News | 31 March 2009 | Kate Gibbs
On one hand you've got glitzy law firm promotional brochures, booze-fuelled recruitment events and mentoring schemes offering virtual full-frontal partnership access...
On one hand you've got glitzy law firm promotional brochures, booze-fuelled recruitment events and mentoring schemes offering virtual full-frontal partnership access. But, on the other hand, there are the horror stories of 16-hour days, tales of photocopy duties for juniors, and talk of redundancies at the water cooler of every firm. So how do you decide if a career as a lawyer is for you? The first must-do is to decide which sort of lawyer you want to be.
In a sort of generalist multiple choice offering, I've broken down the potential options of what a future career in a law firm might look like. LegalWeek reported last month that there are three types within any firm: the work-hard, play-hard go-getter; the super-bright conformist; and the rebel. The latter is a result of being one of the other two and suddenly becoming disgruntled. But I've liaised with real-life professionals on career options for lawyers, and gained some insight into the various offerings inside the law firm traps.
Super-bright, super-successful, up-and-comer:
Delighted to find out as a child that there is a job where you are paid to argue, this person was a senior associate before they were out of nappies. Makes more insecure partners hot under the collar in fear of their jobs. They are efficient, reliable, and have persuaded all their friends to become their clients. They may become partner, but will more likely opt for starting their own consultancy, advising the hot-collared partners they used to work for on how to effectively run a business.
Do-gooder who focuses not on what the firm can do for them, but what they can do for their country:
Highly driven individual with a ferocious work ethic who remembers the idealistic reasons they went into the law and insist on sticking to those ideals. These are the people who are not on the million dollar salaries but who win awards for their dedication. The firm puts them forward to the media, as representing the firm's ideals, but actually it's a very lonely business for this do-gooder. Is the brain behind the firm's pro bono policy and is bulldozed on her views on taking class action work over a major conglomerate's defense in a compensation claim.
"The hours are, quite frankly, ridiculous. The M&A partner is an obsessive workaholic and basically if you're not a rainmaker you're not worth a cent." Sound familiar? The furious, furious lawyers are tired of the long hours, not being appreciated, and are angry they spent seven years training to be a lawyer only to realise they hate the entire profession, and their clients. The money is nice, so they're staying until they pay off a bit of mortgage, but that's not going to stop them complaining. Complaining about anything, by the way. Some days it's their view, some it's the quality of the free sandwiches, and on some days it's the underarms of the energy and resources senior associate. Eventually they will leave the firm and realise it's the same everywhere, but until then we just need to put up with them.
Don't fall into one of our categories? Make your own, comment here. If you know someone who fits into one of our categories, give us a refined description here.