{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "The partner I work for has (repeatedly) said the reason the firm has high associate turnover is because the associates who have left “aren’t cut out for litigation” or they were not “willing to make the sacrifices” that the job requires. I feel like this is totally misguided and missed the point? The associates have been leaving because they’re over worked, underpaid and want to be treated well? Or am I just jaded because I’m in ID?", "post_id": "62215da2f7387b002ea34d1a", "reply_count": 61, "vote_count": 49, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d052", "bowl_name": "Law", "feed_type": "crowd" }
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The partner I work for has (repeatedly) said the reason the firm has high associate turnover is because the associates who have left “aren’t cut out for litigation” or they were not “willing to make the sacrifices” that the job requires. I feel like this is totally misguided and missed the point? The associates have been leaving because they’re over worked, underpaid and want to be treated well? Or am I just jaded because I’m in ID?

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Been in and out of law firms since 2002. The one thing I can say for certain is that a US litigator should rarely be allowed to do anything but litigate.

Unfortunately most litigation groups/firms believe they need to break you down before they build you back up into a litigator. Firms are much better run in the UK. But that’s not important. Basically - it’s difficult to find a well managed litigation group that doesn’t behave like that partner and can keep the lights on. Plaintiffs side can be friendlier, but it’s a Midwest friendly.

likesmart

Incoherent venting from a former life.

This has a common theme I see here and it's troubling. Without attacking or trying to belittle anyone (because I truly want to help), it seems so many young lawyers at the Associate level these days have a victim-mentality and don't understand "paying their dues." Do you think the partners didn't feel overworked and underpaid when they were associates? Do you think you're worth any more than the market will bear? Part of gaining experience and wisdom comes from going through the grind. Listen to Brad Pitt's monologue in Fight Club ... you are not special. And neither am I. The sooner we figure out we don't "deserve" any more than we EARN, the happier we are. Trust me on that.

funny

It’s a different game for sure. But it’s a different game for everyone. It’s just changed faster/slower depending on practice area and location. But the common result is junior lawyers have taken the brunt of it, and senior lawyers can’t admit the rules have changed without questioning the last 20-40 years of life. Get out while the getting is good, or build your own specialty and book of business, no one makes partner anymore. They build their own business and attach it to whatever law firm provides them the resources they need to service that business (which will change every few years).

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That's nothing more than the company line. You cannot expect honesty from the partners about that stuff.

likesmart

It’s ID. Nuff said.

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I don’t think it’s just ID, though it’s probably worse in ID because of how bad of a sweatshop many ID firms are. There’s a lot of arrogance with many firms’ managing partners who, despite seeing first hand that their bargaining chips are worth less and that associates have plenty of other opportunities available, aren’t accepting responsibility for their role in driving talent away.

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Insurance defense. Generally people view it negatively.

Not everyone is cut out for litigation. I’m at a plaintiffs firm and no one is checking my hours as long as the work gets done. But there are still several weeks a year where I am preparing for a corporate witness deposition or for a big motion where all nighters and 100 hours of work wouldn’t be abnormal. When we are on trial we work 16-20 hours a day for weeks/months at a time. This isn’t “bad culture” or “out of touch bosses” it is doing what you need to do to get the job done. Most people are unwilling to do this.

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A5 - they said a corporate rep witness. Different from a normal witness. Easily can take upwards of 100 hours to prep for a big witness like that.

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ID usually means overworked and underpaid. There’s a reason why there are always openings in ID after law school. People try to defend ID and I don’t buy it. I lived it. No thanks

likefunny

Lol it ain’t just ID. I worked in family law, and it was like this for me. Boutique firm, one owner. They had a revolving door of associates. They only cared about themselves and didn’t respect my life at all. And I’m not talking about working crazy hours in preparation for a hearing or a trial—I get that. That wasn’t the issue for me. This owner poorly mismanaged their time and the associates and other support staff often paid the price for that. Sometimes they would call us into the office on a weekend “just in case” they needed us. Literally told me to schedule doctor’s appointments for when they were out of town on vacation (and I’m talking annual appointments—I didn’t have any health issues where I was at the doctor 1x per week or anything). I schedule annual appointments when I check out from my current appointment, so I can’t do that. Those are just a couple of examples, there are many others. I got to the point where I just didn’t answer the call/email if it was late, a weekend, or a time that I had been told I could take off. Stayed there as long as it took me to find another job and peaced out. When I told them I was leaving they looked at me dead in the face and said I wasn’t cut out for litigation. Maybe. But they were the worst boss I’ve ever had. Not a leader by any means. Definitely someone with some personality disorders that could seriously benefit from therapy.

