Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nobody's Perfect

let's face it, nobody's perfect, except for maybe batman for badass-ness or cartman for hilarious-ness. and you should not strive to be. i remembr on one of the first days in torts or some 1L class, our prof said to us, living in the word of law is like getting girls, to survive without killing urself u need to lower ur standards. then proceeded to draw a bell curve - and told us that through each stage of our life, we were always in the top x% of this curve, and through each successive stage, you just kept getting more and more concentrated until you were in some tiny fucking class filled with overachievers that are used to being perfect or at least being told they were perfect (academically...huh) and at some point, they gonna realize that they actually suck compared to someone else. go figure. there's gotta be a point when you just say to urself, "man, passable is just darn good 'nuff for me." for me it started at the end of college when it didn't matter and completely in law school. i still managed to get, let's say, an A- average in law school, but i don't think i was even close to being in the top 30% - just to show you how freakishly freaky my classmates were. but what does that do for u in the next stage? (i.e., real life) - you get to a law firm, spend all ur hours proofreading internal emails, fixing tpos  in documents u dont give a shit about and have no time to do all the normal things u suck at anyway bc uve always been studying, where the normal people go play golf which they are good at cuz they spent 3 years in law school dropping their handicap....for example.

anyway - i think in the rest of this post, i'm going to just present a few short stories/tips that sort of exemplify what i'm getting at here. hopefully, no one u work with is this crazy, and hopefully u r not either, but if u find urself getting to this point, just remember, nobody's perfect, and more importantly, nobody of import should give a flying fuck. the prevailing principle i think is to aim for a C+ - B-, which i think is pretty good, i.e., like a 75 - 80% job well done on average - but i think not on a consistent basis - i.e., somethings u do really well, and somethings u fuckify - and use this to leverage urself into interesting work/people etc. and push off shit u do not want to do.
  • The internal email: seriously, a first year once told me this story. one of his classmates, as a first year, was so paranoid about getting an email perfect, he went through 32 versions of it, proofing it, asking others to proof it. and then he even sent it out to the word processor or whatever to proofread it. and the kicker was it was an INTERNAL email. where i work, email is not something you use to tout ur peacock feathers, its a means of communication, its just another axe in the prime executionists axebag. if u r really getting shit done and busy, u may be sending out like 300 emails a day. do u really have time to proof that shit 32 times? even once? if u really fuck up, u can always try recalling ur message. but the only thing i check before i send somethign out is: (1) am i sending this to the wrong people? (2) are there any confidential attachments? (3) did i write "go tit" instead of "got it". that's it. chances are, if you are sending out hundreds of emails, people u r sending to are receiving hundreds of emails, and as long as they get the gist, sexcellent.

  • Precedential mess: there was on senior guy i knew who has since gone on to bigger and better things, that was so efficient and knew how to game the system so well, he turned this monkey shit throwing job into a true 9:15 - 7:15 job. literally cd never find the dude after 7 something. and one of his secrets i fond was that whenever he reviewd something, drafted something, he NEVER looked at precedents. he just did what made sense + our std form.  how do u review or draft docs? whether it's an agmt, an opinion, a comfort letter, an nda, something else. conventional wisdom or whatever is that ull get a stack of relevant precedents and compare them, look to see what's missing, incorporate, whatever. if u r junior, this probably makes sense to a degree. but once u have a semblance of sense u will realize that a) no deal (even the cookie cutter piece of shit cap mkts crap) is exactly the same as the last and b) std forms are there for a reason. i either start from a precedent or our std form, and just do what the client wants and draft the rest as to what makes sense. if i want some specific langauge for something i can use: google or our std form. i remember a partner told me just that once - "for the language, just look at our std form or if you cant find it just google it". validation, nice! seriously, combing thru stacks of irrelevant shit is a waste of eeveryone's time.
  • Form check: fuck it. seriously anyone ever asked u to do this? this is stupid. if u r doing a registered deal, ok get someone to check that u checked all the boxes. paralegal? if u r NOT doing a registered deal...seriously? either way, if someone is asking you to do something like this, and u r pretty junior, do u really want to spend a saturday afternoon doing this shit will ur friedns our out lplaying ball or something? on the one hand, if ur a junior chimp, it sucks cuz u get all the push down of shit work to u. this is suposed to help u "learn". on the other hand, ur junior chump staus is sometims ur best friend. anything u don't do well can be chalked up to "learning". and if u set the bar low enough - say at 75%, anything above that is gonna look great. even if u r not junior, u don't have to perfect. NO ONE is perfect. and u know what, if u hav emanaged to become friendly with ur seniors (by first workign with those that are friendable)  it will not only make ur life easier but they will be more forgiving about ur "mistakes" and be more willing to take some of ur work. cuz what sort of penis wants to screw over a friend?

