Hallowe'en horror stories from BigLaw...
In honor of the spookiest time of year, we've gathered some anonymous tales of terror from junior associates at the nation's scariest law firms. Read them round the campfire and weep.
1) The Tale of the Terrifying Partners
“I don't know if partners are busy, power hungry or just plain mean but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have those typical BigLaw screwing-you-over moments. If they knew I was waiting for an assignment they'd leave me waiting for it all day leaving me with less time to do it and no billables that day. The expectations of me are immense: you need to be willing to pick up the phone anytime and work any hour until it's finished. When I tell my friends about it all, you just hear that screech – 'The partner did what? They said what? How little info? How little time?' The horror stories, I experienced them a few times here.”
2) The Round-The-Clock Shock
“You should expect to be contacted basically 24/7, and sometimes they'll call you to pull a document that it would take five minutes to pull themselves. It's very difficult especially when you've said 'I'll be at a wedding' but you're still getting emails, and you're trying to answer them but you really can't drop everything in the middle of the speeches!”
3) The Ghost Walk
“We've got an annual hike that most junior associates go on. It's a very big elaborate thing where 70 to 100 of us go to some very interesting location and go on a big hike staying in a big hotel, but they don't mess around, it's not some downhill stroll, you're climbing through snow or its really hot, and last year people got sick. But once you're hiking through the desert in 105 degree weather you make friendships that last a lifetime!”
4) Jekyll & Hyde LLP
“One of the reasons I picked this firm was because it was full of scientists so they're more accepting of the scientist personality. We'll have conversations about movies, but also about a weird sea monster that washed up on San Francisco beach. They don't make fun of people who are more socially awkward.”
5) Groundhog Day
"Junior associates are scared shitless: they are afraid of committing malpractice on a daily basis. Working here is like sitting your law school finals every single day."
6) A Date With Destiny
“As you soon as you'd get out to dinner at a restaurant they'd write you and get you back in the office to do something for them.”
7) A Good Marriage
“You have to sacrifice a lot of your life to work at this firm. I've had reproductive issues in my relationship with my wife: it's been difficult for my marriage.”
8) Dropping Like Flies
“One Saturday there was an arbitration with a hard deadline coming up. I got into an accident so I wasn't really able to work. Then the senior associate's Mom had a heart attack so she'd to go back home to see her. But then the one associate who was left behind working legitimately couldn't take the flak. So we both came back in to help out. No one expected either of us to do it but at the same time, all the partners on the deal had to drop all their other commitments, and basically kill it.”
Yes, we speak to some junior associates whose BigLaw time has sent a shiver down our spines, now and then. But these are the worst stories we've encountered over six years of interviewing many thousands of put-upon rookie lawyers. And as any costumed kiddie knows, for every trick there are tens of treats in store – even if bigger kids might prefer fat bonuses to caramel corn.
To turn this into sound careers advice: know what you're getting into. The Inside View will help you understand your firms, the quirks in their culture, and how much they respect your home life and your health.
Have a spooky Hallowe'en!