law firms

[written sometime around 2000-2002]

My View On Working For Law Firms
    Many law students aspire to work at law firms, and at most schools there is pressure to compete for these "prize positions" for summer clerkships and first year associate positions.  These opportunities come with very high salaries, great benefits, a nice office, and prestige.   But there is also the 80 hour work week.  Some firms right here in the Bay Area even provide dinner, free dry-cleaning, a shower, a pillow and a cot, for when associates have to stay at work overnight!  All of this while competing with your coworkers for a highly coveted partnership position.  Some law students and attorneys dream of these jobs, and they should be congratulated for achieving their goals if they work for a firm.
    For me, though, the salaries aren't even close to high enough to make me salivate.  Yea, I interviewed with some big firms.   I walked around their nice offices, admiring the view of San Francisco from the top floor of the high rise office building.  I heard about all the great benefits, the great people, and how challenged I would be.  I heard about the opportunities I would have for advancement, and the experience I would gain working for their firm.  I made up stories about fishing and playing sports, just to impress and fit in with the hiring partner.  And as I walked through the halls towards the elevators, at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday night, I realized that everyone was still there, hard at work, and would be for several more hours, as well as the next day, and the next.  And they would repeat this, week after week, year after year, until they either made partner and could relax, or until they became an alcoholic, or some combination of the two, before dying of a stress-induced heart attack.  When would they enjoy their expensive cars?  When would they share their accomplishments with their families?  Did they even feel very accomplished?  The entire extravagance had an air of hiding insecurity and the "truth" that never came out during an interview.
    I don't begrudge a person for pursuing a law firm job.  Some people thrive on that environment and lifestyle, and they should be respected for the path they choose.  But that does not mean I should not be equally respected for my path.  The pot of gold we seek takes many different forms, but we have all traveled along the same road to get there.

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