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Agreed. I have a friend in big law who works a ton, yes, but she enjoys the work, and maybe more importantly, she really likes and respects her boss, and he respects her. I think that’s the key wherever you are. As the associate, do you feel you’re valued and are you treated with respect? If you treat your people with respect and recognize that they are human beings with lives outside of work, you’re more likely to get people to stick around…

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Leave, that’s the worst type of excuse for covering bad culture. ID can be great but just like any other practice you need good firm culture.

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I guess my question from these comments is: if it’s easier for a partner to keep on an associate who already knows what they’re doing, instead of training and on boarding a new one, why don’t the partners treat us better and recognize the workload/culture issues?

likesmart

Your question implies they are actually aware of this. They are completely unaware and indifferent, as evidenced by their shock when an abused, yet stellar, associate leaves.

likesmart

Making sacrifices for insurance defense is laughable. Did you laugh or hold it in?

likefunny

That’s utter BS the partner is giving you—especially in light of the Great Resignation of late where workers are demanding more fairness and balance and quitting if they don’t get it. Partners use associates as little billing machines and will exploit them until they break. Everything they say is subtly designed to make you work to line their pockets. It’s a form of passive income for them and a metric by which they retain partnership status and compete with other partners—totally different ballgame going on in their heads.

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Partners believe what they are saying.

likefunny

Might be partly true, but probably also comp. And for those basically saying either that firms that don’t pay market are trash or everyone somehow should be capable of getting hired by a market-paying firm or being paid market somehow magically solves associate attrition - that’s not true. Not every firm can pay market because most companies and individuals obtaining legal services cannot or will not pay a first year associate $300/hour or a partner $1k+/hour. Are they not still entitled to seek and obtain high quality representation? Of course they are. And just because a lawyer isn’t making market doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care about their work and their clients. They just have integrity and are fulfilling their ethical obligations. Also some attorneys are not cut out to do the work done at firms that pay market-either skills-wise or time commitment-wise. We do not all have to be equal. But if you are capable and willing to work hard and someone will hire you-that’s great and you should absolutely take that job. For those who can’t or don’t want to, you are not less than another lawyer.

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I agree with many of your points. But I think the issue many associates today have is the idea that pay should be commensurate with the work/hour expectation. If you’re expected to bill 2200+ and are paid under six figures or just above, especially as a midlevel, you’re probably better off at a firm that compensates it’s employees more in line with the hours expectation and right now they’re all hiring.

The market dictates these things and right now, at least for corporate/M&A and many niche specialties, there are so many opportunities for associates and firms/partners are the ones who are desperate. I think many (not all) partners have been so used to a market where associates were the ones who were desperate and willing to accept less that they don’t know how to adjust or they feel they shouldn’t have to.

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Damn do you work at the firm I just left because sounds identical to my firm lol

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Yes lawyers are underpaid often

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Run

smart

Put it this way, my friend is 29, has a state school communications degree and is an L8 regional warehouse manager making $800k at Amazon. So yeah lots of people moving for much higher paying jobs in tech.

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…what

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You may both be right. He’s not saying the firm doesn’t overwork people; he saying the associates left because they weren’t willing to make that sacrifice. But yeah, high turnover is a symptom of a toxic firm.

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Ah yes, the ole the beatings will continue until morale improves approach. How boomer of you.

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IMO that’s a typical CYA line from a typical ID partner who won’t admit the actual flaw(s) at their firm that are the real reason for high turnover.

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