Hey, Associates...Your Protective Bubble Has Burst

davos world economic forum social networkingDavos — where they really network.

We’ve said it before. In the olden, pre-2008 days, associates who wanted to do a few BigLaw years before transferring to calmer (if a little less green) pastures could do just that.They could work enough and participate in firm life just enough and have no plan for the future besides to eventually leave. There was, truly, no real need to understand the firm’s partnership structure or help recruit clients or lobby to work on the best cases because you were not going to be there anyway. And of course, there is always most lawyers’ opinions on networking: if they wanted to do that, they would have gotten an MBA.

But all that has changed now. In today’s Legal Intelligencer, recruiter Michael D’Amore brings all of that home.

Legal Intelligencer: What these lawyers didn’t appreciate is that associates have a shelf life — the protective bubble in which they worked was going to pop at some point, whether that was seven, eight or nine years down the line. Although some emerged from that cocoon as lawyers who had matured into partnership material, many others, despite being good lawyers, simply could not make that transition. Despite all their contributions, more junior lawyers — who cost a firm less money — were coming up from behind to replace them, which is a harsh reality that they didn’t understand until it hit.

D’Amore has specific suggestions, including the usual suspects of seeking challenging work, networking, and keeping copies of your published work.

To this we’d add taking charge of the type of work you get immediately, especially if you lateral to a new firm. Because days so quickly turn into weeks and then months and then…you still are not involved in work you care about, you fall behind your class and, inevitably a) it’ll be tough to leave even if you want to and b) you’ll be the first on the chopping block if layoffs become necessary.

It’s depressing that you can’t “just be a lawyer” anymore. But such is post-recession life.

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