QHi, Ex-Bitter. I’m a third-year associate at a mid-size Midwestern firm. I do mostly transactional work but occasionally pitch in on pro bono litigation, which I like. While the firm I work for was not my first choice, I’m thankful to have the job and generally enjoy the work, which these days involves more and more client interaction.
Here’s my problem. When I took the job I didn’t do what us lawyers call “due diligence.” I saw a job opening, the work fit what I wanted to do, and I applied. I’ve now learned in the last three years that the managing partners are very conservative and somewhat connected politically. Actually, it took me about the first few months to realize how conservative, though politics are not really an issue in the office. The other day, though, I was with three other attorneys and told them where I worked. One of the lawyers said “Oh, you work for the pro-life firm.” I said I hadn’t heard that before. Internally, though, I knew it was pretty true.
I’m not pro-life, far from it (I actually just contributed money to Planned Parenthood in the wake of this whole Susan G. Komen thing). But I’m offended that people in the community may think that I work for a “pro-life” law firm. I also imagine that the money the firm and partners make from my billed hours ends up supporting pro-life causes. What should I do? Did I make a deal with the devil?
AYes. Every new associate makes a deal with the devil. Think of it this way. There are thousands of new associates working for law firms that profit from the associates’ grunt work. Those profits go to the firm, then go to partners, which in turn goes to purchase new homes, expensive booze, gas guzzling high-end SUVs, diamond necklaces for mistresses, and trips to the Botox clinic. Are associates supporting a partner’s Botox habit gone horribly wrong? Are they supporting a partner’s penchant for sex with llamas?
And, oh, my God! Some of that profit goes to political causes!
Here’s what’s missing from your question to me: what did you say in response to your one pal saying “Oh, you work for the pro-life firm?” Did you blankly look away, shrug your shoulders, then mumble “Oh, I hadn’t heard that before?” (even though you had). Or did you get up, angrily denounce the other attorney and throw water in her face, saying something like “power to the people, you bitch!” Or did you do what you probably should have done: say something sensible and accurate, like, “yes, some of the partners in the firm support pro-life causes but we’re not a pro-life firm, far from it.” And then present your liberal credentials, if you’re not a fan of the whole brevity thing.
Believe me, the law firm probably knew you weren’t on their team when they hired you, politically speaking. And the fact that it doesn’t come up in the office is a good sign that you work for a decent place and that they like you and your work. That said, if your stomach turns at the thought of working for a firm that is the devil incarnate, I cannot help much with that. It’s your conscience, sister, but us lawyers are pretty good at bifurcating politics and emotion from the facts at hand. Think of it that way.
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