Friday, November 1, 2013

How Much Do Corporate Lawyers Really Make? Partner Edition!

 42. The answer is 42. Oh, wait, that was for a different, probably less important question.  The question at hand, is, of course, the only one why people may find themselves sticking extremely tumid, pestilent, putrid and possibly cancerous pineapples up their lawyerly buttholes for a number of years: how much green can extract from this pineapple before my ass is completely ripped apart?  Well! Ladies and gents, as you know, I have attempted to answer this question in a previous post at least for associates. And that answer is well known more or less, given that at most "big law" firms or elsewhere, the variance in associate salaries is minimal. In short, it's enough to keep you stuffing shit up your ass for usually at least a few years (depending on your tolerance for citrus I guess), but not enough to keep you from bitching about it incessantly like a 5-year old girl with the great barrier reef up her vagina.

Now on to the bigger question - and this one is a bit funny - because for all the griping and moaning I hear from most lawyers, it seems many are confused about what the answer actually is and accordingly, whether this is something that justifies why they don't care about pursuing a lifelong career in anal citrus storage or why they absolutely do.

So, how much do the boss monkeys make?  The problem in answering this is that, a lot of this just isn't public - as far as I can tell.  And partners I am sure aren't going to open their yaps and start blabbing about this, lest the IRS take notice and come after them for all the cash they are hiding. Ha.  But really, you hear about "PPP" - or profits per partner - and people often use this as the the proxy for the take-home amount for partners.   This is misleading: a PPP value, which you see widely used by the various rankings to sort law firms is an average number derived from taking total profits and number of partners that are self-reported largely by law firms and then doing the division.  It does not take into account skews due to outliers, types of partners (maybe), the range of actual compensation across the board (the spread), etc.  If you have been basing your decision to join the legal work force based on that one firm that will pay you 2 bucks a year to be sit on your ass and command associates around, you may be in for a surprise to learn that you may only get that 2 bucks if you are a 20-year partner. If you are unconvinced, look at the study below that shows the graph of average compensation sorted by firm PPP, which shows that the average compensation is usually less than PPP - shouldn't they really be about the same.... or at least in some cases higher and some cases lower in about equal proportions?

So, I did some looking around, and talked to some friends who have recently become partners are close thereto.  It's hard to comment on this exactly and precisely, but MLA does a pretty good job here.  I think, in general, I would make the following general suppositions or presuppositions or whatever they are called about law firm partner compensation based on this study and chats with friends:
  • Average annual compensation for partners is reported to be $681,000/year based on the MLA study.  This sounds about right. But this is across the board. Let me break it down a bit more.
  • Equity partners make more than salaried partners, period (.).  (. )( .) haha i forgot about that one. Salaried partners I think max out probably around 500-600k, if that, and probably start around 200-300k, or lower for lesser firms. Let's say this - if you are a fifth or sixth year working at a top NY or international firm (and especially if you have some other bonuses like expat gigs or something) you are probably making more than junior salary partners at a lot of shops.
  • "Spread" is important.  And by "spread" I mean the multiple between the lowest earning partner and the biggest rainmaker. A spread of about 3 I think is the narrowest you'll get.  So first year partners get 1 buck. 20+ year partners get 3 bucks.  And each year in between you get a 100k increase in your salary or something like that (but really who knows how it is adjusted!). At a lockstep place - it is more or less exactly like this - and you will basically be forever that associate - waiting until the next year to go find your dream. Guess what - you're living it! :D!!  At eat-what-you-kill or other places, who knows.  I heard once that at one shop partners were reviewed biweekly for hours and pay adjusted accordingly. Wowza.
  • The MLA study gives you some insight into how the pay increases work according to tenure - average (across ALL partners) for years:
    • 1-5 is $400k, 
    • 6-10 is $633k, 
    • 11-20 is $790k, 
    • 20+ is $926k.  
    • Again, this does not adjust for firm type or whatever.  So probably seems more deflated than what you may be used to seeing - but this is your reality check too.
  • If you are at a big / top law firm, I'm talking like bags to riches wall street baller type, as a first-year partner, you may stand a good chance at making close to a buck, but this depends entirely on the firm and all the other stuff above - equity partner, good spread.  There's a counsel at my firm that makes north of 500, which is a really good deal, and makes me think that first year partners here probably make around 800 at least.  I know a first year partner at a decent firm (not a big wall st firm but well-known in regional circles and an international player) that makes 600-700 - so right in that sweet spot. These of course do not consider the buy-in I am assuming, which is probably significant. (There is a 'buy-in' at most places. Your capital investment into the partnership. duh.)
Yes; you can be a baller too.
Food for thought.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Dreaded All-Nighter

