Partner to BL1Y: Associates are 'Self-Absorbed Egotists'

Bitter Contributor Columns, Lawyer 17 Comments

[Ed. Note: The following is written by the same “38-year-old partner at a prestigious firm” who wrote “Partner to Associates: Stop Being ‘Entitled, Whiny Pussies,’” which we posted last Wednesday.  It is a response to “Associate to Partners: Shut Up About Us Being ‘Entitled’” by frequent Bitter Lawyer contributor BL1Y and posted last Friday.]

You really missed the point, BL1Y. 

By the way, what does that stupid moniker stand for anyway?  Based on your obvious bitterness and shocking lack of insight into the legal profession, I’m guessing “Bitter Lawyer 1st Year”?  If this rebuttal were a jury trial, the case would already be over. 

While I could simply scroll through your illogical response and point out all the obvious flaws, I’d prefer to simply reiterate the point I was trying to make previously—because you obviously missed it.  I’m tired of associates complaining about working too hard.  That’s it.  That’s my point.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with the recession… or student loans… or people working hard to earn their degrees.  Though I would have assumed that lawyers working in a recession with six-figure debt who worked so damn hard to get their JDs in the first place would actually be more motivated to work their asses off than ever before.  What I’m saying is: Not only was your response to my original piece irrelevant, it helps make my point. 

The biggest flaw in your response was ignoring the obvious reality of BigLaw and the crux of my rant, which was that BigLaw associates know exactly what they’re getting into.  The day they accept their job offers, they know they’re in for a long, grueling battle.  If they don’t, they’re delusional—especially given that partners do their best to exaggerate the potential workload throughout the recruiting process.  Again, we do this because we want hard workers, not complainers. 

So, if you know going into BigLaw that it’s going to be grueling, why complain when it becomes grueling?  It’s stupid and hypocritical.  If you marry a short, fat woman, don’t complain about her being short and fat six months after the wedding.  Worse yet, don’t suddenly long for her to be tall and thin. 

The thing that irks me the most is that this new crop of entitled associates thinks it can actually change the way BigLaw does business.  And rather than finding a new job with lesser demands and lesser hours, these morons spend their time (futilely) trying to change the institution itself.  These self-absorbed egotists hope to impose their lofty ideals onto the profession, rather than find a profession (or job within a profession) that matches their ideals.  At best, this smacks of entitlement.  At worst, it suggests a narcissistic disconnect from reality.

Furthermore, Mr. BL1Y, I feel the need to remind you that BigLaw doesn’t make implicit or explicit representations to prospective law students as to the stability, profitability or likability of their future career.  Students entering law school know, or certainly should know, that law is a business.  Sure, it’s a profession too.  But what the hell does that even mean?  Like all businesses, there are up cycles and down cycles… and really shitty cycles.  When times are good, it’s easier to find a job and easier to make more money.  Obviously, when times are bad, the opposite is true. 

Contrary to your erroneous and incongruous conclusion that I’m somehow trying to stick associates with the downside of my mismanagement, I am simply trying to find associates who are willing to work hard without bitching and moaning about it.  Even a bitter first-year associate knows the difference between a positive, productive attitude and a negative, unproductive attitude.

And, for the record, I don’t stumble over useless, whiny, entitled associates.  I kick them. 

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  • Guest

    I agree with a lot of those points, but how can you say this with a straight face given the summer camp recruiting process big firms went (and, to some extent, still do go) through?
    “The day they accept their job offers, they know they’re in for a long, grueling battle.  If they don’t, they’re delusional—especially given that partners do their best to exaggerate the potential workload throughout the recruiting process.”

  • UnclePeaz

    You hear a lot these days, in more than just law firms, about how young people have become “entitled” and lack the desire to “work for anything.” I say bullshit.  The reason that young people today are not willing to throw their life, heart and soul into their profession is simple: they know that their employer considers them to be disposable.  Employers have spent decades re-shaping the social contract of employment, to make the employee a disposable commodity.  Well, employees got the message.  You spent your young years toiling and throwing your whole existence into the law, under the promise that hard work would lead to the brass ring. This generation knows that such promises don’t exist, and it is just as likely that they will get a pink slip and a “thanks for your effort” in three or four years, regardless of hard work or dedication.  You may not like it, but it’s a market reality, and it’s a beast you helped create.  You can get over it, innovate, and adapt to changing times, or simply go extinct; however, your rant about the changing nature of the employer-employee relationship is roughly the equivalent of standing in your yard in your bathrobe, screaming at the kids to get off your lawn.

