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April 01, 2005

Young Lawyers Want Lives And Bull-Riding Machines

What Young Lawyers Want
The National Law Journal

A recent poll of hundreds of young associates revealed the yen of many budding barristers born after 1978: "Doing something other than practic[ing] law." They ranked time for personal life as the top motivator. Asks The Disassociate: What ever happened to billing 3,000 hours and earning your first ulcer within six months of passing the bar? What could possibly keep these well-paid slackers happy? From rock-climbing "conferences" to office bull-riding machines, here's a checklist.


Here's what they want:


Paid annual leave. That's right; give each associate born after 1978 an entire year off with full pay. I understand that this may raise a few eyebrows, but let's face it, these associates have worked for over a year, maybe even 18 months, at the firm and, well, they are just plain tired.

Associates' car. For recreational purposes and sometimes even business development, many firms purchase season tickets to sporting events that are occasionally offered to associates. Perhaps along the same lines, the firm can lease a luxury car for the associates to share on the weekends.


Exotic conferences. While to many in the field there is nothing more satisfying than attending a two-day seminar on the nuts and bolts of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, for example, in a bustling metropolis like Jackson, Miss., associates are looking for something more. Firms may want to consider allowing associates to attend rock-climbing "conferences" in Joshua Tree National Park or deep-sea "seminars" in the Cayman Islands. These events will stress team-building and sacrifice. And your staff will ultimately return with a renewed vigor for that next massive document-review project.

Mock lawsuits. Start allowing associates to sue one another. Not only will this create a sense of excitement around the office, it will really make your new lawyers invested and engaged in the process. And just imagine the billable potential.

Rename the work. Instead of calling document analysis for a merger "due diligence," firms should call the project "beach party."

"Draft motion" could be "write a novel," and "analyze statute" could be "kick back and read Rolling Stone."


Class-year pins. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have pins on their uniforms that indicate how many years of service they have given to their respective organizations. Associates should have the same system, except that as the number of years increases, so should the size of the pin. By the sixth year, that pin should be so big the firm will have to make you partner or risk having a client see you.

Bull-riding machine. Each firm should purchase one of those bull-riding machines that they have in rural Texas bars and use that as the great equalizer of advancement. High-quality work and commitment to the firm's mission are apparently outdated criteria -- I'm thinking that grabbing the bull by the horns is sure to get the job done.


Promise. This is a tough one for firms because associates are notoriously insecure. In "The Wizard of Oz," the lion believed he had courage because he wore a medal and the scarecrow thought he had brains because of a certificate, so perhaps the associates at the firm will feel secure if you send them a letter sincerely promising not to fire them.

Of course, if that doesn't work, the annual sabbatical and the free car will surely go a long way toward keeping your associates happy.

Posted on April 1, 2005 at 09:14 AM | Permalink



At the Evil Empire, we had a pretty generous disability policy, and there was a woman who was semi-legendary for falling off a camel in Egypt and claiming that the PTSD was so bad she couldn't work. There were a lot of first-years scheming for the next camel.

Posted by: zuzu at Apr 1, 2005 8:52:41 PM

Maybe she had Post Traumatic Spit Disorder because the camel kept spitting at her after she fell. I hear camels have very bad tempers.

I wish there was an article about that case, zuzu, because I'd link to it.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Apr 2, 2005 7:09:15 AM


Posted by: mythago at Apr 2, 2005 12:11:55 PM