Thursday, August 30, 2007

A little more common than I realized!

A humorous parody of Sen. Craig's embarrassment, from Anonymous Lawyer:

I was in the restroom today and I saw an associate in the stall next to me wiggle his fingers under the partition between stalls. I ignored it, like I do whenever associates do anything besides work. He did it again. I thought maybe he was holding his hand out for an assignment, thinking perhaps I'd brought one with me to the bathroom. It turns out I had. I took the papers from my pocket and put them in his wiggling fingers. Then his foot crept under the stall and rubbed against mine. He wanted more. So I reached into my other pocket and pulled out a credit agreement. I scrawled at the top, "Proofread this," and slipped it under the partition. He took it. Forty minutes later, the completed assignment and proofread credit agreement arrived on my desk. Well done. Associates bold enough to ask for assignments in the bathroom are acceptable in my book.

But not everyone sees it that way. See, this associate was already working for another partner. And it's not entirely within the normal protocol for an associate committed to one partner to be looking to engage with other partners, especially in the bathroom. And especially from a completely different practice group. There are rumors he's done this before. There are a number of different bathrooms in the office designated as "work bathrooms," where there are outlets in each stall for laptop computers, fully functioning wireless, a printer, and a secretary on duty at all times. While these bathrooms function as normal bathrooms throughout the day, everyone is aware that work does go on there, especially in the corner stall. So an especially eager associate can cruise these bathrooms throughout the day and, if he's lucky, find an extra assignment or two. These may not be the best assignments the firm has to offer, but they allow some exposure to new partners and perhaps enable connections that will help the associates down the line. Most associates don't talk about their secret bathroom rendezvous. Somehow the bathroom assignments are considered dirty, illegitimate, cheating. And some associates, over time, get a reputation.

What ends up complicating matters is that most associates don't like it when one of their own is begging too hard for these bathroom opportunities. They don't like to see someone stand out, meet new partners, and put themselves in a position to move ahead. So once an associate gets a reputation for cruising the bathrooms, he puts himself at risk for vigilante justice. Associates who aren't into the bathroom scene corner their colleagues, rough them up a little bit, steal their copies of the tax code. It can be an ugly scene. But it's not my job to police the associates. In a way, I like to see associates take matters into their own hands. And I like that it means that associates who want the bathroom assignments know they're taking a risk, but they do it anyway. Their impulse to do as much work as they can, their impulse to impress as many partners as possible, their raw biological impulses are so strong that they're willing to put their bodies (and tax codes) at risk for it. That's the kind of dedication I like to see. The kind of commitment that makes me proud to work at a place like this, and proud to see an associate's fingers wiggling under the bathroom partition and give him exactly what he deserves. To put that thick, hot-off-the-printer lease agreement right in his hands. Makes me proud to be a lawyer.

4 comments:

Tim in Italy said...

Since all satire is based to some degree on fact... well... are you studying to be an attorney or a Borg?

Michael in Norfolk said...

Sadly, the story doesn't sound too far from the truth in terms of how brown nosing associates can be in some big law firms or just what sweat shops some of the supposedly "silk stocking" firms can be.

Pink, there's still time to save yourself and change career paths!! :)

Matt-CNS said...

hahaha, this had me laughing for a good bit.

Also what is with the picking on lawyers, it is a good profession. Most of my family are lawyers and love it. Keep going for it Pink!

Pink Elephant said...

Sad to say, I have already drunk the kool-aid and accepted my law firm's job offer. I will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

On the plus side my firm is NOT in NYC.