Fucking. the all-nighter.  I pulled more all-nighters in this stupid fucking job in my first year than I did during the rest of my life combined.  I was never the type to stay up all night studying for a test or preparing for something - better to be fresh and rested than not I say.  But what is up with staying up to wait around for bankers, to fix stray periods or, i love this one - to turn someone's hand-written comments.  I really don't get the point of this one.  If the comments are from a client, okay maybe fine. If it's from a senior associate who wants to "involve" you be saving a few minutes so he can write sloppy and shit so that he can send it to you rather than to word processing (read: he's a dick) or because he thinks that's just how it's supposed to be done (read: he's a retard), the whole thing is pointless.  I remember one time there was one person who gave me some comments on an agreement that were so messy I had to write them every few minutes to figure out what was written, and they'd just write it back in an email. At that point, isn't it just more efficient to write the damn thing into the document yourself?  Seriously.  The worst is when the person tells you to stay in the office, until they are done writing up their stupid comments, so they can hand it to you, only to find out at 3AM that they are not going to finish.  If there were an emoticon for shooting myself in the head, I would use it here.

Now, in my "sunset" years, I don't really have any different perspective on what made me stay late as a junior.  In fact, I still think it was all exceedingly retarded. Like, down syndrome jellyfish retarded. And I have those endearing memories into account when organizing my own team. I would advise anyone who does find himself or herself commanding the troops to cut them some fucking slack.  For example, whenever I can, I go out of my way to tell people to work from home if they want to, and to not leave people waiting for me to do things (when I was younger I even used to run closings from my living room couch, PS3 controller in hand, without telling the seniors, and lo' and behold, no one died - which is of course what some may have you think if you did such a ghastly thing). It is your job as a more experienced professional and the manager to not put people in that position.  Of course, there are still times when shit hits the fan and you end up again staying up, or have others stay up, but at least for me, now, it hasn't been the "waiting around" type - but actually working throughout the night / morning because of some deadline.  Now, whether or not these "deadlines" will really make you "dead" if you don't cross that "line" in time is another matter altogether.  And I should write something about managing clients and their ridiculously titanically unrealistic expectations at some point. Some point later.

Anyway, enough gripe. If you're ever in a situation where you have to be in the office until it's time to eat breakfast, or worse, lunch, or really fucked up, dinner, then there are a few things that i think really keep me sane and refreshed:
  • comfy shoes/slippers - ditch the dress shoes and keep some slippers under your desk, or just walk around in socks or your bare feet or on your hands with socks on your hands; who cares no one's around.
  • toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash - people make fun of my mobile pharmacy, but brushing after meals saves your teeth and freshens you up, washing your face is a great way to get a revitalization etc. even when you're not there late, i use these.
  • pillow/blanket - sounds sad, but if you can't go home, and want to crash somewhere, having a pillow and blanket so you can curl up on the floor is awesome. just like home. i also keep an eyemask in my desk for afternoon naps when i didnt sleep much the night before. nowadays, i use the pillow more around the 3PM time slot than anything else.
  • chat - if ur up all night waiting (and are not busy trying to burn down the office), take advantage of your free long distance and call up ur buddies in different time zones to help kill time and commiserate.
  • plan ahead - if you know you're gonna be late and can't help it, wear or bring some comfortable clothes to work.  i hate wearing work clothes, especially when i don't want to be at work. I now keep a cache of t-shirts and similar wear around for all sorts of 'emergencies'.
  • have fun - if u have to be up for something stupid like a pricing and everything's set but ur just waiting...have some fun rather than waiting around at ur desk like a chump. i used to grab beers and go out on the town while bankers haggled over price the whole night. it was thursday after all! depending on ur firm policy, u can probably bill this waiting time anyway. cha-ching.
  • go home - if you can, go home for a bit, shower and change and come back. don't tell anyone if you can, maybe you can even stay there. you can always say you went out to get something to eat and that you'll be back shortly. that tends to be the universal default acceptable excuse. (if you are the senior lawyer on the deal - i.e., no one directly managing you, i don't think there should really be any reason you should be in the office all night - but if there is a partner or senior team all in the office, this becomes more relevant.)
  • work remotely - if you are subordinated, and you have a nice senior, talk to them and see if you can get your work markup sent by email or just ask if there's anything you'd need to be in the office for.  come up with a better excuse than you just want to go home - like you're not feeling well, or your kid is not feeling well, or something. if you're lucky enough to have seniors that also like to work remotely, you can most likely be gone too. if you are more senior, just make sure you know how to work your remote tech. i once ran a closing from home - we had problems with our dial-ins but was able to conference relevant parties in on my blackberry - so no issues. 
Ultimately, though, the best is not be in the office at all and not have to do that all-nighter. understandably, sometimes you are at the printer and it's not "appropriate" for you to just get up and leave (i have done that though, when others are there, because really, how much gets done at the printer? - this is for another post). but i digress, sometimes u r too junior or too inexperienced to know how to avoid this ridiculously stupid concept. but if u r efficient enough, smooth enough with your seniors / clients, generally avoid cap markets, and just a little bit bold enough, i think you can get by without really having to do this - or at least, do it in a fun way.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    What is the future of Big Law?

