Tuesday, June 23, 2009
So you thought you were recession proof, eh? Forgetaboutit.
Finally, I have a few seconds to breathe and post my second blog entry. When I last came to you, I just completed my first week as a summer in Big Law. Second year, same firm.. I thought I had it all figured out. At that time, my biggest concern was the lack of swag from my fellow summers (5 weeks in, I regret to inform you, they've never found it!) and when Leaning Loubies' heel was finally going to decide, "It is Well" and just give up. Well, its taken me 4 weeks to respond, b/c they've been working me like a runaway slave just returned to the field by the Mississippi Patrol.
It is no surprise that the recession is hitting Big Law hard. YBF and The Life of a Burgeoning Professional are not the only blogs I read, so in my daily rounds I scan ATL and read story after story about lay offs, pay freezes, pay cuts, budget cuts, etc, etc. I came into the summer prepared for what it was going to be.. or what I thought it was going to be. I knew the fancy 4 days trips were no more. I knew I could kiss goodbye a week full of lunches at: The Four Seasons, Buddakan, Amada, Davios and Capital Grille, in no particular order, sprinkled with evening drinks at the Rittenhouse, following a delicious 4 course dinner at Barclay Prime. I was ready for "stealth" (all you ATL readers know, that is the big law buzz word) cutbacks, but I was not ready for what I have been experiencing. Despite the minor alterations the summer programs would make, I still figured we were overall.. recession proof.
Never last summer would I have to do a 65 hour work week to get most of my "work" completed, nor would that have been allowed. I can vividly recall once last summer, when I was still in the office at 7, waiting for my then "situation" to come get me for dinner, I had a partner and an associate tell me, I seriously needed to get out the office. Instead, as my eyes can barely stay open at 10PM because I've been here since 7:30, the associates just walk by, knowing I remember what it was like last summer and therefore the 180 on the expectations is more prevalent, and just give me a look.. The look basically means, "It's a recession.. whatareyougonnadoaboutit?"
Hey, it is what it is. I guess this first year salary isn't a free gift with purchase of a law school education anymore, it's apparently something I need to work for. But having reality hit before I am actually an associate has started the wheels churning. See years ago (and by years ago I mean 365 days ago), when a summer associateship was like day camp, you didn't really know what life in BigLaw would be. In other words, you got bamboozled. Your mind consumed with images of 5 star hotels, restaurants, and other goodies, constant lunches, dinners, and a daily 5PM departure left you naive. By the time you found out what it really was, you had signed on the dotted line.. and were a slave to BigLaw until liberated by CitiBank, Sallie Mae or any other lender you owed your life. But I, got a taste of the real life before it's "too late", and let me say, I'm starting to question my assertion that being a Corporate Lawyer in Big Law was the good life.
Don't get me wrong, I love the work I do. I love the "sexiness" of closing a $400,000,000 deal. But at the same time 65 hour weeks and 11 o'clock nights, make me wonder if this is for me. What about when I have a family? Will I ever have time to build a family if I'm stuck here til unGodly hours? Will I be able to maintain my swag with bags under my eyes from not going to bed til after 1 and waking up by 6 and never having time to hit the gym? I know this isn't the day to day (or so they claim), but if I'm really doing what I have to do to make my mark, isn't that what my day to day should be? Despite the concerns and thoughts swirling through my head.. I'm not ready to give up my dream.. just yet. I've worked too damn hard and kicked open too many doors, to just throw in the towel over a few missed episodes of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" (in my defense, I'm missing the reunion--that is big), trips to the gym and outings with friends. With that said, for the rest of the summer I have my game face as I try to figure out what's in store for my career. But for all you summers who thought you were recession proof? FORGETABOUTIT.