  • Anonymous

    More UnclePeaz please.  So dead on.

  • Magic Circle Jerk

    Wow. you come off as a real pencil dick
    it’s interesting that you have to spend your first ~6 paragraphs engaged in argumentum ad hominem attacks to disparage someone whom you (apparently) think is so far beneath you.
    Your last 3 paragraphs do make very good points that associates should be mindful of. A) you can’t change the game from the bottom, B) Job security is for losers who work for the gov’t, and C) the economy is a two sided coin.

  • Ponce De Leon

    Uncle Peaz – you’ve now missed the point too.  You and your “generation” are not entitled to love your job.  There’s a reason why Big Law comes with Big Pay.  If you don’t like working in Big Law you are free to find a new job elsewhere and with reduced hours and headaches comes reduced pay.  It’s really that simple.  There are, literally, hundreds willing to take your place and take your pay. 
    Wahhhh!  I’m replaceable.  We’re all replaceable Uncle.

  • Anon BigLaw Associate

    I agree with Ponce and the partner.  There’s no mystery why we get paid what we get paid.  If you don’t like it, find a smaller firm with less demands.

  • UnclePeaz

    Ponce- I think that you and I agree on one fundamental:  If you don’t like what you have, go to the market and find something better.  I think my point, in a more refined fashion, is that “entitlement” in free market employment relationships is always a two-way street.  In the past, partners felt “entitled” to squeeze every last drop out of their associates.  In exchange, associates felt “entitled” to some job security, and a shot at the brass ring if they just hung in there and played the game long enough.  In this trade-off of entitlements, both parties knew and accepted the rules. 
    At some point, the “entitlement” that associates signed up for went away, while the “entitlement” that partners signed up for remained intact.  If partners still feel entitled to ask everything of their associates, above and beyond the minimum required to maintain an inflated salary, the partners need to bring something to the table to supplement the fact that “a shot at partner” may just not be in the cards for most associates.  Otherwise, an associate who works hard to bill the minimum required, and then goes about living his life, is just keeping up his end of the bargain.

  • Pguy

    I agree about the ad hominem attacks. Your ranting is getting shrill. BL1Y wins this one.

  • estupida

    BL1Y is wasting his time arguing this point.  WHO CARES.  The only reason he does is because he got fired.  How about you stop complaining, get off bitterlawyer.com 24/7 and get a job.

  • anon

    Good job partner. BL1Y lost all credibility with his excessively wordy, hard to follow writing style.

  • anon

    “ Sure, it’s a profession too.  But what the hell does that even mean?”
    rofl. This is credited. WTF is a profession any way?

  • Mannie

    Good points all around.

  • BL1Y

    Anon BigLaw Associate: That’s not necessarily how it works.  If a small firm pays you half as much, but bills you out for half as much, you’re working just as hard, but for less pay.  If smaller firms do end up with less of a workload, it’s probably due to them not being bogged down with the inefficiencies that big firms carry.

  • Anon

    The Partner makes a valid point.  It’s hardly earth shattering or anything, but it’s valid.  As for Bl1y, his response was entertaining, but clearly steeped in anger, not logic.  I declare it a tie.

  • Anonymous

    Big Law is built around a silly stupid model. Yet everyone knows that. Yes, associates should work hard. Yet, Partners should manage better. We all have encountered assignments which are poorly defined and useless Guidance.

  • Anon

    You’re all as bad as each other – these exchanges confirm all the worst opinions people outside the profession already seem to have about lawyers.  Looks like they can add intellectual snobbery and childishness as well. 

    Don’t any of you have any work to do??

  • Greggio

    One of the things that I believe gets overlooked by partners in these debates is that, while they also worked hard on their way up, they did so during times when there was a relatively short (7-8 year) and certain track to partnership.  So, they could accept the grind on the basis that in a relatively short period of time they’d be at the top, with a share of the spoils.
    The remuneration model for associates hasn’t changed, but the climate certainly has.  Now its more likely associates are looking at a much less certain road to partnership after 12-15 years.  That is a significant shift and, while partners expect associates to act as future owners of the business, the reality is that most associates are simply paid employees – who work much harder than many other paid employees. 
    Obviously, it’s still up to the associates to take or leave what Big Law has to offer and that if they choose to stay they need to reconcile themselves to the bargain they make. Partners shouldn’t be surprised if more and more choose to leave rather than take.  The difficulty for associates is that, particularly in a downturn, there’s an ample supply of associates waiting to take their place…