How do I deal with a passive aggressive senior associate who really wants to make partner but creates arbitrary deadlines and fires where there are none?

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This what I did back in the day: As a junior in big law I had very good relationships with the partners I worked with, and basically went over the seniors’ heads by saying “corner office partner wants x. Do you want me to ask her if your thing should take precedence?” That usually ended it—and these partners also went to me directly instead of through the seniors in question when I was a junior/mid-level. If you don’t have that kind of relationship with the people who really run the show, you’ll kind of have to put up with it. Unless you want to leave or get assigned to different cases where said senior associate is not involved.

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I would just bust tail to meet the arbitrary deadlines whenever you can. Then, when you can’t and have competing deadlines, you can just communicate that you will get it done asap thereafter, and you will have built up some level of trust.

At the end of the day though the senior is your client; think of this as training for when you are in their shoes and it’s the client creating the arbitrary deadlines and false fire drills. That’s just the reality of the client services business, though.

This all assumes they otherwise treat you decently and talk up your good work in front of others - aka you actually want to make this relationship work. If not, you of course just have to find work elsewhere.

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Don’t follow A2’s advice. I hate it when people say that the senior associate is your client. Making arbitrary deadlines that cause you to stay up all night and give rushed work product only hurt the ACTUAL client. Try and get work elsewhere or manage upwards and ask the senior associate if you can assist with x,y,z as soon as you foresee the assignment/deal on an email or the calendar. Don’t needlessly burn yourself out. There is a difference between meeting a client deadline when necessary and being taken advantage of by higher-ups.

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I cant

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