-week firm jobs that I think there is some common suckitude going on there. Also, while I don't work for a huge law firm myself, I do have to bill hours, so I feel quite qualified in saying that that blows.

So, it's quite possible that my animosity comes from just being a lawyer, but that's a bit too much for me to think about right now, so step off! :)