Time is the Enemy

Law Firm 10 Columns, Law Firm 10, Lawyer

I just read somewhere that associates at some New York firm were ecstatic that, despite the economy, they are still going to receive their “special bonuses” if they were “exceptional” and billed 2400 hours this year.  And I can’t help wonder: Do they think they’re immortal?

In case they haven’t noticed, time is the enemy.  Time disappears faster than the weird guy dressed as Borat I mistakenly took home from the bar on Halloween.  If they are making a habit of billing 2400 hours a year in their 20’s, what the hell are they going to do when they wake up at 40 and look back on what they did with their youth?  I know that they aren’t actually enjoying the doc reviews, legal research and interrogatory drafting, so why are they so comfortable squandering the best decade of their whole entire lives on this crap? Is it because they think the best is yet to come?

That can’t be the case, because all I have to do is take a look at the ashen-faced, graying, mid-level partners around here to realize that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not like working your ass off now will result in some sort of distinguished freedom in 15 years. It actually seems to be the opposite.  You spend all of your waking moments slaving away now in hopes that someday you can engage in the ultimate overextension of making partner and earning an ulcer, high blood pressure and intermittent rage disorder while desperately trying to stay afloat in a business where time equals profit—but clients only want to pay for that time if the outcome is favorable.

Oh, and don’t forget that you’ll get to marry someone who is thrilled with your paycheck and resume but foolishly believes that one day you will achieve some mythical senior status and work less.  The fantasy will fade, however, and you’ll be trapped in a world of endless nagging and high-priced therapy (not to mention multiple children who hate you or, at best, view you as a stranger).

I guess what I am trying to say is, enjoy that $30,000 “special bonus.” Perhaps you can spend it on the young paralegal you’ll end up having an affair with when you’re 42 in a desperate attempt to reclaim your squandered youth.  Or you could use it to buy a Delorean, so that when you wake up and realize you wasted your whole life chasing hours and bonuses and non-equity partnership, you can go back in time and do it all over.  But this time you can skip the part when you stood at two divergent roads and chose the one that took you to law school in the first place.

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