  • push up/push down: so i'm all for doing my fair part, but one place i end up cutting a lot of corners is in the flow of work - sending stuff up or down. for example, let's say im on a bunch of deals, some i don't mind taking responsibility and being the main guy, but some i do. and for the latter, there's someone else on that deal, let's say senior. i will push as much work "up" as i can to that guy. how do u push stuff "up"? well u do the bare minimum. lets say they ask for u to do a first draft of some agreement. most people will spend some time, start from some precedent, look at others, proof it, generally do a bang up job. ask urself, if this guy is going to look at it anyway, why waste time doing stuff he may eventually change? bracket, footnote, lameduck ur way thru it. and dump it on him. the more u do, the more he'll realize u r too busy, or too unfocused to work on this thing and gradually take over things anyway. basically, do a perfect 65% job here. if it's the other way around, like someone junior, u just delegate every little task. eventually u will have some responsibility, but if u really are the only senior person (besides a partner) u shld be knowledgeable enough to know how to do the shit without really spending too much time on it.

  • do everything, half-assedly: so i spoke about this a bit in a previous post. if u r trying to get out of work, especially with some people, the way to go is to do the job, but a shit job. i think the line between jeopardizing ur reputation (not ur job i wd say - we can talk bout this later) and not, is the difference between competently doing what ur told, and doing what ur told well. if some senior person asks u to do like 5 significant things, and you only do 4, or 3, that's not so good because they may be counting on you, trusting you to (a) produce something and (b) more importantly, remind them that that thing needs to get done by producing something. if you don't, and it gets lost, especially if the thing you forgot to do was, say, remind them to do something, or take responsibility for a certain workstream, something could actually make them or ur firm look bad. BUT, let's say you do all 5 things, but just kind of half-ass it - all the time keeping them in the loop so they can monitor. i'd say u r covered. there's a cosmic balance here. u can't fuck all ur deals u need to average like 75% i think - so if u r a solid 50% on this one bitch's deal, and there are three others u r working on, u shld aim for like an 80% approval rating on the others (i dunno if that math is right it sounds right) - because at the end of the day, if and when some big ape is looking to cut people if there's a recession, he'll see that most of the people u work with think u do a good job. and one person doesn't. maybe everyone dislikes that one person alrady. maybe that person gives everyone bad reviews. then who looks bad?
  • "con" calls: maybe con calls deserver their own devoted post, but in brief, these can be such a waste of time. half the calls that are made or for the self-validation of some egoistic banker with a small prick. one deal that had been delayed for like months, i remember wanted to make a tight timeline all of a sudden so then decided we should have DAILY update calls could it would push people to get things done. that makes total sense. in fact, they should have done HOURLY calls. then we cd spend all of our time on the calls, getting things done, while we're on the clals, bc of course the more time we spend not on the calls, the more time wed end up spending sucking each others tits and blowing off the urgent things that need to get done. do u have any idea how hard it is to coordinate a single call with like say 4 bookrunners? or even 3. it takes literally 50 emails, 2 years off ur lifespand and 1/4 of ur soul to get thru that mess. wtf. when i was still in law school, i remember my ex roommate who was a banker at ubs was balling with me and it was a gorgeous day outside. then, halfway thru the run, he goes, shit i have a call in five minutes. so i thoguht he wd leave - no, he dialed in and put the phone on the bench and we kept playing. THAT's what we're getting on these calls for.
  • Ur Job: okay the #1 thing i think lawyers fear when it comes to cutting corners, whether its any of this stuff above or anything else is - what happens to me if ppl think i suck? am i gonna get fired? will they cut my bonus? the thing is, well here's thing....NO. jesus. lawyers are the biggest bunch of risk averse ninny pansy asses there are. why else would someone double check an email 32 times before sending it? unfathomable. the reality is, if you are doing a 75-80 pct job on average and maintain a normal lifestyle as a result, you'll be maybe around the same as some of the other monkeys in your shop in terms of performance, above some other tards if ur a deently smart guy/gal, and of course behind the gunners, but ull be fucking heads and shoulders above the crwod in terms of normalcy, being fun to work with and well-liked. by this, i mean, all the time u spent in law school or in ur job not working but pursuing social pursuits, normal normalcies, and generally not being a social fucktard will make you that much more of a .... non social fucktard, AND that will make you, very popular among the other senior people who also are not social fucktards or at least want to be. Then, you might ask, but what about those awkward types who run ur life and are just the type u r trying to avoid being like? well u dont wanna work with those anyway it's all selfselecting, u use ur 50% crap to move away from these guys, and use ur 80% work to get to the normal people. why the fuck wd u ever want to be that gunner anyway. if ur shop is filled with gunners....uh...maybe u shld try to find another shop, but chances r there are a few at least who r not. if there is a recessionand there are gonna be cuts, chances are, a lot of ppl are gonna cut more or less indiscriminately. if not, form ur alliances with the normal ppl and whether u all get canned or ll stay, at least ull be wit da right crew.
 so in sum, i guess the principle idea is to does that old adage go...not a jack of all tricks...big fish sometin...oh ya. this:

    1 comment:

    Monkey away: