Monday, April 18, 2011

A Day in the Life of an Associate or Is This the Life You Want?

With thanks to Peter D. Lederer via The Careerist with H/T to Solicitr.

Three associates from a 200-lawyer firm in Tennessee talk about their average day. As they say....

Josh: "There's a lot of document touching."
James: "A lot of my job is information management/document management."
Dan: "You're never in control when you leave [the office]."

And Vivia Chen notes the clip is not slick or cute but it rings terrifyingly true.

This fits remarkably well with a recent post in the Belly of the Beast on the Misery Index which says:
Large law firms and their management consultants have redefined a word — productivity — to contradict its true meaning. Recent reports from Hildebrandt and Citi measure it as everyone does: average billable hours per attorney.
From this is derived the Misery Index which is based on the proportions of associates billing more than 2,000 hours a year. Combining the MI with attrition rates would provide a true picture of a law firm's commitment to its future.

Perhaps law firms should start re-evaluating their futures. Having probably lost much expected loyalty from associates and incoming classes because of their mass culls during the recession, they will find it increasingly difficult to continue along the same path. Other professional service firms demand high levels of commitment but not in the singular way law firms do. For example, McKinsey talks about career development this way:
The pace of progress is determined by your ability to lead clients to solutions, help your colleagues succeed, and develop and share knowledge.
I've confirmed this with others.

So are we going to persist with a model that no longer really works in the new legal profession of the 21st century?

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