    Is the prognosis doom?  Does the ailing economy and the fact that you have spent more time in the last six - twelve months playing iPhone games  sitting on the crapper than at your desk portend a literal shitstorm in your neck of the woods sooner rather than later?

    Personally, I have my doubts about where this giant cruise ship filled with monkey cages is heading.  It's quite possible that our cruise ship driver is drunk and is just going to crash us into a huge barnacle off the coast of some European country, or maybe our cruise ship owner will forget to pay his bills and we'll all be stuck in the middle of some beautiful paradise peeing over the side of the deck and sleeping on bags of shit as fetid garbage piles up around us.  If you don't get  my metaphors, don't worry, I've basically lost myself anyway - I haven't been working for so long my brain is practically a pile of ooze barely good enough to turn baby turtles into tai bo amateurs let alone ninja masters.

    In all seriousness, though, I have spoken to a few people who are "in the know" - or at least think they are "in the know" - at least they are partners so they can think they can think whatever they want to think, so they think.  But anyway, the consensus is that there's a significant oversupply of monkeys, and a noticeable dearth of demand for monkeys at the number of bananas that they are demanding.  I've been thinking this for years.  I mean, who in their right mind is going to pay some first year dumbass monkey $550 / hour to pick his nose over some stupid prospectus?  We're just way overpaid, there's too many of us, and most of us, I think, probably myself included, are retarded.  Is there going to be a rebalancing in the professions I wonder.  Should I have tried to be a computer engineer? Or an astronaut like I always said I did? I mean, if they had paid engineers and scientists the fat $160k/yr entry salaries they do to first year associates, they would be a good way to incentivize positive growth for our civilization, but of course, no one thinks like that.

    Anyway, here's an article about this topic that's more thought out and well-written than mine. You may have seen it.  Starts from the recent layoff at Weil and draws some conclusions about where we are heading in the industry.  I've heard that the Weil layoffs were in large part due to the over-expansion or over-dependency on their bankruptcy group post Lehman (perhaps evidenced by the lack of concurrent layoffs from other Big Law firms), but that could just be speculation and it's just a matter of time for the rest of the crew.

    So what do you think?

    By the way, sorry it's been like over six months since my last post. I've been busy....

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    Do you want to be a Capital Markets Lawyer?

    You must be fucking (i) out of your mind, bat-shit crazy, (ii) retarded, (iii) both (i) and (ii).  I don't intend to offend anyone who has consciously and purposefully entered into the profession, and said to himself/herself, "Boy, I really do enjoy working on junk bond offerings and IPOs - it's just so exciting and fun", but I just don't understand why.  What are the redeeming qualities of the substantive work...if one can even call it that...?  Please, enlighten me.  If your reasons are: (i) money, (ii) no other job opportunities and no other qualifications, or (iii) you are under a spell from an evil wizard, like your boss, Saruman or Count Dooku, then I understand.  I would never call myself a capital markets lawyer, and having naively been exposed to it once, I made a conscious decision to not do that type of work anymore - and if it is to be forced upon me, then I will gladly just swap my cage. Cages are a dime a dozen.  I liken it to...being at a company that offers several types of work, let's say: (1) software design, (2) computer system engineering, (3) strategy and (4) cleaning the shit from clogged toilets.  Can you guess which one of those I equate with the subject of this gripe?  For those that don't have a clue about what capital markets attorneys do, let this be a cautionary tale -- beware!!

    Meanwhile, I am finding ways to defeat Saruman and resume my normal life.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

    Becoming the Indispensable Cog Pt. 2

    This is the second part in my um somewhat delayed but decidedly ongoing series in posts of how to make yourself an indispensable cog in the machine that is your slave-driving machination of treachery known as the firm.

    Before we get to the actual quip, let me mention: (1) okay sorry my posts have been so delayed, for anybody who happens to be reading this blog with any regularity, but I suspect that number is low, (2) if any of you are wondering why it is worthwhile any beans to try and be an indispensable anything at a law firm, given that I can confidently say very few anythings are indispensable, the reason an earlier post...but really it's about for those times when you want to bugger off and do your own thing when it's not busy and some partner is calling you to find you and always finds you gives you a buffer zone to do that kind of monkey shit. Really it does.

