A 'Busy Day' For This Corporate Lawyer Is Utterly Depressing

We recently ran a depressing anonymous Quora post detailing typical days of a corporate law associate and how utterly pointless that work can seem.

At best, on not-busy days, he spends 11.25 hours alone in his office proofreading and marking documents without any human interaction, except for the brief exchanges with workers in the coffee shop, the cafeteria, and document services.

At worst, on busy days, the drudgery is never-ending.

The anonymous lawyer describes getting into the office at 8:15 a.m. and still being there when the Asia office sent over some documents at 2 a.m. the next day. A powerful partner was copied on the documents, so our lawyer turned the documents around right away which included “such wonderful 2 a.m. tasks as adding brackets to the trailers on signature pages.”

Our associate only went home at 3:45 a.m., knowing clients would start emailing again at 7 a.m.

It’s one thing to stay late at the office if you’re doing edifying, challenging work, and if you can catch your breath for a couple days after a long night, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Our anonymous lawyer doesn’t seem to get any satisfaction out of the work, noting that “it all seems completely pointless.”

Perhaps things would be better for this lawyer if the office were more collegial. After all, a lot of people have work that doesn’t necessarily feed their souls. They can still enjoy the day if they have colleagues they like and feel like they’re needed and appreciated.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case, either. More from our anonymous lawyer:

When you add partners who scream at you (and do indeed throw objects when angry), associates who routinely backstab each other, fixed salaries and bonuses so that there is no link between pay and performance, or pay and value add, and partnership odds of roughly 1 in 25 to 1 in 50 — as well as sometimes weeks on end in which you do not leave the office before midnight — there are just a lot of things not to like about the practice of law.

We interviewed a former lawyer earlier this year who left the practice of law, in part because of the type of nastiness that anonymous lawyer describes. She recalled that once her firm held a “diversity training” that encouraged lawyers to say hello to one another so they’d feel less alienated.

The partners and senior associates didn’t like the idea of saying hi to underlings, though. The entire experience, our source told us, “was just not very humanising.”

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