Friday, September 19, 2008

The Jungle

A few weeks ago, I thought to myself, "I should get a book on being a first year associate, since I have no idea what I'm about to get into." Lo and behold, a book fell into my lap. I read The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book, and here are my thoughts.

First of all, there are good pieces of information in here, especially the very detailed pieces. For example, when you're working on a project for one senior partner, and another senior comes to your door to ask if you're busy, the correct response is, "Yes, but how can I help you?"

The author also suggests keeping a list of your projects and successes, for when annual review time comes. He doesn't cushion the blow about the hardships of practicing law. I found myself dreading my new job, until I snapped out of it. This book is about the stereotypical evils: working 12 hours a day, the various offensive types of co-workers, the politics of gender and race.

But I refuse to submit to that fate. I'm excited about starting, I really like the people I'm starting with, and I don't think every big firm is the same.

The worst part of this book is the endless, insufferable footnotes - containing everything that an editor would have cut out. However, after I ceased reading anything in parentheses or in a footnote, and ignored the italics, it went smoother. The book is a comprehensive parade of horribles, but it provides advice on surviving them.

I feel prepared for the worst after reading this book, but I can't, and won't, vouch for its accuracy.

For that, I'll have to get back to you in a few months.


Greg said...

In my experience, every workplace is the same. I seriously doubt this is much different in large law firms. There are always jerks. There are always ardent self-promoters. There are always people you won't be able to stand seeing. Ever. Some places have more extremes than others, of course. It's just all a part of working in anything other than a really small group.

As a first year associate, you're falling into an environment that has been running the same (twisted? nonsensical?) way for years. There's probably not too much to worry about.

Obsolete Chips pp 126 said...

The comment about keeping a list of successes is dead on.

Unlike school, where your transcript tells all, there is a need for some self-promotion when you're working. The people who manage you are very busy; if you don't let them know about your successes, they may not notice them. You have to do this with some finesse, but I wouldn't wait until review time to promote your successes.

You will definitely encounter people who are less technically talented than you get promoted because they know how to play the game well. If you can play the game and be technically proficient you will do very well.