Overheard in Big Law

This is a series I’ve been wanting to start for a while. It’d be a foolish one to host on my blog, though, which is only semi-anonymous. I think it be a great stand-alone blog, like Overheard in New York. Maybe it already is a stand-alone blog. I don’t have enough material for something like that, though, because I try to avoid the crazy. I didn’t talk about grades in law school, and I didn’t talk about practice exams when I was studying for the bar, and I don’t talk about hours, or partners, or other associates at work. I leave at 7:15 and work from home in the weekends. I try to be a normal person. Sometimes the crazy sneaks up and finds me, though, and it hits me like a brick, my job is not normal.

Like last week at happy hour.  I’m standing in a little circle with a few co-workers and we’re sharing war stories. A handful of people are collectively griping about a particular case that routinely requires all-nighters. They went around the circle: one guy worked for 36 hours straight; another girl got called back to the office at 10 p.m. and worked until 5:00 a.m.; another girl spent Christmas holed up in a conference room reviewing documents; a fourth person asked if there was any way she could get on that case, because things had been getting a little slow for her. She knew the case was hell, but you don’t want to get slow too long, because you risk falling behind on your billable hours, and not meeting the annual requirement. She needed work, she said. And then a few minutes later, it came out that she billed over 350 hours last month. That’s 12 hours a day, every day. Or 14.5 hours a day, six days a week. That, by the way, puts her way ahead in terms of meeting her billable hours requirement. She needed work like a Mormon needs another hour of church on Sunday (um, not at all). And this girl was looking for work, anxious about not doing enough, begging to be staffed to the case with the absurd hours and assignments.

This girl is all in. A total weirdo. But when she explained her predicament, and how 350 hours really isn’t all that much, my colleagues nodded their heads and went back to their stories, and I realized they weren’t griping so much as bragging and that if there was a weirdo in that group, it was me, with my lack of drive and my leaving at 7:15 and my gut instinct to keep a good distance between me and the crazy.

People always ask why I don’t go to happy hour. They assume it’s because I’m a Mormon. Or because I’m too busy. But really, I avoid happy hour for the same reason I avoid reading lifestyle blogs by overachieving women who seem to do it all. I can’t handle people who make normal and sane out to be an anomaly.

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2 Responses to Overheard in Big Law

  1. melanie says:

    Recently realized that I’ve dated a lot of computer guys, and my brother-in-law said “Why can’t you date a lawyer? There’s plenty of lawyers in D.C.” I did date a lawyer once, and this blog explains perfectly why I don’t.

    I love that being Mormon can be an excuse for being sane.

    Plus, “She needed work like a Mormon needs another hour of church on Sunday.” Hilarious.

  2. Pingback: Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask | Bending the Rules

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