    Okay, so this is like a lawyering level 2 lesson, or maybe 3. It's some advanced shit right here, but it pervades a lot of different aspects of the law firm experience, from when you pick your cage to when and how you escape.  And the crux of it is: presence.  You may have heard that as a buzzword thrown around a bunch, or maybe not, but I have, and you could be deaf (sorry), but that's it.  So I was talking to a friend's dad not too long ago - he is a senior name partner at his own firm, or was, which has been merged successively with other large firms, and is soon to retire.  And he told me, as other partners (who are friends because they used to be associates with me) have mentioned to me as well, that at most jobs, like this one, the learning curve will plateau after a while.  Law is no different, and in fact, is more or less part of that big bulge in the middle of the bell curve when it comes to being prosaically non-singular.  Most people who dawn that boring black suit and become a CML will learn what it takes to be a competent CML within a few years, and will learn what it takes to be a mid-level and senior CML within a few years of that, respectively. And while the variation can be slight - some people are seen as "super stars" or "smart" - by getting there maybe a year or so earlier, we all plateau.  Why?  Because the subject matter of our job is the stuff of brainless monkey slaves.  You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a neurosurgeon to be a lawyer.  Literally, you don't.  You don't have to have any major to go to law school.  You don't have to pass a very specific or reasonably difficult to get into or even get out of law school, or even go to law school for that matter. And you really don't have to do that much to get into a decent law firm.  You don't have to do much of anything.  So, how, then, do firms differentiate between "rising stars" who will join their brethren and those that will waste away in the gutter?  If being "smart" is just a difference in timing, and given the timing to get to the end of that road is getting longer and longer, then you can pretty much expect you will be even with everyone else.  So what do they look for?  The key is, just like with anything else in any normal society in the world (except may be socialist russia or communist china), stick your head out, get noticed, and command some fucking presence.  That's because, if you are remembered by them, you will be by clients too, and that's what important.  If you can get a client to say, "hey, I want that guy to work for me", then you will be on E-Z street (no, E-Z street is not a real street, it's another way of saying "easy street", dildo brain).  Okay, so that's it.  You can be diligent, hardworking, plenty smart, but at some point (I'd say after 2-4 years), you will not be in the eyes of your up and ups worthwhile if you do not command any presence.  Different firms may have different cultures, so this is where picking your firm is important.  When you pick some place, you should pick some place that accentuates your ability to thrive and make an impact - this will benefit you in the short and long-term.  When you eventually leave (say 5-6 years), you will have had a nice ride down E-Z street rather than a rough ass-raping down A-R railroad. 

    In terms of what you need to do to "command presence" I leave up to you, but it could mean any of the following: (i) speaking when not spoken to, (ii) speaking up in front of a client or partner with something helpful, e.g., on a conference call when everyone has forgotten you are there, (iii) talking to people normally whether they be clients or partners or whoever (like, when you talk to someone nice, you are nice to them and exchange pleasantries meaningfully), (iv) becoming the commander of a mutant army made up of gift-wrapped boxes with bows on top.  So pick what you like. A little bit goes a long way.

    command the shit outta these guys. do it.

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    Market Check: Billable Hours

    So yes, I've had a slow year. Who hasn't??  I guess it hasn't been that uneventful...Gotham nearly averted nuclear catastrophe, which seems like peanuts compared to the Mayan's proselytized cataclysm being thwarted by the avengers...but it was kind of for me.

    For those wondering about how much we really work in this type of environment, here are my hours for the past two years, rounded (just in case).

    If you're curious, my hours in 2010 topped 2400, so market hasn't been that active, let's say.  In other words, I'm almost ready to join the Tour (any of them).

    what i'd pay buckets to see: Gogeta vs. Avengers

    Thursday, October 18, 2012


    Occasionally, I do some pro bono work.  We don't have too many options as corporate lawyers, but take what is available.  I assist refugee asylum seekers with their cases in front of the UN primarily.  While we generally, and I personally, know little to none about the asylum recognition process, most asylum seekers know less, don't speak English, and would definitely be worse off without someone helping them (unless of course you are some weird douchebag and have signed up for a pro bono case and then doing a terrible job for some reason that fucks him/her over...don't do that.  Anyway, during my last meeting with my most recent client, I caught myself saying the following to him, "So, I just want to clarify some details about your testimony: when you talk about how you were kidnapped, wrongfully sentenced to death and then narrowly escaped while they were taking you to be executed...."  And I thought in my head, "holy shit; I never thought I would ever say those words to someone...."  Ain't that the truth.  So next time you bitch about how your life sucks because you were working until 3 a.m. processing some stupid hand markup, or because your client/boss gives you shit...chew on some perspective man, it could be worse. a lot worse.

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Phone vs. Email

    Yes, today's topic is the epic, unending battle between evil and eviler: picking up the phone versus sending a message into the ether. Whether you use prefer the phone or email (or are better at one or the other) may depend on any number of factors, including (i) whether at any time you carried a beeper and thought it was cool, (ii) you think "that 70s show" refers to M*A*S*H* or (iii) you ever were a banker. So think about what category you are in first, then tell yourself, "shit (wo)man, I should figure out how to expand my toolbox so that instead of just building bridges with steel and mortar, I can build them with rainbows and dreams too..." (or visa versa).  Anywho, this will be more of a bullet-point post, with some basics, and some other tips I find useful. But let me first preface: I myself prefer e-mail.  I *hate* it when people call me, whether it's a client, another lawyer, head hunter, telemarketer, wrong number, a friend, the lottery, whatever; I don't give a flying fuck rat's ass.  When I see my phone go off, I literally sigh with the weight of the world as it would weigh on Jupiter on steroids (think about it), because people don't call you unless they want something...from me. Or, even if they don't want to, they are giving you something that you asked for, which means now it's my turn to do something with that information.  And, even if they aren't doing that, it interrupts me, my train of thought, my crossword puzzle, my daily show session, my nap, and takes up my precious time.  However, the phone is not without it's uses.  Because if you think about it, the phone has two ends -- yes two! -- so if I wanted to, I could be that bastard on the line asking for shit. I guess that is the crux. But anyway on to the list.

    • e-mail leaves a record that survives forever and ever, especially if you are emailing a bank. be careful and don't be stupid when you write something stupid. phone +1.
    • e-mail leaves a record for CYA purposes, so that if you ever need to go back and say to someone who is accusing you of being negligent or stupid, you can say, "hey dipshit, look at this email that I sent you that proves you are full of beans!" email + 1.
    • if you call someone, they tend to call you back, unannounced, unexpected. email + 1.
    • when you negotiate something simple, email allows you lay out, carefully and thoughtfully, your entire argument before the other side has a chance to say a word. i find this very effective on discrete points, short documents like NDAs or side letters or whatever. email + 1.
    • sometimes, picking up the phone is just fucking faster. phone +1.
    • phones allow you (if the other person isn't dodging your calls) to get an immediate response, and if desired, put someone else on the spot, to gauge their reaction. phone +1.
    • you can't be sarcastic in emails without trying really hard. phone + 1.
    • there is some obsessive compulsion among lawyers and other professionals to constantly check email, on their smartphone, or whatever, leaving you connected all the time. this is a negative if you care about life. (tip: you can leave your smartphone at home when you go to work - why the fuck do you need it at work? and you can also make it so that it doesn't buzz or light up when you get emails - it's a type of self-contract that will help you stay true to the self you want to be. a similar thing i do sometimes is mute my desk phone...hehe.) phone + 1.
    • phones have given birth to the 'conference call', which people want to have all the fucking time sometimes for no reason at all except so that they can try and get people to stroke their stupid egos. why don't they have email conference calls? like chat rooms. that would be good because then you can all attend remotely in your underwear and use slang like "LOL" and "STFU" and "WTF" and when the older people ask you what you are saying you can make it a game to come up with appropriate phrases (think "Wow! That's Fantastic!"). email + 1.
    • you can download a super cool customizable ringtone for your phone. phone +1. 
    • you can do ALL sorts of tricky shit with email, like get read receipts, delay delivery, copy and paste, forward, put on a cool signature block, close deals, contact your long-lost Nigerian prince cousin who is going to give you bucket loads of cash; the possibilities are endless.  (tip: have you ever been in the situation where you send a quick email to someone, and that someone tends to like to reply via PHONE and you like me think the sound of other people's voices sound like how green poo probably tastes, one thing I like to do is delay my email send by just a few minutes, send it, and then walk out of my office to the bathroom, gym, lunch, whatever - they may call, and ask you to call them back, and if you don't call them back because you are 'out', they may eventually give up and write you an email response (win!); conversely, you can always return missed calls with email - double win!!) email +1.
    • in email you have to worry about typos, syntax, grammar.... or most people do. phone + 1.
    • emails you can always ignore and come up with some excuse later. it's like time shifting from the future or something like that. phones are harder to ignore, especially if you've got that really cool ringtone on it. email +1.
    • when you are upset, you can bang the phone and not worry about liability that much, but if you punch your computer screen or smash your blackberry on the pavement, you might be out a few hundred bucks. phone +1.
    So what's the final tally??

    Who cares, actually, you should get off both your phone and email and go outside for once; maybe play some sports. You can always bring your phone/email, just like these guys.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    Becoming the Indispensable Cog Pt. 1

     Hi, Everybody!

    Sorry it has been a while.  I've had some non-work things on my plate, but that wouldn't stop our four-fingered friend here from four-fingering his way through upstairs medical college and into your triple bypass surgery, so should it not stop CML from fingering these fings down.

    And, on that note, let me begin today a series of meandering thoughts I have, as extruded through my fings direct to you, about how to become a good, nay, a great corporate monkey lawyer, through the path of least resistance.  I know many of my posts, okay maybe a majority...or let's just say plenty -- plenty of my posts promote the plethora of ways to circumnavigate or rather circumvent being or having to do anything with any of "corporate", "monkey" or "lawyer", except with respect to "monkey" only, if you are figuring out how to make your firm more like a bonobo commune.  But, don't misunderstand me, my point is not to encourage the ingratiation of your monkey cage to you, but to offer some tips on how to turn that cage into your miniature palace for as long as you intend to milk it.  I mean, not to lose sight of the forest from the trees here, but for all the monkeying with the blackberry, ditching work, making yourself look busy, etc., you still have a "job" to do, and if you can appear to do it well - or at least better than most others around you, people will like you, think of you highly and want to keep you around.  This has one large benefit -- leverage -- that manifests in two ways: (1) leverage in the long-term in giving you some job security - I personally mean this in the positive sense, i.e., the apes above you think you are good so see "potential" and want to propel you into their ilk - I don't worry so much about job security in our industry unless you chose a really unleveraged firm - but if you were to worry about that sort of stuff, this is a pro, and (2) leverage in the short-term in terms of people catering to you the type of work you want, honoring your stupid requests and putting up with your daytime disappearing acts.  I'll write more specifically about how I think this can all pan out in a later post, but i think the idea is more or less, to apply yourself.  And what i'm saying is, you don't have to apply yourself to being a super lawyer to be a super lawyer (you could if you wanted to, but i think it's not a very practical skill - lawyering that is), you just need to apply yourself to figuring out ways to make it seem like you are a super lawyer.  If you have decent intelligence and common sense, being a good lawyer is almost as easy as planning a surprise birthday party for your blind dog, and a fuckload easier than planning a wedding, dancing with the stars or being a masterchef.  And you can use your spare time to also apply yourself in other ways - being entrepreneurial, fine-tuning your golf game, figuring out how to shortcut the other aspects of your life. 

    Anyway, whether or not this point is clear, it's time to get to today's meandering thought - which I dub the "Dr. Nick" lesson.  The Dr. Nick lesson is simple: if Dr. Nick can do it, so can fucking you. Seriously, the dude went to upstairs medical college and despite any other adversities he may have had, he has been pretty successful - as far as i can tell being one of two premier doctors in the whole town of Springfield - getting there with a bit of ingenuity, hard work at applying himself, common sense and some luck. In his job, lives are at stake, and in our job, nothing is at stake.  So, the next time you are given something that seems impossibly long, stupid, difficult(?), annoying, stinky or offensive, just think, if Dr. Nick can get through it (and scores of other CMLs who have shat in that cage before you) so can you, and you can challenge yourself to figure out a way to do it even faster or better and without even really doing it, and as your reward, your primate bosses will praise you with intimations that you should join their ranks in the future which you can promptly shove back down their intestines with joy and relishing.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

    It's been a while; sorry.  I've been extremely busy not being in the office.  Summer is one of the times when everyone goes on vacation, including your bosses and clients, so even when you're not on vacation, you're on vacation.  Combine that with one of the most dismal years in M&A in recent past, blighted capital markets, Eurozone crises, international turmoil and everyone's attention diverted to the Higgs boson/J. Bieber's new do/release of Batman, and you've not just got summer, you've got a veritable Summer of George!

    Anyway, needless to say, I'm not around very much, and when I am, who knows what the fuck I'm doing. Not working. And yet...I always find it hard for me to do everything I want to in a day. May be I'm just too ambitious.  Golf, tennis, free fancy lunch, shopping, movie and happy hour all in the same day? Maybe too much. But what do I know, I'm just a caveman lawyer.

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    The One Man Show

    You can run a one-man show. I know monkeys that prefer to do everything themselves, from setting up dial-ins, turning documents to negotiating and getting paid. The one man show. The one man show trusts no one; he's Mulder in the X-Files, he's gary busey in...gary busey's life. On the one hand, it's awesome for everyone else on the deal team - they don't have to do jack shit, but it's a double-edged penis, because you luck out with little work, but basically gain no penis-ing experience too, if you're into that only of course.  At the heart of this though is just delegation. I've written a lot about this, but it's important. Really important. I know it. Your boss monkeys know it. Tim Ferris knows it. Delegating is more than just about passing shit off, it's about the sinews that tie together the fabric that is a team -- your team. If you read fastco or techcrunch or entrepeneur you'll see a lot of articles geared towards young managers mobilizing their teams, incentivizing employees, building teamwork, efficiency, etc. Delegation is just a vertical embodiment of teamwork, which is an allocation of work. And you can't allocate work effectively if people in your team suck and you can't trust them to do anything. You can run a one man show always and ensure you won't have to redo anything, but then it's like watching the man show with JUST adam corrolla or jimmy kimmel without the other one to balance them out -- it's just too much dude.

    So when you think about delegating, think about your team. Who you want on your team, who you want to keep, and who you want to leave. You can just dump people unfortunately but you can always try asking for what you want. You might get it. Once a team member has become scorned by your outrageous delegating though, it will be difficult to get them on board, they will just avoid you like the plague. So what's paramount is retaining good talent. It happens at all levels. Partners actually meet (!), and actually talk about retaining associates (! - no really i overheard it once), and at least in some firms, they actually do things to make sure people stick around - like give them work that they ask for or try not to overload them or respect their holidays shit like that. blew my mind (although really i still know what is at the 'end' of that monkey's just more monkey cage). But at other levels - you and your juniors, juniors and paralegals, even fucking you and your assistants who are critically important. When you find a one that is good, don't fuck with them; be nice; otherwise who knows they may just up and go and leave you with some brainless Siri wannabe that can't even understand what a "please print this" request means. If you have trouble remembering how to act, just remember that the relevant maxims basically all reiterate that timeless rule about golden showering...or something like that.

     Who do you want on your team?

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Big Law: Spring Bonuses 2012

    Yes, it's that time of year again.  What the fuck time. What the fuck! Where's my Spring Bonus?? I worked really hard for all of half of last year and all of half of the year before that....ya...been kinda slow.  On the one hand, we have a sense of entitlement to more bananas in order to keep us mentally willing to be chained to our desks.  On the other hand, for the past six months, i've left my blackberry at home on my couch 'charging' about 80% of the time, have somehow gotten so accustomed to not working weekends and nights that i find myself quite offended and guffawed when asked to do so, and i *think* i have a tan. my net bananas each month is still more than some people with actual jobs make gross in a year, so i'm not complaining. unless fucking s&c or some other shop fucking pays bonuses and we don't.

    Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    Don't you hate it when...

    you are leaving work at some point between 6pm and 8pm (which is COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE AND NORMAL), and you run into some douchebag in the elevator or elevator lobby. Running into douchebags or doing anything with douchebags is not fun i guess, except i guess if using the douchebag for its intended purpose if you are of the female variety and practicing good hygiene...(?)....uh, ya, so anyway, y'all know what i'm talking about.

    Here's the scene: you are amped to get out - maybe not as early as possible, but early enough so that your hourly banana rate is higher than the douching banker with gonorrhea next door, and then you run into a colleague while waiting for the elevator, or in the elevator when you get in/on your way down.

    <Now, when I leave, if the weather is nice, and because i'm a dude, i usually don't really look like i'm leaving (read all the other posts i have about playing hooky) - just a shirt on with wallet and keys stuffed in my pocket.  BUT, when it's really cold outside or if i have shit to carry, if i'm not playing one of my tricks (usually reserved for "early" departures), i'll probably be wearing a coat or have some sort of bag.>

    So let's say me is you, and you are leaving like me, and it'll be apparent you are leaving. Then, you run into a colleague of the gunner or just-plain-green variety (hereinafter, "Fartbucket"), and you exchange looks and simple 'hello's'.

    <As another aside, i don't get why there is any social pressure to make small talk with people in your office in the first place, especially people you don't really know (if a big office) or just people you don't care to associate with (if a small office). A lawyer's unnervingly insatiable need to hear his own voice?  I don't make small talk with random people from other offices i run into the lift even if i've seen them before - i could if they look interesting, i won't if they don't. maybe it's cuz i look interesting...and maybe i look interesting because i always go to work in a monkey mask and linsanity t-shirt. Whatever.>

    So anyway, Fartbucket, obviously noticing the coincidence of time and your attire, coughs up something like, "oh, so are you going out for dinner?" (implying that you are not done with work, but just going out to eat, with the assumption that you'll be back later.) A. Why the fuck, Fartbucket, do you care where i'm going?  B. If it looks like i'm going home, then i'm probably fucking going home, retard.

    <So at this point, my responses usually fork depending on the identity and variety of Fartbucket, and the particular nature of what is said to me. If it was a green-type, and I like him/her, I'll try to train them to think as a real monkey should think -- kind of like housetraining you puppy, it's cagetraining your monkey; i'll tell him "Fuck no, I'm going home, and so should you. Get your work done sooner numbnuts and you can too."  if they had asked rather something more straightforward (but with an incredulous overtone) like, "are you going home?!?" i would just reply just as incredulously, "yes...!?!?!?" etc.  Now, when i run into the gunner types - never liked them much - i sometimes just pretend i didn't hear them, fiddle with my blackberry or if i don't have a blackberry, just hold up my hand to my ear like i it's a phone and start talking - works every time. i don't really care what they think, but i am slightly afraid they are going to tattle to big boss next time someone tries to staff them on something and they realize they've taken on 17 too many deals because they are gunning and doing a terrible job at their job to boot, and try to irk shit onto the dude they spite because he seemed to be leaving "early" that one day. once i ran into someone who was, sadly, both a gunner AND green, and who was in the same obviously-leaving attire i was in, and, without prompting, awkwardly said as if to no one really (although it was just us in the elevator), "oh i'm just going to dinner...." i almost snapped, "i don't give a fuck" but instead went with, "oh, that's too bad, i'm going home." - i could see the look on Fartbucket's face, i couldn't tell if it was the look of remorse after telling a lie for no purpose or the look you had on your face when you saw the dude with the mustache on his head. By contrast, i once ran into a partner when i was leaving at like 5:45 once, who was carrying shopping bags and like three suits he just bought. We were both leaving, and all he did was smile guiltfully and we parted ways - like a true monkey pro>

    Anyway, the point of this rambling is, if not apparent already, several fold:

    1. most importantly: don't be afraid of leaving work at a "normal time". If you are done with work, or even if you're not and want to work from home, then fucking GO. Face time is a worse idea than crystal pepsi or letting your dog guard your sausage stash. Let your work product and billables speak for themselves, no one is going to staff you based on what time someone saw you leave to do whatever.

    2. notwithstanding the foregoing, the only time you MAY want to ready yourself with a canned excuse is if you happen to be in the elevator, with a partner who is responsible for staffing you, and who is looking to staff someone like you, and then asks you about your time.

    3. cagetraining your monkey brethren who deserve it

    4. all others sound like fartbuckets, hence the Fartbucket. have you ever heard the sound of a fart resonating in a bucket collapsed on your head? can't imagine it would be pleasant right? fucking Fartbuckets.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Mr. Smith & Goldman Sachs

    You may have heard about the op-ed by the now ex-Goldman banker in the times.  If you haven't, have a read, it will give you an idea of the type of yahoo's you will end up servicing in the future.  And, you can just think, if they treat their clients like this, imagine how they treat their service monkeys.... Right.  But then again, we all pretty much knew what Mr. Smith is saying before he said it, didn't we.

    Instead of worrying about the money you are they will make, get a dog and live happy.

    Update: LL (the professor, not the cool J) responds to Mr. Smith. For those that don't have the patience to read news, basically he's saying, "No shit, Sherlock. Culture changed at every big bank when (a) they stopped being a partnership (think: corporate veil, or what the partners probably thought: corporate bulletproof vest) and (b) financial regulation and subsequent attempted financial regulation went the way of TSCA and self-pump basketball shoes (you know, when i was a kid, women always referred to their heels as 'pumps' - i never quite got that, i always imagined that their heels also had those cool little pump buttons somewhere and they'd pump 'em so they could jump higher in their heels...).  Anyway, his solution: turn 'em back into a partnership and of course, effective law.  Again, we all pretty much knew that too, I think.  I say, while we're at it (or rather, while Obama's at it), let's bring back the pump!

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Pro Bono Work

    is a GREAT way to boost your billables.  Ok, don't get me wrong, I am all for helping a few souls in need, including my own, but as an additional bonus, the firm doesn't charge your clients for your time, so you don't need to worry about overbilling or being reprimanded for padding your time...not that iPad my time.... But, anyway, if you are concerned about your staffer or partners reviewing your time and thinking, "hey, this dufus isn't billing 7 hours a day; in fact, it looks like he spends most of his time 'sick', 'organizing desk papers' or 'blawging'...'wtf is 'blawging''" -- as i do occasionally, then this is a great way to present to your up-and-ups that you do in fact wear the semblance of a diligent worker bee slave, which of course you do. So, next time you overlook that call to help taxicab drivers stick it to the "man" or to assist the ACLU help minorities stick it to the "man", because you inappropriately think you are in fact, the "man", think twice, about saving your soul, and also saving you from more deal work.

    In all seriousness, though, think about doing something more worthwhile...even if you are a CML writing a brief for the first time for some refugee who has no idea you are helping them and equally no idea that you also have no idea how to write a brief (thank god), they are probably better off than writing the brief themselves.  If your firm doesn't count pro bono hours towards a stupid bonus target, you should fuck their skull with a fork until they realize the fallacy of their thinking.  They probably all secretly think pro bono is when they write off time for clients.